Balance
Script / Documentation

Welcome back to Just Facts Academy, where you learn how to research like a genius.

Remember, you don’t have to be an Einstein to be a great researcher. You simply need to put in the effort and apply the 7 Standards of Credibility that we share in this video series.

Today’s lesson focuses on Balance.

I know this sounds rather simple—but don’t gloss over it. This standard may surprise you. I’ll explain, give a couple examples, and then show you how to apply it in your own research.

When I say balance, it’s easy to assume I’m talking about sharing opinions from opposing sides of an issue—like a lot of news articles. Real balance, however, is something quite different.

Now please hear me correctly. Your research and reporting must be comprehensive and give a complete picture—all the crucial facts. That is genuine balance.

What is not balance is simply including dueling statements that are unsupported, or worse yet, demonstrably false.

Good research provides thorough and accurate facts—not the illusion of balance.

What do I mean? Well, if 95% of an article is devoted to promoting an agenda, presenting a quote or two is only a token display of balance. Furthermore, brief quotes can actually delegitimize a perfectly valid point. How?

  1. Such snippets are generally too concise to present anything of substance.
  2. Their brevity allows people to easily twist them.

Let’s look at an example.

This first one comes from PolitiFact—a so-called fact-checking organization—which published an article about the relationship between state gun laws and gun deaths.

The author clearly took a side—but to provide a dash of balance—she quoted a statement from the president of Just Facts.[1] This statement was thoroughly documented with hyperlinks to credible sources like:[2]

  • the National Academy of Sciences,[3]
  • the U.S. Department of Justice,[4]
  • the Journal of Quantitative Criminology,[5]
  • the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,[6]
  • the journal Injury Prevention,[7]
  • and the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.[8]

PolitiFact, however, portrayed Just Facts’ statement as an unsupported “complaint” and stripped out all of the documentation.[9] Furthermore, they condensed Just Facts’ 139-word statement down to only 5 words—and paraphrased the rest while badly twisting their meaning.[10]

This time, Just Facts actually did make a complaint—to PolitiFact—and they made a partial correction, but not a full one that truly conveyed reality.[11] [12] [13]

Another common way people provide an appearance of balance that ultimately leads to deception is by applying inconsistent labels to opposing sides. Not to pick on PolitiFact, but they provide another prime example.

In another article, they again took a side on a controversial issue—supporting their point of view with claims from people and publications they described in glowing terms: “Three experts,” a “peer-reviewed article,” “a political science professor,” and “an associate policy analyst.”[14]

Giving the façade of balance, PolitiFact did provide opposing statements—from people who they described as the authors of an article for the “Monkey Cage” blog of the Washington Post.[15]

Based on this, you’d think that they’re nobodies, when in reality—they are university professors,[16] [17] and their research on the topic at hand was published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.[18]

Furthermore, PolitiFact neglected to reveal that 2 of the 3 “experts” they touted made political donations that accord with the side of the argument that they took.[19] [20] [21] [22] [23] (For reference, no political donations were made by the scholars who authored the study that PolitiFact discounted.[24] [25] [26] [27] [28])

PolitiFact’s analysis also provides no indication that anyone in the organization read the actual research that was the subject of the fact check.[29]

In sum, PolitiFact neglected the actual facts of a complex issue and made it seem like a case of “the experts” versus people with no credibility.

Bottom line: Simply quoting an opposing argument does not make your research comprehensive or balanced.

So, what does this mean for your research?

  1. Don’t present opinions as facts. No matter how impressive someone’s credentials may be, their opinions are not facts.
  1. Don’t present facts as opinions. In this day and age, people often support their claims with hyperlinks to facts. When you quote them, don’t strip out the links. This can make thorough research seem like baseless assertions. Even better, dig into those links, see what sources they cited, and mention them.
  1. Don’t be lazy. Too many people don’t read anymore—they skim. Many issues have dramatic effects on people’s lives, so don’t cheapen your research with the mentality of a meme. Be diligent to make sure you understand and accurately convey all sides of an issue.
  1. Be intellectually honest and logically consistent. Hold everyone and everything to the same standards.

To bring it all together, genuine balance means getting it right—not just presenting an opposing view.

Apply the Balance standard, and the rest of Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, so you can research like a genius.


Footnotes

[1] Article: “States with the Most Gun Laws Tend to Have the Fewest Gun Deaths.” By Lauren Carroll. PolitiFact, October 6, 2015. <bit.ly>

We looked for evidence to contradict Obama’s statement, and found several complaints from those who favor gun rights. James Argesti, a gun control expert for the conservative think tank Just Fact, wrote in an email to reporters that statements like Obama’s are “meaningless” and “subjective and ill-defined,” as they gloss over the fact that gun laws vary drastically state-by-state. Argesti added that the claim ignores the number of lives saved by defensive gun use, and the fact that some states with little gun control also have low homicide rates.

Overall, though, we found nothing that offered an outright contradiction to the National Journal analysis. States with laws that restrict guns do tend to have lower death rates, as Obama said. …

Obama said, “States with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.”

Research shows that the more gun laws a state has, the fewer gun deaths there are. Obama gets some wiggle room because he said “tend to” as opposed to making a definitive statement.

The problem is, however, that this is an overly general statement. The research doesn’t prove a universal cause-and-effect relationship between gun laws and fewer gun deaths; it might just be a correlation. Some laws are more effective than others, and other cultural, demographic or socioeconomic factors might be the driving force behind the number of gun deaths in different states.

We rate Obama’s claim Mostly True.

[2] Email from James D. Agresti (President of Just Facts) to Media Outlets and Publicists, October 2, 2015:

Obama’s speech on the Umpqua College shootings

Within hours of the Umpqua College tragedy, Obama made an impassioned push for gun control. Many of the points he made in this speech are misleading, and I can address them with authority. My research on gun control has been cited by an ideologically diverse array of academic publications, major media outlets, and public policy organizations.

In his speech, Obama said that states with stricter gun laws have less gun deaths. Such claims, which stem from gun control groups like the Violence Policy Center, are subjective and ill-defined (see fallacy # 4 and here).

More importantly, this frequent claim of gun control advocates is meaningless, because it accounts only for firearm deaths instead of all deaths. Hence, it counts murders committed with guns but ignores lives saved with guns. This is significant because:

• the number of defensive gun uses by civilians far exceeds the number of violent crimes committed with guns.

• state gun ownership and homicide rates are poorly correlated, and many states with higher gun ownership rates also have the lowest homicide rates.

• Murder rates in states like Texas, Florida, and Michigan that enacted right-to-carry laws have declined faster than the rest of U.S.

Obama referenced the gun control laws of Britain and Australia as examples we need to follow, but:

murder rates increased in the wake of Britain’s strict gun control laws.

• murder rates in the U.S. dropped more rapidly after the federal ban on assault weapons expired than in Australia after its strict gun laws were implemented.

The president is displaying selective outrage that coincides with his political agenda. In just three months following the Freddie Gray riots, there were 116 murders in Baltimore. This occurred after Jesse Jackson said at Gray’s funeral, “We don’t need more police,” and the black lives matter movement and their allies caused police to pull back out of concern for their safety and being falsely accused of racism. Yet, Obama has failed to call out those who are responsible for this.

Obama also said we have become “numb” to mass shootings, but this is not true. Like other mass shootings, this tragedy will receive wall-to-wall coverage and justified outrage. Instead, we have become numb to the far greater day-to-day carnage in our nation. On an average day in America, there are 38 murders, 113 suicides, and 120 drug overdose deaths. Yet, this barely raises an eyebrow.

In a nation of 320 million people, there are many opportunities to advance false storylines by focusing on a small portion of the big picture. This is common practice of those who demagogue these tragedies like Obama.

There are other misrepresentations in Obama’s speech that I can address.

Note that I will be unavailable from about noon on Saturday until late Monday night.

Best,

Jim

James D. Agresti | President | Just Facts

NOTE: The following primary sources and excerpts appear in the footnotes of the links above:

[3] Report: “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence.” Edited by Alan I. Leshner and others. Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, 2013. <www.nap.edu>

Pages 1–2:

In January 2013, President Obama issued 23 executive orders directing federal agencies to improve knowledge of the causes of firearm violence, the interventions that might prevent it, and strategies to minimize public health burden. One of these executive orders noted that “in addition to being a law enforcement challenge, firearm violence is also a serious public health issue that affects thousands of individuals, families, and communities across the Nation,” and directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other relevant federal agencies, to immediately begin identifying the most pressing firearm-related violence research problems.

The CDC and the CDC Foundation2 requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in collaboration with the National Research Council (NRC), convene a committee of experts to develop a potential research agenda focusing on the public health aspects of firearm-related violence— its causes, approaches to interventions that could prevent it, and strategies to minimize its health burden. In accordance with the CDC’s charge, the committee did not focus on public health surveillance and potentially related behavioral/mental health issues, as these will be addressed separately.

Pages 15–16:

Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to a radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.

A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gun-wielding crime victim. Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies (Kleck, 1988; Kleck and DeLone, 1993; Southwick, 2000; Tark and Kleck, 2004). Effectiveness of defensive tactics, however, is likely to vary across types of victims, types of offenders, and circumstances of the crime, so further research is needed both to explore these contingencies and to confirm or discount earlier findings.

Even when defensive use of guns is effective in averting death or injury for the gun user in cases of crime, it is still possible that keeping a in the home or carrying a gun in public—concealed or open carry—may have a different net effect on the rate of injury. For example, if gun ownership raises the risk of suicide, homicide, or the use of weapons by those who invade the homes of gun owners, this could cancel or outweigh the beneficial effects of defensive gun use (Kellermann et al., 1992, 1993, 1995). Although some early studies were published that relate to this issue, they were not conclusive, and this is a sufficiently important question that it merits additional, careful exploration.

[4] Calculated with data from:

a) Report: “Criminal Victimization, 2014.” By Jennifer L. Truman and Lynn Langton. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Revised September 29, 2015. <www.bjs.gov>

Page 1: “Violent crime [is] defined as rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault, and simple assault.…”

Page 2: “Table 1: Violent Victimizations, by Type of Violent Crime, 2005, 2013, and 2014”

Page 3: “Table 2: Firearm Victimizations, 2005–2014”

Page 11: “The UCR includes homicides and commercial crimes, while the NCVS excludes these crime types.”

b) Report: “2014 Crime in the United States, Murder.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Fall 2015. <www.fbi.gov>

“The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. … In 2014, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 14,249.”

c) Dataset: “2014 Crime in the United States, Expanded Homicide Data Table 9: Murder Victims by Age by Weapon, 2014.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Fall 2015. <www.fbi.gov>

d) Dataset: “2014 Crime in the United States, Robbery Table 1: Robbery, Location, Percent Distribution within Region, 2014.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Fall 2015. <ucr.fbi.gov>

NOTE: An Excel file containing the data and calculations is available upon request.

[5] Paper: “Measuring Civilian Defensive Firearm Use: A Methodological Experiment.” By David McDowall and others. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, March 2000. <link.springer.com>

Page 7:

The most important of the other set of questions asked:

Within the past 12 months, have you yourself used a gun, even if it was not fired, to protect yourself or someone else, or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere?

This is largely identical to the standard question from the other surveys, but the reference period is 1 year rather than 5 years. The question also refers to the respondent alone, rather than to all household members.

Page 8:

Because gun ownership is a strong correlate of firearm resistance (e.g., Kleck and Gertz, 1996, p. 187), we selected a national sample from commercial lists of likely gun owners. Of the eventual respondents, 83% did report the presence of a gun in their home. …

This left 3006 households, an 81% response rate. The interviewers selected a single respondent from within each household. In a random 75% of the cases, the interviewers asked for the male head of household. In the remaining 25% they asked for the female head.

Page 10: “Table II. Types of Incidents of Firearm Defense….”

Type of Incident

Number of

Respondents

Portion of

Respondents

No incident

2,851

94.8%

Civilian against offender, clear

48

1.6%

Civilian against offender, ambiguous

24

0.8%

Law enforcement and security work

30

1.0%

Civilian against possible offender, no contact

20

0.7%

Against animals

13

0.4%

Carries gun for protection only

10

0.3%

Target shooting

8

0.3%

Military duties

2

0.1%

[6] Paper: “Estimating Intruder-Related Firearm Retrievals in U.S. Households, 1994.” By Robin M. Ikeda (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and others. Violence and Victims, Winter 1997. <www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov>

Page 363:

To estimate the frequency of firearm retrieval because of a known or presumed intruder, the authors analyzed data from a 1994 national random digit dialing telephone survey (n = 5,238 interviews). … National projections based on these self-reports reveal an estimated 1,896,842 (95% CI [confidence interval] = 1,480,647–2,313,035) incidents in which a firearm was retrieved, but no intruder was seen; 503,481 (95% CI = 305,093–701,870) incidents occurred in which an intruder was seen, and 497,646 (95% CI = 266,060–729,231) incidents occurred in which the intruder was seen and reportedly scared away by the firearm.

Page 364:

A specified random selection procedure was used to ensure that approximately one half of respondents were male and one half were female. If more than one eligible individual was in the selected gender category, the interviewer asked for the respondent with the most recent birthday. Households occupied by minorities were oversampled to ensure adequate minority representation and then weighted to adjust for unequal selection probabilities.

[7] Paper: “Gun Ownership and Social Gun Culture.” By Bindu Kalesan and others. Injury Prevention, June 29, 2015. <injuryprevention.bmj.com>

Page 1: “We assessed gun ownership rates in 2013 across the USA … We used data from a nationally representative sample of 4,000 US adults, from 50 states and District of Columbia, ages > 18 years to assess gun ownership….”

Page 3: “Figure 3: Gun Ownership Rates in Each State, 2013.”

[8] Paper: “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun.” By Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995. <scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu>

Page 160: “The present survey … was carefully designed to correct all of the known correctable or avoidable flaws of previous surveys…. We interviewed a large nationally representative sample….”

Pages 160–161:

A professional telephone polling firm, Research Network of Tallahassee, Florida, carried out the sampling and interviewing. …

Each interview began with a few general ‘throat-clearing’ questions about problems facing the R’s community and crime. The interviewers then asked the following question: ‘Within the past five years, have you yourself or another member of your household used a gun, even if it was not fired, for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere? Please do not include military service, police work, or work as a security guard.’

Page 163:

An additional step was taken to minimize the possibility of DGU [defensive gun use] frequency being overstated. The senior author went through interview sheets on every one of the interviews in which a DGU was reported, looking for any indication that the incident might not be genuine. … There were a total of twenty-six cases where at least one of these problematic indications was present. … Estimates using all of the DGU cases are labeled herein as ‘A’ estimates, while the more conservative estimates based only on cases devoid of any problematic indications are labeled ‘B’ estimates.

Page 172: “While estimates of DGU frequency are reliable because they are based on a very large sample of 4,977 cases, results pertaining to the details of DGU incidents are based on 213 or fewer sample cases, and readers should treat these results with appropriate caution.”

Page 176:

Another way of assessing how serious these incidents appeared to the victims is to ask them how potentially fatal the encounter was. We asked Rs [respondents]: “If you had not used a gun for protection in this incident, how likely do you think it is that you or someone else would have been killed? Would you say almost certainly not, probably not, might have, probably would have, or almost certainly would have been killed?” Panel K indicates that 15.7% of the Rs stated that they or someone else “almost certainly would have” been killed….

Page 184:

Table 2: Prevalence and Incidence of Civilian Defensive Gun Use, U.S. 1988–1993 … Recall Period [=] Past Five Years … All Guns … Household … Bc … % Used [=] 3.456 … Annual Uses [=] 1,029,615

c B estimates are based only on cases with no indications that the case might not be a genuine defensive gun use.

NOTE: In keeping with Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, the data cited above is the most cautious plausible data from this study. It is for households (as opposed to individuals) and a five-year recall period based “only on cases devoid of any problematic indications.”

CALCULATIONS:

  • 1,029,615 households per year used a gun for self-defense × 15.7% of defensive gun users thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection” = 161,650 such incidents
  • 3.456% of households used a gun for self-defense over the previous five years × 15.7% of defensive gun users thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection” = 0.5% of households

[9] Article: “States with the Most Gun Laws Tend to Have the Fewest Gun Deaths.” By Lauren Carroll. PolitiFact, October 6, 2015. <bit.ly>

We looked for evidence to contradict Obama’s statement, and found several complaints from those who favor gun rights. James Argesti, a gun control expert for the conservative think tank Just Fact, wrote in an email to reporters that statements like Obama’s are “meaningless” and “subjective and ill-defined,” as they gloss over the fact that gun laws vary drastically state-by-state. Argesti added that the claim ignores the number of lives saved by defensive gun use, and the fact that some states with little gun control also have low homicide rates.

[10] Email from James D. Agresti (President of Just Facts) to Angie Holan (President of PolitiFact), October 8, 2015:

Dear Angie,

It has come to my attention that Dustin Siggins sent you an email I wrote about Obama’s statements on gun control in the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College. PolitiFact then referenced this email in a piece entitled “Obama: More gun laws means fewer gun deaths.” I have grave concerns about the manner in which I was quoted, and I hope you will take appropriate action.

Please pardon my directness, but the author’s characterization of my words is sloppy, unprofessional, and demonstrably fallacious.

First, the piece contains these simplistic errors:

• The organization is misspelled as “Just Fact.” It is “Just Facts.”

• My last name is misspelled as “Argesti.” It is “Agresti.”

I could better understand these mistakes if I had corresponded with the author by phone, but PolitiFact received all of this information in writing.

Second, PolitiFact labeled Just Facts as a “conservative think tank.” In reality, it is a nonpartisan think tank that is widely cited by a diverse array of prominent organizations. In the spirit of full disclosure, we state that our personal views are “conservative/libertarian,” but this does not mean that the think tank is wed to an ideology. Calling Just Facts a “conservative think tank” is like cavalierly calling PolitiFact a “liberal fact-check organization,” even though such leanings sometimes shine through in PolitiFact’s work.

PolitiFact also branded my analysis as one of “several complaints from those who favor gun rights.” Yet, the author never bothered to divine the views of the other sources she cited or to reveal her own views. This type of double standard is a hallmark of biased reporting.

Most importantly, PolitiFact grossly misrepresented the content of my email, claiming I wrote that:

statements like Obama’s are “meaningless” and “subjective and ill-defined,” as they gloss over the fact that gun laws vary drastically state-by-state. Argesti added that the claim ignores the number of lives saved by defensive gun use, and the fact that some states with little gun control also have low homicide rates.

As shown below, I never stated or implied that Obama’s assertion is pointless because “gun laws vary drastically state-by-state.” That is an utterly nonsensical statement and a flagrant misrepresentation of what I wrote.

I also never said or implied that “some states with little gun control also have low homicide rates.” Instead, I wrote that “state gun ownership and homicide rates are poorly correlated, and many states with higher gun ownership rates also have the lowest homicide rates.”

Furthermore, I supported everything I wrote with links to research that is meticulously documented with highly credible primary sources. By omitting these links, PolitiFact made it seem as though I was making unsubstantiated assertions, when in fact, the exact opposite is true.

Here is the relevant excerpt from my email:

In his speech, Obama said that states with stricter gun laws have less gun deaths. Such claims, which stem from gun control groups like the Violence Policy Center, are subjective and ill-defined (see fallacy # 4 and here).

More importantly, this frequent claim of gun control advocates is meaningless, because it accounts only for firearm deaths instead of all deaths. Hence, it counts murders committed with guns but ignores lives saved with guns. This is significant because:

• the number of defensive gun uses by civilians far exceeds the number of violent crimes committed with guns.

• state gun ownership and homicide rates are poorly correlated, and many states with higher gun ownership rates also have the lowest homicide rates.

• Murder rates in states like Texas, Florida, and Michigan that enacted right-to-carry laws have declined faster than the rest of U.S.

To remedy these serious errors, I request that PolitiFact issue a formal correction and reproduce the above excerpt in its entirety (with the links).

Please don’t confuse my bluntness for animosity. I understand that mistakes happen, and I simply want to make sure that (1) these errors are corrected, (2) the truth is appropriately aired, and (3) such journalism is curtailed in the future.

Sincerely,

Jim

James D. Agresti | President | Just Facts

[11] Email from Angie Holan (President of PolitiFact) to James D. Agresti (President of Just Facts), October 8, 2015:

Jim, we corrected the report, I’m sorry for the errors.  You’ll see we marked it as corrected. We will not be publishing your email in its entirety, however.

All the best,

Angie Holan

NOTE: See the next footnote for the correction:

[12] Article: “States with the Most Gun Laws Tend to Have the Fewest Gun Deaths.” By Lauren Carroll. PolitiFact, October 6, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015 at <www.politifact.com>

We looked for evidence to contradict Obama’s statement, and found several complaints from those who favor gun rights. James Agresti, a gun control expert for the conservative-leaning think tank Just Facts, wrote in an email to reporters that statements like Obama’s are “meaningless” and “subjective and ill-defined,” linking to a Just Facts article that said classification systems that evaluate gun laws state-by-state can be “haphazard.” Agresti added that the claim ignores the number of lives saved by defensive gun use, and the fact that some states with highest gun-ownership rates also have low homicide rates. …

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of James Agresti, to clarify his views and to provide links to his original commentaries.

NOTES:

  • PolitiFact did not mention the correction until the end of the article and did not update the publication date to reflect the correction.
  • The next footnote details the matters that PolitiFact did not address in its correction.

[13] Email from James D. Agresti (President of Just Facts) to Angie Holan (President of PolitiFact), October 8, 2015:

Second, PolitiFact labeled Just Facts as a “conservative think tank.” In reality, it is a nonpartisan think tank that is widely cited by a diverse array of prominent organizations. In the spirit of full disclosure, we state that our personal views are “conservative/libertarian,” but this does not mean that the think tank is wed to an ideology. Calling Just Facts a “conservative think tank” is like cavalierly calling PolitiFact a “liberal fact-check organization,” even though such leanings sometimes shine through in PolitiFact’s work.

PolitiFact also branded my analysis as one of “several complaints from those who favor gun rights.” Yet, the author never bothered to divine the views of the other sources she cited or to reveal her own views. This type of double standard is a hallmark of biased reporting. …

Here is the relevant excerpt from my email:

… This is significant because:

• the number of defensive gun uses by civilians far exceeds the number of violent crimes committed with guns. …

• Murder rates in states like Texas, Florida, and Michigan that enacted right-to-carry laws have declined faster than the rest of U.S.

To remedy these serious errors, I request that PolitiFact issue a formal correction and reproduce the above excerpt in its entirety (with the links).

[14] Article: “Donald Trump Wrongly Says 14 Percent of Noncitizens Are Registered to Vote.” By Allison Graves. PolitiFact, October 24, 2016. <www.politifact.com>

Three experts wrote rebuttals of the study’s findings after the Post article appeared, and the study spawned another peer-reviewed article. …

[Brian] Schaffner, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, said the group has conducted surveys where they ask people questions regarding their citizenship and some people change their answers. …

Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute, said there are substantial legal deterrents that are in place to keep a noncitizen from voting.

[15] Article: “Donald Trump Wrongly Says 14 Percent of Noncitizens Are Registered to Vote.” By Allison Graves. PolitiFact, October 24, 2016. <www.politifact.com>

Donald Trump says “14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote,” but he is referencing a study that had its use in research discouraged by the publishers because of inaccuracies in the data point Trump is using. False. …

Trump’s proof was rebutted

Trump was citing a 2014 article posted on Monkey Cage, a blog hosted by the Washington Post, his campaign told PolitiFact. The blog post was a precursor to a study that discussed the impact noncitizens could have on the November 2014 election.

The authors—Jesse Richman and David Earnest—determined more than 14 percent of noncitizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote.

Richman and Earnest used data collected from a Harvard-affiliated Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). The duo concluded that CCES’ data provided “sufficient samples” to conduct their research.

Trump accurately cites the study, but its findings have been highly contested.

[16] Webpage: “Jesse Richman.” Old Dominion University. Accessed November 29, 2016 at <www.odu.edu>

Associate Professor

Political Science & Geography

Biography

Jesse Richman received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. He has published articles in a number of journals including American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Electoral Studies and State Politics and Policy Quarterly.

[17] Curriculum Vitae: “David C. Earnest.”  Accessed November 29, 2016 at <davidcearnest.files.wordpress.com>

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

Old Dominion University …

Professor of Political Science and International Studies, ODU, 2016–Present …

Education

Ph.D., Political Science, George Washington University, 2004

[18] Paper: “Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections?” By Jesse T. Richman, Gulshan A. Chattha, and David C. Earnest. Electoral Studies, December 2014. Pages 149–157. <www.sciencedirect.com>

Page 151:

It is impossible to tell for certain whether the non-citizens who responded to the survey were representative of the broader population of non-citizens, but some clues can be gained by examining education levels. … We confront this issue primarily by weighting the data.

Throughout the analysis (with the exception of the appendix) we report results produced from weighted data. Weight construction began with CCES [Cooperative Congressional Election Study] case weights, but then adjusted these by race to match the racial demographic of the non-citizen population. Our concern with using regular CPS [Current Population Survey] case-weights was that weights were constructed based upon overall demographic characteristics without attention to the demographic character of the non-citizen population. … Weighting produces a non-citizen sample that appears to be a better match with Census estimates of the population. For instance, 32.5 percent of the weighted sample had no high school degree. …

In 2008, 67 non-citizens (19.8%) either claimed they were registered, had their registration status verified, or both. Among the 337 [339 *] immigrant non-citizens who responded to the CCES [Cooperative Congressional Election Study], 50 (14.8%) indicated in the survey that they were registered. An additional 17 non-citizens had their voter registration status verified through record matches even though they claimed not to be registered. Perhaps the legal risks of non-citizen registration led some of these individuals to claim not to be registered.

NOTE: * The 337 figure was a typo, and 339 is the correct figure. [Email from Jesse Richman to Just Facts, May 24, 2017.]

[19] Political donations: “Brian Schaffner.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed November 30, 2016 at <www.opensecrets.org>

Contributor

Occupation

Date

Amount

Recipient

Schaffner, Brian
Washington, DC 20016

AU

10/6/04

$230

America Coming Together

Schaffner, Brian
Washington, DC 20016

AU

8/21/04

$432

America Coming Together

Schaffner, Brian
Northampton, Ma 01060

UMass

9/17/16

$360

Clinton, Hillary (D)

NOTE: See the next two footnotes for more context about these donations.

[20] Curriculum Vitae: “Brian F. Schaffner.” Accessed June 17, 2021 at <polsci.umass.edu>

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Professor, 2013–

Associate Professor, 2008–2013

Department Chair, 2012–2015 …

American University [Washington, DC]

Assistant Professor, 2004–2008

[21] Article: “Soros-Backed Activist Group Disbands as Interest Fades.” By Thomas B. Edsall. Washington Post, August 3, 2005. <www.washingtonpost.com>

A year ago, the liberal group America Coming Together was on the cutting edge of national politics, spending tens of millions of dollars on a massive voter-mobilization project in every presidential battleground state.

The dream was that ACT—heavily funded by billionaire George Soros—would play a decisive role in getting Democratic nominee John F. Kerry elected president and then remain in business as a permanent force in liberal politics. …

By all measures but one, ACT and the Media Fund were a great success, helping to turn out record numbers of new voters.

[22] Political donations: “Samantha Luks.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed November 30, 2016 at <www.opensecrets.org>

Contributor

Occupation

Date

Amount

Recipient

Luks, Samantha

San Francisco, CA 94107

YOUGOV

7/31/16

$250

Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte (D)

NOTE: See the next footnote for more context about this donation.

[23] Webpage: “Samantha Luks.” YouGov. Accessed December 7, 2016 at <today.yougov.com>

“Sam joined YouGov in 2005 and runs YouGov’s Palo Alto office, which specializes in academic, political, health outcomes, and technology research.  She is a leading expert in statistical methodology and has over 20 years of experience in the field of survey research.”

[24] Paper: “Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections?” By Jesse T. Richman, Gulshan A. Chattha, and David C. Earnest. Electoral Studies, December 2014. Pages 149–157. <www.sciencedirect.com>

[25] Political donations: “Jesse Richman.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed December 6, 2016 at <www.opensecrets.org>

“No records found”

[26] Political donations: “Gulshan Chattha.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed December 6, 2016 at <www.opensecrets.org>

“No records found”

[27] Political donations: “David Earnest.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed December 6, 2016 at <www.opensecrets.org>

NOTE: None of the donations correspond with the middle name, occupation, or location of the David C. Earnest who coauthored the study (see next footnote).

Contributor

Occupation

Date

Amount

Recipient

Earnest, David
Chicago, Il 60610

Attorney

8/22/00

$250

Lowe, Dan (D)

Roth, David Earnest
Birmingham, AL 35223

Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings, Llp

12/10/13

$500

Demarco, Paul (R)

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

10/31/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

4/30/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

5/31/16

$25

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, Al 36117

APC

7/31/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

8/31/15

$60

Alabama Power

Earnest, David Mr
Powell, OH 43065

US Bank

11/16/04

$625

Ohio Assn of Mortgage Brokers

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

5/31/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, ALl 36117

APC

6/30/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, Al 36117

APC

6/30/16

$25

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, Al 36117

APC

7/31/16

$25

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

8/31/16

$25

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, Al 36117

APC

9/30/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

11/30/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, Al 36117

APC

12/31/15

$60

Alabama Power

Sanders, David Earnest
Montgomery, AL 36117

APC

4/30/16

$62

Alabama Power

Earnest, Ronald David
Dublin, OH 43016

Us Bank Consumer Finance

1/6/03

$600

Ohio Assn of Mortgage Brokers

[28] Curriculum Vitae: “David C. Earnest.”  Accessed November 29, 2016 at <davidcearnest.files.wordpress.com>

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

Old Dominion University … Norfolk, VA …

Current Appointments

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Letters, ODU, 2014–Present

Professor of Political Science and International Studies, ODU, 2016–Present

(Assistant Professor 2004–2009; Associate Professor 2009–2016)

Previous Appointments

Visiting Associate Professor, Business School, University of Sydney (Australia), 2011

Research Assistant, George Washington University, Washington, DC, 1999–2004

Fellow in Political-Military Studies, Center for Strategic & International Studies, Washington, DC, 1992–97

Education

Ph.D., Political Science, George Washington University, 2004

M.A., Security Policy Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1994

B.A. with Honors, Political Science, Stanford University, 1991

[29] For comprehensive details, read Just Facts’ article “Substantial Numbers of Non-Citizens Vote Illegally in U.S. Elections.”