Digital Disinformation – a growing threat to us all

Disinformation, whether intentional or unintentional quickly spreads across the internet

The threat of tiny black holes slowly swallowing up Earth as the Large Hadron Collider was switched on last week led to many jokes across the internet involving dumb eggheads with a death wish. Not everyone was laughing. The man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has expressed concern at how his creation allows for the lightning fast dissemination of disinformation across the globe. He particularly highlighted how the notion that our world is in jeopardy from the LHC spread so quickly through the media yet was demonstrated to be false.

In response to the danger of false information finding a safe home on the internet, Berners-Lee is launching a foundation:

The Foundation will brand sites that it has found to be trustworthy and reliable sources of information.

For those of us familiar with the internet and its ways, the elasticity of truth and its blurred lines with falsehood is no great surprise. To counter disinformation, companies like Reputation Hawk have sprung up, promising to fix your online reputation whether you’re a business or an individual:

If you or your company is getting bashed on the net – they can evidently ‘fix’ it. But they don’t contact the owners of the offending web sites which is what we immediately assumed, instead they focus on pushing the negative information off of the first few pages in Google. This new field is known as internet reputation management or online reputation management.

The free flow of information heralded by the internet age has had its drawbacks as we’ve noted already. Both Berners-Lee and Reputation Hawk consider vigilance to be the key to countering damaging information or disinfo that finds a very fertile atmosphere in the virtual world.

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2 Responses to Digital Disinformation – a growing threat to us all

  1. vodkasoda says:

    And one need only look at how Google hurt United Airlines last week by republishing a six year old article.

  2. JTankers says:

    Disinformation and propaganda are significant challenges.

    Disinformation includes stating that Large Hadron Collider safety is assured and global danger is not possible (as most people would understand not possible) when in fact safety is disputed by multiple credible sources[1][2] and safety is unknown[3][4].

    Disinformation includes stating that micro black holes evaporate without noting that Hawking Radiation is unproven theory disputed by multiple credible papers as fundamentally flawed and may or does not exist.[5][6][2]

    Disinformation and censorship includes directing CERN scientists to affirm no risk in all interviews regardless of personal opinion[7], and attacking the credibility of independent scientists who publicly express concern.

    Are scientists more concerned with public opinion and funding scientific experimentation than safety? At the Global Catastrophic Risk conference when Toby Ord estimated a 1 in 1,000 chance that CERN’s safety assumptions may be fundamentally wrong, an author of CERN’s safety report replied “Jeopardizing the future of scientific research would be a global catastrophe.”[8]

    The fact is some credible scientists have credible concerns about a potentially credible danger. Senior Astrophysicist Dr. Plaga refutes safety conclusions of particle physicists who conjecture safety based on disputed properties of dense stars (astrophysics) and proposes feasible risk mitigation measures[1]. Dr. Rössler is a an award winning former visiting Professor of Physics famous for inventing Chaos theory’s Rössler attractor and founding the field of Endophysics[2], he calculates that micro black holes could be catastrophic to Earth in years or decades. Former University of Berkeley cosmic ray researcher and Nuclear Safety Officer Walter L. Wagner originally discovered fundamental flaws with CERN’s safety arguments and filed a US Federal law suit to require reasonable proof of safety[3]. Other physicists, theoretical scientists and risk experts have also expressed concerns both publicly and privately[4].

    Of the independent scientists who created detailed safety reviews and rebuttals not employed by CERN or asked to comment as a favor to CERN[9], a common theme is concluded, safety is unknown. Some scientists are very concerned, and that is not misinformation or propaganda.[10]

    [1] On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantum-black holes produced at particle colliders – Rainer Plaga Rebuttal (2008)

    [2] Abraham-Solution to Schwarzschild Metric Implies That CERN Miniblack Holes Pose a Planetary Risk, Prof. Dr. Otto Rossler (2008)

    [3] US Federal Lawsuit Filings – Walter L. Wagner (2008)

    [4] What the Experts Say (2008)

    [5] Do black holes radiate?. Dr. Adam Helfer (2003)

    [6], On the existence of black hole evaporationyet again, Prof. VA Belinski (2006)


    [8] A 1-in-1,000 Chance of Götterdämmerung, Will European physicists destroy the world? Ronald Bailey | September 2, 2008

    [9] CERN?s Dr. Ellis tells only half of the story – (2008)

    [10] An agument for caution, risk mitigation and an open independent and credible safety conference before high energy collisions begin.

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