It is often said that a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on. If you have been watching the media over the last few days, you might have come across a puzzling statistic that “97%” of cow related violence happened after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India.
Not surprisingly, the mainstream media has been actively promoting this number and here are just a few examples of media outlets that have made it to the roll of dishonor thus far.
Where did this 97% number originate? It turns out that all these articles are referencing a report compiled by an organization called IndiaSpend over here:
I visited their website and discovered that they claim to do something called “data journalism”. Which is shocking, because the way the methodology behind their “data” of 97% cow related violence happening after 2014 is so dishonest that it can only be considered a lynching of statistics.
A “database” on crime compiled not by looking at police records, but by running Google searches with certain keywords! Worse, they decided to stick to English language media only, taking pride in saying that a “cursory search” through Hindi media “appeared” to throw up the same incidents.
Well, the Hindi media should count its blessings. At least they got a “cursory search”. Everyone knows that nothing worth talking about is ever reported in media in any other language.
So, if the English media chooses not to cover an incident, it doesn’t get counted! Of course they found that 97% of cow related violence happened after 2014!
Hey IndiaSpend, why stop there? For your next “data journalism report”, perhaps you could save some more effort and just search the NDTV website instead of all of English language media. Why do that even? Why not just collect all your “data” from Rajdeep Sardesai’s Twitter Timeline? There’s no way that could throw up a fake, distorted picture of India, right?
If only IndiaSpend had bothered with a “cursory” search regarding the ethical methods of data collection….
This 97% number and the media fanfare surrounding it is something of a watershed moment in the history of fake news. Liberals couldn’t find the actual data to prove their accusations against the Modi government. The Indiaspend report is the first attempt that I know of where liberal outrage itself has been recycled into “data”.
Considering the furious pace at which the mainstream media has fanned this piece of fake news, it is only a matter of time before this number of 97% becomes a fixture as well in international reports about India.
This first wave of “reports” in the Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Firstpost and Business Standard will soon be referenced by BBC and New York Times.
In turn, future articles in Indian media will reference this second wave of “reports”, firmly establishing this fake 97% number in the discourse.
The final stage will consist of academics and court poet historians whose job it is to turn the fake news into accepted historical fact.
It is up to the common people to resist.