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Bill Clinton Suggests Internet Fact Agency

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-true-i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.

The Internet 336

eldavojohn writes "Friday on CNBC, Bill Clinton gave an interview that is causing some unrest on popular news sites today. When asked if there is a role for government in terms of ensuring that the information out there is accurate, he replied, 'Well, I think it would be a legitimate thing to do. ... If the government were involved, I think you'd have to do two things ... I think number one, you'd have to be totally transparent about where the money came from. And number two, you would have to make it independent. ... let's say the US did it; it would have to be an independent federal agency that no president could countermand or anything else because people wouldn't think you were just censoring the news and giving a different falsehood out. That is, it would be like, I don't know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors. And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake.' His statements have elicited responses ranging from a Ministry of Truth a la 1984 to discussion of genuine concern about internet rumors and falsehoods."

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FANTASTIC idea! (5, Funny)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142844)


This is a superb idea, the internet is so full of half-truths and outright lies it makes my head spin.

A prime example was the flood of pro-vaccine nonsense that was obviously spread by Big Pharma soon after Dr. Andrew Wakefield's brilliant research into vaccine-caused autism was all but shredded. Alternative medicine caregivers (homeopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, accupuncurists, among others) have all been treating vaccine induced autism. WE'RE IN THE FRONT LINES! But some well placed lies soon spread as truth.

How about another? The LIES that Chiropractic neck manipulation can cause strokes. How do they know? They don't! This LIE was conceived by BIG PHARMA. They sell all the OtC pain remedies to unsuspecting sheep. Neck (Cervical) manipulation has cured MILLIONS of people of chronic headaches, migraine, sinus blockages and other maladies that BIG PHARMA sells you drugs for.

Sorry if this comes across as a rant, I'm only allowed to post two times a day. This is because of the BIG PHARMA drug pushers who constantly vote me down rather than have a proper, adult discussion with me.

The sooner they get someone in power who can regulate the internet, not some fancy 'scientist', but a true medial professional, the better.

Take care,
Bob

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (2)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142882)

*golf clap*

Brilliant first post, Utterly brilliant.

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (1)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142888)

I know you are trolling, and I even crack a smile sometimes, but have you stopped and considered that there are people more credulous and less informed than what you expect? Even if one paranoid parent withholds vaccine from his child because of your crap, wouldn't it outweight the shits and giggles we got from it?

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142938)

then we might as well just imprison everyone preemptively..you know, for the children.

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (2, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142974)

Even if one politician with a hard on for tyranny justifies his excesses because of your

paranoid parent withholds vaccine from his child because of your crap

crap, wouldn't it outweigh the shits and giggles we got from it?

Or, more legibly, the 'even if it only saves one life it's worth it' argument is the biggest crock of shit in modern rhetoric.

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (1)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143140)

Hey, I did not appeal to the force of the law! Of course, what Dr.Bob DC is doing is legal. But morally, I don't think he should be doing it. No, we should not be jailing those saying what we do not like. But since when is it censorship to try to change their mind?!

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143280)

But since when is it censorship to try to change their mind?!

Did I accuse you of censorship? Did I say censorship? Anywhere?

Hey, I did not appeal to the force of the law!

*Goes back, reads own post* Nope, nothing about force of law either.

Of course, what Dr.Bob DC is doing is legal. But morally, I don't think he should be doing it.

And you reach that conclusion on the back of a 'if it saves even one life it's worth it' argument. Which is a crock of shit. Which is what I actually said. Lives are not of infinite value. There are many things that are not worth it even if it saves one life, a dozen lives, or a thousand lives.

Even if one paranoid parent withholds vaccine from his child because of your crap, wouldn't it outweight the shits and giggles we got from it?

To answer your rhetorical question in terms you can understand: No. It wouldn't.

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (-1, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143214)


Here goes my second post of the day.

1) What crap? Vaccines are a scourge. Diseases like polio were already on the decline before the vaccine that 'cured' it was around. You know what has actually cured disease? Not vaccines: CHIROPRACTIC! Proper manipulation of the spine which removes subluxations and allows nerve impulses to flow without impedance. It sounds simple and it is. Furthermore, it's completely drug free.

2) shits and giggles? If you find my postings amusing that isn't the intent. Unless you're one of the Big Pharma moles who is voting me down every time I post on the blog and you're trying to make me look like a quack.

I'm seriously thinking about taking James Randi's $1,000,000 Challenge. I'd use the money to take on the Big Pharma pushers and educate people about the value of alternative (REAL) medicine.

Take care,
Bob

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142912)

Sorry if this comes across as a rant, I'm only allowed to post two times a day. This is because of the BIG PHARMA drug pushers who constantly vote me down rather than have a proper, adult discussion with me.

No, it's because you come across as a rant and that's why you're voted down. That, and batshit crazy.

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142944)

Yeah! Right on. (now what did I do with my tinfoil hat?)

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143234)

I can understand Americans who are paranoid of the influence of Big Pharma because of just how much pull that industry has in your country. However, said industry does not have such a pull in most other countries.

How is it you can write something off as just being Big Pharma manipulating the system, when every other country is also vaccinating?

Re:FANTASTIC idea! (-1, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143302)


Thank you for commenting!

First off, Big Pharma has their tendrils into all levels of government and medicine.Lies are their trojan horse, filthy lucre is their goal.

There's so much more that can be cured when we treat our bodies well. Rather than a greasy burger for lunch, enjoy an organic banana and some salt-free nuts. Thirsty after a hard day at work? Don't grab a chemical-filled beer, enjoy a glass of soda water with a splash of organic pomegranate juice. Getting the craving for meat after some exercise? Eat some non-GMO tofu!

That's helping the fuel in your machine (the body). Once you have a good tank of gas, you'll need maintenance. Chiropractic adjustments will help with the subluxations of modern living. Your nerve impulses will flow through your nervous system like signals in a computer: nearly unimpeded.

Take care,
Bob edit:I CAN post more than twice?! mentioned in my journal just now!!

Inb4.... (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142858)

Inb4 right-wingers absorb this into their net neutrality mythology!

Re:Inb4.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142910)

Comments like this is what makes slash dot seem like waste of time lately.

Re:Inb4.... (1)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143026)

If anything made Slashdot seem like a waste of time, it's people wasting time by commenting on waste-of-time comments. Like this one.

I'm just doing my part.

Re:Inb4.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143092)

Stop wasting my time!

Re:Inb4.... (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143098)

Does that mean my comment is an even bigger waste of time?

Re:Inb4.... (1)

dsleif (2163084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143124)

Cause I'm wasting my time... wasting my time agaaaaaaaaiiin whoooooaaaaa agaiiiin

Re:Inb4.... (1, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143022)

Inaft3r left-wingers project their half-truths and willful ignorance of past transgressions caused by government regulation. No, I'm not a right winger.

left and right wingers are stupid. please understand that for them the ideology comes first and they will defend it no matter how much it comes up short in a given situation.. it's nothing more than an emotionally driven religious fervor. it's also why people defend specific politicians no matter how stupid their actions.

Re:Inb4.... (1)

pete's-brain (1712936) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143076)

sweet, i've been waiting forever for a /. discussion about winger [wingertheband.com] ...

Just a rumor (4, Funny)

kenholm3 (1400969) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142862)

Bill Clinton didn't say this.

Re:Just a rumor (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142946)

Did he hold a presention just to say "I did not say this"?

Re:Just a rumor (2)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143014)

I'm pretty sure he wagged his finger and spoke slowly, measuring the effect of every word when he said it - kinda like this [youtube.com]

Re:Just a rumor (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143044)

Well, in one sense, I do suspect that people are treating him as saying something he did not. It sounds like he was talking about a hypothetical, government funded organization that researches and reports truthfulness of other reports by giving evidence and citations. He's not saying to use a government department to block anything regarded as "false". Does not seems much different than a highly constrained version of the BBC, CBC, ABC (Australian) and other government channels you don't have to pay attention to if you don't want to.

Re:Just a rumor (3, Informative)

jrj102 (87650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143154)

Bill Clinton didn't say this.

Actually, I heard a brief clip of the interview on the radio this morning-- it was his voice. He did say this.

That being said, he didn't suggest it-- he was asked if there was a role, and he went off on a hypothetical about IF you were to do it, you'd have to have these safeguards in place. He was not saying that it was something that we should do.

Re:Just a rumor (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143202)

That whooshing sound you heard was the joke going right over your head.

Re:Just a rumor (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143432)

I guess it depends on what you say the definition of "say" is.

Re:Just a rumor (2)

Dunega (901960) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143312)

That all depends on what the definition of "this" is.

Re:Just a rumor (1)

mr_lizard13 (882373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143414)

This.

Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (-1, Flamebait)

Drake42 (4074) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142868)

It's the only way. When we had it, politics was more civil and more responsive. Since it's been gone, there's nothing but a greed-fest in public discourse. Who cares if it's a lie if you get ratings? With the Fairness Doctrine in place, the liar gets an immediate shellacking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142926)

... to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced.

Translation: the federal government/current administration has to approve of the way you handle controversial views. What could possibly go wrong?

I would have thought that radio broadcasting would have somewhat similar rights to the freedom of the press. The "Fairness Doctrine" seems to challenge that idea.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (0)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143190)

I've been thinking about that lately. I'm sick of hearing things like conservative radio talk shows (but they aren't the only ones) make up their own 'facts' on the spot: "72% of americans think that [...]". Let's call a lie a lie and if free speech is all fine and dandy, why should outright lies aimed at manipulating people be tolerated at all ?
If you pretend to be a journalist and claim some statistics and it's not out of a peer-reviewed _published_ paper, you get an automatic fine. Why not ? No, I don't equate that to blanket censorship.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143294)

If you pretend to be a journalist and claim some statistics and it's not out of a peer-reviewed _published_ paper, you get an automatic fine. Why not ?

It would depend on the "peers" that do the reviewing, methinks.

Meanwhile, why not just ridicule and ignore the liars (of any stripe) outright? Seems to be a lot more reasonable, plus those of us who aren't ideological jack-heads get some humor out of it.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142954)

With the Fairness Doctrine in place, the media present the people who hold the opposing viewpoint as being all nujobs because they select as spokespeople for the opposition the nuts rather than the reasonable people. When we had it politics was more civil and less responsive.
When the Fairness Doctrine was in place the media presented Lyndon LaRouche as the face of libertarians.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143052)

they select as spokespeople for the opposition the nuts rather than the reasonable people.

Really, do you think that today's cable news feature reasonable people?

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143060)

The Fairness Doctrine has as much to do with fairness as the Patriot Act has to do with patriotism.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143168)

And now Ron Paul is presented as the face of all libertarians, although he is not. So that is a poorly chosen argument

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143324)

You are correct. Ron Paul is not representative of most libertarians. Most self-identified libertarians are much wackier than Ron Paul.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (3, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143006)

most issues are more complex than 'for and against.' thus, the 'fairness doctrine' wasn't really fair at all.. all it did was provide a 'sensibility' sandbox that was defined by popularity, not truth. step outside the box, and you were censored anyway.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143018)

What would that have to do with the internet? The fairness doctrine was about preventing monopoly broadcasters from controlling public discourse. Since there is no such thing as a monopoly on internet broadcasting (unless ISPs start blocking your forum posts based on content), how is it even relevant? There is no scarcity of broadcast time on the internet, so the fairness doctrine doesn't even make sense.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143024)

Ah yes, the good old days of debate - when people were civilized and settled disagreements with swords and pistols.

You must be a member of NEHBIWB (Nuthin Ever Happened Before I Was Born)!

It is for folks like you that I say "Those who didn't pay attention in history class are going to force the rest of us to repeat it"

It's a Passive Solution Though, Not Active (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143058)

I stand against the Fairness Doctrine because I see it as an adjustment to free speech. I'm not claiming it blocks free speech but I see it as detrimental because it partially instructs broadcasters what to present. On top of that, I think it's a little shortsighted and subjective in how it aims to enforce each broadcaster to pose all sides of the issue.

What I like about Clinton's suggestion (though flawed for many other reasons) is that it is a passive system. Anyone can say anything that they want or broadcast what they want but the next day they could be labeled a liar or at least someone who spouts half truths. The article lists many sites like factcheck.org that already do this so why not publicly fund an even bigger and more active site for the public good? It would cite its sources and it might even lead to better transparency in the government if it was also devoted to FOIAs in order to make statements about budgets and spending have real numbers instead of the bland "We spend too much on social programs!"

His suggestion is a little naive but at least it lets everyone say what they want to ... if this agency can establish a neutral reputation and if it's done correctly, it could be invaluable to the nations' citizens. I think the cost of such an operation would be quite trivial to the public good ... people like Glenn Beck have had a reign of stupidity for far too long in this country.

I think the solution is the not the active regulation like the Fairness Doctrine but something more passive where the broadcasters go back to regulating themselves before they become the laughing stock of the press. The fact checkers would just sit back and watch and check and report. No need to fine the infractions or hand out warnings or demand so and so should get airtime.

Re:Bring Back The Fairness Doctorine (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143166)

I don't know what we could do if we could not call the president a monkey without the opposing view that he is not in fact a simian. I do like the fact that liberal radio can call the current speak Boner without allowing corrections to his name, and talk about how Bonercare will solve everything. Fact based reporting is for the bygone era, and the fairness doctrine is not going to bring it back.

my attempt at this (1)

vsync64 (155958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142890)

Here's my own attempt at something like this, focusing specifically on scientific fact-checking:

Science Rumors [sciencerumors.org]

Re:my attempt at this (3, Informative)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143122)

I've yet to check out your site, but will. As I've yet to judge how successful you are at your mission, I can only say I appreciate that you're trying.

For politics, there's also FactCheck.org [factcheck.org] .

The trouble is that you have to approach these grains-of-salt sites and the like with a grain of salt. The idea of a "fact agency" sounds very tempting as a quick fix, and I'm certain that if such a thing were created, it would do wonders at the beginning. But once there's a fair amount of public trust in it, that's when the potential for abuse becomes great.

Nothing will ever eclipse thorough research and hard questioning.

Internet Fact Agency? Great idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142892)

Just think, if we had had one of those back when he was president we would have conclusively known once and for all whether he had, in fact, had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...

Re:Internet Fact Agency? Great idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143340)

we would have conclusively known once and for all whether he had, in fact, had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...

We know, conclusively, that outside of the courtroom, he had sex with that woman.

We also know, conclusively, that due to our government taking for itself the right to redefine the English Language for its own purposes (for instance, to define "having too much" weed as "intent to distribute" without actually showing intent or distribution of the drug), within the courtroom, he did not have sex with that woman because the court defined sex to mean that he came in contact with her genitals or breasts, neither of which occurred while receiving his blow job.

In the end, not even the ability to take down the opposing president could convince the Republicans to release the government's scaly grip.

Dear William Jefferson Clinton: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142900)

An Internet Fact Agency ALREADY exists.

It's called Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

You need to inhale MORE.

Yours In Novosibirsk,
K. Trout

Re:Dear William Jefferson Clinton: (0)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142934)

Yeah right, like everything on Wikipedia is 100% accurate. NOT!

Re:Dear William Jefferson Clinton: (1)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143150)

It could be. What does the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia say about that?

Re:Dear William Jefferson Clinton: (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143236)

I don't think anyone would believe that the fact agency would be 100% correct ether but one would hope for a reasonably high level of correctness. (the definition of correct will very from person to person too)

But Wikipidia encapsulates the major premises of the argument. Independent, it has citations, and it is suppose to be fact neutral. The last premise is debatable but, my reasoning comes from the fact that it is an encyclopedia at its core. Maybe a few improvements can be added like "facts" / entries had to have citations, and facts have to be approved by at least 2 people would better encompass the idea.

The easier way (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142902)

Instead of changing people's minds to think that the "fact" isn't true, It would be easier for the government agency to change the world so that the fact becomes true.

Re:The easier way (2)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143160)

This might just be the most baffling comment I've ever read on Slashdot. Which is pretty damned impressive. Kudos.

wikipedia (0)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142904)

I'd imagine wikipedia will happily accept 200k usd from the U.S. and 200k eur from the E.U. just to keep doing exactly what they're doing.

Re:wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142998)

Apparently Clinton thinks wikipedia is wikileaks:

You have—people spend--corporations and governments spend massive sums of money, you know, trying to protect their information. And look, this enlisted Army person blew through it all and dumped all that information to Wikipedia. So that's troubling

Re:wikipedia (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143032)

That's a misquote, what he really said was:

You have -- people spend -- corporations and governments spend massive sums of money, you know, trying to protect their information. And look, this enlisted Army person blew through it all and dumped all that information on the Wiki Wiki Bus [wikimedia.org] . So that's troubling

Re:wikipedia (4, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143094)

Wikipedia? Seriously?

Given that much of Wikipedia is dominated by cliques of editors whose main preoccupation is to keep out competing edits (no matter how sensible those edits may be), and given there's a big difference between neutrality and objectivity, I hardly think Wikipedia is a good example of what Clinton is talking about.

Re:wikipedia (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143326)

I'd imagine wikipedia will happily accept 200k usd from the U.S. and 200k eur from the E.U. just to keep doing exactly what they're doing.

Confused. Wikipedia will accept money to combat inaccuracies, or Wikipedia will accept money to continue spreading inaccuracies?

cigars (1)

wood_dude (1548377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142908)

Bill Clinton, the guy that can cause more trouble with a cigar than a nuke !!!

Suggested name (0)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142916)

Ministry of Truth. That name cannot have any negative connotations.

Waste, Again (4, Insightful)

omb (759389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142928)

Quite apart from all the other good reasons why this is a BAD idea, it is another way to wase money a broke country dosn't have.

Re:Waste, Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143130)

it is another way to wase money a broke country dosn't have.

It -to a large degree- is broke because of intentional lies. Stopping that would presumably be useful. Besides, the country isn't broke, just horrible at distributing wealth.

It would however seem more reasonable to me to require that anything in the news and politics that is presented to the public as as fact will require verifiable references to be presented at the same time and with at least equal prominence as the original statement was. And the references need to be based on something that would be disprovable if it were wrong...

Re:Waste, Again (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143216)

"Besides, the country isn't broke, just horrible at distributing wealth."

Our country takes in $2.5T in revenues each year, spends about $4.3T, and has so far racked-up just over $14.3T in debt.

If we scale those numbers down to the personal level (slide the decimal point a few places to the left), that would be like a person that earns $25K/yr spending $43K/yr, and is carrying $143K in unsecured debt.

I'd call that person broke, why is it different when a country is in the same straits?

Re:Waste, Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143218)

"broke country"

If you mean the U.S. you've bought the GOP line. There's more wealth in the U.S. than most of the rest of the planet. The problem is its concentrated into far fewer hands. You and I may be "broke", but that's not the same as the country being broke.

Don't let scare tactics trick you into voting against your own best economic interests by being against policies that, in the long run, actually stimulate jobs and control costs.

Would it really be so bad? (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142956)

Yes, obviously, there's the Ministry of Truth aspect to it. However, when I want to find out what the real deal is about the latest flu pandemic, you know where I go? cdc.gov. If I want to find out what the story is around the latest federal budget numbers, I go to cbo.gov. If I want raw country data, I go to cia.gov.

There are already plenty of times where some numbers geeks are holed up in a government office, crunching numbers and nothing but numbers. Is there a risk of political influencing? Sure is. You just have to look at FEMA for one of the most egregious examples of political horse trading. But you can set up an organization in such a way as to minimize political influence.

There are really three areas where I would like to see an official government agency providing a central information clearinghouse:
* a history of political events (who said what, where and when)
* a history of detailed public office budgets (down to who makes how much)
* a general list of current hoaxes and misinformation. Think of it as Snopes done .gov style.

Yes, all of that would obviously be done from the perspective of the government, and with associated biases and perspectives. But it would provide an easy place to get that kind of information, rather than having to trawl through countless soundbites presented by various other organizations.

Re:Would it really be so bad? (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143064)

Er, why do we need snopes.gov if we have snopes.com?

Re:Would it really be so bad? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143178)

if we have snopes.com?

I think Snopes has been caught out on some hot political issues. They are great for debunking urban legends. But there is FactCheck.org [factcheck.org] , PolitiFact [politifact.com] , and to a lesser extent The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:Would it really be so bad? (2)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143072)

In 1984, the Ministry of Truth is a propaganda body. They do not provide citations. They do not check facts. They decide what the truth is to be. I totally agree with the points you've made, but I think it's worth noting that what's being discussed here is not related to the Ministry of Truth in 1984. The Ministry of Truth is more like how the Nazis did news, and also more like how various modern news organizations do news. What is being proposed is actually the opposite of the Ministry of Truth.

Re:Would it really be so bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143138)

yes, and what is proposed would almost immediately be purchased and corrupted by the largest political contributors. Hence, these "facts" would be carefully worded or left out to favor said contributors. Its got a 0% chance of success.

Re:Would it really be so bad? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143182)

Are you talking about the same book by Orwell that the rest of us are? In Orwell's book, the Ministry of Truth CERTAINLY provided citations. I mean, come on. That was part of Winston Smith's job, to produce citations for them to cite.

The whole notion of a 'final authority' that sifts around and determines the absolute Truth is what Orwell's book was about, and it's what this kind of stuff is about. It's about Authoritah. [youtube.com]

1 event, multiple accurate versions (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142960)

Seriously, all this would do is make an official version of something. The simple truth is, there are always multiple interpretation of things, all of which can be accurate. Take an historical example into consideration: the cause of the American Civil War. There are many different interpretations given for the start of the war, and all of them have numbers, figures, and documents to back up the theories. With complicated issues like that, how do you say which is more accurate? Different people can look at the same exact document and reach different conclusions based upon the same information. Yes, it is important for people to have access to accurate information, but if you institutionalize it like this, eventually it will get biased. Institutions always have a certain culture which will inevitably draw certain types of people/personalities/political beliefs to work there. If we are going to do anything, we need to teach people to decide for themselves what is accurate. Put emphasis on logical reasoning and deduction, and give them access to several different interpretations. Because, in all likelihood, you will only have an accurate picture of something if you can look at these different interpretations and aggregate them.

There are some things government can do (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142962)

There are some things government can do. This is not one of them.

The best thing the government can do to establish "facts" is to arbitrate disputes involving facts. We're already doing that. We have laws against libel and fraud. Enforce them. End of story.

While it may be a tragedy that some people believe the president was born at an alien base in the African jungle, this doesn't rise to the level of fraud or libel. At least, it hasn't been put to the test AFAIK. Any attempts to outlaw fantasy masquerading as truth would run afoul of free speech and religion.

Let's not go down that road. You're retired, Mr. Clinton. It sounds like you should stay that way.

Suggested Categories for Facts (3, Funny)

scruffy (29773) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142968)

1. Known knowns

2. Known unknowns

3. Unknown knowns

4. Unknown unknowns

Re:Suggested Categories for Facts (1)

clem (5683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143346)

What facts would you put in categories 3 and 4, given that they're unknown by their very nature? At best you could have 3. previously unknown knowns and 4. previously unknown unknowns.

Might slow but won't stop the rumors (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142976)

I think there will always be people who will believe anything they hear and never bother checking the facts even when it is available. These days it's a blog or a tweet; in times past it was over the fence or by telephone. I can't count how many tweets I've read recently about some celebrity's death only that it wasn't true. And these are people who don't believe in conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theory buffs never believe a government agency telling basic facts like water is wet.

Fact or fiction (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143000)

One person's fact is another person's fiction. Information can be used in many ways to come to various conclusions. The right and the left can often see something completely different, and yet they both had the same "facts".

What would the Fact Agency have concluded when Mr. Clinton stated that he did not have "sexual relations with that woman." Was he factually correct?

Re:Fact or fiction (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143322)

What would the Fact Agency have concluded when Mr. Clinton stated that he did not have "sexual relations with that woman." Was he factually correct?

If they were doing their job, they would have concluded that drawing a conclusion as to the truthfulness of that statement is beyond the scope of their mission. All they would provide is the fact that Bill Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." That's it. That would be their function.

As another example, they would not say, "The Japanese instigated the war with the U.S. by bombing Pearl Harbor." Instead, they would say, "The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor." The former is a conclusion, while the latter is a fact.

It would be up to the fact gatherer to draw conclusions based on the raw facts. There would still be disagreements as to what those facts mean, but that would be (should be) beyond the scope of the agency's mandate.

Depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is... (3, Insightful)

wrightrocket (1664871) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143034)

Bill Clinton talking about what the truth is! I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is... http://www.slate.com/id/1000162/ [slate.com]

Seems like a Wikipedia-like effort would work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143106)

I truly love the idea - but that it would be funded AT ALL is worrysome, because whenever there is money, there is corruption and bias and a way to apply pressure.

I think the Wikipedia model would work well - allow collaborative editing - but with much stronger referencing rules than Wikipedia applies.

If it worked well, the actual creation of the site would be rapid, comprehensive, truly independent - and cheap enough that it could be funded by donations. It would be cool if it could also be distributed rather on a centralized server - to make it harder to suppress it. But having it be widely mirrored might achieve the same goals.

It's a great idea.

    -- Steve

His VP invented it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143114)

His VP invented it, Bill is just trying to fix it.

No precednet for what he suggests (0)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143144)

He holds up as examples the BBC and [blogspot.com] PBS [adweek.com] - they just seem "fair and impartial" to him (and millions of other, left-leaning folks).

The CBO is biased to - but not by their own hands, they are limited to "cost" bills and make projections fed them by partisan hacks - they can't independently go out and gather their own data they have to base their projections on the mis-information they are fed by the politicians and their staff.

If President Clinton thinks the Government should play an active role in the truth, maybe it could start by adopting a rule to only tell the truth? That would be a much better start, IMHO.

Heard this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143366)

You've just cited a blog dedicated to criticising the BBC in order to make the point that the BBC is biased. Irony, much?

The BBC is respected and regarded as fair and impartial by tens of millions of people around the world who consume its television, radio and online journalism. People on the left and right in Britain and across the world like it, and criticise it - but the vast majority of us in Britain still wouldn't change it for the catastrofuck that is news in the United States.

Government should focus on own inaccuracies (1)

jd.schmidt (919212) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143156)

The big problem is it isn't clear what information needs to be corrected or how effective the government will be at doing it vs. all of the other sources of information people have. If you have a brain in your head you know Wikipedia is more accurate than Conservepedia. But for those who choose the second, I don't think a Government web page explaining yet again how bad Conservepedia is will make any difference.

A better idea would be for the Government focusing on providing accurate information in the first place rather than "fixing" other sources inaccuracies. What if each government agencies communications department was giving a similar mandate and protection from political interference! Now that would be something I could really get behind. I do believe the government CAN give good, accurate and relevant information. It just needs to be given that mandate and isolation from political interference.

The nice thing about the Internet is, while there is plenty of wrong information out there, you can find accurate information more often than not if you try

In Clintons defense however, he is focusing more on how to do it than that it should be done.

Government already does this (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143158)

...and in an appropriate way. Say some BS internet rumor gets started. An affected agency will often have a debunking website dedicated to the topic that browsers can easily access. Remember Compean and Ramos, the two border agents the anti-immigration crowd turned into heroes? The DoJ did a great point-by-point debunking [justice.gov] of the interwebz myths about their case. Didn't stop a Bush pardon, unfortunately.

Facts and References and Facts (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143170)

In order for this to work. We will need all the facts who said what and when. Every data point of some statistics, what questions were asked and where. There are a lot of truths out there you can come up with many of them with some correct questions as many people are actually complex individuals you can bring up a lot of truths out there that arn't necessary true.
Lets use Abortion as an example I hear from both sides and they say they are in the majority.
Now the Anti-Abortion people will direct questions that will focus more on Late-Term abortions, and giving stereotypes of undesirable people getting them.
Now the Pro-Abortion people will direct questions that will focus more on Birth Control and giving stereotypes of the poor woman who lost everything and wasn't her fault.

Now most people are rather complex on the topic, A lot of them are against abortions with exceptions or For Abortions with exceptions. Most people agree when it is a medical necessity (The actual reason for the Row vs. Way) that abortion are necessary. As well most people agree that abortion as a form of birth control is a wasteful and unethical (although on different levels)

This Fact Agency would be powerless to prevent this type of stuff from going on. As each side is reporting on factual results, however the nature of the facts gather are one sided.

Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143174)

Clinton says the plan would not work in his last statement. The posted edits that out. This is a smear job.

Cool idea (2)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143196)

If implemented properly, with actual citations, I think it may be a neat idea. It'd be nice to see relevent facts displayed in context.

Flamebait all around (5, Informative)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143206)

This whole story is flamebait. Clinton didn't make the suggestion, the interviewer did, and asked him to speculate on it. He isn't actually advocating for a ministry of truth, nor is he even in government anymore.

Re:Flamebait all around (4, Informative)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143320)

Same poster as above. As a for example, why is no one complaining that the CEO of AGT is railing against anonymity? He is blatantly, but that's also taking his words out of context, and you know, he isn't Bill Clinton.

The summary also conveniently left this out, "But if it's a government agency in a traditional sense, it would have no credibility whatever"

Inside Perspective (-1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143208)

Bill Clinton is saying this because he believes the Internet is full of lies, vicious lies, and inaccuracies about him and his legacy. In fact, he has retooled his nonprofit, the mis-named Clinton Foundation (mis-named because it is not a philanthropy and does not give grants), from an organization that nominally tries to do Good Things (tm) to one that exists purely to correct the record about him and his accomplishments. Internally they call it the "Legacy Project."

So this is just him externalizing his own bitterness over his place in the history books (Monica Lewinsky) and the failure of his personal aide Doug Band, his CEO of the Clinton Foundation Bruce Lindsey, and his Chief of Staff/COO of the Clinton Foundation Laura Graham to do anything to change it.

The last thing anyone should do, even on a slow news day, is to work themselves up into a lather over it.

Facts have a Liberal Bias (3, Funny)

CokeBear (16811) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143232)

Such an agency would be inherently biased, because as Stephen Colbert has taught us, the facts and reality have a liberal bias!

Re:Facts have a Liberal Bias (1, Funny)

CokeBear (16811) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143244)

(Its been a while since I posted, and I really did forget what my sig said)

Re:Facts have a Liberal Bias (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143430)

Reality doesn't have a bias.

Freedom IS Slavery (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143266)

What is truly frightening is how many people (see comments above) are so willing to jump on this bandwagon. I'm sure some of it is people grasping at straws in hopes that "truthiness" will win but c'mon - this is politics and we ALL lose.

Maybe Mr. Thompson can force Mr. Galt to "fix" that which is broken but I doubt it - not aas long as that force, no matter how benign, comes from "above"..

Somehow makes sense (2)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143338)

Take what's said by the government, invert it and you probably get something that's rather close to the truth.

college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143362)

I thought we already had an institution in place for giving people the skills necessary to determine if the information they encounter is factual and reliable. (Although I admit I am biased in this regard since I do teach at one of them.)

It's a Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143374)

Where's Admiral Ackbar when President Clinton really needs him. As the old saying goes, Fool me once...

Monica: "So, Mr. President, what if I crawled under you desk and..."
Bill: "Sure, I think that would be okay." ...shame on Monica. Fool me twice...

Reporter: "So, Mr. Clinton, hypothetically speaking, is there a role for government in terms of ensuring that the information out there is accurate?"
Bill: "Well, I think it would be a legitimate thing to do..." ...shame on Bill! I thought this guy was a Rhodes Scholar or something. Maybe all that pot and all those Big Macs are finally getting to his brain. Or maybe Hillary still holds a grudge against Mr. Obama about the whole primary thing and Bill's just trying to get back into Hilliary's pants by losing Obama the election.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143422)

I don't want to think at all. Thank you, Bill Clinton! Finally, A politician that understands my deepest desires.

just to reiterate what has already been said (1, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143424)

This is literally a Ministry of Truth.

We Already Have Them (1)

Gallenod (84385) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143428)

We already have Web organizations that do a pretty good job of cutting through BS -- Snopes.com and Factchecker.org to name two. The problem is not that we don't have objective arbiters of the truth, but that many people don't want anything other than confirmation of their existing biases and will label any group that doesn't do that as "biased" against their "truth."

Having the government sponsor the Truth Police will not give it any more credibility and may just make it less credible depending on who does the appointing.

Best example: the Supreme Court, which is supposedly the ultimate arbiter of justice. Justices used to get confirmed by huge bipartisan majorities until someone decided that controlling a majority of the Supremes was a way to achieve political control. The Web Truth Board would likely suffer a similar fate, only much faster..

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