RE: What is Possum Stew? (Atlantic Monthly accuracy)

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From: Lisa Dusseault (
Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 09:30:19 PDT

Thanks for your posting John, it's good to hear that. However, much as I
respect publications which do fact-checking, the results are notoriously
awful. Even with straightforward names, dates etc. mistakes routinely crop

The worst cases in my opinion come in fields such as economics, where
everybody thinks they understand the field through their own experience and
a little common sense. Serious magazines which otherwise engage in proper
fact-checking, quote-checking, etc. often publish economic crap.

One problem is that you can check your quote's accuracy, but if it comes
from a quack economist (or doctor, or computer scientist) the science will
be wrong anyway.

Another problem is that people agree with statements like "Lower wages in
Mexico mean that free trade between Mexico and USA will cause Americans to
be worse off overall." It sounds logical, but it just isn't true, and can
be proven to be false -- but journalists and regular people don't typically
know that. A normal self-respecting news publication would never state as
fact the phlogiston theory of what makes fire burn, but they will continue
to publish statements like these which economists know are provably false.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Roberts []
> Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 11:56 AM
> To: Zhang, Yangkun; ''
> Cc:
> Subject: RE: What is Possum Stew? (Atlantic Monthly accuracy)
> At 11:01 AM -0400 10/24/00, Zhang, Yangkun wrote:
> >Do we have to go through this AGAIN???
> >
> >> like the (profligate) propaganda from slippery-side
> economists, it gets
> >> harder to swallow the more you chew on it. i give you instead
> >> chateaubriand.
> >>
> >
> >Consider the source! The Atlantic? You might as well have posted
> an article
> >from The Progressive! Neither are known for its economically accurate
> >reporting!
> As a former employee of The Atlantic, I would stand up for the
> magazine's accuracy. Everything is fact-checked (one of the many
> roles I had there) seriously. That does NOT mean that articles aren't
> biased one way or another -- everyone has an opinion, just like
> everyone has an .... well, you know the saying. But they are checked
> for factual accuracy, including calling people to read their quotes
> back to them and asking reporters for sources and, depending on the
> material, looking for other sources. I haven't been there for five
> years, but I don't think their standards have fallen in this area,
> although their ownership (and, perhaps, the politics of the owners)
> has changed in the last year or so.
> John Roberts
> <>

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