Mass Spam Infilitration of Facebook Support Groups?

I have Essential Tremor, as well as a lot of the symptoms that suggest Parkinsons, and I have been involved in support groups on Facebook for a few years now, but I have noticed a strange trend, that others don’t seem to pick up on very well and it is leading to a very effective way to deceive lots of people — especially older people who may not realize the difference between a legitimately scholarly article and a fake designed to spam people.

The spammer will typically have an ordinary American name, and will post an article which is emblazoned with a headline that matches the nature of the support group, such as “New Research in Multiple Sclerosis Treatment” and the article will be dated within a few days to appear as if new.

However, if you follow the link, you’ll be taken to a site that has a highly spammy-sounding domain with odd extensions (to the effect of healthbenefit.info or latestresearch.website just as an example of the style), and the content of the article will be an actual old article or combination of actual articles that are really just cut-and-pasted from other scholarly articles, but from years ago that have since been refuted.

A friend of mine with MS was recently tagged in one of these, which was shared quite innocently by a friend of his with good intentions.

Below are a few red flags to watch out for:

1. Look at the website name first. If it says something generic like “bestcure.info” or “amazinghelp.site” or “findinganswers.help” or something similar, then proceed with caution. I haven’t encountered any that have trojans yet, but I’m not going to be surprised when that starts happening. This generic domain name, even if it says something slightly more specific like “latestparkinsons.site” be careful.

2. Without clicking on it yet, try to google the first few lines of the text preview, and use quotes around the whole phrase when searching. In the case of the above example, the article at the fake site states it was published in April 2016, but searching for “An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with” leads to an article from November 2009 with the identical story, as if it were just lifted straight out and republished.

Although the original looks even spammier (loaded with advertisements), at least it cites its sources, which most of the spammy don’t — plus this post is the earliest version google can locate for now, so google at least lends it some credibility for being the first to publish this article.

At the end of the original, however, an update is provided that the results of that announcement had been refuted in 2013, from a 2013 trial — but the spam article doesn’t post the refutation, since maintaining the false hope this could still be a viable solution for patients in desperate need of help is a really easy way to ensnare readers.

As a word of advice, consider employing these strategies before sharing any “amazing breakthrough” kinds of medical articles, even if your intention is hope for someone you love. If you’re in doubt with whether the site is authentic, then don’t share it.

Research on your own, such as googling the doctor’s name, or seeing if the article you’re reading provides any links to where they got their information. If the article references a certain study at university of something, google that university study and find out if it’s real first, or find out if there have been any studies that refute those claims. Don’t contribute to more confusion the way that other people might believe that you did research it, when you didn’t.

Should English Become The Official Language of the US? NO. Here’s Why.

It would be impossible for English to become the official language of the US, because English is not defined and has no rules.

You read that right — there are no rules for the English language, and that is why it cannot become the official language of the US. All of the rules you learned in your English class were the rules for passing that individual class and do not apply to English the language itself.

Think of it this way: are there rules for making a painting? Painting is an art, and there are no rules in art. In order to pass an art class, however, students must obey the rules that the teacher must create to conform to grading systems — but those rules do not apply to art itself.

A Bachelor of Arts in English, is an Arts degree. Art does not have rules. Art is a form of expression, and since the US constitution limits how the government’s suppression of expression, the government cannot establish an official art and remain constitutional. An official art that everyone must use would be like creating an official form of expression and eliminating or invalidating other forms of expression.

English doesn’t have rules? What about the dictionary?
English does not have rules. A dictionary is a kind of newspaper about a language, not a rule book. Think of a sports page of a newspaper that lists yesterday’s game scores. Is the newspaper suggesting that all games from those teams in the future must have those scores? No, it is merely descriptive of observations of the game. In the same way, dictionaries are descriptive of how language has been observed to have been used in the past, by the largest number of people.

Dictionaries are not prescriptive of how words are only allowed to be used, nor do they limit ways words must be used. Dictionaries serve as a troubleshooting tool to help you figure out what someone might have meant, or as a strategy to help you select a word that the largest number of people might understand with minimal questions of what you meant.

Think of a hashtag search on Twitter. If you perform a search of a particular hashtag on Twitter, you’re given a list of tweets in which that hashtag has been used in the past — not standards that limit how a hashtag must be used. A dictionary is merely a kind of hashtag search, which shows the most popular ways to use them — but not the rules for using them.

Dictionaries can be used prescriptively in certain styles of writing, but English does not have a governing style. Imagine if you were playing basketball and someone yellow-carded you for touching the ball with your hand, as if you were playing soccer. Styles of English are like different sports. Many styles are similar, such as Chicago Press Style and Associated Press Style for journalists.. similar to the way soccer and basketball both involve getting a ball into a goal. But the rules of one sport do not govern “sports” in the way that the rules you learned in English class do not govern English.

Lexicographers are people who study words and how they’re used. Lexicographers research by direct observation the ways people use words in everyday life.. in TV, newspapers, on Facebook and more, and keep a tally of the way people have used a word. Did they use it adverbially? Did they verb the word? This tally of ways people have been observed to use words go into a large database called a corpus, that dictionaries can draw statistics from about specific words. In what way was a particular word used the most often? Dictionaries then list those ways in the text of the dictionary, starting with the most frequent way, followed by other ways in descending rank.

When you look at the definitions of a word in a dictionary, you’re not looking at the only ways you’re allowed to use a word (nor spell, nor pronounce them, either). What you’re seeing is just a list of ways people have used words the most, from the past. If a newspaper were to report about a murder where the weapon used was rope, the newspaper is saying that it was observed that a murder took place using rope — not that rope must be used for all future murders. A dictionary only describes how words were previously used, by the most number of people.

In order to understand what someone from the past meant, it is important to look to a dictionary from that person’s time to see what other people from that person’s time meant when used a particular word. If a people are observed to use a word differently than the most frequent way of yesteryear, then the dictionaries will eventually change the ranking of the most frequent definitions of a word in order to be up to date. The addition or removal of a word from a dictionary doesn’t make it official or unofficial — the word simply becomes popular enough or becomes insufficiently popular to make the arbitrary minimum rank that the dictionary publisher chooses to set.

There was a recent controversy about the dictionary definition of marriage changing to match the way marriage is used. Since a dictionary does not limit the ways words are only about to be used, people who believed they did were upset that dictionaries were changing the rules on marriage.

The US cannot even plausibly enforce a law making English the official language of the US, because English itself has no rules.

References of Interest:

“Many believe that when (and only when) a word appears in a reputable dictionary it receives formal validation and can take its place in the English lexicon. … As one of a number of researchers who collect evidence of new usage for the OED, it intrigued me to think that I might be a member, even a junior member, of a shadowy cabal that sets the standards for all well-educated English speakers. No — the process really is as anarchic as it seems. This is actually a relief, since I’d hate to be held personally responsible for the current state of the language. … We are, in the language of the business, descriptive dictionary makers: we record, we collate, we analyse, and we describe what people actually say and write. If enough English speakers decide that some word or phrase has value, to the extent that those who encounter it are likely to need to consult the dictionary in search of its meaning, then it is put into new editions. .. This standpoint is sometimes misunderstood, and as often disliked. People who consult dictionaries most commonly want the tablets of the law, not a mirror to language.” — How Words Enter the Language.

“To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it’s used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them. Each day most Merriam-Webster editors devote an hour or two to reading a cross section of published material, including books, newspapers, magazines, and electronic publications; in our office this activity is called “reading and marking.” The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms–in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means, and determining typical usage. Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use. … Change and variation are as natural in language as they are in other areas of human life and Merriam-Webster reference works must reflect that fact. By relying on citational evidence, we hope to keep our publications grounded in the details of current usage so they can calmly and dispassionately offer information about modern English. That way, our references can speak with authority without being authoritarian.” — How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary?.

“People often send us words they have made up and ask if we will add their invented terms to one of our dictionaries. Unfortunately, the answer is probably no, because we generally only add words that have been used widely over a number of years: we assess this by looking at all the evidence we have in our files and databases. Of course, some invented words do catch on and become an established part of English, either because they fill a gap or because they are describing something new. … New terms have to be recorded in a print or online source before they can be considered: it’s not enough just to hear them in conversation or on television, although we do analyse material from Internet message boards and TV scripts. … For every new dictionary or online update we assess all the most recent terms that have emerged and select those which we judge to be the most significant or important and those which we think are likely to stand the test of time.” — How do you decide whether a new word should be included in an Oxford dictionary?.

In Defense of Sensible Message Delivery

The following is a conversation that I had with another YouTubee, regarding the nonsensical use of a song with blatantly explicit lyrics within the first few seconds when attempting to spread the word of why weed legalization should be considered. My foremost argument was that the attempt should have been made to reach the widest possible audience, not merely rationalize that people should just disregard offensive bits.

The video (here, note the very NSFW lyrics at the immediate beginning) about the rationale to legalize weed is a decent message and well-made conversation, but the opening song makes the potential for spreading to relatives and cow-orkers dramatically lesser due specifically to the opener.

It’s not something I’d rather forward to my grandmother, or post on here as I try to keep things as clean as possible. Further, it is my assertion that the vast majority of swearing is purely unnecessary — that emphatic statements can be made without using language many regard as woefully inappropriate.

Keep in mind that YouTube comments have a maximum character limit of 500, so retorts are naturally brief. Words inside [brackets] are corrections in my original post to clarify.

ablestmage – Video would be loads better if the opening song didn’t have swearing. It is now not sharable with friends and family due to the obscenity at the very beginning. Nice.

casemon – Maybe you should get friends and family that are adults and can handle someone else’s expression without feeling they’re being violated?

ablestmage – The idea when spreading a message is to appeal to as many people as possible, not limit your audience. There are millions of Americans who will not tolerate swearing [in] music, and will be automatically turned off from any message that contains swearing because it is utter insensitivity from the very beginning. The idea is to appeal to EVERYONE, not just people you consider adults. Why limit your audience like that?

casemon – You say “everyone” but then discount use of aggressive language as a means of expression. This is the very core of hypocrisy (hip-hopcrisy?) Closed-minded people who “turn off” from a few uncouth words, imposing outdated morality, are the very closed-minded people who got us into this. I don’t care for the music either, but as a thinking person, I choose to not let it tarnish the core message. Otherwise I’d be apart of the problem, not the solution. Don’t mistake the forest from the trees.

ablestmage – I don’t discount it as a means of expression. I discount it as a means of appealing to the widest audience possible. The idea is to get the message out to both the open AND the close-minded people. Insulting your audience’s standards is not conducive to getting a message out, and may inadvertently re-inforce the idea that drug legalization propontents lack common decency — regardless of whether the message is legitimate. Simply excising the offensive language solves the entire problem.

casemon – Cow-towing to a self-imposed moral center will get us nowhere. I contend such is the very same thinking that got us here (your rebuttal?) What you’re suggesting is censorship; voluntary, but still damaging. I don’t know where to begin to explain how many ways that is harmful. What I do know is supporting insular, xenophobic thinking, that serves to distract from the message, will not help us move forward. Perhaps you can channel your conviction into creating a pro-pot video for the dainties?

ablestmage – Catering to the sensibilities of your audience is fundamental in the essence of effective message dispersal. If you are trying to spread the message about the benefits of democracy to an Islamic nation, you don’t make a video with the opening song bellowing, “Mohammad was a douc[h]ebag.” It’s just common sense. You’re not sacrificing your journalistic integrity by being cognizant of your intended audience’s sensitivity — you’ll have their rapt attention if you acknowledge it.

casemon – Ok, so let’s follow your point (as you ignore the ones I make). How is the opening music anti-american as you suggest? I believe tagging other people’s videos with your own bumper music / logo is stupid, but surely this content is available without the uploader’s tag, unbranded? Why not find those and send those links to your sensitive friends? Or again, why not make your own? This is YouTube. Basically why not be a part of the solution that you so covet?

ablestmage – I never suggested the opening music was anti-American. I said there are millions of Americans, who could certainly do well to hear this message, which also find curse-filled lyrics unacceptable. Part of effective message dissemination is establishing credibility as a messenger, and by insulting the audience you’re trying to communicate with is detrimental to that goal. The argument is not with the branding, the style, the music genre, the artist, or the beat — it’s the explicit lyrics.

casemon – Ok, I’ll bite. So how does your example about sending an anti-Muhammad message to a Islamic nation compare here, if you’re not suggesting the opening music to this video is anti-american? From where I’m sitting, you’re using double-speak; draw contentious inferences to flame the fire, but then deny doing so and try to shift focus away. Poison-pill. I understand your views on marketing strategy, you needn’t repeat them. Perhaps instead you can rather rebute the points I’ve made? Perhaps not!

ablestmage – The example applies because the original message (of democracy) has nothing to do with the alleged douchebaggery of Mohammad. Including an offensively-worded song as an opener for a message you want to speak to people who would naturally find offense with the song, is just nonsensical. What other points in particular have you made, other than misunderstand mine?

casemon – The music and the video do speak to a similar venue; that we’re no longer a republic “of for & by the people”. You’ve made your point, the music conflicts with your _personal_ views on what is offensive; “nice”. I do disagree the uploader should change for you or the supposed millions you apparently have no qualms speaking for. I know there are just as many who have no problem with it. But if you can’t read, don’t get snarky with me for giving you a chance to not sound like a dinosaur…

ablestmage – It is not my opinion that they are offensive — I can dismiss them just fine. My remark is that a very large potential audience exists who would find the opening lyrics offensive. In order to better communicate a message to a wider group of people, a peaceable form of speaking should be utilized, instead the sort that is widely known to elicit irritation, regardless of whether that irritation is well-founded. In order to convince dinosaurs of a valid point, you’ve got to speak dinosaur.

casemon – So many assumptions, so little humility; amazing! Twist & bend what you’ve said as being something else, go ahead. Ignore the points I’ve challenged you on, no problem. I understand such is easier than _actually considering_ an alternate view; best to just repeat yourself and accuse anyone who questions who as being simple (oh the irony!) I _was_ curious as to why you don’t do a better job yourself, rather than criticize others… but your attitude speaks for itself. Hope that works for you! As of press time, there were no further replies. Should there be any more, I will append them.

ablestmage – The reason I’ve been repeating the same thesis is because you keep trying to derail the original argument and make it about unrelated side issues. Sure, feel absolutely free to have grand, exquisite, lightning-spooge victory on the side points all you like. I haven’t bent anything — I’ve repeated my original argument continuously. My criticism is constructive and makes the potential audience larger, thereby increasing its effectiveness.. I *do* a better job, and I’m passing along tips.

casemon – It’s ok, people lie to themselves every day. Don’t feel you have to justify yourself (unless you want to).

ablestmage – Bothering to justify oneself is evidence of credibility. If you prefer not to justify yourself, I’m sure your intended audience will have their tomatoes ready.

Cuddle & Coo Doll Comments Summary

After looking at the zillions of comments I’ve gotten from people in the past couple months of my video’s run, here’s a list of all suggestions submitted.

islam is the light
israel is the light (pronounced iz-RY-el)
ismaliz delight
a smile is delight
ichabod needs the mike
israel is the life
aslan is the light
we all look alike
is lamb on a kite
Hitler is the reich (and thus invoking Godwin’s Law)
e-slaw is delight
his mom is a dyke
a smile in the night
I.S.K.C.O.N. is the light
anyone got a light?
it’s not near the light
islam is alike
England is the light
Eggland is the light
if you’re not here tonight
is mom here tonight
islam has my knife
lives long in the night
is mom alright
which one is alike
slammin down the light (in an aussie accent)
it’s sunny delight
i glow in the night
it’s on israelite
is ron in the lake (aussie accent)
his law is the light
his long israelite
kiss mom goodnight

There also appears to be a big rift between many of the commenters:
1. many are perfectly capable to discern individual syllables from the sounds and make up nonsensical “ig-la-ig-de-like” translations, others understand how “islam is the light” might be heard by someone who doesn’t know any better but just find it to be incoherent murmurs,
2. more suggested comedically that the message is actually a garbled version of “the [insert sports team] rule,” (or some otherwise unlikely variation), others who reason that “ig-la-ig-de-like” doesn’t make any sense therefore it must be some other combination of real words,
3. a few muslim commenters revelling in the victory of islam over American capitalism,
4. yet still others will adamantly *insist* that there is a message present of some kind and that it is ultimately some act of corporate conspiracy to destroy the minds of children and demand its removal from the shelves or they may just have some kind of aneurysm right this very second and it is all your fault.

I am among the first group, and I am frankly baffled by the last group. Here are a few from that last bunch:

//
“This doll obviously says “Islam is the light.” I can’t believe people aren’t fighting to get this trash out of America!

Um hello ITS CLEAR AS DAY!!!!!

Look IDIOTS…the point is the doll is defintely saying something. The timber of the voice changes and their is a meter to it’s speech. It is no longer “cooing”. So what is FP toys trying to feed our kids? They could clear all this up by simply making it public. It’s obviously saying something and since FP is “politicaly correct” it probably IS saying Islam is the Light to garner support from the enlightened peoples of the world. (roll eyes)

It sure sounds like “Islam is the light” to me. Regardless of what it says, I don’t appreciate a toy manufacturer slipping something other than a “coo” in this doll. I don’t trust their message and their messing with the minds of our children!!

I bet some oil rich Musim @%&*!$# bribed Fisher Price just to get this out on the market!!! It’s to bad some Americans will sell there soul for a quick buck. And I wouldn’t buy one for a buck today even if I could sell it tomorrow for $1,000,000!!!! And anyone who buys one is supporting Terrorists! Think about it!!!!

official response is, “The only ‘word’ the doll is programmed to say is ‘mama’. all else is ‘cooing and gurgling”. asked her if she heard it herself. she said no. i told her that i had, and mama was not the only ‘words’ this doll said. i told her i will be boycotting fp/mattel products until they acknowledge the problem and make a public apology. whether they intended to produce this or not; it happened and they need to take responsibility for it.

I only have one thing to say: What in the hell is the reason for making these children’s toys to say things like I just heard. I am not deaf or hard of hearing. I will no longer shop at Target or any other store who carries these types of dolls or other toys that can send messages that parents should be giving their children. What happened to plain dolls that help little girls to learn to be good mommies? They went out in the the 60s. When I was young. We don’t need talking dolls at all.

Whether that is what it is saying or not, it is close enough to warrant concern on the part of any Christian. The doll will not be recalled for fear that it would offend the Islam community in the US. Christians have been offended and ridiculed for way too long now and I certainly do not want any child that I love and care for to have one of those dolls and, unless there is a formal apology, it will be a cold day hades before I purchase a F-P or Mattel product again.

What do you think it is saying? I hear it saying ‘Islam is the light’.
Obama, the secret muslim, is in cahoots with Fisher Price to brainwash America. This is a very sinister thing that has been uncovered.

//

Even still, I am thankful there are a few people with some sense out there:

//
I’m hearing “Ichabod needs the mike [microphone].” Either way, it’s just an example of apophenia. And not even a particularly good one; I’ve heard much better examples. Check out episode #105 of the Skeptoid podcast for some really uncanny examples made from only computer-generated sine waves. (BTW, I’m not associated with Skeptoid at all, I’m just a fan of it.)

Everyone is nuts!!!! it just sounds like baby talk…blah blah blah…People have way too much time on their hands.

This is the power of suggestion at work; it sounds like “Islam is the light” because that’s what we’ve been told to listen for. Fisher-Price has released the original (uncompressed) recording, and it’s clearly nonsensical baby talk.

Just go find the Chinese people that recorded and made this doll and you will have your answer. It probably really is something Chinese for “More American dollars for us!” XD

I rate you five stars for the way you present the video. It’s sounds like “Islam is the Light” to me, too. Of course, nobody really ever says “Islam is the Light” except this doll, so it’s hard to believe it’s a Muslim product. I think it’s supposed to be burbling like a baby, not saying anything. I have to admit, I would freak out if a doll I bought suddenly said something religious.

if i had listed to the doll without reading what it’s supposedly saying, i maybe would have just said that it was random mumbling but like you said, a case of suggestion, so i’m sitting here expecting it to say “islam is the light”

“ikluh eh da light” – That is what it sounds like to me. Sounds like babble…… What an amazing concept, a baby the babbles. Wonder if somebody put that in a doll. Hmmmmmm? How any of you hear Islam at all in the first word scares me. The doll clearly makes a keh sound in the first word. Unless somebody has changed it and not told me, and Webster, there is no “K” or keh sound in the word Islam

Im pretty sure that if you listen to it with the words Islam is the light going through your head then that is what you will hear.I have to admit,I couldnt make out anything other than an unclear voice saying Islam is the light.Somebody made the point about free speech,people have the right to suggest that Islam is the light.But,and its a BIG but,if as were meant to believe this is a crude attempt at brainwashing children then the disturbing thing isnt the words but their vessel.
//

However, there were a handful of people who took the opportunity to make light of the mess and post silly, funny, and smile-worthy remarks to lighten up the discussion:

//
It’s saying “I snort the nose, Lucifer! Banana! Banana!”

I want a Bud Light.

Afternoon delight. The doll is obviously a fan of “The Starland Vocal Band”

“Staaaaay in school! Bruuuush your teeth!”

Too bad it’s not uttering stock tips.

It also says: “Americans are paranoid !!”

“obama is white”

“e-slaw is delight” I’ve never tried e-slaw, but I did have an e-hotdog once.

it said “anyone got a light?” cus it’s a cool smoking baby

I just got done taking a shower! i just watched ur video while im naked! lol xD w

it says Estrella delight! 50 % Less Fat!

//

One final goofy commenter is while I’ll close with, which gave me a good chuckle it was so random:

igla is delight. This dates back to the original doll series back during the time of hedges which was shortly before the wheel. Igla was a shrewd fellow who enjoyed fig daltons (later becoming the infamous fig Newton) but spent quite a many nights with a fake friend dollumnaum. After many years of mispronouncing this fake creatures name, he decided to cut it short and just call it doll. Many years later….awe crumb..I’ve dropped my fudge.

I’m done.

Debunking Common Truths: Religion Creates War

“Let’s disregard religion as a legitimate pursuit — just think of how many wars were fought because of it!”

This may seem like a valid argument, but almost exclusively in an anti-religious context. Taking a step back, it’s actually an overgeneralizaiton of the causes for war: wars were also almost completely fought over land ownership, money, non-religious purposes and beliefs (like pride).. and even things like simply bad attitudes or refusal to accept a compromised peace. Even more generalized, all wars were fought by mankind. So let’s just kickban mankind, no?

The truth is that there are an excessive number of variables that may collectively play into reasons to pursue war, and religion has been blamed near-excusively by anti-religion proponents by simply noting that it was one of many variables and is therefore discreditable. This approach abstains from genuine research into the actually terms waged among wars, which religions in particular are to be discredited, and performing any sort of genuine analysis for avoiding war.

This idea is also a decent example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, by discarding all religions based on the actions of a few who claim to represent a single religion. While I would caution one to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, I would also suggest that one not refrain from throwing out bathwater for fear of throwing out babies. Investigating the actual teachings of a particular religion from the perspective of a proponent (difficult to determine, perhaps) instead of leading outspoken critics of it may be of utmost priority in order to be considered even lightly credible.

What I find especially paradoxical about the over-use of this particular accusation is that the speakers of religion are often also considered to be liars or speakers of falsity — but the moment they proclaim what religion they represent, they speak the undeniable truth. No doubt, at all, seems to fall upon whether the proclaimer of militant Islam belief or outspoken Christian activism is actually who they claim to be, and yet at the same time are regarded as uneducated and lie-bellowing sociopaths.

One aspect that might be suggested of bearers of the “religion creates war” philosophy may be a more simple and broader perspective that, under the guise of probability, the actions of a few in one group represent the actions of all the others in that group — regardless of whether the fact remains they are spokespersons for that group or not. The outright failure to research and further determine whether the entire group shares that belief, makes such a leap of reasoning a serious discredit to the speaker of such assertions.