First things first. I have to credit Colorado State House Republican Justin Everett for being willing to defend his views on twitter. I’ve been blocked by dozens of Republican lawmakers for simply arguing against their positions, even when I’ve done so in a polite and respectful way.
It all started with this tweet from Everett, which lamented the fact that Facebook is trying out a way to let their users know that a story has been disputed by fact-checkers as “fake news.”I replied to this by questioning why Everett is adverse to fact-checking:Everett shot back:After I challenged his assertion that Politifact, Snopes, et al. are “biased,” he came back with this:
The “data” that The Federalist cites in their article is the tendency for the fact-checking site Politifact to find that Republicans lie more often than Democrats. The article does not dispute a single Politifact fact-checking result. It also doesn’t consider the possibility that Republicans simply make more factual errors or lie more than Democrats.
He also claimed that the mainstream media is biased in favor of Democrats, and when I asked for evidence he came back with this tweet:
Not surprisingly I was not convinced by his anecdotal evidence and countered by pointing out anti-Clinton coverage such as publishing stolen DNC emails that lacked any real news value. Then he came to the defense of the Russian hacking reportedly directed by Vladimir Putin, the autocratic murderer of journalists and enemy of America:
I continued to press him to provide any evidence of bias and eventually he came up with this:
This brings us to the title of this post. Bertrand Russell once expounded on the necessity of a person making an assertion to prove that assertion.
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
Everett is pretty invested in the notion that there is a “bias” against Republicans, which is not surprising considering that fact-checking sites find more evidence of fabrication/falsehoods on the part of the GOP.
I’m not sure what to do about that except to keep pressing the point and defending the idea that there are objective ways to determine the truth of political statements. I hope Everett comes to his senses and begins to question why his party feels compelled to say untrue things rather than lazily attacking the messenger.