Saturday, October 20, 2007

FactCheck Checks Itself In...And Out

Great doubt results in great enlightenment, small doubt results in small enlightenment, no doubt results in no enlightenment.


A hundred thousand worlds are flowers in the sky.
A single mind and body is moonlight in the water.
Once thinking ends and information stops,
At that moment there is no place for thought.


All wisdom comes out of one center, and the number of wisdom is one.


I thought it was a good thing when showed up a few years ago. I immediately subscribed to its occasional dispatches. A Karl Rove in power was reason enough. "Spin" was the middle name of this White House and, while acknowledged, journalists didn't seem to do much about it. We heard about "framing" your presentations so that particular words would hook your audience. We learned that "reality" is a hindrance to true economic marketfreedom. It seemed evident that lies repeated over and over finally sink in and become accepted as truth. What's a mother to do? FactCheck stepped up to the plate to test the veracity of political ads and politician claims. That seemed to be a help.

But I find I don't read everything FactCheck sends out, and sometimes I don't find the "facts" particularly convincing. I confess I probably am rooting for my good guys and don't like it much when FactCheck goes after them. The site is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a research group of impeccable far as I know. So I'm glad FactCheck is around, particularly during endless campaign seasons.

But last month the Washington Post published an intriguing article that said the whole strategy of creating myths depends on the assertive statement of the story. The Post implied that by emphasizing these myths FactCheck actually is defeating its own purpose. People read the myth and that's enough to keep it going no matter how the facts check out.

That was enough to send FactCheck to the couch and after a month of analysis, it has emerged with a special report on its soundness of mind. Beware: they've gone all the way back to Descartes and Spinoza. There's some deep slogging here, and it's perfectly possible you may emerge with the belief Spinoza invented spin. Maybe he did. That part's hazy. Anyway, here it is~~~