Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Modern Fact Checkers Answered a True/False Question in High School

How One Needs to Think to be a Fact Checker

One of the less desirable aspects of the current election cycle has been the emergence of Fact Checkers, who write about the campaign statements and who analyze debate statements.  Normally this would be a good thing, but the Fact Checkers have long ago abandoned any sense of objectivity and now substitute their opinion.  For example, here is the egregious Fact Checker of the Washington Post commenting on the foreign policy debate.

“I said if I got bin Laden in our sights I would take that shot; you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man.”
— Obama
The Obama campaign has made far too much out of this ancient comment.
Romney made this statement in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

But Obama has ignored the rest of the interview, in which the AP quoted Romney as saying “he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.” Just a few days later, Romney expanded on his remarks during a debate:

Notice we have a simple declaration by Mr. Obama.  Either Mr. Romney said what Mr. Obama said he said, or he did not.  He did.  So a real Fact Checker would simply rate this True, and move on. Instead the Fact Checker injects his own subjective opinion into the discussion, saying the President "has made far too much out of this ancient comment", which may or may not be true, but has nothing to do with fact checking.

One can imagine how a future Fact Checker would have answered the following True/False question on a school test

23.    2 + 2 = 4


Regular People:  True

Fact Checker:  Well in the context of modern arithmetic one could say this is true, but it should also be noted that not all experts agree that 2 + 2 = 4, and the equation is taken out of context and it ignores other equations that do not have an answer of 4, so the statement is rated half true.

Yep, that is probably what makes for a future as a Fact Checker.

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