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Track all disputed factual claims made by elected and appointed officials

Inevitably when a position is taken, both elected and appointed officials make factual claims. Almost as inevitably, some of those claims will be disputed by NGOs / civil society, political opponents, active citizens, and sometimes industry groups. A factual claim is fairly easy to isolate from the policy it supports or suggests. Facts by definition are disprovable/testable. Keeping track of disputed factual claims per person and per field and per decision, and also counter-claims and refutations, makes it far easier to determine whether a conflict of interest may be causing a questionable factual claim. It also makes it easy to target credibility during performance and reappointment reviews (for unelected officials) or elections (for elected ones). It's perfectly fair, as public claims of fact are always open to question, regardless of context, and anyone in the world can reasonably dispute a factual claim, even if they have no legitimate standing in the decision or position and regardless of their conflicts.

Given such data, many mechanisms are possible to highlight, rank, or otherwise make transparent the conflicts and claims they give rise to. A sufficiently open mechanism, like a MySQL API or semantic mediawiki knowledge base or yubnub.org tool or even installable command line tool in Linux, makes it very easy to build mashups to show concentrations of disputed facts geographically, per election, per interest group, per social class, per education level, and so on.

It also makes it easier for the little guy to dispute any claims in court.

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    anti-Harper shared this idea  ·   ·  Admin →

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      • anti-Harper commented  · 

        Truth Googles relies on http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter which is a broader brush way of doing the same thing. A problem with factual claims that get disputed in public is that the person who makes them will almost certainly get corrected quickly, and will reframe their statement in future comments. Political claims don't really rely on factual claims, they rely on a tendency to beleve factual claims, make a conclusion, and then keep to that conclusion even when the facts are shown to be correct or change afterwards (changing the viable policies). You could track those, but innate biases are not easy to characterize or challenge.

      • anti-Harper commented  · 

        The basic mechanism already exists, MIT Truth Googles truthgoggl.es

        Just apply that to speeches, press releases, policy announcements and legislatures. The means of disputing the factual claim is clumsy, it would be better to have something like a neutral issue/position/argument map to show how complex the real issue is, and show roughly where on a scale of many positions that claim is, or what other political positions it enables (what is the hidden agenda of getting people to believe that factual claim).

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