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Today, Everybody's a Fact Checker 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the citation-needed dept.
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 FactCheck.org, 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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Today, Everybody's a Fact Checker

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  • by reiserifick (2616539) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:27PM (#40872461)
    ... facts check YOU!
  • truthiness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:33PM (#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.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:36PM (#40872543) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        Said the old tymer not used to these new fandangled tools.
        Sir, that joke got old when the internet was invented by Al Gore!
        • Joke?
          What joke?

          I take it you haven't been following American politics the last decade or so?
    • Re:truthiness (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:27PM (#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: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/01/bill-clinton/its-typical-presidential-candidates-release-10-or-/

      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 (http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2012/aug/02/sarah-palin/sarah-palin-says-1-7-american-families-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.

      • 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

        • Re:truthiness (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Uberbah (647458) on Friday August 03, 2012 @06:53PM (#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 [motherjones.com]

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            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

            • by Uberbah (647458)

              Except for example, that wrongly counts health spending on the VA as 'defence' spending

              "Wrongly counts"? Military compensation and care for military personnel isn't defense spending, how does that make sense in any kind of cognitive framework? Six figure salaries for Blackwater mercenaries, defense contrators, do they not count either?

              The VA, like the GI Bill, is a great program. But of course they're defense spending.

              is an ideological position to come up with 39% of the interest payments.

              Again, how do y

      • 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.
        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          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.

          • 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 ch
        • I agree that it matters a lot, and I like the fact that Palin managed to say something true; however, the GPs point still stands. It is very difficult to quantify the relative importance of ideological mistakes. (I don't like the term lying, since I do not believe that people know when they are lying for the most part.)

          In this case, I think politifact was dead on, in getting the context correct. There are a lot of people getting food-stamps. This has many pernicious effects -- not least subsidising busin
          • (I don't like the term lying, since I do not believe that people know when they are lying for the most part.)

            But if they don't know that what they're saying is a lie, it isn't one. Lying is when somebody says something that the know is untrue. Their statement isn't true, but it's not a lie if they honestly think it's true.
    • It would be nice if there were a running tally on each politician for how many times they distorted or lied about something

      Well, there is!

      Stride on over to politifact [politifact.com], which gives the claims, rates them (true ==> pants-on-fire), and gives a referenced analysis why. They even analyse internet chain letters and other such claptrap.

      fact-checks are cross-referenced to the person who made the claim, so you can see, for example, the truthiness of Obama [politifact.com], and Romney [politifact.com], or, if you prefer bat-shit-insane, Palin [politifact.com], and Bachmann [politifact.com].

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:35PM (#40872533) Homepage

    Political fact checking is actually a lot harder than it seems. I used to follow politifact.com 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)!!!

    Sigh.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:47PM (#40872689) Homepage

      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.

      • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:02PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kaatochacha (651922)

          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.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          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]

          • Politifact's "lie of the year" was not a lie, or at best a lie for a very very narrow definition of lie. They had to pick this particular statement and declare it a lie, because otherwise, they would have had to admit that the other party's line was pure fabrication.

            And that would have made them "partisan".

            Party A: We should do X, which is completely different than Y. This is our worldview.
            Party B: Party A's plan amounts to Y

            Either A is lying through their teeth, and their entire plan is a sham, or B's stat

      • by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:13PM (#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.

        • by dynamo52 (890601)

          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, Soci

        • by tinkerton (199273)

          It's called neutrality sometimes. I fully agree this hands-off reporting means the news organization isn't doing its job, or let's say isn't doing what we thought long ago should be its job. An official can tell outright lies and the paper won't call them out on it.

          But to say it's the greatest problem? It's an aspect of the problem. Reporting is increasingly safe, cheap and interesting. This can be contrasted with what we would think to be an actual task of the press: to be difficult on people and organizat

        • 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 the fact that my side consists of angels and the other side consists of devils who kick puppies and eat babies.

          There, fixed that for you.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)

        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=http://www.politifact.com/personalities/michele-bachmann/rel=url2html-11562 [slashdot.org]http://www.politifact.com/personalities/michele-bachmann/>. 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. http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/ [politifact.com], and Romney h

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 eas

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      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 con

    • by fermion (181285)
      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 rang

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      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.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      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 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.

  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:39PM (#40872577)

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

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

    • by swillden (191260)

      I can't hear you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 inves

  • They're already all over Wikileaks and doing whatever they can to kill that off. I'm sure FactCheck.org 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.
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Will you come back and admit when you are wrong?

      Of course not, because what you're saying is just bullshit [wikipedia.org], 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.

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

  • by neonv (803374) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:52PM (#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.

    • 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 p

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday August 03, 2012 @04:52PM (#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.

    • 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

    • 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 [prochronism.com] 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 o

  • 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!

    • Dear mod,

      Everyone is a critic. I'm sorry you don't like the poem. However, if you read the full summary, and the poem, you would realize that it is, in fact, quite on topic.

      Sincerely,
      Og

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:08PM (#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.

    • 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 s

      • by Anonymous Coward

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SomeKDEUser (1243392)

          Thank you for illustrating the fact that for Republicans, "truth" is whatever delusion fits their particular belief about what their imagination makes them think ought to have happened.

          You said it yourself: it is not what Obama said, but what you think he should have said to be consistent with the image you have of him. Truth is irrelevant.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by error_logic (1160341)

            Neither can win while the other denies. Both sides have people blinded by biases--and arguments that do nothing but prolong an imagined war. The real enemy is a mutual lack of respect, yet it runs rampant through the country...and the world.

          • NO, it is what he said, which is consistent with his actions. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Tell me how this translation is not what he meant. "If you have a business, you don't get credit for your hard work. Somebody else built the roads and bridges and other things that your business relies on. Therefore, you should be grateful that the government allows you to keep some of the money you make because you don't deserve that money any more than anyone el
            • Sorry, but from a European perspective, Obama is a rather right-wing guy. In fact from a Republican-from-twenty-years-ago, Obama is pretty much were they stood in terms of implemented policy.

              What Obama is saying is that taxes are necessary for your business to exist, because your business relies on the infrastructure of the nation. That if you think that your sole hard work and ingenuity are why you are successful, you are deluded.

              And he is right, there are many hard working, clever people who don't make it

              • The first problem is that it depends on your definition of "right wing". Since most Europeans define Adolf Hitler and Mussolini as being on the right wing (although not necessarily saying that anyone on the right wing is sympathetic to those two) and Stalin as being on the left wing, by European definitions Obama is right wing. The problem is that European definitions of "right" and "left" in politics are not particularly relevant in U.S. politics. The divide in European politics is over how government powe
                • Claiming that the debate is about "how much government" is denial of reality: you are asking "how much" of something which does not have a proper metric. It doesn't mean anything -- any measurable thing you can think of as proxy for the size of gvt, you will find is in fact down under Obama.

                  Claiming success depends on the individual is wrong, plain and simple: the single most important factor in predicting success is the wealth of your parents, in the US. It also denies chance: sometimes, you need to be at

                  • Two measurable metric of the size of the Federal Government, number of federal regulations, number of pages of federal regulations. Both are muchup under Obama.
                    Bush was not a conservative.
                    Perhaps no left wing person in the U.S thinks that Hitler was left-wing, but that is because they want to have the discussion on the basis of the European discussion. They want the discussion to be about how the government uses its power They do not want the discussion to be about whether the government should have tha
                    • The number of page of regulations? Seriously? Aside from the fact that it is a silly measure of red tape (interestingly, batshit insane ultra-right like it too in Europe), and that it is really hard to measure: one long federal regulation, may replace many special state rules, and the total is a net win, I will say [citation needed], and please, I would like a time series to at least the Carter administration.

                      "Bush was not a conservative", No True Scotsman, much?

                      Anyone who sees no distinction between Stalin

                    • There is no real difference between all of those men. They all believe that government is the source of all good in society. Anyone who believes that the distinction between Hitler and Stalin is relevant is a fool. The only difference between them is the excuses they used to justify their evil.
    • by unitron (5733)

      The thing about Romney's "I like to fire people" comment is that he was using it in a context where anybody else would have said something about being able to take their business elsewhere.

      I mean, I'm sure there must have been something like an ad for drain cleaner where someone says "I fired my plumber" or something along those lines, but in normal real life firing is what you do to employees, not to suppliers.

      If he'd said "I like being able to take my business to someone who gives me a great product or se

  • 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.

  • by dremspider (562073) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:25PM (#40873091)
    Is you can tell the truth, and still completely misrepresent the information. To see how this works, I will differ to Jon Stewart... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/jon-stewart-you-didnt-build-that_n_1705264.html [huffingtonpost.com] 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.
  • who checked the headline for accuracy? If you didn't, then the headline is wrong.
    • by tbird81 (946205)

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

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

  • by whitefox (16740) on Friday August 03, 2012 @09:24PM (#40874765)

    Dullest Campaign Ever - NYTimes.com
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/opinion/brooks-dullest-campaign-ever.html [nytimes.com]

    "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."

    • Over 100 posts to finally get to the one that matters. I push the mute button on all commercials, really, but especially campaign commercials. I know it will be such a wildly distorted lie that there's no point in even hearing it. That there's no point in even bothering to look up the facts. It's too much trouble to look up every single claim in these ads. Worse, on the rare occasions when I'm not fast enough on the mute button and some of it leaks through, it just pisses me off. I KNOW I'm hearing a

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:14AM (#40875885) Homepage Journal

    Liars can make things up faster than honest people can check them, and the liars know it.

    Liars have nothing to lose. Their followers won't abandon them. Their followers will be too busy retweeting the next lie to notice that the previous one was disproven.

    Fact checking yields the initiative to the liars and lets them set the agenda. Fact checking hands the liars blank checks payable with the fact checker's time.

    Better to build reputation scores for public figures based on a reasonable sample of their utterances, and stop paying attention to the ones who prove themselves to have no credibility.

  • This is why news stories are crafted from blog's that are completely fabricated... er wait
  • ...This does not surprise anyone.

    When Alvin Toffler's book came out in 1980, the most prophetic chapter in that book was called "De-Massifying the Media." Once the public Internet took off in the first half of the 1990's, the cost of a single person being able to disseminate information on a huge scale dropped dramatically, especially with full web sites, weblogs, and now with the social media sites Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Wikipedia has become in many ways a practice ground for "crowd sourced" fact c

  • by illtud (115152)

    And don't forget Snopes, the grandaddy of online truth-telling.

    And don't forget that Snopes started out on alt.folklore.urban, the great-grandaddy of truth-telling (and trolling, when it meant something different).

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

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