Tags:

Fact checking the ABC Fact Checker

  • 50
    Shares

ABC Fact Check, in this article, have decided that information regarding a 39% increase in late-term abortions in the years since 2008 is WRONG, although the data they sourced from our website at Real Choices Australia was demonstrated to be correct with only one year, 2000 being queried.

I received this query a few days ago in an email from Ms Fact Checker, in which she let me know that all the figures in this table had been cross-referenced with the CCOPPMM reports and found to be correct except for the year 2000, which Ms Fact Checker was having difficulty working out.

My first feelings about this were empathy with the struggle to extrapolate figures from the earlier reports and pride and thankfulness for the work undertaken over those years to do so in a way that has now been Fact Checked as RIGHT!

On receipt of the emailed query, I advised my brief assessment of the figures and the following:

With some of the earlier reports there were often some hidden figures that needed to be extrapolated out as terminations were not routinely listed separately. I’m not sure if that is the case with this one as it would be some years since it was examined and the figures worked out. I could have a closer look tomorrow but I’m juggling clients today.

If the figure is different I will change the table accordingly, so if that’s what you come up with please let me know. Good to see the other years are accurate.

Happy to address any other questions or concerns.

Ms Fact Checker did ask if I could have a look at them tomorrow. However ‘tomorrow’ ended up busier than the ‘today’ and the query didn’t resurface to the top of my ‘to do’ list. I didn’t hear from the Fact Checker again and promptly forgot about it.

The main thrust of the article is that the reported increase of 39% in the number of late-term abortions is incorrect. What is most interesting to me is that in order to Fact Check this, Ms Fact Checker had the resources to use the services of the Statistical Society of Australia to ‘provide a more robust analysis of the numbers using joinpoint statistical software’.

Unfortunately, in my work, my resources extend to the use of non-statistically trained, but extremely smart people, lots of pen and paper and a calculator… I’m guessing this is one aspect of the ‘crude approach’, referred to in the article. The good news! All our figures except for one year were correct (apparently), in spite of our limited resources. Yay!

While it may be remiss to not include one’s ‘working out’ in a high school maths paper, and perhaps the articles referring to the 39% increase could be more ‘robust’, it is disingenuous to write an article that is suggestive that there may have been some intent to deceive, when this was clearly not the case.

After all, Ms Fact Checker does concede, “Comparing eight-year averages pre and post-decriminalisation does indeed show a 39 per cent increase…”

The fact that Ms Fact Checker applies her own interpretation to what this means, saying, “…which Fact Check considers to mean the increase or decrease after that time” is hardly the responsibility of Real Choices Australia or those who reported the increase.

I remain in hope that Ms Fact Checker has had the time or the resources to robustly calculate the 2000 figures so that I can update them if needed and everyone, Fact Checkers included can continue to rely on us as a source for accurate information even if we only have a calculator at our disposal.


  • 50
    Shares