Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Smart Politics - Selection Bias? PolitiFact Rates Republican Statements as False at 3 Times the Rate of Democrats

Smart Politics - Selection Bias? PolitiFact Rates Republican Statements as False at 3 Times the Rate of Democrats

Pants on fire?

For while there is no doubt members of both political parties make numerous factual as well as inaccurate statements - and everything in between - there remains a fundamental question of which statements (by which politicians) are targeted for analysis in the first place.
I'm reminded of the sports fan (I've done this) who looks at the penalties assessed during a game and, if the refs have blown the whistle/thrown the flag against their team significantly more than the other, see this as proof the refs were out to get them. Of course, if it goes the other way, well, those guys are just dirty, as everybody knows.  So, I see this headline and think, "Get ready for another round of conservative whining about reality's well-known liberal bias."

The issue this article has is with the selection of statements, not with necessarily with the methodology of assigning truth values to them. Specifically, they are concerned that Politifact is harping on Republican lies. The article does seem to concede that if you focus on the Sarah Palins and Michelle Bachmanns of the world, well, of course you're going to find most of what they say is, if not outright lying, half-truths and gorilla dust.

Well, if you don't like being called a liar, step one in solving that issue is: stop lying.

But, that's a little cavalier, the fact is I agree with the sentiment that those in power should have their feet held to the fire first. Currently that means the Democratic White House and Senate leadership, as well as the Republican House leadership. This does not mean, however, that the opposition has free reign to lie, cheat, and steal their way to power. If you're in the process and part of the discussion, your statements are fair game for assessment.

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