Monday, February 27, 2012

Why PolitiFacts Is Wortheless Exibit 10,001

During an interview on CBS News' Face the Nation on Feb. 19, 2012, Rick Santorum got into a lengthy discussion of prenatal issues with host Bob Schieffer. We’re looking at two claims from that exchange; but here we’re focusing on here is that "90 percent of Down syndrome children in America are aborted." "PolitiFacts" " The Truth-O-Meter"

Oh look, it's "half true"

 This article is exactly why PolitiFact  is now regarded as worthless by anyone with two braincells to rub together.

The smoking gun, buried in the lead:

In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups cautioned against generalizing about national patterns from a series of smaller, local studies.
  
"No current, comprehensive estimate of the number of pregnancy terminations following prenatal diagnosis exists," the statement said. "Several studies reporting older data, studies from single centers and studies from other countries have reflected variation in the number of pregnancies terminated. These studies are frequently cited, but given their limitations, are difficult to generalize to the current population of pregnant women in the United States. Undocumented observations from prenatal genetic counselors in the United States suggest that the rate of termination for prenatally diagnosed Down syndrome may vary across the country. New research is called for to comprehensively explore the uptake of prenatal testing and the outcomes of prenatally diagnosed pregnancies in order to more accurately define how women currently incorporate prenatal testing into their lives."

What part of "No" as in "No current, comprehensive estimate of the number of pregnancy terminations following prenatal diagnosis exists" dose PolitiFact not understand? In any rational judging of what the professional literature says, Santorum is lying. His statement should be rated as a untrue.  There is no data, none, nadda, nil, zippo, zilch, zero. The studies that Santorum provides are old, far too small, and perfectly useless.

The comedian Al Franken had a term of art for the type of statement Santorum just put out. Franken call this type of statement a "Weasel" He defined a Weasel as a statement that was factually true, but intentionally misleading. It is factually true that some very flawed studies showed a correlation between a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome and the aborting of a fetus with that disease, but those studies were countered by others that showed just the opposite. The final answer, the only honest one that can be provided, is that we just don't know. There is no correlation that can be proven. Maybe Down's pregnancies get aborted, maybe they don't; it's hard to tell without a much bigger study.

But did PolitiFacts deliver the facts? Of course not. They pandered to Republican thuggery and wimped out with a Half True rating when a mostly false or false rating was required. They are no longer interested in journalism, or truth telling, or explaining medical science, or any other science that offends right-wing ideologues, they caved in abject cowardice, rationalized as being "fair" and "balanced"

Well congratulations PolitiFact! You just made your readers stupider. It is too bad the Pulitzer committee can't take their prize back, you are obviously unworthy of it.

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