Thursday, February 19, 2015

PolitiFact's latest survey on Rush Limbaugh

We've long criticized PolitiFact's habit of presenting its "report cards" summing up its findings on political personalities and the like. Of course the report cards are non-scientific and should not be used to generalize about those personalities.

Yet PolitiFact continues to publish them. Apparently they can't resist throwing out this type of click bait.

Screen capture cropped from from PolitiFact.com's Facebook page

Of Rush Limbaugh, PolitiFact says "He has yet to receive a rating of True."

So what?

If the scorecard featured a randomized set of fact checks, then it might mean something about Limbaugh that he hasn't received a "True" rating from PolitiFact. But lacking any such randomization, the results say something about PolitiFact, not Limbaugh. And it's the predictable results of publishing these silly scorecard stories that makes the practice particularly wrong:


Screen capture cropped from DailyKos.com

It's a survey! You know, like a scientific survey using a randomized population of fact checks. Except it's not.

Allen Clifton at "Forward Progressives" foreshadowed PolitiFact's hightlighting of Limbaugh's record. More than a coincidence?

The folks at PolitiFact have to know that people get misled by these scorecards. Yet they keep highlighting them anyway, often with no warning about the unscientific nature of the [ahem] survey.

What does that say about PolitiFact?

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