Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Genesis of a Misinformation Campaign
1.) United Way King County releases a press statement announcing their campaign to raise $25 million to build 1,000 units of housing for chronically homeless people. The press release includes a statement that chronic homelessness in Seattle has been reduced by 10% annually two years in a row.
2.) Nobody notices until the US Interagency Council on Homelessness quotes this misinformation on their website, and I draw attention to the problem that this claim is unsupported by any facts.
3.) United Way of King County gets embarrassed, and excises the offending statistic from the original press release that is posted on their website.
4.) A reporter from Dallas/Fort Worth's Star Telegram writes another one of those annoying "Phil Mangano is the best thing that ever happened to homeless people since hot soup and army blankets" articles, which states that Seattle has reduced chronic homelessness by 20%.
5.) Outraged local activist contacts said reporter to ask where he's getting his information. Reporter produces the map above, received as part of his press materials from the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, thus perfectly illustrating Mark Twain's famous dictum that "There are three kinds of lies: lies. damn lies, and statistics."