Swickard: What do you believe in the news?

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Sometimes in newspaper stories the truth of what happened in the story is easy to see. At other times it is not. To deal with this ambiguity I have always wanted to enable readers to give a confidence rating to these more ambiguous stories. It would be a way of showing which stories, well, smell fishy.
     So some stories are just a matter of facts. An example would be: Bif Largecrash drove his rust colored 1986 Ford truck off the side of a hill last Saturday. He did so while trying to tune the radio to a different station because he said the song playing reminded him of his ex-wife’s lawyer.
     He was thrown from his truck and rescuers found him still clutching the aforementioned radio knob. An ambulance took him to the Emergency Room where he received 17 stitches and a stern lecture. Police chief, Al L. Blanks said, “It sure was good thing that the ground broke Bif’s fall or he could have been hurt.”
     Others stories contain more conjecture. Example: At the recent Town Council meeting Town Councilor I. M. Shady called Mayor Dee Power a cheater and stupid. “Am not,” replied Power. “Which one?” asked Shady. “Let me think,” said Dee.
     In the second example there is a conflict of opinions. We all have had those conflicts of opinion. It would be nice in the newspaper to have a section where the “conjecture” stories were all listed so that readers could indicate if the person is a cheater and stupid or just one. We need to know this.
     Here are some examples of facts and conjectures. Rate your confidence in the statements from 0 to 100. A rating of 100 means you are completely confident of it being true, like something your mother told you, whereas 0 means you do not believe it at all, like something politicians promise on the campaign trail.
1 - President Richard Nixon was a crook. _____
2 - Americans did land on the moon. _______
3 - Aliens crashed a space ship near Roswell. ______
4 - The police arrive quicker than pizza delivery. _____
5 - Van Gogh was an artist because he had no ear for music. ______
6 - Eight out of every five people cannot do math. _____
7 - Outlaws are more interesting than in-laws. _____
8 - Elvis is still alive. _____
9 - Japanese remember Pearl Harbor better than Americans. _____
10 - If taxes are outlawed, only outlaws will have taxes. _____
11 - The Marquis de Sade is an ObamaCare Administrator. _____
12 - 81% of American schools are below average. _____
13 - The number 13 is unlucky. _____
14 - If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three. _____
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NMFA hires new CEO

The governing board of the New Mexico Finance Authority on Wednesday approved Robert Coalter as its CEO. 

Coalter has been executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority since 2012, and worked for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts from 1991 to 2011. 

Former state budget director John Gasparich has been interim CEO since last year when Rick May was fired after the discovery that a financial audit had been faked. NMFA ex-controller Greg Campbell pleaded guilty to forgery and securities fraud. 

The New Mexico authority uses bond proceeds to provide low-cost loans to cities, counties, schools and other governmental organizations for capital improvements. 

Coalter's starting date and salary is to be negotiated.