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"Just the Facts, Ma'am"
February 4, 2013 10:03 AM   Subscribe

In this era of polarized debate, few people actually fact-check anymore, instead choosing to believe whatever "their own side" tells them without fact-checking the data. JustFacts is a website seeking to correct such biases using impartial standards of credibility.

Some facts may greatly surprise you. For example, proponents of Keynesian economics may learn that it has never actually been implemented the way it is intended - at only one period in the past 40 years has federal revenue outstripped spending. Similarly, gun control advocates may be startled to learn that guns are surprisingly effective at deterring criminals. Other facts (such as the reality of global warming) may be far less surprising.
posted by wolfdreams01 (23 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is like three different fights competing to start each other and reads more like something to post on your blog than a well-presented Mefi post. -- cortex



 
Just facts stripped of all implications does not always equal the "reality" of an issue. For example it's a fact that Death row has a 0% recidivism rate!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:07 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


For example it's a fact that Death row has a 0% recidivism rate!

Not quite true. People are released from Death Rows and it is possible to commit crimes in jail.
posted by srboisvert at 10:11 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example it's a fact that Death row has a 0% recidivism rate!

I'm pretty confident that is not a "fact" listed on their website (since as srboisvert pointed out, it's untrue and does not have any citations).
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2013


James D. Agresti, the president and primary researcher, holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University and has worked as a designer of jet aircraft engines, a technical sales professional, and chief engineer of a firm that customizes helicopters. He is the author of Rational Conclusions, a highly researched book evidencing factual support for the Bible across a broad array of academic disciplines.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by theodolite at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [29 favorites]


Presentation of data carries editorial bias. Facts also read differently to different audiences.

For instance, I did not get "guns are surprisingly effective at deterring criminals" from that fact sheet.
posted by daveliepmann at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2013


I think it's an interesting idea, but I think most people will ignore it because of the perception of bias, whether or not it exists.

That said, recidivism is usually applied to the effects outside of jails. not inside them. The idea of a jail is to lock away people from committing crimes against the (perceived to be innocent) population.
posted by corb at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2013


JustFacts is a website seeking to correct such biases using impartial standards of credibility.

...unless you look at their "Just Facts Daily," whereupon it becomes obvious that their "facts" are just right-wing talking points. Even their global warming section seems to consist mostly of assertions -- sorry, realities -- that it's going to be a great thing because plants love CO2!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2013


That's because general population has a higher recitivism rate. I would however be rather shocked to hear that someone who was executed actually comitted another crime.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In this era of polarized debate, few people actually fact-check anymore

Actually, there are more "fact checkers" out there than there have ever been.

And this site reads like Reason magazine; a thin veneer of impartial, "rational," analysis over some pretty obviously one-sided and axe-grinding analyses.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some facts may greatly surprise you. For example, proponents of Keynesian economics may learn

This is a weird question but is this FPP a snuck-in Gotcha about an argument you had a month ago?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Figures don't lie, but liar do figure." -- Mark Twain

The site seems to be presented with a healthy dose of right-wing opinion, e.g., taxes.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2013


A hodge-podge of data from studies conducted between 1993 and 2000 hardly constitutes firm evidence that guns provide a reasonable deterrent to crime. For instance, this study suggests that a large proportion of - perhaps even most - self-reported "defensive" gun uses are illegal and undesirable. Also, self-reported defensive gun uses are not corroborated by hospital records.

And finally, the statement that many criminals report having guns used against them by potential victims ignores the reality that many of these victims are themselves criminals (ie, you try to rob a dealer and he sticks a gun in your face), and perhaps most damningly, dates from 1982.
posted by Mister_A at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2013


I think it's an interesting idea, but I think most people will ignore it because of the perception of bias, whether or not it exists.

I think most people will ignore it because it's gibberish. People who purport to present direct access to facts outside of a context of interpretation are making things up, because, well, that's not how facts work. I guess most often these people end up presenting the slant of their cultural context — and these contexts can sometimes be so weird. Like, I'm not the slightest bit surprised that someone with this project would believe things like the thing that theodolite excerpted. It's like how when someone claims that they're presenting the bible without interpretation, you can safely bet that you're about to hear some deeply bizarre biblical interpretation.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be very skeptical about a one-stop-shop for impartiality.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


See also, Conservapedia.
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...guns are surprisingly effective at deterring criminals

Funny, I didn't see anything about how effective guns are for committing crimes.
posted by sensate at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's because general population has a higher recitivism rate. I would however be rather shocked to hear that someone who was executed actually comitted another crime.
Well, the Bible doesn't really give all that much info on exactly what Jesus was up to his second time around.
posted by Flunkie at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2013


a thin veneer of impartial, "rational," analysis over some pretty obviously one-sided and axe-grinding analyses.

Oh, so when they say Just Facts, it's more like this is a Just Cause rather than "just 'cuz."
posted by FJT at 10:22 AM on February 4, 2013


From Just Facts' "gun control" page:

A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone "almost certainly would have been killed" if they "had not used a gun for protection." Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 162,000 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all "military service, police work, or work as a security guard."

What people think is not a "fact". That the "American Sniper" was killed yesterday, in a gun range, by a criminal manifestly undeterred by all the firepower present, and his victim's resumé, that, on the other hand, is a fact.
posted by Skeptic at 10:22 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flunkie: "Well, the Bible doesn't really give all that much info on exactly what Jesus was up to his second time around."

You could probably make a case for trespassing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds like another junkscience.org
Though, that guy was secretly on payroll of companies who needed to smear the science.
This guy... who knows. Who cares.
posted by anonymisc at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2013


Similarly, gun control advocates may be startled to learn that guns are surprisingly effective at deterring criminals.

And yet, one of America's top snipers was shot and killed at gun range in Texas.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2013


"Just facts" is a great technique for shielding yourself from dissenting analyses of the same data. Its partner in My Opinion Is Objective is "you're just being emotional."

Or, as came onto my twitter feed serendipitously today:

He's predictably irrational, you have cognitive biases, I apply smart heuristics.

"Apply smart heuristics" in this case replaced by the ever more stupefying "base my opinion on just facts".
posted by daveliepmann at 10:24 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


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