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The Science of Truthiness 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the look-it-up-in-your-gut dept.
E IS mC(Square) writes "Researchers at Indiana University have just launched Truthy.indiana.edu, which they humbly declare 'a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation leading up to the Nov. 2 elections.' According to their FAQ, they define 'truthy' thus: 'A truthy meme relies on deceptive tactics to represent misinformation as fact. The Truthy system uses Truthy to refer to activities such as political smear campaigns, astroturfing, and other social pollution."
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The Science of Truthiness

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  • summary: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:24AM (#33775856) Journal

    If you are interested in the truth and have the required attention span to analyse detailed information, you won't be using Twitter.

  • Bears! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:28AM (#33775862)

    ...which they humbly declare 'a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation...

    Deceptive tactics, such as using data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:36AM (#33775888) Homepage

    > ...leading up to the Nov. 2 elections

    What's to uncover? Just look at anything published by or in support of any politician.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:53AM (#33775960) Homepage
    OK. "Truthy", and "Truthiness" are terms coined by Steven Colbert (or one of his writers), so why don't I see him getting any acknowledgment?
  • "Science"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:56AM (#33775972)
    In the same sentence with "crowd sourced? Fail.
    Look, I detest astroturfing as much as the next person who values "truth", but anyone who cares to look, can see lies and half-truths for what they are. Detecting them, then, is not the problem. The problem is that so many people can't, or won't.
  • But ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @09:02AM (#33776008)
    But how can anyone trust their results if they're gathering their data and posting their results via the internet? Everybody knows you can't trust anything you find on the internet, right?
  • by niftydude (1745144) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @09:02AM (#33776012)
    Ignoring the inherent dangers of crowdsourcing - why are we supposed to believe that this site is more reliable, and has less bias than your average twitter channel?

    I always find myself suspicious when people claim that they have some sort of uncontested claim on truth - politicians who start sentences with the words "believe me" spring to mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @09:10AM (#33776042)

    If we're going to have a group of social scientists run a negative points scoring system it would be great to start out with them saying which views of the world are false and which are true. "Obama is a communist" or "Obama is a muslim" is no different from saying "Republicans are racist" or "Bush was uneducated". Although based on my existing prejudices and the examples they use I suspect they disagree.

  • by medcalf (68293) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @10:26AM (#33776320) Homepage
    I cannot see any indication that they have done anything to root out their own prejudgements and assumptions, or even to justify their inclusion. So like most politically-driven attempts at "science," this will doubtless just show the ideological conclusions reached by the creators of this tool (the tools behind the tool, if you will) before they even created it.
  • Re:"Science"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @10:34AM (#33776346)

    When most of the science is sociology - a science of human interaction - I think crowd-sourcing is an acceptable way to do experimental data collection.

  • Wow... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @11:04AM (#33776490)
    This post is kind of a trifecta.
    It is funny, it is on topic, and it is accurate (currently modded -1 Troll).

    (It is a tad inflammatory but hey...)
  • by Gription (1006467) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @11:08AM (#33776520)
    The category of "mostly correct" is where the biggest, most destructive lies are.
  • Re:summary: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gilleain (1310105) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @11:09AM (#33776532)

    Twitter ... consumes and distributes everything from minor status updates to breaking news.

    Minor status updates are just that - minor. 24hr news networks can cover the breaking news.

    The "everything new is a waste of time" attitude just makes you sound like a dottering old fool.

    There are new things that are not a waste of time. Twitter is not among them

  • Re:summary: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:23PM (#33777030)

    That's a rather limited view. Twitter is a communication tool used by millions of people. It consumes and distributes everything from minor status updates to breaking news.

    The "everything new is a waste of time" attitude just makes you sound like a dottering old fool.

    And the fact that you would rely on any social networking portal for anything that would even remotely resemble "truth" doesn't make you look much different.

    There is "data" (a.k.a. noise, lies, bullshit, or the random "I just farted" post), and then there is "information", with the latter being the only useful part. Unfortunately, "information" on most social network portals represents itself as a tiny needle in a haystack the size of Texas, and thus I see little point in relying on a tool that is churning through that much hay hoping to find a useful needle.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:51PM (#33777206)

    Twitter is not new (just a much worse implementation).

    Signal to noise ratio about 0.

    That isn't new ether. Twitter takes it to a new low.

  • Re:"Science"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @02:13PM (#33777676)
    Look, I detest astroturfing as much as the next person who values "truth", but anyone who cares to look, can see lies and half-truths for what they are. Detecting them, then, is not the problem

    Let's not talk about the brigher people out there, the ones who always can see political doublespeak for what it is. Let's also not talk about the, uh, less bright people out there, the ones who are absolutely set in there ideas and eat up any reports that fit their viewpoints. Let's talk about Joe Average, the average voter.

    Right now, there are PR people in Washington. There are people who are trained in psychology or sociology. There are people who have spent years running advertising campaigns. People who have large networks of contacts in the media, businesses, activist groups who can spread their messages when told. People who are smart enough to understand what the arguments are against the messages that they distribute and know how to counter them.

    That is to say, there are people out there that are deliberately skilled in changing the mind of Joe Average. You can call it propaganda or messaging or outright lying, but these people know what they're doing. To say that everyone could stop this if they just stopped to think about it is asking everyone to be above average, a Lake Woebegone sort of thing. And even then, even if everyone figured out what the lies were and starting listening different, then these skilled PR people would figure out what the new average person is doing, and they would figure out how to change their minds in a new way.
  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2&gdargaud,net> on Sunday October 03, 2010 @03:38PM (#33778140) Homepage

    So truth is a lie?

    Well, according to Fox News, a lie is the best alternative there is to the truth, and as such is worth the same level of 'respect'.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @04:29PM (#33778514) Homepage

    It belongs in Idle.

  • And you're ignoring Senator Lloyd Bentsen as well... they don't cite him for his coined term "astroturf". And Congress of the 1760s is getting ignored for their contribution of the coined term "Indiana" for the Land of the Indians. Gah! And they missed explaining Jeff Howe's contribution of "crowdsourcing", Richard Dawkins' term "meme", and... wait... YOU! You are ABSOLUTELY REVOLTING for not having explained that your own nom de web is thanks to the 13th General Conference on Weights and Measures and the essays of William Thomson, the first Baron Kelvin! Why aren't you giving the good folk of the 13th GCWM any acknowledgement? Hunh? HUNH? ...either that, or coined words simply enter the popular vocabulary and become used as a regular part of the language.

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