Just yesterday, I listed logical fallacies that people can fall into. Some of the fallacies are the result of deliberate action. Many of them are due to inadvertent mistakes. But, the first graph is a deliberate attempt to mislead. Note that in the first graph it visually appears that about three times as many people need to sign up for the Affordable Care Act as have signed up already. At the bottom are the same figures, but showing them in full. Notice that the amount needed to reach the goal is but a small percentage. In real world statistics, the Affordable Care Act had reached 85% of its original goal by March 27th. So, how did Fox News make it look as though the ACA had reached only 33% of its goal?
Easy! Fox News simply lopped off over 60% of the bottom part of the bar graph. In doing so, they visually enhanced the difference between the two columns. More than that, by showing a minuscule portion of the bar showing those who had signed up, they managed to visually seem as though very few had signed up. Fox News got caught almost immediately. Sadly, there has been no apology, nor any correction issued to date.
Yesterday, I commented that we need to be careful to not fall into logical fallacies. Today, let me comment that we need to not fall into statistical fallacies. Sites such as Media Matters, Fact Check, Snopes, etc. can be used to check out news stories that seem somewhat doubtful, or seem too good to be true.
For instance, the Democratic candidate in West Virginia’s Third District has been airing ads on TV that deliberately lie about the Republican candidate. The Democratic candidate has been claiming that the Republican candidate plans to stop black lung benefits. Well, in a district in which mining is a strong part of the economy, those are fighting words. Is the Republican candidate trying to cut black lung benefits? Not in the least. But the Republican candidate is against the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic candidate has deliberately twisted this to say that the Republican candidate is against helping those with black lung. This is an example of a very deliberate lie. This is not simply a misleading statement. It is a non-justifiable and open lie.
So, again, please check out a story that seems to support your point of view all too well. There is a possibility that the story has been crafted with you in mind. Check facts. Go to reliable websites. Hint: cable news networks are not reliable fact-checking sites.
Now, get out there, argue for your views in a logical and reasonable matter, support the candidate that you think will most help bring about justice and fairness, but make sure to do some fact-checking.