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A WORLD RUN BY HOAXERS! When will liberals express a key point—that we live in a world run by hoaxers? // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2005

KIDS BEFORE HOAXES: New York City’s fourth graders rocked and rolled on this year’s state proficiency tests. But did the rise in the city’s test scores reflect an actual rise in learning? On Monday evening, a City Hall hearing examined this issue. “Da Man,” Michael Winerip, discussed the meeting in Tuesday’s New York Times.

Do the lives of urban children count? Or do we prefer to build hoaxes around them? The crucial issue discussed in this meeting deserves a much fuller airing. We’ll explore the topic next week—and yes, we’ll discuss our own “Deep Throat,” a very-high-ranking test exec who told us all in the early 1980s. (Sorry—no names will be mentioned.) Our “Throat” explained some steep score gains. If you’re inclined to put kids before hoaxes, you’ll want to hear what this man said.

IN SEARCH OF A WINNING DEM MESSAGE: We thought Howard Dean flirted with a strong Dem message on last evening’s Hardball. More on his performance tomorrow.

By the way, Chris Matthews wasn’t the only soul pandering to that Nashville congregation on Tuesday. Here was Senator Straight-Talk himself, adjusting his talk for the rubes:

MCCAIN (6/28/05): We also ought to recognize that we’ve made mistakes [in Iraq]. The way you fix mistakes is you recognize them and you fix them. We`ve made them. In every war, including the battle for reunification—the war of reunification of our nation, mistakes were made.

The point is that we`ve got to tell the American people that it`s long, it`s hard and it`s tough. But what we bring to Iraq and the Middle East is a marvelous and wonderful thing.

“The war of reunification of our nation?” Our young analysts turned to us, puzzled. When exactly did we fight “the war of reunification of our nation?” And alas, we were forced to explain—Straight-Talk meant the Civil War! Senator Straight-Talk spoke from DC—but he knew he was speaking to Nashville. If South Carolina gets close in 08, will Senator Straight-Talk end up discussing The War of Northern Aggression?

Follow-up—Where does spin come from?

A WORLD RUN BY HOAXERS: Let’s repeat something we’ve often said—Kevin Drum does endless, superlative policy work. In fact, we’ve been looking for a chance to cite two recent posts, so let’s link to them this morning. First, you should study Drum’s invaluable post from June 13, which debunks the familiar talk-show claim that Reagan’s tax cuts doubled federal revenues over his eight years in office. Seven days earlier, Drum had offered this valuable post about the drop in tax rates on the mega-rich over the past quarter century. If you want to take part in our endless spin wars, these posts provide invaluable info. It’s amazing that Dems don’t make use of the June 6 data—but as we’ve often mentioned, the current Dem Party is utterly hapless when it comes to message development.

But uh-oh! Why are modern liberals, even the brightest (like Drum), such suckers for pseudo-con hoaxes? Yesterday, we saw Garance Franke-Ruta passing on the familiar claim that Poppy Bush would have beaten Clinton if Perot hadn’t been in the race (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/29/05). A long-time staple of kooky-con talk was being recited again—at Tapped! And even as Franke-Ruta was spreading this Standard Rush Script, Drum himself was buying the latest hokum. When will our brightest liberals develop the chops to see through these kooky-con hoaxes?

The story begins on June 28. Drum quoted part of a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Diane Ravitch—the latest screaming-mimi rant about the perils of modern liberal education (more specifically, the perils of “ethnomathematics”). Drum seemed to affirm the general drift of the piece, and he said this: “Ravitch also has a pretty amusing anecdote about looking up the letter ‘F’ in math texts from 1973 vs. 1998.” Of course, as is often the case with such matters, Ravitch’s anecdote was “amusing” because it was fake—invented, made up. Drum explained the whole thing yesterday, after being clued by an e-mailer.

Yes, the issue involved here is minor. But the incident illustrates a puzzling phenomenon—the unending tendency of many libs to be taken by pseudo-con hoaxes.

What was the “amusing anecdote” from Ravitch’s Wall Street Journal column? Yesterday, Drum quoted the anecdote as he debunked it. Yes, the clown Ravitch wrote this:

RAVITCH (6/26/05): In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 "contemporary mathematics" textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter "F" included factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, finite set, formulas, fractions and functions. In the 1998 book, the index listed families (in poverty data), fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study, feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan, flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises and fund-raising carnival.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, those crazy, crackpot liberals—the ones who are ruining our kids’ education! But predictably enough, this “amusing anecdote” was, in fact, the latest example of kooky-con hoaxing. Here’s the e-mail Drum received, tipping him off to the hoax:
E-MAIL TO DRUM: The 1998 "contemporary mathematics" textbook referenced [by Ravitch] actually has two distinct indexes—one is called Index of Contexts, the other is called Index of Mathematical Topics. Now, let's see, in which index might a discerning reviewer look for a list of mathematical topics that start with the letter "F"?

This seems to be a hard question for Ravitch, Evers, and Clopton. They chose to look in the Index of Contexts. Let's use a bit more insight and look in the Index of Mathematical Topics. Under the letter "F" we find the following topics listed for this integrated mathematics textbook: Faces, Face-views (3-D drawing), Finding equations (using points, using regression, using situation, using slope and intercept), Five-number summary, Formula (area, perimeter, surface area), Four-color problem, Fractal, Fractional exponents, Frequency table, Front view (3-D drawing), and Function.

In short, the “amusing anecdote” was another hoax—the latest hoax played on the Journal’s readers. In yesterday’s post, Drum includes an e-mail from Ravitch; in it, the hapless theorist claims that she didn’t know that the book in question had two indexes. In short, she simply took Evers and Clopton at their word. Before she published her piece in the Journal, she didn’t bother checking out the factual claims she was making.

Might we start with the simplest observation on earth? For the past several decades, we have lived in a world in which hoaxes like this are the norm—a routine part of our debased public discourse. Since the rise of Rush and his hoaxer affiliates, kooky-con screamers have routinely invented fake stories and peddled such tales to the public. They have invented stories about Clinton; stories about Gore; and stories about Reagan’s brilliant tax cuts. They have invented stories about Perot’s effect on the 92 race—and stories about “ethnomathematics.” Is Ravitch unaware of this fact? If Ravtich really doesn’t know that her world is full of crackpots and hoaxers, she should apologize to the public right now and resign from the education debate. Sorry, but Ravitch is a fool. She proved it with her latest hoaxed column.

But then, Ravitch is part of the kooky-con world—and hoaxes are an integral part of that culture. To think that Ravitch would fact-check her claims is like thinking a rhino would tap-dance on a glass table. But why in the world do our brightest liberals just keep falling for hoaxes like this? Why in the word didn’t Kevin Drum sense that this tale was a phony?

For two decades, all of us have lived in a world driven by hoaxes and howlers. At THE HOWLER, we ourselves have spent seven years unpacking these endless fake stories. But for some reason, even our brightest liberals seem unable to come to terms with the nature of the world they live in. They hear that Clinton would have lost except for Perot—and it doesn’t strike them that the story is phony. They read about that comical index—and warning bells fail to go off in their heads. They don’t see that it’s happening again. Even after twenty years, they don’t have a nose for these hoaxes.

Readers, you live in an age of hoaxes and spin. Indeed, this should be a core talking-point of all intelligent Dems and liberals. For the past several years, we have said that Dems and liberals must tell the public about the way they’re treated like rubes—played for fools by the hoaxers and fakes who have made a screaming joke of our discourse. But somehow, none of this wise advice sinks in. Confronted with the latest hoax, even our brightest libs march to the slaughter. It’s nice to be a trusting soul, but this tendency to swallow down kooky-con cant is turning into a mental health problem. How many times do we have to get hoaxed before it starts to enter our mind that we may be getting hoaxed once again? How many times can they make up tall tales before we get wise to the pattern?

What will it take before our brightest libs grasp (and express) a seminal fact—the fact that we live in a world run by hoaxers? That they’ve hoaxed our discourse for the past twenty years? That they keep playing the voters for fools? That the Ravitches make a joke of our interests?

IT’S TIME FOR HER TO GO: Here’s part of the e-mail Ravitch sent Drum. Let’s put this as impolitely as possible. Diane Ravitch is a fool. It’s time for this lame-brain to go:

AN E-MAIL SENT BY AN IDIOT: Does the 1998 math book have two indexes? I don't know. The reason I cited Clopton and Evers was that I was taking the reference from a book chapter that they wrote. If I had done the research myself, I would not have cited them.

I have never seen a book with two indexes, but I suppose it is possible.

“I don’t know,” Ravitch wrote Drum. Truer words have never been spoken. And let’s be clear—liberals have to stop putting up with the Ravitches. Liberals and Dems have to stand and complain about a world run by hoaxers.