Humble Lie Pie: How The Presidency Was Won

For today’s science experiment I wanted data to support a hypothesis: Mitt Romney isn’t a very honest person.

Methodology: I did an existing data study to produce the pie chart graph shown on the right. The data set consisted of the last 20 “Truth-O-Meter” responses to statements by Mitt Romney as evaluated by PolitiFact.com.

I did not “cherry pick” the source data. I merely used the 20 most recent statements by Mitt Romney at the moment I happened to look. I then counted each type of rating and produced the chart.

Additional analysis and source data is provided after the jump.
According to my (admittedly limited) study Romney is only “honest” 25 percent of the time. He’s “half” honest 30 percent of the time. And he’s “dishonest” (mostly false or worse) a whopping 45 percent of the time.

Note: At the time I looked, there were no “mostly honest” ratings for Mitt Romney, so that slice is not represented on the chart.

Is this level of honesty good enough for the position of President of the United States? America will make that decision come November. Is it okay to lie? Does integrity in factual statements matter? Or are other traits more important?

Tomorrow I’ll try to do the exact same methodology and apply it to statements made my Barack Obama. It’ll be interesting to compare and contrast. And no, I’m not going to predict who comes off as more honest in this little experiment.

No doubt some of you will fell that PolitiFact.com is biased. There may or may not be some validity to that. All human endeavors are subject to bais. I merely selected them because they are convenient to use for an existing data study and they have a stated goal of finding impartial truth. We may disagree on how effectively they reach that goal but at least it is their goal. Some news media operates without striving for that standard.

SOURCE DATA

True: 5
Mostly True: 0
Half True: 6
Mostly False: 5
False: 2
Pants On Fire: 2

Total: 20

Rated statements by Mitt Romney (via PolitiFact.com Truth-O-Meter):

1. True
At Bain Capital, “we helped start an early childhood learning company called Bright Horizons that First Lady Michelle Obama rightly praised.”

2. Half True
Under the “Obama economy … utility bills are higher.”

3. True
In his first TV interview as president, Obama said we “should talk to Iran.”

4. Pants On Fire
Barack Obama began his presidency “with an apology tour.”

5. Half True
“The majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future.”

6. True
“Half the kids coming out of college this year … can’t find a job, or a job that’s consistent with a college degree.”

7. True
“In 2008, candidate Barack Obama attacked John McCain for proposing cuts to Medicare.”

8. Half True
“Under the president’s plan, he cuts Medicare by $716 billion, takes that money out of the Medicare trust fund and uses it to pay for Obamacare.”

9. Mostly False
Claims Joe Biden said “coal is more dangerous than terrorists.”

10. Mostly False
Says Barack Obama “robbed Medicare (of) $716 billion to pay for … Obamacare.”

11. Mostly False
“In June, jobless ranks were higher in nearly 90 percent of U.S. cities.”

12. Pants On Fire
“Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”

13. Half True
Says Obama “refuses to recognize Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel.

14. True
“As president, Barack Obama has never visited Israel.”

15. False
President Obama’s lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period.

16. Half True
“Under the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors, Ohio dealerships were forced to close.”

17. Mostly False
President Ronald Reagan sent troops into conflict “only in one circumstance, which was in Grenada … We were in a peacekeeping setting in Lebanon.”

18. False
President Obama was saying success “is the result of government,” not “hard-working people,” when he said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

19. Mostly False
Stimulus dollars paid for “windmills from China.”

20. Half True
The Obama administration “has been outsourcing” by sending money to “solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States.”

11 responses

    1. But isn’t my graph pretty? 🙂

      So you found a guy who claims that factual misstatements don’t reflect on “character.” Well, he’s entitled to his opinion just like me. I shared mine above and all over Twitter many, many times.

      If we can find a mutually agreeable truth evaluation service I remain humbly open-minded. Or do we take a position that truth and lies don’t matter in the name of same greater ideal or cause?

      Like

      1. There’s more to it than that. Yes, there is truth and falsehood, but even the so-called fact checkers are biased and shade their pronoucements and leave out vital information. My point is that these people are not the last word.

        Your chart is very pretty.

        Like

  1. As usual, your methodology astounds and amazes me. You astute observations and search for the truth render the rest of us mere mortals speechless. Now if only you could work your magic on Mitt’s running mate. Those numbers I give mucho tacos to see. 🙂

    Like

    1. As a devotee of science, I thank you. I used a triple-blind method which ensured I didn’t even know what I was doing until the results had all been tallied. Now that’s commitment!

      I love tacos so perhaps I shall endeavor to undergo your challenge. I do believe that “Pants On Fire” will not suffice when Paul Ryan is involved, however.

      I propose a new rating system. One that includes “Incineration of the Seven Layers of Hell.” It can also be made into a dip. Just ask if you want the recipe.

      Like

  2. Cathy, thanks for acknowledging the beauty of my creation. 🙂

    I don’t believe that PolitiFact is the end-all be-all to truth, nor do I claim they are entirely without bias. I do believe, however, that they have less bias than some. Perhaps even some of the media that I hate and some of the media that you hate.

    We agree that truth matters. I suggest we try to find a fact-checking source that we can both believe in.

    I don’t claim my results have any true scientific accuracy. The criteria of selecting the 20 most recent ratings from a single source is, in and of itself, questionable. PolitiFact could, for example, be ignoring truths from Romney and lies from Obama to skew things. Omission is a wonderful source of bias. What gets to be on the front page above the fold and what doesn’t make the cut? A truly subjective thing.

    I do believe that a sincere effort to be a truth seeker is a vital ingredient, though. Perhaps that helps minimize bias.

    I’m now about to roll up my sleeves and crunch Obama’s number. I’m using an occupied chair (with a brass plate on the back that reads “Guru”) to hold up my ass while I do it, too.

    Wish me luck!

    Like

    1. You go where even angels fear to tread!

      Like

  3. Nice chart. 🙂

    But I liked this more:

    “I don’t claim my results have any true scientific accuracy. The criteria of selecting the 20 most recent ratings from a single source is, in and of itself, questionable. PolitiFact could, for example, be ignoring truths from Romney and lies from Obama to skew things. Omission is a wonderful source of bias. What gets to be on the front page above the fold and what doesn’t make the cut? A truly subjective thing.”

    Every chart like yours ought to find itself in the company of a disclaimer such as the one you offered there. PolitiFact tends to publish its candidate “report cards” without those types of disclaimers. It’s one of those lies by omission, and it’s perpectrated by the entity that’s supposed to check the facts.

    That’s why among the major fact check organizations you’re best off with Annenberg Fact Check (factcheck.org). They recognize the pitfalls of using shorthand rating systems to represent their findings. That also means you end up having a harder time making pretty charts out of their findings.

    Like

    1. Thanks! I’ve been hoping to find more fact checking information. I’ll check it out!

      Like

  4. Gahhhh! I wonder if politicians start out as liars or if it’s something they pick up while on the job. 😦

    Like

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