False Positives


The lab in the basement of the Idaho Freedom Foundation was abuzz. The tests were looking good.

“When can we roll this out?” the Lab Director Ben wanted to know.

“It’s ready for beta testing.” Lab Tech Jerry beamed.

“Explain it to me again, like I’m a five-year-old this time. No more of that technical jargon.” The Lab Director knew he’d need to explain this to the Board.

Jerry paused. “Well you see sir, this Covid 19 hoax has gotten everybody aware of the validity of testing, you know, false positives and false negatives.”

“Simpler” Ben interrupted.

Jerry frowned and tapped his lower lip. “Ok sir, how about this? Imagine if we could have a way to know if someone was really a conservative of not. We finally have a test that can prove it.”

“Go on.” Ben smiled a little.

“We’ve had our Freedom Index for years, and it has worked, sort of.” Jerry continued. “We have taken the votes legislators make, multiplied that by the Freedom value of the bill and then scored each legislator.”

“Don’t get too technical about the formula. We just focus on the score, right?”

“Yes, but the scoring has given us some false positives.”

“So, this test is better you say.”

Jerry beamed. “Very much. In the past, legislators would look at the bill score and vote to pad their scores. We were getting a lot of false conservatives mixed in with our true conservatives. This test is much more accurate.”

Ben nodded. He didn’t quite smile. He was thinking of the Power Point he’d have to create to sell this to the board. “OK, Jerry. Now explain how we do this test. Again, keep it simple.”

“Yes sir!” He walked over to the desk top, strewn with screwdrivers and pliers, pieces of wire and rolls of tape, and pulled the sheet off his pride and joy. “Here we have the Con37 analyzer.”

It looked like a modified microwave oven with pair of old rabbit ear antenna sticking on the top. It had wires running to other modules and machines around it on the floor and adjacent tables.

Jerry smiled with pride and patted his creation. “The Con37 analyzes a sample and determines the conservative value with a 98% accuracy.”

Ben frowned again. “Sample?”

Jerry nodded. “It can analyze audio signals, digital, even tissue. Here let me show you.” He flipped a switch and lights came on. There was an irritating buzz that went away when he slapped the side. “First we’ll try the audio spectal analyzer.” He twisted the rabbit ears so they were perpendicular to the Director. “Go ahead, say something. We’ll take a reading.”

Ben looked at the glowing dial on the face of the old microwave. He thought long and hard for something conservative, maybe liberal to test this new-fangled device. Jerry nodded at him with excitement. Ben cleared his throat. “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility…” He watched the dial barely register as he finished the Preamble.

He frowned.

Jerry said, “Boy, that’s a low score. Try something simpler. Just say ‘Freedom’.”

“Freedom” Ben echoed. The meter pegged. He tried “Liberty”; another high score. “So, it likes simple phrases.”

 Jerry nodded with excitement. “Yes, it knows conservatism in its programming. Let me show you how it analyzes digital content.” He showed how the dials climbed when Rush Limbaugh came through the speakers and dipped when he tuned to NPR. Ben nodded, knowing how this would go with the board.

“How will we analyze candidates for endorsement?”

Jerry got excited. “I would recommend a full spectrum evaluation. We could enter recordings of their speeches, take digital content from their websites, but for the best accuracy we should use the tissue analyzer.”

“Tissue?” Ben asked.

“Yes, we have found conservatives have special tissue markers. We just need a biopsy, just a small piece, then we put it in here.” Jerry swung the oven door open. “We’ve found the accuracy goes way up when the biopsy is more painful.”

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.