World's Fair

<a href=”″>truth</a>

Use this code as often as you can.

A while back, I wrote a post asking ScienceBloggers what they thought were successful tactics in the game of initiating forms of viral marketing. The question was primarily posed to ask whether such tricks to be used to promote things of, perhaps more importance (i.e. in the social responsibility context). You know, not Snakes on a Plane, or cool music videos with treadmills.

Anyway, this is what I’ve decided to try. Basically, it’s a chance to create a version of a Truth that can propogate. That’s right – I want to see if I can earn my Time Person of the Year mantle proper.

This was, of course, after weighing in on a number of great posts from the ScienceBlogs community, including:

(Janet) “I think that explains a lot of why cool things (or outrages) propagate so quickly through the series of tubes of the internet. What’s more isolated and sad than someone sitting alone in his or her room typing at the computer? (Someone who leaves her laptop’s power supply somewhere else and runs down her battery — but that’s another story.) We modern folk with computers at at serious risk of becoming the loser in the basement. (To those of you reading from the basement: I’m not talking about you; you’re no loser!)

So we need to build a community. Sharing cool stuff we’ve found is one way to build a community. And, sharing with our community is a way to be reassured the the stuff in which we’re delighting really is cool.”

(RPM) “Something that’s low budget, campy, and so embarrassing you’d never want it to appear on the internet. As a blogger, I know that the posts in which I put in the least amount of effort get the most visits and comments.”

(and of course, Bono): Well, I think if you’re going to focus on the similarities of your three examples, it’s almost as if an inherant goofiness is key for the spreading phenomenon. Mel Gibson drunk? That’s goofy. Zidane with the headbutt? Also goofy. Maybe that’s why something like 0.7% won’t work – can you really make something like that goofy?

Anyway, so what is this truth thing about? Well, it’s actually an attempt at something known as “Google Bombing”. This is where a google search ranking can be influenced over repeated linkage. Here’s how wiki describes it:

A Google bomb is Internet slang for a certain kind of attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by the Google search engine, often with humorous or political intentions.[1] Because of the way that Google’s algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page use consistent anchor text.

I actually noted this earlier when Googling “Paul” on, and getting a result where the number one ranked hit was the URL for Stephen Harper. Mr Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada, whereas the previous was Paul Martin. I thought this was kind of funny and some sort of prank, but after looking up “Liar” on google and being referred to Tony Blair (this still works by the way), I realized that this must have more to do with algorithms than pranksters. (Incidentally, the most well known google bomb is for “Miserable Failure” – try it).

Anyway, this is what this web experiment is all about. It’s to see if there’s an opportunity to massage a post’s ranking with respect to the term, truth – or at least in the eyes of the all powerful google.

At the very least, check the truth out. I think there are some good points in its current incarnation, but note that the SCQ is not opposed to seeing more (maybe comments below is a good place for suggestions). And, if at its heart, you agree with the statements or are comfortable with this version of the truth, then please link away, link away.

* * *

If you want more fuel to do this, currently the number one hit for “Truth” is the Truth Anti-Smoking Campaign, which although is a good cause overall, has some messy admin associated with it, being funded by the Tobacco Industry. For instance:

An interesting stipulation of the settlement agreement is that tobacco companies who initially provided funding reserve the right to pull American Legacy Foundation advertisements off the air if they “vilify” the tobacco companies. Altria Group has twice pulled truth advertisements, citing this clause


  1. #1 George Motisher
    January 19, 2007

    Your “truth” as posted troubles me. For one thing, in googling “wilco” I came up with several quite different items, thus making it impossible for me to decide whether it is, indeed, good.

    There are also some redundancies and contradictions here. One might argue that “intelligent design” and “creationism” are different, but I would say that the former is simply a bogus argument in support of the latter. At the heart of the matter, they are one and the same idea. As for a contradiction, “It’s all relative” renders any other truths listed as being truths only in certain situations; are men and women indeed equal? In certain aspects they most certainly are not. (Men can not get pregnant, have greater upper body strenth, and carry entirely different chromosomes.) And if “shit happens,” couldn’t this be looked upon as another sort of creationism?

    Perhaps the truth is not really the point of this exercise, but if it isn’t, if the idea is merely to test SCQ’s ability to influence and directa certain number of morons using the internet, this has already been done–though perhaps for stupid reasons–and any point made is moot.

    Please remember “It’s all relative,” including the truth, the results of the truth, and any tests involving the truth.

  2. #2 jenjen
    January 19, 2007

    Details aside, I think the point about Men and Women being equal is at least an ideal a lot of us aspire to. Oh… and by the way, Wilco (the band) is exceptional.

  3. #3 harry
    January 19, 2007

    Please remember “It’s all relative,” including the truth, the results of the truth, and any tests involving the truth.

    But doesn’t the list actually do that? It does seem to nail home some worthy points, and issues of redundancies and contradictions may be argued as being part of the nature what ‘truth’ is suppose to be.

    Anyway, Wilco being exceptional? I don’t think so – “good” is about right for me.

  4. #4 BRC
    January 19, 2007

    Oh dear Harry, poor Harry, how that won’t stand, not for one line — nipping in the bud here to clarify that jenjen dominates this line of thought, that Wilco *is* exceptional, and that views to the contrary are incorrect. How about that, it actually isn’t relative.

  5. #5 buddyafrica
    January 19, 2007

    The Millenium Development Goals are worthy. Unrealistic, sure, but worthy is definitely the appropriate word for them. Maybe even worthy enough for a link?

  6. #6 jenjen
    January 19, 2007

    Apparently, the truth is malleable. It’s different now, and has taken our comments to heart. Hmmm… this could be interesting.

  7. #7 harry
    January 19, 2007

    I’m comfortable with the current statement about Wilco…

  8. #8 Peter J Knight
    January 19, 2007

    oh… so Wilco is a band? I thought that would be the Beatles. I’m comfortable with all the statements, even Wilco then, if you like. The cause – indeed worthy!

  9. #9 Brad F.
    January 20, 2007

    Do you think that maybe the numbering of the points sort of prioritizes them? Like maybe it should have an “in no particular order” as a preface? Just a thought anyway.

  10. #10 steve
    January 22, 2007

    get rid of Wilco for heavens sake… just brings the whole thing down! terrible…

  11. #11 dogscratcher
    January 22, 2007

    I thought Wilco was “Rob Wilco” of the “Get Fuzzy” comic strip:

  12. #12 JohnnieCanuck
    January 22, 2007

    This old fogie thought it strange to state that the definition of the old WWII catch phrase was not ‘Will Comply’, but something to do with good or exceptional.

  13. #13 Jim Royal
    January 22, 2007

    I agree with everything on the list except for one thing: I have no idea what “Wilco is good” means.

  14. #14 Thebrummell
    January 22, 2007

    Men can not get pregnant, have greater upper body strenth, and carry entirely different chromosomes.

    The first is true, the second is correct from an “on-average” standpoint, the third is false unless you consider that measely little Y lurking in my genome to be “entirely different”. While it’s true that very, very few women carry a Y chromosome like mine, it’s also true that the other 45 chromosomes I’ve got are just like all 46 of the chromosomes in each of my two sisters – the Y is very small. Most of my chromosomes (44 out of 46) have spent just as much time over the last 500 million years (give or take) in females as in males. The X spends more time in females than in males (by a ratio of 2:1), the Y spends no time in females, except that it probably evolved from an autosome or chunks of a few autosomes some time more recently than the divergence of Phylum Chordata.

  15. #15 sinned34
    January 22, 2007

    If by “Wilco” you mean “Roger Wilco” from the classic Space Quest series, then I will agree. If it’s a band, then get it the hell off the list, because I guarantee I won’t like it… And I’d hate to have to say no to a decent list like that because of one poor entry. (Of course, it’s not like my opinion is that valuable…)

  16. #16 Dr. Free-Ride
    January 22, 2007

    More truths for the heap:

    Donald Trump’s hair is a mystery for the ages.

    Chocolate mousse is so good its existence requires no ontological proof.

  17. #17 EBB
    January 22, 2007

    All are true. However live Wilco concerts are always exceptional.

  18. #18 Ezra
    January 23, 2007

    suggested edit: it’s *not* all relative. The claim itself is self-refuting. And there are many non-relative truths, e.g. rape is morally wrong, torturing people for fun is wrong, etc.

  19. #19 Brendan
    January 23, 2007

    I’d have to say I agree with the truth, for the most part. I’ve never heard Wilco the band, but I agree that Rob and Roger Wilco are both good, sometimes exceptional.
    I would actually argue that in some, limited contexts, rape and torture for fun are not morally wrong. Most notably, when the victim is ok with it. I would say that there may be people who actually enjoy that sort of thing. Admittedly, this breaks down the more serious and damaging you get with whatever act you’re trying to condone, but at the very least, the morality of rape and torture are relative to the severity, and the victim’s wishes.

  20. #20 bbjenny
    January 23, 2007

    limited contexts, rape and torture for fun are not morally wrong. Most notably, when the victim is ok with it.

    But the “it’s *not* relative” is still the better statement, because if the context is rape against the person’s will, then I can’t see how there is any room to move there

  21. #21 jeff
    January 23, 2007

    as for wilco, i heard them a couple of times and was bored to tears, and thus completely removed them from my world view. after seeing them on this list howevewr, i thought, “i could be wrong about them. i doubt it, but it’s possible”. so i went and revisited them and was not so shocked to see that i wasn’t wrong. i checked out six songs, and not once did i come across one that wasn’t simply a D-G progression. in fact four of them were entirely that with one extra chord thrown in for a couple of bars (to show off their learning i guess). oversimplification is not that great and i move to have them removed from this list.

  22. #22 chezjake
    January 25, 2007

    I’m absolutely amazed that one other truth has not yet been posted.

    The answer is 42.

  23. #23 PZ Myers
    January 25, 2007

    The truths are so trivial. There’s nothing about Sex or Death. How about:

    – you will be dead someday.

    – your life is all about sex, especially if you aren’t getting any.

  24. #24 mcgraw
    January 26, 2007

    Sex and death should be in the truths. Although, is “life all about sex” the closest to the truth, or is it that sex is just all around?

  25. #25 chezjake
    January 26, 2007

    Here’s one I’d forgotten.

    Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

  26. #26 Derffie
    January 26, 2007

    Life is short.

  27. #27 jenjen
    January 26, 2007

    Sex is all around? I guess that’s a biological statement as well. Is sex all around? Or with something like bacteria, would be better to call it something else?

  28. #28 notamicrobiologist
    January 26, 2007

    There’s a review that looks at this very question. In nature no less, and literally titled “Do Bacteria Have Sex?” (link). Although, it seems the Nature site has crashed or something.

  29. #29 CKA3KA
    January 31, 2007

    Sorry. I like Witco and all, but if this list is to be effective that entry has got to go. Keeping it compromises the integrity of the whole project (unless I misunderstand the goal of the project).

  30. #30 CKA3KA
    January 31, 2007

    Sorry. “Wilco,” not “Witco. “

  31. #31 BRC
    January 31, 2007

    once again let me make this clear: Wilco stays.

    now, given that the band has grown over the years, i do think the second modification is best, saying “Wilco is good, sometimes exceptional.” they weren’t always exceptional. but here and now i’m clearly the guy forcing the “exceptional” descriptor.

  32. #32 bartkid
    January 31, 2007

    Governments lie. – I. F. Stone.

  33. #33 William
    February 4, 2007

    There is an external world.

    Other minds exist.

  34. #34 TomDunlap
    February 12, 2007

    Truth, every living thing on earth shares a common ancestor. Maybe.

  35. #35 CED
    February 13, 2007

    “Creationism is silly” is awfully broad. The intent of course is that willful ignorance is silly (or worse), and literal interpretation of Genesis falls into that category. But the question “was the universe created” is a perfectly valid question. Let’s fight the popular misconception that there is this great rift between religion and science*, and not confuse the concept of Creationism with the insistance on a literal (and theologically inconstistant) interpretation of Genesis.

    So. “Creationism is silly” -> “Willful ignorance for the sake of perpetuating existing culture is silly” (scary how many things on the list fall into that category…)

    *as far as I can tell, if there IS a rift between religion and science, it comes down to this question: are people fundamentally different from animals? Many religions say yes, many biologists say no, but what do anthropologists, socioligists, and psychologists say? (yes, they’re scientists too)

  36. #36 Dirk Scheuring
    February 15, 2007

    Men and women are judically equal, but not functionally equivalent.

  37. #38 decasm
    February 15, 2007

    The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.

    Love does conquer all.

  38. #39 OffBeatMammal
    February 16, 2007

    Okay, I beleive.
    But I’m not 100% comfortable with the Wilco inclusion.
    All the others are valid points, bt IMO Wilco have not done anything more significant that (say) ELO or Jefferson Starship. ELO even have a Dr Who connection ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. #40 Sandra
    March 6, 2007

    Mental is physical.

  40. #41 PhiloxSophia
    March 13, 2007

    We’ve stumbled on a serious epistemological problem here folks, welcome to the very realm of Philosophical discourse. The fact of the matter is that science is incapable of discovering “The Truth”, and that “The Truth” may not even exist (making all of this logically false, of course). Science can only arrive at the best explanation for now; that is, until the next scientific revolution sweeps it away. Dark Matter, Dark Energy… all of these are simply weak defences of a current paradigm (that of, more or less, general relativity) and will be laughed at by future generations. Look at the history of science, or read Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and you might have your horizons broadened: there is no evidence to suggest that our explanations for scientific phenomena now are any closer to “The Truth” than the explanations of the past. Saying that science makes progress towards understanding is like saying you can have progress while swimming in an infinite ocean — if you dont have a metaphysical “Truth” that you are swimming towards, how is any explanation “better” than another?

    The only thing that I know, for sure, is Descartes classic Cogito argument: I think, therefore I am. And no, William, we still grapple with the problem of other minds… sorry. Sorry to the scientists to… you’re really just “doing work”. Like us Philosophers, or waitresses. The entire pursuit of “The Truth” is fundamentally flawed. (But I don’t know that for sure ๐Ÿ˜‰

  41. #42 Rasool
    March 13, 2007

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  42. #43 Milkman
    April 26, 2007

    Suggestion for bringing Death into the Truth:

    You can not get out of life alive.

  43. #44 mg-ed
    April 26, 2007

    I agree with most, but if you don’t believe in God, who created the first molecules or atoms that prompted evolution?

  44. #45 Carl Pham
    April 29, 2007

    Blech. That a set of essentially religious dogmas should appear on a science blog is direct evidence for one of the marvelous features of modern empirical science: you don’t need to understand how it works to use it. Your attitudes can be as uncritically faith-driven as any monk in a 16th century cell, and still do good work. Amazing.

  45. #46 Joe
    April 30, 2007

    At the risk of an obvious (but I feel it necessary for some folks) triviality:
    Men and women are equal, but not the same.

  46. #47 Joe
    April 30, 2007

    md-ed, then you get into the “who created God” debate. Whatever came “first”, it came first. If there was a first. Alas, mere existance doesn’t prove any intent.

  47. #48 Neil
    April 30, 2007

    I would add – “Some things I know, some things I don’t – I do not need to BELEIVE in anything.”

  48. #49 George Motisher
    May 2, 2007

    Perhaps my assessment of the equality of men and women was partially incorrect. It’s true that some women have great upper body strenth, although I believe it could be argued that exercise is what causes this, or stature. (i.e.-a very small male, say Tom Thumb, would certainly have less upper body strenth than the average Amazon.) The chromosome matter is a bit different, because, yes, some females have that “y” dude. However, it seems to have no real function in those females who have it, so it is different. Even if my last two arguments (the strenth and chromosome) are a little off, there is still the first. Until men carry babies, the two sexes are NOT equal. This does not mean, however, that they should receive unequal treatment, although one wonders if that is possible: should a pregnant woman be forced to work through her delivery? Should a man get time off for having a non-baby?

  49. #50 Pellegrina
    May 3, 2007

    Could you maybe spell “Millennium” with the right number of Ns? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. #51 David Ng
    May 4, 2007

    Uh… two “n”s it is.

  51. #52 Mark Wis
    May 4, 2007

    Whisky is better than whiskey.

  52. #53 Grackel
    May 4, 2007

    Well, of course it’s all relative. How could it be otherwise, stuck as we are at an obscure corner of the universe? It’s the neighborhood- you know- location location location.

  53. #54 Robin Z
    May 4, 2007

    Here’s one:

    You can be unsure and still need to take action.

  54. #55 Tom
    May 4, 2007


    aside from the fact that it’s too easy to disprove many of these general statements, the “edits” feature disqualifies.

    “If you agree, link to this. Then I’ll change what it says.” How can that have anything at all to do with truth?

  55. #56 r@d@r
    May 4, 2007

    okay, this isn’t very original, but how about this one:

    “nothing is true. everything is permitted.”

  56. #57 Tim Bartik
    May 4, 2007

    I would suggest that the phrase:

    “Over consumption is a serious problem” be changed to

    “Overuse of common resources is a serious problem”.

    This rephrasing is more precise. It is unclear whether consumption of properly priced goods is excessive. What is a problem is misuse of goods that are not properly priced, for example dumping too much CO2 into the air, various pollutants into air/water/ground, overfishing, etc. The rephrasing is both broader (polluting the air is not exactly overconsumption; you can have lots of air pollution with low consumer spending, and much less with high consumer spending) and narrower (consumption will not be excessive if there are appropriate mechanisms in place to price various consumption and production choices to reflect social costs). Furthermore, much of our environmental problems have to do with how production is undertaken, not how much is consumed.

  57. #58 mivox
    May 8, 2007

    Scotch is better than gin OR whiskey.

  58. #59 mivox
    May 8, 2007

    I retract my previous comment, realizing that on the UK side of the pond, “whiskey” = “scotch” and “bourbon” = what we call whiskey here in the US. Nevermind.

    Whiskey is better than gin.

  59. #60 Stephen McNeil
    May 16, 2007

    It seems to me that whether one believes that the word “equal” can be interpreted as a valid comparative of men and women misses the intention of the entry, which presumably is to cite the need for social equality despite superficial (though undeniable) differences. In which case, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I’d suggest the following:

    Everyone, everywhere, regardless of gender, class, age, race, religion, occupation, sexuality, or nationality, deserves to be treated equally, and treated with decency. Unless, you know, you’re being a dick.

    Other Truths to consider:
    – On the whole, disorder increases.
    – Ignorance is unacceptable.
    – A more equitable distribution of the world’s wealth is a good idea. (It could be argued that this falls under Millennium Goal #1, although I would not be one to make such an argument. The notion that over consumption is a problem would seem to fall under #7, so that level of duplication is not necessarily reason to exclude it in any case.)
    – SUVs are just stupid.
    – You don’t look as much like your passport photo as you might have expected.

  60. #61 Michael Barter
    May 29, 2007


    Everything happens so the next thing can happen.

  61. #62 Wendy A.Walker
    June 9, 2007

    Yankee Foxtrot Hotel is evidence that Copyright Laws should be altered.

  62. #63 Mark Crowley
    February 13, 2009

    A great idea, I wish that more of the items were a bit more weighty and not so opinionated, but as its a dynamic document this can be slowly modified over time. Point is taken about pithiness getting your very far on the web.

    On that note, really too bad you took out the R2D2 question, cause you know its true. Resourceful-sentient-robots over lovable-but-not-so-bright-hairy-monsters any day.

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