Monday, March 2, 2015

Dissecting "Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them" (From the American Family Association)

Listening to all the debate on whether Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly lied about his claims of being in a war zone in Argentina and the Falklands reminded me of how Al Franken (then a comedian now a US Senator from Minnesota) in 2003 wrote a book Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell them: A Fair and Balanced Look at The Right.  In that book he used statistics and fact checking to debunk a lot of the claims of the right as in the clip above.  If Fox News really cared about the truth they would've canned O'Reilly years ago.

Last year, I used this method to investigate claims about the above map from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that California was a hotbed of hate groups by adjusting the number of groups in each state with the population in each state and a different pattern emerged.  One of the groups named in the above map is the Anti Gay Evangelical American Family Association (AFA) who has responded by creating the below anti Christian "Bigotry Map" of groups that are against their agenda (including SPLC).

At first glance, the two maps may look similar.  A much greater concentration of groups is seen in the east rather than the west with some increased clustering on the west coast and it is interactive.  The most glaring difference is that the SPLC map has numbers listed of the types of groups exist nationwide and their website provides the counts of groups in each state which allows for someone like me to double check.  The AFA map by comparison does not provide numbers.  When one goes to the interactive version we see that many of these groups are atheist, secular, LGBT, and hate group monitors like the SPLC.  I don't have the time to go through each state and count the number of groups to find out which state has the highest concentration of "bigots."  

Looking at my home state, Pennsylvania, I counted a grand total of four groups of "bigots" as opposed to 41 hate groups there.  These four groups are the Freedom From Religion Foundation in State College (an Anti Christian Group), the Pennsylvania Nonbelievers in York, PA (Atheist Group), GLSEN Pittsburgh (an LGBT group), and Americans United in Yardley, PA.  Dividing by the population of PA (12.7 million) that gives a rate of 0.31 groups of "bigots" per million and a rate of 3.21 hate groups per million.  The size of the icons on the map makes them seem a lot more numerous than they really are.

**Related Posts**

A Wave of Hate Groups in California? No in Washington, DC


A Geographical Representation of the Mode and Ethnicity


Correlation with the Number of Hate Groups per Million, Poor Health Suggests More Hate