News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Sunday, January 27, 2008

If you can't handle facts, avoid these websites

Some people who comment on politics and public affairs are outright liars. Some are impaired by a puerile ego. The human ego can be the site of a very debilitating disease. Often, the human ego is the purveyor of false information and the motive for fraud.

Take the French stock trader who lost $7 billion in fraudulent trades. French police said there is no evidence that his fraudulent transactions were for personal financial gain. So why would he do it? Most likely to satisfy an ego by pulling off trades that would establish him as a brilliant and skillful trader. He began committing fraud to cover up some bad transactions.

I've been there before. Many years ago at an annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, it came to light that one of their grain elevators in Indiana had lost $3 million. The reason was that the manager thought he was a brilliant manipulator of the futures market and in his zeal to prove himself a market hot dog made one incompetent transaction after another. He was ambitious, but incompetent. He, too, could realize no personal financial gain from his efforts, but his ego was driving him to what he thought were displays of trading prowess.

The same motivation is apparent in the presidential campaigns. In the zeal to claim eminence and shrewdness, candidates are driven by ego, not intelligence. And some factions are just downright malicious and dishonest.

Exposing falsehoods is not a very productive exercise. Much of the nonsense circulating in political campaigns is devoutly believed. Too many people are so cognitively incompetent that, in Jack Nicholson's words, they can't handle the truth. The fact remains that opinions are free, but facts are sacred.

If anyone actually gives a rat's ass about truth and accuracy, at least in the national political campaigns, there are three web sites that are fact checking what the candidates say:

  • The Annenberg project at the University of Pennsylvania maintains Factcheck.org.
These sites give deep insights into the political egos--and characters.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States

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