back to article Talk in Trump's tweets tells whether tale is true: Code can mostly spot Prez lies from wording

Boffins from the Netherlands and France claim that the word choices and sentence construction in President Donald Trump's tweets can be used more often than not for lie detection. In a paper distributed through ArXiv earlier this month, researchers Sophie van der Zee, Ronald Poppe, Alice Havrileck, and Aurelien Baillon – from …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Trollface

    Why not just...

    If mouth=open then lies=true;

    Works for almost any politician...

  2. Someone Else Silver badge

    Re: Why not just...

    For Herr Drumpf, its more like:

    if breathing() return LYING

  3. sabroni Silver badge

    Re: if breathing() return LYING

    Hillaire. Yet the article itself states that only 30% of his tweets were deemed inaccurate by the Washington Post.

    I fucking despise what he's doing and how he's doing it. One of the things I despise is how he doesn't care about truth. You won't combat that by making things up.

  4. Norman Nescio Bronze badge

    Re: Why not just...

    I think a lot of politicians maintain an intentional ignorance of the topics upon which they opine, on the basis that they cannot be accused of lying if what they say is either (a) not known by them to be untrue* or (b) not believed by them to be untrue. Credible bullshitting relies on you not knowing what you are talking about, because psychologically, you are not working against the feeling that you know what you are saying to be an untruth. Others achieve the same effect by simply not caring if they are lying - such individuals are can be dangerous.

    This also goes some way to explain why many** senior managers are uninterested in the details. Ignorance can be very powerful.

    *The partially successful Amber Rudd defence.

    **Not all. I have been privileged to met some of the few exceptions.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    It is very powerful. It put Trump in the White House.

    That said, I have a problem with the dataset. Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?

    I haven't seen a truthful tweet from him since ever. He does not know how to tell the truth. There is not one single thing he has said in public that cannot be almost immediately contradicted by a simple google search.

    So 30% really rubs me the wrong way.

  6. Tomato42 Silver badge

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    yeah, that 30% would suggest that the distribution was skewed somehow, politifact places him at 31% for half-true or true statements.

    It's nice to know that this sack of shit is actually lying, not just uninformed and refusing to get informed.

  7. Alien8n Silver badge

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    The best lies are wrapped in truth. Think of the Brexit NHS claim.

    "We give £350M a week to the EU"

    Technically true. All that was omitted was the fact that the majority of it was then spent in the UK on EU science projects, redevelopment schemes and subsidies. So the inference that we could give £350M a week to the NHS was the lie, as after the returns to the UK most of it would no longer be available. It was also predicated on the whole "Brexit Dividend", the idea that somehow leaving the EU would result in a magically better performing economy, since backtracked on by all but the most ardent Hard Brexiters.

  8. Iain 14
    Unhappy

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    "That said, I have a problem with the dataset. Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?"

    You have to remember that, as POTUS, a lot of Trump's tweets are purely "administrative", e.g. today's "HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!" tweet.

    In that context, around 30% proven factually incorrect sounds reasonable. Also given the sheer scale of his tweeting (16 tweets in the last 24 hours), that still represents a LOT of lies...

  9. Bonzo_red

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    If the tweet was him wishing a happy thanksgiving to all, then it could be classed as in accurate since he would never, ever wish a happy thanksgiving to Hillary.

  10. John Sanders
    IT Angle

    Re: Why not just...

    orange_man = "bad";

    echo($orange_man);

    There you go, AI doesn't need to be be more sophisticated than that.

  11. cosmogoblin

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?

    Since they only considered falsifiable statements (having removed opinions etc. from their data set), I had a similar reaction.

    But I suppose some facts are so incontrovertible that even His Highness couldn't screw them up. "It's Thursday" is hard to get THAT badly wrong, yeah?

    And Trump doesn't care about the truth, he's not actively trying to lie; so I suspect some of the "facts" he just makes up out of whole cloth turn out to be correct... Stop clocks, and all that.

  12. DavCrav Silver badge

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    "If the tweet was him wishing a happy thanksgiving to all, then it could be classed as in accurate since he would never, ever wish a happy thanksgiving to Hillary."

    Hillary and Bill Clinton were guests at Donald and Melania Trump's wedding. So never ever might be the wrong thing to say. 'Lock her up' is just a show he puts on.

  13. Frank Bitterlich
    Holmes

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    That said, I have a problem with the dataset. Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?

    Combine this with "[...] while tweets with religious terminology were less likely to be false." – I would say that the fact-checkers were not diligent enough...

  14. Gio Ciampa

    Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    "We give £350M a week to the EU"

    Technically even that statement is false - given that it's the pre-rebate figure - so we actually hand over rather less than that (and then most of it comes back our way - in effect - through EU spending)

    I gather someone is trying to sue Boris over that whole bus thing... popcorn at the ready...

  15. Terje

    Re: if breathing() return LYING

    That is likely because only 35% of the tweets actually contain any information that can be truth or lies the remaining 5% is likely truth by accident.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why not just...

    BREXIT anyone!?

  17. jmch Silver badge

    Re: if breathing() return LYING

    "the article itself states that only 30% of his tweets were deemed inaccurate by the Washington Post."

    Most politician-speak is vague waffle that can't be pinned down one way or another as true or false. So I think 30% definitely false is quite high.

  18. Someone Else Silver badge

    @Iain 14 -- Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

    You have to remember that, as POTUS, a lot of Trump's tweets are purely "administrative", e.g. today's "HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!" tweet.

    You're assuming that Agent Orange actually meant to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all, including the residents of Orange County who just turned the county entirely blue, or anyone living in or near Chicago or New York City or Washington D.C., or anyone whose skin has a higher concentration of melanin than he has, or a woman who won't let a man arbitrarily "grab her pussy", or anyone of Hispanic descent, or anyone who worships something other than the Lutheran God of the Holy Trinity, or.... No, I would maintain that this, too, was a lie (or perhaps was sent by one of his staffers, who may actually believe the sentiment included therein).

  19. Keef

    Nice word

    'winnowed'

    I like that and will use it.

    However, I find the easiest method of dealing with statements from the current racist, idiot bully incumbent POTUS is not to trust anything written or said. Fact check from several sources, occasionally he does get something right, I'm really not sure how though.

  20. Someone Else Silver badge

    Re: Nice word

    Downvoted for the "occasionally he does get something right", remark. Citations needed.

  21. IceC0ld Bronze badge

    Re: Nice word

    occasionally he does get something right, I'm really not sure how though.

    ===

    even a broken clock is correct twice a day

  22. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Nice word

    Downvoted for the "occasionally he does get something right", remark

    It simply reflects that the 100 monkeys algorithm has an easier time composing tweets. They're shorter than the complete works of Shakespeare.

  23. fajensen Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: Nice word

    Fact check from several sources, occasionally he does get something right,

    Yes, but .... why?

    Nothing is going to change, Donald Trump absolutely doesn't care, his supporters doesn't care, his opponents only care so far as to be virtue-signalling to each other and there is still two years to when the Dims and their 15000 army of con-slut-ants will somehow manage once again to pick the one candidate in the known universe that will certainly lose to Donald Trump and "Try", Ever so Hard, to win a presidential race.

    Instead of bother with the twit's tweeting one could learn to play the guitar or something!

  24. Dwarf Silver badge

    Covfefe

    What did it say about that ??

  25. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Covfefe

    "stop tweeting at 2AM after working from 6AM the previous day"

    (I think that's what actually happened, or something similar)

  26. jake Silver badge

    Re: Covfefe

    Some of us do just fine on 4 hours sleep per day. I typically get three hours at night, and a one hour siesta after lunch. Other folks might balk at such a sleep schedule, but it's been working for me since I was in high school.

    It would seem that the Idiot in Chief is not one of us (TINU).

  27. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Covfefe

    More like 'lock your phone before you put it in your pocket mid-tweet'.

  28. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Covfefe

    Some of us do just fine on 4 hours sleep per day

    Any less than about 8 hours for two days in a row is a shortcut to a guarenteed migraine for me..

  29. Mooseman Bronze badge

    Re: Covfefe

    Clearly Covfefe was true. It's the best word. Nobody else has words like it.

  30. netminder

    Re: Covfefe

    The tangerine terrorist never starts his day before 9AM, needs to get his ego stroked by Fox & Friends. There are long periods on his official schedule for 'executive time' which is naps & ego enrichment in front of the TV. He is not overworked & is as sharp at 2AM as at 2PM

  31. Someone Else Silver badge

    "And no, it's not simply return true;..."

    No, indeed. If it's a Drumpf twat er...tweet, it's return false.

  32. DougS Silver badge

    He has all kinds of tells

    He would make the worst poker player in history. My favorite is the "strong and powerful denial". When he says someone gave him a strong and powerful denial, you know that not only was the denial a lie, Trump knows it was a lie but intends to defend it to his death.

  33. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: He has all kinds of tells

    but intends to defend it to his death the point at which it becomes inconvenient.

    ftfy. The SCROTUS (Supreme crap regurgitator of the United States) won't defend anything to his death, because that would imply some kind of honour and consistency.

  34. Spanners Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: He has all kinds of tells

    SCROTUS - an excellent acronym!

  35. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Re: He has all kinds of tells

    When he says someone gave him a strong and powerful denial, you know that not only was the denial a lie, Trump knows it was a lie but intends to defend it to his death.

    No, I think he is honestly convinced by what Putin, Kim and bin Salman have said to him. He sees them as strong leaders and openly admires them, almost fawning in their presence. The same authoritarian streak which makes him believe his position gives him the right to do more than the Constitution actually allows, also leads him to deference in the presence of those who can order actions against their enemies with little restriction. This is why Kelly and the rest of his staff have to explain everything again to him once the summit meetings are over.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing letter

    you missed "Magnificent" from the acronym.

  37. Mongo

    Dodgy statistics

    The "factually accurate tweet" category is too small

  38. Palpy

    Interesting study, bad subject

    I think Trump is not a good liar, nor does he care to be. When he makes statements which are factually, provably wrong, he doesn't really try to justify them. He has said he views these statements as "truthful hyperbole", though there is nothing truthful about them. Trump lies to intimidate, confuse, or (most often) to dog-whistle his base. He doesn't intend deep deception. Nor is he smart enough to carry it off.

    It would be a tougher test of the lexical analysis if the researchers used it on statements by Putin, who is, I think, a masterful liar. Putin does lie to deceive. He does it with a chess-players long view of tactics and strategy, and with the smiling lubricity of a master poker player.

    Where Trump flaps and squawks, Putin smiles and slithers.

    Incidentally: the "all politicians do it" line doesn't work. No politician on either side of the Pond lies nearly as often as Trump lies. He is really exceptional in that regard. It's like comparing a guy who habitually drives on the sidewalks, runs over pedestrians, and smashes into other cars with someone who has gotten three tickets for running stop signs.

  39. Mycho Silver badge

    nothing truthful about them

    How it works, in case anyone actually cares:

    • Trump accuses Germany of getting 85% of their gas from Russia, says it's a security risk.
    • The media fills up with stories that Trump lied and it's really only 52%
    • German politicians realise that getting more than half of their gas from Russia still looks bad.
    • Germany signs a deal to buy American gas.

    The truth was that Germany was buying more Russian gas than most people would be comfortable with. The hyperbole/lie was that it was 85%. By focussing on the lie the media signal-boosted the truthful part and America's gas industry were the ones to profit.

  40. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: nothing truthful about them

    "Trump accuses Germany of getting 85% of their gas from Russia, says it's a security risk."

    Damn clever these Russians - I didn't know you could deliver malware through the gas pipes.

    Seriously, what has the Russian government got to gain by using gas supplies as a form of ransom? This is a country with vast gas reserves which wants foreign currency. To do that you become known as a reliable supplier. Cut off German gas in winter and your economy just tanked.

    Delivering US gas by tanker is far more of a security risk. In fact, Trump's strategy of trying to force the EU to buy American shows who is the real villain in this piece.

  41. Rupert Fiennes

    Re: nothing truthful about them

    The Russians have cut off gas to those that displeased them, several times in fact. As per the construction of Nord Stream 2, there comes a time when your physical infrastructure is so biased towards one supplier that you lack the ability to go elsewhere in a hurry. At which point, you don't need to cut people off to demonstrate your power: just have some "technical problems" that reduce the flow, while asking if your customer would mind doing a few things for you.

    How is an LNG tanker a security risk, exactly?

  42. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: nothing truthful about them

    I doubt Trump's intervention will have any effect on where Germany buys its gas from. The US have been bringing large amounts of LNG onstream, due to their rise in production from fracking, and so are looking to sell it into Europe. Only an idiot ignores a possible alternative supplier - even if only to make your main supplier cut their prices.

    Gazprom are still building a massive second pipeline from Russia to Germany, in order to cut-out and fuck-over Germany's allies in Eastern Europe ease the logistics of their supplies to Germany. So Germany are still planning to use lots of Russian gas. They're just putting alternatives in place, now they're available.

  43. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    exporting gas

    I dont know why any country would export fossil fuel.

    Its shortsighted . And by shortsighted I mean not looking 100 years ahead .

  44. fajensen Silver badge

    Re: nothing truthful about them

    How is an LNG tanker a security risk, exactly?

    Like SWIFT or the Internet: Any infrastructure is also a weapon seen from the US perspective.

    The yanks might get miffed over something at any given moment and confiscate payments or cancel delivery. The Russians only canceled gas to Ukraine because Ukraine did not pay, which is normal, one would think.

  45. DougS Silver badge

    Re: exporting gas

    I dont know why any country would export fossil fuel.

    First of all, the US isn't trying to produce as much natural gas as we do. It is a byproduct of the fracking for oil. The US is now the world's largest oil producer, and based on the trends in production growth from 2008-2018 within the next year or two will produce more oil than it consumes.

    If there was no alternative to fossil fuels then I'd agree with you that exporting it would be short sighted for a country like the US but we can't get the oil out without getting gas as a byproduct so we can either let it go waste (burn it off) find ways to use it (difficult since you can't just flip a switch and replace coal or oil burning generators with natural gas overnight) or sell it. You can't leave it in the ground and you sure can't store the volumes we're producing.

    For countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia who derive much of their GDP from oil and gas production, leaving it in the ground and using only what you need is only an alternative if you want your government overthrown.

    At the rate wind and solar is dropping in price, that natural gas may be worth much less in a decade. Coal is already more expensive - even the pollution regulation cuts Trump's cronies have pushed through won't cure the "problem". Coal is finished in the US, no new plants will be built and the existing ones are being retired before their full life span is reached. Gas is still needed for base load, but as better battery technology (flow batteries etc.) comes online over the next decade, it will become practical to store excess wind/solar and eat into natural gas's baseload role.

    It will take decades to replace natural gas's baseload role completely, but once wind/solar is cheaper with storage (it is already nearly equivalent for peak power use) new natural gas plants won't be built and gas utilization will slowly drop as existing plants are retired and replaced by wind and solar.

  46. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Interesting study, bad subject

    "truthful hyperbole"

    Sounds like some academic or other adult supervisor got him to rote learn a big word so he could call his version something other than Fake News 'cos only the "bad people" do Fake News.

  47. beep54
    Flame

    Re: exporting gas

    "we can't get the oil out without getting gas as a byproduct so we can either let it go waste (burn it off)"

    When I was a wee sprat living in Tulsa lo these many years ago, we'd often pass by small refineries (or something) where they were burning off natural gas. This tended to grab my attention as it was one honking huge gout of fire, so I'd ask Dad (since he was in the industry even if he was an office manager) why they would do that. If it was gas, why not use it? Cars use gas, right? Wrong type of gas he said. Still, this seemed totally stupid to my child's mind. Years on, it is oddly comforting to know I was right about it.

    [as to the icon, not pissed about anything; that's what the burn off looked like]

  48. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Re: Interesting study, bad subject

    Doug , do you think wind and solar can ever replicate the sheer megaJoules that 100 million barrels of crude per day produces?

    and how would you store it?

  49. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: exporting gas

    If there was no alternative to fossil fuels carbon for the chemical industry and metal smelting<

    Well, is there? That's why continuing to use it and export it as a fuel is short-sighted.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: exporting gas

    > I dont know why any country would export fossil fuel.

    Errm, because other countries don't have any of their own? [And the people in those countries like the idea of not dying of hypothermia in Winter?]

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