How Polling Firm PPP Won The Election With Its Hilarious And Infuriating Questions: "Public Policy Polling, the firm that correctly predicted all 50 states in the presidential election, is known for asking some weird, quirky and, sometimes, controversial questions in its polls... Here are some of the firm's best questions of the election cycle." [more inside]
"The 'Undue Weight' of Truth on Wikipedia" - When historian Timothy Messer-Kruse attempted to edit the Wikipedia article on the Haymarket Affair he ran up against the project's policies and editors. Besides the coverage by Messer-Kruse about his two years trying to edit the article in The Chronicle, linked above, the story has spilled out into other media outlets. An article in The Atlantic, an NPR segment with Messer-Kruse and Andrew Lih, a Reddit thread, Bigthink, and others have chimed in on the situation. Lengthy discussion, and a "good article reassessment", has resulted on Wikipedia.
"Apparently you can't hack into a government supercomputer and then try to buy uranium without the Department of Homeland Security tattling to your mother."
TV Fact Checkers "Behind every smart TV show, there is a tireless script coordinator, technical adviser, researcher or producer who makes sure the jargon is right, the science is accurate and the pop culture references are on-point." This week, Wired "is speaking with fact-checkers behind the fall TV season’s geekiest shows." [more inside]
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
In this paper, we report on the first-ever test of the accuracy of figures who made political predictions. We sampled the predictions of 26 individuals.... We discovered that a few factors impacted a prediction's accuracy. The first is whether or not the prediction is a conditional; conditional predictions were more likely to not come true. The second was partisanship; liberals were more likely than conservatives to predict correctly. The final significant factor in a prediction's outcome....[PDF] Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? [more inside]
He was drummed out of academe after a controversy over his book about guns in America. Now the historian aims for a second chance. [via A&L daily] [more inside]
The Internet Accuracy Project. You may have stumbled on it in a casual search about postal holidays, been drawn in by the charming prose and vintage web design, and stayed to browse the eclectic contents, from plant hardiness zones (USA) to unusual town names. There are also extensive and ostensibly fact-checked celebrity biographies, which are beloved by some astrologists. While the lack of specific references in individual entries may raise eyebrows, there's an extensive defense of the Project's sources and methods. [Yes, I read the Internet Accuracy Project Linking Terms & Conditions.]
There is no evidence that Quetzalcoatlus could see dinosaur pee with its ultraviolet vision, or that a herd of hadrosaurs could knock over a predator with their concentrated infrasound blasts.
Paleontologist Matt Wedel was a talking head in the Discovery Channel's Clash of the Dinosaurs, but was not very happy with the final product. The production company, Dangerous, responds. Finally, the Discovery Channel steps up.
Crap Detection 101 Howard Rheingold offers a fairly in-depth primer on media and internet BS detection. Lots of links to resources for enabling critical analysis of various information sources included.
Wikipedia claims it has an accuracy rate similar to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. But are Wikipedia articles accurate enough to be relied on? The media frequently cite to the free encyclopedia despite a chance the information might be wildly inaccurate. In an effort to improve the accuracy and quality of articles, Wikipedia's internal editorial team has assessed and graded the content of 300,000 articles (out of 1.8 million articles in English alone.) One obvious way to improve accuracy is to reveal editor names, such as on the Citizendium (as previously posted on MeFi.) A simpler idea, however, might rely on a color scheme to automatically alert users to the accuracy of the article (or lack thereof).
In reviewing ‘A beautiful mind’ NYT reviewer said of Nash "Before he married Alicia …he fathered another child…. and abandoned both mother and child to poverty. He formed a number of intense, apparently sexual bonds with other men, and he lost his security clearance ….. after he was arrested for soliciting sex in a men's room. When his illness became intractable and his behavior intolerable, Alicia divorced him. …. None of this has made it to the screen." It went on to say that "The story ….egregiously simplifies the tangled, suspicious world of cold war academia." Most other reviewers appears to have judged that movie on its merits as a work of art and seemed to like it. Recently, the plans to build a statue to honor the FDNY firefighters were dropped after a controvery broke out over plans to alter the original image of three firefighters hoisting the American flag. In an article that tried to put the later controvery in a context, NYT said that that "Sculptors, and artists in general, always take liberties". Conservative columnist Jonah Golderg in a different column defended the sanctity of ‘factual accuracy' in art. I rarely agree with Goldberg. But I think if one is depicting an event or a likeness of an event one has an obligation to stay close to the truth. Where do you draw the line between creative freedom and factual accuracy?