Saturday, April 12, 2008

Does "telling whoppers" lead to insurmountable credibility problems?

In a thread about anonymous blogging, one anonymous commenter wrote:

Truth and facts are what matters. If it is ever a fact that the pundit lies, then there will be a credibility problem that will be hard to bridge.

IPBiz notes that, if telling whoppers were fatal, Hillary would not currently be in the race, and people would not be paying big bucks to hear Bill. When non-anonymous folks like Hillary and Bill tell whoppers, there is a strong third-party correction mechanism operating. People will check out what Hillary and Bill are saying, BECAUSE they are Hillary and Bill. When anonymous bloggers tell whoppers, there is less incentive for correction. Who really cares if anonymous blogger X told a whopper about Y, except Y?

On the same thread, Arnold Joseph Dawkins, Jr. wrote:

The merit of a thought is or is not always in the thought, itself. To accept a thought merely on the basis of who said it is not reason. It is idolatry. To reject a thought merely on the basis of who said it, is at best, narrow-minded.

A thought stands on its own merits or it doesn't. In the public discourse, the remedy for "bad" speech is not no speech. It's "good" speech, whatever that may mean to one.

Of course, if anonyminity is just a safe cover for cheap character asassination, that tells us more about the speaker than it does about the object of the asassination than.

Of accepting a thought based on WHO said it, IPBiz is reminded of the acceptance by many of Professor Lemley's various arguments on patent thickets, which arguments included a strange assertion that Gary Boone is credited with inventing the integrated circuit:

Mark A. Lemley, Patenting Nanotechnology, 58 Stan. L. Rev. 601, 611-612 (2005):

The integrated circuit was itself an improvement in the field of computing, a way of building transistors (an invention discussed above) [p. 612] directly into a computer chip by using charged silicon, a semiconductor. The invention opened up not just computing but also calculators, cell phones, and a host of other portable electronic devices. But because two different inventors working independently developed the integrated circuit at about the same time (1971), the patents were put into interference. Gary Boone was ultimately declared the winner, but not until 1999, twenty-eight years after the first patent application was filed.

To date, neither Lemley nor the Stanford Law Review ever corrected this egregious error.

The integrated circuit was developed by Noyce and Kilby more than ten years PRIOR to 1971, and no one, other than Lemley, ever asserted that Gary Boone was declared the winner in an interference over the integrated circuit. And the patent story, concerning the REAL invention of the integrated circuit (Noyce, Kilby) is entirely different than the story about Gary Boone told by Lemley. Lemley got the facts wrong and got the law wrong.

On the matter of "patent troll tracker", once anonymous but now identified as Cisco's Rick Frenkel, one notes that past links, such as

now take one to a dead end. If the underlying text were credible (when published anonymously), it should still be credible, with no need to remove general access. This removal, generically referred to as the Sikahema effect on IPBiz, causes one to question the credibility of the posts.

No one seems to have questioned the judgment of Mallun Yen of Cisco, who knew about and allowed the anonymous blog, directed to matters of business interest to Cisco, to proceed in an anonymous fashion.

Separately, there is little discussion of Mallun Yen, the number one IP person at Cisco, not being a registered patent attorney. While it's good to be an expert in a major issue at Cisco (getting sued for infringement), the lack of experience in a number one IP person in "how to get" patents informs one of "where Cisco is at" in patent reform. It is about the damages. When one looks at some of the patents of Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft, one sees that the IT folks really don't have a lot of room to talk about about patent quality, at least at a credibility level above a Hillary whopper. But, as with Hillary, patent reform 2008 shows that this is decidedly not fatal. Credibility, like plagiarism, resides in the eye of the beholder.

**UPDATE. 29 Nov. 08**


It wasn't too long ago that Barack Obama and his advisers were tripping over one another to tear down Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign policy credentials. She was dismissed as a commander in chief wanna-be who did little more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as first lady.
"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama said mockingly of the New York senator. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."
That was in March, when Clinton was Obama's sole remaining rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Now, Clinton is on track to become Obama's secretary of state.
And, unsurprisingly, the sniping at her foreign policy credentials is a thing of the past.
Obama adviser William Daley over the weekend said Clinton would be "a tremendous addition to this administration. Tremendous."
Senior adviser David Axelrod called Clinton a "demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person."
Last spring, though, Clinton was targeted with a steady stream of criticism via conference call, e-mail and campaign-trail digs from the Obama camp, all aimed at shredding her self-portrait as an experienced and confident leader on the international stage. Some of those doing the sniping will be taking up key positions — most likely along with Clinton — in the new Obama administration.


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