The Problems with Making Up Your Own Facts

Our local Congressional race is between an incumbent freshman Republican and a challenger from the Democrats who is trying to make women’s issues a key part of her campaign. Except rather than being knowledgable on the actual issue, Kathy Boockvar has decided to just make up her own facts in the midst of debates. This can backfire, something she should learn today.

For example, she was talking about birth control and said that she believed 99% of Americans use birth control. 99% of Americans. Think about that for a second. She didn’t misspeak, she made her comment very clear – she argues that 99% of Americans use birth control. Now, I assume she factored into that “fact” that any man in a sexual relationship with a woman on birth control pills is also “using” birth control. I’ll accept that. I agree with that. What I don’t accept is her assertion that children are actively using birth control.

No, I’m not talking about 16-year-olds using birth control methods. I have no issue with that at all. I’m talking about her version of statistics. 99% of Americans. The Census says that nearly 7% of Americans are under the age of 5. That means that in Kathy Boockvar’s world of made up statistics, toddlers and pre-schoolers are in need of birth control. This is why you don’t make up statistics on the fly when you’re running for office.

Of course, I don’t expect that Boockvar has any desire to actually correct her statement, even though she has tried to make such issues the highlight of her campaign. When asked in the last debate about her specific ideas for tax reforms, she refused to answer by saying that she doesn’t believe in making promises or giving those kind of answers. Today, she was asked for specifics on what votes she claimed Fitzpatrick has made to deprive veterans of support, and she just answered that he took many, many votes without being able to give any examples. In her campaign, facts are optional and accountability is non-existent. Not to mention, her made up facts are really freakin’ creepy.

14 thoughts on “The Problems with Making Up Your Own Facts”

    1. In her world, apparently not. Which is funny since I know several people who were intentionally trying to get pregnant recently. In fact, one just had her baby boy yesterday.

      Unlike Kathy, I won’t make up statistics, but I have to wonder how seriously she takes women’s reproductive issues when making a flippant comment like that because I actually find it a bit disrespectful to women who are trying to conceive and have trouble. On a personal level, I’ve known enough women who have had trouble that I wouldn’t be shocked if it is over 1%. (Unlike Kathy, I don’t demand we make public policy on my assumed statistics. I would actually look it up and see what the number is before centering a campaign around reproductive issues.)

  1. She probably could mostly correct her statement by inserting “sexually active” in the proper place. But it would, as pointed out above, still not account for those trying to get pregnant. And do you consider a post menopause woman as “using birth control”?

    1. I suspect the reason she won’t add “sexually active” is because she was probably afraid to say “sex” in front of the audience that was largely older (at least, I assumed it was given the direction they took in all of their answers and that it was held in the middle of a week day) voters.

      Even beyond that, still good points on other women who she disregards in her use of language and made up statistics.

  2. That’s a bit disingenuous, really. I mean, when I say “99% of people are bad drivers”, I don’t expect someone to say “well maybe it’s because they’re under 5?”
    I think it’s pretty well accepted that in some contexts the words “people”, and “Americans” don’t include children under a certain age. Justice Thomas even argued that in his Brown v. EMA dissent.

    1. I think it’s relevant just because it fits a theme of her campaign – just throw something out there to see if people buy it without actually backing it up. She doesn’t even have talking point examples to back this stuff up, as illustrated by her non-answers to other stuff.

      The question thrown to her on tax reforms came from, if I understood it correctly, a host who had already endorsed her. In other words, even when she is given open-ended questions that ask for just one or two details, by supporters trying to boost her, she still won’t answer them. In this context, she was in a debate and trying to give specific policy recommendations. That’s not an instance where anyone would say that “99% of people are bad drivers” because you’re talking about infrastructure or driving policies that do actually impact almost everyone, regardless of whether they drive or not. I would argue that contraceptive use does actually impact all Americans whether they are the ones using it or not. Even a 5 year old is impacted if they get a brother or sister that impacts how the family can pay their bills or divide resources among the children. But something that impacts most Americans and something that is used by most Americans are two totally different arguments.

      My point is that if you want to make the case that there’s some kind of policy that impacts everyone, using broad statements with provably false made up numbers isn’t the way to do it if you’re seriously asking for a vote so you can go to Congress and actually write the bills. It’s one thing for an overly broad and not actually factual statement in a casual discussion, not when you’re actually proposing something to become the law of the land on an issue.

      1. You’re totally right about that. Even the most charitable interpretation is that she’s using “99%” with the sloppy slang meaning of “lots”, which isn’t acceptable for policy discussions.
        “How much money is left in the pension fund?” “At least 99%! …maybe half or so.”
        “How many nuclear missiles do the Soviets have?” “Totally, like a gazillion or something.”

        Yeah, definitely not what you’d hope for from someone who claims to be qualified to manage public policy.

  3. Yeah, I’m with ecurb.

    The context is implicitly the set of Americans who are in a position to do so*.

    This isn’t a graduate dissertation, and I think we should have plausible standards of interpretation.

    (* Likewise the quibble about people trying to get pregnant. Obviously they won’t be using birth control, and obviously they exist.

    And, as a guess, since I don’t have the full context of her statement, I’m pretty sure that they were also implicitly not under discussion.

    My guess would be that “using birth control” really meant “supports birth control as an appropriate thing for avoiding pregnancy”.

    She’s still probably wrong, in that we have an awful lot of Catholics in this country, and a lot of them follow Doctrine on this, and that’s probably enough to get more than 1%.

    But I can’t make myself care, because this seems a lot less like an attempt at making up a real statistic, than sloppy speaking and the use of “99%” to mean nothing more or less than “almost all”.

    Sloppy, not actively deceitful, is my call.)

    1. Sloppy, not actively deceitful, is my call.

      I agree. My point is that if this is her attitude toward how she will write laws, this is a big freakin’ problem.

  4. I’ve read that about 2/3 of American Catholics use birth control methods other than the rhythm method which is Pope approved. That would imply that about 1/3 of American Catholics do NOT use artificial birth control. I know that there are some Protestants who regard artificial birth control as wrong, and for the same reason as the Church’s position. This pretty well blows away the 99% (even if you confine it to sexually active Americans).

  5. I don’t know this woman’s position, but I am assuming that she is making this statement in regards to the standard Democratic Party talking point of “access to birth control”, and how we need better access. So how the hell is it a valid argument to say we need better access when ninety-frickin-nine percent of the people are currently using it? It seems Americans have access already, Ms. Boockvar.

  6. So the whole discussion evolves into birth control. If she said 99% of consenting adults or 99% of adults what you would be kvetching about? No one makes up facts better than Fitzpatrick who still refuses to admit it was Reagan who gave us income tax on our social security benefits and allowed his campaign to make up outright lies about Boockvar and her activity as a lawyer. This earned him the loss of a endorsement from 2 bucks county papers. I have heard her ideas on issues, to say there are none is made up.

    1. I think you’ll see that in the comments here, we’ve outlined the many scenarios where the 99% falsified statistic doesn’t work even when you apply it to sexually active consenting parties. She has made so-called women’s issues the cornerstone of her campaign. When she reveals that she doesn’t actually know any details about who the policies would impact and how many they might impact across society, that’s a pretty big flaw in trying to win my vote. When you pair it with her other refusals to answer with specific ideas or specific bills, it reflects a person who isn’t actually ready to do serious work in Washington. Policymakers shouldn’t just make up numbers and claim that they just know their policies will impact that many people. They should actually know it if it is an issue they want to pick as the centerpiece to their campaign.

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