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The Truth Is Paywalled but the Lies Are Free (currentaffairs.org)
683 points by praptak 79 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 474 comments



> it is not that the facts it reports tend to be inaccurate

yes it is.

I really lost faith in nyt when they ran article about running out of running out of charge in a Tesla. When they were caught red handed lying they still wouldn't admit to it. Their response was: "Problems With Precision and Judgment, but Not Integrity, in Tesla Test"

They just don't get it. People are sick of their BS and they need to just comp to it and change. The days of BSing people are over.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-th...

https://www.tesla.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

https://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/problems-w...


It's a mistake to judge an organization on one, or even a handful of incidents. There should be a pattern of inaccuracy and bias before you "cancel" a news source.

This is one of the unsung problems of the modern world, the growing impossibility of keeping an accurate "reputation" in your brain. Virtually everyone and everything has been accused of being evil, in general, or specifically. It's no longer good enough to just "have good feelings" about a name, because I guarantee you've read something about every name that is negative. Mere accusation is trivial to make, and society has somehow gotten away from swift and harsh punishment against baseless accusation. Without that (very useful) habit, the heuristic of equating reputation with number of accusations is meaningless, and yet we all still do it.


Why is it a mistake to judge on one incident? If I worked with someone who seemed like a professional, and then one day he spat on me and never apologized and denied he did so, I'd probably judge that guy even though it was just one incident.

There is a difference between making a mistake or being wrong while trying to be right, and intentionally doing something bad or refusing to acknowledge error. Everyone is in the first category sometimes, but you don't really have to be in the latter category.

If the NYT is intentionally doing bad things, even once or a handful of times, then I don't think it makes sense to forgive and forget until they show me they understand and have corrected the issue.

The problem is that for most things I can't tell if they're right or wrong or arguing in good faith or not. If something comes up where I can definitively tell, and they are definitely acting wrong - it destroys lots of credibility because that's really one of my rare chances to evaluate their performance. I can't trust them in domains I don't know about if they aren't very good in domains I do know about.


The NYT has 4,320 employees. If one of them spat on you, never apologized, and denied he did so, would you then judge every employee of NYT the same as you judge that one person?

Edit for clarity, since I'm getting downvoted: My point is that the analogy is not great. You can judge one person for their actions directly towards you. It isn't necessarily reasonable to judge a large number of people by the actions of a single person or small subset of the group, especially when the actions of the NYT are not directed at you specifically, which is pretty different to someone spitting on you.


The Tesla story referenced above is a perfect example. NYT reviewer tells a story about how inadequate the Tesla is and how he ran out of charge and had to be towed. Tesla logs show that he essentially rigged the test drive to get the results he wanted. Tesla calls this out and the NYT basically stands by the story.

You're right that the NYT has a lot of employees. If this were one guy writing a bad review, and the NYT took some disciplinary action against him, wrote a retraction and wrote a new article, then I wouldn't hold it against the NYT and I would probably increase my respect for them. They had a problem, employee did bad work, and they corrected it - that's good.

Instead, they just stood by the bad work and kept on without doing fixing the core issue. "It's just one person" doesn't really make sense because it's actually the whole organization not correcting problems originally caused by one person.

Put another way, if they're willing to lie and district to get a more sensational car review, what else are they willing to lie about? Who knows, perhaps they'll lie about some country having weapons of mass destruction to help trick the country into a pointless war. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme - obviously they'd have to be extremely far gone to do anything like that.


The NYT wants to lend credibility to all its stories, even if I don't know the particular journalist that wrote the story. If I were to judge NYT journalists independently, the brand would suffer in result.

But regardless of that, the decision to not apologize and admit they lied was an editorial one. It was their choice to die on this hill.


it's really more than one person... there is the journalist but it's the editor that wrote the response and the editor manages several journalists. it's really the nyt's culture and their incentives... it's a system that would promote someone that is incentivized to defend their integrity when they're clearly wrong.


Sure, and you'll notice that I didn't say there's no problem at the NYT, or that the organisation as a whole should be exempt from the actions of some set of it's staff.

I'm just saying that the analogy to an (offensive) action by a specific person, toward a specific person, is a poor analogy for the actions of some subset of a large organisation, which almost certainly isn't directed at a specific person.

And I doubt many people would equate the actions of the NYT with literally being spat on.


He is right to blame the org and “paint them with the same brush” as errant employee if they do not own up to their mistakes; especially if it concerns something that is part of their main product. Can you imagine some tech company having a data breach because an employee was careless and NOT admitting to the breach? People lose their jobs for that kind of mistakes, not get a pat on back.


I don't judge them by one incident.. I suspected they were biased or just wrong about stuff for years. But this was the instance where I realized that even with overwhelming evidence they were wrong they wouldn't admit it. If they had any self awareness, it would be different but they are hopeless. They aren't consciously lying, they are rationalizing and deluding even themselves.


The more you know about a subject, the more false reporting you will find related to that subject.

Remember that next time you read news about something you are not already well versed in.


The first time the media reported on an event and subject where I knew more than them, I was in my late 20s (I think you have to be at least that old to know a lot about something ... could explain why younger people seem to have such blind faith in popular narratives).

I was absolutely shocked by the basic inaccuracy and skewed writing in literally every single story that was written, every single video that was recorded, everything.

I mean it was all complete and utter nonsense and bullshit. Basic facts, the names of people involved, their roles, the applicable laws, EVERYTHING was wrong EVERYWHERE.

They’ve reported on 3 more events I was deeply familiar with since then, different subjects/industries, same story. Everything is wrong everywhere.

They’re always wrong in the same way and for the same reasons: A more scandalous narrative, with more compelling villains and heroes. If a legal entity with a lot of money is involved, attribute the misinformation to another source so you won’t get sued.


As someone involved in the Bitcoin space, I can relate.

Highly-technical subject + lots of nuance + financial journalism = absolute disaster for the truth.


They do the same thing for simple he said, she said, non-technical reporting.

Something being a complex topic doesn't help, but the problem often isn't one of not being able to understand, but choosing not to understand before even making an attempt.

Even when that's not the case, any professional needs to know the limits of their capabilities. Reporters that don't understand a subject shouldn't be reporting on it (without help, at least). That they do is a reflection in their professional judgement.


love ur dashboard bro :)


Yes, sure, but this all unfortunately feeds into the motivations of conspiracy theorists. Maybe it is what it is, but what can we do to stop the wave of noncritical thinking washing over the Internet, where people insist that they are the only wise ones? Are we just doomed? I realize that media has lost its credibility in the eyes of many, I just wish that there was a good amount of high-quality critical thinking to make up for the lack of reliable information, rather than the many low-quality conspiracy theories I'm seeing.


I've always felt that conspiracy theorists provide a certain value to the internet. They are almost the vaccine itself to misinformation. The foreign pathogen that teaches the body to defend itself from a worse foe.

If you can't understand, and also form a series of arguments for yourself, as to why the tin foil hat conspiracy theorist is wrong, why the earth almost certainly isn’t flat, or run by a cabal of shapeshifting alien lizard people, 5G, etc. how are you going to respond to the more insidiously cogent arguments about other more important things that are just as wrong but harder to spot?

I personally credit my upbringing by my religious parents into creationism (the concept that the earth is only 6 thousand years old and evolutionary science is a conspiracy against God.) as what ultimately led to my development of critical thinking and healthy skepticism, as I dug myself out of that belief system and deconverted in my late teens.

I remember feeling so deeply and irradeemably stupid, for being so completely convinced without any reason or evidence. And then, as a result, feeling so desperate for a specific formula or system of thought that could let me avoid this kind of personal failing in the future.

Which led me to listening to debates, learning about things like burden of proof, and the preponderance of evidence. And the very simple and straightforward concept of spot checking whether a stated “truth” used by someone in an argument is actually valid, or if they are lying to bolster their points, expecting (correctly, unfortunately) that the vast majority of their audience will never even check to see if they are telling the truth or a lie.

How else are you going to teach someone to think critically without showing them the examples of what a bad argument is, and how to respond to it rationally? Tell them to just trust the “good” sources? That’s arguably worse than telling them nothing at all.

It certainly is largely the fault of our garbage public schooling system, but the existing penchant to call for the banning and censcoring of stupid conspiracies online as if it were some sort of panacea for stupidity itself is certainly not helping the problem.


I'm all for conspiracies when they don't cause harm, you think the earth is flat and chemtrails control your mind good for you buddy, now I know not to trust your judgement. But once you've go nevermaskers and antivaxers running around infecting and killing people, or pizzagaters shooting up restaurants the hands off approach becomes a public health issue. Conspiracy theorists have gone from benign to damn dangerous to have around.


It seems to me that conspiracy theories have also evolved from being mostly apolitical to being very based lately. It could be argued that the act of voting when being so blatantly misinformed and misled is itself a danger to the public.


Your conspiracy theory is a conspiracy fact when you think about peoples motivations.

Take the current virus. We realize that the republican version of 'it's a hoax and everything is fine' is a lie. But so is the democrat version of 'you need to never leave your house or you're a murderer'.

The simple fact is that without having solid numbers for:

1). The true infection rate.

2). The true age-adjusted mortality rate.

3). The asymptomatic r0 rate.

Any policy anyone suggests tells you more about the person suggesting it than about how effective it will be. It could be that reality is closer to the republican version, or the democrat one. But without a lot more science that no one is doing we will not know until decades down the line when people start digging up corpses and testing for the virus and finally doing some basic statistics.

And that's before we even look at what the economic impact is of the virus.


I don't think it's a democratic perspective to be on the safer than sorry "version of the virus".


But the safer side is a political battle.

Saving lives by preventing viral spread sounds good until the economic and societal damage of the preventative measures lead to more harm than they prevented.

Funny enough many of this and other virus worst symptoms are the bodies natural response to the virus. Inflammation for instance is the bodies response to damage, bit it can in turn cause more damage than the original source of issue.


No one can be an expert on everything. That is true for journalists too. Unless a reporter has a very narrow beat, they are going to be forced to report on topics in which they are not fully knowledgeable. This often results in misunderstandings or downright falsities, but on large they generally get it right. We should certainly hold journalistic organizations and reporters to a high standard of accuracy, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water because they make an occasional mistake.


I consider the statement of the parent to be more about not blindly believing everything the media reports, because it’s most likely a simplification and the truth is more nuanced.

I personally don’t consider it the journalists’ fault at all, otherwise we would just end up with an academic journal. It is important, however, to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when reading the news.


I agree, but that is not in line with the comment that kicked off this thread with this:

>They just don't get it. People are sick of their BS and they need to just comp to it and change. The days of BSing people are over.

There is a clear difference between reserved skepticism you are talking about and the "FAKE NEWS!" type rhetoric that has grown over the last half decade.


While this may have been an unfortunate reality in previous eras, today we can get much better information from researchers and practitioners.


> While this may have been an unfortunate reality in previous eras, today we can get much better information from researchers and practitioners.

I don't think that's actually true. It's probably most true with science reporting, but does anyone think reading the firehose of specialist research output is a practical alternative to journalism for a general reader? Filtering and summarization are important functions when dealing quantities of information larger than an individual can handle alone. IIRC, even specialist research groups have paper reading circles to filter research papers in their own fields.

Then there's everything else. For a lot of stuff, you'd just be wading through PR and rumor without much ability to dig past that. For some news topics, like foreign affairs for instance, I'm not even sure where you'd even find timely, raw information to replace journalism about it.


If the occassional mistakes were such a rare event, how did the meme of "Gell-Mann Amnesia" had the chance to develop?


“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

― Michael Crichton

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/65213-briefly-stated-the-ge...


“Briefly stated, the Mell-Gann Memory effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Melley's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them[1].

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper somehow has exactly the same quantity and quality of errors about Palestine as the baloney you just read. You turn the page and vastly overestimate what you think you can critique based on your vast knowledge of show business.”

― Crichael Michton

[1] based on evidence ascertained through the Mell-Gann Memory effect

Edit: clarification


>The more you know about a subject, the more false reporting you will find related to that subject.

This sounds like it should be a named law. Like Amdahl's Law or Moore's Law, or Sturgeon's Law!


I've heard it called the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, but not sure if it's caught on.

> Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

> - Michael Crichton, Why Speculate (26 April 2002)

From Wikiquote Murray Gell-Mann https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Murray_Gell-Mann

Edit: Remove markdown formatting.


This exactly.


at least on the topic of tesla, nyt has been wrong and unfair against tesla for about 10 years. i really don't know about other topics... but...

pg repeatedly questions the integrity of nyt and has personally been the victim of their bias.

https://twitter.com/paulg/status/1236975851255857152?lang=en

https://twitter.com/paulg/status/1236979160100343812


In the first link you provided, PG put two photos: one of the NYT article and one of his HN post. The NYT article yes, condensed his lengthy post into one sentence, which will almost always be incomplete, but they also linked that quote to what I assume was the HN post. I guess it seems to me that PG is upset they didn't fully encapsulate his ideas, and I'd probably be frustrated as well. But is that the role of a journalist? And is it even possible to condense all of someone else's material and communicate it to another audience without losing information?

Maybe it's just me, but I use journalists as a stepping stone for learning more about a topic. I see them writing summaries (sometimes inaccurate) of things that happen in the world and then if I'm curious, I try to dig deeper into the primary sources to learn more.

I'd imagine almost every primary source believes journalists get the story wrong now and then, as the journalist doesn't say it the way they would say it. But I marvel in today's world, where I have such quick access to priamry sources to learn more.


Well the point of the NYT article totally evaporates if you read the HN post. PG is explicitly saying that no-one knows the effect that this will have, but better to prepare for the worst.

And that's the thing: if you cannot trust that someone makes their point as neutrally as possible, they become worthless for me as a source of condensed information. Rather look up the original source then for myself.


It's even worse than that, their sentence after the quote implies PG said something about FB stock.

https://twitter.com/paulg/status/1236980342667575296?s=20

The NYT writer isn't mistakenly summarizing, they're actively misleading. They had to read through PG's post and selectively pick a line that they could stuff into the position they already had, to say the thing they already wanted to say. It's just motivated reasoning and the primary sources aren't being used as sources beyond something they can vaguely mention to pretend it supports what they wanted to say anyway.

That isn't journalism - or at least it shouldn't be.


When I first read it, I didn't get the impression that the author was implying PG said FB stock wouldn't go up.

In reading the PG post, it seems that a conversation with prominent investor, who was confident that FB's bad stock performance would hurt the IPO, led PG to write a post exploring how that may happen.

In re-reading the NYT blurb, I still don't see it as the author saying PG said the FB stock would not go up but rather as the author believed that PG said that "start-up investments would dry up."

And I think it's in that last sentence, in particular, the third to last word, "would," where the majority of the problem lies.

PG in his post included a tremendous amount of ifs, mays, and qualifying statements talking about how he wasn't sure in which direction it would go. The NYT author, I think, just changed his uncertainty into certainty, both with putting "would" in that last sentence, and removing the "If you haven't raised money yet," part of the quoted link.

So, I see it as the author attributing more certainty to PG than he had in his post, and yet, at the end of the author's post, saying that there is less certainty about this, "The party can’t go on forever, but the infamous question must be asked: Is this time different?"

By you saying, "they're actively misleading," I'm assuming you're attributing malice to the NYT author. I guess I just see journalists and politicians (and many people in general) speaking with an utmost certainty on behalf of people who speak with qualifications and attribute it more to the desire to condense words and present a confident argument than the former. Qualifying statements often use a lot of words. I like to qualify most things that I say and I think journalists and editors often remove them out of seeing them as extraneous—e.g., removing the "I'm assuming", "I guess", "often", "most", and "I think" out of the previous paragraph.


The NYT was bullshiting, writing an article with no thesis and no meaningful evidence to push a vague opinion, which is pretty normal for them. PG was mad that they replaced his thoughtful letter with a junk article and pretended there was a connection.


I thought the thesis was that some prominent startup investors have proclaimed the end of startup investing throughout history and often it hasnt happened, so how does one know it will happen this time?

Again, I can understand why PG would be upset they misrepresented his words, but I admittedly am confused you don't seem to think that other investors, including the one PG referenced in his post, have boldly proclaimed that the bubble will burst and then it doesn't. I think if I were PG I'd feel frustrated the author lumped me into the category of bold predictors, especially if I had written such a qualified essay.


> "By you saying, "they're actively misleading," I'm assuming you're attributing malice to the NYT author."

Not so much malice, but having what they want to say predetermined and looking to frame support in what they already believe to be true. (Rather than trying to find out what's true and reporting that).

Basically the writer believes X to be true or wants to write a story that X is true and digs through things to find quotes they can narrowly pull to support X.


Ahhh, yes, I think that may have been the case. I still think if the author just put "might" instead of "would," then the article would be quite accurate.

However, to your point, I find myself doing that sometimes without even realizing it and I wonder what drives it internally and externally.


Me too, I think to some extent everyone does it and learning to recognize your own motivated reasoning and pushing back against it is an important way to think better. I think motivated reasoning is probably the default behavior (and once you start looking for it, you see it everywhere).

This post dives into it a bit: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/34XxbRFe54FycoCDw/the-bottom...

Just because an argument comes from motivated reasoning doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong, but I think it's more likely to be wrong (and it's also likely to be framed in a misleading way or ignoring good contradictory examples). It's also hard to discuss things with the person to learn what's true because they're often not arguing in good faith.

I think this is actually a reason people are often skeptical of debate (since a clever arguer can argue a wrong position and win against someone who is right, but not as good at manipulating rhetorical devices). Also why lawyers can have a bad reputation. People can know something is wrong, but may themselves be bad at articulating why. Other people that are wrong may be good at making themselves seem right. The smarter the person is the more they can effectively rationalize bullshit.

A good example of this is Ben Shapiro and a lot of his arguments (particularly the ones I've seen around religion/abortion) are mostly motivated reasoning nonsense.

That said, while this may be true on an individual level debate should still be true at scale (the best argument from one side should still be pitted against the best argument from another). I think this is what free society and liberal democracy is all about.


This answer you've written is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to HN. I think I expect most online conversations to devolve into ad hominem attacks, whether towards me or the third party to whom we refer, and yet this didn't. I worried it may become antagonistic, but on the contrary, I feel grateful for what you've said and how you've given me more to think about.

I often prefer dialogue to debate—a conversation of cooperative learning instead of competitive proving.


Oh, and the LessWrong article confused me lol. I'll take another look when I'm in a more calm, less rushed, state of being :-D


Yeah it's a little unnecessarily complicated with the many worlds bit.

The main idea is a clever arguer can start with any conclusion and then retroactively select the points that support their conclusion while ignoring any evidence or points that contradict it. If you do this then the points you bring up don't inform much because you've already decided the conclusion based on something else (in the example it's whoever paid the most for their arguments).

It's better to start with trying to understand things and then using what you learn to inform a conclusion.


Sadly, NYT does this frequently to push their own ends.

In one story, they tried really hard to push for authoritarian laws to protect children and ended up wading through history to find a retracted and discredited paper. All this to make criminals look more dangerous than they actually are. They even admitted it was an old retracted paper in the article. But downplayed it.

If the evidence was so solid, they could have cited a more recent paper of higher prestige.


The way I read it, the overall point of the NYT article was that many start-up investors have, at various times throughout recent history, said the bubble could/would burst and then the bubble didn't burst.

PG explicitly said no one knew what effect it would have, and yet the prominent investor with whom he spoke "seemed sure the bad performance of the Facebook IPO will hurt the funding market for earlier stage startups."

So I agree that the author attributed the certainty to PG when it wasn't he who stated it so certainly, and was more concerned with how to mitigate the effects of a potential slowdown in funding.

I also don't think that discredits the whole article and the point that many people have stated, and I'm sure much more certainly than PG, that the latest news story is the sign of the startup apocalypse and funding will disappear.

So yes, I feel frustrated they attributed that certainty to PG himself and not the prominent investor with whom he spoke, but I really don't think that's enough to discredit the whole article, or that it was the author's intention to twist PG's words. Maybe it was. I guess I just don't think the author was trying to not be neutral.


I think the bigger issue is that the summary is a misrepresentation of what he said. At least, I don't see where he "warned that start-up investments would dry up".


I don't think he stated that it would dry up, but I do think he said that it may decrease.

> Jessica and I had dinner recently with a prominent investor. He seemed sure the bad performance of the Facebook IPO will hurt the funding market for earlier stage startups. But no one knows yet how much. Possibly only a little. Possibly a lot, if it becomes a vicious circle.

Lots of qualification and uncertainty.

> What I do worry about is (a) it may be harder to raise money at all, regardless of price and (b) that companies that previously raised money at high valuations will now face "down rounds," which can be damaging.

More qualification and uncertainty.

I think the biggest challenge is in the author taking something so qualified and making it seem much more confident and certain than it actually was.

Would you agree that he was exploring whether start-up investments may decrease?


PG: "It must have felt like walking through a minefield of truth to get hold of a quote she could misrepresent."

Well, yeah. Sounds like some serious Gell-mann amnesia.

I'm surprised Paul Graham would act surprised by this.


It doesn’t absolve the times if they did indeed make an error, but I’d like to point out that pg isn’t exactly a bastion of accuracy and rational argument himself: see https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/07/how-to-pretend-that-y... from the same publication as the OP. The criticisms leveled against pg in this article apply to pretty much all of his social commentary and writings, and its really a shame so many people in the is community buy into his crap and have a sort of blind allegiance to him just because of his wealth and status.


PG's essay that article is talking about: http://paulgraham.com/conformism.html (disclosure: I thought it was good).

The current affairs article was extremely tedious, whatever good point they might have made was hurt by its self-assured hostile tone and personal attacks (basically an example of the kind of thing PG's essay was talking about).

There are a few essays that get into the weeds and give more explicit examples of problems (something PG probably avoided because of the issues he talks about, but it seems he was also attacked for avoiding them anyway).

Some that give more direct examples/arguments:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/02/22/rip-culture-war-thread...

https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/woke-wont-debate-you-heres...

https://quillette.com/2020/07/30/think-cancel-culture-doesnt...

Also: https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-...

Some others recently: https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/andrew-sullivan-see-...


lol... a shame? wealth and status? you do know he created this site... right?


Sure but PG is an individual pontificating his own musings for his fan club. He doesn't call himself the paper of record for the most powerful nation in the world.


The NYT is wildly inaccurate on foreign affairs regularly. For an exceptionally famous example, recall their reporting on WMDs in Iraq for which they have never squarely apologized.

https://nypost.com/2004/05/27/nyt-whispers-apology-for-wmd-s...


Comparatively, are they more inaccurate than other news outlets? If so, which are some that you would say are more accurate in their reporting of foreign affairs?


Every news outlet is owned by a small circle of concentrated power these days from wealthy families to corporate conglomerates that bizarrely fail to be harshly critical of things that would impact their wealth and businesses.

You can try reading e.g. The Intercept, local papers, Democracy Now for a different spin on things, but there's only one thing that actually works is reading several sources, including the papers from "the other side" and trying to figure out which story line makes logical sense. Usually lies are poorly constructed and contain a combination of paradoxes, deference to authority, and appeal to various fears without a firm logical basis. Pay close attention to verifiable information and evidence. Those are the only pieces of information that can be trusted from either the state or journalists.


> Every news outlet is owned by a small circle of concentrated power these days from wealthy families to corporate conglomerates that bizarrely fail to be harshly critical of things that would impact their wealth and businesses.

I smile a bit as I think about visiting the Hearst Castle in California—I wonder how news ownership has changed over the years.

Regarding the rest, I appreciate how you framed it and love that approach of various sources, plus really dig the process suggestions you put. Thank you.


It seems like they have a history of it.

https://www.mediamatters.org/new-york-times/how-iraq-war-sti...


Good point, and no news source is immune. Inaccurate and outright fake news has been around since the invention of the printing press. Benjamin Franklin himself authored plenty of it for political purposes. In fact much of the mistreatment of the Native Americans may have stemmed from his “Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle” article.


Bill Clinton was allegedly a guest on Epstein's island according to recently unsealed court documents. Try to find any mention of this in recent NYT reporting:

https://www.google.com/search?q=clinton+epstein+maxwell&tbm=...

Is this "The Truth"?


There are plenty of mentions for Bill Clinton: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=nws&sxsrf=ALeKk01S6XwWBraA...


But, crucially, no mentions of him _staying on the island_. If this was Trump, there'd be wall-to-wall 24x7 saturation coverage.


Bill Clinton isn’t president.


Bill Clinton is largely an irrelevance now; Donald Trump is the sitting President of the United States of America. It should be obvious why Trump doing whatever is news-worthy.


What?!

Are you suggesting as long as a news outlet is telling the truth in more occasions than lies, the organization can still be treated as trustworthy? Even if the organization intentionally ignore the need to verify and correct lies?...

Logically and emotionally, this is outrageously offensive to liberal value! You are playing the cards advocated by CCTV backed by CCP. Their integrity certainly "passed your standard"...


What does the author of this piece want?

The "truth", or even a plausible interpretation of the facts, is expensive to produce. It is even more expensive when you do it every day covering a wide array of topics.

If you value facts and good analysis, pay for them. It's that simple. Sure, the New York Times gets a lot of things wrong. So does everyone else, including many commenters on HN.

* But a lot of what the New York Times reports, that people disagree with, are things that governments and companies say and do. Those governments and companies have reasons to lie, but the enunciation of the lie is a fact. Judgment is left to the reader, if he has it.

* Publications are also reflections of the societies and political systems in which they are embedded. They speak based on the assumptions and contest of forces in that milieu.

* Most publications are firmly rooted in the attention seeking dynamics of their industry. Many of their errors can be categorized as: amplifying the causes of fear or outrage. Again, if you keep that in mind, their stories are easier to parse.

* Finally, a publication is not a monolith. It is a human organization with good reporters and bad reporters, good days and bad days. The Tesla article written by Stross was ludicrous. The reports by Judy Miller that led us into the Iraq War were abhorrent.

The New York Times should be ashamed of those lapses. But it is putting out a large number of factual reports everyday. Much larger than any equivalent number of human beings in America.


I will never pay for the nyt... I would much rather give my money to a patreon where someone actually knows something about the topics I am intersted in. Journalists reporting on topics they don't understand doesn't make sense...

https://www.patreon.com/hyperchange

https://www.patreon.com/EverydayAstronaut

furthermore, nyt are mostly shills for their advertisers. That is why nyt trashed tesla because GM and Ford advertise. Here is proof they are shills for advertisers. All the tesla killer articles about their advertisers that were absurd... even the writers buried a disclaimer at the bottom of the article:

https://medium.com/@andrewt3000/tesla-versus-the-chevy-bolt-...


> furthermore, nyt are mostly shills for their advertisers.

Your Medium post does not prove your claim. That's not how newspapers work. There is a wall between advertising and news at the big national papers (less so at local ones sometimes).

Newspapers like horse races. That's why they report on politics the way they do. Tesla's consistent lead in EV doesn't get them readers. But that's not the kind of venality you're falsely accusing them of.


You can't compare niche edutainment channels to the major news outlets. NYT is in the business of credible news, these small content makers aren't credible sources of news.


I categorically disagree. Most journalists just quote someone they deem to be an expert on a topic. On topics that interest you, you're better served to do some research and find the experts for yourself.


I find this kind of comment exhausting. What you're seemingly asking people to do - go to the original source for every news story that you think is important - is impossible for anyone with any kind of normal life. That's why people read newspapers, so they can get a reasonable impression of what's going on in the world, and they would ideally pay for that newspaper so there are fewer problematic incentives. It's much more feasible to take a publication, in full cognisance of its leanings, and parse the stories appropriately. For example, I'm not as much of a free-market person as The Economist, but I pay for and read it because they're clear about what they stand for and think that they're factually accurate.


In the last decade how many news stories where actually important to you? Personally it was such a tiny fraction that doing a little research on each of them was fine.

A recent example of say the toilet paper shortage had weeks of misleading information put out. Prior to the reporter finally actually doing some research and breaking that story I have a HN post explaining what was going on. Why? Because doing more research than an average reporter is generally trivial. Their focus is entertainment and tight deadlines plus tiny staff equals junk.


You're characterising the entire news media as "entertainment and tight deadlines plus tiny staff equals junk". Of course there's trash out there, but the specific example I gave is The Economist. I don't know much about the NYT, which has been mentioned repeatedly here, but there are a reasonable number of news sources out there which are reputable enough not to be dismissed as casually as that.


I used to read The Economist, but I stopped after seeing them pull the same crap. Don’t get me wrong their not terrible, but you still can’t trust them to place accuracy over spin.

Honestly, I have reasonable trust in Reuters at this point, but I don’t know of a trustworthy news source focused on the general public.


Nobody has time to do that for every topic that is relevant to the life of a citizen. They need trusted sources of general news. The New York Times is a better approximation of that than most publications.


Journalists tend to quote people institutions deem to be an expert on a topic. "Do some research and find the experts for yourself" is also how people get sucked into a lot of charlatanism re: health, fringe economic ideas, climate change denialism, etc. etc. etc.


A basic litmus test is how a news source reports stock movements. It’s at X up/down Y points from yesterday is news. It’s down / up due to (some specific event) is almost always false and only injected to make things seem interesting or feed people’s biases. Another way of saying that is doing so is quite simply a lie.

NYT is no more in the business of credible news than the Wall Street Journal or Fox News. That’s simply not their business model. They all take unbiased Reuters coverage and add spin to appeal to their audience and distort the truth in the process.

Which is not to say they don’t happen to report things that actually happened, but the weather channel is a prime example where keeping people entertained is vastly more important than keeping them informed.


There's a midsized number of experts in any given field.

There's a lot of people interested in a topic at a given point in time.

The experts will run from a tsunami of individual inquiries. Part of the role of a journalist is the act as a proxy for all that interest so that the experts' opinions can get out there without them facing endless messaging from every member of the public.

Now, one can argue about whether they do that job well or not. But that's a totally different argument than "I'd rather interact directly with someone who is actually an expert".


>If you value facts and good analysis, pay for them.

If you have a society where people must pay for truths but are given lies freely, then should we be surprised when people believe lies? Given those people have equal say in how things are ran as the people willing to pay for truth, doesn't this cause a social level problem?


It's hard to have a society where lies are expensive that doesn't lead to suppressing speech in general.

So, I think you touch on a real problem - but I don't think making lies expensive will lead to a good outcome either.

The internet creates a huge amount of easily accessible false information, but also a huge amount of easily accessible true information (more than at any other time in history).

People just need the ability to tell the difference.

Arguably access to all the information in the world won't save us because the non-free stuff isn't accurate either, and people still aren't trying to actually understand what's true. They're just trying to find stuff to support what they already believe. https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/i2z7i5/the_...


The thesis itself is false and the implications fail because of it. Paying is no guarantee of the truth and it being free is no guarantee of falsity. If free was always false then they could be filtered more or less to subconscious effects in a "Don't trust the tabloids about batboy being the love child of the pope." sort of way.


If you value facts and good analysis, pay for them. It's that simple. Sure, the New York Times gets a lot of things wrong. So does everyone else, including many commenters on HN.

Yeah, and "If you value your health, pay for an experience that doesn't spread a highly infectious disease". Oh, but just a few people willing to not spread the disease means you'll catch it any way.

The cost of the people who can't and won't afford the truth and choose lies instead is high for society, even for those who get the truth.

There are wide range of things that have degraded in the US based on the "if you value it, you will pay for it" ethos. This kind of reasoning works for the luxuriousness of an automobile - but even for the safety of an automobile.


Truth is a public good and ought to be treated as such. If lies about the coronavirus are free, but the truth is costly, people will die, and indeed they are dying right now.


Please propose a system whereby facts can be collected, interpreted, verified and distributed for free. If it is not free, who funds it? How do we prevent the organization funding it from perverting the facts to serve its own interest? If we cannot prevent perversion by the financing organs, then we have propaganda.

These blue-sky pronouncements about truth being a public good do not move the discussion forward. "Truth" is socially manufactured (by that I'm not saying that nothing is true or false), and the process of manufacture has enormous costs.


In Europe we often have public service media, paid for by the public. Here in the Czech Republic the public service media is not perfect (what is?), but they do a very good job. (Which is also why they are under constant attacks by politicians.)

Of course, this is not “free”, but it’s high-quality journalism that’s not behind a paywall.


The New York Times is not perfect, but they do a very good job as well, despite what some commenters in this thread may think. And the paper is not run by a political appointee, as are most of the public service media organizations in Europe (Radio France comes to mind).

I have to wonder: how does your public service media cover events that reflect poorly on the Czech Republic's elite and its government? How did it cover the decision to split from your poorer sister state of Slovakia? How does it cover the vulnerability of the Czech elite to blackmail by the Russian intelligence services? How does it cover the historical issues related to the expulsion of Sudetenland Germans from their homes?

Separately, for what it's worth, the US has national public radio, which is a public service radio largely funded by local listener/donors. It is much better than most media here.


Hungary also as a public service media. In fact, I am not certain there is any independent media still existing in Hungary. Which goes to show that public media is not always the best.


That's 7 years ago? I don't know anything about that entire story so I can't comment specifically, but the NYT publishes about 150 articles a day, so there are bound to be some stinkers over the years. It's not great, but dismissing an entire publication over it doesn't strike me as fair.


For a more timely example, please recall the whole 1619 debacle, in which the NYT published and subsequently defended a slander against our own American history. The article claimed that preserving the institution of slavery was "one of the primary reasons" for the American Revolution. Even after this claim (among others) was trashed by prominent academic historians, the NYT editorial board defended the article (in a manner scarcely discernible from lying), and only issued a correction after the historians persisted in their criticism. The correction, it should be noted, merely replaced the blatant lie with a masterfully crafted phrase which was clearly intended to imply the very same lie.

This is not the behavior of an organization with a commitment to the truth.

[0] Original Critique and NYT response: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/magazine/we-respond-to-th...

[1] Historians' response: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/1619-proje...

[2] NYT Issues Correction: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/magazine/an-update-to-the...


The NYT used to have industry-leading editorial standards.

Just a week or two ago in their reporting on the UFO story, they initially reported it in a "ZOMG ALIENS ARE REAL!" way, which is the most clickbaity thing they could have done...and then silently published a correction after they got the bump in views.

The NYT is practically indistinguishable from (modern) BuzzFeed.


Seconding this. I actually pay for the Times out of sheer nostalgia for its being my hometown paper, but when they're publishing Very Serious Stories on the press-release UFO crap the government was trying to distract people with, they're doing a just plain bad job of journalism.


Right; but it's one thing to say "they no longer have industry-leading editorial standards" and quite another to dismiss the entire publication for being less-than-perfect. I don't read the NYT front page – just articles linked here and elsewhere – so my view of it is far from complete and biased; I don't see "ZOMG ALIES!"-type articles for example, but there certainly still seems plenty of content of value on the NYT, in spite of also having content that detracts from that.

You also have to appreciate the NYT's position I think; at the end of the day, a newspaper is in the business selling newspapers. It's not quite that simple as many journalists and publications – quite rightfully – believe they have a greater task than "just running a business", but at the end of the day bills need to be paid, and the NYT is a business.

A business that now has to compete against a plethora of free content, not infrequently written by incompetent hacks (possibly with a less-than-savoury agenda) with almost no editorial standards. Competing against "free" is hard, and is not an easy position for a business to be in and quite likely a big reason for the decline in editorial standards. This is pretty much what this article is about.

"ZOMG ALIENS!" is complete nonsense, but ... it probably also drives traffic, and thus revenue. One way to see this is that this revenue-based clickbait content sponsors the more in-depth quality content and, like advertisement, is kind of a necessary evil. But yeah, it's not great.

As an aside, I have plenty of gripes with the state of the press by the way; especially since the Trump presidency things have ... not evolved in the right direction. But we must also be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.


> and quite another to dismiss the entire publication for being less-than-perfect

The newspaper's ombudsman declined to punish the reporter in any way, or admit anything other than "oops, mistakes were made". That's what makes it a failure of the newspaper and not just "less-than-perfect" reporting. It's one example from a pattern of behavior, and the reason people are saying the NYT no longer have industry-leading editorial standards.

Let me remind you that the reporter was caught red-handed driving a car in circles in a parking lot so that he could have a more salacious story about "running out of gas". The original article stated that he coasted off the freeway into the parking lot with no energy remaining. There's no two ways about it: That's a lie.

How low do you need the p-value to be before you reject the null hypothesis? 0.0005? 5e-9?

Nobody is disputing that news is a hard business, but you can't have it both ways: If you're going to run a serious newspaper, then you need to run a serious newspaper. That means upholding editorial standards. Most importantly, that mean having real repercussions for reporters who break the trust of your readership.

> "ZOMG ALIENS!" is complete nonsense, but ... it probably also drives traffic, and thus revenue.

The owners are completely within their rights to pivot and turn the NYT into the next buzzfeed. But you're just reinforcing the point that it is no longer a serious newspaper.


They seem even less serious publishing op-eds like this:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/opinion/trump-biden-presi...


There's actually a named psychological effect for when people read a news article that they know to be inaccurate and don't believe that lack of standards carry forward into the rest of the paper's articles...

Unfortunately both my memory and Google are failing me on this one. Maybe someone in the comments will contribute.



THAT'S IT! Thank you.


I can't readily find this either, but the New York Times employs 1,700 journalists and publishes about 150 stories every day. I don't think treating it as a big singular monolithic entity is helpful.


And those 1700 journalists and 150 stories per day go through their much smaller editorial board before they get published. There can be costly legal ramifications if they do not have their editors carefully go over stories.

Stop giving them excuses.


I'm not excusing anything; I'm just saying that a single bad article from 7 years ago from a single reporter and the newspaper not appropriately rectifying it – which is certainly a very bad thing – is not a good reason to dismiss the entire newspaper out of hand, especially not considering the scale of the NYT. Things are just not that black/white.


The UFO article I mentioned was barely a week ago.

There's loads of these. I'm half-expecting a bat boy article as a followup.


this attitude is part of the problem... no one goes back and holds them accountable for anything. they just move onto the next BS problem and never notice the old stuff was dead wrong.

If you want to change your perspective, invest in the companies... it will stick with you. I foolishly shorted apple around antenna gate. that was the beginning of me starting to hold the media accountable. the media is wrong over and over and people don't seem to notice.


I'd love to see historical articles matching what they predicted with what actually happened.

At least in tech writing, I'd expect most of their predictions to be wrong.


This whole thread feels like I am taking crazy pills. It seems odd that so many people are on the contrarian juice in this thread against one of the best journalism outlets in the world.

I am right there with you. There are bound to be stinkers, but on the whole the reality that the Times operates in is miles ahead and closer to the truth than most reporting out there, if not all.


This was recently: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-July-2020-Twitter-spat-bet...

Also this: https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/06/22/nyt-is-threatening-my-...

Also: https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter

I think there are some great New York Times writers (Li Yuan’s articles I always like), but there’s a lot of seriously bad writing and writers.

It’s not exclusive to NYT either, Vox makes some great stuff - but they also published that “no handshakes” article mocking Silicon Valley for taking COVID seriously.

Vox repeatedly pushed the “COVID isn’t a pandemic” story. Vox doubled down on the “no handshakes” thing with Kara Swisher arguing in support of it. They still haven’t admitted being wrong.

Link: https://medium.com/@balajis/citations-for-the-recode-handsha...

If you know anyone who has a NYT piece written about them usually they’re surprised by how many things are wrong.

Of course these are just the publications that even pretend to be honest, I’m not unfairly targeting them - others unnamed are often worse.

I think their ad driven model is a corrupting influence. I also think their anti-tech company bias is related to tech companies destroying their historical business model (I think they're holding a grudge: https://zalberico.com/essay/2020/07/14/the-serfs-of-facebook...).

I think it’s better to support good writers directly, I hope substack and independent blogs win.

Some suggestions:

Persuasion: https://www.persuasion.community/

Stratechery: https://stratechery.com/

Stay Tuned with Preet: https://cafe.com/stay-tuned-podcast/

Andrew Sullivan: https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/subscribe

Sam Harris: https://samharris.org/


who is going to do, and who is going to pay for, the actual reporting on which the smart but frequently bloviating sort of writers that you cite rely?


  Just out of completeness you could have added the actual response to Tesla's comments: 
https://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/that-tesla-data-...

  To say the least: it's not as clear cut as you make it to be. My personal opinion - for what is worth it - is that between Musk and a journalist of the NYT I would still trust the journalist more. But I am naive that way.


> Musk and a journalist of the NYT I would still trust the journalist more

Why do you believe a journalist who contradicts his own story after being called out on the original? Anyone reading your link in isolation might think it a fine rebuttal, but it's inconsistent with the original piece he wrong for the NYT--they can't both be true.

I also like how he defends the "sloppy note-taking" with, "But the manufacturer didn't tell me they had a GPS tracker on the car." That speaks volumes.


"But it’s important to understand the problem with the Times: it is not that the facts it reports tend to be inaccurate—though sometimes they are—but that the facts are presented in a way that misleads."

Shall we make sure that the quote at the top of the thread includes at least one full sentence as context?


I am extremely naive on the topic, so be easy on me.

1. Does that mean Tesla gets to know every single thing about my car? Where I have driven to, and how I use it, what time I use it?

2. Both Nytimes and Top Gear act on the same thing ( note. I barely read the NYT article ), If Clarkson were not driving in a normal manner, and flying around a test track burning tires, it will quickly run out of battery. And due to the way filming and production, they didn't actually ran out of battery.

I would have thought a normal thing to do would be to disagree with the results, and suggest driving in normal condition and battery conserve manner would results in better milage. Instead Tesla went all out and start suing.

I would call this spinning the truth in some sense. But I wouldn't all this BS.


> The days of BSing people are over.

Really?


Now instead of one or two popular crackpots selling snake oil we have hundreds on social media and elsewhere spreading the equivalent of snake oil.


lol... things are different. in the old days, no one would have ever known tesla's side of the story.


Yes, this is how I read the OP's comment about the days of BS being over. In the past, newspapers had exclusivity not just in access but in voice. Their frame was THE frame. Today, anyone with a phone can be a journalist. Anyone (not everyone) can access a large audience and get their story out. Anyone can establish an alternative frame, or point out lies, smears, dubious sources or stealth edits.

Can a newspaper be serious without putting its published articles under source control with complete edit history?


I've been looking for an alternative to the NYT that has as good or better writing and reporting. Do you have any suggestions?


WSJ


NYT leans slightly left, WSJ leans slightly right, and I feel like reading both gives you a fairly balanced view on the issues of the day.

The opinion sections of each publication can get fringey, but that's just the clickbait that pays the bills - it's obvious that the rest of the articles try hard to adhere to journalistic standards.


WSJ news section is pretty good, but their focus is a little narrow. The opinion pages? Just tear those out and trash them before any of the words can accidentally leak into your brain.

The space between the news side and opinion side of the WSJ is wider than the space between Fox News and Fox and Friends.


I lost faith when they tried to dox Scott Alexander for no reason other than to generate a few clicks over the controversy.


Focusing on a small part of one sentence which is only tangentially related to the OP's main topic seems... unfair to me.

I found the OP to be a well-written, well-reasoned, thought-provoking article and would highly recommend reading it in its entirety before passing judgment on it.


Yeah, That pissed me off too, It stank of petrochemical company bribery or willful ignorance.

That said they still produce some quality journalism and I wouldn't write off an entire news organization for one shitty decision (to back a bad review).

Just like I don't judge all of Tesla for the fact they don't separate their freeway and street driving data so we can properly analyze their self driving crash statistics misleading potential customers.


If you think the New York Times is bad, you should try looking up all of the crazy assertions made by Fox News show hosts.


Meh that was years ago. Things ebb and flow, but what got me recently was their uptake of cancel culture. They're even throwing out editors because their reporters and others there have glommed on to the idea that non-progressive -opinions- are not welcome. I am a progressive but I do not buy into this the shame-shame-shame bell attitude that has taken the internet by storm. Vanguarded by twitter.


Tesla is a scientific error, but what about their 1619 Project stuff?

For me it was the wild Op Eds literally calling for a revolution, and a two day focus on Trump on the front page and the side op eds while there were riots within view of my window. I remember specifically seeing 5 helicopters within sight, after a second day of rioting, seeing nothing mentioned in the home town NYT that we had sacked Soho and Midtown in consecutive days, hundreds of businesses attacked, and deciding then and there that it was a dangerous, misleading newspaper. After several years of subscribing, I unsubscribed.


NYT has beat the drums of war for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the recent Bolivian coup and pretty much every other imperialist, fascist action backed by the US the world over.

Its "liberalism" is a thin sheen over another mass media corporation continually enabling the military-industrial complex at the cost of tens of millions of lives.

https://theintercept.com/2020/06/08/the-nyt-admits-key-false...


The linked article concludes:

"Creators must be compensated well. But at the same time we have to try to keep things that are important and profound from getting locked away where few people will see them. The truth needs to be free and universal."

Let's also consider whether lies should be made more expensive. Free costs more than it's worth.


That's an interesting thought.

Coal plants offer cheap power, mostly because they ignore the externalities of pollution.

If you could identify the externalities of lies and tax or fine them in some way, maybe they would be minimized.

(tax what you want less of)


Let's also consider whether lies should be made more expensive.

Whether lies should be more expensive or not, lies cannot be made expensive. Even in a totalitarian state, false rumors spread easily. The cost of production of lies is close to zero, the cost of distribution of lies also close to zero.

It's like all of HN is eager to apply an argument that makes sense for cheap, knock-off auto parts ("Cheap is too expensive", etc) to decent public journalism. It doesn't work.


>Whether lies should be more expensive or not, lies cannot be made expensive.

But they can. Defamation laws make false claims expensive. Accounts can be revoked. Costs can be imposed if society has the will to do so.


As always, who judges whether something is true?


This is an excuse to be lazy and not try to establish truth at all, which is way worse than getting the 'truth' wrong sometimes.


I think this is the core political question of our age, myself.


I tend to agree with you there.

I am starting to think that ultimately, though, the answer is one that no one particularly wants to admit because it boils down to two unpalatable options, one distributed and unregulated; the other centralized and regulated.

1) Unregulated: No one is the arbiter of truth, in which case a haphazard group of marketers, propagandists and psyops peddlers reign supreme. This eventually/inevitably consolidates into an organized propaganda outlet.

2) Regulated: A group is selected based on some credential or merit and you end up with essentially a Technocracy. More or less what the "Elites" boogeyman is. If the Technocracy is staffed by scientists and engineers, then it might be the best possibility available. But this also eventually consolidates and leads to an erosion of the eligibility credentials and then non-expert people will gain positions within it for ulterior motives.

If the technocratic group is limited in scope of what "truths" it can decide on, then that is potentially a reasonable compromise.


3) A group with weapons has the power, and if what you say make them stronger you are speaking the truth.

How some of the largest countries already work


The world is multi-faceted. Situations and individuals are complex. Externalities and exceptions abound.

Multiple perspectives can accurately describe the same event - e.g. the fable about the blind me all describing an elephant.

Each of their individual descriptions is true. There is also a larger truth that none of them are aware of. That doesn’t make them liars either individually or a group.

Additionally, it can be highly politically advantageous to frame, spin, or otherwise mischaracterize, on the thinnest evidence, both out of bad faith and naïveté.

So, about Truth with a capital ‘T’, I’d like to paraphrase PK Dick’s statement, “truth is what exists when you stop believing.”


I totally agree, but it's not much use when trying to counter an anti-vaxxer spreading misinformation via Facebook


Another fun one I ask when someone brings up Snopes: Who snopes the snopes? In other words how do we know they are not being biased or thorough enough?

I am not saying everything there is wrong but I have ran into weird biased articles before.


The bigger issues with Snopes are:

1) Complete lack of transparency. No versioning or history of how answers have changed. They even opt-out of archive.org history tracking. They usually only disclose one author, when oftentimes there are many.

2) They editorialize many questions, changing them in such a way that they can give the answer they want to. This is done often by inserting modifiers like "always" or "never" or something similar.


They are biased, but if the facts are accurate, that's irrelevant.

A trustworthy organization doing fact checking on one side of the aisle while ignoring inaccuracies from the other side is preferable to no fact-checking at all. Question is: where is Republican Snopes? It's a free information market; why is nobody doing it?


>They are biased, but if the facts are accurate, that's irrelevant.

Not really:

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2009/aug/20/bernie-san...

>The OECD's numbers tell a similar story. In 2007, the OECD said that the United States spent $7,290 per capita on health care, ranking it first among the 30 countries studied. Five other nations spent more than $3,645 per capita, the point at which the United States no longer doubles their spending. The highest is the Netherlands at $4,417. The other four were Austria, Canada, Norway and Switzerland.

So he was rated as wrong for saying 'double' because it was actually 1.65 times for one country out of thirty. Oh and they used the dollar exchange rate for their numbers, not the PPP which is what actually matters.


If the facts are not accurate, that's relevant.

On average, are the facts accurate?

Also, 1.65 isn't double. I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.


1.65 is not the average ratio, it's the smallest ratio among the group of countries under consideration. So, it's intentionally misleading.

Regardless, even if the average WERE 1.65, that's still a damning enough number that the meter shouldn't be all the way to the "False" side.


Since the statement they're fact checking is "twice as much... than any other nation," averages don't apply; the smallest ratio is the strongest counterexample. Politicians can avoid being fact checked like this by using less absolute statements in their rhetoric.


They are also using exchange rate $ equivalent instead of PPP, the ratio then is 1.93 for the Netherlands to the US.

This is a lie by the fact checkers. One that pushes an agenda that's obvious to see for everyone who cares to look.


What agenda is that?

(Additionally, PPP is a model someone can use, but it's hardly agreed upon universally as the correct model for equivalent spend value. It's a "basket of goods" model, influenced by the goods chosen. At worst, Politifact is guilty of making a judgement call based on a choice of metric that reasonable people can disagree on, which is hardly "a lie" that "pushes an agenda").


The Netherlands PPP conversion factor is less than 1, and was in 2009 as well. This means that each Euro spent by the Netherlands goes further than the exchange rate equivalent number of dollars would go in the US.

Wouldn't adjusting for PPP bring their healthcare spending up, not down, making Sanders less correct, not more?


There is no Republican Snopes because conservatives, since the Enlightenment, don't do sense making that way (i.e. via institutional consensus). At the end of the day unless you were personally there to witness something or can prove something mathematically or do the science yourself, you are ultimately dependent on some network of trust to inform you of the truth or falsity of something. And even then "true" and "false" outside of logical and mathematical domains is entirely dependent on ones values. That's not to say there's no objective universal set of values.

Most people are Liberal (in the American sense) because that's what all the organs of culture promote and reinforce. It's like the "default" position that people adopt. I grew up liberal in a liberal household where we watched Hollywood movies and mainstream news like ABC, NBC, PBS and I listened to NPR and I went to school which was run by generally liberal teachers and administrators and that's pretty much why I was liberal.

This is the Cathedral vs the Bazaar approach to sense-making.


> There is no Republican Snopes because conservatives, since the Enlightenment, don't do sense making that way (i.e. via institutional consensus).

Conservatives have always done sense making via institutional consensus, even moreso than post-enlightenment liberals, though the institutions that they tend to appeal to are those explicitly devoted to their ideological world view (whether it's the organs of a particular Church, or economists of the Austrian School) and not so much those even superficially devoted to objective exploration of facts, even when approaching questions that are, at least on the surface, about objectives facts (what is) rather than ideology (what should be).

> Most people are Liberal (in the American sense)

No, they aren't, unless you are conflating multiple different and incompatible American senses of “Liberal” and thus covering the entire range from the moderate right to the far left.


> objectives facts (what is) rather than ideology (what should be)

What is a "fact" or what is "true" is dependent on your values (aka your ideology). This is one of Nietzsche's main contributions to philosophy.

There are things like mathematical and logical truth and really basic physical assertions (e.g. the sky is blue) but those are qualitatively different than what we're talking about.

Both normative and positive statements about the world of human affairs are ultimately dependent on ideology and that might explain to you why you perceive conservatives as focusing on arguments over ideology. That is what people should be arguing over since from that all else flows. When people don't share substantially similar values even language itself becomes useless as a means of communication because the words themselves mean different things.


> What is a "fact" or what is "true" in dependent on your values (aka your ideology). This is one of Nietzsche's main contributions to philosophy.

No, it's not. That's one of the Enlightenment’s many contributions to philosophy and the foundation on which the advances in knowledge of the universe enabling the explosion of post-Enlightenment technical progress is built.

Obviously, one might have ideological, aesthetic, or other preferences for what facts ought to be, and one might have beliefs about questions of fact that ultimately result from those preferences, but—Roadrunner cartoons not withstanding—beliefs about the material universe don't trump material facts.

(However, it's kind of funny that you are making, as a positive argument in favor of conservatism, exactly the argument that conservatives usually not only reject, but also attribute—not entirely inaccurately though certainly overgenerally—to the “postmodern” left and cite as a key reason for rejecting the left.)


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> The same metaphysical view you're describing also enabled utopian totalitarian visions like Nazism and Communism.

Leninism and it's descendants are totalitarian, Communism (even Marxism) more generally is not, but, sure, you can certainly make the case that scientific rationality has some connection to Marxism and thus an indirect effect on Leninism. OTOH, scientific rationality and the proven results are also the explicit basis for the widespread Western rejection of Leninism and it's descendants (and explictly cited as such by wide segments of the Right, including those who generalize that rejection to Communism generally, which the left might argue is an overgeneralization, but even in that argument there is a broad consensus that there are actual material facts that one can draw conclusions about from material evidence which transcends ideology when approached correctly.)

OTOH, Nazism was not based on scientific rationality, except as a reaction against it, and in fact both Italian Fascism and Naziism were explicitly based on the exact Nietzschean view that you advance (both the idea and explicitly crediting it to Nietzche).

> Postmodernism hinges on whether or not there is an objective set of values. Conservatives believe there is (the Bible, natural law, God, etc) whereas Postmodernists believe there isn't.

That may be a difference between your particular worldview and postmodernism, but large number of other conservatives criticize the “postmodern left” not merely for rejecting objective values which you claim is the difference between Conservatism and Postmodernism, but for rejecting objective facts and viewing facts as constructs which depend on ideology—the position you take on the nature of facts is one explicitly rejected and criticized (and attributed as a failing of the left) by most mainstream conservative thinkers, though I will agree that the factions of the Right who adhere to it are at what is, at least, a recent local maximum of prominence.


> Nazism was not based on scientific rationality,

How can you say this when Nazis famously "pioneered" and promulgated things like Phrenology and Eugenics? Scientific racism was at the heart of the Nazi program.

> the position you take on the nature of facts is one explicitly rejected and criticized (and attributed as a failing of the left) by most mainstream conservative thinkers,

I do agree with you here. What we're discussing really only has meaning when both sides of the discussion are able and willing to have a deeper discussion about this sort of stuff.

What Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro engage in is completely sufficient for the audience they're trying to engage with and appeal to. To get into this more abstract kind of discussion would be counterproductive in my opinion. Postmodernism is actually really harmful for people to believe in and at that point where you're lost in a world where most major cultural institutions are pushing that, you just need someone articulating an alternative view point. At that level, getting into a discussion about how they're actually similar would be a bad idea.


> How can you say this when Nazis famously "pioneered" and promulgated things like Phrenology and Eugenics?

They...didn't. Phrenology was was developed at the end of the 18th century and scientifically discredited by the mid-19th century; the Nazis may have adopted it, but that's proof that they weren't motivated by anything like scientific rationalism. Eugenics is overtly ideological (and, again, not pioneered by the Nazis, having become a widespread ideology before they existed), though it relies on scientific results (but even those who take your ideological stance of rejecting objective facts have no problem adopting the results of science that they see as useful for advancing their ideology, so there's nothing surprising about a group who does that adopting an ideological program relying on technology for it's implementation.)

But the reason I can say that Italian Fascism and German Naziism expressly adopted your Nietzschean view is because both said they did, and praised Nietzche for presenting it.


> scientifically discredited by the mid-19th century

I mean the science is bunk but it wasn't "discredited" in the sense that you mean among the scientific community or the policy community across the West who enacted policies based on it well until after the mid 20th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

> the Nazis may have adopted it, but that's proof that they weren't motivated by anything like scientific rationalism

The Nazis adopted scientific racism and this is proof they weren't motivated by scientific rationalism? I suppose your contention would be that Hitler didn't really believe any of that or something and it was all just about power. That's such a lazy position to take IMO. If you really want to die on that hill I don't think we can go forward with the discussion at least on this front. The Nazis established a whole body of thought and policies around racial hierarchies that were in part dependent on the work of eugenics and phrenology. And yes I do believe they really believed this stuff.

> But the reason I can say that Italian Fascism and German Naziism expressly adopted your Nietzschean view is because both said they did, and praised Nietzche for presenting it.

Nietzsche was highly derisive of nationalism and the examples he would deride were actually those of German nationalism. You can read Beyond Good and Evil to see that.

What you're talking about is actually highly ironic considering that Nietzsche actually predicts some sort of Hitler-like figure coming to power due to how weak-minded and herd-like Europeans were. He didn't call them herd-like as a compliment.

What they adopted among other things was his method of attack on morality itself and in particular Christianity and Judaism. This is what he meant by going "Beyond" Good and Evil (morality itself) to replace it with Strong and Weak or Beautiful and Ugly which was more of the Greco-Roman system of values. That does sound more like Nazism doesn't it? You can see it in the iconography of the Nazis and all the Roman stuff they adopted (e.g. the Nazi standards which harken to the Roman standards).

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/--Ngy5XGuS2Y/U_kCNxwY_5I/AAAAAAAAJ...

Nietzsche wasn't perfect IMO. You can read Psychological Types by Carl Jung who does a beautiful job of analyzing and filling in the holes in Nietzsche's positions.


> I mean the science is bunk

Since you dismiss the existence of objective, non-ideological facts, isn't that necessarily your position on all science?

> but it wasn't "discredited" in the sense that you mean among the scientific community or the policy community across the West who enacted policies based on it well until after the mid 20th century

Yes, phrenology was discredited , and why you posted a link about eugenics to support your rebuttal of a point about phrenology that had nothing to do with eugenics, I don't know.

> The Nazis adopted scientific racism and this is proof they weren't motivated by scientific rationalism?

That wasn't my actual argument, but it works, since “scientific racism” doesn't actually follow the methodology of post-enlightment empiricism, merely adopting it as an elaborate rhetorical flourish for propaganda purposes, much the way that, say, intelligent design does. It recognizes that some of it's audience might be positively disposed to the superficial appearance of empiricism, rather than actually embracing it itself.


> Since you dismiss the existence of objective, non-ideological facts, isn't that necessarily your position on all science?

I already said I believe in an objective set of values so for you to say this means you've clearly missed the entire point of the discussion.



This looks like its for questions about Mormonism or theological questions, not current events or other pop-culture things (forwards from Grandma) like Snopes.


Yes, its scope is very narrowly about the Mormon faith. Conversely, Snopes doesn't tend to weigh in on things like the stories surrounding Joseph Smith.


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That's precisely it! The internet is full of "X but for Y" but they rarely take off unless Y really needs their own X.


what is the reason to down-vote this comment?


Lumping into an "us vs them" or "republican vs liberal" via

> here is no Republican Snopes because conservatives, since the Enlightenment, don't do sense making

Which is both mixing the some undefined set of concepts of the Enlightenment with some undefined characteristics of "All Republicans", in an awkward ad-hominem against "non-republicans"? It's nonsensical.

> At the end of the day unless you were personally there to witness something or can prove something mathematically or do the science yourself,

All truth is subjective, so there is no truth tautology.

Etc etc. There isn't a point being made or a topic to discuss. It's a "too many ideas" post mixed with too many wild tangents that are intentionally designed to incite.

ie Vapid flamebait.


Whether or not there is truth is dependent on if you believe in an objective set of values. Conservatives believe there is (the Bible, natural law, God, etc) and people like Postermodernists believe there isn't.

And yes all discussions of this type require some generalization and lumping. "Republican" doesn't even mean one thing since the party consists of libertarians and evangelical Christians and neo-conservatives among many others.


You're in for a surprise when you discover Fox News.


I always laugh when I see someone bring up Fox News in this context. You realize your just proving his point, right? I can name dozens or hundreds of major media outlets that that lean left (MSNBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo, HuffPo, BuzzFeed, etc.), but you can only name one or two that lean right.


Most of the "left-leaning" organizations you cite above are not considered particularly left-leaning by the left. A better description of them would be "pro status quo", or if you're feeling punchy "relentlessly pro status quo" with a side of "pro-corporatist" thrown in for seasoning.

Now, Fox News and OAN and Sinclair are not, publically, actually the John Birch Society, so sure, you could say "right wingers don't think they lean right either".

Plot out a chart of US political opinion, and I more or less guarantee you that in most things, you'll find your list of media outlights absolutely "centrist", and the 3 I just named distinctly "to the right" of mainstream US political opinion.


Fox is the most familiar example, but there are many more:

https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-ratings


If you're talking about people like Chris Wallace, then I agree with your point. People like him are very much an example of The Cathedral but on the conservative side. Even stuff like The Five is pretty middle brow and establishmentarian but they aren't the vanguards of mainstream conservatism like Maddow and Joy Reid and others are for mainstream liberalism.

Steve Bannon and his movement are more representative of mainstream conservatism. Even someone Tucker Carlson used to be very much like Chris Wallace. The reason why his program is so popular now is because he's shifted radically away from his establishmentarian position towards Steve Bannon's position.

Personally I don't watch Fox News because of how low to middle brow and Cathedral-like it is.


If Maddow is the vanguard of mainstream liberalism, why are her ratings so terrible?


You can only get a plurality in most cases with mainstream media, because like it or not it does tend to be progressive/liberal in most outlets (in the American sense, not European).


That doesn't explain why FOX is twice as watched as MSNBC.


NPR's drivetime radio shows have bigger audiences than Fox, for almost all of its shows (and sometimes, for all of its shows).

Cable TV is still a niche.


Probably because the Cathedral of mainstream liberalism has been mortally wounded over the past decade. That has rapidly accelerated as of late and you're seeing the last dying breaths with the rise of populism on the left and right. Maddow used to have much higher ratings. AOC for example is not part of mainstream liberalism. She is at the vanguard of mainstream popular leftism.


You can, follow their sources. Even if they're only 90-95 correct that is orders of magnitude better than what's on facebook and twitter where people go just because someone put up a picture with words on it.


ah but there are usually other sources, just as valid, that say the opposite thing


Which ones?

I'm curious if the bias is perceived or blatant.


The bad thing about snopes is they don't have a spectrum, it's a binary 'fact or not fact' system. This means even a slight bit of bias can be the difference between fact or not.

But the more important question is why a random website is being used as the basis for truth. They don't even try to hide the bias in their language, it's just filled with words you would never see in an academic document.



I was thinking more along the lines of a true spectrum, like a percentage system. What you have here is a bunch of qualitative truthiness symbols decided arbitrarily, it's not much different from just saying true or false.

For example, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/marijuana-electron-microsc... this article would lead a passerby to believe that there is equal parts truth and lie in this picture + caption. In reality I would judge this as 'mostly true' because the caption is more true than it is false.


This is starting to strain credulity. It says "mixed", not "evenly mixed" or anything to imply even-ness of true/false.

The NEXT 2 PARAGRAPHS say, in simple language, what part is true and which is not.


You said "binary."


I saw one on PolitiFact about Biden a while back. The claim was that he's been fighting to cut social security benefits for the last 40 years. The verdict was "mostly false" but if you read the contents [1], it's "mostly true." You see shit like this all the time.

1. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/12/bernie-san...


It's more in the middle. He clearly was going with the flow of politics at the time on budget hawking. It hardly seems like he wanted to eliminate/privatize SS like most conservatives who aren't retired want to do. So there a levels to "cutting social security" like most complicated topics from freezing it to reducing it to eliminating it. I agree though their mostly false doesn't seem reasonable to me from a statistical analysis of what they presented in the article


Oh nobody’s even bothered to think about epistemology before.


I mean, I know you're joking, but people agree on the easy stuff (mostly, I guess), so all that's left to figure out is the hard stuff. It's true that people have spent thousands of years thinking about epistemology, but my impression is that it's not a solved problem at all.


I know right? Wittgenstein solved the whole thing in 1922 and yet here we are 100 years later, still acting like "knowing the truth" is a hard problem.

(Here's hoping I can avoid the wrath of Poe's law)


Wittgenstein demonstrated that knowing the truth is not hard? Does this refer to a particular publication or idea?


You can. And there's an easy way to smell test a source:

What's their response to verification? People who are lying are going to say either you can't or don't want to check up on them. At some point, they're going to say "trust me".

Never trust someone who asks for your trust. Someone trustworthy isn't concerned whether or not you trust them. They will just say, "Fine, here's what I used. Show me what I missed."


So (effectively) if they don't share their data, they're lying?


To paraphrase: Not everyone who hides data is a liar, but all liars hide data.

The rule isn't to positively identify liars. The rule isn't to positively identify non-liars either.

The rule is to dismiss as many liars as possible as fast as possible. By immediately dismissing anyone who doesn't want you to check their work or doesn't give you all the information necessary to recreate their work, you will dismiss a lot of liars with little effort.

You will also dismiss some people who aren't lying, but that's actually ok. It's better to dismiss an honest study that doesn't meet scrutiny rather than accept a dishonest study. Eventually, either the data will come out and you can vet the information, or someone else will reach the same conclusion and they will share their data. Liars can never reach that point.


Probably, yes.


The government, scientists, experts in various fields, people who have proven to tell the truth in the past, etc.

You obviously still have your own ability to determine what fits your model of the universe and what doesn't. These are just groups of people more likely to have access to information that you might not. You don't have to trust anyone, but in a system where someone has to judge what is true, these groups are closer than the alternative, which would be people with no qualifications, no training, and no history of telling the truth.

If you have another alternative I'm all ears.


Often times the truth is not popular, even amongst those who should be protecting it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial


Far more often, the truth is "popular" but boring. Not every nay-sayer is Galileo.


>The government, scientists, experts in various fields, people who have proven to tell the truth in the past, etc.

But how has it been implemented in practice?

If you look at the raw numbers, generally we rely on the lowest bidders amongst Facebook/Google/Twitter's third-world-country subcontractors, as well as the Chinese government.


The existing practice is for the community of these sites to upvote good content and downvote bad content.

Separately, moderators purge controversial content as a check/balance to the voting system. If users feel that the moderation is inconsistent with their content desires, they choose a different site to frequent, as is the case in market systems.


again, if you look at the whole system in aggregate, the existing practice is for GooFaceTwitBaba to farm out their moderation works to subcontractors, while also bending backwards to prevalent political headwinds to preserve their shareholder value. If users feel that the moderation is inconsistent with their content desires, they are free to leave the megaplatforms and become approximately completely irrelevant, thus achieving the exact same effect as being deplatformed.


What is your alternative system?

It's very easy to point out that nothing is perfect. It's very difficult to come up with a better solution.


Governments, scientists, and experts have also been proven to be wrong and to have lied in the past.


And how have we discovered the incorrect and dishonest claims?

Through the process. You never have to trust the data if you have a good process. Process will verify data. Process will verify sources. Process is impartial. Trust the process, not the results.

Also, I take issue with the attempt to conflate people who are incorrect with people who are dishonest.

There is nothing wrong with being wrong. Being wrong is the first step to being right. You can't be corrected if you're never willing to be wrong. And we can't learn if everyone has to wait to be completely correct before making a claim. Often, we don't even know we should be looking into something until someone makes a claim that turns out to be incorrect on further study.

Knowledge isn't furthered in "eureka" moments where we have all the answers at once, it's in observing something and thinking, "Huh, that's weird", then seeking the answers.


>Through the process. You never have to trust the data if you have a good process. Process will verify data. Process will verify sources. Process is impartial. Trust the process, not the results.

The GP's post didn't say trust science or trust data. It said trust scientists. I'm taking issue with the desire to put faith in individuals.


Who is a scientist in this case but someone publicizing the process? Their job, in the media anyway, is to explain data and results and why that data makes sense. You don't have to blindly trust the scientist if what they're saying is backed by scientific process, and you can hopefully trust-but-verify by looking at whatever scientific literature exists on the topic.

I guess I don't understand the alternative: is everyone expected to go look up the write-up and replicate the experiment for themselves because we can't trust the scientists who performed the experiment? I agree we need more replication studies, but I think we're reaching the absurd ends of the "do your own research!" movement here.


The problem here is not Science. It's the perverse incentives in Academia and Journalism.

In Science as it should be practised, yes, a scientist talking to a journalist should "explain the the data and results and why that data makes sense". The journalist should then paraphrase that clearly for their audience, without altering the essential conclusions of the study/paper/experiment.

But this is so naive it's laughable now. Nobody, ever, does this. The scientist wants maximum impact, so will maximise the sensational aspects of their results. In turn the journalist wants maximum clicks, so will sensationalise more. What ends up being read by the public can be a very long way away from any conclusion that the data actually supports.


He's essentially reiterating Mac's argument from It's Always Sunny, casting doubt on people who deliver information by informing us that "Science is a liar... sometimes".

It was also people who found out those people were wrong or lying.

Yes, Piltdown man was a fraud, but it was the same "scientific community" that discovered it was a fraud. Because there were things that didn't make sense even within the confines of the field of study.

That's the great thing about the process, it's ultimately self-correcting.


A scientist being wrong is GOOD! The scientific process relies on assimilation of negative results.

If a scientist is emotionally attached to a result and ignores a result that they don't like, they are no longer engaged in science.

Peer review and replication is the correcting factor for the unfortunate reality that science must be, for the moment carried out by humans.

At the very least, when operating properly science becomes less wrong. That cannot be said for politicians who are interested in nothing but confirmation of their preconceptions.

There is a special place in hell for those who cynically use the fact that scientists are sometimes wrong as an attack against the very existence of knowledge and consensus reality itself.


I don't disagree with you. The only thing I'm arguing against is the GP's comment that we should blindly put our trust in the groups mentioned.

Some of the best parts about science, as you've pointed out, are peer review and replication. There should never be a need to put your faith in an individual scientist and take them at their word.

>There is a special place in hell for those who cynically use the fact that scientists are sometimes wrong as an attack against the very existence of knowledge and consensus reality itself.

I hope it's clear that I was in no way doing that.


Reading charitably, I don't believe that it's what you meant. But with disturbing frequency, I do see similar words uttered and written with fairly clear cynical intent.


I completely agree; it's an alarming trend that's used to sew ignorance. Blindly following experts clearly isn't an antidote to that, which is all I was trying to express originally.


Science relies on this, yes.

Academia, not so much


On occasion. What's the average case?


Getting things wrong on occasion is better than having some sort of idiot free for all.


Maybe, but a well told lie told by The One Authority on Truth has more destructive power than a billion chaos monkeys typing on their typewriters for the next hundred generations.


We have more options than blindly trust those who are more likely to be right and "idiot free for all".


By that logic, who merits being judge of who other merits being judge? The act of asking your question, is itself a judgement, and a vote to silence others - which is, in whole, a politically violent act.


> The act of asking your question, is itself a judgement

It certainly wasn't intended that way. Maybe you're judging my question incorrectly?


We'll just let Google write another algorithm to handle it and take the human aspect out of the equation /s


I am in wholehearted agreement on a tax on lies so long as I get to decide which articles are lies.


Again why is THIS downvoted? Am I taking crazy pills or are downvotes completely meaningless?


Perhaps because OP seems to be suggesting: "there is no truth, facts (and lies) are relative."


I think he's saying there are no reliable ways to decide whats what, not that truth doesn't exist


Poe's law I suspect despite the dripping sarcasm pointing out how stupidly exploitable and violent to the truth said "solution" would be.


When I first saw google books and google scholar I thought 'Oh my god, this is amazing, this will change everything!'. I imagined that a decade or two in the future, being able to read pretty much any book or paper I wanted for a reasonable monthly fee. The search functionality was an absolute godsend!

Now? Google books has been pretty much sidelined and abandoned. I feel like I've watched the second library of Alexandria burn, and I am heartbroken.

My only consolation, is sites like sci-hub and libgen have made textbooks and papers downloadable, albeit illegally. I still really wish I could search within every book.


Google Books in 2004 [1], Google Scholar in 2004 [2], and Google Patents in 2006 [3] felt like the golden age of Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information and and make it universally accessible and useful” [4]. If you think back to the state of the web at the time, those services were expansive in their scope and ambition when they were launched. I give Google credit for continuing to run and maintain them to this day.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Books

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Scholar

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Patents

[4]: https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/mission/


I think this is one case where the end of the product is not Google's fault.

Books got enormous push back from legacy publishers. They also had trouble with copyright law around orphaned works, but copyright protection increasing over time from 14yrs to 90yrs after the death of the author (and moving from requiring registration to being default) really made it hard for them to do what they wanted.

It's a shame that something initially intended to "promote the progress of science and useful arts" is now used to inhibit it.


I still find Google Scholar really useful for searching for papers. It only has access to the full text for some percentage of papers, but you can usually find ones of interest in scihub.


In Germany, part of the problem is that old media lobbying has successfully prevented a reasonable (text based) internet presence of public broadcasting...

Some Google-translated coverage: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https...


Public broadcasting in Germany is no better than private media. In fact most topics are reported the same and even the opinion is the same. But even ignoring this, it is a big problem that publicly funded media is in direct economic competition with privately funded media. This is exacerbated by the official entertainment mission (Unterhaltungsauftrag[1]) and the usage of advertisement.

[1]: https://www.die-medienanstalten.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Rec... in §11


I'm German. Public broadcasting, including ARD/ZDF but also countless of local radio station is without a doubt significantly better in quality than BILD/RTL or other private tabloid media, and it's one of the reasons the country still has by and large a shared reality when it comes to political discussion.

I don't think that they also provide entertainment is in any way problematic, because entertainment is part of a cultural offering that should be accessible by everyone. I don't really see the competition issue here, just like the BBC they produce content, which is fine.

Has to be said though in quality it doesn't really measure up to the BBC, but you can try to claw Tatort from my dead hands


Agree wholeheartedly. And I'd like to add that there is by no means a uniform opinion propagated. For example, the ARD (one of the major public broadcasting networks) hosts both the rather left-leaning "Monitor", and the more conservative "Report aus München". However, as you highlighted, they share a common understanding of the world, and therefore Germany doesn't suffer extreme polarisation.

(I'd argue that the fringes, as seen with the anti-lockdown demonstrations in Berlin recently, are actually sustained by newfangled social media.)

Links (German only, sorry):

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monitor_(Fernsehmagazin)

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Report_München


>I'd argue that the fringes, as seen with the anti-lockdown demonstrations in Berlin recently, are actually sustained by newfangled social media.

My impression was that they were mostly older people (50+), and from their style of clothing I could tell that they were mostly poor people, maybe people who got wrecked by Hartz4 reforms in the 90s and early 2000s, and grew a deep hate on German politics and the mainstream. Fringe social media groups and conspiracy nuts just take advantage of pre-existing hate.


"[...] and it's one of the reasons the country still has by and large a shared reality when it comes to political discussion." Shared reality is quite a cynical word and is a reminder just how bad it really is.

"I don't think that they also provide entertainment is in any way problematic, because entertainment is part of a cultural offering that should be accessible by everyone. I don't really see the competition issue here, just like the BBC they produce content, which is fine." How is it not unfair if you compete in the exact same market with a publicly funded corporation[1]?

"Has to be said though in quality it doesn't really measure up to the BBC, but you can try to claw Tatort from my dead hands " It is basically on par with ntv, Welt and doesn't really measure up to ServusTV. They all share one thing with ARD/ZDF tho and that is advertisement.

[1]: Open any site of public funded TV and look for "Unternehmen" (Corporation) also they have a lot of for-profit corporations spun off, so there is no point calling it a public institution when in fact it is not.


> I'm German. Public broadcasting, including ARD/ZDF but also countless of local radio station is without a doubt significantly better in quality than BILD/RTL or other private tabloid media

Better than FAZ, ZEIT, Spiegel? That's the private media you should compare the news sections to, and I have some doubts that anybody thinks Public Broadcaster by and large have a similar level of journalistic integrity & quality.


Public broadcasting does not replace FAZ/Zeit/Spiegel though. There's a difference between reporting short pieces of news and the articles in the mentioned news papers.


They're not completely the same, but they are competitors, since they also have vast text websites, they're not limited to broadcasting, which makes sense given their desire to expand the tax base and the population's pivot from TV to web.

I find the argument "look at quality of the private sector, we need the public broadcasters" to be generally disingenuous. Private companies will invest where there's a chance to make a profit, having to compete with tax-funded free services makes that much less likely, ergo you won't see a lot of investment. To consider that proof for the necessity of a tax-funded system is like a monopolist claiming that nobody would provide the services if they didn't, knowing full well that it's their abuse of the monopoly that keeps competitors out.


1) The public media web outlets I know do not publish in-depth articles like Spiegel/Zeit/Sueddeutsche. Yes, it makes sense that the public media change their focus as the to follow the focus of the population they serve.

2) Since the topic at hand is limited to Germany, I guess a look at other nations is an argument?


> Yes, it makes sense that the public media change their focus as the to follow the focus of the population they serve.

But that area was already more than well-covered by plenty of private companies. Why does the state need to compete? I can absolutely see an argument for the initial creation of public broadcasters: it's an enormous investment in a new technology and we want some control over it. But to enter a well-established market "because that's what most people prefer now and we're losing relevance" is a of private company perspective. "Oh hey, I noticed that there's a successful market providing what the customers want. Let me throw money at disrupting it" isn't usually a government position.

Sure, you can look at other countries. The US is a pretty good example in my opinion. They're getting better products in any direction: better if you want trash TV, higher quality news (with highly specialized channels such as Bloomberg TV but also general news-channels like CNN), better if you want entertainment (HBO vs Tatort? I don't think there's even a question), better if you want sports coverage (ESPN etc), better if you want music.

And they still have public broadcasting to serve special requirements, only at a much, much, much lower price because they don't try to make them cover everything anyone could ever want.


I agree that publich broadcasting in Germany is very much biased. Saying that they are better than tabloids (which other commenters here are) is hardly a high bar.

Besides wasting money on useless entertainment, German public broadcasters also prey on the vulnerable by promoting gambling. They even just prime time just before the evening news for this.

But worse than the content is the funding method. Instead of being funded from taxes the public broadcasters collect a separate non-means-tested fee that is still somehow mandatory. That might have made some sense when you could opt out of that fee by not owning a TV but that option is no longer available.


Why is the public funded media in direct economic competition with private media? Because the public funded media IS directly funded by the taxpayers.

I can imagine they have a "popularity" competition in terms of viewership and so on but why economic? Can you elaborate please?


Say you read ten articles every morning. With no public option, you read ten private articles. With a public option, you would still read the same number of articles each morning, but every time you read a public article, some private organization loses a tiny bit of revenue.

Worse still, imagine you are a paying subscriber to some private newspaper. If the public option has very high quality coverage, you may find that you no longer need your private subscription.


> If the public option has very high quality coverage, you may find that you no longer need your private subscription.

Or regardless of the quality of the public option, you may find that you can no longer afford your private subscription. The public option isn't free, after all—just pre-paid with no ability to opt out—and you may not be able to afford two such services. Other cases where public services "compete" with private providers (e.g. toll roads) suffer from the same problem: You don't get to choose between paying for the public option and paying for the private option. You're either paying for just the public option, or for both, even if the private option is all you want or need.


I don't see the direct economic competition as a problem. Informing the population is fundamental to living in a democratic society. Providing a non-profit oriented basis makes as much sense as funding libraries (which compete with publishers) and schools (compete with private schools).

I know it's not perfect, but it definitely is not a "big problem".


Clearly, private sector entertainment is unable to compete with public broadcasting.


Pretty hard to compete with being able to force everyone into being your customer.


Please get a library card if you wish to read quality (often paywalled) news sources for free. Your tax dollars (going to your city/county) are already paying for access. Best of all, it's digital. Your library card number will grant you huge access to all of this digitally and in near real time (e.g., the databases are updated daily).


Few of the sources I find most useful (technical books, academic journals, historical magazine and newspaper articles) are available even with a library affiliation.

LibGen and SciHub are vastly more convenient and comprehensive.


Are you referring to digital scans or what? My library card doesn’t allow me to access nytimes.com.


The databases are separate web applications. Your username (and password) is your library ID card number, generally. When inside this site, you can search for publications (e.g., NY Times), and then filter by publication date (e.g., today), and view all of today's articles. It isn't access to NYTimes.com, but it's the same article contents accessed in a different way.

You may have used these databases in school to write research papers. Public libraries grant more or less the same access to similar/same databases, if you no longer are a member of an academic institution.


It might (depending on your library) https://www.lapl.org/new-york-times-digital


If your library offers access it will be through a portal, you won't use your library credentials to authenticate with NYT.


It's a lot easier now that there are websites, and even mobile apps, tied to library systems. My local library system offers some impressive stuff like current and past newspapers, magazines, Associated Press videos, etc.


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