Friday, June 10, 2022

Questions To Which The Answer Is Yes

John Rentoul, chief political correspondent of The Independent, pointed out some time ago that a lot of newspaper and magazine article headlines pose provocative questions which would  be extremely interesting if the answer were yes - except that in the boring reality, the answer is usually no.

This gave rise to the Twitter meme associated with John of QTWTAINs.

QTWTAIN means "Questions To Which The Answer Is No," 

and if you ever see a the response "Paging @JohnRentoul on Twitter it will usually be a response to such a provocative headline, and the person posting that response means that the answer to the question posed by the headline is no.

(E.g. If someone asks "Is Boris Johnson the most right-wing PM ever?" and someone else replies "Paging @JohnRentoul" they mean "No, he isn't."

Spoiler alert - in the article I am about to refer to John Rentoul agrees that the present government is on some measures the most left-wing Conservative government ever.) 

But although the answer to the great majority of headlines posing a binary Yes or No question is indeed No, headlines to which the answer is Yes do exist, and a little while ago I suggested to John Rentoul that he might do a list of them.

John is a great compiler of lists, and he has taken up my suggestion, and was even kind enough to give me credit for it. 

You can find the article here, and I recommend it.


Paul Holdsworth said...

Here's one: has Chris Whiteside utterly failed to identify one single clear benefit of Brexit?
(Hint: passports and crowns on pint glasses don't count).

Chris Whiteside said...

That is a "Question to which the answer is no."

I have provided one, and it's a big one - Britain's independent Vaccine programme was easier to follow outside the EU.

Paul Holdsworth said...

CLEAR benefit? That claim has been discredited by, among others, You remember Fullfact, Chris, it's the organisation CCHQ pretended to be in order to bamboozle the public.

Chris Whiteside said...

I presume you are referring to a Full Fact article which challenged a suggestion that the APPROVALS process was easier to follow outside the EU.

It wasn't specifically the approvals process which I was thinking of when I wrote that "Britain's independent Vaccine programme was easier to follow outside the EU."

I was making the more general point that Britain followed our own extremely ambitious strategy - which produced results faster than the EU did - and that we did so separately from the EU's European Medicines Agency. Britain would have had all manner of grief from the EU commission if we'd tried to have a separate vaccine strategy while inside the EU.

Here are a couple of articles on the subject:

The Medicine maker argues "It is safe to say that Britain's vaccine strategy has been a success."

Channel 4 - hardly the present government's principal cheerleader described the vaccination programme as a "Triumph" in this article -

Chris Whiteside said...

And if you are going to accuse other people of not getting their facts right, you ought to be much more careful with your own.

CCHQ never pretended to be Full Fact.

What they did do was rebrand the party's twitter account as "Factcheck UK" - not "Full Fact" - while commenting on the accuracy of Labour claims in the Leaders' debate in 2019.

To the best of my knowledge there is no fact-checking organisation called Factcheck UK so they were not pretending to be any other real body or group.

The twitter handle remained @CCHQPress and anyone who looked at it would have seen "Fact Checking Labour from CCHQ"

If they had asked me whether this was a good idea, which they didn't, I would have told them not to be so silly. I doubt whether it fooled anyone at all or was intended to, but it gave opponents of the Conservative party an easy stick to beat the party with because it is so easy to present it as an attempt to fool people.

This does not get YOU off the hook.

If you had written that CCHQ pretended to be fact checkers, I would not have argued with you. But you wrote that they had pretended to be Full Fact. And that specific accusation is not true.