Definition of insanity onus

In 2011, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, inaccurately, “The definition of insanity, Albert Einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

There is no evidence that Einstein ever said that, and Senator McConnell offered no source for his misattribution.  He bears the burden of proof; the onus is on him.  Besides, Einstein was a physicist, not a psychiatrist.

Leaving the whole, nasty, majority/minority thing out of it, and replacing the subordinating adjective with his party name, this video of that statement is on the “official YouTube channel of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.”

When New York Magazine tried to explain the screw-up, it screwed up in the process, calling McConnell, inaccurately (in its first sentence, no less), the majority leader.

American history aside, the mere notion of the claim about insanity, is nonsense, itself.  It is akin to saying, “Happiness is… ” take your pick: A no-hitter, retail therapy, grandchildren.  But those are just people who–and things that–make you happy, not happiness itself.

It is heresy to attribute the silly pop definition of insanity to a great person like Albert Einstein.  Unfortunately, he is not around to defend himself.  He never said it, and Mitch McConnell is not Majority Leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you disect the news, first, do no harm.

U.S. News blog errors and corrections

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:29 AM
To: Kimblery Palmer, reporter, U.S. News & World Report
Cc: Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman, Executive Committee, editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report (via Liz Putze)
Subject: credit score, employers, CFPB, U.S. News

You wrote, “In a speech in Detroit Monday, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray pointed out the importance of access to credit: The ability to take out loans makes it possible to get a college degree, buy a home, use a credit card, or buy a car, he said, adding that employers also increasing[SIC] use scores to determine whether an applicant is eligible for a job.”

Previously, you quoted TransUnion as saying, “As part of a hiring process, some employers may utilize information such as an employment report, but those reports do not include a credit score.”

What are the exact words in the CFPB director’s speech that indicate that employers use credit scores?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Chicago Tribune’s uncorrected errors

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 1:38 PM
To: Sam Zell, Tribune Company; Sam Zell, Tribune Company (alt); Corrections desk, Chicago Tribune
Cc: Jane Hirt, vice president, managing editor, Chicago Tribune; CTC-YourMoney; Margaret Holt, standards editor, Chicago Tribune; Anthony Sprauve, US Consumer / FICO Score Public Relations, Fair Isaac; Craig Watts, Fair Isaac; Northwest Chicago Film Society; Nina Metz, reporter, film, TV and theater, Chicago Tribune; Daniel Bortz, reporter/editor, Personal Finance, U.S. News & World Report; Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman, Executive Committee, editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report (via Liz Putze); Julie Diop; Ilyce Glink; Luke Knowles, FreeShipping.org; Kate Forgach, blogger, FreeShipping.org; Felix Salmon, blogger, Reuters; Katie Leslie, reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Marcus K. Garner, reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Jane Scholz, editor, McClatchy Tribune Information Services ; Gary B. Pruitt, chairman, president and CEO, McClatchy Company (via E. Lintecum); Gerould W. Kern, senior vice-president and editor, Chicago Tribune
Subject: RE: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune II, You can’t have it both ways

Not so fast, Mr. Zell.

The numbers you use for credibility are also your downfall.  While you may be satisfied with the column, you did not say that it is accurate.  Who was your source for that part of the column?

Now, here is the big question:  If 30 percent of the FICO score depends on the so-called credit utilization ratio (an inaccurate notion), then what percentage depends on the Number of accounts with balances?

A long time ago, I spent a year dealing with that issue and I am sure that the percentage is a positive number.  According to your logic, however, it is zero.

Same for Amount owing on specific types of accounts.

Same for Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases.

Same for Amount owing on accounts.

So, your response fails to address a simple math problem.  The ratio accounts for something less than 30 percent of the score, so your statement is incorrect.

The impossibility of your utilization ratio claim notwithstanding, perhaps you could discuss with Fair Isaac (to whom you refer as FICO) your multiple inaccurate articles about employers using credit scores.  The company has no expertise on the matter (since, to my knowledge, it does not sell consumer reports to anybody but consumers), however, it has significant influence over media.  Fair Isaac certainly has Reuters snowed.  Asked to explain its public statement about pre-employment screening, Fair Isaac replied, “The mention you cited from the myFICO video clip was based on anecdotal information gleaned from public sources such as published articles.”

Perhaps they got it from you.  Years after the FICO score company stated that employers use credit scores, that claim—based on a silly rumor—has been debunked.  But it lives on at the Chicago Tribune.

In one place you published, “Because employers and landlords have access to the scores, it can determine who gets an apartment or even a job.”

On the contrary, in another place, you published: “Similar to the reports that a consumer can obtain for free each year through credit-reporting agencies, employers receive a report that lists debt. The reports do not, however, give an applicant’s credit score.”

Yet, in another place, you published, “When you decide to purchase a car or house, or even rent an apartment or apply for a job, your credit score matters.”

Consumer reporting agency Experian states: “Employers never get a credit score. Unfortunately, that is a very common misperception.”

There are other examples.  In one, a columnist made an honorable correction in a subsequent column (dated Independence Day, no less), but it doesn’t seem to have hit da Trib (the date of the correction ironic in light of your abuse of our First Amendment rights).

Who are your sources?

Based on information that you continue to maintain on your website, I might have caught one of the few trains that go through Ohio (and in the middle of the night) to Chicago to see the film “The Halliday Brand” only to find that tonight’s screening had been canceled.

You published your correction on another page.

What is your correction policy?

Consider the citizens.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

 

From: CTC-YourMoney [mailto:YourMoney@tribune.com]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 5:04 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: RE: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune II

Dear Mr. Fisher:

After discussing your concerns with FICO, we’re satisfied with Carolyn Bigda’s column. Thank you for writing.

Kind regards,

Pete Reinwald
Content editor
Consumer finance
Chicago Tribune
Tribune Newspapers

[previous email]

 

Chicago Tribune, errors and corrections

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 11:11 AM
To: Sam Zell, Tribune Company; Gerould W. Kern, editor, Chicago Tribune; Jane Hirt, managing editor, Chicago Tribune; Mary Elson, managing editor, Tribune Media Services
Cc: Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman, Executive Committee, editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report (via Liz Putze); Daniel Bortz, reporter/editor, Personal Finance, U.S. News & World Report
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, U.S. News, Chicago Tribune

See this message and your response at http://www.pagea2.com/chicago-tribune-errors-and-corrections/.

You published a U.S. News & World Report item that states, “Even job applicants can have their credit scores pulled by employers, as a means of determining if they’ll be a risky hire for the company.”

On the contrary, your website also states: “Similar to the reports that a consumer can obtain for free each year through credit-reporting agencies, employers receive a report that lists debt. The reports do not, however, give an applicant’s credit score.”


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

U.S. News & World Report, errors and corrections

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 4:40 PM
To: Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman, Executive Committee, editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report (via Liz Putze)
Cc: Daniel Bortz, reporter/editor, Personal Finance, U.S. News & World Report
Subject: credit score, employers, U.S. News

See this message and your response at http://www.pagea2.com/u-s-news-world-report-errors-and-corrections/.

You published, “Even job applicants can have their credit scores pulled by employers, as a means of determining if they’ll be a risky hire for the company.”

That page contains advertisements while dispensing false information.

On the other hand, you also published: “Employers can buy a ‘consumer report’ from a credit reporting agency. The report doesn’t include your credit score, but does include a lot of information you wouldn’t expect: your driving and criminal records, as well as interviews with your family, friends, neighbors and known associates.”

And, you even published this statement you attribute to a consumer reporting agency: “To clarify, TransUnion does not provide a credit score for employment screening purposes.”

Ironically, even is a word often associated with reports of employers using credit scores.

Who is your source?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342