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I get most of my news from the Google newsfeed, figuring it's a pretty balanced place because the feed is a collection of news sources and I know their respective biases; Google, I assume, doesn't inject bias into the algorithm (but it may queue off my inherent confirmation bias).

But there is one part on the sidebar that always gets me, I thought it would be different when I added a new Google account for some GCE work I had to do and accidentally logged into Google news, but it was exactly the same, the fact check sidebar always skews toward saying good things about left leaning politicians that are said by right leaning news sources, confusing satire sites or random viral social media posts.

I'm sure there are people who love to study this sort of thing, but is there a meta-analysis that we can do from this site that might show the percentage of claims one should legitimately be skeptical of coming from one viewpoint or the other?

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  • I'm asking this as a social-conservative myself, who is super annoyed that the right-leaning-crap always bubbles up to the top, most of it is so stupid or pointless that it doesn't need to be fact checked (if it was, we'd have a lot more questions here). Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 17:05
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    Questions on this site are only a small portion of the misleading claims out there and selected by the userbase.
    – Joe W
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 17:36
  • @JoeW Do you think are they liable to skew in the same direction as the "professional fact checkers" it stands to reason that they're more likely to be things that are actually interesting, not "does Joe Biden have a button that turns him off?". Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 17:55
  • Hard to say which is why I didn't post an answer.
    – Joe W
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 18:21
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    I'd tend toward no, mostly because users post the questions. There's no reason to believe the question topics here are representative of anything other than our users' whims.
    – user11643
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 1:02
  • The Left and Right aren't really symmetric. They've got folks with differing backgrounds, personalities, behaviors, etc., leading to differing modes of expression and engagement. And it's even difficult to broadly generalize what those differences are, as both the Left and Right are composed of many different kinds of people. So while it'd seem neat for someone to do a robust, careful study about what such observables (like sentiments of questions from SE.Skeptics) might imply, it'd seem difficult to draw meaningful conclusions without some careful modeling and analysis.
    – Nat
    Commented Sep 26, 2021 at 16:40
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    @fredsbend i.e. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias Frankly knowing the individual biases of a number of users here isn't that hard. Some post almost exclusively stuff that makes (just) one side of the US political spectrum look bad. But that doesn't even mean such users are proportionally representative of the US population etc. Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 19:09
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    @PeterTurner Your belief that google doesn't pick sides is unfounded. usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/09/10/…
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 6:29
  • @Ryan_L I recall a study that demonstrated that not only is manipulating search results easy, it's also easy to do it in such a way that users don't notice. They first used a mock election with an Indian audience. They repeated the data with real info about an old American election to an Australian audience. The level of control over people's opinions was scary. I don't know whether to be terrified at the prospect or lean harder into my misanthropism.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 6:29

3 Answers 3

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I think this would likely not make a good Skeptics.SE question.

  1. Predominantly, there is no notable claim here.

  2. If there were, it might deal with my next objection: the claim is so full of vague terms as to be untestable.

  3. You appear to be asking us to do the analysis, but no-one has any reason to trust the analysis of any of our users. Instead, we ask that answers link to analyses (which themselves should provide reasons to trust it - like references to support it's claims).

If you can tackle those issues, it could make an interesting (if controversial) question.

(Aside: I reject your argument Google doesn't inject bias into the algorithm, even if they don't deliberately inject bias into the algorithm. If they try to "maximise engagement" they may bias towards controversial articles. If they try to tailor to their users (or to the web-pages represented), they may bias towards articles of interest to their majority WEIRD users. Skeptics.SE has a notable bias towards questions of interest to US programmers, because of Stack Overflow, but I don't see any evidence of thumbs on the scale.)

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    yeah, I'm not thinking of asking it on the main site, just asking as a meta discussion. I think the "Programmer Bias" is pretty strong here! I used to think that Google was injecting bias via ML, they definitely tailor articles (guessing you don't see a lot of Pope news if you're not Catholic), but the "fact check side-bar" was identical between a new account and a 15 year old one. If the side-bar is identical for new and existing users, it's like the newspaper (possibly tailored to IP / region - but not tailored to users) Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 14:55
  • Interesting. I do not read the Q as asking advice for any (possible) mainQ at all. More like a 'how can this site's posts be used outside of SE for 'gains''? // Google injects plenty of biases of all sorts in many directions. That's a given, at that level of abstraction. Sometimes even required by law to do so (de-listing/censoring certain results, EU-law 'right to forget' etc). Plus it's closed src, so who knows what exactly about it? Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:32
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    "from this site" I read this as "users from this site". If that is meant to be "questions from this site", the answer is an easy no. Skeptics.SE is by no means a fair sampling of claims.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 9:27
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In order to do that you would need to have some metric that could confirm how representative this site was in terms of it's user base.

For example, if the majority of users had a bias to one side of the political spectrum it would stand to reason that the type of questions that they asked, or the answers that they gave, might also have a bias to them. If only an unconscious bias.

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Google Bias?

Proof?

You are simply not going to find "infowars" within the google news feed ever as a source.


Can statistics from this site be used to show that conservatives make a majority of fallacious and misleading claims?

Of course.

How?

Define "fallicious and misleading claims" in a way that skews against conservatives.

It sounds like you do not believe in "facts".

Complex, but in brief,

  • Propositions inside of abstractions can be concluded as apodictic.
  • They however should not be confused with propositions made inside of reality, as those are indeterminate. [ Yet must be acted upon. ]
  • You can only approximate these propositions as factual by the fruits it produces when acted upon.
  • The reliability of various epistemelogical methods will vary over time and from person to person. For example:
    • Person A has more success when following his instincts compared to his doctor.
    • Person B has more success when following his doctor compared to his instincts.
  • Ergo:
    • Person A's ideal epistemelogy is anectodal/instinctual.
    • Person B's ideal epistemology is a scientific appeal to authority.
    • Both can be true at the same time, even if they produce wildly different prescriptions on how to lead a healthy life.

What does this have to do with defining fallicious and misleading claims?

Politics [ you are speaking of conservatives ] is a game where, its goal is to subtley define the rules so your party always come out on top. As it pertains to the nature of truth, suppose your populace's general epistemelogical method relied upon listening to an oracle:

  • Because the oracle is what generally define's truth:
  • It is imperative for your party to "convince" the oracle to parrot your narrative. This can be done through:
    • Bribery
    • Threats
    • Legistlation
    • Plants
    • Peer Pressure
    • "Education" etc

Your ability to in effect corrupt the truth towards your narrative should increase over time, as you wisen up to how the oracle operates. Likewise, this is what has happened in the sciences, it has definitely happened to Wikipedia, and to a degree, what is perpetually happening in this SE.

Related: Has or does SE suffer from shills or cabals of special interest groups looking to peddle influence or control narrative?


I am confused. What is your point?

Given the framing, you are probably just trying to figure out how to rig the game against conservatives, which is an incredibly smart thing for you to do if you consider them your political enemies.

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    This does not answer the question as it is not talking about this site at all.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 13:56

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