I recently signed up for muckrock.com which makes it ridiculously easy to submit freedom of information requests (FOIA). As Andrew Breitbart had recently passed away I figured I would check to see if the FBI had any files on him. They claim they don’t. I’ll let you decide whether or not they are full of shit.
Yesterday left leaning blogger Nate Silver issued a bet to global warming climate change skeptics in response to John Hinderaker’s post about the unseasonably cool summer much of the country is experiencing. Silver states:
Therefore, because I’d like to see more accountability on all sides of this debate and because I’m tired of people who don’t understand statistics and because I’d like to make some money, I issue the following challenge.
Hello? Illegal gambling? Silver is undaunted:
For each day that the high temperature in your hometown is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit above average, as listed by Weather Underground, you owe me $25. For each day that it is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit below average, I owe you $25.
So on one hand Silver is upset because climate skeptics (according to him) don’t understand statistics and the concept of anecdotal evidence – and then proceeds to make a bet over short term temperatures – the exact anecdotal evidence he is railing about. Regardless of the outcome you can be sure of one thing: This bet will not dissuade true believers, who will brush it off as anecdotal evidence if they lose and claim an urgent need to act if they win. You can not bet against a group of people who move the goalposts (global warming->climate change) when data doesn’t conform to their belief system. As a result you would have to be an idiot to bet Nate Silver.
UPDATE – Its worth mentioning that the average temperature over the date range Silver provided (June 21-July 18) is 70.5 ° F while historically it is 71.96 ° F according to data from weather.com.
Tonight I read Rusty Schackleford’s post in which he seemingly caught a PR firm connected to the Obama campaign astroturfing for Obama by posting and spreading inaccurate videos about Sarah Palin on Youtube. While this may not seem like anything new for people who have been using the major social media outlets, the question of who financed the videos that all strangely use the same voice over voice as recent Obama videos creates some campaign finance law issues.
Being a former digg “frequent submitter” I know of hundreds of now popular websites that employed this same technique to increase eyeballs and ultimately ad revenue with success. I have even called out Ron Paul supporters who took the technique to the next level. I had never heard of astroturfing, as I don’t run in political circles but according to Shackleford it is nothing Digg users should be unfamiliar with:
David Axelrod is also known as The master of “Astroturfing”, which is what PR industry insiders call the practice of “manufacturing grassroots support.”
Now being thoroughly familiar with the manipulations of Digg by political entities I ran a simple search for sarah palin on digg and lo and behold I came across plenty of sock puppet accounts that hit Digg’s equivalent of hitting Powerball – 1 story submitted, 1 story promoted to the front page.
http://digg.com/users/linocut – joined Sep 10 2008
http://digg.com/users/stevenrl – joined Sep 9 08
http://digg.com/users/manucpa – joined Sep 7 2008
http://digg.com/users/Bri345 – joined Aug 31st 2008 (From Wasilla Alaska no less!)
What do you want to bet these accounts only ‘digg’ dirt on McCain/Palin?
You see astroturfing has been going on at Digg.com since day one. Most stories are promoted to the front page through a very active digg community subset that is constantly harassing me on IM to digg their stories. Everyone knows it has been going on at Digg, Republicans have just been too slow and stupid to catch on.