Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Can Politicians Be Scared Straight?

Fact-checking, a new study suggests, can be an effective club to bat down political lies. Who knew?

Experimenting on 1100 legislators in nine states, political scientists at the New America Foundation found fewer subsequent fibs by those who were warned about the existence of PolitiFact, which checks on their veracity: “Politicians who lie put their reputations and careers at risk.”

The study’s authors conclude that “the letter was an effective reminder of the potential costs of a negative rating.”

If candidates take this finding seriously, it will bolster anecdotal evidence that truth squads following them and their opponents can be an effective deterrent to bald-faced campaign lies.

In the old days, the media used to serve this function, but that was before most so-called reporters morphed into stenographers.

This study makes a suggestive bookend for another showing that Americans, particularly younger ones, lag behind their counterparts in most developed countries, not only “in math and technology, but also in literacy.”

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan warns that such findings “show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete--or position our country to lead--in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills.”

Latest polls show voter finally figuring out that Republicans and the Tea Party are most responsible for the ruinous government shutdown, but the lies have been coming so thick and fast that no amount of literacy or fact-checking could possibly have offset them.

 Update: Michele Bachmann is cited as a prime example of a pol finally undone by fact-checking, although she will retire holding the record for public lies. In her last days in office, PolitiFact cites her accomplishment, adding, "Bachmann isn't leaving immediately, however, so we will keep the Truth-O-Meter turned on.

1 comment:

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

There is another way to keep politicians, especially Tea Party Republicans, from lying: Predatory and Very Hungry Cephalopods.

Since my natural habitat precludes my kind from enjoying an open flame or home cooked meal, we eat our food - not just raw - but alive as a matter of necessity. Table etiquette is a simple matter of “catch-n-crunch.” Nevertheless, we measure fine cuisine by a higher standard: What dies in our mouths melts in our mouths, and our taste buds are finely attuned to the five stages - and flavors - of death and dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Bon appetite!