Lying with Statistics – FT#19

Lying with Statistics – FT#19

Show Notes

Lying with Statistics can involve using highly specific numbers to make it seem like you know what you’re talking about, using a true statistic out of context to bolster a particular point of view, or simply using made up statistics and hoping your opponent doesn’t check them.

We started out with this tweet from the Donald:

Some of those numbers apparently came from this graphic on the One America News Network:

Then we talked about this:

And this:

The real truth behind that number, and the amazing fact check that the Washington Post did on the Amnesty International statistic we mentioned, can be found here

In Mark’s British Politics Corner, we talked about this exchange in Prime Minister’s Questions, from January 2018:

In the Fallacy in the Wild, we talked about these clips from Yes, Minister and The Simpsons:

Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:

1. I’ve listened to these intelligence people go on and on, and, quite frankly, it’s a waste of time. I can do my job without any intelligence whatsoever.

2. My intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent. It is a vicious country that kills many people.

3. I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, “Boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies? Let’s check it.” And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be three or four.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it wrong again this week, so he’s now on 29%.

We talked about Trump’s State of the Union, mostly focusing on his comments about El Paso, Ralph Northam executing babies, and North Korea.

And finally, here are the stories we really didn’t have time to talk about…

  • After 35 days of partial shutdown, soon after we recorded the last episode, Trump called a press conference in the Rose Garden  to admit he had lost.  Ok, he didn’t actually say that, instead he talked for 15 minutes about the importance of walls and the drawbacks of duck tape over mouths, but it was all just a long way of saying “I lost, Nancy won, she made me come out here and tell you I’m the worst deal maker in the world”. Trump got precisely zero dollars out of the 5  billion he demanded for the wall, and accepted the exact deal the Democrats offered a whole month earlier – negotiations in return for reopening the government.
  • Continuing to confirm that Trump gets his immigration crisis information from on-demand TV and really can’t tell the difference between the movies and real life, the Twitter account @ALT_uscis identified film clips from Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s critically acclaimed 2015 thriller, that correspond with Trump’s wall justification rants. On January 18, or as we knoew it 4 minutes 3 second into the movie – Trump claimed that a rancher had discovered “prayer rugs” left by illegal immigrants. On 24th Jan or 25 minutes into the movie he reported seeing his favourite Home Depot-based image again of women abducted with duct tape over their mouths. If we could just get him a subscription to the Disney Channel on demand his border crisis might feature the 4 My Little Ponies of the Apocalypse instead – which come to think of it would be much more credible!!  
  • We learned about Trump’s ‘Executive Time’ a few months ago now.  That’s the euphemism for ‘watching Fox News and tweeting’ that appears on the President’s daily schedule.  But last week a White House staffer leaked months worth of official schedules to Axios, which revealed that since the midterms over 60% of Trump’s working day is Executive Time.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended this by saying the lack of structure allows for a more creative environment. I mean you have to admit, he is creative. Some of the crap he comes out with must take hours to come up with.
  • Since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded people that the top tax bracket in this country used to be as high as 70 percent for decades— during which time there was still economic growth and rich people, Even Fox News’ own polls, found 70 percent of respondents supported raising taxes on annual income over $10 million. 65 percent were for raising taxes on those making over $1 million per year.  In their efforts to find an explanation for why so many people are turned off by unfettered, unregulated, and unaccountable capitalism, Charles Payne of Fox Business offered by way of explanation: Schools have brainwashed kids with lessons about “fairness.” – What next? the self-evident truth that all men are created equal? Goddamn commies!
  • Now that the shutdown is over, people have been doing their tax returns and a lot of people are finding their tax refund might be a bit smaller than usual this year, with some even owing the IRS for the first time they can remember.  That’s because Trump had his acting IRS commissioner reduce the amount of withholdings that were taken from pay packets during the year so that everyone felt like they were paying less tax before the midterms – which they were. But that means smaller tax refunds, which is finally causing some Trump voters to rethink their allegiance.  Colluding with Russia and putting kids in cages didn’t do it, but a couple of grand less in the bank, and suddenly they’re seeing the light.
  • Chairman of House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff oversaw a vote on Wednesday 6th Feb to send dozens of witness interview transcripts from its Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller – Schiff said House investigators will broaden the scope of the Russia probe by looking into whether Trump or his associates “have sought to influence U.S. government policy in service of foreign interests” and “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.” Trump whined about Schiff of unfairly singling him out. “No other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment.” That’s not a thing Donald, wishing to be governed by non-traitorous, law-abiding, tax-paying trustworthy citizens IS!
  • After Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam said that thing about babies on the radio, someone dug up an old yearbook of his that had a picture of one person in a KKK costume alongside another in blackface.  At first, Ralph apologised, and admitted he was one of the people in the photo.  Republicans immediately demanded he resign because racism, and much to their horror, Democrats joined in. Then Ralph held a bizarre press conference where he said actually, he didn’t think he was one of the people in the photo, although he did once black up to dress as Michael Jackson and moonwalk.  A reporter asked if he could still moonwalk, and if his wife hadn’t stopped him, he totally would have had a go right there. As of this recording, Northam hasn’t resigned, and now his Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, has been accused of sexual assault. Democrats were embarrassingly quiet for a couple of days about Fairfax, but as more details emerged, many are calling for an investigation.  Should both resign, the Governorship would pass to Attorney General Mark Herring, but he has also admitted to blacking up, so next in line is the speaker of the House of Delegates, who is a republican.
  • It has been Republican political strategy since the mid-1970s to suppress the votes of the classes of voters to which conservatism… declines to appeal. With the added benefit of rolling back pesky hard-won civil-rights movement  achievements, an episode in history that Republicanism considers an aberration to the natural order of things. So when Democrats proposed to make federal election days national holidays so that hey you know maybe people wouldn’t have to worry about being late for work or taking time off to be able to vote – Mitch McConnell of course declared that such a humane sharing caring act of equality could only mean an attempted power grab. Is it me or is that weird sweaty wide top lip of his starting to make him look like P W Botha, the supporter of South African Apartheid and opponent of majority rule!

Thanks to our newest Patron, Richard Hopkins.  See you all next time!

Jim Cliff

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