Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Not a lot of reader confusion" IV

PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan has famously defended PolitiFact's various "report card" graphs by declaring she does not observe much reader confusion. Readers, Holan believes, realize that PolitiFact fact checkers are not social scientists. Equipped with that understanding, people presumably only draw reasonable conclusions from the graphed results of PolitiFact's "entirely subjective" trademarked "Truth-O-Meter" ratings.

What planet do PolitiFact fact checkers live on, we wonder?

We routinely see people using PolitiFact data as though it was derived scientifically. Jeff spotted a sensational example on Twitter.
Here's an enlarged view of the chart to which Jeff objected:


How did the chart measure the "actual honesty" of the four presidential primary candidates? Just in case it's hard to read, we'll tilt it 90 degrees and zoom in:


That's right. The chart uses PolitiFact's subjective ratings, despite the even more obvious problem of selection bias, to measure candidates "actual honesty."

The guy to whom Jeff replied, T. R. Ramachandran, runs a newsletter that gives us terrific (eh) information on politics. Comprehensive insights & stuff:

It's not plausible that the people who run PolitiFact do not realize that people use their offal (sic) data this way. The fact that PolitiFact resists adding a disclaimer to its ratings and charts leads us inexorably toward the conclusion that PolitiFact really doesn't mind misleading people. At least not to the point of adding the disclaimer that would fix the bulk of the problem.

Why not give this a try, PolitiFact? Hopefully it's not too truthful for you.




2 comments:

  1. The fact that people like you are devoting so much time and energy in an attempt to discredit politifact tells me that they must be doing something right. People only get this bothered when they are confronted with a truth they don't want to acknowledge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me wrote:

      **The fact that people like you are devoting so much time and energy in an attempt to discredit politifact tells me that they must be doing something right.**

      If you heard somebody say the fact that the DNC spent so much time and energy trying to defeat Trump showed that he must be doing something right, maybe you'd realize the sheer stupidity of that line of reasoning.

      The fact is, if we're right about the things we say about PolitiFact, then PolitiFact is doing something wrong.

      That's good reasoning. So now if you want to say PolitiFact is doing something right, a good first step is showing that we're doing something wrong in our criticism.

      Good luck with that.

      **People only get this bothered when they are confronted with a truth they don't want to acknowledge.**

      What truth do we not wish to acknowledge? Be forewarned that you may be asked to offer evidence why that truth ought to be accepted.

      Maybe people like you are bothered when they're confronted with a truth they do not want to acknowledge.

      Delete