## Slight methods change: No more ratios

11/05/2012

I've recently noticed that my early writing about comparisons of malarkey scores, which I report as ratios, are easily misinterpreted. For example, I might say that candidate X spews 17% more malarkey than candidate Y, or that PolitiFact might have a 17% bias against party Z over party W. What I really mean is that the malarkey scoreĀ is 17% larger for candidate X or party Z, not that there is a difference in 17 points along the malarkey scale. The confusion arises from the fact that I report comparisons as ratios. I'm not going to do that anymore. Why? Because if I report comparisons as differences instead, it makes more sense given that the malarkey score ranges from 0 to 100, and could be interpreted as the percentage of one's utterances that are malarkey-laden. I'll make the changes to the side bar reports sometime this week.

Malark- O -blog published news and commentary about the statistical analysis of the comparative truthfulness of the 2012 presidential and vice presidential candidates. It has since closed down while its author makes bigger plans.

## author

Brash Equilibrium is an evolutionary anthropologist and writer. His real name is Benjamin Chabot-Hanowell . His wife calls him Babe. His daughter calls him Papa.

## what is malarkey?

It's a polite word for bullshit. Here, it's a measure of falsehood. 0 means you're truthful on average. 100 means you're 100% full of malarkey. Details .

## what is simulated malarkey?

Fact checkers only rate a small sample of the statements that politicians make. How uncertain are we about the real truthfulness of politicians? To find out, treat fact checker report cards like an experiment, and use random number generators to repeat that experiment a lot of times to see all the possible outcomes. Details .

## malark- O -glimpse

Can you tell the difference between the 2012 presidential election tickets from just a glimpse at their simulated malarkey score distributions?

dark = pres, light = vp
(Click for larger image.)

## fuzzy portraits of malarkey

Simulated distributions of malarkey for each 2012 presidential candidate with 95% confidence interval on either side of the simulated average malarkey score. White line at half truthful. (Rounded to nearest whole number.)

(Click for larger image.)
• 87% certain Obama is less than half full of malarkey.
• 100% certain Romney is more than half full of malarkey.
• 66% certain Biden is more than half full of malarkey.
• 70% certain Ryan is more than half full of malarkey.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## fuzzy portraits of ticket malarkey

Simulated distributions of collated and average malarkey for each 2012 presidential election ticket, with 95% confidence interval labeled on either side of the simulated malarkey score. White line at half truthful. (Rounded to nearest whole number.)

(Click for larger image.)
• 81% certain Obama/Biden's collective statements are less than half full of malarkey.
• 100% certain Romney/Ryan's collective statements are more than half full of malarkey.
• 51% certain the Democratic candidates are less than half full of malarkey.
• 97% certain the Republican candidates are on average more than half full of malarkey.
• 95% certain the candidates' statements are on average more than half full of malarkey.
• 93% certain the candidates themselves are on average more than half full of malarkey.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## Comparisons

Simulated probability distributions of the difference the malarkey scores of one 2012 presidential candidate or party and another, with 95% confidence interval labeled on either side of simulated mean malarkey. Blue bars are when Democrats spew more malarkey, red when Republicans do. White line and purple bar at equal malarkey. (Rounded to nearest hundredth.)

(Click for larger image.)
• 100% certain Romney spews more malarkey than Obama.
• 55% certain Ryan spews more malarkey than Biden.
• 100% certain Romney/Ryan collectively spew more malarkey than Obama/Biden.
• 94% certain the Republican candidates spew more malarkey on average than the Democratic candidates.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## presidential debates

Simulated probability distribution of the malarkey spewed by individual 2012 presidential candidates during debates, with 95% confidence interval labeled on either side of simulated mean malarkey. White line at half truthful. (Rounded to nearest whole number.)

(Click for larger image.)
• 66% certain Obama was more than half full of malarkey during the 1st debate.
• 81% certain Obama was less than half full of malarkey during the 2nd debate.
• 60% certain Obama was less than half full of malarkey during the 3rd debate.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

(Click for larger image.)
• 78% certain Romney was more than half full of malarkey during the 1st debate.
• 80% certain Romney was less than half full of malarkey during the 2nd debate.
• 66% certain Romney was more than half full of malarkey during the 3rd debate.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## aggregate 2012 prez debate

Distributions of malarkey for collated 2012 presidential debate report cards and the average presidential debate malarkey score.
(Click for larger image.)
• 68% certain Obama's collective debate statements were less than half full of malarkey.
• 68% certain Obama was less than half full of malarkey during the average debate.
• 67% certain Romney's collective debate statements were more than half full of malarkey.
• 57% certain Romney was more than half full of malarkey during the average debate.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## 2012 vice presidential debate

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• 60% certain Biden was less than half full of malarkey during the vice presidential debate.
• 89% certain Ryan was more than half full of malarkey during the vice presidential debate.
(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## overall 2012 debate performance

Malarkey score from collated report card comprising all debates, and malarkey score averaged over candidates on each party's ticket.
(Click for larger image.)
• 72% certain Obama/Biden's collective statements during the debates were less than half full of malarkey.
• 67% certain the average Democratic ticket member was less than half full of malarkey during the debates.
• 87% certain Romney/Ryan's collective statements during the debates were more than half full of malarkey.
• 88% certain the average Republican ticket member was more than half full of malarkey during the debates.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## 2012 debate self comparisons

Simulated probability distributions of the difference in malarkey that a 2012 presidential candidate spews normally compared to how much they spewed during a debate (or aggregate debate), with 95% confidence interval labeled on either side of the simulated mean difference. Light bars mean less malarkey was spewed during the debate than usual. Dark bars less. White bar at equal malarkey. (Rounded to nearest hundredth.)

## individual 2012 presidential debates

(Click for larger image.)
• 80% certain Obama spewed more malarkey during the 1st debate than he usually does.
• 84% certain Obama spewed less malarkey during the 2nd debate than he usually does.
• 52% certain Obama spewed more malarkey during the 3rd debate than he usually does.
(Click for larger image.)
• 51% certain Romney spewed more malarkey during the 1st debate than he usually does.
• 98% certain Romney spewed less malarkey during the 2nd debate than he usually does.
• 68% certain Romney spewed less malarkey during the 3rd debate than he usually does.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## aggregate 2012 presidential debate

(Click for larger image.)
• 58% certain Obama's statements during the debates were more full of malarkey than they usually are.
• 56% certain Obama spewed more malarkey than he usually does during the average debate.
• 73% certain Romney's statements during the debates were less full of malarkey than they usually are.
• 86% certain Romney spewed less malarkey than he usually does during the average debate.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## vice presidential debate

(Click for larger image.)
• 70% certain Biden spewed less malarkey during the vice presidential debate than he usually does.
• 86% certain Ryan spewed more malarkey during the vice presdiential debate than he usually does.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## 2012 opponent comparisons

Simulated probability distributions of the difference in malarkey between the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate during a debate, with 95% confidence interval labeled on either side of simulated mean comparison. Blue bars are when Democrats spew more malarkey, red when Republicans do. White bar at equal malarkey. (Rounded to nearest hundredth.)

## individual 2012 presidential debates

(Click for larger image.)
• 60% certain Romney spewed more malarkey during the 1st debate than Obama.
• 49% certain Romney spewed more malarkey during the 2nd debate than Obama.
• 72% certain Romney spewed more malarkey during the 3rd debate than Obama.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## aggregate 2012 presidential debate

(Click for larger image.)
• 74% certain Romney's statements during the debates were more full of malarkey than Obama's.
• 67% certain Romney was more full of malarkey than Obama during the average debate.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## vice presidential debate

• 92% certain Ryan spewed more malarkey than Biden during the vice presidential debate.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## overall 2012 debate comparison

Party comparison of 2012 presidential ticket members' collective and individual average malarkey scores during debates.
• 88% certain that Republican ticket members' collective statements were more full of malarkey than Democratic ticket members'.
• 86% certain that the average Republican candidate spewed more malarkey during the average debate than the average Democratic candidate.

(Probabilities rounded to nearest percent.)

## observe & report

Below are the observed malarkey scores and comparisons form the malarkey scores of the 2012 presidential candidates.

## Truth-O-Meter only (observed)

candidate malarkey
Obama 44
Biden 48
Romney 55
Ryan 58

## The Fact Checker only (observed)

candidate malarkey
Obama 53
Biden 58
Romney 60
Ryan 47

## Averaged over fact checkers

candidate malarkey
Obama 48
Biden 53
Romney 58
Ryan 52

## Collated bullpucky

ticket malarkey
Obama/Biden 46
Romney/Ryan 56

## Average bullpucky

ticket malarkey
Obama/Biden 48
Romney/Ryan 58

## 1st presidential debate

opponent malarkey
Romney 61
Obama 56

## 2nd presidential debate (town hall)

opponent malarkey
Romney 31
Obama 33

## 3rd presidential debate

opponent malarkey
Romney 57
Obama 46

## collated presidential debates

opponent malarkey
Romney 54
Obama 46

## average presidential debate

opponent malarkey
Romney 61
Obama 56

## vice presidential debate

opponent malarkey
Ryan 68
Biden 44

## collated debates overall

ticket malarkey
Romney/Ryan 57
Obama/Biden 46

## average debate overall

ticket malarkey
Romney/Ryan 61
Obama/Biden 56

## the raw deal

You've come this far. Why not just check out the Maslark-O-Meter is using? I promise you: it is as riveting as a phone book.