The Spectacle Blog

Just the Facts

By on 9.9.12 | 10:34PM

My thoughts, last week, on the media "fact checkers," and on society's increasing confusion about what even constituteds a "fact" in the first place.

Acouple of snippets:

First, something can be “accurate” or “factual” while being misleading or while being used dishonestly. Second, a statement can be inaccurate without being a “lie.” Third, a statement may be open to interpretation without being inaccurate. Fourth, an interpretation of a statement or event can be “balanced” but still untruthful – or, vice versa, might be truthful while being utterly unbalanced. Fifth, failure to live up to an aspirational promise is not necessarily a lie, or even dishonest (unless the one making the promise never intended to live up to it).

...

Example of situation one: It is “accurate” to say that “every time a space shuttle has blown up in the air, a Republican was president.” If, however, you are using that incontrovertible fact to insinuate that Republicans cause shuttles to explode, you are being dishonest. You could likewise say that whenever the Detroit Tigers win a World Series in a presidential election year, Republicans win: It’s accurate, but one has nothing to do with the other. Correlation is not necessarily causation.

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