Photo of K Shanmugam from Straits Times

Law Minister K Shanmugam and government scholars were have a fun day at the first day of public hearing for new censorship laws, talking about alcohol, sex and fake news. Government researcher from Institute of Policy Studies Carol Soon told the Law Minister that fake news is like alcohol and sex, with Minister K Shanmugam agreeing with her:

“A quote in the 2017 IPS report on how decisions based on confirmation bias make people feel good in the same way drugs and alcohol might sparked a flurry of discussions. The report stated: Individuals get a rush of dopamine when they find confirming data similar to when they eat chocolate, have sex or fall in love, thus people tend to focus on information that supports their confirmation bias, and ignore information that contradicts their beliefs. Falsehoods leave a greater impression, while the truth limps behind slowly and does not quite eradicate the original false impression. Research had shown that attempts to debunk falsehoods may sometimes in fact reinforce them.”

Government researcher Carol Soon then provocatively flirted with the Law Minister in the public hearing saying she support new censorship laws:

“Attempts to correct these to be done quickly, and for these messages to be designed in an appealing way. Talking about chocolates and sex, these messages have to be as sexy as the falsehoods.”

The government academic then said, without providing any statistics, that “research” has proven people from “extreme ends” of the political spectrum are more susceptible to fake news.

Another government academic, foreigner Michael Raska, from S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said fake news is a weapon used for invasion by other countries. Law Minister K Shanmugam happily agreed saying that aggressive countries will first invade the social media before invading the country:

“A campaign of disinformation, where falsehoods are spread subtly and gradually, could be the first step in an attack on Singapore. This is especially so for foreign actors who want to attack Singapore, but cannot do so using military means.”

The first public hearing wrapped up with the two government scholars expressing support for more censorship.