Smart Ideas: Really Real

Plus: Congress should focus on carbon-capture.

Pete Buttigieg, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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April 25, 2019, 8 p.m.

How to fake authenticity

Gilad Edelman, writing for The Atlantic

Politicians who are considered "authentic" are often merely good at making audiences believe they say exactly what they’re thinking in the moment. For instance, a recent study found that when speakers repeat themselves, they seem inauthentic because “we’re wired to assume that all speech is extemporaneous. When that assumption is revealed to be false, we penalize the speaker.” President Trump can seem authentic while lying precisely because “he is so committed to saying whatever he feels like that he doesn’t let the truth get in the way.” Among the 2020 presidential field, several candidates, especially Pete Buttigieg, are particularly good at making their ideas seem new each time they speak. “This raises an obvious question: If the art of authenticity resides in making the scripted seem spontaneous, doesn’t that make it fundamentally inauthentic? Short answer: yes.”

Carbon-capture should be Congress’s environmental goal

William Murray, writing for GreenBiz

Carbon-capture technology, which captures “emissions from industrial sources or directly from the air,” is drawing a rare bipartisan effort in Congress to combat climate change. If implemented, it “could help save the planet's climate” and "open a new market for removed-carbon-based products." The bill being considered, the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USEIT) Act, “has attracted some strange bedfellows” like Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and James Inhofe, although the two sides have different end goals. “Senators such as Whitehouse view the bill as an incremental step toward a national carbon price, whereas Inhofe and other pro-fossil-fuel senators view climate hawks’ support for carbon capture and sequestration as ‘recognition that you have to have fossil fuel’ to keep America running.”

What to do about the fake-news feed

Bonnie Kristian, writing for The Week

We have little power to prevent one of Russia’s most insidious methods of election-meddling: creating Facebook ads and pages to sway public opinion with false stories. “Millions of Americans followed and propagated the Russians' content" in 2016. Unfortunately, there is no “obvious way to ban any of it without thoroughly shredding the First Amendment's protections of speech, press, and assembly.” While many Americans don’t share fake news, it’s still a significant problem on social media, and users should introduce more skepticism to their scrolling. If they can’t, “removing all political content from our social media feeds is a good alternative.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg AP Photo/Francois Mori
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