August 12, 2010


The little asterisk has become a pretty powerful bit of punctuation lately. You see it all the time at the end of a sentence, telling you to look to the end of the page to find more information. Of course, these days it is usually a fine-print disclaimer. Things like, "The FDA has not evaluated this claim" following some proposed health benefit, or "Side effects may include:" followed by a list of things often less appealing than what you are trying to avoid in the first place.

Lately, I have seen sentences followed by an asterisk with no accompanying explanation, fine-print or otherwise. It seems the asterisk is now self-contained and has come to mean, "The proceeding claim is incomplete, misleading, or an outright fabrication. Please disregard, and keep reading at your own risk."

Maybe politicians and "news" outlets should be more upfront by saying "asterisk" once in a while.

1 comment:

matt said...

My favorite political asterisk from the past few years is, "Ok, the evidence was faked but it is still true"

hmmmmm . . . .