Factoids Truthiness and Factiness In Action
If you ever want to see factoids, factiness and truthiness all at work together, then you have to look no further than your inbox spam folder for pump and dump schemes. While they may seem to be far removed from people pushing piracy or trying to win political debates, they are in fact based on the same set of tools and pyramid of logic.
First off, what is a pump and dump? Well, according to wikipedia,
“Pump and dump” is a form of microcap stock fraud that involves artificially inflating the price of an owned stock through false and misleading positive statements, in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price. Once the operators of the scheme “dump” their overvalued shares, the price falls and investors lose their money. Stocks that are the subject of pump and dump schemes are sometimes called “chop stocks”. While fraudsters in the past relied on cold calls, the Internet now offers a cheaper and easier way of reaching large numbers of potential investors.
The key words in there is false or misleading positive statements. In modern internet terms, this is where factoids and factiness come into play. Factoids are little pieces of facts, like the one good line in a report, such as “the good ship Titanic was very fast”, leaving out the side note that the boat sank very quickly too. It is however entirely factual to point out the speed of the vessel, and you are under no obligation to discuss it’s failure to float in all conditions. The factiness of the speed statement cannot be argued, which is what master debaters or stock pumpers work from.
Most pump and dump schemes these days are based on “news” from the company or some sort of promised positive news that will suddenly boost the company’s fortunes. Since the companies in play are penny stocks, they don’t tend to have the same level of press releases or completely information about the company that can easily be found online. The pump and dumpers will often salt chat boards and such with positive comments and create rumors of potential good news. Since most people will use a search engines like Google to research a possible stock, stacking the deck with plenty of rumors and discussions about a company is a good way to create a smoke screen or false information. The object of the pump and dump is to get you to buy on the sizzle of rumor, and to sell their inflated holdings for a profit before you realize that there is no steak, just a mp3 loop of sizzle sounds.
Political commentators work in the same manner. I have already shown how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) got turned into “Obamacare” by repeating the same thing over and over again in congressional speeches. I have also shown how Ann Coulter uses selected facts to try to discredit said Obamacare, claiming huge rate increases in North Carolina, but then not mentioning that the Republicans running the state have tried to derail the plan at every turn, including turning down huge amounts of Federal money to support lower rates. It’s the sorts of things that have turned the debate over the ACA program into a farce of misinformation and partisan politics.
The worst part I think at this point is that in politics, it’s almost impossible to entirely peel the onion. When you remove one layer of truthiness or factiness, you are left with another set of factoids that you have to wade through, and another barrage of artificial “public opinion” and “we speak for the people” crap that adds up to not very much. If you wouldn’t buy the stock, why would you buy i from a politician or a one note zealot.