Barefaced lies of 2009
"Death Panels" - Betsy McCaughey misrepresented a provision (since dropped) that merely called for Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions to help seniors make end-of-life care decisions, such as designating a health care proxy, choosing a hospice or writing a living will. McCaughey twisted that into "a required counseling session" that would "tell them how to end their life sooner."
Socialized Medicine - Several groups and politicians claimed that the major health care bills in Congress called for a single-payer system like Canada’s, under which all citizens have health insurance provided by the government, or even a system like Britain’s, where doctors and hospitals are employed by the government.
Breast Cancer Massacre - One TV spot claimed that "300,000 American women with breast cancer might have died" if our health care system was like England’s. The ad’s conservative sponsor cited the American Cancer Society as a source, but the cancer society never used such a number and an ACS epidemiologist called the ad sponsor’s calculations "really faulty.
False Fingerpointing - Obama falsely claimed that an insurance company was responsible for the death of an Illinois cancer patient whose coverage was canceled because he hadn’t reported gallstones. "They delayed his treatment," Obama said, "and he died because of it."
Double Trouble - Obama exaggerated by at least a factor of two when he said that health care "causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds."
Puffed-up Premiums - We twice caught Obama saying that the "average American family is paying thousands" or "a thousand dollars" in health insurance premiums to pay for uncompensated care for the uninsured.
Dangerous Vaccine - Like the fears that H1N1 flu (or "swine flu" would rival the 1918 flu pandemic in severity, the rumors about the dangers of the H1N1 vaccine fizzled pretty quickly — but not before we encountered numerous false claims about dangers supposedly posed by the vaccine.
Mandatory Inoculations - Equally widespread were claims of a government scheme to force people to get vaccinations or risk being put in quarantine camps.
Dueling Job Claims - Both sides tossed around misleading job claims. Proponents said cap-and-trade legislation would create 1.7 million new "green" jobs, while critics said higher energy prices would crush the economy and kill 2.4 million jobs. The truth is that career economists at the Energy Information Administration expect a net job loss, but probably in the range of hundreds of thousands, not millions.
Floating Falsehoods - House and Senate Republicans told lots of whoppers about the $787 billion stimulus bill as it was being considered in February, falsely claiming that it contained funds specifically intended for golf carts, butterfly parks, water slides and other projects not in the bill. The worst of these GOP howlers was a claim that the bill had $8 billion for a “levitating train” to Disneyland.
Phantom Districts - Democrats had their own problems with stimulus facts. The administration’s Recovery.gov Web site reported that the spending bill was funding any number of jobs in nonexistent congressional districts.
Birth Pains - It was a bad year for diehards pressing their groundless claims that Obama was not born in the U.S.A and thus not qualified to be president.
Gun Guff - The year brought a torrent of false claims spread by gun fanciers convinced that Obama was moving to restrict their rights. One focused on a gun-registration bill that in truth has a single sponsor and no sign of White House support. Another claimed that Obama is pushing to impose a $50 tax on all privately owned guns and to force owners to report their weapons on their income-tax forms (but the claim referred to a bill that died years earlier, in a previous Congress).
How can not believing in something that is backed up with no empirical evidence be less scientific than believing in something that not only has no empirical evidence but actually goes against the laws of the universe and in many cases actually contradicts itself? - Ricky Gervais