The Folly of Fake News

Picture of Scale


Picture of Scale

Shomudro Gupta, Staff


“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

-Joseph Goebbels



This phrase may seem antiquated after the advent of the Internet, in which there are millions of sources to fact-check and verify or disprove the thousands of axioms in circulation. However, the crisis of fake news is prevalent and an increasing threat amongst the general populace. One way to stem the tide of fake news is to learn from History. History is filled with notable examples of fake news, leading all the way to the 13th Century BC. Then, falsehoods regarding notable figures were propagated and promulgated to lift their status among their constituents. For instance, Ramses the Great portraying himself as victorious at the Battle of Kadesh (which turned out to be a stalemate) to Octavian’s endless campaign of libel and slander against Marc Antony in his bloodlust or power.. Falsehoods against a group of people also were perpetrated for another group of people to persecute. This particular phenomenon would come to be known as blood libel. One such example is  After the initial prevalence of unseemly untruths, there was an initial crackdown as orchestrated in the Netherlands through fines imposed on publications. Crackdowns and enforcement naturally lead to more crimes under the radar, as would be told through history time and time again. The real-life consequences of promulgated falsehood would culminate at the Spanish-American War, when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph-Hearst (among other yellow-journalist publications) pushed the United States into the Spanish-American War when the U.S.S. Maine exploded off the coast of Havana, Cuba.

With the power of the free press noted through the aforementioned examples, one might ponder “how do I combat this epidemic of untruth”? My advice is to avoid sensationalist journalism (mainly prevalent in the Mainstream Media) and research the claims made by the media through scientific publications, legal documents, etc. I leave with an old adage that I think should be passed down to the next generation in a profuse manner:

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana