Talk for Article "Fact check: Trump’s tweet about Hurricane Maria"

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  1. I wouldn’t put his claim as false, because, as stated, it is true.

    It is true that only a few (much less that a 100 anyway, whether we use the 18 or 64 number) died “in” the hurricane. But it is misleading. The near 3000 died “following” the hurricane, or “as a consequence” of the hurricane. But not “in” the hurricane.

    So I feel a “true but misleading” label would be more fair. Trump is spinning the number to fit him, but he is in fact talking about something different. But his claim is not false.

    1. This hinges on what “in the hurricane” means, as you say, Philippe. It’s loose language and tweet language. But surely it is fair enough to equate “died in the hurricane” with “died as a result of the hurricane”?
      Interesting philosophical/semantic discussion.

      1. It is too easy to say “in” and “as a result of” are not the same (whether Trump did have this distinction in mind or not, as in tweet language). Trying to pack 2 different numbers with the same meaning would allow conspiracy theory supporters to poke holes ins that article. So I wouldn’t set the claim as false. Plus, as Nick Bourbaki said, the 3000 number is not “official”. So I don’t think it is fair to say they are the same.

        If we really want to be factual and exact, and more importantly be well understood why there can be different *valid* numbers, I think we have to allow the distinction between death in (during and in the immediate aftermath) the storm and death as a result (longer term) of the storm.

        Saying they are not the same could make Trump look worse, or better. The death during the storm (or immediately following) were mostly unavoidable. But those other death, if more had been done to restore power, bring life saving equipment, water… a number of them could have been avoided if he had done a better job. Or he really did a good job (as he claims) and avoided this number being possibly 10 thousand. He might have been more clever pointing to something like that, rather than holding to the 18 number. But either way, that is a matter of opinion.

      2. I feel that to the general person it comes across as a denial of facts. It is a stretch to say that he was just talking about the storm itself.

    2. If you look at the whole tweet, Trump was responding to the “report” saying 3,000 died because of the hurricane Maria. In other words, he was denying the report.

      Now if he was making a distinction between how many people died “in” the hurricane as opposed to because of it, he would not be disagreeing with the report. But that would not benefit him at all. He would be in essence saying, “Yes, three thousand died because of the hurricane but only 16 during the time it covered Puerto Rico”.That would make him look like someone who was just splitting semantic hairs and trying to divert from the issue.

      1. In my opinion, I fully agree with you. He was denying the report. I don’t know if he understands (or even tries to understand) the distinction between death count just after the storm and long term analysis from the report. But it is only my opinion, or even worse, my understanding of his opinion.

        Yet, if you take the words exactly as written without interpreting, the tweet it mostly accurate. Very misleading, but accurate.
        – When he left, the number was around 18.
        – It went up slowly.
        – And “suddenly” we have this high number.

        As for the 3000 that he denies at the beginning, unfortunately it is only an estimate, not an accurate or official number. It is an expert opinion that I would value infinitely more than that of any politician, but the range of numbers (some much lower, some much higher) means that denying the 3000 is not provably false. It is very possible that the number is half that (even though that would still be high).

        I definitely wouldn’t put his claim at false. “True but misleading” is an option, “Mostly false” possibly. Just “false”, I think, is incorrect. Or you have to be very clear that it is “your interpretation” (even if it is the most obvious to most, including myself) of the tweet that you flag as false. But in this case, we get away from facts and back to opinions…

        1. I don’t think you realize this but you are contradicting yourself when you say you agree with me that Trump was denying the reports that say 3,000 died.

          If Trump said died “in” to mean died during some period when the hurricane was passing through PR, that is *not contradictory with the claim that the hurricane caused 3,000 deaths.

          However, I was using the term “deny” to mean what most people mean by it, that is contradicting someone’s claim.

          So if Trump was contradicting the claim of 3,000 deaths, that means he disagrees that the hurricane caused 3,000 deaths. If he was saying it only record 16 or so deaths at some period when it was passing through, that would be another claim and would not deny (contradict) the previous claim by the report.

          Also, the word “in” is often used to mean caused. E.g. Take a look at this list of people who died “in” car crashes. Many died either on their way to a hospital or at the hospital.

          Same with died “in” a shooting etc. This kind of locution is common.

          1. Thanks, but I also understand the notion of dying after the fact, as after a car crash. I think Trump does understand it too. But this is not what the report is talking about.

            To come back to the analogy of the traffic collision, let’s make it slightly more dramatic: A train derails. 5 dead, 20 seriously injured. It will attract all the local ambulances. People are sent to hospitals. Another 3 die from their injuries. That 8 is what Trump is counting, but this is not what the report is about.

            During that time, in the area, 10 people die from a heart attack, a stroke or some other accident. Several of them would have been saved if there have been ambulances available, but they were all busy with the train wreck. This is what the report is about. This is the equivalent of infrastructure damage, power outage… Some of these 10 actually died as a result of the train wreck, but will never be counted as victims of the train wreck, because usually, we don’t attempt such an analysis as what the report is doing.

            Now, if just after the accident neighboring counties had sent extra-ambulances to help, they might have been saved, or just some of them. May be they sent some, but not enough. This is the part about whether the government could/should have done more.

            I, personally, think the report makes sense, and probably has a reasonable estimate of casualty due to the storm. But I can understand how someone may not be able to understand that. So in the sense of dying directly “in or as a direct consequence” the storm, he may be correct, but his denial of the report is misleading because what he denies is not what the report is about. I see the different. Trump and a number of his supporters might not even try to look (confirmation bias).

            The fact that the fact check remains at “official’s death toll” does not help. This number being an estimate based on the normal mortality rate, such a precise value is also misleading, though not as badly as the denial.

  2. “There has been no name by name count of people who lost their lives as a direct result of hurricane Maria. The 3,000 number was pure extrapolation. Funeral directors association in PR estimate a far lower number.

    WikiTribune claim at the end of the article claims that there is an “official” death count is false. There is no official death count yet.”

    This comment was added in the references section. It’s false and it also relies on false assumptions. Is there a way to delete it?

    1. There appears to be a bug in as much as you must use the ‘Advanced Editor’ to remove text in the ‘sources’ section. I’ve alerted our devs. Very good catch.

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