In this age of political polarization, "fact checkers" promise to help voters sort out the fact from the fiction. Can the fact checkers themselves be trusted? Are some questions too complicated for "right" or "wrong" answers? Will voters create their own realities whatever the "facts" might be? Also, the Taliban strikes a deal with Qatar to open a peace office. On Reporter’s Notebook, should a new violin really play second fiddle to a Stradivarius or a Guarnerius?
FROM THIS EPISODE
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led NATO campaign of 2001, but it's been fighting back ever since. It says it won't negotiate with the Karzai Administration until foreign troops have withdrawn. But today it announced the opening of an office in Qatar, specifically to begin talks with the United States. Ernesto Londoño is based in Kabul for the Washington Post.
Nobody should be surprised when politicians distort the facts or tell outright lies. In 2007, the St. Petersburg Times introduced a feature called PolitiFact. It's complete with a "Truth-O-Meter," and a range from "True" through "Mostly True" to "Mostly False," "False" and finally, "Pants on Fire." PolitiFact joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org. The Washington Post now has a regular feature called The Fact Checker. While such checkers promise to give voters the truth, they themselves are critiqued from the Right and the Left, accused of choosing the facts they check according to hidden agendas. Does one side lie more than the other? Do the media add to the confusion by trying to find "balance" between the two or are "facts" really what voters want to know? If so, why do they sometimes cling to beliefs in proven falsehoods?
Violins made centuries ago by Stradivari or Guarneri del Gesu can bring millions of dollars but do they really sound all that much better than instruments being made today? Claudia Fritz, a French expert on the acoustics of violins, persuaded musicians at an international competition in Indianapolis to play six classic and modern instruments while wearing goggles, so they couldn't see which was which. Then she asked them which they'd most like to take home. We hear more from Fritz, and from Nicholas Wade, author of The Faith Instinct, about the evolution of religious behavior, is a science reporter for the New York Times.
More From To the Point
Sifting through the ashes: Cleanup and questions after the fires Wildfire is all too familiar in the Golden State, but last week's record-setting blazes in Northern California left behind something new — more property damage over a wider area with more human casualties than ever before. We hear about likely causes, the struggle to clean up and the possibility of prevention.
Political dueling and the future of the ACA Uncertainty about the fate of Obamacare grows by the day, with key factors including bipartisanship in the Senate, opposition deeper than ever in Congress -- and a president who veers from one side to the other. We talk with Maryland's attorney general and others about what's at stake from the state house to the doctor's office.
Will the NFL find common ground on national anthem protests? National Football League team owners are meeting today to craft a unified message about political protest. Men and women athletes in other sports are protesting too. We hear how one man's refusal to stand for the flag has demonstrated the inseparable relationship between sports and politics.
Author Masha Gessen on the appeal of Putin and Trump Masha Gessen was born in Russia but emigrated with her parents to the United States. She returned in the early 1990s when political change was afoot. And since then, she’s become a leading observer - and critic - of Russian president Vladamir Putin. She fled Russia again in 2013. In this special podcast, Warren Olney talks with Gessen about her new book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia .
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Substandard living in Santa Barbara Property owner Dario Pini houses thousands of low-income tenants throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, but faces over 3,000 health and safety violations and three lawsuits by the city of… Read More
How to prepare for an earthquake Thursday is California’s Great ShakeOut drill. If you haven’t gotten your earthquake kit together and made sure you have a plan, do it today! What should be in your earthquake… Read More