Hunter Biden’s Laptop Story, “Fake News” and Ethics

The story of the laptop, what was on it, how the story was dealt with (and blocked) has been around for almost two years now but still worth exploring in a TOK context with connections to several themes (Knower, Technology, Politics). How do our prior beliefs affect how we interpret new information? How do we decide whether a claim is credible? What responsibility do social media companies have to decide what is true? What are the consequences of so few companies having so much power over the spread of information?

I like this topic because it pushes my students to confront their own discomfort with the potential weaponization of the concept of fake news but in a direction that suits their politics. The twitter video at the bottom of Sam Harris, ironically, communicates what many people actually believe.

Here are a few of articles that explain the controversy:

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/09/1091859822/more-details-emerge-in-federal-investigation-into-hunter-biden

Analysis giving greater context to the story and surrounding issues.

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-national-tragedy-of-hunter-bidens-laptop

The NYPost taking a victory lap when its discredited and blocked story was validated.

https://nypost.com/2021/10/12/one-year-later-the-posts-hunter-biden-reporting-is-vindicated-but-still-buried/

This was from a recent conversation with Sam Harris, whom I normally have great respect for. His defense of wide ranging conspiracies to generate politically desirable outcomes is interesting. This is a good example of consequentialist ethics.

Sam Harris’s Response


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