Home Politics Discussing the ‘fake news’ list with its creator

Discussing the ‘fake news’ list with its creator

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Dr. Melissa Zimdars the creator of the fake news list discusses the media industry

In the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election, “fake news” was blamed as a major reason for Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton. A wide range of players, from Russian propagandists to paid partisan puppeteers, were accused of fabricating stories which were then widely circulated via social media to influence the hearts and minds of voters.

A national debate then raged — and still does — about whether “fake news” truly exists and, if so, should it be tolerated. And, immediately after the election, a number of major media outlets, including Google and Facebook, announced planned steps to block ‘suspect’ content sources on their platforms.

Amidst this tumult, a college professor compiled an aggregated list of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources”, which quickly became known as the “fake news list”. The mainstream media immediately latched on to this list of culprits, and circulated it heavily across the headlines of major outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, Fox News, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider and The Dallas Morning News

(Full disclosure: this website, PeakProsperity.com, was initially included on the list. We’ve learned it has since been removed.)

So many questions have been raised by this list. Is naming these sources a public service? Or it is censorship? What criteria are used to declare content “fake”? Who comes up with those criteria, and who is making the decisions? What are their qualifications? Is it the media’s job to “protect” the public from information? Or is it the reader’s responsibility to judge for themselves what is and isn’t a trustworthy source?

To explore answers to these — and many more — questions, on this week’s podcast we discuss the “fake news list” with its creator, Dr. Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communications at Merrimack College.

Chris’ line of inquiry is brutally direct. And many of Dr. Zimdars’ answers are more nuanced then many of her critics will expect. Wherever you fall on this topic, you’ll find this an exceptionally open, frank debate of the key issues at stake on the public’s right to information in the modern age.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Dr. Melissa Zimdars (33m:57s).


Chris Martenson: Hello, everyone. And welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson and it is April 13, 2017. Fake news. Now, it hit the airwaves in the weeks especially after the election of 2016. And we’re gonna be talking about fake news today.

A website, opensources.co, assembled a list of fake news sites and was flooded with new entries in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. In November and December of 2016 news organizations extensively featured that list, with The Los Angeles Times headlining a story, “Want to Keep Fake News Out of Your News Feed? College Professor Creates List of Sites to Avoid.” News organizations such as CNN, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider and The Dallas Morning News, all cited the list in their articles. Full disclosure, Peak Prosperity made it on that list for a brief period of time in what was called the unknown category but has since been removed. However, other websites you will know remain on the list.

Speaking with us is Dr. Melissa Zimdars, who is an assistant professor of communications at Merrimack College. Dr. Zimdars, welcome to the program.

Melissa Zimdars: Thanks for having me.

Chris Martenson: First, right at the top, what is fake news?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. So fake news, originally actually communication and media, referred mostly to satire or tabloid press, but through the election it became a term used to describe outright false information, sort of fabricated to circulate basically any kind of information online in order to generate profit. And, of course, we’ve seen the term fake news now expand to include a lot of different definitions, some more accurate than others.

Chris Martenson: Well, you mention the profit motive, but there’s also sometimes political motives, are there not? I’ve noted, in times past, political parties on both sides have circulated things that have proven to be untrue as part of campaign cycles. Are you – would that be included as well?

Melissa Zimdars: Yes. So I think when the fake news frenzy really took off, a lot of people, especially in mainstream news organizations, were focusing mostly on the Macedonian teenagers producing a lot of news, the St. Louis suburban dad who became famous for circulating news, but you’re right in that fake news can also be released by various political organizations or really far sort of information sources, often in the form of propaganda.

Chris Martenson: Okay. Great. So this list. First, what made one necessary, in your mind?

Melissa Zimdars: So, it wasn’t actually supposed to be a list originally. This all started as media literacy exercise in my Intro to Mass Communication course. I felt like my students were having a difficult time determining the credibility of sources.

Because most people now get their news on social media, and social media kind of democratizes information in the sense that it all looks the same as we see it coming through our news feeds. So, I created some tips, some that I thought of, some that I took from media literacy resources or elsewhere, and the goal of the original document I created was to have students try to figure out what these sources were. And then that took off, inaccurately actually, as a fake news list when it never was. And so that’s why OpenSources sort of developed, to try and delineate between different kinds of sources, ranging from outright fake news to political information that is still credible, because partisan information is inherently problematic, and just more neutral, credible sources.

Chris Martenson: All right. So we have a list and it consists of websites almost entirely. But they’re categorized in various ways. As you say, fake news was this catch-all bucket. But it was more granular than that. What are those categories?

Melissa Zimdars: So, the categories are: fakes news, and that can be any kind of political orientation. A lot of fake news does target different political parties. It can also be very – sort of more the click-bait style, sort of just outright fake, how to lose ten pounds in ten days for ten dollars type stuff.

Then it can also include conspiracy information. So, this normally encapsulates fairly well-known conspiracy theories, such as the flat earth theory or Ken Trails. And again, conspiracy can travel across the political spectrum.

And then junk science. So, this was mostly information that is contrary to established medicine or scientific knowledge. So, stuff like anti-vaccines or vaccines causing autism.

And then click-bait, which even reputable organizations sometimes use. So click-bait was to denote a kind of style or sensational reporting.

And then hate, which categorizes websites that are basically circulate news from organizations that are categorized by various organizations as being hate groups.

And then bias, which is politically motivated reporting that often uses very loaded language that can decontextualize information or circulate misleading information.

And then political, which is also political or partisan, but that doesn’t always do that. So they maybe sometimes sensational, but generally they’re credible. They maintain informational integrity.

And then the final is just credible. Generally neutral, striving for objectivity. They, of course, may make mistakes, but usually those mistakes become publicized, they’re retracted, apologies go out, et cetera.

So again, it’s a whole range of different kinds of information.

Chris Martenson: All right. So, within these categories then, I noticed some of them, like bias, is fairly often a subjective term, unless you’re really careful with it. I, myself, notice bias all the time in what basically are essentially editorial pieces masquerading as news articles. I see them come out all the time in my newspaper. Many of them you recognize. But I’m very sensitive to understanding when loaded, bias oriented language that’s facts-free and without context is up. Because this is something I study very carefully and I’m alert to. So you mention at OpenSources that there’s a research team that is helping to sort of collate and curate this list. Who’s on that team and how do you assure that there’s neutrality there?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. So, the team was basically a group of kind of kind of volunteer librarians. As this was sort of going viral, my original google doc, a few different librarians reached out to me, or to the creators of some browser plug-ins who were working – who were helping support OpenSources develop into a database. And so I haven’t asked permission to make those names public because I received a lot of hate mail. So, I kind of became the transparent lightening rod for any kind of criticism. But right now, actually, I am the only one, me and one other librarian, are the only ones actively analyzing.

And there’s transparency in the fact that if an outside source, for example, questions a labeling or if we internally questions something, it’s reviewed multiple times. So we have multiple spaces for people to debate and contest each other. Because textual analysis, or discourse analysis, which is basically what I’m doing on these websites, is open to a certain level of interpretation.

Most often we find agreement through discussion, but then I think that makes the list at least more reliable.

It’s also meant to be a guiding tool. We take snapshots of websites and the information they circulate and if the website substantially changes over time, or if we analyze it and we find that it’s not circulating the kind of news information that we’re interested in, it may be removed or altered. So, it’s meant to be somewhat dynamic and responsive to critique.

That being said, I agree with your comments about bias, especially – I think one of the major problems in general concerns for bias is that often times it’s not clear whether we’re dealing with opinion, punditry, or news. And this is a problem in credible mainstream journalism. When something isn’t labeled as opinion on Facebook all the way to partisan sources. So, I agree with you on that one for sure.

Chris Martenson: Well, and it’s a very dynamic, interesting field out there. And so this is my business is to be very deep into the information system on the web and understand what’s going on. I see it happen all over the place. One of the areas, for instance, that I track very closely is energy and energy policy and where it’s going. And there was this term that came out awhile ago where the United States is now energy independent. Now, I tracked that all the way back, and I’m pretty sure I can locate the month it was launched. It came out as a block of collateral. It hit op-eds all over the newspapers, and it was meant to achieve a certain design. And if I was gonna guess it came from the American Petroleum Institute or possibly a lobbying firm that they had put on their behalf. But they did a very good job of pushing it all across a variety of places. One of the things that they do, as well, is they set up websites and they promote certain things. So, I’ve watched this happen as a function of corporate policy

And so some of these websites that are on your list raise my alarm bells as fronts that are put out there spread disinformation on purpose, to achieve the opposite aim. It’s very complex sometimes, what’s actually happening. But the role of corporate fingers in shaping media is really strong, and friends of mine who are journalists say they will get collateral packages from Old Monsanto that help them understand how they can write stuff. But when you see the exact paragraphs that are in the collateral show up in article after article, allegedly by independent journalists, you get a sense of what’s happening here. Right?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. I completely agree.

Chris Martenson: There’s a degree of subtlety to what’s happening.

Melissa Zimdars: It’s blurring.

Chris Martenson: It’s blurring. Did you say –

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah, Well, I think part of the problem is with declining budgets in newsrooms, you have evidence that a local new station will play in full a video news release or a press release or like you’re saying, full paragraphs are lifted. There’s also a term in communication, or a theory, called information laundering. And so it’s when information might originate from a corporate source like you’re identifying, or it could be a hate group and it’s packaged and sort of filtered through multiple layers to just appear as if it’s neutral information. And then you can see the way that this is picked up and circulated throughout mainstream journalism.

And so, I think part of the reason we’re debating fake news and thinking about all these different kinds of news is because they really do stem, I think like you’re saying, from some of the worst practices that we do have in contemporary journalism. I mean, there is definitely a lot that needs to change and become more transparent in how we relay information to the public.

Chris Martenson: Well, I’m glad to hear that, not just as another example, everything that we do at Peak Prosperity, it has to be data, the data has to be sourced and we have to consider that the source is reliable. So, I won’t talk about energy without having all the databases myself.

I interview widely, and one of the people, groups, I interviewed had been actually measuring the degree of Roundup that shows up as trace residues in our foods. And, oops, guess what? They’re much higher than anybody thought and EPA doesn’t actually look at this stuff. And there’s this whole scandal that we could go down around that. But one of the ways this group was being targeted by, presumably, Monsanto, or somebody like them, was they were labeled, oh, a conspiracy group. Even though it’s hard data. Here’s some data. It comes from a reputable app. Here’s our sources. Here’s how we did it, with double blind, the whole nine yards, right? It was science, but they got targeted. And so I’m allergic to the idea of conspiracy because it’s a very loaded, emotional term. It carries – it’s kind of the modern version of calling somebody a witch, I think. Because I see the emotional response. It shuts down the rest of the conversation.

I was looking through your list. There’s a hundred and seventy-three out of seven hundred seventy plus that are listed as conspiracy. So, one of my questions then is how does a site get on your list like that? How would it get there and labeled?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. So, firstly, I do think you offer a very fair critique on conspiracy. For example, Watergate originated as a conspiracy, right? And it turned out to be a very true situation. And people who originally pushing it and following it were thought to be just really cynical and skeptical of what was happening. So, yeah, I think that’s very fair. And the way that sites get on the list is mostly through various suggestions. I originally made a list that contained almost two hundred sites. And that was from – I saw a random list circulating online. And I went through all of those websites on the list that I collected individually to determine are they active? Do I agree with this rational? So some of it was cultivated from other lists, trying to put it together in a master document. But the rest were from emails, people suggesting through various tech online social spaces; yeah, it’s sort of generating from everywhere.

I also am an avid reader of news from across the spectrum and from mainstream sources, so I was paying attention even to other websites or to stories that were being played in the media or by political sites. And I would analyze those, add them or reject them. So it’s mostly – the information is largely crowd-sourced. And then I, or if one of my active librarian volunteers is around, we will analyze it, and then hopefully someone else will analyze it again to determine whether or not we agree with that analysis.

So it’s – does that make sense? It’s crowd-sourced but then analyzed or removed as with the case with Peak Prosperity when I determined it to be beyond the scope of the project.

Chris Martenson: Well, sure. I’ll tell you, the – some of my process concern shows up – I was just interviewing a gentleman named J. Edward Griffin. He wrote a book called Creature from Jekyll Island, It’s a seven hundred seventy page tome, well researched, about the origin of the Federal Reserve. It’s in its fifth edition. He’s received exactly zero pieces of pushback from anybody saying, “Here’s where you got this wrong. This fact isn’t right. Here’s where the story’s wrong.” And it tells a very credible tale of how the Federal Reserve came to be, which was somewhat of a conspiracy, as it were. And it’s all a matter of record at this point. Nothing controversial about what happened between the years 1910 and 1913 when it was finally passed as a bill.

However, you go to his Wikipedia page and the word conspiracy – he’s a noted American conspiracy theorist. Conspiracy. Conspiracy. Conspiracy. And that’s how he’s categorized and he found out that a couple of Wiki editors we trying to say, “Hey, that’s a label. Can you back that up?” and other Wiki editors said, “If you push on this too hard we’re gonna get you fired, that we’re keeping these labels.”

So, this is a label that I’ve seen used, and it gets applied in increasing numbers, I discovered, when the content is objectionable to somebody who holds some sort of power. That happens a lot. And there’s obvious things that I think if we’re gonna say that conspiracy is a – also applies to things where people have really unformed opinions like, “I think the leaves turn earlier this year because radio waves are coming from Moscow,” or something, right. There’s that. But there are people who have deeply researched stuff. They get branded, as well.

And so one of the sites on your list is the site oftwominds.com, which is run by Charles Hugh Smith. He’s a well-known contributor to our audience and there’s literally nothing I know about all of Charles body of work, which I know very well, is even remotely conspiracy oriented. He’s a nice – he’s the nicest guy you ever want to meet. He’s an author. He lives in Berkeley. Dozens of thoughtful, well-researched books. I’m interested. How did – how would his site have gotten on there and labeled, given that – I can’t – I know his work really well.

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. So for that particular website – because I’ve analyzed almost a thousand at this point – I would have to dig through my files and footnotes and see why it was labeled that way, or if I was the primary labeler, or if one of the librarian volunteers was a primary labeler. But I do agree with your point about critical thought sometimes being labeled conspiracy erroneously. And I think there is a fine line between holding corporations and governments and institutions in power in check and in questioning and in being healthily skeptical of what’s happening. And so, I do agree. And I will definitely double-check that website if you are flagging it to me as being inaccurately errored.

Chris Martenson: And I’ll tell you why this matters a lot to me personally, is because my Ph.D. is in a science. It’s in toxicology, neurotoxicology is my background. Did a lot of basic research, post-doc, the whole nine yards. And so, one of the statements that I learned that was really scarily accurate was the statement by the physicist, Niels Bohr, which is, “Science advances one funeral at a time,” meaning those that hold entrenched beliefs often are blockages to advancing ourselves and our culture. And so, to the extent that powerful people can simply block legitimate inquiry that’s there to advance us, right, even though it may harm certain entrenched interests, I think we have to preserve that carefully. I think that the open spirit of really challenging authority, is essential, because we need accountability at all levels, and that’s been something that has been just been dreadfully lacking. The utter lack of accountability, for instance, under Eric Holder’s Department of Justice with zero prosecutions for people who committed overt banking felonies, time after time after time.

That lack of accountability, I fear, elicits such a saying, these are unapproved sites – my concern is that somebody in power will think that that’s a great idea, not because it’s a great idea necessarily, but because they can find a way to use it to advance their interests and stifle the legitimate inquiry. Do you worry about that angle on this at all?

Melissa Zimdars: Well, I mean, I, firstly, completely agree with you in terms of a lack of transparency. I’ve spoken out against – and I even explicitly say on original google doc that I do not agree with any attempts to block information or to prevent it from showing up, because even outright fake news is a protected form of speech, of course within certain legal confines as determined by dockets of case law. But that doesn’t mean that it should be censored, right? That the government should step in and shut it down. I’ve never, ever believed anything like that. Because I agree that critical thought and often alternative ways of thinking about the world and challenging sedimented beliefs is how we advance as a society, as a country, as a world. And so, I agree. And that’s why I was very disheartened when a lot of the original take-up of my resources just labeled it a fake news list. And I remember speaking to reporters and being like, “Please do not use fake news list in the headline.” And they would be like, “Well, now I don’t really know what to call it because ‘Professor Makes Media Literacy Document with Sources Ranging from Credible to Fake Goes Viral’ isn’t really a snappy headline that’s gonna generate advertising revenue in a crowded market.

So, I do agree. But here’s where I’ll say why I still I have this resource, this list, out there is because I think all of these forms of information should exist, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t apply a critical lens to them in trying to understand them. So, it’s just another layer of checking and balancing, I guess, how information circulates. And so I don’t think every aspect of this that we have is perfect – not just talking about me but various fact-checking organizations or whatever. But I do think that it’s an important sort of part of the debate over being critical, over alternative sources of information and holding journalists accountable, as well as producers of partisan information. Does that make sense, hopefully?

Chris Martenson: It does. And so you mentioned sort of the legal edge of this. So hypothetical question. Let’s imagine a big name site on the list, maybe Drudge Report or Zero Hedge or something. They break a story. It’s using unnamed sources. It turned out it provided utterly bogus information, but that then was used and caused actual quantifiable harm, deaths, destruction, things like that. The story leads to harm. Should that site be trusted again? Or shut down? Or face consequences? Or is there anything here where you’re saying that you’re promoting an idea of how we might as a society begin to deal with sites that cause harm like that?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. I feel like I hope smarter people than me can figure out the best way to handle that, because of course, we can see examples. Turn back the clock to the beginning of our U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and looking at all the errors of reporting across media and we’ve seen many high-profile instances of this happening, and that can have major consequences. We can also see – I know you like the term conspiracy, but across a group of websites online propagating the Pizza Gate conspiracy lead to someone bringing a gun into an actual pizza shop. So, should those websites be held accountable? Should people who tweet alleged evidence that Newsweek was engaging in trying to rig the election because they produced a Hillary Clinton cover as President and Donald Trump to be the first on the newsstands? I don’t know.

So, at what point do we keep everyone accountable for the information they circulate? And I honestly don’t have the best answer for that.

Chris Martenson: Well, my own accountability is that if you lose my trust, it’s very hard to get it back. And I’m glad you brought up the early Iraq stuff, because in my mind always is the “Aluminum Tube Story,” by Judith Miller ran on September 8, 2002, and that one was entitled “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for Avon Parts”. Now, it turned out to have been completely bogus information, supplied by Scooter Libby to Judith Miller. He was kept anonymous, of course. It was then used to justify a war against Iraq that turned out to be entirely based on lies and deception. Lies that were easily editorially catchable. Those particular aluminum tubes – your editor calls somebody up and knows something like, “Oh no, totally wrong size for a centrifuge.” That’s easy. But these were somehow overlooked. Purposely a war was sold. I lost trust in The New York Times and I will never regain from that. So, but that’s me. Is that an appropriate response, you think?

Melissa Zimdars: I think if that is – for you, maybe it is. For me, I think in other ways, they have regained my trust. I think say that only because I feel like the only way to ultimately trust what I’m consuming is to read as widely as possible. And so, no, I don’t think anyone should get all of their news from The New York Times nor Fox News, nor Politico or whatever, or National Review. I even read The Cato Institute information on their website. And no one should go to any one of those places. But I think in media literacy circles they call it triangulation. And so if you are reading multiple stories about these topics, hopefully you can get a sense of the way that there – they may be differently framed by different sources. And hopefully, you can get a fuller understanding of that picture.

And so, I won’t write off The New York Times even though I’m often disappointed in mistakes that they make or The Washington Post, and on and on and on. Just as I’m disappointed in sometimes local news stories that get it really, really wrong. But again, I feel like we have to – part of the functioning of our democracy is being able to trust skeptically. Right? So, not to believe everything in a foolish way but to have enough trust that you are willing to consider it one part of a larger and more complex story.

Chris Martenson: Well, certainly, I think that we’re raised and trained to trust authority. The person at the front of the classroom in the beginning, and so on. And I think it’s healthy to begin to understand, of course, of course. Everybody has their own motivations. Everything is biased, of course. Stuff I produce. We all have our lenses and frames we look through and that colors how we gather information and how we choose to frame it in the presenting. That’s just part of it. Learning to parse through that is important. It sounds exhausting, but it’s actually necessary, I think. And I agree.

I don’t trust any one source and I’ll be clear. I don’t trust The New York Times on their political reporting. I think far too many times, more times than I care to count, they proved to be just a conduit for talking points from the entrenched power structure for political stuff. I really trust their environmental reporting. I really trust – there’s certain areas. But it takes sophistication to get there. And so, beyond spending as much time being a news junkie as I am, how can somebody – or you, apparently – how can somebody go about beginning to go about beginning to cultivate that same awareness?

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. I think some of it is also weirdly just very simple. So, it’s not about being a news junkie, but I think reading past the headline, very simple things like that, a lot of people increasingly do not do. So, we tend to share information without actually engaging with it or reading it. And so, very simply, if we actually were at least reading what we’re sharing through social media where so much information is circulated and found, I think that would go a long way to perhaps stymy some information that is unreliable.

I also think it’s up to journalists, for publishers of news information, to do their due diligence to try to prevent some of these mistakes that we are talking about. I do think it’s up to technologies – not to filter or shut down information, but when a very clearly fake news website shows up as a number one google news item – we’re talking about a website that still has WordPress in the domain and has no authors and it’s existed for only two weeks, that might be a problem. So, I think it’s a multi-layered issue and I think the best thing that individual can do is – even if they’re not reading all the time is just to read widely, expose yourself to different points of view and alternative points of view, and just be open to being challenged and debated. Too often when we’re challenged we just dig in further into those beliefs instead of being humble and having an open mind.

Chris Martenson: I totally agree with that. And I’ll just add one last thing to that list is I am completely allergic to any article from anybody that cites unnamed sources. It became de rigueur about 15 years ago. I don’t understand why, but now it’s just how people operate. I don’t trust any of that stuff now. Because again, it could be a political group. It could be a corporation. It could be an ex-general with a very deep interest in Raytheon’s next quarter. I don’t know what’s going on. So these things are a real problem for me, but it seems to be something that I would love for us to challenge and push back and say, “Hey. No. We’re not gonna read this article. Unnamed sources. Not good. What else you got?”

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. Or to definitely approach that as perhaps a story in its nascent form to not read too much into what something like that might indicate or mean.

Chris Martenson: Right. And I do interview widely, and so another group that I spend time with people who are ex-military, particularly special forces. And they say flat out their personal experience and what they read about in the newspaper couldn’t be further apart. So there’s always a level of re-packaging that happens over here. So, particularly when it comes to geopolitics I got both eyes mostly closed. And I tilt my head sideways when I read this stuff. Very hard to figure out what actually happening. So, today, if I’m reading about Syria, I have to read Pravda, I have to read Haaretz. I have to read stuff coming out of Iraq, as well as Europe, as well as the U.S., and they all disagree wildly.

Melissa Zimdars: But I think you raise a good point about even stepping outside of information originating outside of the United States. So sometimes it’s important to see what is the lens that is separate from us? How do we understand information the way it’s being reported from quote, unquote, the outside?

Chris Martenson: Very good. Very good. So, all very reasonable. What are your plans for the list now? What happens with it from here, do you think?

Melissa Zimdars: Honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure because it really became sort of a secondary area of my sort of scholarly interests. But one thing I actually think – you bring up transparency and challenging the list, and that’s actually where I would want to improve it. And so, you bring up about bias and I’m very self-reflective about my own self-bias and creating it. And I have to think twice. Am I seeing a liberal website and not recognizing the ways in which it’s flawed as easily as I do others?

And so, my goal would be to specifically have people that identify across the political spectrum. Also more involved so it’s less about me and more about a range of people with analytical skills coming together to talk about these sources. I would also like to match sort of what I think with a transparent sort of crowd-sourced label or multiple labels where people could up or down vote whether agree or suggest other labels just to see how much does this match. Does the aggregate support what I’ve come up with? Does it differ? And what does that mean? So, to make those labels, this kind of analysis, even more transparent than I’ve tried to so far.

Chris Martenson: Well, excellent. I’m a big student of history so ever since I saw that picture of Abraham Lincoln that said, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet,” I’ve been much more cautious.

Melissa Zimdars: I agree.

Chris Martenson: I raise that as a joke. That’s what I do with my kids though. There’s obviously false stuff and it just floods across Facebook with people just tagging stuff and putting stuff on there that’s completely wildly inappropriate. But you know what? Learning how to be – have discrimination abilities, discernment abilities, out to really understand, to develop that level – I won’t call it cynicism, but certain jadedness, but it’s important to understand everybody’s got an angle. And that’s not a bad thing. But understanding that is the first layer of maturity in saying, “Oh. They’re telling me this. Why?” Those are good questions to ask. Always.

Melissa Zimdars: Yup. I agree.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today. Please tell people how they can follow your work as it progresses or interact with the list if they wanted to help you curate it.

Melissa Zimdars: Yeah. So if you go to opensources.co there’s a get help page where you can log in and basically, you can suggest updates, or questions if you notice an error, etcetera, so that’s really the easiest way to sort of create feedback. Otherwise, I guess this all happened so quickly I don’t have a great way for people to track what I do. I do have a researchgate account. I’m on Twitter as Mishmc, M-I-S-H-M-C. You can follow me there, too.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, Melissa. Thank you so much for your time today.

Melissa Zimdars: Thank you so much for having me.

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