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Is Betteridge's law of headlines correct? (calmerthanyouare.org)
28 points by dundun on March 19, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments


> We’re going to go out on a limb here and guesstimate that the remaining “maybe” answers can, given enough time and effort, be turned into “yes” or “no” answers, and that these will be distributed similarly to the 20:17 ratio of the fully answered headlines.

The OP does admit to going out on a limb, but I don't think this is a justified assumption. Without having seen the headlines in question, I would guess they are in the maybe category because they are dubious at best.

Could be. You can have a look at the headline data here: https://gist.github.com/matslina/64601f39ef12bd653be6

The title sets us up for contradiction! If it's correct then the answer to this post is Yes, which contradicts Betteridge's law, so the answer must be No. :)

edit: I didn't think this was controversial or anything, it was meant to be playful, sorry HN, I'll take my downvote lumps I guess.

But answering "no" doesn't mean that, sometimes, the answer to these headline's question isn't "no". It simply means that Betteridge's law isn't always correct. Which I agree because, citing another pop/internet culture adage "only a Sith deals in absolutes".

..which in itself, is an absolute.

We've come full circle, here :)

Wow, what a twist.

To think that Obi-Wan is secretly Ian Betteridge.

I immediately thought of Russell's paradox[0] but turns out they are indeed related[1].



I love this idea. 30s ago I just read an NYT headline "Are wearable devices worse for you than cigarettes?"


Now do one about Moore's law.

I don't get it. If you have a headline that forces you to actually read the article to find out what it's talking about, or what the answer is, then people complain about "click bait".

If you use some kind of predictable cliché for your title, then articles like "Is X the new most dangerous thing?" isn't clickbait anymore - it's just "X is not the most dangerous thing (contrary to whatever belief/myth/contemporary opinion)". It's predictable and straightforward. And yet, that's apparently yet another reason for people to complain.

I'm sure Betteridge's Law could be applied much more effectively to American news headlines than anything else. For example, how many times do we see crazy headlines on Fox News like "Is Obama a gay communist terrorist?"

Indeed that is possibly the main driver for question-type headlines. Any crazy, even libelous, statement can be slipped in if it's worded as a question. The media outlets that rely on them are taking advantage of the biases of their readers, who will, at best, gloss over the text that might say "no", and simply fixate on the question as if it were a valid one. This famously led to the Glenn Beck situation of "We're not saying he's guilty, but he won't deny it!". http://gawker.com/5355901/glenn-beck-pr-genius-spreads-the-f...

You only see them if you're watching Fox News.

I think the law is a commentary on a certain kind of headline: a polar question where the implications would be deeply disturbing if the answer were yes.

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