PolitiFact debunks ‘boomerang’ figure

Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact traces the spread of a bogus number. Have you ever heard that 85 percent of recent college graduates are moving back home? If so, then perhaps you’ve seen that figure in Time magazine, in CNNMoney.com, in the New York Post, or in an ad from American Crossroads, a group that used the whopping figure in an ad to hammer President Obama.

So if you’ve heard it from all those places, how could this figure on “boomerang” children possibly be anything but stone-cold accurate? Well, perhaps no one ever once lifted a phone receiver, put a question in an e-mail or deployed other research techniques to fact-check it. (PolitiFact gave it a “false.”)

The Jacobson piece (in which yours truly is quoted) demonstrates that the media continue to apply a rigorous tripartite test when it comes to swallowing polling numbers or demographic research. Here is that test:

1) That the poll or research have some newsworthy numbers and conclusions;

2) That the study be carried out by a consulting firm or polling operation with a name and perhaps an address;

3) Absolutely nothing more, thank you very much!

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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