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André Gagné @profagagne
, 10 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
1/ I was recently asked by James Scaminaci III (@4GWDOTDOTDOT) to comment on this interesting report by Francesca Tripodi, “Searching for Alternate Facts: Analyzing Scriptural Inference in Conservative News Practices”. Here are some of my thoughts.

datasociety.net/output/searchi…
2/ Tripodi argues that conservatives apply “practices learned in Bible study… to media interpretation.” (p.6) In other words, conservatives engage in “the same type of close reading that they were taught in Bible study to mainstream media.” (p.3)
3/ Tripodi refers to what she calls the practice of “scriptural inference.” Conservatives “critically interrogate media messages in the same way they approach the Bible, focusing on specific passages and comparing what they read, see, and hear to their lived experiences.” (p.6)
4/ People interviewed by Tripodi say they carefully “do their own research” when it comes to the media; this is what helps them identify “fake news.” Note, however, that for many conservatives, “fake news” often corresponds to the content generated by the mainstream media.
5/ Now, there is some value to the idea of “scriptural inference” if understood as a form of literalism. For example, a pastor insisted that “the language of the law of the separation of church and state” (p.19) was not in the Constitution, questioning the validity of the idea.
6/ The need to find the “precise language” in the Constitution is clearly a form of literalism, and we know that fundamentalist Christians often read the Bible literally. For Tripodi, “scriptural inference” is also found when people criticize the use of words “out of context”.
7/ Some people interviewed did not trust news reports - mainly the mainstream media - which in their estimation took Trump's words “out of context” or “twisted their meaning”. For them, this also constituted what they believed to be “fake news.” (p.22)
8/ Now let's see how things really are. The problem with the way conservatives interrogate and criticize the media or the reading of the Constitution, by insisting on the “precise language” and the “context” is that they rarely apply these rules to their own reading of the Bible.
9/ Many conservatives read the Bible literally but they rarely understand the “precise language” of a text because they either don’t know the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) and/or take passage where the “precise language” is found completely “out of context.”
10/ So, in the end, conservatives are also guilty of what they accuse the media of doing; just look at how they decontextualize the Bible. A final note: it's most likely easier to believe in “fake news” when you’ve been living for years in your own "virtual theological reality.”
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