Archive for June, 2012

Calumny as a Measure of Validity

calumny [ˈkæləmnɪ]
n
 pl -nies

1. the malicious utterance of false charges or misrepresentation; slander; defamation
2.
 such a false charge or misrepresentation
[from Latin calumnia deception, slander]

Like Talk Radio, one of the purposes of Opinion pieces is to stimulate discussion or more often to incite responses. The freedom to add or connect information which may not have sufficient evidence to warrant “hard” news coverage is a key value found in opinion columns.
When the author must sort to name calling,  distortion or incomplete facts to make a point, one must question whether there is any factual basis for the comment.  Since fact checking is a long process, a quick method of judging the validity of a comment and a commenter is the use of calumny, vitriol, epithets or slander.
A recent Washington Post editorial demonstrates this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/asylum-for-julian-assange/2012/06/20/gJQAZpuJrV_story.html). The editor recommends that all (presumably legal) means be used to punish both Julian Assange and anyone who attempts to help him.  To justify this position, however, the author uses calumny including the following:

small-time  autocrat
smell a political opportunity
chief Yanqui-baiter, friend-to-rogues
sycophantic interview
state propaganda outlet
wallow in anti-American slanders and paranoia
hacker, fantasy

Whether an author is “an entertainer”, ignorant of the facts or simply wants to persuade the audience to their way of thinking contrary to the facts, calumny quickly separates those who rely on fact versus truthiness.

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The Hype Cloud Hype

Reading new business advice sites such as the excellent FastCompany, I’m struck by how much attention is placed on techniques to improve appearance and obtain exposure.  I’ve seen this for years in the venture community where emphasis is placed on differention over product value to the customer.

Every product and service today has an enormous number of competitors, each of which must either grow or die.  Luckily for them, our media culture has trained consumers to pay attention to the branding message rather than to the quality of the end product.  Branding science continues to produce new “shiny objects” to grab out attention.  Low costs allow us to sustain a disposable product culture and continue the cycle of consumerism.

While this consumer cycle has been the source of developing sustainable economies around the world, it is leading consumers to ignore the true value of not only products, but also of policies and leaders.  Children are asked “which one do you like?”, not “which one is the best?”.  Over the years, the absence of anyone teaching the judging of quality and discerning of facts from claims, leads to a populous ignorant of the difference.

The value of facts doesn’t depend upon being “shiny” or “loud” or optimized for google.  Facts are value.

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