Title text: Mark Zuckerberg has only neutral feelings toward Peppa Pig, who he understands is a fictional character, and he blames the coronavirus pandemic on other factors.
When writing a news article that "debunks" a claim (shows why it is false), writing its headline in the form "X is false" is discouraged. The reason is that just repeatedly seeing "X", even if negated or followed by "is false", can make readers subconsciously believe it.
To avoid this, Randall as a journalist has worded his debunking articles in a positive sense. This makes for a confusing read if the reader has not heard of the original claim. The "original claims" allegedly being debunked here don't actually appear to have been made anywhere, and can only be inferred from the debunking.
Much of the debunking relies on setting simple facts straight, making for bizarrely banal headlines.
|Article Headline||Possible claim being debunked|
|AP photos show that Dr. Fauci's office contains a normal number of microwaves|| That Anthony Fauci's office is subject to excessive microwaves, possibly an attack against Dr Fauci or as a weapon employed by him against visitors. Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US and is seen as the public face to the COVID-19 response in that country. US diplomats have been altering their lives due to an unexplained Havana syndrome, an early theory for which has been use of a microwave weapon. Microwaves can be part of a number of conspiracy theories ranging from health problems or manipulation of the public. However, because the headline references photographs to debunk the claim, the news article is apparently talking about the number of microwave ovens in his office. Either there is some miscommunication between the conspiracy theorists and debunkers, or the original claimant was fixated on Fauci's office appliances for some reason.
The vague phrasing also implies that the number of microwaves pictured may be larger than most people would consider "normal" for an office, and that the article is defending that large number as "normal". Since microwaves are not office equipment, the "normal amount" is zero, with perhaps one or two in a break area.
|Fact check: Singer Billie Eilish was born years after the TWA Flight 800 explosion||A conspiracy theory linking Billie Eilish (born December 2001) with the TWA Flight 800 crash in July 1996.|
|Vaccinated people can remove their hats without trouble by tugging upward, say doctors||Vaccination has long been the subject of many, many conspiracy theories about potential side effects; this article could be commenting on any number of such, from claims that vaccines magnetize people (popular in June 2021), that vaccines cause one's head to swell thus making hats become tight, that vaccination makes one's head sticky or fuse to one's hat, that vaccination causes hats to become tighter, that vaccination causes one's inability to raise one's arm high enough to tug one's hat upward. Alternatively, vaccinated people may have been asking for permission to remove their masks in public (as of this writing, the CDC still recommends people vaccinated against COVID-19 stay masked in public) but this somehow got mixed up in a request to remove their hats in public.|
|Physicists say Dorito powder is affected by gravity||A claim that Doritos powder is not affected by gravity. For example, an anecdote around a local businessman discovering that objects levitate when sufficient powder is applied to them, or people misunderstanding dust floating under atmospheric turbulence as evidence of "antigravity".|
|Steering wheels will work normally on Dec 12th; make left and right turns as usual||Faults (perhaps due to failures in the power steering system), triggered for example by solar storms or latent software bugs or a deliberate software hack, will cause cars to steer erratically on that date. December 12 is in fact "doomsday", but only in the sense of the doomsday rule for determining the day of the week.|
|CNN investigation: Santa's skin is dry and healthy this year, with the same amount of oil as before||Santa Claus is suffering from oily skin, which can cause acne.|
|(Title text) Mark Zuckerberg has only neutral feelings toward Peppa Pig, who he understands is a fictional character, and he blames the coronavirus pandemic on other factors.||That the founder of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) has strongly negative feelings toward the cartoon character Peppa Pig, believing her to be a real talking pig and the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, or maybe that he is a fan with some out-of-control behaviors towards "her". May be a reference to a recent speech by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which he expressed admiration for Peppa, much to the bewilderment of journalists.|
- [Several news headlines are shown in boxes.]
- [Box 1] AP photos show Dr. Fauci's office contains a normal number of microwaves
- [Box 2] Fact check: singer Billie Eilish was born years after the TWA Flight 800 explosion
- [Box 3] Vaccinated people can remove their hats without trouble by tugging upward, say doctors
- [Box 4] Physicists say Dorito powder is affected by gravity
- [Box 5] Steering wheels will work normally on Dec 12th; make left and right turns as usual
- [Box 6] CNN investigation: Santa's skin is dry and healthy this year, with the same amount of oil as before
- [Caption below the panel:]
- I don't know whether the "Don't repeat the claim in the headline debunking it" thing works or not, but it definitely makes reading the news weird.
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