Thursday, July 31, 2014

A modest search engine proposal

How much AI technique could it possibly take for google (or something better) to do a decent job with
speechby:obama   attitude:positive   "Saul Alinsky".
I.e. "speechby:" and "attitude:" don't exist, but could, I believe be implemented pretty accurately, to see in this case if we can find any instances of Obama praising Saul Alinsky.
claims such quotes exist, but their one attempt to demonstrate it is laughable -- something vaguely like a paraphrase of an Alinsky statement, but which has, in fact the reverse sense of what the supposed "original" meant.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Obama Confession" by Andrew Hodges

I just have to give an example of the strange places some Americans have gone fishing for the truth.  Psycho-history once had its day, but that day is long past, except in right wing daemonizations of Obama which are big sellers.

If you're tempted to buy this, let me suggest looking at this review of another book by the author called A Mother Gone Bad: The Hidden Confession of JonBenet's Killer


Here is one excerpt from the review "he concludes that the misspelled word "bussiness" all by itself indicates that a woman did it because of several random words that he himself, out of the blue, associates with that word. Yes, it really is that bad!"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Applied Memetics, Godwin's Law, Leo Strauss and Reduction ad Hitlerum

According to Wikipedia, Godwin's law (or Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1".


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Myths About Saul Alinsky (and Obama)

Lately, right wing sources have been circulating a ficticious set of 8 "levels of control"  or "How to create a social state" that Saul Alinsky was supposed to have written, which led off with
  1) Healthcare – Control healthcare and you control the people

It is so well worked into the culture that answers.yahoo.com will spit it out as the answer to "What are the 8 levels of control as outlined by Saul Alinsky?"
Yet is very easily shown to be a total fiction.

But if you Google { alinsky "Control healthcare and you control the people" }
with a custom date range 1/1/2000-1/1/2013 you get 9 hits which all seem to not really be that old; but an unrestricted search gives 85,600 results.

So, apparently nobody ever heard of Alinsky saying  "Control healthcare and you control the people" before the past year, and he's been dead since 1972.

2014 "Planning" for 65,000 unaccompanied minor aliens - though it would be the first year more than 5,000 appeared

How to create an illusion of proper sourcing:
A widespread story has appeared that the U.S. was looking for one or more contractors to help deal with an estimated 65,000 unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants for 2014 when up to now, no more than 5,000 unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants a year have been seen.

It looks like the story originated with "Conservative Treehouse".  They provided a link to the original solicitation for services on a legitimate government site.  Yes, it sure enough says "There will be approximately 65,000 UAC (Unaccompanied Alien Children)  in total".  So, impressive sourcing, straight to the government document. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Too Big to Know" "book jacket blurbs" and Practical Epistemology

This "Real Truth Project" asks the question, how do we all get a more accurate grasp of the truth, about anything - WMDs in Iraq or what oil filter to buy.  Of course I won't discuss what oil filter to buy, but I might discuss why one source of information about that would be better than another.

This started out as a book review of  Too Big to Know by David Weinberger.
  On the back of the book, Clay Shirky says "brilliant analysis of myriad debates -- information overload, echo chambers, the wisdom of crowds -- into a single vision of life and work in an era of networked knowledge.
    While it was a worthwhile book.  Might Shirky have overstated the case?  Of course -- people who write "advance praise" for backs of book jackets routinely overstate the case.  Some day he may want the author to write some "advance praise" for his book. 
  People who need to maintain some credibility do this carefully, but they are still motivated to write something catchy and enthusiastic -- otherwise what's the point -- if you can't say something nice, it will go into the author's garbage can.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Is this a Real Project? Or What?


Whenever someone charges at the world waving the flag of truth, they almost never mean truth in and of itself; they mean some particular claim that for them burns so bright as to blot out everything else. 
Trying to get a handle on truth in and of itself seems to me a lot like wrestling Proteus, or the "Old Man of the Sea", as described by Menelaus in the Odyssey. The Old Man can answer any questions if captured, but capturing him means holding on as he changes shapes from a horse to a serpent to water to fire to whatever until he is worn out if one has the strength to wear him out.