According to Neiman Journalism Lab:
“Dan Schultz, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab (and newly named Knight-Mozilla fellow for 2012), is devoting his thesis to automatic bullshit detection. Schultz is building what he calls truth goggles — not actual magical eyewear, alas, but software that flags suspicious claims in news articles and helps readers determine their truthiness. It’s possible because of a novel arrangement: Schultz struck a deal with fact-checker PolitiFact for access to its private APIs.”
(via Bull beware: Truth goggles sniff out suspicious sentences in news » Nieman Journalism Lab.)
It’s a fascinating idea. Imagine browsers having a plug-in that is able to fact check all sorts of data using sources such as Wikipedia. It could have a huge impact on the future of news media. Imagine reading an article on, say, climate change in The Australian, and this “truth goggles” plug-in pointing out all of the inconsistencies in their reporting.
Or imagine reading Hilary Clinton ramping up the case for invading Iran because they are weaponising uranium, but have “truth goggles” pointing out that there is no evidence to support this claim.
Of course, this process doesn’t *need* to be automated with an algorithm. Chrome extensions like “Glass” allow people to comment on websites. For example, see this screenshot of a comment I left using Glass on a story in the Brisbane Times today about News Ltd corruption allegations from former QLD senator Bill O’Chee.
Could we all use tools like Glass to subvert the ability of the mainstream media and certain blogs to spin bullshit to their readers? Of course there is always the comments section of most sites these days, but perhaps they tend to get moderated and news sites promote comments by their faithful believers. Would Glass-like tools also get corrupted by flame wars? How do we keep them clean and useful? User moderation ala Wikipedia?
My guest IN THE STUDIO today is John Cook, astrophyscist, web developer, and founder of Skeptical Science, an absolutely brilliant resource for anyone needing to refute the common climate change denialist.
We talk about what motivates climat change denialists (and the difference between being a SKEPTIC and a DENIALIST) and some of the refutations of their most common arguments.
Follow John on Twitter at @skepticscience.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Ewan Saunders is the Socialist Alliance’s Brisbane candidate in the upcoming federal election. I caught up with him recently to talk about socialism, climate change, indigenous communities, and the Socialist Alliance’s policies on subjects like Iraq, Afghanistan and immigration.
As I mention during the show, if you’re interested in hearing more about “participatory democracy”, then listen to my 2008 interview with Richard Moore.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
While waiting in the Apple Store Chermside today (waiting, that is, for them to replace the hard drive on my 5 month old 17″ Macbook Pro for the second time in a week), I started reading the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report. The report was recently released by Beyond Zero Emissions, a non-profit group based in Melbourne. Their report details how Australia can become a zero carbon-emitting country by 2020. In their introduction, they remind us that Australia has the highest carbon emission per capita ranking in the entire world.
I had forgotten that fact, so I tweeted:
Let’s remember during this election that Australia has the highest emissions per capita IN THE WORLD. We are a disgrace.
A few hours later I saw this tweet in response:
I wish to express my utter disdain for what @Vzzzbx just retweeted from some twat called @cameronreilly (see next tweet)
I don’t know who this Ches Trulson guy is, but it always amuses me when someone just slags me off and doesn’t try to debate the facts. It’s usually the sign of a limited intelligence. But I popped over to read more of his Twitter feed, just in case he was someone to take seriously.
Here’s a sample of his Twitter feed, following on from the ‘disdain’ post:
We live in a first world country, this means our emissions are worse than much of the world. Bad? Sure.
France is also a first world country, but their emissions are one-third of Australia’s. And France’s emissions per capita have reduced by 40% since 1979, while Australia’s have grown by 40%.
It’s also really fucking big, and our population is spread across a large area. Again, bad. We also have a varied and harsh climate. Bad.
Russia is a pretty big country as well and their climate is pretty harsh. Their emissions have dropped by 30% since 1992, while Australia’s have grown.
Except of course, that none of that is practical to change, or any of our fault. Yet I should feel ashamed? Get fucked.
This is what amuses me the most. “None of that is practical to change or any of our fault.” That kind of lazy, defeatist attitude is precisely WHY we are the worst emitters in the world. Huge brains like Ches just throwing up his hands and saying “not my fault”. Of course it’s not your fault, Ches. Meanwhile, the ZCA2020 report says it *is* practical to change – in fact, we could be a zero carbon emission country within ten years – if we can get people like Ches to pull their heads out of their asses.
I’m all for living sustainably, but Aus is not a significant problem IMO, and making us feel bad about it is helpful in no way whatsoever.
Aw, diddums. Did Bad Cameron make you cwy? Grow up, dude. It’s precisely because we are a first world country that we are a significant problem. The rest of the world (read: the developing countries who are still trying to pull themselves out of poverty) are looking towards the first world countries as guidance. If we don’t seem to be taking this stuff seriously, then why should they? Australia should (IMHO) be leading the world on this issue. We have the wealth. We have the political stability. We have the intelligence (well…. some of us). Perhaps most importantly, we have huge sources of renewable energy. Let’s lead the world for once in something other than sport and racist actors.
Hard to argue convincingly over twitter, but whatever, rage subsiding.
Well here’s you chance, Ches. Argue convincingly here. If you can.
Oh, and this from a guy who does marketing for cigars and pergolas? Hilarious.
Yeah I see what those things have to do with each other. No, wait…. I don’t. Please enlighten me. Of course, this is all coming from a self-confessed “car nerd”. I guess when you’re a “car nerd”, the whole idea of reducing carbon emissions is likely to induce cognitive dissonance.
On other Twitter fronts….
My mate Ben Wilks took umbrage to my retweet about how stupid Gillard’s “small Australia” policy is.
@cameronreilly umm, ok. Population has doubled in the last 15 years. Property prices and traffic ARE QUALITY OF LIFE. Seriously, WT?
Actually, Ben – no. Property prices and traffic are NOT quality of life. At all.
This whole “small Australia” policy is seriously dysfunctional. Here’s why:
According to the IMF, Australia ranks #10 in GDP per capita.
On top of that, we have one of the lowest population densities in the world.
If we can’t have quality of life while we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world with one of the lowest population densities – then we are seriously messed up.
This all reminds me of a story Clive Hamilton (he of the internet filter) wrote about in one of his earlier books, Affluenza.
I don’t have the book in front of me, so I’ll paraphrase it. He wrote that the average net household income in Australia has increased by something like 300% since 1950. And yet when you survey the Australian population and ask them “do you have enough to get by”, something like 75% of people say “no”.
We’re messed up, dysfunctional.
When you have an individual who has everything going for them and yet they feel oppressed, it’s often a sign of a psychosis or mental illness.
When you have an entire population who has everything going for them and yet they feel like they don’t have enough to get by, what does that say about the general psyche of the country?
(pic via suburbanbloke’s flickr)