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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Jan. 5-Jan. 11

This week, readers sent us comments on small business lawsuits, climate data, requests for a TV show and high praise from the Army. 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.

Business Suits

Potentially narrowing the bogus complaints in the U.S. Chamber ad about businesses being attacked ["U.S. Chamber: More Lawsuit Malarkey," Jan. 7] even further, I wonder what percentage of the remaining suits are filed BY businesses against businesses, whether large or small. It just seems disingenuous for the group committing most of the offenses to be complaining about it from the other side of their mouth. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce should run an ad targeting businesses for filing suits against businesses.

John Roesler
Layton, Utah

Brooks Jackson did a pretty good job reporting on the actual figures contained in the 2005 study commissioned by the SBA Office of Advocacy; however, one important fact was overlooked. On page 11 of the report it states: "The businesses interviewed via the telephone were equally divided between being the plaintiff (49%) and being the defendant (51%) in the discussed recent lawsuit." That means that half of the 5 percent of lawsuits to which a small business was a party were suits brought by the small business. Only the other half could be said to "target small business."

John O’Hara
Hartford, Conn.

Questioning Proxy Data

I was reading your article discussing global warming ["Climategate," Dec. 10]. You said that it wasn’t a cover-up to insert the actual temperatures to show a decline indicated by the tree ring data. As I understand it, this divergence in expected tree ring data started in 1961. Presumably, the actual temperature data since 1961 is the most accurate that they have. Why does no one question that their theory about the correlation between tree rings and temperature is wrong, instead of saying it hasn’t worked for 50 years, but it was always good for centuries in the past?

Stephen McGregor
Sun Valley, Idaho

FactCheck.org responds: Scientists have certainly questioned the theory about the correlation between tree rings and recorded temperature — questioning theory is what science is all about. There is evidence both from instrumental records (which go back much more than 50 years) and from other proxy data that tree rings are a good proxy for temperature prior to 1961.

Religion and Politics

Thanks in particular for the trifecta debunking ["A ‘Trifecta’ of Nonsense," Jan. 8]. The notion that a president is defective because he doesn’t wear the Christian religion on his sleeve (as a good many discredited medicine-show preachers do) is absurdly narrow-minded, but it is soooo American. Just try running for office if you think your religion is your own business, not everyone’s. In my opinion, this demand for religiosity only shows how shallow our dominant Christian religifiers’ notions of religion are.

He’s an A-rab! (as in "Barack hewSEIN Obama"), he’s a socialist, he’s a fascist, his name is almost "Osama," he’s giving the country away to foreign powers, taking away our freedoms, etc. etc. … It’s hard not to think that a lot of this anti-Obama mania is just a cover for people who are unhappy with a president who looks so different from them.

It’s not just the oil kingdoms of the Middle East who need to be doing a better job educating and enfranchising their populations.

Charles Quinn
Columbus, Ohio

Truth, Freedom and Bias

It’s people like you and organizations like yours that make me proud to have served my country for 34 years in the Army. Keep up the good work; you’re a credit to all who treasure both truth and freedom!

1st Sgt. Art Greathead
Butler, Pa.

Please, please keep up the research that you do. It is an invaluable resource to us ordinary citizens and professional "pundits." What is remarkable is that some people find the truth "biased"! I have been upset at some of your research, but the truth is the truth. Al Franken said on the floor of the Senate, we are entitled to our own beliefs but not to our own facts.

Paul Zappa
Edgewood, Ky.

I was very proud of your publishing the letter from a reader accusing you of being biased [Dec. 29-Jan. 4]. What is very telling about this letter is that she mentioned possibly using Snopes.com. Obviously she has not received the inflammatory email from friends accusing Snopes of being biased. Which, I might add, you have covered previously ["Snopes.com," Apr. 10, 2009].

This reader is upset because the majority of bogus claims seem to be "conservative" in nature. At least your assessment of all claims is certainly not biased. If it barks like a dog, smells like a dog, maybe it is a dog.

The truth sometimes hurts, we must be open to dealing with the truth.

I also enjoyed you previous post, "That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus" [March 18, 2008]. As has been said, "The truth shall set you free, unless a lie is easier."

James "Jiggs" Haynes
Hernando, Miss.

FactCheck On Air

I was listening to C-SPAN this morning on the drive to work and it occurred to me that the world could use a Factcheck TV Program. Spend a morning listening to the Washington Journal and you can probably understand the quandary. Many callers call in and express patently false facts but the moderators seldom, if ever, correct the caller. I know your website does a great job of calling out both parties on "misinformation" (lies) but it appears that not enough people know about your site. Too many people buy the party talking points as given fact when, as your site demonstrates, politicians very often embellish the truth during discourse. When I thought about it, there doesn’t seem to be any show that does such a function. It seems to me that CNN would be the most obvious network choice for your program in that they’re more centered vs. the Fox/right and MSNBC/left leaning shows. I’m thinking something like a 30-minute show where one politician’s claim is examined with supporting detail and a final "fact check" determination is made.

Lance Auman
Washington, D.C.

FactCheck.org responds: While we don’t currently have any plans for a FactCheck.org TV show, we do occasionally appear on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and radio to talk about misleading and false claims.

Eagle Eye

I’m curious to know why of all the pictures to use commemorating 2009, someone at FactCheck decided to use a picture from Koshien Stadium (in Nishinomiya, Japan) for the Hanshin Tigers’ Lucky 7 (Japanese equivalent of the 7th Inning Stretch)? (Don’t get me wrong, it’s very festive—having been there myself a few times—and looks appropriate.)

Wesley Johnson
Honolulu, Hawaii

FactCheck.org responds: We were impressed with our reader’s keen eye at identifying the gallery picture for our "Whoppers of 2009" story. As a nonprofit, FactCheck.org uses royalty-free and preferably copyright-free images, and the stadium shot was the best copyright-free picture of festivities we found.