More fetal pain follies at LogicallyAI (“Logically Facts”)

As detailed in our Aug. 24, 2023 post “Fetal pain follies at Logically AI,” Zebra Fact Check submitted a correction request to “Logically Facts,” the fact-checking arm of LogicallyAI. Though “Logically Facts” promises a response to any complaint within 48 hours, to date Zebra Fact Check has heard nothing back, though we found the fact checker “revised” its fact check and ended with a different conclusion. And the updated version, though now reaching a tenable conclusion, took pains to make it appear the earlier conclusion was in keeping with the scientific view when it was published.

In review of our earlier critique, Logically Facts’ first version of its fact check used outdated sources that hardly supported its unequivocal judgment that fetuses do not feel pain during an abortion. The 2022 fact check relied on sources from 2005 and 2006, with the 2005 source contradicting the fact check’s conclusion.

Zebra Fact Check’s correction request included reference to a 2020 paper. In that paper the author of the 2006 paper reversed his position on fetal pain, finding it possible that a fetus feels pain before birth.

‘A Dynamic, Evolving Topic of Study’

Incredibly, Logically Facts’ update to its 2022 fact check did not acknowledge its failure to adequately survey existing research.

(Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on May 13, 2022, and this revised version was published on September 15, 2023, with changes to reflect the updated scientific view around fetal pain, which is a dynamic, evolving topic of study. Our original report included a verdict and a headline that reflected the conclusion, which has also been updated.)

Though Logically Facts calls the new version of the fact check “revised,” it counts more properly as a rewrite. The Internet Archive’s comparison feature shows the new version shares eight words in common with the old version. Though the editor’s note fails the test of clarity, it appears to suggest that the old conclusion was consistent with the science at that time.

That’s ridiculous.

The source I shared in my correction request was from 2020, about two years before Logically first published its fact check. Titled Reconsidering fetal pain, a key summary passage reads (bold emphasis added):

Arguably, there never was a consensus that fetal pain is not possible before 24 weeks. Many papers discussing fetal pain have speculated a lower limit for fetal pain under 20 weeks’ gestation.22–25 We note in passing that vote counting and consensus is perhaps not the best way to decide scientific disputes. Regardless of whether there ever was a consensus, however, it is now clear that the consensus is no longer tenable.

So, in 2020, well before Logically Facts ever published its fact check, there were many scientists arguing fetuses might feel pain at or even before 24 weeks.

Logically Facts researched inadequately and reasoned illogically, reaching an untenable conclusion. Had the fact checker properly followed its own corrections policy, it should have admitted error instead of trying to cover up its mistakes.

Evidence of a Deliberate Coverup

Ignoring the increasing evidence for fetal pain over the past three decades, Logically Facts developed a source list apparently designed to assist with a coverup.

Logically Facts listed four sources for the second version of its fact check (none repeated from the first version).

Each of the four sources carries a publication date after May 22, 2022. That was the original date of publication for the original Logically fact check. The new source list is superficially consistent with the idea that the original fact check followed the science as of May 2022. It’s also superficially consistent with the idea that new information made the update necessary. However, that narrative forces us to ignore that the new sources carry numerous citations of primary sources published before May 2022.

In short, that would-be narrative counts as complete baloney.

Evidence contradicting Logically Facts’ original conclusion was widely available in May 2022. Zebra Fact Check developed a page of sources from 2000 through 2020 giving evidence supporting the fetal pain hypothesis. All were found using a simple search strand on Google Scholar.

Logically Facts botched its fact check in May 2022. Their so-called revision made matters worse by misleading their audience to believe the old fact check was based on the science at that time. As we have shown, that simply wasn’t true.

Update Oct. 3, 2023: Fixed some wonky formatting where my original text was published in quotation format. Additional update: As noted in my Oct. 4, 2023 complaint filed with the International Fact-Checking Network, Logically Facts reverted its fact check to the original version at some point. The present version does not inform readers of the wholesale changes to the document made on Sept. 15, 2023.

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