During the Republican debates in the spring of 2012, you had various Republican candidates making claims about each other and President Obama during many of these debates. Shortly thereafter, one could access online resources to help differentiate the distortions and exaggerations between the fact. One project, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center is Fact Checker. According to their website, they “monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”
Regardless of political party, both of whom could be found to lie or exaggerate about their opponents’ records, a fact checker type site would help to discern between what was said and the actual facts.
Because I find value in using such a website, it got me thinking about how we could leverage this model to other professions. It wouldn’t necessarily be a “fact checker” per se, but would track or check how well certain professionals predict or forecast things. Perhaps it could be considered a legitimacy or accountability type checker.
For example, why not weather professionals or meteorologists? Should they not be tracked for their level of predictability and accuracy? Add it to graphs or other visuals so you can compare weather people’s forecast in each of the different regions to see the success or lack thereof of weathermen. Maybe have Accountability/Meterologist.org? Let’s see how well they do and then perhaps rank them by region.
Let’s move on to the social sciences. As a result of the Great Recession, I’ve seen many predictions and forecasts made by economists that didn’t come to pass. Let’s track their predictions to help hold them accountable. I was not able to keep track of the dozens of economists who said we’d have a double dip recession which never happened. I heard several economists say we’d have wide spread $5 gas during the summer of ’12 which didn’t occur so do you see my frustration? I’d vote for Accountability/Economist.org to help sort that out.
Who knows, the accountability approach could apply to stock market experts, journalists and perhaps even religious professionals or scholars. That website might look like Accountability.org/StockMarketExperts or Accountability.org/Journalists or Accountability.org/ReligiousConsultants. We need to have tools in place or a platform designed to evaluate how well these experts do with their predictions. I don’t always expect success, but a benchmarking tool will provide a means by which we can evaluate experts in various fields if they become prognosticators or predictors of future events.
If you use Accountability.org/Journalists, perhaps you could add ‘Sports’ in front of Journalists and make sports writers more accountable. It’s easy to write about players success or the lack thereof after the game or season. Isn’t that called a fan? One would think you’d have much more credibility if you predicted the outcome of a game or could predict the success of a player before actually taking the field for the first time. Let’s separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Why would I suggest such a website or tool? One word, authenticity. I find many so called experts make predictions or suggestions about the future that don’t come to pass. Are they ever held accountable? When they error, do they volunteer this information?Do they ever publically review why their prediction did not come to pass?
That’s where this review system would come into play. An objective website, perhaps similar to the Consumer Reports model, where viewers or clients could check the credibility and accuracy of economists, business people, journalists, meteorologists and politicians. Perhaps a platform one could use to gain more information and insight about the professionals they read, hear and see as part of their information and news gathering.