Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Politifact Report Card

I've written before that I'm a follower of Politifact. While they aren't perfect, they attempt to use consistent methods in evaluating the claims made by politicians. They rank statements as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, and Pants on Fire.

Today they came out with a new tool -- the Politifact Report Card. They summarize the ratings they have given to each of the Republican candidates plus President Obama. You can see their summary here.

Because I'm a geek, I had to take the raw data and convert it to percentages. Then, of course, I had to create pie charts. The results are very interesting. If you look at the three shades of "false" statements, the  totals are Romney (40%), Santorum (51%), Paul (36%), Gingrich (59%), and Obama (29%). While I wish the president would be far more careful, the summary says everything that is wrong with modern politics. An informed electorate requires better and we should expect it.

1 comment:

  1. "While they aren't perfect, they attempt to use consistent methods in evaluating the claims made by politicians."

    Sorry, John, but that just isn't plausible. Here are two reasons why.

    1) Consider the definition for "Pants on Fire." It is identical to the definition of "False" except the former stipulates that the claim is "ridiculous" in addition to being false. There's nothing objective to distinguish between the one and the other. How do you expect consistency to stem from that?

    2) PolitiFact hasn't even been consistent in defining "Half True." Starting out and for years thereafter, a "Half True" statement was defined in part as "true." In early 2011 PolitiFact started publishing the definition as "partially true" instead. Again, how does one generate the ratings according to consistent standards when the standards themselves are changing? Some state operations are still publishing the old definition of "Half True," by the way.

    It's time to consider the possibility that PolitiFact is no more competent or accurate than those they would judge.