So, Monday 9th February is the launch date for FactCheck UK, a new blogger-driven project that aims to pull together some of the best talent from the British blogosphere and subject the veracity of Britain’s politicians and mainstream media to some much needed independent scrutiny.
I shouldn’t really have to explain the concept as you should all be familiar with the US FactCheck website and Channel 4’s own sporadic efforts. We’ll operating to more or the same principles but with a somewhat wider brief, one that takes into account the role of the media in spreading disinformation and bullshit. We’re also planning to be a bit less po-faced that our American counterparts and lace the site with a bit of humour to go along with the serious business of chasing the truth.
And if you’re unsure as to why we need such a project and how it might be connected to the Convention on Modern Liberty then just try reading Costigan Quist’s recent musings on the corrosive power of fear and the effect it has on our personal liberties - if there’s an overriding ‘mission’ behind the launch of the site its simply that of trying to counter the tide of fearmongering that poisons the public’s perception of a wide range of important issues, making it easier for politicians to push through the kind of illiberal legislation that eats away at our freedom.
It's a non-partisan effort, so I do urge you all to spread the word: your humble Devil will link to the site when it launches.
However, Unity has another little initiative too—one which definitely appeals to your humble Devil's sense of bile and spite.
The Bullshit Awards 2009
As part of FactCheck UK’s launch festivities, and to coincide with the convention itself, onthe 28th February, we’ll be announcing the results of the 2009 Bullshit Awards, as nominated and voted for by the British blogosphere.
Nominations for each of the 12 awards categories open today—please read through the categories listed below and e-mail your nominees directly to us at factcheckuk[AT]googlemail.com—we did want bullshitawards[AT]… for the nominations address but Gmail doesn’t appear to allow addresses that include the word ’shit’, so that’s our first experience of censorship and we’ve not even got under way.
Please note that, in the case of most of the awards categories we will need you to provide some information/evidence in support of your nomination, most of which we would expect to be nothing more than a link or two to the material which backs up the nomination and, of course, all nomination must relate to comments, speeches, articles or events that occured between 1st January and 31st December 2008.
And don’t forget to indicate which categories your nominating which individuals or organisations in—it’ll save time at our end.
Polling will start on 16th February 2009 and run right the way through to the 26th February with, hopefully, four or five nominees in each category, as chosen from your nominations by our nominations committee (and we’ll tell you exactly who’s on that committee when the main site launches on the 9th).
Any the final results to be officially announced on 28th February.
So, the top categories are…
- The No Bull Prize
The one genuinely prestigious award we’re going to be handing out, the No Bull Prize aims to recognise the blog/blogger who’s made the most significant contribution of the year in the field of countering and debunking bullshit appearing the mainstream media.
- Bullshitter of the Year
This is an open category, so you can nominate a politician, a journalist/commentator, editor or other public figure, but what we’re looking for in this category is either a single but overwhelmingly spectacular example of bullshitting or a consistent portfolio of bullshit over a period of months.
Moving on, we’ve got two parliamentary awards on offer.
- The Minister for Bullshit Award
Nominations in this category are restricted to individuals serving as government ministers and shadow ministers/front bench spokespersons during 2008 and the bullshitting must have taken place while they held a ministerial/shadow post.
- The Dishonourable Member Award
As you might already have figured out, this award mirrors the ministerial award but is restricted only to backbencher.
At the nominations stage for both these awards, extra credit will be given to candidates who successfully bullshitted on the official record (e.g.) Hansard and both awards are open to MPs, Peers, members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh/Northern Ireland Assemblies and British MEPs.
And there’s also a special award open only to journalists/newspapers.
- The Churner Prize
This award recognises journalistic endeavours in the field of churnalism, so what we’re looking for are the finest examples of newspapers and journalists regurgitating bullshit press releases without making any effort to check the contents for factual accuracy. Extra credit will be given in this category where nominations include a link to the original press release that was churned, without attribution, in order to generate the bullshit story.
And now, our list of awards recognising the best worst bullshitter within a specific field of endeavour.
- The Apocalypse Now Award
Nominees should have made a significant contribution over the year in the field of general fearmongering and the active promotion of illiberal legislative measures.
- The Witchfinder General Award
For this award, we’re looking for something more than simple fearmongering, with nominees having sparked off or made a significant contribution towards a full blown moral panic on the back of a premise which turned out to be complete bullshit.
- The Dr Phibes Award
Nominees should have made a significant contribution to promotion of bad science, woo and other unscientific bullshit dressed up as ‘research’.
- The Whore of Babylon Prize
This one shouldn’t take much explaining. We’re looking for nominees who publicly push the view that civilisation as we know it will come to end unless everyone believes in their god, and the more blatantly censorious their arguments the better.
Oh… and to save time, Stephen Green (of Christian Voice) has already been passported into the main vote, so you’d needn’t go sending me any links to the press release section on his site.
- The Celebrity Big Bullshit Award
For bullshit stories involving celebrities, naturally, with examples of errant hypocrisy gaining extra points at the nomination stage.
- The Troof is Out There Award
And another self-explanatory award, this time recognising the contribution of conspiracy nuts, troofers, cultists and anyone who thinks these awards are sponsored by humanity’s secret lizard masters.
- The Twat-o-Tron Prize
Last, but by no means least, the Twat-o-Tron prize will be awarded, on a public vote, the best example of a ‘OMFGIT’SALLGAWNFUGGINMAD’ story of the kind guaranteed to generate a raft of twat-o-tron comments under the article.
Nominations are being taken right up until 14th February so email your suggestions to factcheckuk[AT]googlemail.com and help to skewer some irritating little liar today!