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Today, Everybody's a Fact Checker

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the citation-needed dept.

The Media 143

Hugh Pickens points out an article by David Zweig at The Atlantic about the rise of fact-checking sites on the internet, and the power they give to journalists and average internet denizens to sniff out fiction parading as truth. Quoting: "Since the beginning of the republic (not the American republic, I'm talking the Greek republic) politicians have resorted to half-truths and bald-faced lies. And while tenacious reporters and informed citizens have tracked these falsehoods over the years, until now they've lacked the interconnectivity and real-time capabilities of the Web to amplify their findings. Sites like the Washington Post's Fact-Check column and, which draws hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each month, often provide fodder for public fascination with fact-checking. ... Perhaps the masses don't care about inaccuracies. Many Democrats and Republicans alike will believe what they want and ignore or disregard the truth. ... But there are enough experts within a variety of fields rabidly conversing about errors that content-creators—be they politicians, journalists, or filmmakers—are now forced to be on their toes in a way they never have been before. And that's a good thing.'" Zweig also points out Snopes, Prochronisms, and Photoshop Disasters as useful tools for spotting errors or misrepresentations.

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In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

reiserifick (2616539) | about 2 years ago | (#40872461)

... facts check YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#40872641)

I hate to be crass, but... you may want to check your facts on that one.

truthiness (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872513)

It would be nice if there were a running tally on each politician for how many times they distorted or lied about something

I want to know ho much truthiness each of these clowns emit.

Re:truthiness (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40872543)

It would be nice if there were a running tally on each politician for how many times they distorted or lied about something

Oh, hell, that's an easy one to figure out - just tally up the number of times said politicians' lips move.

Re:truthiness (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#40873445)

Said the old tymer not used to these new fandangled tools.
Sir, that joke got old when the internet was invented by Al Gore!

Re:truthiness (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40873673)

What joke?

I take it you haven't been following American politics the last decade or so?

Re:truthiness (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40873115)

It's not just the number of lies though, it's the scale and scope. If you say "my plan will create 350 000 jobs at no cost to the taxpayers" and some independent analysis says "more like 300 000 jobs at a cost of 10 million dollars" versus "will cost 150 000 jobs, and cost taxpayers 100 million dollars".

have a look at, for example:

Which is rated as half true by politifact. Bill clinton claimed that it's typical to release 10 or 11 years of tax returns when running for president. Now here's the problem, lets take one datapoint. Barrack obama releasing only 7 years of tax returns (from 2000-2007 I think). But he didn't release more than that, because almost certainly the ones *before* 2000 are mind numbingly boring. He was a lecturer, then a senior lecturer, with no other appreciable income. So what are his tax returns going to have? A list of math mistakes he made that was corrected by the IRS and generic pointless stuff about earning a lecturer salary. So they kind of mindlessly ignore why he didn't release tax returns (- as in they weren't relevant-) and just count him as 7 years. Then they add up all of these numbers of tax returns listed out of context, and spit out an average saying bill clinton is exaggerating. Well sure, he's exaggerating, but the fact check itself is based on shitty data analysis that doesn't consider the quality of any of its data points. (other example, John Kerry's returns were only for the period he was with his current wife).

Lets take a trivial example. True. Sarah Palin, 1 in 7 families are on food stamps ( ). Ok... there's some trivial calculations to do there, but basically this is a single discreet fact that can actually be measured. So sure, she is telling the truth, but does it matter if the fact she is working from is true if her suggested solution isn't testable?

On the broad spectrum of minor spoken errors to complete disregards for the existence of reality politicians will have different degrees of lies on different topics, and you can always count on them to lie about each other. But lying about each other isn't actually policy, policy is what matters and trying to gauge the accuracy of proposed policy predictions is still well beyond the realm of most people, or even beyond all but the most specialized of bloggers (and then trying to figure out which specialized blog is correct and which isn't is beyond most people). To me, this gap, in trying to accurately assess credibility is the role the media should have, in finding experts who work with testable models that have track records and giving their assessments to the public. But that's not what happens. And as you say, you want to know how much truthiness these clowns emit, but in practice that's really freaking hard and no one with the capability to do it properly is rising to the challenge. Including, unfortunately, the long respected BBC, who have started to buy into the equal time for competing views even if one is discredited problem.

Re:truthiness (2)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about 2 years ago | (#40873279)

Even beyond just checking facts of a statement is the depth of understanding of the checker. It's been some years, but I remember a fact-check on Ron Paul in the 2008 election about his quoting how much money is spent on defense. The fact checker (it was either the Washington Post or Politifact) claimed he was off by miles, but that was because the person doing the fact checking knew nothing about how Congress makes budgets. For example, the Department of Veteran's Affairs is a separate budget item from the Department of Defense, but to claim that this is really a separate cost from 'defense spending' is ignorant, and Paul's numbers included not only the dollars specifically allocated to the DoD, but also all of the other items that fall under the general umbrella of defense spending.

What is particularly bad about this style of 'fact checking' is that it will then be cited in places like Wikipedia where people will look up this information and consider it to be solid fact, when it may actually be opinion or ignorance.

Re:truthiness (3, Interesting)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#40873837)

The fact checker (it was either the Washington Post or Politifact) claimed he was off by miles, but that was because the person doing the fact checking knew nothing about how Congress makes budgets. For example, the Department of Veteran's Affairs is a separate budget item from the Department of Defense, but to claim that this is really a separate cost from 'defense spending' is ignorant

^^^^^This. The "official" number bandied about is ~600 billion dollars, but the real number is more than twice that much. They make it look smaller by, as you point out, excluding things like the VA from defense spending. Ditto for the GI Bill, interest on past military spending, Fatherland Security, military aid to countries like Israel, the Department of Energy managing our nuclear weapons, etc etc.....

The Real US National Security Budget: 1.2 Trillion []

Re:truthiness (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40874047)

Except for example, that wrongly counts health spending on the VA as 'defence' spending, which it sort of is and sort of isn't. It's an earned benefit from service, but much of that would still be an expense under medicare if it wasn't under the VA, and since civilized countries have healthcare it means the US defence budgets have this layer of spending that other countries have, but count completely differently. The DoE and DoD research budgets are kind of the same. I know a lot of civilian scientists who get money for projects that aren't specifically military in nature, but are funded by DoD or DoE. Moving the funding to some other agency but still paying it out would reduce the defence budget but not the actual budget.

From the article you linked

The National Priorities Project calculates that 39% of that, or $185 billion, comes from borrowing related to past Pentagon spending.

is an ideological position to come up with 39% of the interest payments. In fact there's no neutral way to honestly assess that, because it's not like governments borrow money or tax or spend in a particularly specific department by department manner. Sure you can estimate the percent of government spending that is defence, and then attribute that as the defence departments borrowing as part of spending, but that's nonsense. Borrowing because of Hurricane Katrina or significantly expanding spending as a stimulus plan (whatever you may think of those ideas) has nothing to do with defence spending.

I'm not sure anyone can even come up with an accurate figure that meaningfully reflects what defence spending is, or more importantly what you can change of it, typically things like the VA aren't counted in that, because regardless of what you may think of why they were there, those people are covered by VA now and you have to pay for it, so you can't cut the VA, but you can cut F35 purchases.

Re:truthiness (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#40873737)

So sure, she is telling the truth, but does it matter if the fact she is working from is true if her suggested solution isn't testable?

Yes. It does matter, quite a bit. It shows that the problem she's talking about is real; she's not just making up an imaginary problem to get people worked up. Her suggested solution may not be testable, or even possible (I don't even know what her suggestion is, so I can't guess.) but at least she's trying to solve a real-world problem.

Re:truthiness (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40873947)

Sure, I'm not saying the analysis is completely useless, just that it's not really helping evaluate if she's suggesting anything sensible or not. Fact checking if 1/7 families in the US are on foodstamps is a problem a highschool kid could easily manage, fact checking any suggested solution is much harder.

Re:truthiness (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#40874123)

Fact-checking a suggested solution is impossible. What would result from the solution is a matter of opinion, not of fact. If she said, "We should do this about the problem, because when a similar solution was tried over here, such and such positive result happened." You could fact check whether or not "such and such positive result" actually happened. On the other hand if she said, "We should do this about the problem, because I believe this is the best approach to the problem," there is nothing to fact check, except whether or not the problem is a real problem.
The fact of the matter is that politicians and political groups have spent years pushing solutions to problems that are fictitious and demanding those that don't like their proposed solution come up with an alternate solution. Some of those fictitious problems are no harder to fact check than Sarah Palin's 1/7 of families in the U.S. on food stamps.

What a startlingly boring waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872517)

They utilize tools like Google Ngram viewer to bust Mad Men, for example, for using terms or phrases in dialogue that didn't yet exist.

Gosh, guess they've busted Mad Men as not a documentary.

Re:What a startlingly boring waste of time (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#40872733)

Think of it more as a verification of the systems.

A way to test the intelligence of the machine before applying it to current events.

Re:What a startlingly boring waste of time (3, Funny)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | about 2 years ago | (#40872915)

Any anachronistic dialogue in Mad Men can be explained simply:

Don Draper was way ahead of his time.

Facts are facts... or are they? (4, Interesting)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 2 years ago | (#40872533)

Political fact checking is actually a lot harder than it seems. I used to follow and there were a large number of debates over their assessment of policy statements, largely due to the fact that emperical data for dollars spent or benefits from policy (in terms of dollars) are either not recorded, not part of public record, or are just estimates from various biased "experts".

There isn't even agreement on how to measure federal spending (e.g., when Bush administration purposefully excluded out the cost of the two wars when computing debt/deficit)!!!


Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40872689)

The problem with Politifact, and in fact much of political reporting, is the cult of false equivalency. If they consistently portray politicians as liars and others as truth-tellers, then they'll be accused of partisanship and lose credibility. So the effect of this is that political figures who are regularly liars and only occasionally speak the truth end up looking no more dishonest than political figures who usually tell the truth but occasionally slip up.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (5, Insightful)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 2 years ago | (#40872869)

This. This is very important: the necessity to seem "non-partisan" for those sites makes it wayyy too easy for the liars. After all, if you get to lie all the time and the "fact checkers" feel compelled to scrutinise your opponents extra-hard just so they can say that both sides have about the same lying rate, it's win-win!

There are issues where there are two sides. But more and more, people fight over _facts_ and this means that one side is right and the other wrong, and if you claim otherwise, you are delusional. There is no middle ground to the debate on the shape of the planet. If you say that gay parents cannot raise a child, this is a statement of fact, not an opinion. If you tell me there is no global warming, this is a statement of fact, not an opinion. If you tell me that the gold standard is a good idea, this is a statement of fact, that reducing taxes will increase revenues, and so on, and so forth.

All things amenable to experimental verification -- and in many case which have been previously experimentally checked -- should not be debated. Journalists should just mock the politicians saying stuff which is obviously false.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (3, Insightful)

kaatochacha (651922) | about 2 years ago | (#40873685)

The biggest problem isn't a false partisanship, or equality on these.
The biggest problem is ( and I say this after following politifact and fact-check for about five years now) that EVERYTHING stated in a debate/political speech is at best a huge bending of the truth, and at worse, and outright lie.
You get so glazed over from BOTH sides consistently never telling the truth.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#40874599)

This. This is very important: the necessity to seem "non-partisan" for those sites makes it wayyy too easy for the liars. After all, if you get to lie all the time and the "fact checkers" feel compelled to scrutinise your opponents extra-hard just so they can say that both sides have about the same lying rate, it's win-win!

[Citation Needed]

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (3, Insightful)

dynamo52 (890601) | about 2 years ago | (#40872987)

The problem with Politifact, and in fact much of political reporting, is the cult of false equivalency.

You just nailed the greatest problem with political discourse in this country. Most of the major news organizations have decided that impartiality requires they provide an equal platform to both sides of any issue regardless of where the facts lie. Rather than informing their audience, this type of "balanced" reporting only clouds the debate by giving the appearance of credibility to science deniers and conspiracy theorists.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

dynamo52 (890601) | about 2 years ago | (#40873341)

The obvious failings of Politifact have actually caused me to consider what it would take to create a forum for debate where fact and substantive debate would drive the content. What I envision is a website where you could check the accuracy of not only public officials but also media broadcasts and other reporting.

As far as election debate, I could imagine each candidate for example having their own section. Within this section, it could be divided into broad policy areas such as Security, Economic, Social, and Environmental. Each of these could be subdivided as necessary and within these divisions every statement made by the candidate or campaign could be independently analyzed against on a set of predetermined measures of accuracy and level of content, Anybody would be allowed to provide feedback and analysis but this would be moderated and scored against some type of "reputation index" where authoritative sources are primary followed by respected scientists or leaders in the field all the way down to anonymous sources (whose voice will be heard but whose analyses would not impact scoring). The candidates would be allowed to expand and clarify their positions and even respond to the analysis and these responses would themselves be scored. The scores could then be aggregated and averaged to provide a wider perspective view.

Of course this is all total speculation. I neither have the time or resources necessary to realize a project of this magnitude but would be thrilled to provide feedback to anybody considering implementing something of this nature.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

Modroben (1968216) | about 2 years ago | (#40873849)

The wiki Argumentrix is kind of along those lines: [] - every statement gets a page (like [] ) that examines any reason to believe or not believe it, and anything disputable in any way gets its own separate page.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#40873329)

The problem with Politifact, and in fact much of political reporting, is the cult of false equivalency. If they consistently portray politicians as liars and others as truth-tellers, then they'll be accused of partisanship and lose credibility. So the effect of this is that political figures who are regularly liars and only occasionally speak the truth end up looking no more dishonest than political figures who usually tell the truth but occasionally slip up.

I'm not sure how true this is. Michelle Bachmann's Politifact profile for example ahref= []>. Of the statements they've evaluated by her, more than half fall into the "false" or "pants on fire" category (of 53, 19 are "false" and 12 are "pants on fire"). Obama in contrast has around 17% in those two categories. [] , and Romney has 27% [] . One can definitely see here different degrees of care with the facts, with most of the people really divorced from reality being people like Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh who manage to have more than half their evaluated statements as simply false. (One interesting exception is Jon Stewart who is on the left and has more than half his evaluated statements as false, but they've only evaluated three statements in total [] which says small sample size).

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872823)

Of course political fact checking is hard. And people don't necessarily want to listen to the facts when discovered, no matter what conclusion might be implied. But the point isn't to come to some kind of absolutely final conclusion as an output of a "fact-checking" analysis. The real value is providing enough information that people can come to their own conclusion, and get the information they need to do their own evaluation. Politics is always going to be a biased process, but it's a hell of a lot easier than it used to be to get the information needed.

For example, if you are caught up in a seemingly intractable dispute like "Do we count the cost of two wars when totaling federal spending or not?", then the obvious solution is to calculate it both ways and let the reader make up their own mind. The point is, they've got the data to do so easily without having to wade through piles of old reports, newspapers, or microfiche in a library that might be miles away from their home. All they need is a computer, internet connection, and enough interest to care. Most people already have 2 out of the 3.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (0)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#40872875)

The costs of the wars were not a secret. The appropriation were pubic and congress certainly knew about the expenses when amending and passing the federal budget.

The reason they were and still should be off budget expenditures (emergency spending) is because when the wars and need disappear, so should the spending. With it being on budget, without an explicit law or rule in place (and there is not one) that stats the funding gets removed from the budget as the need for it decreases or the wars end, then congress can spend it on anything else they want despite it being almost completely borrowed.

Emergency appropriations can be accounted for within the budget to properly show debt/deficit. The debate was really about getting the funding on budget so it could be used for other thing after the wars died off. Congress clearly intended this to happen which is illustrated by objections to the wars often resorting to how the money could better be spent.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#40873081)

Yeah, political and economic facts are being manipulated constantly for the benefit of the ruling class. Take the current unemployment statistics in USA, they are obviously manipulated. The number of people who are discouraged from looking for work, number of people who are underemployed, number of people who switched from EI to disability (shouldn't you be disabled to get that benefit, obviously people on it are not disabled, thei EI expired and after 2 years on it they just want to continue and are accommodated by the system.)

The GDP is a joke, it's near 70% of consumption spending, how is that production at all? Those goods are made elsewhere, but the sales count toward 'product' (gross domestic product, not gross domestic consumption, or is it?)

The inflation is clearly manipulated too, the latest numbers are what, 7/10th of 1% for the quarter? That's ridiculous, the real inflation rate is over 11% and maybe close to 15%. But who is counting what the real inflation rate is, the government is constantly changing how the inflation rate is calculated, hedonics and adjustments and reverse engineering, to accommodate the Fed and the Treasury and the equity and housing markets.

Who in their right mind would lend money to the government at 2% for 30 years? You really have to believe that the government is so much stronger than the free market and will stay stronger for another 3 decades and will force interest rates down.

The taxes are another huge lie, never mind the inflation tax.

The current income and corporate taxes in USA are highest they have ever been, but people can point at marginal rates 50 years ago and say: see those 94% tax rates, those were high and economy was good, so clearly it's the tax rate that makes the economy great!

Wow, one has to be really desperate to come up with such nonsense. People are avoiding taxes at much lower rates, yet somebody wants people to believe that ANYBODY was paying 94% rate? People were paying much lower taxes when the rates were much higher, entire industries were created to avoid taxes.

Of-course the real economic growth took place before any income taxes existed, any corporate taxes, any payroll taxes, before 1913 none of those existed and the government was insignificant, the economy was growing, USA was major exporter and largest creditor nation.

Manufacturing - this is what makes the economy. Consumption is a trivial consequence of production, yet the government would have you believe that you can just print or borrow or tax money (and tax money from those who actually produce) and redistribute money to people who didn't work for it and they would buy products and that's what grows the economy! Nonsense on top of nonsense.

The economy only has as much goods as is manufactured, created, produced. More goods cannot be bought and any amount of money that is printed only pushes prices up for the existing goods.

The taxes that are taken from the productivity of people, so income, payroll, corporate, death taxes, these are taxes that reduce economic activity, because that's money extracted from successful business activity.

There are some people on top who will not pay taxes regardless of the rates.

There are people on the bottom who get tax returns and they don't pay taxes.

But there are people somewhere in between these two extremes, that actually end up paying all these rates, many of them paying most of their taxes in marginal rates. Taxing somebody 35% federal, 5-8% State, 2.9% Medicare is destructive, it reduces the economic activity it prevents money from being reinvested in business, prevents growth, prevents better products at cheaper prices, prevents jobs from being created.

Of-course then the 35% federal death tax and up to 12% State death tax, what does that do? Puts the tax burden over 90%, given that the business has to be liquidated at firesale prices (to Warren Buffet, who loves to buy these undervalued businesses during the death tax auctions), this maybe puts the taxes over 95%. But what else does it do? It prevents generational knowledge about running a business.

How many people complain that the management on top doesn't care about business? Well, how would you have business with caring management, if none of these businesses are passed from generation to generation? Of-course businesses end up in the hands of seagull management and given the inflation and the honey pot of IPO, the entire business becomes a gamble. Nobody pays dividends, because they don't have to compete with gov't bonds and they can't anyway at these rates. So it's all about speculation, not about investment.

There are thousands of pieces of information that are floating around, but the important question is, how is it structured, who controls the real propaganda, why do people hold strong positions and can their minds be changed based on real information? But it's even worse, given the state of propaganda and miseducation, entire generations of people are now incapable, totally unable to differentiate between pieces of information, to them there is no difference between the value of information.

There are 2 sides, and both sides are equally right or equally wrong, isn't that what the media pushes?

Guess what, being able to discriminate between information and having actual knowledge about the fundamental principles of the world is important, it allows you to dismiss worthless and to distill the priceless.

The Internet doesn't make anybody smarter, it allows people to access the data, but it doesn't really change the fact that the people are not capable of understanding and differentiating what is what.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#40873315)

of course there is a question about what is a fact and what is not. For sports, I think the facts are suitable developed at the moment of the action. That is, after all, why umpires are paid. To establish the facts based on objective observation and the rules of the game. It is the one value of sports, to teach kids that truth and facts are not the same. A sane person understands that calls are the game are practicle approximations to reality.

Unfortunately the facts of politics have much more far ranging implications, yet the facts are treated much more loosely. For instance, fact checkers have said that Romney does not pay less than many middle class americans. This is based on the supposition that Romney has released two years of tax returns. In fact we have one year of just under 14% and second year with approximate tax rate of 15-16%. The average middle class effective tax rat is 15-16%, with many paying up to over 20% before a refund. These fact checkers interpreted the facts to achieve a defensible yet invalid result.

Then there is all the debate over the deficit. Many look at %ofGDP which is a useful figure. In 1991 the debt was about 70% of GDP while in 2010 it was close to 90% of GDP, which is bad. OTOH the intest payment in 1991 were about 451B in 2010 dollars, while in 2010 the payments were 413B in the same dollars. Which of these are factual significant, of either, is subject of valid debate.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 2 years ago | (#40873527)

IMO, outside of pure mathematics, there is no such thing as facts. Merely opinions based on observations backed by more or less evidence of varying quality.

Re:Facts are facts... or are they? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40873749)

Presidents always defer expenses to make their budgets look better. How do you think Clinton managed to show a surplus for a couple of years before the bubble burst?

Snopes Seems Desperate Using Shady Pop-Under Ads (0)

Ron Bennett (14590) | about 2 years ago | (#40872553)

Snopes has a lot of useful information, but they are a for-profit site that utilizes seemingly desperate ad tactics, including pop-unders of seemingly shady advertisers.

One has to wonder what other compromises Snopes is making; who is their master? Snopes is not the end all be all when it comes to authoritative information contrary to what many believe - no one source is.

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873237)

They have their dark side.

Fuck you faggo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872561)

My facts state that Hugh Pickens is a faggot.

"period piece television" (2)

broginator (1955750) | about 2 years ago | (#40872575)

Honest question, please don't mod me down: You can't get through an episode of Deadwood without them saying "Cocksucker" enough times for it to lose meaning, did they really say "Cocksucker" back then?

Re:"period piece television" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872883)

Comment meet sig.

Re:"period piece television" (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#40873933)

Perhaps, but it would have been in reference to being a geek (in the traditional, not modern, sense).

Re:"period piece television" (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 2 years ago | (#40874133)

Honest question, please don't mod me down: You can't get through an episode of Deadwood without them saying "Cocksucker" enough times for it to lose meaning, did they really say "Cocksucker" back then?

Probably not. Deadwood was set in the 1870s; MW claims first known use was ca. 1891. []

Fact checking is one thing... (4, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#40872577)

But too many people would rather only listen to facts that they agree with.

Re:Fact checking is one thing... (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#40872885)

Exactly. Witness Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, etc, and their followers, to varying degrees of rabidity.

Re:Fact checking is one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872927)

I hate to say it again, but: exactly.

It's worse than the big media bullshit, though - crazed Democrats will quote 'facts' from no-name blogs, crazed Republicans will do the same, and crazed Independents will just get drunk and quote from blogs about kittens.


Err, right. Anyhow, I don't buy into the 'everyone fact checks!' nonsense. Everyone does a quick search to find someone else - anyone else - saying something they agree with it, and insist it's a fact, regardless of whether it is or not.

Re:Fact checking is one thing... (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40873087)

Or, The Huffington Post, Democratic Underground, etc and their followers, to varying degrees of rabidity.

Either way, both sides are making even my puny Facebook page a rotten mess.

Re:Fact checking is one thing... (2)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#40873555)

I can't hear you.

Bald-faced lies?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872589)

I know what a bold-faced lie is, but wtf is a bald-faced lie??

Re:Bald-faced lies?!?!? (3, Informative)

tranquilidad (1994300) | about 2 years ago | (#40872633)

Uh, the correct term? []

Re:Bald-faced lies?!?!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872671)

Excellent fact-checking!

Re:Bald-faced lies?!?!? (1)

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) | about 2 years ago | (#40872705)

The original term seems to have been bald-faced (bare-faced) and refers to a face without whiskers. Beards were commonly worn by businessmen in the 18th and 19th century as an attempt to mask facial expressions when making business deals. Thus a bald-faced liar was a very good liar indeed, and was able to lie without the guilt showing on his face.

The more correct term is "bald-faced lie" or "bare-faced lie" (bare is more common in Great Britain). It refers to a "shameless" or "brazen" lie. One where the teller does not attempt to hide his face while telling it.

It's just the last 5 yrs or so that "bold" has come into usage. It refers to typeface. It is used metaphorically in speech. In the same way that a typesetter uses bold face type to highlight specific text and set it apart, a bold face lie stands out in such a way as to not be mistaken for the truth.

The phrase can either be used as bold-faced lie, as in someone with a bold enough face to lie (bold meaning daring, or brazen) or someone bold enough to lie to your face; it can also be used as bald-faced lie, where the older meaning of bald (meaning uncovered or unconcealed) - the more correct usage with this term is bare-faced lie. Earlier editions of Merriam Webster define bold-faced as someone being bold or forward, with no relation to lies.'bold_face_lie'_or_'bald_faced_lie'_or_another_variation []

Fact for money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872667)

That is the new world of the Internet, driven by cash. Politics, Entertainment, Science, Art, Engineering--all driven by who gets the dollars nowadays? Why? Could it be because of the wealth of the world is contained within 1% of the population. Not to conclude on something, but if it smells, talks, acts like a goat...

You've already paid for the product (like seeing a NFL game). You want the facts. Facts = control. Control of money that is.

Who Fact-checks the Fact Checkers? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872673)

Most of the media "fact checkers" are really checking whether a particular statement contradicts the media's narrative. If it does, then it is "misleading" whether it is accurate or not. And they don't check facts unless they contradict a narrative. They also don't check the medias on ingrained urban myths no matter how often they are reported.

My favorite un-checked fact is the claim that Daley stole the 1960 election for Kennedy. There have been whole articles written about why Nixon didn't demand an investigation in Illinois, especially during the Florida imbroglio in 2000. There is a book out now that attributes this failure to intervention by former Presidents who, according to this story, feared such an investigation would raise doubts about the whole legitimacy of the government. Missed in all this and never "fact-checked" is the reality that Kennedy had enough electoral votes even without Illinois. In other words, its impossible for Daley to have stolen the election.

Re:Who Fact-checks the Fact Checkers? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#40872775)

Who Fact-checks the Fact Checkers?
I dunno. Coast Guard?

Re:Who Fact-checks the Fact Checkers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873275)

Who Fact-checks the Fact Checkers?

Nobody needs to, silly! They're comprised of The People! And as we all know from the internet, The People are infallible, and everything they say is always truthful and never biased (due to all of us having the exact same goals), so it all works out!

After all, who needs experience and thoroughness? We've got a bunch of random bodies we can throw at the problem! That always works in business, right?

All you need to know is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872693)

The truth shall set you free.

Big Brother will Take Offline (2, Interesting)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about 2 years ago | (#40872701)

They're already all over Wikileaks and doing whatever they can to kill that off. I'm sure is next on the chopping block in the years to come. We can't have the truth out there. Thats not in the govt's best interest! They'll think of some kinda excuse. Maybe it'll be copyright infringement, or perhaps they'll claim its a bunch of propaganda. Whatever the reason, I'm sure in time they'll find one.

Re:Big Brother will Take Offline (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40874975)

Will you come back and admit when you are wrong?

Of course not, because what you're saying is just bullshit [] , in Frankfurt's sense. There's no reason to think that the government would ever go after Politifact, but you don't care about that. You just want to say something outrageous and bask in the adulation that comes with feeding people's victim complex.

These lies don't have hair on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872709)

Ah yes, those bald-faced lies can be quite, oh, what's the word...

Re:These lies don't have hair on them (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#40873951)

It's bare-faced or bald-faced lie. "bold-faced" is a neo-logism which messes up bold typeface with bald (shaven) face.

Everyone CAN BE a fact checker... (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#40872739)

... but unfortunately that doesn't mean that they ARE.

Incorrect Corrections (2)

neonv (803374) | about 2 years ago | (#40872743)

Even more common than fact checking on web is "incorrectly" fact checking. I don't know how many times I've read one fact on an article just to read another article that claims the opposite is true. Think about reading forums on Slashdot, how many times is a statement corrected, to then be corrected by someone else, to then be corrected, and so on ... which one is true?? Most of the time there's no citations! If there were citations, who actually checks them? From time to time I check citations only to find that the truth is being stretched, or downright reversed from the citation! It's hard to know where truth is, what's being exaggerated, what's only partially true, or more importantly, what's being left out. Everyone has a bias, and everyone manipulates data to prove that bias valid. The only way to get an unbiased opinion is to look at raw data, and very few people have time and ability for that.

Re:Incorrect Corrections (2)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 2 years ago | (#40872933)

A good thing WP did for online discourse is to emphasise the need for citations. The bad thing is that people end up thinking citations are what counts. Not true: they must be good citations, as in reputable. But also, if I say something and back it up with logic, I need not have a citation -- except perhaps for the basic facts underlying the debate.

If I am wrong, you can tell by finding my logic faulty, or my model of the world lacking. If some guy tells you that "the FED has been debasing the dollar" by printing lots of money, and someone else responds by pointing out that inflation is low despite a trebling in monetary mass, you might want a citation for the trebling of the monetary mass. You should have some idea about whether inflation is high or low. But the basic point is that one worldview fits reality and the other doesn't, and that is how you decide who is likely right.

You can usually tell who has the big picture right and who is strung up on details...

Re:Incorrect Corrections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873477)

they must be good citations, as in reputable.


Note to roommate: The drudge, and anyone found on talk radio DO NOT FIT IN THIS CATEGORY!

"Rabid" is an appropriate word (2, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40872747)

Blogs like Prochronisms look at 'historical changes in language by algorithmically checking historical TV shows and movies.' They utilize tools like Google Ngram viewer to bust Mad Men, for example, for using terms or phrases in dialogue that didn't yet exist.

Really, no offense (ok, maybe a little offense), but this comes across (to me anyways) as slightly... sad. It's one thing if you are looking up a fact about the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere last year. But this is another thing completely. I think Ratatouille actually put it quite well:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

The grammar nazi or the fact checker is essentially a critic: someone who is basically incapable, or simply too lazy, to bother creating something worthwhile, so they spend their time criticizing other people's work instead. I think they do it largely to inflate their feeling of self-worth: after all, if they can see the flaws in other peoples' work, it must not be all that great.

The fact is in many of these cases, whatever "problem" they find is really totally and utterly insignificant. Honestly, I don't care if Mad Men uses phrases that weren't around in the 1960s: it's an enjoyable show with great characters, in my opinion. It would be one thing if it was horribly unrealistic or created a culture radically different from the real culture of the 60s, but the mere fact that they are "busting" Mad Men for using anachronistic phrases... I mean, I suppose you could complain about something more shallow than that, but I can't think of anything off the top of my head (wait, nevermind, speaking of the top of the head gave me an idea: they could complain about the hairstyles being just slightly off. Yeah, that'd be a bit more shallow). Can it be that there are people who literally have nothing better to do than find tiny errors in phrases in a critically acclaimed show? I suppose there is, but there really shouldn't be.

Of course, this is nowhere near as bad as the people seriously complaining on the Internet about the use of Comic Sans in the presentation announcing the discovery of the Higgs Boson. I don't even have a comment about that, really, besides that it's almost unbelievable, but that's the Internet, I guess.

Re:"Rabid" is an appropriate word (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#40872917)

Which is exactly why I don't worry about "Troll" mods to my posts. These people don't know insight from incite. I once did an experiment where I posted exactly what I thought, but in the most straightforward and direct way possible. I was able to lower my Karma here on /. from "Excellent" to "Poor" in about a week. It took me
about a month to rebuild it back to "Excellent".

Heck, in the last week, I had a most that said "+2 Troll" because of all the various mods on it. I should have taken a screen shot :-D

  It is easy to get modded toll by those that mean "I disagree", which is why people should spend time meta modding

Re:"Rabid" is an appropriate word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873177)

The problem with meta-modding is that there is no payoff for the individual. And for someone like me who surfs at -1 and is apparently blacklisted from mod points despite having Excellent karma within about three weeks of making the account (years ago), it seems even more pointless. (In fact, I kind of wonder if my frequent meta-moderating lead to getting fewer mod points, not more.)

Re:"Rabid" is an appropriate word (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#40873239)

Meta Moderation is supposed to find people who abuse Mod Points and reward them with no mod points in the future. Or so, that is what I'm guessing. The problem is, the same people Meta Modding are the same ones that get Mod points to begin with, so Group Think and the like are reenforced rather than eliminated.

A better system is one where people with a proven Moderation Record, stop getting Mod Points and instead get Meta Mod Points.

People like me know exactly how to get Modded up or down and can do it at will, without lying or being a troll just by tone of the point being made. I can make outlandish claims, and if I dress them up accordingly, can get those claims modded up or down. It isn't the claim that changes, it is the tone of the presentation. Think Nixon vs Kennedy

Re:"Rabid" is an appropriate word (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#40873815)

Blogs like Prochronisms look at 'historical changes in language by algorithmically checking historical TV shows and movies.' They utilize tools like Google Ngram viewer to bust Mad Men, for example, for using terms or phrases in dialogue that didn't yet exist.

Really, no offense (ok, maybe a little offense), but this comes across (to me anyways) as slightly... sad. It's one thing if you are looking up a fact about the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere last year. But this is another thing completely. I think Ratatouille actually put it quite well:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy...

You make a good point.

But I believe the Prochronisms blog [] was only included in Hugh Pickens list only because it makes for an interesting bit of trivia, not because it supports Pickens main thesis (about lies and half-truths) in any way.

The Prochronisms guy for instance seems to have no interest in making those anachronisms go away. He's just interested in the analysis. And from one of his quotes below, he seems to imply that only the Daily Mail and other media outlets are interested in making those types of discrepancies an issue.

Digital humanists like to talk about what insights about the past big data can bring. So in that spirit, let me talk about Downton Abbey for a minute. The show's popularity has led many nitpickers to draft up lists of mistakes. [...] the Daily Mail even managed to cast the errors as a sort of scandal. []

So if anyone is sad in my opinion, I don't think it's the Prochronisms guy, it's more the news outlets like the Daily Mail and potentially other nitpickers who imply by their criticisms that they actually want something to be done about those anachronisms.

Nobody actually reads them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872753)

Proof? That fact that people still believe that President Obama is a Muslim Socialist that is not a US citizen. And basically everything that's spewed on Talk Radio and the Fox News talking head; which I'd like to add, it is very interesting that all the women were short slit skirts and very high heels.

I noticed that Fox News female talking heads dress like strippers and whores. .... anyway...

My neighbor has Rush, Boortz and all those people blaring on his radio while he works on his house and while I'm in my yard, I can't help listening - unless I'm using a power tool.

It amazes me the half truths and bold face lies those Talk Radio people tell. And what kills me is that my neighbor NEVER even thinks to check as to the truth of what those people say. And then he parrots their bullshit like it's his own thoughts.

it is a learning experience. I try to monitor my own thinking that way. Sometimes I think it would be better to live under a rock - or at least turn all of this media shit off because I actually think I'd be better informed without it!

Re:Nobody actually reads them (3, Funny)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 2 years ago | (#40872829) is very interesting that all the women were short slit skirts and very high heels.

I, too, find this interesting. Fox News you say? I'm going to have to check that out. Thanks!

Re:Nobody actually reads them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872871)

Well, there *was* that one study that showed people who expressly *didn't* keep up with or watch the news were better informed than people who watched Fox News.

Re:Nobody actually reads them (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40873013)

Is up to everyone to choose to live a fantasy or take the red pill and see the hard truth, maybe fantasy will make them to feel better, but still, they should to have the option. And is something pretty common, people bet at lotto hoping for the best, even if they know that could ask someone with clue to show them their real odds of it.

Creative License (0)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 2 years ago | (#40872795)

As an author and poet
I don't care if you know it,
that something is not a fact.

My fictional world is not
meant to be real. The thought!
Expecting me to redact!

politifact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872859)

"truthiness (Score:1)by Anonymous Coward writes: It would be nice if there were a running tally on each politician for how many times they distorted or lied about something
I want to know ho much truthiness each of these clowns emit."

There is, it is called Politifact.

Re:politifact (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 2 years ago | (#40872965)

Except they try so very hard to seem neutral that they put on the same level enormous lies which deny basic reality from one side with inexactitude from the other. So if you want a tally, politifact ain't it.

Misrepresentations killing political discourse (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40872929)

I'm done w/ politics after what I've been seeing this cycle. It's one thing when there are deliberate distortions coming from candidates, but it's another when media outlets play along to keep them in the news and fueling their programs for a few more days.

Two examples to be bipartisan. The whole "You didn't build that." comment from Obama. As soon as I heard it and saw the way it was being broadcast on TV chopped up, I knew immediately that the quote was being attributed with a false meaning. Based on past experience, I figured it would be a few more days before I ever heard the full quote. Sure enough...

As for Romney, he had his "I like to fire people" comment. While poorly phrased, he was obviously speaking in the context of a consumer shopping for services, not as an employer. Maybe a little bit subtle, but not so subtle that an adult wouldn't be able to decipher the meaning.

This is why our politicians talk like sterilized, focus-group driven robots. Even the slightest stumble in a speech gets blown up into a bullshit storm. I used to LOVE debating politics online, but nowadays you spend all your time debunking spin from a campaign and not really talking about issues. I'll still be voting alright, but I'm not in the game anymore.

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 2 years ago | (#40873009)

See, the Obama case is clearly a huge lie: the sentence was ill-constructed and ambiguous, but the meaning was clear from context. The Romney one? Not so sure: he was talking about firing people providing services to him, in particular insurance providers, but by extension all manners of service providers. No one "likes" firing people. At least those of us who are not psychopaths... No one thinks of changing insurance as "firing".

You are trying to be fair, and to pretend both sides are equally guilty: not so. Only one side will outright lie...

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873823)

Wow, hello, your bias is showing. It's like you didn't even try to look at it in an unbiased way. No one thinks of changing insurance as "firing"? Really? Do you make this stuff up?

  No one "likes" firing people? Have you ever watched "The Apprentice?" Not only do people like firing each other, they like watching people get fired.

Look harder for the facts that don't support your opinion, and you will be smarter.

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (2, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#40874197)

Only one side will outright lie...

While I absolutely agree with that statement, I am pretty confident that you think it is the other side from the one I do. The Republican interpretation of Obama's "you didn't build that" is consistent with Obama's record. That is, Obama has shown a consistent pattern of considering all money as legitimately the government's and that people should be grateful that the government lets them keep some of it.

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40874699)


While I think most people would agree that the Dems are more comfortable with taxes than the Repubs, your statement is so over the top as to invite ridicule. And fact checking!

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873235)

I used to LOVE debating politics online, but nowadays you spend all your time debunking spin

So Clinton and Regan didn't have spin?

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40874667)

So Clinton and Regan didn't have spin?

No, I think he means that spin is much more widely distributed and proactive now than it used to be. For example, I'm pretty pro-libertarian. My sort of arguments are usually more or less straightforward: less government power, less government spending, greater personal freedom, rah rah rah. That's pretty straightforward to debate. You're familiar with the issues and can take an appropriate tact as suits your fancy.

Now, suppose we get started and then I start talking about Senator X's scandal. Ok, you look that up and see whether it's relevant or not. Ok, it's not really. You post that you don't see why I brought it up. Now I'm talking about a Social Security study that claims bankruptcy of the US by 2020. Umm, ok, that study looks kooky as hell and it comes from the Larouches, making it double kooky. You point that out. "What about Poodlegate!? That makes my point precisely!" I reply. Dubya Tee Eff. Someone's poodle is an honorary admiral or something. What's going on with this crazy person and why can't he bothered to stick to one subject? Oh, look eight links to Poodlegate and a smarmy one-liner. Maybe there's something on the TV worth watching.

What's going on is that I'm picking up half assed talking points from blogs and regurgitating them to you. It may be possible to keep up with flood of such talking points, but it's a lot more taxing than the good old days where we speculate on how many women, "Slick" might had have intimate relations with.

What's worse is when someone dumps a lot of link. This seems way too common in the AGW debates I get into. A poster will just dump ten links and tell me that shows everything they're trying to say. Odds are good they haven't done anything more than skim it slightly to see that it sort of matches the theme they're going for.

One of the features of the intarweb is that it provides ready made arguments for many occasions. There's a good chance someone has said something on it. But if the issue of any significance, then every ideological side will have taken one or more stands on the issue. So there's a lot more readily available ammunition for the avid googler or blog reader out there.

I think this can lead to some pretty lazy and insincere debates, where the time sink is all on the side of the person try to make a real debate of it.

Now I'm far from without sin in this area and have a bulldog tendency to never let go, but I've seen a lot of pointless back and forth arguments where each side just drags out talking point after talking point. You know neither side is listening, nobody reading in is going care, and that there's no reason for the argument aside perhaps from some sort of future equivalent of the archeological dig, assuming those bits survive the test of time.

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873711)

I really don't see what was wrong with the Obama quote. He literally told business owners that they "did not build that." That's a direct quote. OK, so he was talking about infrastructure at the time. But the fact is, business owners ARE the ones that build the infrastructure. Who do you think builds roads? Some government agency? No! Construction companies - small businesses - build roads. Who provides power and water? Businesses! Who takes away the trash? Businesses! Who took a small communications network that only worked between a few educational institutions and expanded it across the globe? Businesses! Who pays the majority of taxes and therefore pays the most for this infrastructure? Businesses!

So, sure, they may not have literally "built it" (except in the case of power, water, ISPs, construction companies, etc., when they literally did), but they sure as hell paid for it. The effect is the same: Obama was telling business owners that they didn't create America's prosperity, which is flat-out false. They did.

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40874223)

Well, since government doesn't pay for anything (Businesses built everything) where did the money go that the government says it used to build roads? Why do we pay a single penny, or maybe we don't pay anything, to upkeep a national highway system? Where are the businesses that pay and maintain these things? Nobody plows my street in the winter, and I want to know what business to contact that is responsible for this road. It's not government right? Somebody is cleaning the street and maintaining the sidewalk. What business is it? And why does my city say part of my tax goes to road upkeep? Fucking liars.

Wait, you probably think every dollar the government "says" it puts into infrastructure is funneled to ACORN.

Most, if not all, of the things you mention got their inertia, money, technology, or some other "seed" from government spending. Government has a history of starting things then letting the private industry take over. Just because Space X will soon deliver cargo to the ISS doesn't mean that they did everything on their own. Musk readily admits that most of his company's tech is advanced designs of government work.

And my water is provided by my city. And my power is provided by a company that gets substantial grants, tax benefits, and a nice profit ensuring government granted franchise for my area. I doubt others have it much different.

Obama's point was simply business and government need to coexist not that businesses don't do anything. His "you didn't build that" was a statement about business owners who say they did everything on their own. They most likely didn't pay for nor build the road that allows customers to come to their door. The government did it or they paid someone to do it. Or like the guy Romney has used in his ad that got almost a million dollar grant from the government. Without that grant he's out of business. He made the business work, but the government helped him make it happen. It's synergy.


khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40874867)

The problem here is that private funding taints public and vice versa. There is no clean division of like unto like. Similarly, no clean division of purpose or enabling into public and private. So the road was built with funds that are both public and private, and labor that is both public and private. It was similarly driven by purposes both public and private.

One can argue that every endeavor was made possible by the public side and by the private side. For everything is tainted by the activities of each. It's a really confusing mess that doesn't need to be so. It leads to moral drift, decadence, and a purposeless existence!

Fortunately, I have a simple solution to this problem. We'll tear down all these half-assed structures DOWN to the very ground. Those public/private roads will be TORN to pieces, the homes of dubious origin SHATTERED, buildings TRASHED, cars MELTED DOWN, everything taken down to its SMALLEST constituent pieces: DUST AND GRASS. Each thing will be assigned "PUBLIC" or "PRIVATE" with no mixing AND NO SWITCHING!! And then we'll rebuild society as it SHOULD have been done, with CLEAN sharp divides between what is PUBLIC and what is PRIVATE.

No one shall be able to say, "but this car is one part in ten PUBLIC therefore it is PUBLIC" or "This road has PRIVATEly painted stripes on it, therefore it is PRIVATEly made". This society will be CLEAN. It will be RIGHTEOUS. WHITE will be WHITE, BLACK will be BLACK. NO FUCKING SHADES OF GRAY ALLOWED PEOPLE!!!

And if some ne'erdowell should put PRIVATE lines on PUBLIC roads, we shall with our community action committee (which is neither public or private, it's sort of a quasi-non profit, charity kind of thing. Um, you know, like a church, but no pope,um maybe with a little Gestapo/Stasi secret police thing poured in there) cleanse the TAINT with ATOMIC FIRE HOTTER THAN THE CORE OF THE SUN!!!!

If they drive that one tenth PUBLIC beater on the 100% PURE road we shall center a LAKE OF GLASS on their (former) location!!!!!

This argument shall NEVER happen AGAIN!!!!!!

Re:Misrepresentations killing political discourse (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40874337)

You're an AC so I'm assuming you're trolling, but I'll answer. That quote was specifically about a bridge someone uses to get to work. Now, unless you manufacture bridges, you didn't build the bridge or the road you use to get to work.

You also didn't run the power lines, pay for the eletrical infrastructure, pay for the fuel infrastructure, pay for the education infrastructure that you're probably exploiting to hire employees who can read, write and count well enough to work for you, you didn't build the hospital just in case someone gets hurt on the job, you didn't pay for the law enforcement to protect your business and the safety of your workers at home and on the job, you didn't pay for the fire fighters who risk their lives should your business burst into flames, you didn't pay for the court system to address your grievances, you didn't pay for the military that protects you from raiding hordes of bandits from Canada and Mexico (and they WOULD exist if we didn't have a military) streaming in to steal our resources, and you probably didn't pay for the *fundamental* research your products are based on.

Yes, *A* business might have build some of those, but not YOUR business. And it's our collective tax revenue that funds these sweet amenities you call society. Your small contribution to a collective pool is what makes all of this infrastructure possible.


Changing times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40872967)

A long time ago when Europe was stuck with its ideological "wars" it was always refreshing to speak with Americans telling you things like "Stick to the facts", "Make decisions based on what you know, not what you think you know". That seems like eons ago. What happened?

Re:Changing times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873607)

I am nearing 30 now, and I have never gotten that impression from my countrymen. I am actually relatively surprised that us Americans have yet to completely devolve into animals again. Take it from me, I am certain that the number of ill informed, emotional, and downright screwed up people has reached more then 60% of the populace. I wish I had known the Americans you speak of, it might of given me hope.

All well and good, except... facts don't matter. (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#40873049)

the vast majority of the voting public, simply doesn't care. There could be an online database that checked what every congresscritter etc said, and the average Joe would still vote by party and personal prejudice. (Or as Lakoff puts it: according to their favorite frame).

In the view of the Average Joe. Q. Proleblius, facts don't matter; in fact I rather suspect, they don't even exist.

The problem with facts.... (5, Interesting)

dremspider (562073) | about 2 years ago | (#40873091)

Is you can tell the truth, and still completely misrepresent the information. To see how this works, I will differ to Jon Stewart... [] Recently I saw someone post on facebook "how ridiculous it was that olympians needed to pay $9K in taxes to the US". I though.. man that is ridiculous, I am sure very few athletes are going to go and sell their medals, though some athletes would have difficulty paying for that tax bill. Then I do 5 seconds of googling and find out, that they are payed $25K for each gold medal, and are simply paying on that... to top it off, to pay that the athletes would need to be in the upper tax bracket meaning they aren't struggling for cash. In other words, it is simply income and therefore they need to pay taxes on it. I mentioned it and they commented back thanks, that makes more sense though usually people get pissy because it doesn't fit with their idealogy. Then you find out that Romney, Foxnews and everyone trying to convey taxes are evil are repeating this same mis representation of the facts.

So... (1)

englishknnigits (1568303) | about 2 years ago | (#40873117)

who checked the headline for accuracy? If you didn't, then the headline is wrong.

Re:So... (1)

tbird81 (946205) | about 2 years ago | (#40873153)

Everybody's a fact checker. Except of course for the Slashdot editors - they don't waste time with such minutiae.

Slashdot moderators and facts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873131)

Yesterday, on an article about the Wikipedia, I posted a comment about how the Wikipedia fails to mention a relevant fact [] . This comment was immediately modded down to oblivion by an anonymous moderator as a "troll", which I interpret as "someone who posts something probably not true and probably against the poster's own beliefs in order to start a flame war".

I find it very Orwellian that a moderator would mod this article like this. The article, for people who won't follow the link points out that:

* Wikipedia's "Mitt Romney" article devotes over 120 words to Mitt's high school years.

* The article in no way, shape, or form discusses Mitt's bullying behavior in high school. Behavior which Mitt has never denied doing.

* This is an example of Wikipedia not accurately reporting facts.

I am a great admirer of Orwell's works, and I find it very disturbing that both Wikipedia editors and moderators here at Slashdot are doing their utmost to put this information about Mitt's high school behavior in a memory hole. Suppression of facts is not Conservative; it is downright fascist.

I'll bet the same moderators that put my comment from yesterday in a memory hole will do the same with this comment.

Re:Slashdot moderators and facts (2)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 years ago | (#40873515)

Wikipedia has rules for biographies of living people, many of which are just the same rules used elsewhere, but which they really mean this time.

One of those is undue weight. Wikipedia is not allowed to put more prominence on an event in a person's life than it actually has. Even if the event is important in showing what he's really like, it's not what he's primarily known for and isn't the first topic that comes up when talking about him (at least not to more than a minority of people). He is known as a politician, not as a bully.

avoiding the root problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873167)

Would these Fact Checker Organisations exist if the Media weren't allowed to actively lie?
Would these Fact Checker Organisations exist if government officials were held accountable for corruption?

As we review the contents of the current Fact Checker sites, we'll notice that both sides lie plenty, and that the system is long overdue for wholesale cleansing by fire.

Soon, there will be just as much misinformation provided by a sites claiming to be Fact-Checkers.

Why? Because they know they can get away with it. They know you can't reach them in their mansion, you can't find out who they ever are, nor who is funding the original shit peddlers.

Not EVERYBODY is a fact-checker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873271)

Republicans don't care about facts.

Tea Party members (aka Teabaggers) don't care about facts.

Cultist followers of Ron Paul don't care about facts.

9/11 conspiratards don't care about facts.

The list goes on and on...

We need crowd-sourced fallacy-checkers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40873391)

I do not share the author's satisfaction. Most, of not all of the fact checkers are inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary in what facts they choose to check and what standards to hold them up to. And none of them check for formal - or informal- fallacies. A thing can be completely accurate in its facts, and yet be chalked full of fallacies that not only mislead the reader, but by encouraging them to be as lazy in logic, lower their I.Q. What we need is a crowd-sourced fallacy-checking site. Where the entire public not only checks for facts, but also relevancy (eg non-sequitur) and intellectual honesty.

Well I've always said politicians were full of (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 2 years ago | (#40873629)

shit, the only real question is it dog, bull, human, or horse?

Facts are great (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 2 years ago | (#40873885)

But now someone needs to start doing this for predictions.

Every time someone comes on and says X will help the economy, or our schools will collapse without Y, or that we'll all die to terrorists if we don't do Z... no one ever comes back in five years and calls them on it.

I want to know which politicians and pundits are making up horrible scenarios to help their own power, and which ones are making honest assessments of what is likely to happen.

I don't want to take economic advice from the guy who said that home prices could never go down. I don't want to hear about gun control from someone who said things would turn into the wild west if we passed concealed carry. I don't want to hear about lowering the cost of something from people whose budget estimates were off by a factor of 10.

I want a prediction-checker. It's still pretty easy to lie with facts if you don't ever have to check whether you picked the right facts or not.

People believe what they want to believe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40874135)

Unless they are being told something they don't want to hear, they're not likely to argue or disagree.

Fact checking is where journalism meets law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40874651)

People check facts so they won't get sued.

I don't see the First Amendment exception for journalism lasting long because the power that it wields over the public. Eventually the distinction of law and journalism will be blurred to the extent that Congress and/or the states may need to act. Journalism will eventually have the same track as law. Four years of college and x years of graduate education in J-school. One is awarded a Journalism Doctor. One will have to pass a PRESS EXAM like a BAR EXAM. One will have to swear to uphold the Model of Professional Conduct. Then one may be "called to the Press". Journalists will become like Solicitors in nations with split legal professions, as they do research, yet do not appear in court apart from an attorney.

David Brooks (NYT) said it best (4, Interesting)

whitefox (16740) | about 2 years ago | (#40874765)

Dullest Campaign Ever - []

"Finally, dishonesty numbs. A few years ago, newspapers and nonprofits set up fact-checking squads, rating campaign statements with Pinocchios and such. The hope was that if nonpartisan outfits exposed campaign deception, the campaigns would be too ashamed to lie so much.

"This hope was naïve. As John Dickerson of Slate has said, the campaigns want the Pinocchios. They want to show how tough they are. But the result is a credibility vacuum. It’s impossible to take ads seriously. They are the jackhammer noise in the background of life."

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