Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Government Politics

Software Spots Spin In Political Speeches 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the liars-and-filthy-liars dept.
T.S. Ackerman writes "According to an article in NewScientist Tech, there is now software that can identify the amount of spin in a politician or candidate's speech. From the article, 'Blink and you would have missed it. The expression of disgust on former US president Bill Clinton's face during his speech to the Democratic National Convention as he says "Obama" lasts for just a fraction of a second. But to Paul Ekman it was glaringly obvious. "Given that he probably feels jilted that his wife Hillary didn't get the nomination, I would have to say that the entire speech was actually given very gracefully," says Ekman, who has studied people's facial expressions and how they relate to what they are thinking for over 40 years.' The article goes on to analyze the amount of spin in each of the candidates running for president, and the results are that Obama spins the most."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Software Spots Spin In Political Speeches

Comments Filter:
  • Maybe (Score:2, Funny)

    by antifoidulus (807088)
    he was just ripping some ass as the speech started, you know, to take the edge off.
    • says Ekman, who has studied people's facial expressions and how they relate to what they are thinking for over 40 years

      I wonder what he would make of this. [ytmnd.com]

  • Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:03AM (#25052881) Homepage

    Perhaps I missed it, so could someone kindly point out where the New "Scientist" article quantified "spin"? Thanks in advance.

    • Re:Subject (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:27AM (#25053069) Homepage

      It's defined in the customary way -- As anything which runs contrary to the listener's political views, or is said by someone whom they personally dislike.

      The way the article describes it, this is just an algorithm which counts how closely the speaker's diction and delivery match those used by McCain and assigns a value for the McCaininess of the speech. Calling it "spin" is, well, an interesting spin.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by flitty (981864)
        Pardon me if i'm speculating here, but Isn't this similar to saying that "people whose handwriting includes closed 'e' Loops and small 'o's means they are shy. A facial expression does not always mean what you think it means.
        IF we were going only off facial expressions, John McCain's Smile in the middle of speeches means he's Spinning faster than a proton in the Hadron Collider.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          Actually I think this has all been solved with the definitive answer many years ago...

          Know how to tell if a politician is lying?

          He has his mouth open....

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by geminidomino (614729) *

            Actually I think this has all been solved with the definitive answer many years ago...

            Know how to tell if a politician is lying?

            He has his mouth open....

            That's not true at all. There is nothing more true to the soul of a politician than an act that requires an open mouth.

            Of course, when the corporate overlord zips up and our beloved senator wipes his mouth, it's back to business as usual.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            Know how to tell if a politician is lying?

            On Monday, I was watching CNN while eating my lunch, and there was video of John McCain talking about the economy.

            In the lower right hand corner, there was a little graphic showing real-time DOW and Nasdaq numbers. As McCain was saying that the "fundamentals are strong", the Dow was dropping by about 2 points per second. There was a big red arrow pointing down. It seemed to be providing a live evaluation of the senator's remarks.

            To be fair, though, Senator McCain

      • Re:Subject (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jpate (1356395) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:57AM (#25053365) Homepage
        The algorithm does seem to consist primarily of a bunch of intuitions that David Skillicorn (http://skillicorn.wordpress.com/) has had about what textual attributes correlate with spin. The fact that statistical counts over the speeches gave different results for different politicians/speech writers is not surprising: such counts are specific to individual authors and can be used, for example, to identify authorship in the Federalist Papers (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.9.7388). I'm very skeptical that Skillicorn has shown that these politicians are more or less prone to spin; more likely he's verified that they (and their speech writers) are, in fact, distinct people.
        • Re:Subject (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@pota . t o> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:09AM (#25056409)

          The algorithm does seem to consist primarily of a bunch of intuitions that David Skillicorn has had about what textual attributes correlate with spin.

          And I'll note here that Skillicorn is a computer scientist, not a cognitive scientist. If we're just talking about his intuitions, then I'm not seeing why I should trust his over anybody else's.

          He seems to hang a lot on Obama's use of "we" instead of "I". It seems to me that heavy use of "we" is exactly how community organizers would talk. Not because they're spinning, but because they're trained to generate collective action.

          And heck, that's what I like about him. After 9/11, a great national tragedy, I wanted to serve, to help, but George Bush told me to go shopping. It was a bit of a letdown. This election, I'm really excited that both McCain and Obama truly believe in public service. But I think Obama's much better at getting people to actually do it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by NeoSkandranon (515696)

            He seems to hang a lot on Obama's use of "we" instead of "I". It seems to me that heavy use of "we" is exactly how community organizers would talk. Not because they're spinning, but because they're trained to generate collective action.

            It's interesting you think of it like that. I tend to associate heavy use of "we" with corporate speak, where rather than generate collective action, the speaker is attempting to impress collective responsibility for some action.

      • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @09:36AM (#25054833) Homepage

        The catch with the analysis of spin is of course, cultural differences, in language usage and expressions. In addition a good speech writer and of course speech presenter are required to alter their language and presentation to suit different audiences. Language and expressions and well as the content of the message needs to be different for, blue collars workers than to a group of students and educators or a broad community group, whilst the intent might be be same, the content will vary for each group and the focus of the presentation will shift to those areas each group has greater interest in.

        Now as to the interpretation of the level of spin, the baseline will be shifted to align with the professor cultural baseline, his choice of language and expressions as well as his political alignment, not necessarily consciously but it is inevitable that it will occur subconsciously.

        The is only one way to detect and clear away spin, record the speech and fact check it for lies and when lies / spin is discovered publish it all over the internet. Attempting it any other way just doesn't make any real sense, especially without knowing any of the speech writers and their cultural biases.

      • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

        by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:48AM (#25056065)

        It's defined in the customary way -- As anything which runs contrary to the listener's political views, or is said by someone whom they personally dislike.

        That's possible. And if we're cynical, we might even say it's probable.

        But it's entirely possible that a very objective criteria was used based on known psychological information. Psychologists and others are very good at learning quite a few things about people by things that most of us don't know--at least not consciously... body language, speech inflections, eye contact, handwriting, etc.

        I'm not at all an expert in this field but unless you have evidence that the algorithm was truly biased and based on the way McCain talks, I think it would behoove you to consider the possibility that just maybe the algorithm picked up on something about Obama that you hadn't picked up on yourself. At least consider the possibility before smearing the article/algorithm/etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aldousd666 (640240)
        Facial Micro expression analysis is a science that long predate this years political campaign, and indeed predate the Bush administration. If you don't believe me, ask your friendly neighborhood spy hunter about it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microexpression) I work with the intelligence community, and believe you me, it's a BIG deal, and it's not poppycock.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      "Spin" is just euphemism for 'lying' and/or 'exaggeration'. As someone who was once an avid poker player, I can tell you that everyone has little 'tells'. See the movie "Maverick" for information about tells. Even the best of the best bullshitters have tells. Another of Bill Clinton's tells is that he bites his lower lip when he's about to lie.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by thedonger (1317951)

        Spin isn't lying so much as it is making something look good for you whether or not they really are. Good spin doesn't lie.

        Example: Katrina was a disaster. Someone wanting to blame FEMA spins the story so FEMA is the bad guy. Someone else can tell the same story (same facts) and make the mayor of N.O. the bad guy. No one is lying so much as they are carefully ignoring certain facts and emphasizing others.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Lying by omission is still lying.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Leebert (1694)

          No one is lying so much as they are carefully ignoring certain facts and emphasizing others.

          A definition I was once given by my high school principal (and one that I myself now tell young people) is: "A lie is the intent to deceive."

          When you frame it that way...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dubl-u (51156) *

          It depends on whether you define a lie as a) a deliberately false set of words or b) a communication intended to deceive or give a wrong impression.

          Both definitions are in the dictionary. Those who like to deceive favor the first definition, as they can deceive without getting called out for it. Those who have a commitment to clear understanding favor the second.

          Using that second definition, which is the one I favor, spinning is just a fancy form of lying, in that deception and manipulation are still the go

      • If that's the case, I don't recall seeing either candidate utter a statement that *wasn't* a lie, misrepresentation, or extreme exaggeration. Softer that could hunt for and identify words or phrases that *weren't* spin might be more useful, statistically speaking.

    • Well, there's up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange.

      Glad to be of assistance. No need to thank me.

      For those who don't get it:Quark [wikipedia.org]
      • by Minwee (522556)

        Countdown until someone links last weeks xkcd, just in case someone here managed to miss it...

        Three

        Two

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      FTA:

      when a person "presents themselves or their content in a way that does not necessarily reflect what they know to be true".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Asic Eng (193332)
      They do wordcounts. Seriously:

      The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - "I" tends to indicate less spin than "we", for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin. Skillicorn had his software tackle a

  • Surely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:04AM (#25052883)

    there are more important things to talk about in this race - economy, Iraq, education, health, science policy, Saturday Night Live.

    Why focus on this pseudoscience?

    • Because its new scientist Thursday, as a teenager i used to read new scientist but as i went to university whenever they covered something i knew, i realized how ridiculous the articles were. newscientist should be treated like wikipedia, if an article is interesting link to a more indepth review on the topic elsewhere (preferably with less bs)

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:07AM (#25052913)

    I could write the logic myself

    if( politician.isAlive() && mouth.isOpen() )
    {
    isSpinning = true;
    return isSpinning;
    }

    • Never heard the term "Spinning in his Grave".
      I bet we could harness the power of every dead idealist by hooking them up to generators and solve all the worlds problems... But once that happens the spinning stop and we loose the power and the world fall in chaos, thus it starts spinning again.... I guess we just cant have a perfect world.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:09AM (#25052925)

    From reading the article, it appears that by spin, they mean "adhering to the rules your old English teacher laid down for rhetorical arguments." For example, don't qualify statements, since it waters down your argument needlessly. Don't use "I"; it makes it sound like you're the only one who holds your opinion, so use "we" when needed to help draw others in.

    What this doesn't seem to do is provide any insight into how much the person in question shades the truth. Telling a bald-faced lie plainly won't set it off; wrapping up the truth in an eloquent package will.

    • by catfood (40112) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:29AM (#25053107) Homepage

      I'm repeating something that also happens to be in some of the comments on TFA, but: Since when does use of "we" instead of "I" indicate spin or deception? If that's your standard, the guy who thinks in terms of a movement, who sees the country as a grand collaboration, is always going to come out as dishonest. And the guy who talks about rugged individualism is going to look like a straight shooter, even if his statements on policy are self-contradicting nonsense.

      How is "Yes we can!" so much worse than "I won't raise your taxes"?

      • by b96miata (620163) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:53AM (#25053337)

        because the "movement" won't be in office. The politician will.

        "Yes we can" is a crap soundbite that sways people who listen to crap soundbites, and it also has the advantage of allowing every (potential) voter to fill in their own definition of what "we" can do, while sticking the polit. with zero accountability.

        "I won't raise your taxes", or "I won't attempt to further restrict the right to bear arms" would be widely regarded as a campaign promise, and would be damaging if broken.

        If you say nothing of substance, it's harder to be accused of lying.

        This doesn't necessarily mean any use of "we" is bad, but your chosen examples are vastly different statements.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dpilot (134227)

          > because the "movement" won't be in office. The politician will.

          Not quite. The politician brings the "movement" into office with him.

          Example:
          John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Alberto Gonzales, etc, etc. (I don't lump Dick Cheney in because he was on the ticket and was "elected", and I don't lump Colin Powell because I don't think he was really part of the "movement".)

          No President does the job alone - (since Carter tried and failed) this is a team effort. Perhaps one of

      • Saying "we" instead of "I" is a way of distancing yourself from what you are saying. I was a part of a. . .uh. . support group where I was encouraged to try to use words such as "I" or "my" when speaking rather than "we" or "our". That meant talking openly and plainly about my personal toughs and experiences rather than speaking generally and vaguely about ideas and concepts.

        • by catfood (40112)

          ...unless your whole point is to talk about those ideas and concepts.

          A political speech is not (supposed to be) a twelve-step meeting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Pichu0102 (916292)

        If that's your standard, the guy who thinks in terms of a movement, who sees the country as a grand collaboration, is always going to come out as dishonest. And the guy who talks about rugged individualism is going to look like a straight shooter, even if his statements on policy are self-contradicting nonsense.

        That's communist thinking there citizen.

      • Skillicorn's blog (Score:5, Informative)

        by semiotec (948062) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @09:01AM (#25054191)

        http://skillicorn.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

        check out this entry:
        http://skillicorn.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/comparing-the-democratic-and-republican-convention-spin/ [wordpress.com]

        As usual, high spin is indicated by the red end of the line. Here are the spin scores for all of the speeches analyzed (positive numbers are high spin):

        1. Bush 0.40
        2. Thompson 1.71
        3. Lieberman -0.73
        4. Romney 4.36
        5. Huckabee -1.8
        6. Giuliani 2.97
        7. Palin -0.62
        8. McCain -7.38
        9. M. Obama -1.24
        10. Hillary Clinton 2.43
        11. Bill Clinton 0.99
        12. Biden -1.35
        13. Obama 0.31

        seems like a bit of discrepancy with what's reported in the article.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by omar.sahal (687649)
      Having had Tony Blair as our prime minister for 10 years I feel that I am now an authority on spin. It is essentially another word for BULL SHIT. It involves an individual talking without semantically meaning anything*. Specially chosen words are used that have resonance with individuals, thus allowing the listener to feel they empathize with the speaker.
      • * Please note this gives advantage to the bullshitter in that he or she is not held by anything that they have said
    • by Shotgun (30919)

      However, they do state:

      It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin.

      The statement is not supported, but it would have us believe that some previous studies indicated a correlation between spin and qualificating/clarifinating.

      (put the emphasis on the second syllable, and those last two almost sound like real words)

  • Obama spinning? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:13AM (#25052957) Homepage Journal

    Even though I'm a Republican, I have to concede that Obama is one of the most gifted speakers to come along for quite some time. He's an absolutely magnetic speaker and a great advocate for that which he believes, and when I watch him, I almost have to smack myself to snap out of it. I can't stand the guy's politics, but I am proud that he's an American.

    • Alan Keyes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CustomDesigned (250089) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:30AM (#25053117) Homepage Journal

      At the other end of the political spectrum, I think Alan Keyes is at least in the same league at Obama as a gifted speaker.

      • by tjstork (137384)

        At the other end of the political spectrum, I think Alan Keyes is at least in the same league at Obama as a gifted

        See, I don't really like Keyes that much because he's too religious right for me. I'm more libertarian neo-con right wing. Republicans though, as a rule, are terrible public speakers and we really haven't had a good one since Reagan. I mean, look at the national buzz in our party over Palin. She gave a speech that didn't sound horrible and now she's a conservative rock star.

        • Actually, I always thought he was a terrible speaker. He's living proof that, in America, regardless of one's race, class, or upbringing, you too can aspire to sound like Elmer Fudd on national television.

          And the man has no political sense whatsoever. When he opposed Obama in the last Illinois Senate race (he was drafted at the last minute) he called staunch GOP ally Mary Cheney a "shameless hedonist" for being lesbian. ( Good move, Alan: alienate both sides of the debate at the same time. Schmuck.)

          • Yeah, also there's the fact that he was running for the Senate, despite advocating for appointment of senators by state legislatures (which presumably means he's advocating the repeal of the 17th amendment).

      • I don't think Keyes is that great a public speaker, but I can't decide if it's cause he's objectively not that great, or if it's the fact that some of the shit he says comes of as totally insane/dishonest and it predisposes me against him.

    • by Foolicious (895952) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:32AM (#25053135)

      and when I watch him, I almost have to smack myself to snap out of it

      I think this says more about you than Obama.

    • Re:Obama spinning? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by db32 (862117) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:34AM (#25053159) Journal
      It was like a million conservatives cried out and then were suddenly silenced.

      You do realize how many neocon types just had their heads implode due to your statement there right? I mean, I generally consider myself conservative (in the old sense, when it mean fiscal and political conservative and social liberal because a real conservative doesn't want the government mucking in the personal affairs of people.). I most certainly do not consider myself a Republican. The modern Republicans have fucked our nation up possibly beyond repair with their rhetoric and god aweful policy. They have the balls to claim Democrats will spend more when they currently hold the record for spending!
      • by tjstork (137384)

        They have the balls to claim Democrats will spend more when they currently hold the record for spending!

        No argument there. Bush has just been a fiscal disaster. I think the lesson is, never elect a president from Texas again. Honestly, if Hillary had won the nomination, I might have crossed party lines to vote for her because of her husband's economics. I really, really like the way Clinton did the budget. He said he was going to balance the budget and -did-.

        Now, I should point out that if Bush had vot

      • "they currently hold the record for spending!"

        I have news for you. The next administration will hold the new record on spending, and the next after that, and the next after that and so on and so fourth for the next forty years or so. The problem is Social Security, which pushed our budget over $3 trillion this year and continue to push it up as more people retire. You can blame Bush for not cutting other programs, but we would've probably still passed the $3 trillion mark no matter what he did.

        In all fai

    • Re:Obama spinning? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by torstenvl (769732) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:47AM (#25053267)

      What policies do you disagree with?
      - NOT firing our best Arab linguists when we're at war in the Middle East?
      - Providing mandatory healthcare to children?
      - Making healthcare affordable but optional for adults?
      - Reforming the tax code so it doesn't take a graduate degree to know how much your bill should be?
      - Investing in science and research so China doesn't kick our asses so handily in the next decade as they have in the past decade?
      - Increasing funding for charter schools so that even poor people can have school choice?
      - Moving race-based affirmative action toward a more socioeconomic-based affirmative action, so that his daughters are judged more fairly compared to a rural white boy with an underfunded school?
      - Ending an immoral war by setting concrete timelines, but recognizing that they may have to be modified depending on the conditions on the ground?
      - Reducing the incidence and unfairness of the death penalty, while understanding that certain heinous crimes deserve the full outrage of the nation?
      - Better sex education, so that there are fewer unexpected pregnancies, and so that when there are unexpected pregnancies, the women know there are options BESIDES abortion?

      Exactly what policy do you object to?

      I can't think of a single reason to support McCain's platform unless a) you make over $250,000/year; AND b) you're of the mind that you should keep all of it, no matter the cost to your community and country.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 (710161)

        Well, since I want to reduce the role of government (especially the federal government) I would say that I'm opposed to most of the points you've listed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MobyDisk (75490)

          Most of the items in his list would not increase government. You sound like you just blindly used a a Republican talking point to discount someone.

          (I am a registered Republican, and it annoys me to hear people use this line meaninglessly)

          Specifically, one of the items in that list would reduce the government more than any of the others would add, if combined. Hint, it involves another country...

        • Re:Obama spinning? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by torstenvl (769732) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @09:16AM (#25054473)

          Then you're just, quite simply, un-American. It is the purpose of the Federal government to "promote the general welfare." It is our duty as citizens to protect each other from outside threats, and our duty as humans not to let the poor among us die in the streets.

          The Republican party likes to talk about the Bible and responsibility. What happened to "love thy neighbor," and how is monetary greed anything but the shirking of responsibility?

          There's only one man in the Bible to complain about the expectation that he was his brother's keeper. He seems like a pretty good metaphor for the Republican Party.

          • Re:Obama spinning? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:49AM (#25056081) Homepage

            It is the purpose of the Federal government to "promote the general welfare."

            Yes, in specific ways, all of which are enumerated in the Constitution. Many of the items on the GGP's list are not Constitutional.

            The following are internal government affairs or enumerated powers, and perfectly Constitutional:

            • not firing linguists
            • ending an immoral war
            • reforming the tax code

            The following are not within the purview of the federal government:

            • healthcare
            • investing in science and research
            • funding for charter schools
            • affirmative action
            • education (including sex education)

            The last point, "reducing the incidence and unfairness of the death penalty," is too broadly worded to properly categorize. For the most part specific criminal penalties, including the death penalty, fall under state jurisdiction.

            It is our duty as citizens to protect each other from outside threats, and our duty as humans not to let the poor among us die in the streets.

            I have no problem with that, but what does it have to do with the federal government? It seems to me that, rather than defining and carrying out your own duty, you only wish to coerce others into performing what you unilaterally declare to be their duty toward you, or in support of your goals. Government is not a legitimate tool with which to enforce your personal views onto others--no matter how popular those views might be.

            There's only one man in the Bible to complain about the expectation that he was his brother's keeper.

            Yes, but Cain's sins were jealousy and murder, not indifference. There is nothing to suggest that Cain was ever expected to act as his brother's keeper; his non sequitur response was merely a futile attempt to avoid the question.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        All of them.

        Helathcare for children? fuck em.
        Fireing the arab translartors? HELLO THEY"RE ISLAMIC!!!!

        ending the way helps the terrorists.
        ending affirmative action helps the terrorists
        afforable healthcare helps the terrorists
        making the death penalty fair helps the terrorists
        better sex education helps the terrorists.

        shall i continue? I'm just a poor american, I make $350,000 a year and barely can afford my 6800 sq foot small home and by 3 new escalades. I had to buy a USED hummer H2.. the neighbors look

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Terwin (412356)

        Even if I personally don't make over 250K/year, my employer does, and that means that I will be paying these higher taxes too.
        Either I will need to do the work of people that they cannot afford to hire, or they will not be able to give me the wage that they otherwise could.

        Think about it, how many companies that provide reasonable jobs can exist with revenue of less than 250K?

        Also, can you name a single company (that is not in the process of going out of business) on any of the major stock exchanges that ma

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sheph (955019)
      I'm a conservative (I don't know if that's really the same thing as republican anymore). I'd say he's a good speaker as long as he's got a script to practice and go off of. I've seen a few instances where he's been caught off guard, and had to actually think. Whole lotta umming and uhhing going on there. Not to mention when he says things he'd like to take back (think pigs and lipstick). The best thing he's got going for him is that the media loves him and handles him with kidd gloves. If you take tha
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arotenbe (1203922)

        I've seen a few instances where he's been caught off guard, and had to actually think. Whole lotta umming and uhhing going on there.

        Here's a question for you: which is better, a candidate who thinks about what he says before speaking, or one who can answer every question immediately?

        Think about that one for a moment.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rho (6063)

          If he's actually thinking, then great. Unfortunately it's a lot more likely that he's trying to come up with a way to straddle the fence.

          Somebody who is well versed in all arguments against a position can produce a counter-argument instantly. That doesn't make him right or wrong, but it doesn't make him worse than the guy who has to invent a position in an instant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by thedonger (1317951)
      Have you heard him give a one-on-one interview? He uses more verbal pauses (uh, um, etc.) than anyone I have ever heard. Granted, he is excellent when working a crowd, and the tone of his voice is catchy.
      • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

        I love the verbal pauses, he's the one candidate I've seen who doesn't make me feel like a bumbling moron for doing it myself. He does it all the time, but he recovers for it so well.

        He's more of a Joe Anybody than Kerry could have ever been, he makes mistakes and he doesn't look like an incompetent tit for making them.

      • by halivar (535827)

        I don't watch TV, but I read everything, so all my exposure to Obama was by reading transcripts his speeches. From what I said, I agreed that everyone was right, and he was a gifted speaker.

        Then I saw him speak on a YouTube video and various other sources since then. He simply is not a public speaker. Period. His frequent verbal commas ("umm", "uhh") and nervous ticks would not be acceptable in a college Speech 101 class. I simply don't get where everyone thinks he's so charismatic.

  • A bit strange. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:13AM (#25052967)

    Am I the only one that finds it a bit strange that the Presidential Candidates are on the opposing ends of that
    "spin" graph? [newscientist.com]

    It kinda gives a bit pseudoscience with political motivations feel to it.

  • by nawcom (941663) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:16AM (#25052981) Homepage
    After reading the description of TFA, this idea of Obama responding to the article claiming he has the spin, old-school Fresh Prince style with an aged DJ Jazzy Jeff scratching in the background.

    I'm all about change, yo, that's why I'm gonna win,

    It ain't nothin' to do with no political speee-in!

    *Scritch-scratch, scritch-scritch-scritch-scra-scatch scritchity-scratch, scritchity-scratch, scritchity-scratch, scritch-scritch, scritch-scra-atch*

    Yes, I'm most likely voting Democrat.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:17AM (#25052989) Journal
    I've always been impressed by Obama's ability to give a speech, and not actually say anything.

    It makes him very popular. It's all vaguely positive. There's very little for anyone to actually disagree with.
  • Blink and you would have missed it.

    Which is why we can't blink in anything we do. Never blink!
  • ...software that can identify the amount of spin in a politician or candidate's speech.

    The software is called O'Reilly 1.0, but it's full of bugs and hasn't been updated in years.

  • by unity100 (970058)
    the software basically discerns who is a good liar, and who is not ? the fact that mccain and palin believes their own lies and delusions and doesnt twitch while spurting their shit, doesnt make them better people.

    if, obama stutters the most, while talking about good qualities of mccain, and this is noticeable, that tells me that this person is not a good liar.

    you need 2 things to be a good liar :

    a) Be a totally filthy bastard who can totally negate the instinct of honesty
    b) Be a mind numbed zeal
  • I'm still not at all clear on what this "spin" is. Is it using large words, or fully enunciating each syllable, or speaking in complete sentences? Or some combination of all three?

    Please, someone explain it to me. I do not wish to be perceived as elitist.

  • So this blatantly partisan throw away line, has anyone got something to back it up?
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:25AM (#25053047)

    Therefor saying that he expressed digust over Obama is pushing it a bit. Even if that was what his facial expression meant there could have been many other things on his (or anyone else in that situation) mind. Perhaps he just had wind, who knows. MOst of these "I know what someone is thinking from fleeting facial expression" types are just modern day snake oil sellers.

    • by Tom (822) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:16AM (#25053609) Homepage Journal

      You should read up on Ekman. The guy is one of the top authorities on the subject. He has written a few books. Read one or two and check what his claims really are and how much substance and research he can put behind them.

      In short: He doesn't claim he can read thoughts, he claims that emotions show up on your face. He also claims to have identified a short list of universal (world-wide, culture-independent) expressions that belong to specific emotions. He's travelled pretty much everywhere on the globe, from western society to primitive jungle tribes and made many thousands of photographs showing those expressions. And yes, the books describe in detail how the emotions were roused so they could be reasonably sure they got the proper one.

      Like all mainstream media, the article simplifies things quite a lot. That doesn't mean the science behind it isn't correct.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:59AM (#25053389)

    "Software spots water in ocean!"

    I mean, COME ON...couldn't they have tried for detecting something that at least just might be absent in the content they're testing? How about spin in the news, for example? Oh, wait...uh...

  • Please Sheeple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LS (57954) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:19AM (#25053635) Homepage

    Does anyone actually believe this to be anything other than poor science or even worse election year propaganda masking as science?

    There may be some objective simple definition of "spin" that you could use to create a automated measuring system, but is this really spin?

    Human language is virtually infinitely complex, and there are layers of meaning both conscious and unconscious expressed by body language, tone, cadence, content, etc. Then there's the intention of the speaker, and the context of the speech. But no, we get a elementary school level simple bar chart [newscientist.com] that clearly shows that obama is a complete spinster, and McCain is a "straight talker". Excuse me, but what a load of horse shit! Disclaimer: I'm not voting for Obama or McCain.

    LS

  • FROM TFA

    Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin.

    So every time a politician says "I'm going to do something" he's lying...

  • Badarticle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pcgabe (712924) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:31AM (#25053785) Homepage Journal

    I initially thought that the Obama-smear was just a poorly written summary (and was going to tag "badsummary") but the actual article itself is slanted. I propose we start tagging these kinds of things "badarticle", since they seem to be cropping up more and more on Slashdot.

    Anyway.

    There are so many things that bug me about this "article", let's just go through it together.

    The expression of disgust on former US president Bill Clinton's face during his speech to the Democratic National Convention as he says "Obama" lasts for just a fraction of a second.

    First off, associating disgust with Obama. Paul Ekman says he saw it on Clinton's face. Did any of the other millions of people watching see it?

    So how are we to know when they are lying?

    Got it, spin = lying. OK. That's the definition we'll be using as we read.

    Software programs that analyse a person's speech, voice or facial expressions are building upon the work of researchers like Ekman to help us discover when the truth is being stretched, and even by how much.

    Again, spin = lying. I'm with you so far.

    The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - "I" tends to indicate less spin than "we", for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as "go" and "going", and negatively charged words, such as "hate" and "enemy", also indicate greater levels of spin.

    I... what? "I" vs "we"? What does that have to do with lying? I thought spin = lying, since that's stated twice at the beginning of the article. Suddenly spin = rhetoric. [wikipedia.org]

    In general though, Obama's speeches contain considerably higher spin than either McCain or Clinton.

    First, spin = lying, and then spin = rhetoric, but we don't call it that, and then Obama's speeches have the most spin. Which by the new definition means that he is the most effective speaker, but by the original definition means that he is the biggest liar.

    McCain is the purported to have the least spin, implying that he is the most truthful (except by their definition of spin, it really means he is the least effective speaker). Hands up, who thinks McCain is the most truthful candidate?

    And hey, let's talk about Jeremiah Wright some more, because it's not like that story is history or anything. But hey, any chance there is to remind people that he's associated with Obama...

    "When you see these crises come along, the spin goes up," Skillicorn says. "Obama is very good at using stirring rhetoric to deal with the issues."

    Ah! Now they even call it rhetoric! Perhaps hoping that the intended audience doesn't know the meaning of the word? (Many people mistakenly think the word rhetoric has negative connotations.)

    Indeed, Bill Clinton's fleeting facial slip was the only clear example that Ekman could recount of a politician saying something that they did not mean during both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

    Seriously, did anyone else besides Ekman see it? Did this facial slip actually exist? Where's the screencap?

    This entire article is ridiculous. Decrying "spin", they use it themselves as an anti-Obama device. Absurd.

  • Buy It (Score:3, Funny)

    by PMuse (320639) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @09:36AM (#25054843)

    To summarize TFA:
    I have a magical truth detector that can determine if a statement is true by the way a person looks when he says it. With my marvelous machine, you will no longer need to check facts. Instead, you can simply believe whomever my machine tells you to believe.
    QED.

  • by timias1 (1063832) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:07AM (#25055321)
    identify people who will either praise the results, or condemn them based on perceived political bias in the report, and their own personal political choices. Personally after reading the article, I didn't find favoritism towards McCain or Obama. Political spin levels don't directly suggest honesty, or dishonesty in my opinion. There is a great statement: "If you want to learn someones true character, don't listen to what they say, watch what they do"

    Voting record, more than written and declared policies should be the litmus test voters should use.

  • Duh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:16AM (#25056501) Journal
    If a politicians lips are moving, he is telling a lie!
    Why is everyone acting so surprised?

No user-servicable parts inside. Refer to qualified service personnel.

Working...