Tag Archives: Bias

New study: Politifact fact-checker is biased against Republicans

Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?
Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?

How accurate is the fact-checking site Politifact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper?

The Weekly Standard reports on a recent study from George Mason University.

Excerpt:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University is out with a new study on media fact checkers, and unsurprisingly, their results suggest that PolitiFact has it out for Republicans. Dylan Byers at Politico summarized CMPA’s findings:

The fact-checking organization PolitiFact has found Republicans to be less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study.

Fifty-two percent of Republican claims reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times fact-checking operation were rated “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” versus just 24 percent of Democratic statements, according to George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs. By the same token, 54 percent of Democratic statements were rated as “mostly true” or “true,” compared to just 18 percent of Republican statements.

The CMPA looked at 100 statements — 46 by Democrats, 54 by Republicans — that were fact-checked by PolitiFact between January 20 and May 22.

[…]This is also not the first academic study that concluded PolitiFact might be putting their thumb on the scale when it comes to selecting and evaluating political statements. Last year, during the height of campaign season, the CMPA tallied up PolitiFact ratings. That study also showed PolitiFact tends to be much harder on Republicans:

The study examined 98 election-related statements by the presidential candidates, their surrogates, and campaign ads fact-checked by PolitiFact.com from June 1 to September 11. Major findings:

PolitiFact checked the assertions of Democrats slightly more often than those of Republicans (54% vs. 46% of all statements).

However, PolitiFact rated Democratic statements as “mostly true” or “entirely true” about twice as often as Republican statements — 42% true ratings for Democrats vs. 20% for Republicans.

Conversely, statements by Republicans were rated as entirely false about twice as often as Democratic statements – 29% false ratings for GOP statements vs. 15% false ratings for Democrats. (This includes categories labeled “false” and “pants on fire.”)

Further, the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs looked at over than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011. Their conclusion:

Current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts. In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire’ over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent).

In other words, they are cherry-picking statements that are false for Republicans and true for Democrats. But maybe that’s just because Republicans lie more than Democrats right before an election? Maybe, just before an election, Republicans suddenly start to lie uncontrollably while Democrats suddenly start to tell the truth all the time?

Let’s take a look at one famous case and see.

This is from Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine.

2008 PolitiFact before the election: ‘We rate his statement True’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On October 9, 2008, Angie Drobnic Holan of PolitiFact published an article using the site’s “Truth-O-Meter” to evaluate this claim: “Under Barack Obama’s health care proposal, ‘if you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it.’” The article assures us in its headline that “Obama’s plan expands [the] existing system,” and continues that “Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here…It remains to be seen whether Obama’s plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama’s plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True.”

The 2008 Obama plan, among other things, sought to transform the individual insurance market; it proposed to bar insurers from charging different premiums to the healthy and the sick, and to require them to offer plans to all comers, regardless of prior health status. According to PolitiFact, however, there was no need to worry that these provisions would be disruptive to existing health plans.

As per PolitiFact’s usual M.O., Holan didn’t seek out any skeptical health-policy experts to suss out the veracity of Senator Obama’s signature claim. Instead, its sources included Jonathan Cohn, a passionate Obamacare supporter at The New Republic, and various interviews and statements of Mr. Obama. Holan simply took the “keep your plan” promise at face value, dismissing as dishonest anyone who dared suggest that Obama’s claim would be impossible to keep. “His opponents have attacked his plan as ‘government-run’ health care,” she wrote, the scare-quotes around “government-run” being visible to all.

PolitiFact’s pronouncements about Obamacare were widely repeated by pro-Obama reporters and pundits, and had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election. Indeed, in 2009, PolitiFact won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

Here’s the screen capture from 2008:

Politifact caught with its pants on fire
Politifact caught with its pants on fire

2013 PolitiFact after the election: ‘We rate his statement Pants On Fire’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On December 12, [2013] the self-appointed guardians of truth and justice at PolitiFact named President Obama’s infamous promise—that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”—its 2013 “Lie of the Year.”

[…]So that brings us back to the fall of 2013. As Obamacare’s battle station became operational, and tens of millions of health plans became illegal, PolitiFact was caught with its flaming pants down. Louis Jacobson rapped Valerie Jarrett for tweeting that “nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans”—a claim Jacobson rated as “False,” even though PolitiFact had rated it as “True” and “Half True” before.

On November 4, Jacobson rated as “Pants on Fire” the President’s new claim that “what we said was, you can keep [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Both pieces were edited by Angie Drobnic Holan, who had initially granted PolitiFact’s seal of approval to Senator Obama’s 2008 promise. Holan delivered the coup de grâce, declaring as PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” the “keep your plan” promise.

“The promise was impossible to keep,” says Holan in her December piece. Now she tells us! But none of the key facts that made that promise “impossible” in 2008 had changed by 2013. The President’s plan had always required major disruption of the health insurance market; the Obamacare bill contained the key elements of that plan; the Obamacare law did as well. The only thing that had changed was the actual first-hand accounts of millions of Americans who were losing their plans now that Obamacare was live.

And the screen capture from 2013:

Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!
Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!

So when Politifact rates a statement by a Democrat as true, what they really mean is that it’s pants-on-fire-false, but it’s election time so they don’t say that.

The Tampa Bay Times. Politifact. It’s a catchy name, isn’t? It’s telling us the Facts about Politics.

I think this case demonstrates how people on the political left allow their emotions to overturn objective reality. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your health plan. Benghazi was caused by a Youtube video. The e-mails and e-mail backups of all the IRS employees were lost. The Department of Justice did not target Associated Press journalists. The assault weapons were not gun-walked to Mexican drug cartels. They will believe anything that makes them feel superior and noble, even when faced with evidence that clearly falsifies their beliefs.

The New York Times discovers that universities discriminate against conservatives

Academic diversity: ratio of liberals to conservatives is 36 to 1
Academic diversity: ratio of liberals to conservatives is 36 to 1

Wow! And from that radical leftist Nicholas Kristof, of all people.

Here is the New York Times:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

[…]Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).

In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.

[…]The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.

Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas,conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

A study published in The American Journal of Political Science underscored how powerful political bias can be. In an experiment, Democrats and Republicans were asked to choose a scholarship winner from among (fictitious) finalists, with the experiment tweaked so that applicants sometimes included the president of the Democratic or Republican club, while varying the credentials and race of each. Four-fifths of Democrats and Republicans alike chose a student of their own party to win a scholarship, and discrimination against people of the other party was much greater than discrimination based on race.

“I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a conservative professor is quoted as saying in “Passing on the Right,” a new book about right-wing faculty members by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. That’s a metaphor that conservative scholars often use, with talk of remaining in the closet early in one’s career and then “coming out” after receiving tenure.

I often get asked by people why I push your Christians and conservatives so hard towards STEM fields, especially math and engineering and technology. The answer is simple. For Christians, this is the safest way to get a degree that will pay for itself. The risk you take when you borrow money to go into a non-STEM field is that you will face discrimination, be graded down, and be denied your degree. Every other minority gets affirmative action on the university campus except for evangelical Christians and Constitutional conservatives. And the worst thing that you can be is what I am, a black conservative male evangelical.

I was talking to one of my mentorees who is an graduate program in computer science the other day. I said to her that I find it more difficult to get motivated to keep up with the latest programming technologies than to keep up with apologetics and politics. She asked me why I chose computer science, then. And I said “because I was good at it, and I needed a way to be able to support a wife and four children”. I was interested in English and criminal law when I was younger, but I saw that those departments were among the most liberal by taking night classes at the local universities while I was still in high school. I actually got into trouble with the law professors because I always wanted the stiffest sentences for criminals.

So this is why I push young people to STEM, or more accurately, TEM. It’s because to come out of university as a Ted Cruz, you have to be the best by far. You have to be ten times as smart as the typical pot-smoking, drunken, promiscuous leftist college student. They get As just for parroting what the professors indoctrinate them with. It really is much safer to stick with quantitative fields, especially engineering.

Should taxpayer-funded universities allow conservative professors to work?

The Jesus Seminar and their pre-suppositions
In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is expelled

I guess everyone knows that conservatives are discriminated against at liberal universities. But I thought this Wall Street Journal article had some interesting insights about how far conservative professors have to go to hide their views from their colleagues on the secular left.

It says:

Everyone knows that academia is predominantly liberal: Only 6.6% of professors in the social sciences are Republicans, according to a 2007 study. But what is life like for the pioneering conservatives who slip through the ivory tower’s gates? We decided to find out by interviewing 153 of them.

Many conservative professors said they felt socially isolated. A political scientist told us that he became a local pariah for defending the Iraq war in his New England college town, which he called “Cuba with bad weather.” One sociologist stated the problem well: “To say a strong conservative political opinion with conviction in an academic gathering is analogous to uttering an obscenity.” A prominent social scientist at a major research university spoke of the strain of concealing his political views from his colleagues—of “lying to people all the time.”

Some even said that bias had complicated their career advancement. A historian of Latin America told us that he suffered professionally after writing a dissertation on “middle-class white guys” when it was fashionable to focus on the “agency of subaltern peoples.” Though he doesn’t think the work branded him as a conservative, it certainly didn’t excite the intellectual interest of his peers.

A similarly retrograde literature professor sought advice from a colleague after struggling to land a tenure-track job. He was told that he had “a nice resume for 1940.”

Let’s put some numbers to these stories, with an article from the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

It’s not every day that left-leaning academics admit that they would discriminate against a minority.

But that was what they did in a peer-reviewed study of political diversity in the field of social psychology, which will be published in the September edition of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Psychologists Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers, based at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, surveyed a roughly representative sample of academics and scholars in social psychology and found that “In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues.”

[…][C]onservatives represent a distinct minority on college and university campuses. A 2007 report by sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons found that 80 percent of psychology professors at elite and non-elite universities are Democrats. Other studies reveal that 5 percent to 7 percent of faculty openly identify as Republicans. By contrast, about 20 percent of the general population are liberal and 40 percent are conservative.

Mr. Inbar and Mr. Lammers found that conservatives fear that revealing their political identity will have negative consequences. This is why New York University-based psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a self-described centrist, has compared the experience of being a conservative graduate student to being a closeted gay student in the 1980s.

In 2011, Mr. Haidt addressed this very issue at a meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology — the same group that Mr. Inbar and Mr. Lammer surveyed. Mr. Haidt’s talk, “The Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology,” caused a stir. The professor, whose new book “The Righteous Mind” examines the moral roots of our political positions, asked the nearly 1,000 academics and students in the room to raise their hands if they were liberals. Nearly 80 percent of the hands went up. When he asked whether there were any conservatives in the house, just three hands — 0.3 percent — went up.

[…]”Because of the way the confirmation bias works,” Mr. Haidt says, referring to the pervasive psychological tendency to seek only supporting evidence for one’s beliefs, “you need people around who don’t start with the same bias. You need some non-liberals, and ideally some conservatives.”

But that’s not all – those findings are confirmed by other studies of campaign donations by professors:

Professors, administrators and others employed at the eight universities of the Ivy League have given $375,932 to Obama and $60,465 to Romney, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington watchdog group that tracks campaign finance issues.

[…]The president’s academic advantage extends behind the Northeast’s ivied walls and into the Midwest.

At Ohio State University in Columbus, for example, Obama has raised $18,230 from faculty and staff, compared with Romney’s $3,500.

How did this massive imbalance happen? Answer: active discrimination against minority viewpoints. Secular leftists discriminate against conservatives in hiring and employment decisions. This is because liberalism is a false ideology, and the only way to maintain it is to punish anyone who disagrees with it. Allow any sort of open, rational discussion of methodology or evidence undermines the delusion that the elites are trying to maintain.

New survey: ratio of liberal to conservative sociologists is 314 to 1

A new survey was reported at Heterodox Academy.

Excerpt:

Bill von Hippel and David Buss surveyed the membership of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. That’s a professional society composed of the most active researchers in the field who are at least five years post-PhD. It’s very selective – you must be nominated by a current member and approved by a committee before you can join. Von Hippel and Buss sent a web survey to the 900 members of SESP and got a response rate of 37% (335 responses). So this is a good sample of the mid-level and senior people (average age 51) who produce most of the research in social psychology.

[…]At the end of the survey, they happened to include a very good set of measures of political identity. Not just self-descriptions, but also whom the person voted for in the 2012 US Presidential election. And they asked nine questions about politically valenced policy questions, such as “Do you support gun control?” “Do you support gay marriage?” and “Do you support a woman’s right to get an abortion?”

The results are interesting, here’s the part I wanted to highlight:

A third way of graphing the viewpoint diversity of these senior social psychologists is by computing an average score across all 9 of the politically valenced policy items. For each one, the 11 point response scale was labeled “strongly oppose” on the left-most point and “strongly support” on the right-most point. I converted all responses to the same 11 point scale used in figure 1 so that “strongly supporting” the progressive position (e.g., pro-choice) was scored as -5 and “strongly supporting” the conservative position (e.g., prayer in school) was scored as +5. That puts the leftists on the left and the rightists on the right of the graph. Here’s the graph:

Diversity of opinion in academia
Diversity of opinion in academia

I counted anyone whose average score fell between -1.0 and +1.0 (inclusive) as a centrist. The graph shows that 314 of the 327 participants (96.0%) had an average score below -1.0 (i.e., left of center), one had an average score above +1.0 (i.e., right of center), and 12 were centrists. That gives us a Left to Right ratio of 314 to one.

The one right of center guy is not even that far right of center!

So what should we say about this? Well, I’ll say this. Secular leftists in academia are the most narrow-minded, intolerant, bigoted people on the planet. They have all kids of hateful prejudices, and they are completely unable to consider any opinion that is different from their own. They only read material that they agree with, never anything they disagree with, because that causes them discomfort. They have no awareness of arguments and evidence from conservative or Christian viewpoints. All of this hateful bigotry does lead to active discrimination against Christians and conservatives in areas like hiring decisions, promotions, and so on. And what’s more, this secular leftism is not the result of any honest investigation of arguments and evidence. It’s just feelings-based nonsense.

Consider this post by moderate sociologist George Yancey.

He writes:

It is well established that academics tend to be more politically progressive and secular than the general population. It is obvious that they are highly educated. So academia theoretically should be a place where we would find a higher than normal level of Christianophobia. This Christianophobia may manifest in discrimination against conservative Christians. A few years ago I conducted research suggesting that this is the case. I found that academics were willing to discriminate against a prospective candidate for an academic position if they found out that the candidate is a conservative Protestant. In fact, they were more willing to discriminate against conservative Protestants than against any other social group included in my survey. Their willingness to discriminate against those Protestants was even more powerful than their willingness to discriminate against political conservatives. Religious intolerance trumps potential political intolerance among academics.

Of course simply because academics state that they are open to discriminating against conservative Protestants does not mean that they actually engage in such discrimination. A survey is not sufficient evidence. However, Rothman and Lichter conducted research documenting that academics with socially conservative beliefs tend to be located in lower status occupational positions even after controlling for demographic variables and their level of productivity. If conservative Protestants are more likely to have socially conservative beliefs than other academics, a reasonable belief, then this research suggests systematic evidence that there are occupational disadvantages in academia to having conservative Christian beliefs. Since academics have a willingness to discriminate against those Christians, this disadvantage cannot merely be due to their inability to do science, as the common stereotype of Christians seems to imply, but discrimination from academics who may be motivated by Christianophobia is likely an important factor.

So, do you still think it makes sense to take out loans to study subjects that are dominated by the secular left? They will literally deny you a degree that you earned, if you dissent from their radically leftist dogma at any point.

Should you borrow tens of thousands of dollars to be brainwashed by ivory-tower leftists? I think a better plan is to study something that pays – petroleum engineering, computer science, etc. It seems to me that it’s not really an education to spend four years learning the catechism of secular leftists. A real education should involve learning the arguments for both sides, in an environment that is open and truth-focused. The non-STEM departments of the university are not the place for learning. It’s just a secular leftist seminary.

Who wrote the gospels? When were they written? Are they based on eyewitnesses?

Let's take a look at the data
Let’s take a look at the data

Mike Licona is one of my favorite Christian historians, and so I’m going to rely on him to answer the questions in this post.  He explains why the four biographies in the New Testament should be accepted as historically accurate: (55 minutes)

Summary:

  • What a Baltimore Ravens helmet teaches us about the importance of truth
  • What happens to Christians when they go off to university?
  • The 2007 study on attitudes of American professors to evangelical Christians
  • Authors: Who wrote the gospels?
  • Bias: Did the bias of the authors cause them to distort history?
  • Contradictions: What about the different descriptions of events in the gospels?
  • Dating: When were the gospels written?
  • Eyewitnesses: Do the gospel accounts go back to eyewitness testimony?

This is basic training for Christians. They ought to show this lecture whenever new people show up, because pastors should not quote the Bible until everyone listening has this information straight.

I really hope you all have his big, awesome book on “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach“. This book is not for beginners, but it is comprehensive.

New book

Dr. Licona has a new book on the differences between the gospels coming out with Oxford University Press in 2016 (I just found out!), and so I thought it would be a good idea to re-post a lecture featuring the man himself.

He tweeted this about the new book:

The manuscript for my new book pertaining to why there are differences in the Gospels is almost complete and is scheduled to be published by Oxford University Press sometime in 2016. This book will reflect my research in Plutarch during the past 7.5 years.

I’m excited! Will definitely get this! Oxford is the most prestigious academic press, so it must be good.