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January 3, 2018 | 10 Comments

Real Versus Fake Fake News: Update

Stream: Real Versus Fake Fake News

On the last day of bad old year, Lake Superior State University released its 43rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

The ripest for excision was “fake news”. “Let that sink in”.

I mean, “let that sink in” was another “impactful” phrase needing banning. As was (can we get an Amen?) “impactful”. (Most banned words are those the fill the air in corporate meetings.)

“Fake news” has to go not because there is no such thing, but because (a) people have the habit of calling real but unwanted or undesirable news “fake”, and (b) because defining it isn’t so easy.

“Fake news” is thus like bad yet award-winning art. You know it when you see it, but good luck developing an unambiguous definition.

Facebook head fake

Facebook discovered the second point the hard and expensive way. They had been testing “fake news” detection algorithms by putting “disputed” flags on certain stories. But a funny thing happened. The red flags had “the reverse effect of making people want to click [stories] even more”.

[]

This doesn’t mean the complete disappearance of “fake news” from Facebook. On stories meeting their selection criteria for fakiness, they will link counter stories called “related articles”. Call this the he-said-she-said approach.

Facebook’s wanting to weaken “deeply held beliefs” is curious. It implies that Facebook has stored in their massive computer banks a list of correct beliefs to which its customers’ false but “deeply held beliefs” can be compared. []

Computer alert!

Not that people aren’t trying.

Some college kids think they have developed a browser plug-in that can alert users to “fake news”. And a group of folks at the Fake News Challenge believe they can harness “artificial intelligence” (statistical models that have undergone dull-knifed plastic surgeries and name changes) to identify made-up stories with “an intention to deceive”. Which is to say, propaganda.

It is charming the simple faith many have in the ability of computers to mimic human thinking. Yet all these algorithms can do is to note patterns in data, which when fed a new observation classifies it into one of the patterns. That means somebody has to create a list of news stories which have been without error or controversy placed into “truth” and “propaganda” bins.

Place a reactionary and progressive in a room and []

Computers can’t think

Most limiting is that the algorithms do not work the way human thinking does. [] They are only mindless adding machines. Novelty will thus always stump any fake-news algorithm.

As he was heading out the door, Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke on this.

Research shows (p < 0.050 only the most intelligent of you will click here and read the rest.

Update Macron proposes new law against fake news: Sites that distribute fake news would face punishment. Guess who gets to define what is “fake”.

January 2, 2018 | 6 Comments

How’d We Do On Our 2017 Predictions?

How’d we do? Not so hot. We missed big events; but then, 2017 was a screwy year with our continued slide into Insanity & Doom accelerating. As Yogi Berra may or may not have said, prediction is hard, especially about the future.

Here are the main predictions, in the order in which they were received. The best forecaster is noted below.

  • Michael Dowd had a simple one: “we will receive a clear message from God in this year of our Lady of Fatima’s 100th anniversary. As a result many will change their ways.” Individuals, yes; but all of us, no.
  • Jose Mir&oactue; said in Europe “three will be several days of open war between local citizens and immigrants.” Nailed it for Belgium and Sweden, which are all but war zones. He was right the clergy would say more about the dubia. Despite Trump “Abortion, LBGT, etc, will not advance but will not retreat either. The system always wins.” True, but too easy. Mir&oactue; also foresaw the retreat of ISIS.
  • Ye Old Scribe was right that the consecration of Russia would remain undone, but this was easy money. He was dead wrong a counsel would be “convened to try Pope Francis of the crime of heresy”. Wishcasting? About fake news and Russia he was right. Too easy. “Julian Assange will receive significant aid”. Didn’t happen.
  • Kent Clizbe expected a barrage of “‘Trump homeless’ tent cities” reports. Good guess, because the homeless are always rediscovered when Republicans hold office. But the media were too busy reporting on Trump’s pop preferences to get to this story (see LA). He said neocon media would focus on sharia and ignore Mexican and other terrorism on our borders (many beheadings). A good hit. Kent says FBI will boast of its victories that it itself creates, which is another hit, but a perpetual one.

    BLM will be treated by the media as if it were not a terrorist group. True, but easy. “Trump’s federal government will drastically alter the funding of ‘climate research'”. Sort of. Good EPA appointments and the Paris dumping but no real cuts in spending. Next, the media will daily feature “Israel”; WSJ’s Bret Stephens will be its champion. Yes, but Trump flummoxed them, because when he supports Israel,
    his many enemies who would support Israel too, don’t know what to do.

    “Neocon media and advisors will pressure Trump to go to war against Iran.” True, especially at the end of the year. Next, the intelligence agencies will be forced to re-org. Almost, almost. The FBI is still lighting itself on fire. Last, Kent predicted a trump assassination attempt. If there was one, we never heard about it.

  • Jim Fedako first said “Trump will issue a record number of executive orders for a first-year president.” I can’t verify this, but it does seem to be many, with a good chunk reversing his predecessor. Obamacare will remain intact. Check. Next: “at least three indictments of high-ranking officials in the Trump administrator”. Not three, but there was that effeminate “lying to the FBI nonsense.” Jim said bitcoin would hit a high, which it did with balls on.

    Jim thought “Germany will clamp down on anti-immigration dissent”, which was true, but a given, and he said France would ignite. Belgium did. Jim thought there’d be an “Internet Freedom of Truth Act”, which thankfully did not happen. Net “neutrality” is currently a corpse. Next up: Trump’s tweets will cause an “international crisis.” The closest we came is “rocket man”.

    “Civil war or coup in Venezuela”. Not yet. Jim predicts the war on cash will ramp up. His example was wrong, but the thought was not. Why not let the government track every purchase you make? Last, Jim thought the USA would move more nukes to Turkey and Romania. Didn’t happen (publicly).

    Jim nailed his last guess: “I predict with absolute certainty that I will not win this contest.” He didn’t!

  • DAV said no impeachment of Trump. Don’t wait up for it.
  • MattS thought driverless cars would not yet be approved, which is mostly true (there have been tests allowed). And, alas, there are not yet any flying cars, as Matt thought might now exist.
  • MikeW wins the Comedy Award for saying “William M. Briggs will receive government funding for climate-related research and/or consulting.” Better than a knock-knock joke, Mike.
  • Dan Diego says Trump will do “pretty good, actually”, and we agree. Dan said no wall. No surprise, that. He also predicted the sun would continue to rise in the east. I mean, that Islamic terrorism would increase.

    Dan saw globalization taking a hit, which it did. See inter alia Poland. But there was no specificity in the guess. He also saw a reduction in illegal entries into the States, which I believe happened.

  • Sander van der Wal saw Merkel losing the Bundestag elections in 2017. Didn’t happen. He did see AfD as the “big winner”, which was.
    Sander believed Geert Wilders would win his election. Nope, and wasn’t that close, either. Lastly,
    “ISIS won’t be defeated before the end of 2017.” Depends on what you mean by “defeated”. They are still with us, but greatly diminished.
  • BrianH saw a neocon “Gang of Eight”-like group of Republicans led by McCain rising to stymie Trump. Partial credit for this, because Pelosi and Schumer did not become “de facto legislative leaders”, but McCain remained a pain in the keister.

    Here’s a bold one: “majority-Muslim nation will attempt to initiate a reformation of the jihadist interpretation of Islam and will be assassinated for his efforts.” Didn’t happen, but we see where you came from.

    Brian also had my favorite prediction: “Kim Jong Un will die in a Chinese-orchestrated coup clumsily designed to appear as a natural death.”

    He also Japan rising again, militarily, which is true, but has been happening yearly incrementally. Lastly, he saw Obama remaining popular on the left—which is to say, the media. Too easy!

  • Gary in Erko thought Trump would announce a China visit. Yep. Gary thought we’d see another Brexit in, say, Hungary. Didn’t happen, but the wind blew that direction. Putin, he said, would further reduce Iran’s power in Iraq.
    Putin held sway the Mideast, all right. Gary also saw greater action from Israel’s military than happened.
  • Paul Murphy thought Trump on day one would “void most of Obama’s executive orders”. Some, not most. He saw the bill voiding Obamcare
    passing easily. We’ll try not to laugh, Paul. He saw Obama maintaining his authority, which was easy,
    but he said “Palin, Christie, and Rudy will constitute Trump’s political shock troops”. Who are these three people?

    Paul predicted a nuclear accident in Iran. Nope. On a keener note, he bet the House of Saud would fall.
    It didn’t, but there were major quakes. Paul saw the wall. Naw.

  • Michael Randolph thought Trump would be out of office. Not even close. Michael predicted one Trump judge, which happened. He said “Hillary does not get indicted”. Safe bet she’ll escape all but the Final Judgment.

    “Pope Francis officially permits inter-communion with non-Catholics” was Paul’s daring forecast. Didn’t happen, but we came close. He also thought the Pope would make celibacy optional. This and the previous guess may have been early, not wrong. Michael guessed (wishcasted?) we’d see a public formal correction of His Holiness by now.

    Two failed forecasts: a country would leave the EU and the DOW would fall below 15,000. Not even close.

  • Shaun thought Google would buy Twitter. Never reached beyond rumors. He saw Ted Cruz elevated to the Supreme Court. I was hoping Trump would save a slot for me. He said “Stephen Colbert gets cancelled”. Who?

    Shaun foresaw the tax reform, but not its timing. And he went out on a limb to predict “McRib becomes permanent part of McDonalds menu”. Did they? I have no idea.

  • Gary said Queen Elizabeth would be out. She may never leave. He saw the DOW ending the year higher, which happened, and he saw oil higher, which I believe was also so. He finally thought somebody in Hollywood would off themselves.
    Doesn’t that happen all the time?
  • Mike in KC, MO said blogger Mark Shea would flame out. He may or may not have. I confess to not having read him this year. Mike said no war with Russia. Thank God this was right. Like others, he saw another EU exit. But he correctly predicted more Islamic terrorism.

    Mike knew the wall would not be built, and that this would anger some. See Coulter, Ann, for verification. He said the Kansas City Chiefs would have a bad season. They might have. I watched no football this year. Lastly, he predicted Betty White would die. She didn’t.

  • Nate like others said the Wall would begin. Mosul would be liberated, he said, and it was. He too thought the Queen would die. Along with Jimmy Carter. He saw the S&P 500 over 2400, which was so. He forecasted “Oil Prices stubbornly refuse to rise above $70”, which they did not, but why the “stubbornly”? He had the Steelers win the Super bowl (did they?) and the Indians take the World Series (they didn’t).
  • N. Ominous said the UK Supreme Court would rule “Article 50 to initiate Brexit without a vote in parliament.” The opposite occurred.
    He thought Brexit negotiations would finish by year’s end, which appears to have happened, but in politics nothing is ever final.

    Jeremy Corbyn did remain leader of the Labour Party. Ominous said there’d be no breakaway parties formed, which his true, but he like others saw Wilders winning, which he didn’t. He did guess correctly that Le Pen would fail in her presidential bid.

    He said something called Kraftwerk would release an album. Did they? His best prediction was that more scientists would come out of the closet as “climate change” skeptics. Some did, sort of. There has been a softening, thank God.

  • terry colon had the one prediction we all wanted to become true: “Yale will release Boolaboolean algebra based on the truth values of true, false, and fake but accurate”. He must also have been drinking because by the time he reached his eight prediction he said the Tigers would win the Series.
  • Bulldust revealed himself to be a raving Reality lover, bless him.
  • pouncer, perhaps looking too far ahead, saw the implementation of a remittance tax between USA and Mexico. He nailed the nonsense about sea-level rise. And he knew—somehow—that my hometown Detroit would continue to fester. He also correctly foresaw that a potentially destructive “near Earth object” would not be detected until it passed. Look for more of these, I say.

    He thought there’d be no resolution in physics re the EM Drive. I say it’s almost certainly a bust. N. Ominous bit on Pouncer’s claim and jokingly said somebody would invent a “cold fusion powered EmDrive.” Pouncer thought some claims of extra-solar planets would be retracted. This was so in previous years, but I’m sure it happened this one.

    Lastly, he saw some professors would be FOIAed by SJWs. This happened to a friend of mine.

  • I. J. Kennedy knew donations to the Clinton Foundation would decrease. He thought the Feds would lift bans on on-line gambling. Nope. He said Paul Krugman would leave the NYT. Didn’t happen. He foresaw Trump’s SCOTUS pick, but was wrong, but not far wrong, when he said there’s be more Democrat than Republican votes for him. He said Milo would be back on Twitter. He may be, but not under his name.
  • Yawrate thought Hillary would be indicted but that Trump would pardon her. Nope. And she’d have to be convicted before being pardoned. Indicted is only to officially accuse.

And the winner is—drum-roll, please—Kent Clizbe for having the most boldest and accurate guesses.

Kent, you win official recognition of being 2017’s Best Guesser from WMBriggs.com! Simply print out this page, which you may consider an Official Certificate, and bring it with you wherever you go and show it to people. Don’t be shy about this. Impress people with your qualifications. Wow them with your abilities! Boast of your skills!

That’s it until next year, friends. Polish up those crystal balls and enter your guesses for 2018 before the end of next week.

January 1, 2018 | 30 Comments

Register Your Predictions For 2018

As has been our tradition these many years, it’s time to register our predictions for the coming year. We look at how well we did last year later this week. (As early as tomorrow, depending on the Stream schedule.)

Stretch your minds. Remember that forecasts which are not perceived by the “average” man as difficult receive little weight. Saying there will be a murder in Chicago, says this fictional homme moyen sensuel, is like saying the SPLC will identify a new “hate” group. And thus the guess receives little weight in the standings. Say instead that Hillary pleads guilty to a felony, which no man expects, and receive the Grand Prize. If it happens.

Here are my pearly prognostications. What are yours?

1) I was wrong about China coming to blows with a regional neighbor last year, but I repeat the prediction this year. I do not mean war. I mean armed contretemps.

2) Dennis Rodman completes his “transition”, migrates to North Korea, and guides Rocket Man into choosing seven interesting tattoos. The flunkies who follow Kim Jong-un with notebooks emulate their leader. By July, all North Koreans will sport a lower lip piercing and a tattoo of a nuke launching on their left cheek, and a holocaust of Japan on their right. But since the ink comes from China, a pandemic of various skin diseases will ensue.

3) Bill Nye will “come out”. Seriously.

4) Donald Trump will, at the close of the year, still be President.

5) As in the Stream article, I still predict the “Supreme” Court waffles on mandatory cake-baking for sodomitical celebrations. We saw that the evil (not just wrong: evil) folks on the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the killing, crushing $135,000 fine for not baking a cake. Say it slow, and think of your bank account when doing so: one-hundred-and-thirty-give-thousand dollars. For not baking a cake. Repeat it. This is a punishment that fits the “crime”? Can even the appalling Anthony Kennedy be happy with it? Or does he wish it higher?

6) I don’t think DSM-VI will appear in 2018, but given (the not-universally loved) DSM-V contains the politically incorrect diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and given things such as Trump’s incorrect decision not to challenge trannies in the military, some prominent group of psychologists or psychiatrists will announce a man believing himself Napoleon must no longer to be considered a mentally “ill.” Did I say Napoleon? I meant woman.

7) Non-statisticians will continue to love p-values more than statisticians. (Because they are magic.) Even though everybody is free to buy the inestimable Uncertainty and learn the Third Way of probability, AI, machine learning, statistics.

8) Poland leaves the EU, or publicly and loudly begins threatening the process. Hungary announces they will be next.

9) The Islamic city-state, or rather Protectorate, Malmö is formed. I jest, but only just. Sweden will, in some official sense, declare certain areas of its once sovereign territory Islamic. The near-daily bombings and routine mayhem will force this upon them. It would happen in France, too, except France is too big, whereas the livable land in Sweden is small.

10) Pope Francis exits.

Only predictions made over the next two weeks will count. And please, please number them and point to the source (if necessary) that can verify them.

December 31, 2017 | 17 Comments

Happy New Year!

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