Bill C’s Ministry Of Truthiness

Paul Raven @ 18-05-2011

You must have seen this one already, but just in case: Bill Clinton raises the idea of independent “agency for truth” to counter all the misinformation on the intertubes [via everywhere, but I got it from TechDirt].

The agency, Clinton said, would “have to be totally transparent about where the money came from” and would have to be “independent” because “if it’s a government agency in a traditional sense, it would have no credibility whatever, particularly with a lot of the people who are most active on the internet.”

“Let’s say the U.S. did it, it would have to be an independent federal agency that no president could countermand or anything else because people wouldn’t think you were just censoring the news and giving a different falsehood out,” Clinton said.

“That is, it would be like, I don’t know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors” he said. “And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it’s a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money.”

Hmmm. File under “nice idea, but naive and completely impractical given that the authoritarian approach to truth is antithetical to the way the internet works”. Heck, you could make it as transparent as spun diamond, and there’d still be conspiracy theorists claiming that the secret chains of funding and misinformation were just brilliantly concealed. It’s a tricky post-modern conundrum which I suspect will only ever be solved some sort of universal realisation that checking things out for yourself is the route to the truth.

Which is to say it’ll probably never be solved at all for most people. Selah.

That said, this totally merits the use of a classic macro:


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3 Responses to “Bill C’s Ministry Of Truthiness”

  1. Sterling Camden says:

    Isn’t that what does? Oh wait, they’re in Obama’s pocket:

  2. Robert Koslover says:

    Paul, we both believe that this is a silly and naive idea, but apparently for different reasons. You seem to be suggesting that the main problem would be that nutty “conspiracy theorists” wouldn’t trust it. In contrast, I think that the problem with any such organization would be that it couldn’t possibly be unbiased. And then, Bill C’s comparison to the currently-existing NPR and BBC (as if everyone agrees they are unbiased!) made me laugh out loud. Finally, your statement that the “universal realisation that checking things out for yourself is the route to the truth” is right on.

  3. Paul Raven says:

    As seems to happen regularly, we reach the same destination by very different routes. This reflects the elasticity of the middle part of your argument… which, to you, I fully suspect appears to be the rigidity of my own. Or maybe it’s the other way round? 🙂

    (Shorter, less obtuse version: bias is a function of the bias viewer’s own standpoint.)