Are you familiar with Betteridge’s Law? This is a law among journalists that any headline that poses a question can be answered with an emphatic “no”.
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Have you read the important notes as a condition for reading this blog?
It was coined by Ian Betteridge who observed that the TechCrunch article from 2009 Did Last.fm Just Hand Over User Listening Data To the RIAA? was suspect and may not be true. He responded:
This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.
Betteridge’s Law has become a byword for journalist laziness. By appending a question mark to the end of a headline you can absolve yourself of any responsibility for reasoned argument or any in-depth research, and the article is likely to be no more than fluff.
Which brings me to betteridgeslaw.com
This site publishes links to articles that satisfy Betteridge’s Law, and I have had the dubious honor of appearing with my article – Should I Wet My Pants Over the Blockchain?
I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that article of mine justifies inclusion, but when you slight an actuary you must face the consequences, and actuaries come out fighting!
What tools of the fighting trade do actuaries use, and what is their preferred weapon of choice? Do the actuarial exams have a module dedicated to Van Damme flying kicks, or training in Terminator style mayhem? Are newly minted actuaries issued with deadly nun-chucks?
An actuary’s preferred weapon of choice is the existential paradox.
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An Existential Paradox
With one cunning and subtle blow I will take down betteridgeslaw.com without resorting to anything humdrum like a DoS attack. No – this article itself is the weapon, payload and delivery.
- If the article is included on betteridgeslaw.com then the answer to the question Should This Post Be Featured On Betteridge’s Law .com? will be a clear ‘yes’. In which case the article is not an example of Betteridge’s Law and so should not be included on the site.
- Now consider the opposite, where the article is not included on betterisdgeslaw.com. In this case we have an article with a headline that ends in a question mark where the answer is ‘no’. It’s a clear case of Betterindge’s Law but is not being included on the site when it clearly should be included.
We have a paradox. This article can neither be included on the site, nor not included on the site. I fully expect betteridgeslaw.com to be instantly vaporized in a puff of existential quandary. Don’t mess with my shit guys!
Are you concerned about crossing an actuary? We are pretty dangerous when provoked! If you run a website and are worried about existential paradoxes vaporizing your site then leave a comment below.
Want to read something more serious? Then try Reprise! Sequence of Returns Risk.
Or perhaps something less serious? Then try 6 Unbelievable Reasons Why Listicles Won’t Make You Financially Independent