Sunday, August 3, 2014

PolitiMath at PolitiFact Oregon

PolitiFact Oregon provides us with a great item to compare to our July 30 examination of mathematics at PolitiFact's PunditFact project.

In the PunditFact item, we noted that Cokie Roberts used a probability comparison that was off by almost 9000 percent and received a "Half True" rating from PolitiFact, thanks to her underlying point that getting murdered in Honduras was more likely than in New York City.

On July 31, PolitiFact Oregon published a fact check of George Will.  Will wrote a few things about how prominently health care providers figure in Oregon's list of top job providers.  Will was making the case for a medical doctor in the senate, Republican candidate Monica Wehby.

PolitiFact Oregon rated Will's claim "False":
Will, in a column supporting the candidacy of Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby, included a link purporting to show Oregon’s 25 largest employers. The chart, he wrote, indicated that the dominance of large health care providers in Oregon -- the three largest employers and 13 of the top 25 in the state fit that niche, according to the chart -- make Dr. Wehby the best choice for the job.

Calls and emails to many of the companies listed, however, indicate that the chart’s numbers are way off, often wildly so. The top three employers on the list Will used are, in fact, a single entity. And by our count, the highest number of health care providers that can rank among Oregon’s top 25 employers is nine, not the 13 Will cited.

We rate the claim False.
Will was off by as much as 225 percent (using four as the number of health care providers in the top 25), apparently totally overwhelming any underlying point he had about about health care providers employing quite a few Oregonians.

After all, it's way too much to ask for consistency from mainstream media fact checkers.

Incidentally, we found healthcare/social assistance combined make up about 12.6 percent of all jobs in Oregon (as of June 2014, seasonally adjusted).  That's about 15.1 percent of the private workforce.

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