investigating the nature of fact in the digital age

Issues of fact and the new US President

In Facts and opinion, Journalism practice, Misinformation, Quotes, Uncategorized on January 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm’s This Week discussion re Trump and fact

Highlights from’s This Week discussion of the Trump Administration’s approach to “facts”(see link to video, above)

3:01: “[We need to ask:] what’s the larger truth here?  We miss that a lot.” (Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist)

3:48: “[Traditionally,] the three ‘sisters of spin’ are: misrepresent, mislead, mis-state. We now see Mr Lie, Mr Lying…” (Matthew Dowd, ABC news analyst)

4:09: “[Donald Trump and media spokesman Shaun Spicer say:] “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” (Matthew Dowd, ABC news analyst)

4:50: When questioned, [Trump] says the people questioning him are not telling the truth and everything that is a question is fake news.” (George Stephanopoulos, ABC commentator and news host)

6:09: “[Trump] seems to be betting on the idea that he can define reality by denying it.” (George Stephanopoulos, ABC commentator and news host)

Fact fight: Aly vs Price

In Facts and opinion, Misinformation on August 23, 2015 at 4:39 pm
Waleed Aly on the set of The Project.

Waleed Aly on the set of The Project.

WALEED Aly’s clash with Steve Price over the Adani mine on The Project this week got pulses racing among armchair devotees of the #idosohatethosenastyshockjocks and #iluvsorstraya hashtags everywhere. 

Depending on the cut of your ideological jib, Price was either the right-wing shock jock deservedly “shut down” by Aly or the righteous upholder of all things Team Australia who stuck it to the lefties.

As television, it was enthralling because it was real. There was genuine contempt in Aly’s eyes during the exchange, fury in Price’s. It was death stares at 10 paces — or via satellite, actually, Price was being beamed in on the night, possibly from another planet. He usually sits a couple of chairs down from Aly. Who knows what might have happened if they’d been in spitting distance of each other. Dry cleaning bills, possibly. 

The mood of the discussion was already dark as they talked about the government’s proposal to strengthen legislation to prevent green groups from “sabotaging” (the government’s word) major mining projects by challenging them in the courts. 

Price was in favour of the mine going ahead at just about any cost; Aly wanted to dissect the argument that favours additional legislative curbs. But it was when Aly insisted on correcting Price’s version of how many jobs Adani would create that the mood turned toxic. 

Would we trust Google to tell us the truth?

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Google research paper

A Google research paper, reported here and here, suggests the search engine’s infamously secretive algorithms might be applied to rank websites and information according to truthfulness rather than popularity.

Robot-curated “truth” is a nice idea – and might even work, in some cases. Some facts, simple data, could easily to cross-checked and given a tick of approval. It was 20 C in Melbourne yesterday? Tick.

At what point the algorithm has to give way to human discretion to decide between shades of correct information and misinformation is the challenge.

Watch this space.