It’s an article of faith with me that most of the people on the internet need a more robust set of mimetic filters. Stupid obvious clickbait isn’t going to go away and stop polluting our social media feeds until we stop clicking that shit. So, stop clicking that shit already!

Here’s an example. Headline: How Internet Porn Caused The Rise Of Donald Trump. Genre: obvious nonsense; sub-genre: anti-porn. I never would have clicked, except that (a) it was in the Guardian, which has earned a lot of goodwill from me, and (b) it was tweeted with approval by someone I trust.

So I clicked, and I started reading, and after staring incredulously at eleven long paragraphs of vague stupid armwaving sentences like “if porn has worn away our ability to spot and dismiss unlikely claims and scenarios, then it has been of great help to Donald Trump and his methods” I was ready to tear out my hair, I was mad at the Guardian, and I was annoyed at Girl. Then, blessedly:

But isn’t this claim ridiculous?

Of course it is. No part of this argument stands up to scrutiny. It’s just a smattering of basic neuroscience combined with a very simplistic (and somewhat harsh maybe) portrayal of pornography. People’s sexual leanings and behaviour varies tremendously, as does porn, given how much of it there is. Internet porn was no less common during the Obama years, and is just as accessible in places like Canada and Germany, which seem to be avoiding the embracing-ridiculous-despots trend thus far. Invoking a few fundamental neurological processes does not confirm that watching porn causes you to be a gullible sexist, any more than playing Grand Theft Auto automatically makes you a sociopathic serial killer (despite what some media may seem to think). People doing things without acknowledging the camera isn’t exactly exclusive to porn, it describes practically all TV shows.

This article just is an example of how easy it is to create a valid-sounding theory by forming a conclusion and reverse engineering it, cherry-picking things that back it up from the vast amount of data available.

More such sensible prose follows. It’s a basic lesson in how lazy journalists build clickbait articles. Read it. Learn from it. Stop falling for it. Starve them out, at the only level they care about: their page load metrics!