Friday, February 8, 2019

Who wrote the overview?

Yesterday CNBC published an article Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal offers 'economic security' for those 'unwilling to work'.

They reference an "overview" of the Green New Deal that they say first is being "circulated by proponents" and later describe as being "released by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's office." They say they reached out to her office. They don't say what they heard back, or if they heard back.

The document itself is ... interesting. It includes a bunch of stuff that is consistent with the formal resolution introduced yesterday by AOC and Sen. Markey.

It also includes the line that it wants to guarantee "Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work."

I don't have any proof that the document is inauthentic, but I do see some flags that it might well be a fake.

The "Overview" document that CNBC links to seems to be hosted at documentcloud.org. I've never heard of that site, but as far as I can tell, it's a legitimate place where anybody can post anything that they want to store, or analyze, or share. There's an NPR article about the actual resolution (not the "overview") that refers to an earlier version of the resolution, and the link for that goes to a document at documentcloud.org.

But there's a subtle difference.

The URL that NPR sends you to starts www.documentcloud.org, and the tab that comes up in my browser has a little "cloud" icon.

The URL that CNBC sends you to for the "overview" starts assets.documentcloud.org, and the tab that comes up in my browser has a generic icon that comes up when I open a PDF in my browser.

So my first question is whether the "overview" is posted at a spoof site that is pretending to be documentcloud.org.

Second, the document itself has numerous linguistic oddities.

“The Green New Deal resolution a 10-year plan” [missing the word “is”]

“IPCC Report said global emissions must be cut by by 40-60%” [missing “The”, which is stylistically inconsistent with other places in the document]

“When JFK said we’d go to the by the end of the decade, people said impossible.” [missing the word “moon”, and “people said impossible” is weird diction]

“At the time, the U.S. had produced 3,000 planes in the last year.” [“previous” would be more idiomatic]

“This is massive investment in our economy” [“a massive investment” would be more idiomatic]

“the greatest middle class the US has seen.” [“the US has ever seen” would be more idiomatic]

“We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” [OK, this is partly weird — taking as my null hypothesis that this is from AOC’s office, are they laughing at themselves by talking about farting cows and completely eliminating airplanes? Under the alternative hypothesis, that this is a ratfuck, do they think this is going to look simultaneously ridiculous but credible that AOC’s office would write it?]

I stopped there, but let me just comment that all the language issues I called out, with the exception of missing the word “moon”, are consistent with a Russian speaker. Russian doesn’t usually use the present tense of “to be” — if there’s no verb in a sentence, then assume that the verb is “am/is/are”. Russian doesn’t have articles, so even fairly accomplished speakers of English are prone to drop “the” and “a” when they’re needed, or occasionally stick them in when they’re not.

None of this proves that the "Overview" document is a fake, but it does raise some questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment