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Trump appointee never claimed dinosaurs are a hoax

As far as we know, a Trump appointee did not say that " ... scientists are nothing more than a bunch of dumb, regular people with limited vision who think dinosaurs actually existed.".
As far as we know, a Trump appointee did not say that " ... scientists are nothing more than a bunch of dumb, regular people with limited vision who think dinosaurs actually existed.". GETTY IMAGES

Controversially, Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s nominee to be the chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, isn’t a scientist.

(He’s a business professor and right-wing talk-radio host who was an early supporter of Trump.)

Clovis has said that “climate change and cap trade and all the other legislation is simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from one group of people to another.”

READ MORE: Beware reports based on screenshotted tweets — here’s why (again)

He has not (as far as is known) said that “I thank God every single day that he had the mercy not to make me a scientist as well … I’m proud I’m not one of them because they believe in things like evolution and the like.”

“At the end of the day, scientists are nothing more than a bunch of dumb, regular people with limited vision who think dinosaurs actually existed and the earth is somehow getting warmer.”

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That account seems to have originated at politicops.com, a well-known fake news site.

(h/t to Snopes and the Associated Press.)

READ: Time magazine cover shown to Trump in a briefing was a Photoshopped fakeyoung 

It’s a type of fake news story that mixes the true and the more or less plausible. Real events in Washington strain credulity past the breaking point more or less every day. And Trump does have allies in the religious right, (despite being, as the New Republic points out, a “thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator”).

There are fundamentalists who explain the fossil record by arguing that people and dinosaurs co-existed in a 6,000-year-old earth, but the stretches involved must make it tempting to claim they never existed. However, those who argue that dinosaurs are a hoax appear, as far as we can tell, to be a hoax themselves, though a really elaborate one.

READ: You can smoke pot in bed for 70 straight days, but NASA won’t pay you to do it

In fake news news:

  • On Medium, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab looks at the complicated world of bot armies. Earlier in May, the owner of a web design company outside Moscow tweeted about his frustration with the U.S. green card lottery on his seldom-used Twitter account. Somewhat surprisingly, it got over 6,000 retweets; it becomes less surprising when we learn that apparently all the retweets (which seem to have been published steadily according to a schedule) were by bots under his control. Some were eggs; others had taken more effort to create, involving images of real people. “Together, these factors suggest that, despite all Twitter’s attempts to weed out botnets, it is still relatively easy to create a network thousands strong,” Ben Nimmo concludes.
  • Snopes takes on the thankless task of trying to disentangle which ‘alt’ U.S. government accounts are ‘real,’ in the sense of being run by sincere people who actually work for the agencies they claim to work for (like @alt_labor and @Alt_Labor_Me at the U.S. Labor Department.)
  • Buzzfeed is on a roll this week:
  •  They round up the misinformation and disinformation connected to the British election (it’s quite the collection), trace the ordeal of an Indian restaurant in London accused of selling human flesh to a story created on channel23news.com, a ‘prank’ site that helps people create their own fake news stories (the restaurant has had to cope with threats and worries the decades-old business may have to close)
  • And fake Twitter accounts that try to give the impression that ‘antifa,’ or anti-fascist groups vandalize war memorials.
  •  Jim Waterson, Buzzfeed’s U.K. political editor, explains the Conservatives’ microtargeted Facebook ads, which seem to be aimed at people in individual constituencies. (Broadcast political ads are banned in Britain, but the law hasn’t caught up to digital ads.) “The Conservatives are pioneers in the field, and their messaging is more negative and personal than the adverts put out by rival parties,” Waterson writes.
  • Charlie Warzel traces the roots of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, and how it keeps going with such thin material (it has a lot to do with Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump site based in Missouri.
  • Thinkprogress.org points out that the right-wing version of the Rich conspiracy narrative has a strange parallel on the left.
  • Storyful’s Padraic Ryan explains the lessons he sees in how fake news interacted with the French presidential election. Among them: it’s time to pay more attention to 4chan, and newsrooms need to figure out how to deal with campaigns launched from closed sites like Discord.
  • Nieman Labs notes that shareholder activists are trying to prod Google and Facebook into doing more about the spread of fake news on their platforms.
  • Mother Jones takes a deep dive into the long relationship between Donald Trump and the extreme right. “Extremists made him their chosen candidate … because he has amplified their message on social media—and, perhaps most importantly, has gone to great lengths to avoid distancing himself from the racist right,” Sarah Posner and David Neiwert write.
  • It’s easy to fake a tweet (as we’ve explained in the past); it’s also easy to edit and screenshot your browser’s local copy of any site at all. Here’s a quite harmless example:
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