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Facts, Half Truths, and Lies

Robert, your post reminds me of my own most memorable run-in with the so-called fact-checkers, in this case at Politifact. I wrote that the Affordable Care Act’s “nondiscrimination” provisions, which require coverage for health-care providers working within the terms of state licensure, opened the door for requiring coverage of such quackery as naturopathic medicine, chiropractic, and other so-called therapies for which there is approximately zero scientific basis. These activities often are covered by state-licensure rules, which confers upon them some legitimacy as the ACA is written.

That was — and is — true. Supporters of quackery such as Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Tom Harkin (now retired), and Senator Barbara Mikulski (patron saint of “Naturopathic Medicine Week”) made clear. That was the point of the “nondiscrimination” language.

Politifact, without actually disputing any of the claims that I made, rating my piece “half-true” because of assertions that I never made, i.e. that such quackery would represent a large amount of health-care spending. Further, Politifact reporter Louis Jacobson lied about his attempts to contact me about the report. You can read the whole sorry story here.

So much for “fact-checkers.” So much for facts, for that matter, as far as Politifact or the Washington Post fact-checkers are concerned.

Subsequent events, it is worth noting, continue to bear me out. As the Society for Science-Based Medicine points out, Kentucky’s statute codifying the ACA’s quackery rules explicitly invoked imaginary forces:

‘chiropractor’ means one qualified by experience and training and licensed by the board to diagnose his patients and to treat those of his patients diagnosed as having diseases or disorders relating to subluxations of the articulations of the human spine and its adjacent tissues by indicated adjustment or manipulation of those subluxations and by applying methods of treatment designed to augment those adjustments or manipulation.

The vertebral “subluxations” that are the basis for chiropractic “therapy” do not exist. Even many contemporary chiropractors have been shamed into confessing that it is pseudoscience, pure phlogiston. And yet, there it is, being written into the law thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Maine’s legislature passed a law mandating the coverage of “naturopathic” hocus pocus.

By way of comparison, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lied — lied, period — about Green New Deal documents being “doctored” by her opponents for political purposes. Never happened. Everybody knows it never happened. The Washington Post fact-checker admits it never happened.

And yet, somehow, for the so-called fact-checkers of the world, documented facts are “half-truths” while outright lies are to be considered as anything but what they actually are: lies.

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