There is value in truth.

There is a tweet account @injusticefacts, and I think they are doing harm. I was having this conversation on twitter but I need to say things which are longer than twitter allows for, I should mention that I am writing this at 1pm ish on 4/7/2013 Sydney time, so the stuff I am referencing is from around then. I am not digging back to find the one time they messed up, I am talking about a convenience sample of now.


There are probably some facts in injustice facts stream, stopped clocks and all that, but the problem is that a lot of it is myth and old wives tails and because they provide no citations it is impossible tell which is which. I often ask for citations on the internet. I am not actually trolling, I want to understand the context. I want to be able to talk about it knowing that when I am challenged I can point back to something firmer than the internet.


And that is why, in the middle of reading about what can go wrong with surveys[1] when someone tweeted “A survey of Fox News viewers has found that 82% of them think that Palestinians spend more on weapons than Israel.” Well done Rupert


I thought it would be cool to see the survey, see how it was done, look at how it held up to the theory I am currently very sick of reading. Why do you think I was on twitter?


Look, I am a leftie, I hope that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. I hold political views because I think they are correct, factual, based on the best way to run a society of humans. I think everyone who holds strong political views feels that they are correct, factual and based on the best way to run a society of humans, and because I believe this I hate people “on my side” post unverifiable bullshit, and people who I actually like retweet it. To try and find these facts I can basically only google them and see if I can find something that doesn’t refer back to the original tweet. For that reason I have chosen tweets with numbers or other things that might make it easier to find a source, if you know a source please comment and I will edit the post to add that source, I would love to be proved wrong here.


So some recently posted facts


“The average Indian billionaire has 27 bodyguards and 6 armored cars, far more than mafia bosses, far more than Mexican drug lords.”


Well, firstly we have a problem of definition, are we talking about US dollars or in ruplies if it is US dollars, this website suggest that in 2011 there where 55 billionaires in India, which is a pretty small number, all you need is to have one armed car and body guard collector to throw the whole thing out, I jest but the point still stands.


As a thought experiment there are 168 hours in a week, which is 4.2 40 hour weeks, so if you had around the clock guarding, because you had good reason to fear kidnap and hostage taking, being a billionaire in a country with many poor, that gives you 6.4 body guards on any one shift, so yeah, two body guards with the husband, two with the wife, and two with the kids, if you round down. There are apparently 3000 members of the Special protection group which protects senior officials of the Indian government, about double the number who are apparently protecting Indians billionaires.


Googling 27 bodyguards doesn’t get me much, articles about Putin’s bodyguard written on the 27th or march, episode 27 of bodyguards and so on, the search 27 bodyguards Indian billionaire gets me back to injustice facts but not to anything that would seem to be an original source. It is hard to prove a negative, I can’t prove this “fact” isn’t a fact but I can’t find a citation for it.


87% of executive bankers say that the crisis was caused by the poorest 50% of Americans.(The poorest 50% own only 1% of the US’s assets.)


The bottom 50% having 1% of assets seems about right, if these numbers are to be believed but as for the main claim I can’t find a source for it.


I can’t prove these claims are wrong, some of them are probably right, but repeating these arguments weakens our point, weakens our ability prove our points. The people who manufacturer electronics in china face horrible conditions, but well meaning lies makes it harder to get attention for their future claims.


[1] Elementary survey sampling – R. L. Scheaffer

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