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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Dec. 29-Jan. 4

This week, readers sent us comments on our Whoppers story, our mailbag, our bias and Climategate (but it’s not what you think!).

In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Climategate Correction

Has anyone confirmed the Times Online story that the UK Met is reexamining 160 years of data ["Climategate," Dec. 10]? All reports of this refer back the Times Online story (including yours). I did not see this reported on the Met website or by another news outlet.

Jim Lowellson
Phoenix, Ariz.

FactCheck.org responds: Our alert reader is correct. We contacted the Met Office, and a spokesperson said that the Times report was inaccurate. The Met Office will be releasing its data, but not reexamining it. We corrected our story.


Whopping Response

Do you remain asea in "political correctness," or are you just being kind when you make reference to "whoppers" and "falsehoods" ["Whoppers of 2009," Dec. 24]?

A lie is a lie is a lie is a lie, intended to sway and/or influence the recipient, but still a lie.

Keep up the good work for us who have no research facilities.

Don Miller
Littleton, Colo.

FactCheck.org responds: We seldom use the word "lie," because that describes an intentional deception, and we can’t prove intent. We’re not mind readers, so we can’t judge whether somebody makes a false claim knowing that it is false, or whether they are simply mistaken or deluded.


You left out a whopper. Anyone — politician or "scientist" — who claims that "X amount of people die each year because of no health insurance" is telling a lie.

I challenge anyone to send me copies of death certificates that state the cause of death as "Lack of Insurance."

Tell me — if an uninsured gang member is shot and killed, did the person die because of a lack of health insurance — even when they can receive care in an emergency room?

The same is true for a homeless person in winter. Did they [die] because of "natural causes," a lack of capital to afford housing (possibly brought on by poor decision making in life) or because they did not have health insurance???

The concept of death by "lack of health insurance" is a fallacy.

Bill Poje
Jacksonville, Fla.

FactCheck.org responds: We did cover that claim, though we didn’t count it among our Whoppers of 2009.


Not a Fan of Your Site

I have heard of your Web site many times and today decided to go to it to check out something I’d heard. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but what I DID find was a website that seems to be right out of a Democrat propaganda book. Sure, occasionally you had a "non-truth" that a supposed Democrat told, but those were few and far between and since I pay attention to all sides, every day of the year, I KNOW that you’re conveniently either leaving many out OR exaggerating those coming from the right.

Consequently, I’ll let people that I know, who think you are actually a "fact check" website, know that you are nothing but a wing of the Democrat party.

It’s a real shame. America really could have used a completely nonpartisan way to find out the truth of what we hear. I’ve heard of Snopes.com. Maybe I’ll try them.

Jackie Ivie
Manchester, Md.

FactCheck.org responds: We welcome suggestions from readers of claims they think we should check out. You can send them to editor@factcheck.org.


Mailbag Gets Meta

This is primarily in response to Bill Walker’s letter from this week [Dec. 15-Dec.21]. He spoke of freedom being taken from us, and car insurance, etc. He is mistaken that car insurance is contingent upon owning a car; it is contingent upon driving one, and I feel this is an important distinction. If someone in Manhattan rents a car with the intention of getting behind the wheel and putting their lives and others on the line, they are required to either purchase insurance or take the financial burden on themselves. If they get into an accident, they are either personally responsible, or insurance will cover it. And yes, it is mandated in most states, because the safety benefits outweigh the financial savings — it is a balancing test, and something always must give. As far as health insurance is concerned, the end result is that for people who need medical care but don’t have insurance, they either die or the financial burden is placed on everyone else, with no benefit. There are fewer supplies for those who can pay and fewer people who can care for u — so even if we aren’t paying out of pocket, such as for a national health insurance, we are still paying a price for others not being covered. As for how that relates to freedom? We’re trading some of it either way, but at least we get something out of it with national health care.

Caroline Conway
Babylon, N.Y.

It’s hard to take people like Bill Walker from Fresno seriously because of his name-calling. Calling the employees of FactCheck.org "liberal apologists" means he doesn’t have any argument. Unfortunately this is the case with a lot of online posters. I love your site and you call it like it is no matter who you’re talking about — whether it’s a liberal like Al Gore or a far-right extremist like Sarah Palin. It seems like a lot of people have sour grapes about the last presidential election and all they can do is insult fellow Americans who don’t agree with them.

Keep up the good work.

Joe Savastano
Brooklyn, N.Y.