SÉMINAIRE TRUTH, TRANSPARENCY, CONTROVERSY
La collection « Truth, Transparency & Controversy » rassemble une série de billets issus des interventions au séminaire international sur ce thème, organisé à Amsterdam les 23-25 mai 2022 (org. : Jeremy Hamers, Ingrid Mayeur, François Provenzano, Élise Schürgers, Jan Teurlings).
The “Truth, Transparency & Controversy” collection brings together a series of posts based upon the oral presentations at the international seminar on this theme, held in Amsterdam on 23-25 May 2022 (org.: Jeremy Hamers, Ingrid Mayeur, François Provenzano, Élise Schürgers, Jan Teurlings).
Soon after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the novel coronavirus was described as a “stealth virus” because those who carry it are highly contagious before they show any signs of infection. This is indeed a major public health issue: If people are contagious well before they show any symptoms, strategies of contact tracing and containment are bound to play catch-up. However, the label of the “stealth virus” was also instrumentalized, especially in political rhetoric, to insinuate a lack of transparency of the virus itself. This post briefly explores how the label of the “stealth virus” was rhetorically weaponized for political purposes.
How can polyphony be used to create an effect of transparency in media discourses, especially when communicating with a view to educating their audience about the media? This case study is about examining media scenographies, that’s to say — in a nutshell — how a media can stage an informational and communicative enterprise by, for instance, assigning enunciative positions among the different stakeholders (who could be journalists, experts, the public, witnesses).
Rather than striving for more transparency in the algorithmic selection and recommendation processes of YouTube, this paper examines to what extent the platform can be considered as an epistemic device, as it always performs editing operations that cannot be reduced to partly opaque and commercially or ideologically oriented outputs.
This post argues that the protocols of the trading platforms used by retail investors are designed to fix users in a consumer position, with no influence in the curse of the markets. Challenging corporate discourses describing these platforms as vectors of transparency in the traditionally opaque world of finance, an analysis of Robinhood’s Payment for Order Flow (and eToro’s closed trading system demonstrates that the very elements making these services understandable for millions of users foreclose their agency as traders.
This post explores the genealogy of the discourse and practices of transparency of digital platforms, specifically social network services, during the 2010-2021 period. Discourses and practices of transparency include quantified reports (transparency reports, advertising libraries) and the accompanying textual production published by the GAFAM (Google, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft).
Conspiracy speakers’ criticality: too little or too much? A Rhetorical Reflexion on Conspiracy Theories
If the well-studied phenomenon of conspiracy theories still catches our attention, it is among other reasons because it crystallizes many aspects of our society. For example, our relationship with the media, the notion of transparency, the phenomenon of fake news, but also our ability to live together and make society. In this post, we will focus on the relationship that conspiracy speakers build within their discourses with the notion of “truth” as a value. Our hypothesis is that conspiracy speakers are too confident about this notion; instead of being critical and doubtful about events – as they seem to appear at first – they are instead too sure of being right. In this perspective we will argue that within conspiracy discourses, truth as a value is paradoxically based mostly on the character of the speaker and not on the reasoning they expose.
Unveiling the false, screenwriting the true. Transparency battle in the Early modern polemics (the example of the French Catholic League, 1585-1594)
During the Wars of Religion (16th and 17th centuries), various political or religious groups produced polemical texts. This post focus on the production of the zealous Catholics, whose texts use a large variety of argumentative strategies. Two of them are structured along the axis of transparency: a rhetoric of unveiling and a staging of the information.
A platform, in its very nature, promises to make the entire communication chain transparent (and hence controllable). For content producers, this makes platforms an appealing environment to distribute their creations, since they offer the possibility to know their audiences. Most platforms therefore offer contributors insight into the reach of their creations, in the form of dashboards that contain audience metrics. This knowledge about the audience given to content creators is “interested”, in the sense that the knowledge is not random nor complete, and in its biases it is possible to detect a certain managerial logic.
To understand how contemporary popular culture’s epistemology gets shaped by a dynamic and complex articulation of controversies, truth claims, and media critique, the practices of media sport offer rich historical examples. This paper thus aims to analyze the epistemological and political dynamics of sport’s contested visibility. The main claim is that media sport’s entanglement of controversy and transparency combines trust in and suspicion of media technologies.
Fake news is commonly recognized to be a direct generator of controversy as well as the “discursive events” (Calabrese 2018) that feed and structure it. The identification of fake news through media coverage then implicitly becomes the embodiment of critical thinking; along those lines, the act of identifying fake news turns into a set way of preserving the public’s ability to take stand on the democratic issues involved. However, I wish to draw attention to the observation according to which, despite this apparently close relationship between controversy and so-called fake news, discussing a public controversy around that frame does not fuel the debate, but rather tends to neutralize it, on a political level.
Betting can be considered as an opposite (and maybe complementary) paradigm to the one of transparency. As a cultural form and media mythology about uncertainty, betting offers the ground for a willing suspension of transparency. The betting paradigm is the living archive of the transparency paradigm and the model of rationality it relies on. Therefore, we can illuminate the critical dimension of this living archive with regard to the model of the well-informed controversy and the transparent pursuit of truth.
How can we still argue about the climate? Double irony and opacification of positions in a Pascal Praud’s topic launch
In this post, I want to highlight a particular use of irony as a polemical resource for constructing a sceptical position towards climate change. The issue of climate change seems to be relatively consensual in public opinion nowadays. How then can we still make it an object of controversy, without being trapped in a “climate sceptic” position, which is now largely disqualified? This is the rhetorical stake that I will study in the following lines, based on a specific case: Pascal Praud’s launch of a topic on global warming in the television programme L’Heure des Pros (C NEWS) on 16 May 2019.