Panic in Denierville: Google May Start Ranking for FACTS!

March 7, 2015

Facts are stubborn things. Truth is a slippery slope.

Popular Science:

Just because Google tells you something, though, doesn’t mean it’s true. A team of Google researchers has devised a “Knowledge-based Trust” algorithm that attempts to rank websites based on their factual accuracy, rather than their popularity. In order to do that, however, it needs to be able to figure out what’s factual and what isn’t.

Google’s Knowledge Vault tries to find information that falls into a pattern of what Google calls “triples,” which are made up of three factors: a subject that’s a real-world entity, a predicate that describe some attribute of that entity, and an object that is the value of the attribute. For example, that President Obama (subject) is the president (predicate) of the United States (object).

The Knowledge Vault contains billions of those triples from across the web. And the Knowledge-based Trust algorithm uses a complicated multi-layer approach to weigh whether or not particular facts are true.

If the system works as well as hoped, Google might be able to rank sites based on just how factual they are, which is good for everything from fact-checking politicians to writing that research paper.

Was Obama born in Kenya? How do I know, I’m not a geographer!

Fox News:

The Google researchers give, as an example, websites that say President Obama was born in Kenya; such sites would be penalized in Google rankings, whereas sites that correctly say he was born in the U.S. would get a boost in rankings.

That fact is not controversial, but critics worry that this is a first step towards Google playing God and effectively censoring content it does not like. They fear that skeptics of things like climate change or more immigration (both subjects that Google founders have expressed strong feelings about) might find their websites buried if this ranking system were adopted.

“I worry about this issue greatly… My site gets a significant portion of its daily traffic from Google,” Anthony Watts, who runs Watts Up With That, a popular blog that is skeptical of global warming claims, told

“It is a very slippery and dangerous slope because there’s no arguing with a machine,” he added.

31 Responses to “Panic in Denierville: Google May Start Ranking for FACTS!”

  1. redskylite Says:

    My first thought was that it could be open to abuse, until I got lost in the accompanying white paper, looks very scientific and a great idea. Fox news quoting Anthony Watts ?, are they masonic comrades, sharing a secret handshake I wonder, WUWT came up on my second page in a google search for climate change sites, behind NASA, Skeptical Science and RealClimate, but ridiculously ahead of NOAA.

    What amazes me is that google began as a research project recently in 1996 and was founded as a concern in 1998. How quickly the industry has grown, I’ve tried other engines such as bing, but they seem very lame in comparison.

    How quickly the world has changed in these past few decades, I read of a blogger (Avijit Roy) who was recently hacked to death in Bangladesh, and another (Raif Badawi) who was sentenced to an unimaginable dose of flogging (and now faces the death penalty) in Saudi Arabia. So google searches are extremely critical in today’s online dominated society.

    I just hope that mankind can respond and take advantage of alternative energy developments in the remaining few decades before we let loose dangerous climate change on our children.

  2. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Suppression of the truth is censorship.
    Obfuscation of the truth is tantamount to the same.
    The suppression of lies, falsehoods and misinformation is a service to Humanity.

    No wonder Mr Macaroon and the Nasty Whatnot aren’t happy.
    They are dedicated to the desecration of knowledge inconvenient to profit.

  3. anotheralionel Says:

    “I know you are too stupid to understand this.”

    Yes we are all too stupid to understand your pots most of the time. But then Newton, Dalton, Darwin, Davy, and Feynman will also be too stupid to be able to understand your posts even by being dead and thus having the edge on we having only earthly powers.

    • omnologos Says:

      They’re dead, you’re brain dead. What happens if in 2020 Google is bought by someone with a different definition of truth?

      It’s funny that this issue can be traced back to Socrates 25 centuries ago,and yet there are those too stupid or naive to even grasp it.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Socrates? To paraphrase an American politician’s famous words, “I knew Socrates, and you’re no Socrates!”

        Actually, looking at your pic on your website, you remind me more of Mr, Potato Head, which is also a reference to the guy who was NOT Socrates and had potatoes for brains. But that’s American History 101, so you likely have NO idea what I’m talking about, mainly because YOU are the one that is brain dead here.

        • omnologos Says:

          Actually I compared the issue at hand not to my website but to Socrates’ thoughts -or to be precise, to Plato’s recounting of them. But I like your attitude. 8)

  4. I have a very simple reply to Watts. If you want your site to show up, stop peddling lies.

  5. MorinMoss Says:

    “We are the voice of the scientists”??
    So they never learned to speak?
    Or how to write a blog, something so easy that kids & grandmothers do it?

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