Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lost letters to PolitiFact Bias

We discovered a lost letter of sorts intended in response to our recent post "Fact-checking while blind, with PolitiMath."

Jon Honeycutt, posting to PolitiFact's Facebook page, wrote that he posted a comment to this site but it never appeared. I posted to Facebook in response to Honeycutt, including the quotation of his criticism in my reply:
Jon Honeycutt (addressing "PolitiFact Bias") wrote:
Hmm, just looked into 'politifact bias', the very first article I read Claimed that politifact found a 20% difference in the congressional approval rating but still found the meme mostly true. But when you read the actual article they link to, politifact found about a 3% difference. Then when I tried to comment to correct it, my comment never appeared.
Jon, I'm responsible for the article you're talking about. You found no mistake. As I wrote, "percentage error calculations ours." That means PolitiFact didn't bother calculating the error by percentage. The 3 percent different you're talking about is a difference in terms of percentage *points*. It's two different things. We at PolitiFact Bias are much better at those types of calculations than is PolitiFact. You were a bit careless with your interpretation.I have detected no sign of any attempt to comment on that article. Registration is required or else we get anonymous nonsense. I'd have been quite delighted to defend the article against your complaint.
To illustrate the point, consider a factual figure of 10 percent and a mistaken estimate of 15 percent. The difference between the two is 5 percentage points. But the percentage error is 50 percent. That's because the estimate exceeds the true figure by that percentage (15-10=5, 5/10=.5).

Don't be shy, would-be critics! We're no less than 10 times better than is PolitiFact at responding to criticism, based on past performance. The comments section is open to those who register, and anyone who is a member of Facebook can post to our Facebook page.

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