Verification in reverse is defined as the politicized unmaking of solid fact.
This term was introduced to me by Jay Rosen a couple of weeks ago while listening to the August 30th podcast of “Rebooting the News”. The term made me a little angry at first – I don’t like politics and the thought of being intentionally mislead for political gain will always boil the blood. I am aware that people will try to mislead the public for some type of gain but have always taken comfort in assuming that solid facts would be proved as such in the long-run. The longer people have to understand the truth about a story, the more that truth would become increasingly known. This is why I was shocked to hear the “Obama Muslim Myth” survey results from the Pew Research Center in August. The survey found that nearly one-in-five (18 %) of Americans now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. The fact that the American public has become increasingly inaccurate over an ~ 18 month period where the truth about Obama’s religion (Christianity) has been available to the public is alarming and a clear indication that our current tools and methods for determining accurate information are insufficient. One might expect a false statement to spread for a short period of time but the tools available to us (internet, television, newspapers, etc) should help us to correct these false statements in the long-run, not proliferate them.
The implication for this story is that we are worse off than when we started. Imagine this extended to other areas in our lives and accurate information that we based decisions and actions off of were false. Imagine a world where truths are slowly pushed aside to make room for misleading information leaving all of us worse off as a result. We need to be able to prevent evolving fiction, the unraveling of facts over time (a term coined by HowTru’s founder Toma Bedolla), from happening in the future in order to live in a society where citizens are informed with accurate information that can enhance their lives.
If the current tools are not working for the public in a beneficial way, it is up to the public to come up with a solution. The HowTru community will hopefully play a small part in enabling people to quickly and effectively correct inaccuracies like the “Obama Muslim Myth” making verification in reverse and evolving fiction less relevant terms in the future.