Fact Checking Opinions and Treason

Halloween will be here soon, and I'm excited for the 24 hour horror movie marathon I'm having for it. Before I start that though, I want to post something up. It's nothing important, just two random things I saw today which I wanted to highlight.

The first thing is climate skeptic Maurizio Morabito (who goes by the handle omnologos) posted this on Twitter:

There has been talk lately about whether or not Donald Trump would/should put Hillary Clinton in jail if he became president. Maybe we should skip past jail and go straight to hanging. I think that's a standard penalty for treason.

The second thing is a bit more involved than advocating for the imprisonment and possible execution of a presidential candidate:

I've been a critic of "fact-checking" in the past because what modern "fact-checkers" do so often isn't really checking facts. I wanted to highlight this article because it's such a perfect example. Notice how this tweet says "Trump’s bizarre claim that the Clinton email controversy is ‘bigger than Watergate'"? Compare that to what Trump said:

“This is bigger than Watergate. This is bigger than Watergate. In my opinion. This is bigger than Watergate.”

Take note of the phrase, "In my opinion." Opinions are not facts. The only way this quote could be false is if Donald Trump's opinion isn't really, "This is bigger than Watergate." Maybe it's not. I don't know. I'm not a mind-reader. There's no fact I can check to verify whether or not Trump believes what he said here.

On the other hand, there is a simple fact I can check to examine if what the "fact-checker" writes in the first sentence of this article:

Trump has claimed that the Hillary Clinton email controversy is the biggest political scandal “since” Watergate, but now he flatly says it is “bigger” than Watergate. His campaign is now using this line:

Did Trump "flatly" claim events around Hillary Clinton's e-mail issues are bigger than Watergate? It might help if we checked the dictionary to see what the word "flatly" means. Here are three definitions I found:

1. showing little interest or emotion:
2. in a firm and unequivocal manner; absolutely:
3. in a smooth and even way:

Trump clearly has and displays a significant amount of interest in this issue so he could not have "flatly" claimed this under the first definition. His speaking was stilted rather than smooth or even so he could not have "flatly" claimed this under the third definition. The only definition on this list that's left is the one which should have been obvious:

in a firm and unequivocal manner

Fact: Donald Trump added the caveat, "In my opinion." That opens the possibility of there being some doubt about this matter. That means his statement was not unequivocal.

Conclusion: The "fact-checker" gets things wrong in the first sentence she writes. She does so because she simply ignores part of Trump's quotation which directly contradicts her conclusion in order to claim Trump "flatly" stated something as true when in reality he said it was his opinion.

That this "fact checker" isn't actually checking facts with this article is further demonstrated by the conclusion of the article:

Trump says the Clinton email scandal is “bigger than Watergate,” given Comey’s letter to Congress about new emails that might be relevant to the Clinton email scandal. But there is not enough information available right now to know whether these emails will make a difference in the case. Comey’s letter said the FBI “cannot yet assess whether the material may or may not be significant.”

So far, there have been no criminal charges, and therefore no convictions or guilty pleas in the Clinton email scandal. That makes the Clinton emails fundamentally different from Watergate, where 48 people were found guilty. Trump earns Four more Pinocchios for this absurd comparison.

There is no discussion of what would qualify one scandal as being "bigger" than another. I suspect that's because reasonable people can hold different beliefs as to what makes one scandal "bigger" than another. It's simply not a matter of fact; it's a matter of opinion.

I would like to write a scathing criticism of how simply holding a different opinion than this "fact checker" (and presumably several of her editors) is enough to be told your facts are wrong. I don't have the interest though. I still have to pick out a few more movies for my horror movie marathon tomorrow. You got off lucky Miss "Fact Checker."

Now for the issue which really matters: Movie selection. Do I watch any of the Candyman or Omen sequels tomorrow? I'm definitely watching the first of each, but I'm not sure about the sequels. I don't remember the sequels so I don't know how bad they are.

For what it's worth, the confirmed movies for the list so far are Candyman, Pumpkinhead, The Omen, The Midnight Meat Train, Hocus Pocus and Stephen King's Rose Red. I'm still making the final decision on the rest.

24 comments

  1. As of election day 1972, zero people were found guilty, and only 7 had been indicted.
    About the same number as those given immunity or pleading the 5th with regards to e-mail.

  2. MikeN, interesting point.

    Szilard, I can only watch so many haunted house movies. Stephen King's Rose Red is already on the list, so I might add one more. It definitely wouldn't be The Others though. That might be the worst movie they recommend.

    By the way, the marathon started~40 minutes ago. I don't care what people say. Hocus Pocus is the best holiday movie ever made.

  3. > Hocus Pocus is the best holiday movie ever made.

    Wrong!. One more Pinocchio for you. It's obviously Elf. 🙂

  4. I've actually never watched Elf. Will Ferrell has made too many movies with the same approach to comedy I've never found funny. I think he can do a good job of things, but he so often doesn't. Maybe it's a good movie. I just haven't taken the time to find out.

    By the way, second movie of the marathon is The Graves. I won't deny the movie has its faults (and is clearly low-budget), but it's pretty awesome. Production value aside, it's definitely better than most popular horror movies... which might be damning it with faint praise.

  5. I've never liked Will Ferrell, but after watching Elf, I consider him a good actor who is underrated. Brendan Fraser is in the same group.
    With the vast majority of actors, Elf would have flopped. I suspect Ed Norton would have ended up committing suicide if he were in the role.

  6. Will Ferrell is definitely a good actor. I've thought that for a long time. The same is true for Brendan Fraser. The problem is just that both take terrible roles. The Muimmy was probably my favorite movie of its year, but I've also seen George of the Jungle.

    By the way, Stephen King's Rose Red is fantastic, but I had forgotten how long it is. I'll be at this one for a while.

  7. That's the thing. Lots of actors would have done equally well or better in The Mummy. Very few would have been as good in George of the Jungle, even if the overall movie is still weak.

  8. I can't agree. I think few actors could have nailed the role in The Mummy like he did as balancing between the heroic and comedic elements wasn't a small thing. As for George of the Jungle, I don't think the caliber of actor could have had any significant influence on the quality of the movie. It was always going to be that bad of a movie.

  9. In my opinion, not a fact, the ruskis put the emails on Weiners laptop, at least that's in line of all the hacks they apparently are responsible for.

    Btw I'm amused how you fact checked Trumps "opinion" that it's not a fact but his opinion, in fact that's what he claimed himself.

  10. Hoi Polloi:

    In my opinion, not a fact, the ruskis put the emails on Weiners laptop, at least that's in line of all the hacks they apparently are responsible for.

    I think that is unlikely. I'm not sure how anyone forms much of a conclusion about these e-mails though. We barely know anything about them.

    Btw I'm amused how you fact checked Trumps "opinion" that it's not a fact but his opinion, in fact that's what he claimed himself.

    I still find it baffling a "fact checker" wrote an article checking a "fact" which Donald Trump clearly stated was an opinion without ever once addressing that he said it was his opinion. That sort of thing is why I scoff at modern "fact checking." It'd be difficult to be more obvious with their bias.

  11. By the way, I wish Will Ferrell would take more serious roles. I was pleasantly surprised to find he can act outside of comedic roles.

    Also, Julian Sands is amazing. Watching him in Rose Red has made me decide to put Warlock on the roster for my movie marathon. I'll be watching Candyman next, but I think I'll watch Warlock after it.

  12. Did you watch Stranger Than Fiction? I don't think I want Ferrell in serious roles.

    You missed what Hoi is saying.

  13. Stranger than Fiction was Will Ferrell's best movie. He is way better when he's being low-key than when he's the over-the-top repetitive character he plays in most of his comedic movies.

    And yeah, I know. I couldn't figure out what Hoi Polloi was saying so I decided to just make a generic remark that wasn't really directed at his statement. I figured it was that or ask what he meant, and I'm trying to focus on the movies.

    Or at least, I was trying. After watching Candyman, I kind of want to stop focusing on them. That movie creeps me out every time. At least with The Warlock I'll get a bit of comedic break thanks to the dialogue. I think I'll need that before going into The Omen. I don't really remember that one, but I think I found it unsettling the last time I saw it.

    By the way, I've busted out the popcorn and hot sauce. I can't believe I only discovered this combination last year. Not only is it a great combination, the popcorn makes the coolest sound when you put the hot sauce on it.

  14. I had forgotten how slow old horror movies were. Whatever else may be true of The Omen, the beginning is just dull.

  15. Alright, The Omen is a decent movie, but the first half is just terrible. Silent Hill is way better (and what I'm watching next). After that I think I may take a break from the bleak horror and watch Botched for the dark hilariousness. Then around midnight I can start The Midnight Meat Train to get back in the spirit of the holiday.

  16. Change in plans. I just realized I hadn't put on Pumpkinhead yet, so that's going to be next. After it will be The Midnight Meat Train followed by Ginger Snaps 1 & 2. That should carry me to the end of the 24 hour period, but I'll go ahead and put Botched on afterward to wind down.

    It makes more sense this way because while Botched is a great movie, its tone doesn't fit in with the evolution of the list. It wouldn't make much sense to go from dark movies like Silent Hill to a comedic horror like Botched back to a dark movie like The Mightnight Meat Train. This way should make for a much smoother transition. Plus, Lance Henriksen. How could I ever resist watching him?

  17. Certainly the Clinton Foundation and its access to the Secretary of State for money is possibly bigger than Watergate. Clinton's "arranger" bragged to Chelsea about how much money he had brought to Bill and Hillary personally. This is as bad as anything in the 19th Century with malefactors of great wealth.

  18. That applies to all old movies. They are much slower than things now. I think it boosts the quality. The movies now don't seem to take time to breathe. Superman doesn't even show up until an hour in or later.

    For that matter, if you watched 24, rewatch the first season and it will seem slow.

  19. MikeN, I don't mind a slower pace if the movie does a good job of building tension (or some other atmosphere) with it. There are plenty which do. The Omen wasn't one of them. There were too many scenes which seemed to have no point or purpose. I felt like I could have skipped the first half of the movie and not missed out on anything. Interestingly, I was watching the original Resident Evil movie a couple weeks ago, and it did a good job of building tension. There's a good 30-40 minutes of mood setting in it. It's surprisingly well done.

    Parse Hoi's statement if you wish. I thought you would go on a minirant in response, but instead it just went over your head.

    I gave up trying to interpret it after the third time I had to stop to try to guess what the grammatical error was supposed to be. If Hoi Polloi wants me to understand it, he can explain what he meant. If not, oh well.

    By the way, that link won't help me get a good night's sleep (so... weird). I still haven't had one since the marathon. I'm not sure if it's the horror aspect or just that I screwed up my sleep schedule.

  20. By the way, I've still never sat through The Exorcist in its entirety. I know I should. I just don't own a copy of it, and I haven't had the motivation to go get one. One of these days.

    It might be the same day I manage to stay awake through Les Miserables. I've fallen asleep on that one three times, once during a live performance.

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