Monday, February 26, 2007

Matching data to slogans

When I read some politician say "America is the moral leader of the world", I'd like to see a hyperlink to a world-wide poll of opinion on the topic. Given the results of polls like this, it's quite likely that, if international pollsters were to ask the question "rank the US in morality", the US would be considered the most immoral force in the world. A more complex set of questions is appropriate, of course, and simplistic assertions one way or another don't reveal much. That's why it would be very interesting to automate ties between messages and reality. If you could pick out phrases like "american aren't against the war" and generate links to a list of polls about the war, the reader could think about the truthfulness of the speaker. This might have an influence on propaganda, if it could be done in an unbiased manner.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The lost art of evidence fabrication

On Charlie Rose last night, the Iranian Ambassador said the evidence, presented by the US government to the press, was fabricated. He talked about larger issues, but one thing he said was quite concrete: every weapon manufactured outside the US is marked "day-month-year". But the evidence was very clearly marked in the US fashion: "month-day-year". Talk about your "smoking gun" -- this is a very testable accusation. Either it's accurate, and the press should "press" the administration about it, or it isn't, and the Ambassador shouldn't have brought it up. Unfortunately, as Stephen Colbert points out, truthiness is more important than truth these days. The evidence against Iran was presented with much "military-CIA styling". The actual content is secondary.