The Trouble With Google Defining “Truth”

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With its $385 billion share value, Google, Inc. has bumped ExxonMobil to become America’s No. 2 ranked company in market capitalization.

That may not be a good thing. A February article in New Scientist announced that Google wants to rank websites based on facts, not links; and writer Hal Hodson said, “The internet is stuffed with garbage. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.”

Not surprisingly, the idea of changing page rank from popularity to “truthfulness,” based on a Google-made “knowledge vault,” did not go down well.

Fox News reported: “Google’s plan to rank websites is raising censorship concerns.” Douglass Kennedy opened with: “They say you’re entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. It’s a concept not everyone is comfortable with.”

They’re saying we’re only entitled to Google’s “facts,” which completely short-circuits how slippery “facts” can be and naively equates facts with truth. Ask any lawyer about truth.

Today’s climate wars consist of arguments between highly qualified scientists about facts that some sincerely believe are true, and some sincerely believe are false, each for solid reasons. It should be an honest debate among equals, but it’s degenerated into a power play by alarmists to kill debate to drive favored public policies that are pushed by certain politicians and their social and political base.

Google’s truth plan is not so simple. Facts are statements about existence. Statements about existence can be true or false. Existence itself – your kitchen sink or the climate or whatever – can’t be true or false; it just exists. Say anything you want about existence, and it won’t change a thing. It still just exists. Existence doesn’t give a darn what you think about it. Facts are statements about existence, and statements are always arguable.

But get everyone to believe Google Facts, and you can enforce political policies worth trillions of dollars to climate profiteers – and impose punitive, economy-strangling, job-killing regulations on millions of families.

You can see where this is going.

Imagine: Big Google the Universal Truthsayer. That’s as scary as “Mr. Dark” in Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, only worse. It’s the perfect machine to kill all dissent and wither the Internet into a wasteland of groupthink, susceptible to disinformation campaigns from any power center from the CIA to the rich bosses of Google, Inc. to Google’s political friends and allies.

What about those rich bosses? Google’s two co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, created a corporate foundation in 2005. The Google Foundation has 2013 assets of $72,412,693, gave grants of $7.9 million, and added $29.4 million from corporate profits.

Three of Google’s top-ten recipients are key climate alarmists: the World Wildlife Fund ($5 million); Energy Foundation ($2.6 million); and the rabidly anti-fracking Natural Resources Defense Council ($2.5 million).

NRDC is particularly influential because it also has received $3.01 million in taxpayer-financed Environmental Protection Agency grants since 2009 and has 50 employees on 40 federal advisory committees. NRDC has 33 employees on 21 EPA committees, and more in six other agencies.

The big gun in Google philanthropy is Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, whose Schmidt Family Foundation ($312 million, 2013 assets) is a major armory for groups that attack skeptics of dangerous manmade climate change. The Schmidt Foundation has given $67,147,849 in 295 grants to 180 recipients since it was endowed in 2007.     

Top Schmidt money went to Climate Central ($8.15 million), a group of activist climate scientists bolstered by $1,387,372 in EPA grants made since 2009.

Schmidt also gave $3.25 million to the Energy Foundation, which was almost superfluous since EF is practically the Mother Ship of green grants, with $1,157,046,016 given via 28,705 grants to 11,866 recipients since 1999.

Among the shadier grants in the Schmidt portfolio are anti-fracking, anti-fossil-fuel grants totaling $1.19 million to the Sustainable Markets Foundation, a shell corporation that gives no recorded grants but funnels money to climate and anti-fracking organizations such as Bill McKibben’s 350.org–so that the donors are not traceable.

Schmidt supported the far-left Tides Foundation empire with $975,000 for an anti-consumer film, “The Story of Stuff.” It gave the Sierra Club $500,000 for anti-natural gas activism, the Center for Investigative Reporting $985,000 for an anti-coal film, and so forth. Schmidt’s list goes on for pages.

With all the massive resources of wealth and power alarmists have, we must ask: Why do they give so much to destroy the climate debate and the debaters? What are they afraid of?

Perhaps they have staked so much money and reputation on manmade climate catastrophe claims that they are terrified by the prospect that inconvenient evidence, data, debate. and scientists could destroy their carefully constructed climate house of cards.

Or perhaps it’s what Eric Schmidt said at January’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when he was asked for his prediction on the future of the web. “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear.”

How? The mature technology will be wearable, give us interactive homes and cars, and simply fade into the background – to become something that we all have, that most of us don’t really know (or care) very much about, as long as it can do whatever we want.

That’s the view from the pinnacle of wealth and power. On the ground, the joke is on Google.

Michael Humphrey, Forbes contributor and instructor at Colorado State University, sees younger people abandoning the public forum in favor of one-to-one connectivity. He says they don’t trust the Internet.

Why? Millennials say the Internet is cheapening language, it is stunting curiosity (because answers come so easily), we are never bored so we lose creativity, it steals innocence too quickly, it makes us impulsive with our buying and talking, it is creating narcissists, it creates filter bubbles that limit discovery, it hurts local businesses, it is filled with false evidence, it desensitizes us to tragedy, and it makes us lonely.

They want the real world.

Google that.

Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and coauthor of “Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.”

Photo credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Hollywood Reporter French-Kisses China In Sweet Surrender

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The Hollywood Reporter just gave a big sloppy French kiss to China. When offered an opportunity to expand their readership in the Land of the Dragon, they agreed to the terms of surrender: censorship of stories. The Hollywood Reporter said: No freedom of the press, no problem. And for an undisclosed about of Yuan, they sealed the deal with Chinese online giant Tencent.

Tencent is not as big a brand name in the United States as Fifty Cent, the popular rapper. But make no mistake about it: Tencent can buy and sell a hundred  and Fifty Cents out of their petty cash fund.

As a leader in Chinese social networking and gaming, Tencent gladly paid for the right to license content including articles and videos owned by The Hollywood Reporter. Of course, the final editorial approval lies in the hands of the Red Dragon–but who cares? Think of those millions of active new readers and online junkies on the other side of the world.

Tencent is quickly gobbling up influence in American entertainment circles. Recently, they partnered with Time Warner and Warner Music Group to stream HBO TV shows and more.

As a benchmark, the Hollywood Reporter’s website had about 10 million unique visitors in February of 2014. That’s double the number of 5 million views for Variety Magazine’s website in the same time period.

But with the new Dragon marriage, including more Chinese news-gathering, we can expect those numbers to possibly double before the end of this Year, designated on the Chinese calendar as the Year of the Sheep.

Only time will tell if this merger was sheer genius, or if the bulk of the Hollywood Reporter ‘s stories will get sheered either by Chinese censors or in voluntary surrender–I mean compliance–no, I meant surrender.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Facebook Rejects Ad For ‘I Am A Christian’ Movie

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Facebook rejected an ad by the producers of the film I Am A Christian because the company says it degrades people.

The film is to be about the life of a Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to 100 lashes and death by her government for her refusal to renounce her Christian faith. Ibrahim was pregnant at the time, and her story captured international attention. She gave birth to a baby girl in prison.

The Sudanese high court eventually overturned Ibrahim’s sentence; and she, her husband, and two children took refuge in the U.S. embassy in Sudan. The United States government offered asylum; and after some high-level diplomatic negotiations with the assistance of the Italian government, Ibrahim and her family were allowed to emigrate to the U.S. last summer.

When the producers of the independent film I Am A Christian–slated to star Clueless actor Stacey Dash and Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo–tried to promote a crowdsourcing site for the project on Facebook, they received an opaque message back from the company.

As reported in the Christian Examiner:

In a press statement, Brian Harrington, a spokesman for the movie group, claimed Facebook sent a message which said the ad was not approved “because it doesn’t follow Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines for language that is profane, vulgar, threatening or generates high negative feedback.

“Ads can’t use language that insults, harasses or demeans people, or addresses their age, gender, name, race, physical condition or sexual preference,” the message added, according to Harrington.

He said a subsequent exchange with Facebook evinced a response that said the ad did not conform to Facebook’s “language policies.”

“We’ve found that people dislike ads that directly address them or their personal characteristics such as religion.

“Ads should not single out individuals or degrade people. We don’t accept language like ‘Are you fat?’ ‘Wanna join me?’ and the like. Instead, text must present realistic and accurate information in a neutral or positive way and should not have any direct attribution to people.”

The ad the producers wanted to put on Facebook asks:

“Are you a Christian? We challenge you to change your profile picture to this ‘I Am A Christian’ photo for one week! Change your picture now, and challenge your friends to do the same. Stand up and declare Yes, I Am A Christian!!!”

The photo with the ad also included a website link, www.YesIAmAChristian.com, and a message encouraging viewers to “Join the movement.”

i-am-a-christian

Apparently, asking Facebook users if they are Christian was the offensive message.

Meriam Ibrahim does not support the making of the film I Am A Christian because it is being made without her consent.

h/t: Daily Caller

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Look What One Of The World’s Biggest Schoolbook Publishers Just ‘Banned’ To Avoid Offense

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It could hardly have come at a worse time — the notice from one of the world’s biggest publishers of schoolbooks and teaching materials that its authors should avoid using the word “pigs” and should not write about anything that could be perceived as pork-related…including sausages.

Right in the midst of the Paris-centered celebration and defense of freedom of expression that’s drawn millions to stand up for the liberties that radical Islam would try to destroy, along comes this “guidance” from Oxford University Press.

As reported by London’s Daily Mail, “Schoolbook authors have been told not to write about sausages or pigs for fear of causing offense…among Jews and Muslims.”

Many millions of students and teachers use books from Oxford University Press, which, according to its website, publishes more than 6,000 titles a year worldwide.

“Our range includes dictionaries, English language teaching materials, children’s books, journals, scholarly monographs, printed music, higher education textbooks, and schoolbooks.”

An article in the International Business Times notes that the no-pig, no-pork publishing guidance was disclosed during a BBC radio show on free speech in the wake of the brutal Islamic terrorists’ attack on Charlie Hebdo. One of the show hosts ridiculed the advisory:

Now, if a respectable publisher, tied to an academic institution, is saying you’ve got to write a book in which you cannot mention pigs because some people might be offended, it’s just ludicrous. It is just a joke.

A spokesman for the prestigious Oxford University Press reportedly defended the new guidelines in light of heightened “sensitivities” to cultural differences around the world and the potential for creating an offense.

“Our materials are sold in nearly 200 countries, and as such, and without compromising our commitment in any way, we encourage some authors of educational materials respectfully to consider cultural differences and sensitivities.”

On the BBC radio program, as reported by The Daily Mail, Tory MP Phillip Davies lambasted the publisher’s “nonsensical” no-pig guidelines, especially in textbooks and academic works where freedom of expression should be at its fullest display.

On the one hand you have politicians and the great and the good falling over each other to say how much they believe in freedom of speech and on the other hand they are presiding over people being unable to use and write words that are completely inoffensive.

We have got to get a grip on this nonsensical political correctness.

h/t: International Business Times

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Mark Steyn: Media Retreating Further Into Self-Censorship

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Conservative political commentator Mark Steyn was a guest on Fox News Channel’s The Kelly File, where he blasted the lack of so-called solidarity with the dead journalists of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo following the brutal terrorist attack on Wednesday.

I see all these teary candlelit  vigils and everyone suddenly claiming to be for freedom of speech.  I think a consequence of this is a lot of people will retreat even further into self-censorship.

Steyn had some choice words for the New York Daily News for blurring the Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Muhammad.

The New York Daily News won’t even show – dishonors the dead in Paris – by not even showing properly the cartoons. They pixelated Muhammad out of it so it looks like Muhammad is in the Witness Protection Program but they left the hook-nose Jew in. And that exactly gets to the double standard here. You can say anything you like about Christianity. You can say anything you like about Judaism. But these guys, everyone understands the message, that if you say something about Islam these guys will kill you. And we will be retreating into a lot more self-censorship if the “pansy-ified” western media doesn’t man up and decide to disperse the risks. So they can’t just kill one little, small French satirical magazine, they gotta kill all of us.

Steyn had contempt for President Obama’s United Nations speech after the Benghazi attack in 2012 when he said that “The future shall not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

He talked the talk. These savage murdering fanatics in Paris today walked the walk.  So words matter.

h/t: The Right Scoop

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom