Scientists have developed an algorithm that measures certain words most frequently used in “Spin”, and The results are somewhat surprising. The scientists quoted in the article are from Canada, Switzerland, and our own MIT.
Here’s a sampling of what they found:
Skillicorn (of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada) has been watching out for verbal “spin”. He has developed an algorithm that evaluates word usage within the text of a conversation or speech to determine when a person “presents themselves or their content in a way that does not necessarily reflect what they know to be true”.
The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns – “I” tends to indicate less spin than “we”, for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as “go” and “going”, and negatively charged words, such as “hate” and “enemy”, also indicate greater levels of spin. Skillicorn had his software tackle a database of 150 speeches from politicians involved in the 2008 US election race (see diagram).
When he analysed the speeches of John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he found that even though the speeches were rehearsed, written by professionals and delivered by trained speakers, there were discernable differences between them. “It’s clear that the speeches are still highly individualised,” says Skillicorn. “This makes sense as the speeches have to, in some manner, reflect the speaker’s own voice and opinions. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to deliver them convincingly.”
Additionally, he says, little details count: pronouns such as “we” and “I” are often substituted subconsciously, no matter what is written in the script.
Each of the candidates had made speeches containing very high and very low levels of spin, according to Skillicorn’s program, depending on the occasion. In general though, Obama’s speeches contain considerably higher spin than either McCain or Clinton. For example, for their speeches accepting their party’s nomination for president, Obama’s speech scored a spin value of 6.7 – where 0 is the average level of spin within all the political speeches analysed, and positive values represent higher spin. In contrast, McCain’s speech scored -7.58, while Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention scored 0.15. Skillicorn also found that Sarah Palin’s speeches contain slightly more spin than average.
So the analysis appears to back up McCain’s claim that he is a “straight talker”. However, for the purposes of political speech-making this may not be an entirely good thing for him. “Obama uses spin in his speeches very well,” says Skillicorn. For example, Obama’s spin level skyrockets when facing problems in the press, such as when Jeremiah Wright, the reverend of his former church, made controversial comments to the press.
“When you see these crises come along, the spin goes up,” Skillicorn says. “Obama is very good at using stirring rhetoric to deal with the issues. And it seems to work if you look at what happens in the polls afterwards.”
McCain does not seem as adept at using spin to his advantage, and his “straight talk” can make his speeches fall flat from a motivational point of view, according to Branka Zei Pollermann, founder of the Vox Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, who has analysed the candidates’ voices for communication consultants Clearwater Advisors, based in London.
SOURCE: From issue 2674 of New Scientist magazine, 17 September 2008, page 22-23
I found that incredibly interesting. Imagine … Obama knowingly manipulates the facts 3 times as much as Bush. Coming from legitimate scientists (the same infalliable folks that brought us ‘carbon dating’, ‘global warming’ and ‘evolution’), we’re left with only two choices: denounce them as frauds (thereby depelting the liberal resources of theory masquerading as fact), or embrace the scientists, knowing they’ve shown McCain, Michelle Obama, Biden, Huckabee, Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Palin, Bush, Romney, Bill Clinton, Giuliani, and Thompson are all far more credible than Junior Senator Barack Hussein Obama. what a choice …