Monday, December 3, 2012

Politifact and Boehner

Conservatives don't like Politifact.

Mainly because Politifact keeps saying they lie.  Worse, it shows conservatives lying more than liberals.  Some conservatives claim this means Politifact must be biased.

Which proves that those conservatives are rather foolish and easy to fool.  Obviously it is quote possible for one side to lie much more often, and if that is the case, then an unbiased fact checker would show that.

If you want to know if someone is biased, you look at the ratios between the categories.  There is something called a bell curve.  Basically it looks like a bell.  I occurs whenever you have something that is at least partially determined by three or more random values.   Intelligence and Height are two really good examples of this.

So is the truth/falsehood of dramatic statements told by politicians running for President.  Their statements are not off the cuff, they are mulled over by a team of people.  Those people pump up the drama on true statements (making them only partially true) and tone down the lies in false ones (making them partially true)

For those cases, the number of True and Pants on Fire should be smaller than the number of half true.   

If you check the people that Politifact checked, then all of the following had more half true statements than True + Pants on Fire combined (and all of them gave more True than Pants on Fire)

Barack Obama 121 Half true vs 106 True or Pants on Fire
Mitt Romney  56 Half True vs 49 True or Pants on Fire

Joe Biden  17 Half True vs 15 True or Pants on Fire

Paul Ryan   7 Half True vs 5 True or Pants on Fire *

*Note Paul Ryan did get 12 Mostly False, the step below Half True -  he might be naturally a liar or Politifact could be biased against him, I don't know (OK, I do know, but for the purposes of this article, let's pretend I don't.).  Even then, the rule still applied - True and Pants on fire were rarer than half true.

That same rule does NOT apply to Chain emails.  Instead Chain Emails are heavily weighted for falsehood.  It is almost a straight line going from few totally true (6), increase all the way to 70 Pants on Fire.  No one fact checks chain emails, there are no consequences to the original writer (but they should be forbidden from the internet.  So they keep getting exaggerated.

Now that bell curve that the presidential candidates follow?  The congressional Leadership does not follow the bell curve at all. 

Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are all rather evenly distributed.  Nanci tends toward Half truths (Is she considering a run for presidency?), but otherwise she and the other two men are fairly even. across the board.  It looks like they simply are not as good at weeding out the lies, or making true statements more dramatic.  They just say what they think.

But not John Boehner.  John Boehner's statement distribution is just STRANGE.  He has  17 True, 3 Mostly True, 5 Half True, 11 Mostly False, 17 False and  1 Pants on Fire.

It looks to me like he has one (and only one) honest man working for him, feeding him truths.  But  he gets most of his information form outright liars, with that honest guy putting his foot down and objects to the Pants on Fire stuff.

It might be that John himself is the one honest man, but why did he hire all those liars and why is he letting them feed him all those False statements?   Does he have a split personality? Maybe it's his wife, telling him all these true statements and threatening to leave him if he says something that's clearly pant's on fire. Maybe it's not a person, but software.

I don't know.   John Boehner, you have me stumped.  I'd love to know why.

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