Basic Proposal by Robert Searle
The Universal Debating Project (or UDP) is an extremely ambitious proposal for an ongoing programme in which "all", or most arguments for, or against any topic of human knowledge could be presented in the clearest, and shortest possible form. It would also include an online "encyclopedia"(like Wikipedia) for the pros, and cons of any debate which could be continually updated in Real-Time on the internet. It would naturally adopt the Networking P2P approach, and hence, be an Open Source of structured data emanating from laymen, experts, NGOs, scholarly papers, popular articles, documentaries, web feeds, aggregators (ie.feed readers, or news readers), et al.
Ofcourse, articles such as those on Wikipedia do try to present arguments for, and against particular subjects. But how "complete," and how unbiased are they? Moreover, they deal probably with mainly major arguments, and to a lesser extent "minor" arguments. In effect, what is needed is the most objective presentation of "all" possible pros, and cons on most, if not "all" kinds of human knowledge.
Ideally, the Universal Debating Project should be publicly seen as being the most reliable, and the most credible central global source of such structured data in the world. Its aim is to achieve improved constructive reasoning, and greater holistic objectivity. It should become of great practical value for educators, citizens, governments, NGOs, businesses, et al.
The Problem of Complexity
As the world becomes increasingly complex it becomes more, and more vital to....
a) ...reduce most, if not "all" introductory information on a topic into clear, and manageable levels of data (ie. Text Simplification)...ideally using the least number of words..(similiar to notes, or "good" powerpoint presentations, and as short comprehensive summaries consisting of one, or more paragraph)
b) ...reduce "all" major, and "minor" resulting arguments for, and against of topic in the most lucid manner possible....again ideally using the least number of words...
c) ....a whole series of links to various sources could ofcourse be included at the click of a button. Ofcourse, the relevant sentences in many cases could be cached, or highlighted.
Special editors could do the above work notably in connection with a), and b). This would mean that any pro, and con arguments which are repeated could be "quickly" reduced into the least numbers of words, and be free of emotional language. These could be emailed to those in a debate to see if the participants opinions are presented accurately.
Apart from Wikipedia mentioned earlier there are ofcourse on the internet any number of forums, and discussion groups. These are fine as far as they go. But as said before how complete are their arguments for, and against a certain topic? Naturally enough, such arguments are continually repeated again, and again. This is where the UDP becomes all-important.
A vital aspect of all this is that it should be possible for people to become "instant experts." In other words, they should be able to become reasonably "expert" in the shortest space of time in say some aspect of economics, biology, or physics, or whatever. Thus, there is an element here of Anti-Credentialism in which essentially good arguments rely on good "objective" thinking rather than relying on the credibility of experts all the time.
Ofcourse, those who have formal qualifications, and training still play a vital role, but they must be prepared to submit their ideas, and discoveries onto the UDP. Thus, they could be "fully" scrutinised by other experts, and by the public without relevant credentials. This could all lead in certain instances to "quality" online global "brainstorming", or more precisely "brainwriting" sessions leading to "new" ideas that may have value in society, and the world. Hence, Collective Intelligence at work.
It should be added here too that technical subjects such as physics, and the processes involved in mathematics could be presented verbally, and clearly. In the latter instance, a individual may have little, or no training. But with "simple" verbal step by step presentations he, or she could reach levels of "mathematical understanding."
The Importance of "Rationality"
The structured data of the UDP should be like the Pros, and Cons, a Debaters Handbook edited by Trevor Sather which went through a number of editions since 1896. Here, two columns are presented, one of which is for pro arguments, and the other for con arguments. This along with a brief lucid presentation of an issue, or topic should ofcourse become ultimately universally standardized for the entire world, and act as a truly comprehensive compliment to any number of "decentralized" sources of information.
An intriguing aspect of the Universal Debating Project is that we could have what is termed a "Rationality Count"(RC). This would be the electronic tracking of peoples decision-making processes for, and against a specific topic. This could give us valuable insight as to the degrees of rationality people may have. For instance, 2,000 people may select pro argument a for topic C via the internet. Then, a con argument b could be presented online for the same topic C, and 1,500 decide to agree with it, and ofcourse, press the right button on their computers to transmit their decision...and so on. We may well find interesting patterns if RCs are used. In other words, a "mapping out" of the "thinking processes" of participants in the UDP.
If the "Global Brain", or Universal Debating Project were ever set up, its initial concern would probably be with major issues notably social matters, economics, politics, and climate change/global warming. A site could be set up, and it could even have a motto such as "Fair Thinking, Fair World".
Also, it should be added that it is as yet unclear how such a proposal could be funded. It could use the Wikipedia model, or maybe not.
The following list of links may have direct, and indirect relevance to the above p2pfoundation entry. Yet, they are worthy of inclusion here. They also give us an idea of the immensity of the subject of debating, rationality, and thinking......
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_and_Crooked_Thinking A book by the parapsychologist Robert Thouless,(pronounced Tooliss) and one in which he gave a "simplistic" presentation of the different forms of argument.
There are naturally enough a number of debating "organizations" on the internet. However, the scale, and indeed, scope of the UDP is far greater, and "infinitely" comprehensive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_brain The UDP could play a "central" role in the Global Brain proposal
A key problem with policy making is that unforeseen consequences can often happen. Hence, the need for good thought through planning to reduce future problems. Such policy making could be aided with the structured data approach of the UDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy
http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Facilitation This has a list of links of great interest
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-democracy (The UDP could play a critical role in this)
The link below deals with games that have serious educational value, and could in certain situations even affect socio-economic change. Ofcourse, a pro, and con project such as the above could be presented in an attractive, and stimulating manner.
Mind Maps are another way of presenting issues other than the pro, and con approach. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map
Semantics can have relevance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_technology
There are variety of ways for developing greater creativity. One such approach is lateral Thinking.
The following deals with Upstream Engagement in which people can have informed dialogue about subjects (notably in connection with "controversial" scientific innovation)
Another area of likely relevance is media bias. If undertaken correctly, the Universal Debating Project should be able to present the most "objective" presentation in the world of various topics notably on emotive issues such as genetically modified food, and global warming.
A link of links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complexity_theory
Big Data could play a big role in the all this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data
The following link is concerned with the idea(!) of Ideonomy which would probably be of great relevance to UDP.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nootropic (ie.Smart Drugs)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor (This could be seen as a complete contradiction to the UDP)
http://flynn.debating.net/amazon.htm (an interesting list of book references on debating, etc)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda (a classic example of the "misuse" of data)
An important area of enquiry is how accurate, and authentic statistics are. With the aid of the UDP a set of them could be scrutinized rigorously. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics
There is an important radio programme which questions statistics...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_or_Less_(radio_programme)
Some interesting info can be found on the discussion section of this page/subject entry.
Finally, a blog has been set up. http://universaldebatingproject.blogspot.co.uk/ Other "relevant" subject matters not included as links in the above may also exist on the blog itself, and maybe included at the P2P Foundation site.
Thursday, 17 November 2016
Thursday, 29 September 2016
Blogger Ref http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Universal_Debating_Project
The desires, wants, and thinking of the majority of the people - or the collective opinion of the people of a society or state on an issue or problem - is called public opinion. The English term "public opinion" dates back to the seventeenth century work by John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which contains an early consideration of the importance of public opinion in the ordering of politics. The term was derived from the French word l’opinion, which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne.
This concept came about through the process of urbanization and other political and social forces. For the first time, it became important what people thought, as forms of political contention changed.
It was introduced by James Madison that for a government to be democratic, it would be essential to have strong and knowledgeable citizens that hold educated opinions that could be shared and expressed. Active citizens would then use this knowledge to participate in their government, while also being able to inform other citizens of current issues. In terms of political science, public opinion is defined as being “the aggregate of public attitudes or beliefs about government or politics”. Public opinion is considered to be the factor that guides an indirect democratic government. It is only through the approval of the public that a government gains the authority to function. Public opinion is thought to develop from these main sources: “political socialization, education, life experience, political parties, the media, and the government”. Public opinion is considered a dynamic part of today’s government. Continually changing, it has the power and influence to shape the government in new ways.
HistoryThe emergence of public opinion as a significant force in the political realm can be dated to the late 17th century. However, opinion had been regarded as having singular importance since far earlier. Medieval fama publica or vox et fama communis had great legal and social importance from the 12th and 13th centuries onward. Later, William Shakespeare called public opinion the 'mistress of success' and Blaise Pascal thought it was 'the queen of the world.' John Locke in his treatise An Essay Concerning Human Understanding considered that man was subject to three laws: the divine law, the civil law, and most importantly in Locke's judgement, the law of opinion or reputation. He regarded the latter as of the highest importance because dislike and ill-opinion force people to conform in their behaviour to social norms, however he didn't consider public opinion as a suitable influence for governments.
William Temple in his essay of 1672, On the Original and Nature of Government gave an early formulation of the importance of public opinion. He observed that "...when vast numbers of men submit their lives and fortunes absolutely to the will of one, it...must be force of custom, or opinion...which subjects power to authority."
Temple disagreed with the prevalent opinion that the basis of government lay in a social contract and thought that government was merely allowed to exist due to the favour of public opinion.
The prerequisites for the emergence of a public sphere were increasing levels of literacy which was spurred on by the Reformation, which encouraged individuals to read the Bible in the vernacular, and the rapidly expanding printing presses. During the 18th century religious literature was replaced with secular literature, novels and pamphlets. In parallel to this was the growth in reading societies and clubs. At the turn of the century the first circulating library opened in London and the public library became widespread and available to the public.
Coffee-housescoffee-house, which became widespread throughout Europe in the mid-17th century. Although Charles II later tried to suppress the London coffeehouses as "places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers", the public flocked to them. For several decades following the Restoration, the Wits gathered round John Dryden at Will's Coffee House, in Russell Street, Covent Garden. The coffee houses were great social levellers, open to all men and indifferent to social status, and as a result associated with equality and republicanism.
More generally, coffee houses became meeting places where business could be carried on, news exchanged and The London Gazette (government announcements) read. Lloyd's of London had its origins in a coffeehouse run by Edward Lloyd, where underwriters of ship insurance met to do business. By 1739, there were 551 coffeehouses in London; each attracted a particular clientele divided by occupation or attitude, such as Tories and Whigs, wits and stockjobbers, merchants and lawyers, booksellers and authors, men of fashion or the "cits" of the old city center. Joseph Addison wanted to have it said of him that he had "brought philosophy out of closets and libraries to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea tables and in coffee houses." According to one French visitor, Antoine François Prévost, coffeehouses, "where you have the right to read all the papers for and against the government," were the "seats of English liberty."
Gentleman clubsGentlemen's clubs proliferated in the 18th century, especially in the West End of London. Clubs took over the role occupied by coffee houses in 18th century London to some degree, and reached the height of their influence in the late 19th century - some notable names were White's, Brooks's, Arthur's, and Boodle's which still exist today.
These social changes, in which a closed and largely illiterate public became an open and politicized one, was to become of tremendous political importance in the 19th century as the mass media was circulated ever more widely and literacy was steadily improved. Governments increasingly recognized the importance of managing and directing public opinion. This trend is exemplified in the career of George Canning who restyled his political career from its aristocratic origins to one of popular consent when he contested and won the parliamentary seat in Liverpool; a city with a growing and affluent middle class, which he attributed to the growing influence of "public opinion."
Jeremy Bentham was an impassioned advocate of the importance of public opinion in the shaping of constitutional governance. He thought it important that all government acts and decisions should be subject to the inspection of public opinion, because “to the pernicious exercise of the power of government it is the only check.” He opined that public opinion had the power to ensure that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greater number. He brought in Utilitarian philosophy in order to define theories of public opinion.
ConceptsThe German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies, by using the conceptional tools of his theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, argued (1922, "Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung"), that 'public opinion' has the equivalent social function in societies (Gesellschaften) which religion has in communities (Gemeinschaften).
German social theorist Jürgen Habermas contributed the idea of "Public sphere" to the discussion of public opinion. The Public Sphere, or bourgeois public, is according to Habermas, where "something approaching public opinion can be formed" (2004, p. 351). Habermas claimed that the Public Sphere featured universal access, rational debate, and disregard for rank. However, he believes that these three features for how public opinion are best formed are no longer in place in western liberal democratic countries. Public opinion, in western democracy, is highly susceptible to elite manipulation.
The American sociologist Herbert Blumer has proposed an altogether different conception of the "public." According to Blumer, public opinion is discussed as a form of collective behavior (another specialized term) which is made up of those who are discussing a given public issue at any one time. Given this definition, there are many publics; each of them comes into being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is resolved. Blumer claims that people participate in public in different capacities and to different degrees. So, public opinion polling cannot measure the public. An educated individual's participation is more important than that of a drunk. The "mass," in which people independently make decisions about, for example, which brand of toothpaste to buy, is a form of collective behavior different from the public.
Public opinion plays an important role in the political sphere. Cutting across all aspects of relationship between government and public opinion are studies of voting behavior. These have registered the distribution of opinions on a wide variety of issues, have explored the impact of special interest groups on election outcomes and have contributed to our knowledge about the effects of government propaganda and policy.
Contemporary, quantitative approaches to the study of public opinion may be divided into 4 categories:
- quantitative measurement of opinion distributions;
- investigation of the internal relationships among the individual opinions that make up public opinion on an issue;
- description or analysis of the public role of public opinion;
- study both of the communication media that disseminate the ideas on which opinions are based and of the uses that propagandists and other manipulators make of these media.
FormationNumerous theories and substantial evidence exists to explain the formation and dynamics of individuals' opinions. Much of this research draws on psychological research on attitudes. In communications studies and political science, mass media are often seen as influential forces on public opinion. Additionally, political socialization and behavioral genetics sometimes explain public opinion.
Mass media effects on public opinionThe formation of public opinion starts with agenda setting by major media outlets throughout the world. This agenda setting dictates what is newsworthy and how and when it will be reported. The media agenda is set by a variety of different environmental and newswork factors that determines which stories will be newsworthy.
Another key component in the formation of public opinion is framing. Framing is when a story or piece of news is portrayed in a particular way and is meant to sway the consumers attitude one way or the other. Most political issues are heavily framed in order to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate. For example, if Candidate X once voted on a bill that raised income taxes on the middle class, a framing headline would read "Candidate X Doesn't Care About the Middle Class". This puts Candidate X in a negative frame to the news reader.
Social desirability is another key component to the formation of public opinion. Social desirability is the idea that people in general will form their opinions based on what they believe is the prevalent opinion of the social group they identify with. Based on media agenda setting and media framing, most often a particular opinion gets repeated throughout various news mediums and social networking sites, until it creates a false vision where the perceived truth can actually be very far away from the actual truth.
Public opinion can be influenced by public relations and the political media. Additionally, mass media utilizes a wide variety of advertising techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. Since the 1950s, television has been the main medium for molding public opinion.
Role of Influentials on Public OpinionThere have been a variety of academic studies investigating whether or not public opinion is influenced by "influentials," or persons that have a significant effect on influencing opinion of the general public regarding any relevant issues. Many early studies have modeled the transfer of information from mass media sources to the general public as a "two-step" process. In this process, information from mass media and other far-reaching sources of information influences influentials, and influentials then influence the general public as opposed to the mass media directly influencing the public.
While the "two-step" process regarding public opinion influence has motivated further research on the role of influential persons, a more recent study by Watts and Dodds (2007) suggests that while influentials play some role in influencing public opinion, "non-influential" persons that make up the general public are also just as likely (if not more likely) to influence opinion provided that the general public is composed of persons that are easily influenced. This is referred to in their work as the "Influential Hypothesis." The authors discuss such results by using a model to quantify the number of people influenced by both the general public and influentials. The model can be easily customized to represent a variety of ways that influencers interact with each other as well as the general public. In their study, such a model diverges from the prior paradigm of the "two-step" process. The Watts and Dodds model introduces a model of influence emphasizing lateral channels of influence between the influencers and general public categories. This thus leads to a more complex flow of influence amongst the three parties involved in influencing public opinion (i.e., media, influencers and general public).
See also: Two-step flow of communication
Relationship between opinion and public policyThe most pervasive issue dividing theories of the opinion-policy relation bears a striking resemblance to the problem of monism-pluralism in the history of philosophy. The controversy deals with the question of whether the structure of socio-political action should be viewed as a more or less centralized process of acts and decisions by a class of key leaders, representing integrated hierarchies of influence in society or whether it is more accurately envisaged as several sets of relatively autonomous opinion and influence groups, interacting with representative decision makers in an official structure of differentiated governmental authority. The former assumption interprets individual, group and official action as part of a single system and reduces politics and governmental policies to a derivative of three basic analytical terms: society, culture and personality. Public opinion enables the organisation to expand internally and externally through public introspection. How does the latter assumption interpret individual, group and official action?[clarification needed]
- American Association for Public Opinion Research
- Roper Center for Public Opinion Research
- European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research
- World Association for Public Opinion Research
- Gabriel Tarde
- Ferdinand Tönnies
- Walter Lippmann
- Wolfgang Donsbach, The International Encyclopedia of Communication. Wiley-Blackwell, 2008
- Bianco, William T., and David T. Canon. "Public Opinion." In American Politics Today. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013.
- See (French) Julien Théry, "Fama : l'opinion publique comme preuve judiciaire. Aperçu sur la révolution médiévale de l'inquisitoire (XIIe-XIVe s.)", in B. Lemesle (ed.), La preuve en justice de l'Antiquité à nos jours, Rennes, PUR, 2003, p. 119-147, available online, and Daniel Smail, Thelma Fernster (ed), Fama. The Politicas of Talk and Reputation, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2003.
- Speier, Hans (1950). "Historical Development of Public Opinion". American Journal of Sociology. University of Chicago Press. 55 (4): 376–88. doi:10.1086/220561. ISSN 1537-5390. JSTOR 2772299 – via JSTOR. (registration required (. ))
- Prévost, Abbé (1930) Adventures of a man of quality (translation of Séjour en Angleterre, v. 5 of Mémoires et avantures d'un homme de qualité qui s'est retiré du monde) G. Routledge & Sons, London, OCLC 396693
- Stephen M. Lee, "George Canning and Liberal Toryism, 1801-1827" Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2008
- "public opinion".
- Rolf Fechner/Lars Clausen/Arno Bammé (eds.): Öffentliche Meinung zwischen neuer Religion und neuer Wissenschaft. Ferdinand Tönnies' „Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung“ in der internationalen Diskussion, in: Tönnies im Gespräch, tom. 3, Munich/Vienna: Profil 2005, ISBN 3-89019-590-3.
- Diggs-Brown, Barbara (2011) Strategic Public Relations: Audience Focused Practice p.48
- Elihu Katz and Paul Felix Lazarsfeld (1955). Personal Influence: the Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications. ISBN 1-4128-0507-4.
- Lazarsfeld et al., 1968
- Watts, D.J. and P.S. Dodds (2007). "Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation" (PDF). Journal of Consumer Research. 34 (4): 441–458. doi:10.1086/518527.
- Edward L. Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion, 1923
- Daniel L. Smail, Thelma Fernster, Fama. The Politics of Talk and Reputation, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2003.
- Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, 1989 (Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, Neuwied 1962)
- Jacob Shamir/Michal Shamir, The Anatomy of Public Opinion, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
- Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, 1922.
- Norman John Powell, Anatomy of Public Opinion, New York, Prentice-Hall, 1951.
- (French) Julien Théry, "Fama : l'opinion publique comme preuve. Aperçu sur la révolution médiévale de l'inquisitoire (XIIe-XIVe siècles)", in B. Lemesle (ed.), La preuve en justice de l'Antiquité à nos jours, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2003, pp. 119-147, online.
- Ferdinand Tönnies, On Public Opinion, 1970 (Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung, 1922, critical edition by Alexander Deichsel, Rolf Fechner, and Rainer Waßner, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter 2003)
- Bianco, William T., and David T. Canon. "Public Opinion." In American Politics Today. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013.
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Blogger Ref http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Universal_Debating_Project
Fact checking is the act of checking factual assertions in non-fictional text in order to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements in the text. This may be done either before (ante hoc) or after (post hoc) the text has been published or otherwise disseminated.
Fact checking before dissemination (ante hoc checking) aims to remove errors and allow text to proceed to dissemination (or to rejection if it fails confirmations or other criteria). Post hoc checking most often is followed by a written report of inaccuracies, sometimes with a visual metric from the checking organization (e.g., Pinocchios from The Washington Post Fact Checker, or TRUTH-O-METER ratings from PolitiFact). In the digital era, post hoc fact checking has been extended to include public verbal statements, interview, and other audio sources. The aim for ante hoc analyzed text is often external publication, as in journalistic endeavors.
OverviewDigital technology has opened the doors for new levels of scalability in fact generation and dissemination. Entire organizations and are now devoted to post hoc fact-checking, including FactCheck, PolitiFact, and NewsTrust's Truth Squad. Craig Newmark of Craigslist is making major pushes for new fact checking tools and is searching for projects that will provide "information he can trust."
Fact checking organizations may not arrive at a consensus regarding accuracy. Research support the notion that more than one such fact checking source needs be consulted, to arrive at a consensus of opinion on statements being checked.
Studies of post hoc fact checking have made clear that such efforts often result in changes in the behavior, in general, of both the speaker (making them more careful in their pronouncements) and of the listener or reader (making them more discerning with regard to the factual accuracy of content); observations include the propensities of audiences to be completely unswayed by corrections to errors regarding the most divisive subjects, or the tendency to be more greatly persuaded by corrections of negative reporting (e.g., "attack ads"), and to see minds changed only when the individual in error was someone reasonably like-minded to begin with.
An experimental study found that fact-checking might help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. The researchers sent "a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they were caught making questionable statements. The legislators who were sent these letters were substantially less likely to receive a negative fact-checking rating or to have their accuracy questioned publicly, suggesting that fact-checking can reduce inaccuracy when it poses a salient threat."
Benefits and controversies
BenefitsAmong the benefits of printing only checked copy is that it averts serious, sometimes costly, problems, e.g. lawsuits and discreditation. Fact checkers are primarily useful in catching accidental mistakes; they are not guaranteed safeguards against those who wish to commit journalistic frauds
The possible societal benefit of honing the fundamental skill of fact checking has been noted in a round table discussion by Moshe Benovitz, who observes that "modern students use their wireless worlds to augment skepticism and to reject dogma," but goes on to argue that this has positive implications for values development. He argues:
"We can encourage our students to embrace information and vigorously pursue accuracy and veracity. Fact checking can become a learned skill, and technology can be harnessed in a way that makes it second nature… By finding opportunities to integrate technology into learning, students will automatically sense the beautiful blending of… their cyber… [and non-virtual worlds]. Instead of two spheres coexisting uneasily and warily orbiting one another, there is a valuable experience of synthesis…".He closes, noting that this constitutes "new opportunities for students to contribute to the discussion like never before, inserting technology positively into academic settings" (rather than it being seen as purely as agent of distraction).
Controversies and criticismOne journalistic controversy is that of admitted and disgraced reporter and plagiarist Stephen Glass, who began his journalism career as a fact-checker. The fact checkers at The New Republic and other weeklies for which he worked never flagged the numerous fictions in Glass's reporting. Michael Kelly, who edited some of Glass's concocted stories, blamed himself, rather than the fact-checkers, saying: "Any fact-checking system is built on trust ... If a reporter is willing to fake notes, it defeats the system. Anyway, the real vetting system is not fact-checking but the editor."
Political fact-checking is often criticized as being opinion journalism. Morgan Marietta, David C. Barker and Todd Bowser examined published fact-checks in a number of different areas, and found "substantial differences in the questions asked and the answers offered". They concluded that this limited the "usefulness of fact-checking for citizens trying to decide which version of disputed realities to believe."
Organizations and individuals
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Main category: Fact-checking websitesReporters’ Lab at Duke University maintains a database managed by Mark Stencel and Bill Adair of fact checking organizations. The database tracks more than 100 non-partisan organizations around the world. Articles are also examined based upon whether the site examines transparency of sources and methods, tracks political promises, examines all parties and sides, and examines discreet claims and reaches conclusions.
- Africa Check: a South Africa-based organisation checking claims made by public figures in Africa.
- Demagog: joint project in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia (Visegrad Group countries), launched in 2010 in Slovakia and developed in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
- FactCheckEU.org: Created in January 2014, this is Europe's first "crowd-checking platform… born out of the belief that as the EU becomes ever more integrated it becomes increasingly essential to develop watchdogs capable of monitoring the political debate."
- Full Fact: An independent fact checking organisation based in the UK which aims to "promote accuracy in public debate", launched in 2009.
- The FactCheck blog: A fact checking blog run by the Channel 4 News organization in the U.K.
- Les Décodeurs: French fact-checking blog run by Le Monde.
- Pagella Politica: an Italian fact-checking website.
- Argentina: Chequeado.com (es)
- Chile: Del dicho al hecho
- Uruguay: UYcheck
- Central America: Rete al candidato: Rete al candidato is the first political fact checking digital platform in Central America. It is based in Costa Rica and was launched in 2013 by the weekly newspaper El Financiero to monitor the political debate of the 2014 presidential elections in that country. It is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
- FactCheck.org and FactCheckEd.org: non-partisan, nonprofit sister websites that are self-described "'advocates for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics," and serving as an educational resource for high school teachers and students, respectively (the latter founded 2005). They are projects of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and are funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.
- Fact Checker (The Washington Post): A project of The Washington Post, known for grading politicians on the factual accuracy of their statements with one to four "Pinocchios." Created September 2007 by Post diplomatic writer Michael Dobbs specifically for the 2008 presidential campaign. Ceased operation November 4, 2008, but relaunched with a broader focus in January 2011, led by veteran Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler.
- PolitiFact.com: A service of the Tampa Bay Times - Created August 2007, uses the "Truth-o-Meter" to rank the amount of truth in public persons' statements. 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner.
- Snopes.com focuses on, but is not limited to, validating and debunking urban legends and other stories in American popular culture.
- TruthOrFiction.com validates and debunks urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of unknown or questionable origin.
- Bama Fact Check: An Alabama-based, statewide partnership of newsgathering organizations which checks factual claims by politicians and public figures in Alabama. Partners in the project include The Anniston Star, The Decatur Daily, The Dothan Eagle, The Florence TimesDaily, The Opelika-Auburn News, The Tuscaloosa News and WVTM-TV in Birmingham.
- Sarah Harrison Smith spent some time and also headed the fact checking department for the New York Times. She is the author of the book, The Fact Checker's Bible.
- Jim Fingal worked for several years as a fact-checker at The Believer and McSweeney's and is co-author with John D'Agata of The Lifespan of a Fact which is an inside look of a battle between himself as fact-checker and author D'Agata regarding one of his essays that pushes the limits of "artistic license" that is acceptable of a non-fiction work.
Alumni of the roleThe following is a list of individuals for whom it has been reported, reliably, that they have played such a fact checking role at some point in their careers, often as a stepping point to other journalistic endeavors, or to an independent writing career.
- Susan Choi – American novelist
- Anderson Cooper – Television anchorman.
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