Skip to main content

Blogging and political information: truth or truthiness?


Does the blogosphere generate truth, or what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness,’ facts or concepts one only wishes or believes were true? Bloggers and the mainstream media face the same difficulties if they wish to rely on the blogosphere as a generator of truth. First, both bloggers and media converge on a small number of key blogs as sources of information. But the proprietors of these elite blogs are likely to resist information that doesn’t conform to their existing attitudes and beliefs, precisely because they are already highly aware of politics. Second, blogs and blog readers are likely to separate themselves into smaller networks according to their particular tastes. However, under some circumstances the blogosphere may still approximate a parallel processing statistical estimator of the truth with ‘nice’ properties. The key to this outcome is that judgments are independent, and that problems of polarization are mitigated.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. American Dialect Society. (2006). Truthiness voted 2005 word of the year by American Dialect Society. (accessed May 2006).

  2. Aristotle. Politics. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. (accessed May 2006).

  3. Austen-Smith, D., & Banks, J. S. (1996). Information aggregation rationality and the Condorcet jury theorem. American Political Science Review, 90(1), 34–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cohen, J. (1986). An epistemic conception of democracy. Ethics, 97(1), 26–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Coleman, J., & Ferejohn, J. (1986). Democracy and social choice. Ethics, 97(1), 6–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Coughlan, P. J. (2000). In defense of unanimous jury verdicts: mistrials communication and strategic voting. American Political Science Review, 94(2), 375–394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cox, A. M. (2004). Televised speech, presented to the Online News Association 11/11/2004, shown on C-SPAN (rtsp://

  8. Cyberalert. (2004). The 1,868th CyberAlert. Tracking liberal media bias since 1996 9:35am EST, Wednesday, 24 November 2004 (Vol. 9, no. 231). (accessed November 2006).

  9. Estlund, D. (1994). Opinion leaders independence and Condorcet’s jury theorem. Theory and Decision, 36(2), 131–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Estlund, D., Waldron, J., Grofman, B., & Feld, S. (1989). Controversy: democratic theory and the public interest: Condorcet and Rousseau revisited. American Political Science Review, 83(4), 1317–1340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Feddersen, T., & Pesendorfer, W. (1998). Convicting the innocent: the inferiority of unanimous jury verdicts under strategic voting. American Political Science Review, 92, 23–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gaus, G. (1997). Does democracy reveal the voice of the people? Four takes on Rousseau. Austral–Asian Journal of Philosophy, 75(2), 141–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Grofman, B., & Feld, S. L. (1988). Rousseau’s general will: a Condorcetian perspective. American Political Science Review, 82(2), 567–576.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hayek, F. (1988). The fatal conceit. Collected works of F. A. Hayek (Vol. I). W. W. Bartleby III (Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kuhn, T. (1963). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ladha, K. K. (1992). The Condorcet jury theorem, free speech, and correlated votes. American Journal of Political Science, 36(3), 617–634.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Language Log. (2005) Truthiness or trustiness? (accessed November 2006).

  18. Liberman, M. (2004). You couldn’t have a starker contrast. Language Log (accessed May 2006).

  19. List, C., & Goodin, R. (2001). Epistemic democracy: generalizing the Condorcet jury theorem. Journal of Political Philosophy, 9(3), 277–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Birds of a feather: homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415–444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Miller, N. R. (1986). Information, electorates, and democracy: some extensions and interpretations of the Condorcet jury theorem. In B. Grofman & G. Owen (Eds.), Information pooling and group decision making. Greenwich: JAI.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Sunstein, C. (2001). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Sunstein, C. R. (2002). The law of group polarization. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 10(2), 175–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Sunstein, C. R. (2003). Why societies need dissent. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Sunstein, C. R. (2007) Neither Hayek nor Habermas (this volume).

  26. Surowiecki, J. (2004). The wisdom of crowds. Why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies and nations. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Thornburg, D., & Boccardi, L. (5 January 2005). Report of the Independent review panel on the 8 September 2004 60 minutes Wednesday segment ‘for the record’ concerning president Bush’s Texas Air National Guard Service. Washington, DC. (accessed May 2006).

  28. Zuckerman, E. (2007). Meet the bridgebloggers: who’s speaking and who’s listening in the international blogosphere. Public Choice (this volume)

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael C. Munger.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Munger, M.C. Blogging and political information: truth or truthiness?. Public Choice 134, 125–138 (2008).

Download citation


  • Truth
  • Truthiness
  • Blogs
  • US politics
  • Hayek