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Revision as of 05:35, 4 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 5 xkcd comics, and only 1707 (34140%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Politifact
"Ok, I lit the smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed. Let's see if it--" ::FWOOOSH:: "Politifact says: PANTS ON FIRE!"
Title text: "Ok, I lit the smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed. Let's see if it--" ::FWOOOSH:: "Politifact says: PANTS ON FIRE!"

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Basic, please expand.

Politifact.com is a website that rates political claims based on how true they are. This comic presents Politifact as an actual person, rating everything they hear.

The rulings from the Truth-O-Meter™ at PolitiFact are:

  • True
  • Mostly True
  • Half-True
  • Mostly False
  • False
  • Pants on Fire!

Megan says she had trouble sleeping. The Politifact person appears and says "Mostly True!" Megan appears distressed, and Cueball appears, hinting that this has happened before, and tells Politifact to get out. Politifact refuses, and hides under the bed. Megan remarks that no one likes Politifact, and Politifact replies "Mostly True!"

The comic may be commenting on the fact that many people become very defensive when claims they make in political discussions are debunked by Politifact. There is a phenomenon where the people most influenced by an erroneous claim are the least likely to believe a fact checker. For example, The Washington Post shut down their internet rumor fact checker because, "institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it's demonstrably fake." Many people like the idea of a fact checker, until they disagree with it. Politfact has been accused of being both liberally biased and conservatively biased at various times and has angered politicians on both sides of the aisle. The summary statistic "rulings" are especially troublesome; often the critics will agree that the information presented by the fact check is correct, and may agree that all relevant information has been included, but will disagree as to the importance of context omitted by the original speaker or the interpretation of ambiguous language. Hence, the statement that no one likes Politifact is "mostly true".

The title text makes a play on "Pants on fire" being Politifact's most untrue rating, but in this case it is an actual statement that Politifact's pants have caught fire because of the smoke bomb.

Transcript

[Megan walks around and rubs her eyes.]
Megan: I did not sleep well last night.
[A person with long hair wearing a hat crawls through the window, PolitiFact, Megan looks at the person.]
PolitiFact: PolitiFact says mostly true!
Megan: Oh no...
[PolitiFact has entered the room and Megan chases after that person with Cueball walking behind of them.]
Cueball: Not again. Get out of here, PolitiFact!
Megan: I swear I locked that window.
PolitiFact: PolitiFact says: False!
[Cueball and Megan standing in a bedroom, PolitiFact hides under the bed.]
Cueball: You can't stay under there forever.
Politifact: PolitiFact says: False!
Megan: Nobody likes you, Politifact.
PolitiFact: PolitiFact says: Mostly true!


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