俄烏戰爭: 該相信誰?

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To believe or not believe?

關於最近烏克蘭的戰爭,有個學生問我該如何分辨真新聞和假新聞?這無疑是個不好回答的問題。

Just today, a student asked how to distinguish fake news from “real” reports on the war in Ukraine. It was a tough question to answer.

烏克蘭緊張的情勢日漸上升,我們該如何確認哪些新聞是可以信賴的呢?雖然美國與盟邦在這段時間一再表明,俄羅斯將入侵烏克蘭(invade Ukraine),俄羅斯卻表示他們並不會這麼做,西方國家正在煽動起狂熱的情緒(create hysteria)。

In the continued escalation of tensions in Ukraine, how do we know what news is trustworthy? While the US and allies have consistently stated that Russia will invade Ukraine for days, Russia has claimed that they will not and that the West is creating hysteria.

多數讀者被動地接收這樣的新聞,只閱讀新聞標題與第一個段落就形成了自己的看法,而不願費神去查核事實(fact check)。更勤奮的新聞讀者則會考慮到新聞來源、個中偏見(existing biases),並仔細檢查新聞中引用的證據與相關資料。甚至,有些讀者可能會進一步考慮多方觀點與來源(consider diverse perspectives and sources),這似乎是個明智的方式。然而,有關烏克蘭議題的主要立場與觀點似乎非常兩極,同時雙方也對自身的聲明提供了證據(present evidence)。

Most readers will receive such news passively. They read the title and the first paragraph, form an opinion, and do not bother to fact-check. More diligent news consumers consider the source, examine the supporting resources, and check their own biases. Some may even take it a step further and consider multiple views and sources, which sounds like a reasonable approach. However, there seem to be two opposing sides to the Ukrainian issue, each complete with “evidence" supporting its claims.

美國提供了俄羅斯軍隊在烏克蘭邊境部署、駐紮的衛星影像(satellite imagery)。相反地,俄羅斯媒體一再表示他們不會入侵烏克蘭,並展示了撤軍的影片。我們究竟該相信誰呢?

科技已經發展到可以輕鬆編輯、扭曲、甚至完全捏造數位影像與影片的地步,用以誤導讀者來實現不同的政治目的。因此,許多新聞讀者可能不再確定該相信什麼。那位傳訊息給我的學生問及,當烏克蘭有美國所欲謀取的利益時,我們要如何相信美國的衛星影像呢?當雙方的言論佔據了光譜的兩端且各有證據時,我們能夠做些什麼?

The US has provided satellite imagery of Russian forces deployed and stationed around Ukraine’s borders. In contrast, the Russian press has repeatedly stated that invasion is out of the question and presented videos of its troops withdrawing. Who, then, should readers believe?

Technology has advanced to the point where images and even videos can be edited, distorted, and created from scratch to mislead readers and achieve different political aims. News consumers simply do not know who or what to believe anymore. The student who messaged me, for example, asked how we could trust US satellite imagery when the US has its own interests in Ukraine. What do we do when there are two opposing yet seemingly legitimate views?

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這問題真的很難回答。

我們可以再次考慮作者、資訊來源和發布它的政治環境,但要深入許多。在看新聞的時候,我們可以問自己一些問題:

We can once again examine the author, the source of information, and the political environment it is published in, but go much further in-depth. Here are some questions to ask ourselves when reviewing news: 

・該新聞作者和報社的發表紀錄是否良好(good track record),所發表的資訊內容是否與事實相符?

Do the author and the news outlet have a solid track record of publishing information consistent with known facts?

・該資訊是否來自政府管道(state channels)?如果是的話,此一政府所作的聲明是否值得信賴?此一政府之言論,是否與過去的行為一致?

Is the source of information a government channel? If it is, are claims made by this government reliable? Have its actions matched its words in the past?

・若這個資訊並非來自政府,是否在具有嚴格審查的政治環境中發布的?在某種程度上,審查(censorship)總是難以避免,但這種審查制度的受益者是誰?又會對誰不利呢?

If the information is not published by a government source, is it published in a political environment in which information flows freely or is it heavily censored? Some form of censorship is always necessary but whom is the censorship benefitting, and whom is it harming?

・還有,作者的世界觀與專長為何?例如,一位前軍事專家可能會從戰略地緣政治的視角(a geopolitical strategic lens)觀察如火如荼的烏克蘭問題,並專注於特定國家的利益。相反地,一位學者可能會對該議題提出更具歷史性、哲學性甚至社會性的觀點。一個作家的經驗和專業知識,在他報導中扮演著重要的角色。

Consider the author’s worldview and expertise. A former military expert, for example, might examine the ongoing Ukrainian war from a strategic geopolitical perspective and focus on the interest of a particular state. By contrast, an academic may present a more historical, philosophical or even social perspective of the issue. A writer’s experience and expertise play a significant role in the lens used in reporting.

藉由上述問題,或能讓我們大致了解一則資訊是否可靠。

Asking these questions should enable us to gauge the credibility of the presented information.

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接下來,在審視所謂的「證據」時,請考慮文章的意圖(intent):

Next, when examining “evidence," consider the article’s intent.

・它鎖定的目標是誰(target audience)?是國內讀者,還是國際讀者(domestic or international readers)?此一差異會如何影響這則資訊?該文章希望你採取怎樣的行動?

Whom is it targeting? A domestic audience or an international one? How does this change the information and what actions does the article want you to take?

・此外,這篇文章是否透過訴諸恐懼的策略或情緒性的語言(scare tactics or sensational language)來影響你的觀點?這篇文章是否使用了諸如「為自由、和平而戰」、「為你的安全採取攻擊性的防衛」等偏袒性措辭,來合理化自身主張?

Does the article attempt to sway your opinion by using scare tactics or sensational language? Does the article use phrases such as “fight for freedom and peace,” “preemptive strikes for your safety” and such loaded language to justify its claims. 

一篇詳盡的文章,通常會考慮利益相關者的動機。這篇《衛報》的文章是個不錯的例子:

A thorough article usually considers the motivation of the stakeholders involved. This article by the Guardian is a good example: https://bit.ly/3I5d0OQ

它介紹了美國、俄羅斯、烏克蘭和其他勢力的動機。這篇文章並非沒有偏見,但它要我們思考「該相信誰和該相信什麼」(who and what to believe),這是一個好的表述方式,它希望我們能獨立思考,而非直接引導我們得出某個結論。

It introduces the motivations of the American, Russian, Ukrainian, and other forces. The article is not without biases, but it asks us to consider “who and what to believe", a good sign that it wants us to think for ourselves rather than directly lead us to a certain conclusion. 

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最後,我們能夠檢視自身可能帶有的偏見(biases)。可以說,新聞的真實性(truthfulness)不僅取決於試圖操弄它的行為者,還取決於消費者的立場(positionality of news consumers)。有許多人會把不符合自身成見與偏好的新聞逕斥為假新聞。這其實相當危險,因為個人觀點將會變得愈發孤立與激進。

Last, check our own biases. It could be argued that the veracity of news depends not only on the actors that seek to manipulate it but also on the positionality of its consumers. Due to one’s positionality, some would dismiss news that does not align with their biases. Such behavior is dangerous as it may lead to radical views and actions.

淺談「假新聞」: https://bit.ly/3rlj1PL

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聽起來很累,對吧?這就是誤導性新聞內容如此有效的原因。

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? That is exactly why misleading news content is so effective.

人們被如此多的資訊轟炸(bombarded by information, information overload),以至於他們不再知道、關心、探索與分辨什麼是「真實的」。特定的國家行動者(state actors)知道這一點,因此他們繼續製造大量的資訊,從假資訊(disinformation)到微妙的操控(subtle manipulation)來影響人們的觀點。

People are bombarded by so much information that they no longer know or care to explore what is “true" or not. Specific state actors know this, so they continue to create massive amounts of information ranging from acute disinformation to subtle manipulation to sway one’s opinion.

從美國、俄羅斯和其他國家行動者最近的新聞資訊交流中可以清楚地看出,他們參與了資訊戰(information warfare)——也有人稱之為認知戰(cognitive warfare)。認知戰不僅僅是控制資訊的流動,它試圖操弄或控制人們對資訊的反應。

It is clear from the recent exchanges of news information that state actors are engaged in information warfare, or as some would call it, cognitive warfare. Cognitive warfare goes beyond controlling the flow of information; it seeks to manipulate or control how people react to that information.

因此,該相信誰或該相信什麼,並沒有那麼容易分辨。它需要你閱讀、思考、反思上述因素。想想看你需要多長時間,才能與陌生人建立信任。為何我們要在尚未研究與思考的情況下,如此輕易地相信來路不明的新聞?

Therefore, who or what to trust is not so easily discernible. It requires you to read, think, reflect, and consider the factors mentioned above. Just think how long it takes you to develop trust with a stranger. Why would you so readily trust news from an unknown source without first researching and thinking?

對「真相」的探索和思考確實需要做很多工作。「真相」(truth)不同於「資訊」(information),後者被許多人詮釋和建構為「知識」(knowledge),而後被重議與接受才能成為「真相」(truth)。當你下次遇到「新聞」時,先別急著下結論,可以試著檢視與思考它背後可能潛藏的利益、權力及其糾葛的複雜關係。唯有藉由此一過程,我們才能開始與他人一起構建知識與真理,並建立一個能夠為所有人的利益考量、更加通情達理的社會。

It indeed requires much work to explore and consider what “truth" is. “Truth” differs from “information” in that the latter is first interpreted and co-constructed by many to become “knowledge.” Such knowledge is then re-negotiated and accepted before being codified into “truth.” When encountering “news," one must first examine the interests and power at play rather than leaping into conclusions. It is only through this process that we can begin to explore what truth is and build a more informed society capable of making decisions in the interests of all.

如此全面地質疑資訊並非易事,但若慮及未細審資訊與權力的可怕後果,我會說花這些時間與精力是值得的(well worth the effort)。

Interrogating information so thoroughly is no easy task, but considering the consequences of not doing so, I would say it’s well worth the effort.

參考文獻:

Ennis, R. H. (1985). A logical basis for measuring critical thinking skills. Educational leadership, 43(2), 44-48.

圖片出處:https://www.bbc.com/news/56772297

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tl;dr: Read, research, think, reflect, discuss a ton, and stop saying tl;dr.

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延伸閱讀:

如何分辨假新聞: https://bit.ly/3s0DsmZ

淺談「假新聞」: https://bit.ly/3GjovRt

匿名、審查與言論自由: https://bit.ly/3onKQXQ

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