Thursday, January 26, 2012

The claim that Bill Adair doesn't blow goats is mostly true

He wrote this

In our first couple of years, we treated many of those claims very literally. If someone said jobs had gone up since a governor was in office, and we found the numbers backed it up, the statement earned a True.

About a year ago, we realized

what ? That the whole idea of fact checking is a mistake ? That true statements of fact aren't true ?

I e-mailed

I think very highly of Politifact. I congratulate you for the integrity it took to revise a very controversial half true rating for a claim of fact which you noted and note is accurate. I am not satisfied and will be one of God knows how many on all sides who object.

I think that if a claim of fact is true, it should be rated true. The supposed implicatoni or implied causal hypothesis is not your business.

You wrote "In our first couple of years, we treated many of those claims very literally." I read that as ""In our first couple of years, we fact checked." I think the post goes on to explain that you decided that fact checking wouldn't, by itself, eliminate the effectiveness of deceptive rhetoric on the political debate, you felt you could and should save the world, so you decided not to stick to fact checking.

OK but rename yourself "politifair" or "politicontraposthocergopropterhoc" or something. I like fact checking. You have decided that factual accuracy isn't the key issue. I liked Politifact exactly because of what it was for its first two years.

You agree that all of the quoted text is true. You couldn't decide if you should rate it half true or mostly true. You don't see how absurd your explanation is.

Also you discuss time pressure "20 minutes." You assume that you just couldn't get your fact check out an hour after the speech. What possible legitimate journalistic purpose is served by rushing so much ?

You note that you decided that the rating depended on context. I think this is a repudiation of fact checking and absolutely disagree. But before looking at the context, you had narrowed the options down to "half true" or "Mostly true". And you admit it. You decided that based on evidence which was, at the time, a forecast in your imaginations. How did you type the post without wondering whether to resign your position ? I ask for information.


Finally if the context is needed to make a quote complete enough to check, then the context must be quoted as part of the claim being checked. As it is, you put up a statement which, you agree, is 100% true but rate it mostly true, because of other text which you don't present as part of the claim of fact to be checked and do present as part of the claim of fact to be checked. Your position is that the quoted statement is true, but it is a misleading quote because necessary context was removed, by you.

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