Saturday, March 09, 2019

Snopes Leftward Bias: Race And Police Shootings

Here's a pretty good example of leftward bias at
This entry--"Do Police Kill More White People Than Black People?"--starts by acknowledging that the answer to the question is 'yes'. Now, of course that's misleading because there are a lot more whites than blacks in the population. And the entry goes on to note that. But it stops there. Which means: it stops without adding the one additional, extremely well-known, piece of information that's required to give at least the roughest outlines of what I would say is a minimally complete picture: that, when we control for factors like whether or not the decedent attacked the police, whether he was armed, etc., the ratio goes back to rough parity.
   Of course reasonable people can disagree about whether or not that final, third move in the explanation is uncontroversial enough that leaving it out constitutes (or is at least indicative of) bias. I think it should at least be gestured at. (In fact, many argue that when we control for all such relevant factors, whites are killed at a slightly higher rate. But I don't see that the entry is obligated to note that bit, given that it's less clearly true.)
   Note also this early part of the entry:
[Such] shootings throughout the U.S. have been caught on camera and widely shared via social media, prompting the development of the Black Lives Matter movement to address a seemingly constant stream of American police officers killing unarmed black people. The issue has also inspired some critics to disingenuously counter that white people are the ones who are killed most frequently by police officers...
Seeing bias behind every tree is a bad habit to fall into. But this entry seems pretty clearly skewed to me. OTOH, at least the official rating is Mixture rather than False--and that's something.


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