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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Jan 27, 2022



Suppose you're a liberal who doesn't trust FOX News. One day you're at the airport, waiting for a plane, ambiently watching the TV at the gate. It's FOX News, and they're saying that a mass shooter just shot twenty people in Yankee Stadium. There’s live footage from the stadium with lots of people running and screaming.

Do you believe this?

I'm a liberal who doesn't trust FOX News, and sure, I believe it. The level on which FOX News is bad isn't the level where they invent mass shootings that never happened. They wouldn't use deepfakes or staged actors to fake something and then call it "live footage". That would go way beyond anything FOX had done before. Liberals might say things like "You can't trust FOX News on anything, they are 100% total liars", but realistically we still trust them quite a lot on stuff like this.

Now suppose FOX says that police have apprehended a suspect, a Saudi immigrant named Abdullah Abdul. They show footage from a press conference where the police are talking about this. Do you believe them?

Again, yes. While I've heard rare stories of the media jumping in too early to identify a suspect, "the police have apprehended" seems like a pretty objective statement. And once again, faking a police conference - or even dubbing over a police conference so that when the police say some other name, the viewers hear "Abdullah Abdul" - is way worse than anything I've ever heard of FOX doing. Even if I learned of one case of them doing something like this once, I would think "wow that's crazy" and still not update to believing they did it all the time.

It doesn't matter at all that FOX is biased. You could argue that "FOX wants to fan fear of Islamic terrorism, so it's in their self-interest to make up cases of Islamic terrorism that don't exist". Or "FOX is against gun control, so if it was a white gun owner who did this shooting they would want to change the identity so it sounded like a Saudi terrorist". But those sound like crazy conspiracy theories. Even FOX's worst enemies don't accuse them of doing things like this.