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Software Spots Spin In Political Speeches

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the liars-and-filthy-liars dept.

Software 438

T.S. Ackerman writes "According to an article in NewScientist Tech, there is now software that can identify the amount of spin in a politician or candidate's speech. From the article, 'Blink and you would have missed it. The expression of disgust on former US president Bill Clinton's face during his speech to the Democratic National Convention as he says "Obama" lasts for just a fraction of a second. But to Paul Ekman it was glaringly obvious. "Given that he probably feels jilted that his wife Hillary didn't get the nomination, I would have to say that the entire speech was actually given very gracefully," says Ekman, who has studied people's facial expressions and how they relate to what they are thinking for over 40 years.' The article goes on to analyze the amount of spin in each of the candidates running for president, and the results are that Obama spins the most."

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Maybe (1, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052833)

he was just ripping some ass as the speech started, you know, to take the edge off.

Re:Maybe (-1, Flamebait)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052899)

Worst case scenario: Shit just got real. Real wet and sloppy.

Call on me (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053491)

says Ekman, who has studied people's facial expressions and how they relate to what they are thinking for over 40 years

I wonder what he would make of this. [ytmnd.com]

Malcom Gladwell poppycock (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052877)

You want to find out more about this kind of "thin slicing" of reality?

Check out Blink [amazon.com] by Malcom Gladwell.

Never has so little been said so well for over 200 pages. Gladwell is the Barack Obama of the writing world.

Re:Malcom Gladwell poppycock (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052953)

I was just thinking of that book. I think it was actually quite useful. As a member of the intelligence community, I see many implications of thin-slicing and other things in his book to what we do. I think they're right in the article, too, that we're going to be seeing a lot more of this.

Re:Malcom Gladwell poppycock (2, Informative)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053277)

Gladwell is the Barack Obama of the writing world.

That IS a bad analogy.

Subject (5, Insightful)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052881)

Perhaps I missed it, so could someone kindly point out where the New "Scientist" article quantified "spin"? Thanks in advance.

Re:Subject (4, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053069)

It's defined in the customary way -- As anything which runs contrary to the listener's political views, or is said by someone whom they personally dislike.

The way the article describes it, this is just an algorithm which counts how closely the speaker's diction and delivery match those used by McCain and assigns a value for the McCaininess of the speech. Calling it "spin" is, well, an interesting spin.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053319)

Pardon me if i'm speculating here, but Isn't this similar to saying that "people whose handwriting includes closed 'e' Loops and small 'o's means they are shy. A facial expression does not always mean what you think it means.
IF we were going only off facial expressions, John McCain's Smile in the middle of speeches means he's Spinning faster than a proton in the Hadron Collider.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053415)

Actually I think this has all been solved with the definitive answer many years ago...

Know how to tell if a politician is lying?

He has his mouth open....

Re:Subject (4, Insightful)

jpate (1356395) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053365)

The algorithm does seem to consist primarily of a bunch of intuitions that David Skillicorn (http://skillicorn.wordpress.com/) has had about what textual attributes correlate with spin. The fact that statistical counts over the speeches gave different results for different politicians/speech writers is not surprising: such counts are specific to individual authors and can be used, for example, to identify authorship in the Federalist Papers (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.9.7388). I'm very skeptical that Skillicorn has shown that these politicians are more or less prone to spin; more likely he's verified that they (and their speech writers) are, in fact, distinct people.

Re:Subject (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053077)

"Spin" is just euphemism for 'lying' and/or 'exaggeration'. As someone who was once an avid poker player, I can tell you that everyone has little 'tells'. See the movie "Maverick" for information about tells. Even the best of the best bullshitters have tells. Another of Bill Clinton's tells is that he bites his lower lip when he's about to lie.

Re:Subject (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053105)

Software like this will be really useful, you can train yourself against it, killing any "little tells" along the way.

And become a complete, perfect lyer.

Then steal the nomination from Obama at the next democratic convention. "Yes I will make your policies work".

I can't even say it without laughing. Where's the download ?

Re:Subject (3, Informative)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053349)

Spin isn't lying so much as it is making something look good for you whether or not they really are. Good spin doesn't lie.

Example: Katrina was a disaster. Someone wanting to blame FEMA spins the story so FEMA is the bad guy. Someone else can tell the same story (same facts) and make the mayor of N.O. the bad guy. No one is lying so much as they are carefully ignoring certain facts and emphasizing others.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053657)

Lying by omission is still lying.

Re:Subject (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053381)

If that's the case, I don't recall seeing either candidate utter a statement that *wasn't* a lie, misrepresentation, or extreme exaggeration. Softer that could hunt for and identify words or phrases that *weren't* spin might be more useful, statistically speaking.

Re:Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053169)

Why has no one pointed out yet that the software in question is a complete hoax that doesn't do even the brain-dead text scanning they claim but depends entirely on its users to flag instances of "spin"?

I believe in freedom of speech and the right to sell a product, but it should be a criminal act to offer up a steaming pile like this for sale to the public.

Spin defined (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053217)

Well, there's up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange.

Glad to be of assistance. No need to thank me.

For those who don't get it:Quark [wikipedia.org]

Re:Spin defined (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053499)

Countdown until someone links last weeks xkcd, just in case someone here managed to miss it...

Three

Two

Re:Subject (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053545)

FTA:

when a person "presents themselves or their content in a way that does not necessarily reflect what they know to be true".

Re:Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053745)

The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - "I" tends to indicate less spin than "we", for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin.

Right there.

Surely (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25052883)

there are more important things to talk about in this race - economy, Iraq, education, health, science policy, Saturday Night Live.

Why focus on this pseudoscience?

perhaps (-1, Troll)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052889)

Perhaps McSame isnt any longer capable of articulate facial expressions beyond a very small range of motion?

Perhaps, if his medical records were around to look over...

Re:perhaps (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052941)

Or maybe Barack Obama has an incurable brain tumor causing facial ticks. His medical records aren't available either. Nor his academic records. Or his records while a state senator. But he can read off a teleprompter and makes white guilt liberals feel better, that's what really matters.

Re:perhaps (1)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053191)

Right, because the President of the Harvard Law Review needs his academic records verified.

Re:perhaps (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053351)

If he was admitted into harvard and given the law review position due to affirmative action, they do. But I guess the articles he wrote for the law review speak for themselves. What's that? He didn't write anything? Well, I'm sure he's written some important legislation in the Senate. Like a stamp honoring Rosa Parks. Well, maybe he's too busy writing autobiographies and running for president for stuff liek that.

Re:perhaps (1)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053561)

See below

You fundamentally misunderstand what being on Law Review is.

AnonymousCoward@law.harvard.edu

Also...
- Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act
- Coburn-Obama Transparency Act
- Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008 (cosponsored with none other than Sen. John McCain)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act
- Honest Leadership and Open Government Act

And more

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obama#Legislation [wikipedia.org]

Re:perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053721)

Hmm, which one of those is the "reform" that allows lobbyists to buy Senators meals if the Senator is standing up, but not if he's sitting down?

And how many of those were controversial enough that they required real leadership to get done and that passed on a roll-call vote?

Re:perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053387)

Right, because the President of the Harvard Law Review needs his academic records verified.

Speaking of which, where the hell are all Obama's writings from when he was President of the Harvard Law Review, anyway?

So, along with his missing medical records, his missing Illinois state senate history, and all of his academic grades, we're also missing his Harvard Law Review writings.

And what about all his lectures as a Constitutional law professor? Where are those?

Obama's not only getting a free pass from the media, they're all but paying his way for him.

Re:perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053531)

You fundamentally misunderstand what being on Law Review is.

AnonymousCoward@law.harvard.edu

Re:perhaps (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053275)

The article says that the program counts certain words and uses the number of uses to determine the amount of spin.* One of those words is 'we', so inevitably Obama is going to come out as spinning more, one of his slogans includes the word 'we'. Really, language usage is to malleable to base anything on something as simple as word counts. Yeah, Obama says 'we' a lot, you figure they could look at the content of what they say for spin rather than simply how they say it.

*Which is really poorly defined.

Re:perhaps (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053631)

That's a good point.

And I'd say that claiming that Obama spins more, based on some automated analysis that uses a dubious definition of "spin", is itself spin!

How about they give some examples of quotes that were considered "spin"?

So what's new (0, Troll)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052909)

"The article goes on to analyze the amount of spin in each of the candidates running for president, and the results are that Obama spins the most." I am shocked.

Re:So what's new (3, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052975)

I am shocked.

Yes, *yawn* I am too. Who would have guessed the candidate with no experience and a carefully-prepared thoughtful thousand yard stare would use more spin than a self-described straight shooter?

That's Easy--They're ALWAYS Spinning (5, Funny)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052913)

I could write the logic myself

if( politician.isAlive() && mouth.isOpen() )
{
isSpinning = true;
return isSpinning;
}

Re:That's Easy--They're ALWAYS Spinning (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053137)

Never heard the term "Spinning in his Grave".
I bet we could harness the power of every dead idealist by hooking them up to generators and solve all the worlds problems... But once that happens the spinning stop and we loose the power and the world fall in chaos, thus it starts spinning again.... I guess we just cant have a perfect world.

Re:That's Easy--They're ALWAYS Spinning (1)

pisto_grih (1165105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053529)

No, you're thinking of spreading butter on a cat's back.

Re:That's Easy--They're ALWAYS Spinning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053151)

I think mouth should be politician.mouth

Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (5, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052925)

From reading the article, it appears that by spin, they mean "adhering to the rules your old English teacher laid down for rhetorical arguments." For example, don't qualify statements, since it waters down your argument needlessly. Don't use "I"; it makes it sound like you're the only one who holds your opinion, so use "we" when needed to help draw others in.

What this doesn't seem to do is provide any insight into how much the person in question shades the truth. Telling a bald-faced lie plainly won't set it off; wrapping up the truth in an eloquent package will.

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (4, Insightful)

catfood (40112) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053107)

I'm repeating something that also happens to be in some of the comments on TFA, but: Since when does use of "we" instead of "I" indicate spin or deception? If that's your standard, the guy who thinks in terms of a movement, who sees the country as a grand collaboration, is always going to come out as dishonest. And the guy who talks about rugged individualism is going to look like a straight shooter, even if his statements on policy are self-contradicting nonsense.

How is "Yes we can!" so much worse than "I won't raise your taxes"?

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (5, Interesting)

b96miata (620163) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053337)

because the "movement" won't be in office. The politician will.

"Yes we can" is a crap soundbite that sways people who listen to crap soundbites, and it also has the advantage of allowing every (potential) voter to fill in their own definition of what "we" can do, while sticking the polit. with zero accountability.

"I won't raise your taxes", or "I won't attempt to further restrict the right to bear arms" would be widely regarded as a campaign promise, and would be damaging if broken.

If you say nothing of substance, it's harder to be accused of lying.

This doesn't necessarily mean any use of "we" is bad, but your chosen examples are vastly different statements.

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053549)

You are correct. The politician will be in office, but the "movement" will be doing all the work. No president put us on the moon. The people at NASA did. No president built the Atomic Bomb (for better or worse, it did accomplish our most urgent national need at the time -- ending WWII), the people of the Manhattan project did. No president is going to solve our current economic crisis. Average, everday, ordinary people like you and me have to do that.
 
I'd rather have the guy who can inspire people to do great things in office than the guy who wants to bomb Iran and give tax cuts only to the wealthy. But maybe that's just me.

"I" is more honest than "we" (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053575)

Saying "we" instead of "I" is a way of distancing yourself from what you are saying. I was a part of a. . .uh. . support group where I was encouraged to try to use words such as "I" or "my" when speaking rather than "we" or "our". That meant talking openly and plainly about my personal toughs and experiences rather than speaking generally and vaguely about ideas and concepts.

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (2, Funny)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053791)

If that's your standard, the guy who thinks in terms of a movement, who sees the country as a grand collaboration, is always going to come out as dishonest. And the guy who talks about rugged individualism is going to look like a straight shooter, even if his statements on policy are self-contradicting nonsense.

That's communist thinking there citizen.

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (2, Interesting)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053215)

Having had Tony Blair as our prime minister for 10 years I feel that I am now an authority on spin. It is essentially another word for BULL SHIT. It involves an individual talking without semantically meaning anything*. Specially chosen words are used that have resonance with individuals, thus allowing the listener to feel they empathize with the speaker.
  • * Please note this gives advantage to the bullshitter in that he or she is not held by anything that they have said

Re:Spin = Good Rhetorical Argument (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053653)

However, they do state:

It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin.

The statement is not supported, but it would have us believe that some previous studies indicated a correlation between spin and qualificating/clarifinating.

(put the emphasis on the second syllable, and those last two almost sound like real words)

Not a surprising result... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25052931)

given all of the things Obama and his media allies have been trying to keep a lid on - chiefly his ties to William Ayers and Saul Alinsky, but also details like his wife getting a huge pay bump at the hospital where she worked after hubby was elected to the Illinois Senate and started funneling money to said hospital.

Re:Not a surprising result... (1, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052991)

There you go again, using "code words" to subtly remind people that Barack Obama isn't white, that he has a funny name, that he's muslim, that he doesn't look like one of us. If he loses this election, it will be due to racists like you.

Obama spinning? (5, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052957)

Even though I'm a Republican, I have to concede that Obama is one of the most gifted speakers to come along for quite some time. He's an absolutely magnetic speaker and a great advocate for that which he believes, and when I watch him, I almost have to smack myself to snap out of it. I can't stand the guy's politics, but I am proud that he's an American.

Alan Keyes (3, Insightful)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053117)

At the other end of the political spectrum, I think Alan Keyes is at least in the same league at Obama as a gifted speaker.

Re:Alan Keyes (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053187)

At the other end of the political spectrum, I think Alan Keyes is at least in the same league at Obama as a gifted

See, I don't really like Keyes that much because he's too religious right for me. I'm more libertarian neo-con right wing. Republicans though, as a rule, are terrible public speakers and we really haven't had a good one since Reagan. I mean, look at the national buzz in our party over Palin. She gave a speech that didn't sound horrible and now she's a conservative rock star.

Re:Alan Keyes (1)

Anonymous Meoward (665631) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053315)

Actually, I always thought he was a terrible speaker. He's living proof that, in America, regardless of one's race, class, or upbringing, you too can aspire to sound like Elmer Fudd on national television.

And the man has no political sense whatsoever. When he opposed Obama in the last Illinois Senate race (he was drafted at the last minute) he called staunch GOP ally Mary Cheney a "shameless hedonist" for being lesbian. ( Good move, Alan: alienate both sides of the debate at the same time. Schmuck.)

Re:Alan Keyes (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053493)

Yeah, also there's the fact that he was running for the Senate, despite advocating for appointment of senators by state legislatures (which presumably means he's advocating the repeal of the 17th amendment).

Re:Alan Keyes (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053219)

I don't think Keyes is that great a public speaker, but I can't decide if it's cause he's objectively not that great, or if it's the fact that some of the shit he says comes of as totally insane/dishonest and it predisposes me against him.

Re:Obama spinning? (4, Funny)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053135)

and when I watch him, I almost have to smack myself to snap out of it

I think this says more about you than Obama.

Re:Obama spinning? (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053159)

It was like a million conservatives cried out and then were suddenly silenced.

You do realize how many neocon types just had their heads implode due to your statement there right? I mean, I generally consider myself conservative (in the old sense, when it mean fiscal and political conservative and social liberal because a real conservative doesn't want the government mucking in the personal affairs of people.). I most certainly do not consider myself a Republican. The modern Republicans have fucked our nation up possibly beyond repair with their rhetoric and god aweful policy. They have the balls to claim Democrats will spend more when they currently hold the record for spending!

Re:Obama spinning? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053299)

They have the balls to claim Democrats will spend more when they currently hold the record for spending!

No argument there. Bush has just been a fiscal disaster. I think the lesson is, never elect a president from Texas again. Honestly, if Hillary had won the nomination, I might have crossed party lines to vote for her because of her husband's economics. I really, really like the way Clinton did the budget. He said he was going to balance the budget and -did-.

Now, I should point out that if Bush had voted the way McCain did over the last 8 years, there would be a budget surplus. Let's see, McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, voted against the first farm bailout, I can't remember if he caved in on the post 9/11 airline bailout, but.. he voted against medicare prescription drugs and those sort of things have just been budget killers.

I agree with the old school conservative sentiment you share as well. Like, Bush sent me a fundraising card and I wrote a big black note on it: "Quit picking on gays and balance the goddamned budget... you get no money."

Re:Obama spinning? (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053449)

Clinton balanced the budget but gutting the military and cutting the intelligence budget by more than 30%. That is where all of his surplus came from.

Wonder who gets the blame for the intelligence failures of 2000 - 2004?

Social Security and the Federal Budget (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053687)

"they currently hold the record for spending!"

I have news for you. The next administration will hold the new record on spending, and the next after that, and the next after that and so on and so fourth for the next forty years or so. The problem is Social Security, which pushed our budget over $3 trillion this year and continue to push it up as more people retire. You can blame Bush for not cutting other programs, but we would've probably still passed the $3 trillion mark no matter what he did.

In all fairness to him, he was pushing for Social Security reform the whole time he had a republican congress. It is so stupid how everyone just laughed him off and said there is no Social Security crises, but now they are complaining that he failed to reduce the budget. What was he supposed to do, cut defense spending?

Re:Obama spinning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053223)

I can't stand the guy's politics

There can't be much choice in the US. Either you are a republican and you like McCain or you like Obama.. What wouldmake you as a republican choose a president from the Democratic party? But I'm guessing the traditional view of the parties aren't as important in election time as getting the right kind of press and being cool enough to get voters.

FTA

"John McCain's voice analysis profile looks like that of someone who is clinically depressed"

Re:Obama spinning? (4, Interesting)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053267)

What policies do you disagree with?
- NOT firing our best Arab linguists when we're at war in the Middle East?
- Providing mandatory healthcare to children?
- Making healthcare affordable but optional for adults?
- Reforming the tax code so it doesn't take a graduate degree to know how much your bill should be?
- Investing in science and research so China doesn't kick our asses so handily in the next decade as they have in the past decade?
- Increasing funding for charter schools so that even poor people can have school choice?
- Moving race-based affirmative action toward a more socioeconomic-based affirmative action, so that his daughters are judged more fairly compared to a rural white boy with an underfunded school?
- Ending an immoral war by setting concrete timelines, but recognizing that they may have to be modified depending on the conditions on the ground?
- Reducing the incidence and unfairness of the death penalty, while understanding that certain heinous crimes deserve the full outrage of the nation?
- Better sex education, so that there are fewer unexpected pregnancies, and so that when there are unexpected pregnancies, the women know there are options BESIDES abortion?

Exactly what policy do you object to?

I can't think of a single reason to support McCain's platform unless a) you make over $250,000/year; AND b) you're of the mind that you should keep all of it, no matter the cost to your community and country.

Re:Obama spinning? (2, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053737)

Well, since I want to reduce the role of government (especially the federal government) I would say that I'm opposed to most of the points you've listed.

Re:Obama spinning? (2, Insightful)

sheph (955019) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053287)

I'm a conservative (I don't know if that's really the same thing as republican anymore). I'd say he's a good speaker as long as he's got a script to practice and go off of. I've seen a few instances where he's been caught off guard, and had to actually think. Whole lotta umming and uhhing going on there. Not to mention when he says things he'd like to take back (think pigs and lipstick). The best thing he's got going for him is that the media loves him and handles him with kidd gloves. If you take that away though I don't see a great deal of substance in him, and I really worry about the prospect of him changing the healthcare system. Universal healthcare while appealing on an emotional level is almost certainly going to result in all of us getting lower quality care and paying higher taxes to pay for it (IMHO anyway). I also worry about his simplistic view of raising taxes on the rich as though that would have no cascading effect on those of us who aren't. You think inflation is bad now. Better do your homework.

Re:Obama spinning? (2, Insightful)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053599)

I've seen a few instances where he's been caught off guard, and had to actually think. Whole lotta umming and uhhing going on there.

Here's a question for you: which is better, a candidate who thinks about what he says before speaking, or one who can answer every question immediately?

Think about that one for a moment.

Re:Obama spinning? (2, Insightful)

rho (6063) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053731)

If he's actually thinking, then great. Unfortunately it's a lot more likely that he's trying to come up with a way to straddle the fence.

Somebody who is well versed in all arguments against a position can produce a counter-argument instantly. That doesn't make him right or wrong, but it doesn't make him worse than the guy who has to invent a position in an instant.

Re:Obama spinning? (2, Informative)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053297)

Have you heard him give a one-on-one interview? He uses more verbal pauses (uh, um, etc.) than anyone I have ever heard. Granted, he is excellent when working a crowd, and the tone of his voice is catchy.

Re:Obama spinning? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053563)

I'm a Republican [...], but I am proud that he's an American.

This sums up what being a Republican means very well. You don't like it and in fact, if you had your way, it would not exist.
You had nothing to do with it happening and if you did, it would have been to avoid it.
But hey, you are still proud.

If you find yourself drawn to his speeches, it might be time to re-evalute your beliefs, not to simply 'smack yourself out of it'.

No surprise (-1, Flamebait)

J4 (449) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052959)

Obama has to spin the most. He can't be seen as too uppity. People in the US don't want to hear truth, least of all from a black man.

Re:No surprise (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053059)

The American people need to hear the truth about high organic arugula prices at Fresh Market. Something must be done to stop the Big Arugula cartel from price gouging. Only Barack Obama has a plan to subsidize alternative vegetables, such as fiddleheads, radicchio, and endive.

Re:No surprise (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053341)

And the fact you got modded down pretty much proves your point. That was why his speech on race was so great, it talked about the issue but also calmed down the white folks who were afraid he would get into the White House and suddenly start "acting black."

A bit strange. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25052967)

Am I the only one that finds it a bit strange that the Presidential Candidates are on the opposing ends of that
"spin" graph? [newscientist.com]

It kinda gives a bit pseudoscience with political motivations feel to it.

The article is utterly stupid. (1, Interesting)

ThinkTwicePostOnce (1001392) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053225)

Perhaps it was intended to mock the ignorance that so many other nations say
the American public suffers from in regards to political events in other countries.

For something intelligent and entertaining, find The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from
last Friday, where they were reporting on McCain's acceptance speech. They intercut
sentences from it with sentences from Bush's acceptance speech eight years earlier.

Again and again and again they were virtually identical! Anyone got that YouTube link?

You've got to see it to believe it; it was absolutely astounding to watch. (Excellent
work, Daily Show!)

I wish the idiot from New Scientist was a student of mine so I could flunk him. I recommend
against bothering to read the, uh, "fine" article.

Re:The article is utterly stupid. (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053469)

They intercut sentences from it with sentences from Bush's acceptance speech eight years earlier.

Again and again and again they were virtually identical! Anyone got that YouTube link?

It wouldn't be hard to do the same with Obama speeches vs $candidateOfChoice speeches. I've always found political speeches to be full "yeah, us! Booh, them!", and the difficult part is finding the occasional clause where they do say anything significantly different.

I take it they trained the software on... (1, Funny)

AndyboyH (837116) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052979)

...Tony Bliar (mis-spelling of his surname intentional), UK king of spin?

I feel horrible (2, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052981)

After reading the description of TFA, this idea of Obama responding to the article claiming he has the spin, old-school Fresh Prince style with an aged DJ Jazzy Jeff scratching in the background.

I'm all about change, yo, that's why I'm gonna win,

It ain't nothin' to do with no political speee-in!

*Scritch-scratch, scritch-scritch-scritch-scra-scatch scritchity-scratch, scritchity-scratch, scritchity-scratch, scritch-scritch, scritch-scra-atch*

Yes, I'm most likely voting Democrat.

Re:I feel horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053113)

Why would you think of Obama speaking in such a buffoonish manner?

He is articulate and bright and clean. I know this because his running mate Joe Biden said so.

Obama doesn;t realyl say much (3, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052989)

I've always been impressed by Obama's ability to give a speech, and not actually say anything.

It makes him very popular. It's all vaguely positive. There's very little for anyone to actually disagree with.

blinking (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#25052993)

Blink and you would have missed it.

Which is why we can't blink in anything we do. Never blink!

O'Reilly 1.0 (3, Funny)

Carl_Stawicki (1274996) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053005)

...software that can identify the amount of spin in a politician or candidate's speech.

The software is called O'Reilly 1.0, but it's full of bugs and hasn't been updated in years.

Re:O'Reilly 1.0 (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053443)

It hasn't quite mastered telling it's critics to SHUT UP!

So (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053015)

the software basically discerns who is a good liar, and who is not ? the fact that mccain and palin believes their own lies and delusions and doesnt twitch while spurting their shit, doesnt make them better people.

if, obama stutters the most, while talking about good qualities of mccain, and this is noticeable, that tells me that this person is not a good liar.

you need 2 things to be a good liar :

a) Be a totally filthy bastard who can totally negate the instinct of honesty
b) Be a mind numbed zealot or delusional kook to believe in your own lies

either case is equally ominous and dangerous. if obama doesnt fit well with the above criteria, its all fine by me.

Re:So (1)

theskunkmonkey (839144) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053229)

This was my line of thinking as well. At best it can tell who is the better liar but it won't quantify a damn thing. It doesn't surprise me that the better liar comes out with the "least" spin indication. He's the professional liar in the bunch and therefore won't have as many tells.

Spin, spin, spin the black candidate (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053031)

I'm still not at all clear on what this "spin" is. Is it using large words, or fully enunciating each syllable, or speaking in complete sentences? Or some combination of all three?

Please, someone explain it to me. I do not wish to be perceived as elitist.

Re:Spin, spin, spin the black candidate (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053345)

Oh, you think you're better than us elitists eh?

Re:Spin, spin, spin the black candidate (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053797)

Man, I'd mod you up. So bad my mod points timed-out earlier this week.

At 72, McCain can't spin that quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053041)

You just aren't very flexible when you're old!

[Unless you're Madonna]

Expression of disgust? (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053045)

So this blatantly partisan throw away line, has anyone got something to back it up?

Psychology is not an exact science (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053047)

Therefor saying that he expressed digust over Obama is pushing it a bit. Even if that was what his facial expression meant there could have been many other things on his (or anyone else in that situation) mind. Perhaps he just had wind, who knows. MOst of these "I know what someone is thinking from fleeting facial expression" types are just modern day snake oil sellers.

Re:Psychology is not an exact science (1)

weber (36246) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053383)

Therefor saying that he expressed digust over Obama is pushing it a bit. [...] Perhaps he just had wind, who knows.

If that really was the case he would have had a look of relief on his face (possibly followed by a look of disgust a few seconds later).

Re:Psychology is not an exact science (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053609)

You should read up on Ekman. The guy is one of the top authorities on the subject. He has written a few books. Read one or two and check what his claims really are and how much substance and research he can put behind them.

In short: He doesn't claim he can read thoughts, he claims that emotions show up on your face. He also claims to have identified a short list of universal (world-wide, culture-independent) expressions that belong to specific emotions. He's travelled pretty much everywhere on the globe, from western society to primitive jungle tribes and made many thousands of photographs showing those expressions. And yes, the books describe in detail how the emotions were roused so they could be reasonably sure they got the proper one.

Like all mainstream media, the article simplifies things quite a lot. That doesn't mean the science behind it isn't correct.

Big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053083)

Gee, the empty suit with the socialist agenda, no real experience, and who is trying to hide his radical and corrupt past spins the most.

Well duh.

graph: wtf? (1)

Luke_22 (1296823) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053089)

just look at the "spin graph [newscientist.com] "...
...
McCain lowest, Obama Highest?
To me, it seems more a political decision than "real" statistic.
i mean... come on... lowest/highest?? and Bush is almost in the middle?
note:I'm not american, so i'm out of the McCain vs. Obama war...

The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053103)

Does the author give us a way to gauge how much HE is spinning?

Next breakthrough... (2, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053389)

"Software spots water in ocean!"

I mean, COME ON...couldn't they have tried for detecting something that at least just might be absent in the content they're testing? How about spin in the news, for example? Oh, wait...uh...

or it proves software can't read non-white faces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053497)

So how many white faces and how many non-white people were used to train the software?

There are physical differences between sexes and races and since this software measures a physical item it would have to be trained on parallels.

Easy technology... (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053555)

I haven't RTFA, but I'm sure it's nothing but some image recognition algorithms that detect mouth-opening.

Please Sheeple (5, Insightful)

LS (57954) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053635)

Does anyone actually believe this to be anything other than poor science or even worse election year propaganda masking as science?

There may be some objective simple definition of "spin" that you could use to create a automated measuring system, but is this really spin?

Human language is virtually infinitely complex, and there are layers of meaning both conscious and unconscious expressed by body language, tone, cadence, content, etc. Then there's the intention of the speaker, and the context of the speech. But no, we get a elementary school level simple bar chart [newscientist.com] that clearly shows that obama is a complete spinster, and McCain is a "straight talker". Excuse me, but what a load of horse shit! Disclaimer: I'm not voting for Obama or McCain.

LS

More mind reading software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25053669)

Funny, everyone was up in arms about the software that convicted the woman in India. Now, the same software concept, reading truth, is OK.

Good algorithm? (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053751)

FROM TFA

Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin.

So every time a politician says "I'm going to do something" he's lying...

Badarticle (5, Insightful)

pcgabe (712924) | more than 6 years ago | (#25053785)

I initially thought that the Obama-smear was just a poorly written summary (and was going to tag "badsummary") but the actual article itself is slanted. I propose we start tagging these kinds of things "badarticle", since they seem to be cropping up more and more on Slashdot.

Anyway.

There are so many things that bug me about this "article", let's just go through it together.

The expression of disgust on former US president Bill Clinton's face during his speech to the Democratic National Convention as he says "Obama" lasts for just a fraction of a second.

First off, associating disgust with Obama. Paul Ekman says he saw it on Clinton's face. Did any of the other millions of people watching see it?

So how are we to know when they are lying?

Got it, spin = lying. OK. That's the definition we'll be using as we read.

Software programs that analyse a person's speech, voice or facial expressions are building upon the work of researchers like Ekman to help us discover when the truth is being stretched, and even by how much.

Again, spin = lying. I'm with you so far.

The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - "I" tends to indicate less spin than "we", for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin.

I... what? "I" vs "we"? What does that have to do with lying? I thought spin = lying, since that's stated twice at the beginning of the article. Suddenly spin = rhetoric. [wikipedia.org]

In general though, Obama's speeches contain considerably higher spin than either McCain or Clinton.

First, spin = lying, and then spin = rhetoric, but we don't call it that, and then Obama's speeches have the most spin. Which by the new definition means that he is the most effective speaker, but by the original definition means that he is the biggest liar.

McCain is the purported to have the least spin, implying that he is the most truthful (except by their definition of spin, it really means he is the least effective speaker). Hands up, who thinks McCain is the most truthful candidate?

And hey, let's talk about Jeremiah Wright some more, because it's not like that story is history or anything. But hey, any chance there is to remind people that he's associated with Obama...

"When you see these crises come along, the spin goes up," Skillicorn says. "Obama is very good at using stirring rhetoric to deal with the issues."

Ah! Now they even call it rhetoric! Perhaps hoping that the intended audience doesn't know the meaning of the word? (Many people mistakenly think the word rhetoric has negative connotations.)

Indeed, Bill Clinton's fleeting facial slip was the only clear example that Ekman could recount of a politician saying something that they did not mean during both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Seriously, did anyone else besides Ekman see it? Did this facial slip actually exist? Where's the screencap?

This entire article is ridiculous. Decrying "spin", they use it themselves as an anti-Obama device. Absurd.

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