Monday, March 23, 2015

If It's on the Internet, It Must Be True ... Right?

I suspect you may have seen this recent news article: "Google has Developed a Technology to Tell Whether ‘Facts’ on the Internet Are True."

We all know that the Internet* is awash in manufactured facts, phony quotes, doctored photographs, and other "facts" that are invented and trumpeted by partisans of one political party or religious persuasion or another to prove the righteousness of their beliefs. Here's an example ...

Most people are lazy, and will accept Internet search results without critically examining them or questioning their provenance. Others would like to evaluate information more thoroughly, but either don't know how or don't have the time or energy to do so.

Happily, a team of computer scientists at Google may have discovered the Rosetta Stone of Internet truthfulness ... a theoretical way to rank search results not by how often the individual results have been accessed (which is how search results are normally presented), but by their factual accuracy.

The article I linked to above gives a good summary of the theoretical basis of the Google truth evaluation technology, which you can read at your leisure. My concern is more with the practical effect of such a disruptive new technology on society ...

- It could mean the death of Faux News and MSNBC.

- Bar bets could be conclusively settled once and for all, leading to reduced income for tavernkeepers.

- Extreme right- and left-wing partisans would have to face the horror of seeing their absolute truths convincingly debunked ... leading to a spike in psychiatric hospital admissions**.

- Benghazi would go back to being just another backwater city in North Africa.

- The lunatic fringe would finally have to accept that President Obama actually was born in the United States.

If you ask me, Google needs to get moving on perfecting this technology. We need it desperately ... preferably before the 2016 election season moves into high gear.

Have a good day. Remember that reading it on the Internet doesn't make it true***.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Not to mention Faux News and MSNBC. 

** Not covered by most health insurance plans, by the way.

*** Even here! I don't deliberately lie or distort facts (unlike some "news" services I could name), but I do try to be even-handed and logical ... which pisses some readers off, but that's okay.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

The unvarnished truth could blind some people. They would have to deal with reality.

Banana Oil said...

If it's on the internet, it must be true. After all, didn't Al Gore invent the internet?

Linda Kay said...

This post made me smile, as I remember my mom who thought that everything in print in the newspaper had to be true. She wanted to believe that no one would lie to her.

Gonzo Dave said...

The truthfulness search would help folks who *want* to find truth, but those who really believe the wacky stuff will still believe. Everything else will be part of whatever conspiracy is trending at the moment.

John Hill said...

Even so, there are many people that will choose to believe the lie. In the end, we really only believe what we want to believe.

Anemone said...

It should be a companion piece to, "If it's printed, it must be true."

Mike said...

Someone is working on a way to beat the new system already. And that's the truth..thuttttttttt.

I was trying to think who said that last line. The internet knew.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

And that is the whole trip!