Politifact = separating fact from bullshit
November 1, 2007 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Politifact is brought to you by the St. Pete Times and the Congressional Quarterly (excellent domain name, btw!) to help you sift through all the bullshit that comes out of politicians' mouths.

For example, Rudy Guiliani had the gall to say:

“I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago. My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States, 82%. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44% under socialized medicine.”

and Politifact points out:

"According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate in the U.S. actually is above 99 percent. In the United Kingdom, it’s nearly 75 percent, according to their Office for National Statistics...Giuliani’s campaign defends the numbers it used from City Journal, a quarterly magazine funded by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York."

and

"A more accurate comparison would be to look at mortality rates, said prostate cancer epidemiologist Lorelei Mucci, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. In the U.S., about 15.8 of every 100,000 men die of prostate cancer, while in the U.K., the figure is 17.9 deaths...“They’re essentially quite similar,” she said."
posted by taumeson (15 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
So factcheck.org....again.
posted by DU at 8:53 AM on November 1, 2007


Biden
"The president is brain-dead."

Joe Biden on Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Irresponsible claim (and wrong medical diagnosis)
Pants on fire!

During a campaign stop in Iowa on July 4, the six-term senator declared, “This guy is brain-dead.”

It’s an extreme charge, since brain death is defined as “irreversible unconciousness with complete loss of brain function” (Encyclopedia of Death and Dying).

Needless to say, we find the charge ridiculous. There’s no evidence Biden performed the necessary medical tests to make such a diagnosis. We would have accepted the results of a cerebral blood flow study or proof that Biden had examined Bush to see if he had an oculocephalic reflex.

Indeed, even people who disagree with the president about Iraq and assorted other issues will acknowledge that the president has spontaneous respiration and is responding to stimuli.


Brilliant.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2007


so... we have to trust mainstream media to figure out which politicians to trust...

I think we're screwed....
posted by HuronBob at 9:13 AM on November 1, 2007


Finally someone is getting to the truthiness of the matter.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:18 AM on November 1, 2007


so... we have to trust mainstream media to figure out which politicians to trust...

While true, keep in mind that the St. Pete Times is owned not by a big media conglomerate, but by the non-profit Poynter Institute. In other words, they have fewer ties binding them to the corporations of the world.
posted by taumeson at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2007


they have fewer ties binding them to the corporations of the world.

You don't need ties to corporations to be biased; you just need to be run by people with an agenda.

I'm not saying they have an agenda, mind you -- how would I know? -- but you go ahead and try to find an organization (for profit or not) that deals in political matters yet has no political agenda.
posted by davejay at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2007


Interesting resource, thanks taumeson!
posted by JHarris at 9:51 AM on November 1, 2007


Summary: their lips are moving.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2007


but you go ahead and try to find an organization (for profit or not) that deals in political matters yet has no political agenda.

While you're at it, try finding a person who deals in political matters with no agenda. Both miss the point: calling attention to the merits (or lack thereof) of politicians' claims can be done in a manner that makes the facts, and not agendas, important. And that's a good public service.

Full disclosure: my good friend Matt is Politifact's developer, and I previously worked for CQ.
posted by thescoop at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Weird seeing this here; I went to high school with one of the creators, and keep thinking of it as "that site Matt's working on." It's odd to see it jump over to "something MeFi's interested in."

On preview, thescoop, looks like we know the same person. Want to hear about the time he blew up a car in rural Nebraska?
posted by COBRA! at 11:17 AM on November 1, 2007


Want to hear about the time he blew up a car in rural Nebraska?

Now that's what I call a proper derail.
posted by chinston at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2007


Indeed - and although I didn't know about it in advance, that sort of thing fits the man.
posted by thescoop at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2007


OK, now I actually feel pretty bad for derailing. But what the hell.

In high school (maybe even Junior High; this was definitely before we were driving), Matt and I and this other kid all fancied ourselves as up-and-coming filmmakers. We made a bunch of movies, special-effects thrillers, with a camcorder, some lantern fuel, and a bunch of GI Joe guys. And they were pretty good, but, well, true artists are never satisfied, and we figured it was time to make the leap from GI Joes to a live-action post-apocalyptic thriller.

We didn't have a script or anything, but we figured we could start out by recording some kick-ass opening sequence and then just let the rest of the movie flow from there. We started out by tossing cans of spray paint into a burn barrel, hoping they'd give us nice mushroom-cloud explosions that we could use to establish the apocalypse and all that. But, although it was fun, it didn't really work.

So then our friend Rich, on whose farm we did all of our filming, remembered that there was an abandoned car sitting in an old orchard maybe a mile from his farmhouse. Wouldn't it be a great opening sequence, we thought, if we soaked the car with gas (actually, just the right mix of gas and diesel to allow a big initial burst and then some extended burn) and then ignited it with a flaming arrow (Rich had a pretty nice compound bow, and he and Matt had done some extensive work with flaming arrows some time before just in case)?

So we hiked out to the car with a bunch of gas, and soaked the hell out of it. I set up the camera, Matt made up some kind of pening narration, and Rich got the bow ready. But through several takes, we could never get the thing to ignite by arrow. So Matt picks up the can with what's left of the gas, pours out a trail, and drops a match.

We'd forgotten to account for the fact that there might have been gas left in the car, and I dropped the camera when the fucker blew. The column of flame actually set some branches on the surround trees on fire, but, luckily they burned out. The car itself burned for a long, long time, with a pillar of black smoke going up that you could see for miles. Rich's parents actually saw it when they were driving back in from Omaha; somehow, we managed to convince them that we had no idea what was going n out there (this conversation happened several hours later, after we went nuts with a bunch of shovels and rakes putting out the fire).

So, with the "pants-on-fire" rating at PolitiFact, Matt is almost speaking from experience, although fortunately his (and mine, and Rich's) pants didn't actually ignite in the blast.
posted by COBRA! at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


You don't need ties to corporations to be biased; you just need to be run by people with an agenda.

FWIW, I used to live in Florida and got the St. Pete Times. I always thought of them as pretty damn unbiased, or at least far less (socially) conservative than the Tampa Tribune or Bradenton Herald.
posted by Foosnark at 3:34 PM on November 1, 2007


this is great--the more factchecking the better--especially now that most media don't even bother at all, or with context either. Segregating it all like this just exacerbates that, i think.

thanks!

this i love: Attack File
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on November 2, 2007


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