Truth, Independence, and Liberty

Jacob Levy has an excellent post on why respect for truth is a foundation for republican government:

…the great analysts of truth and speech under totalitarianism—GeorgeOrwell, Hannah Arendt, VaclavHavel—can help us recognize this kind of lie for what it is. Sometimes—often—a leader with authoritarian tendencies will lie in order to make others repeat his lie both as a way to demonstrate and strengthen his power over them.

Saying something obviously untrue, and making your subordinates repeat it with a straight face in their own voice, is a particularly startling display of power over them. It’s something that was endemic to totalitarianism. Arendt analyzed the huge lies and blatant reversals of language associated with the Holocaust. Havel documented the pervasive little lies, lies that everyone knew to be lies, of late Communism. And Orwell gave us the vivid “2+2=5.”

Being made to repeat an obvious lie makes it clear that you’re powerless; it also makes you complicit. You’re morally compromised. Your ability to stand on your own moral two feet and resist or denounce is lost. Part of this is a general tool for making people part of immoral groups.

…insisting on the difference between truth and lies is itself a part of the defense of freedom. Orwell, Arendt, and Havel teach us that the power to tell public lies and to have them repeated is evidence of, and a tool for the expansion of, a power that free people should resist and refuse.

I would put it this way: Respect for the truth is tied to individualism because any person may have truth and reason on their side. But the acceptance of the public lie signals that only the will of the collective matters.


Well that was a steaming load, so it sure lived up to its billing. BTW, there isn't such a thing as "post-truth".

Very true. I can feel it in my bones.

Look it up on wikipedia.

Descartes said: "I'm on wikipedia. Therefore I am."

"the collective" or "the political elite" or whom?

>"the power to tell public lies and to have them repeated is evidence of, and a tool for the expansion of, a power that free people should resist and refuse."

Very true. And yet you guys link to the New York Times all the time.

Yes, and how many times has the NY Times uncritically reported the bogus '1-in-4 college women are sexually assaulted' stat (which is just about as poorly supported as Tump's claim about the popular vote)?

Probably college girls just make up stuff about sexual assaults in anonymous surveys.

We should prefer the percentage of women whose sexual assault cases proceed to a finding of guilt after all judicial processes are satisfied, and completely ignore the statistics collected on an anonymous basis as a liberal conspiracy to drive men into dirt.

We should not rely on surveys with low response rates (for the rather obvious reason that those who have something to complain about are more likely to complete a survey). We also should not stretch the definition of 'sexual assault' beyond reason to further inflate the numbers. And, of course, we should use this bogus data to justify the creation campus star chambers with very low standards for due process and burden of proof.

There's a difference between cat calling, date rape, and dragging a women by the hair into a dark alley and violently violating her.

Date rape is difficult or almost impossible to prove most of the time (while working at a hotel, however, I actually had to report a case which was ultimately proven due to the fast response enabling access to evidence).

Because it is difficult to prove, I think public policy should be more informed by those surveys than the number of allegations resulting in a finding where guilt could be demonstrated with the evidence. However, if there are reasons to believe that someone's intentionally gaming the process, improved means of monitoring the situation would be needed.

The plausibility of data being suboptimal is not evidence of its being bogus.

Remember, those evidentiary standards that you're all concerned about and stuff ...

"The plausibility of data being suboptimal is not evidence of its being bogus."

It's not just 'sub-optimal', the use of non-representative survey data and the inclusion of things like 'unwanted touching' in the definition of sexual assault were done intentionally to get the headline-worthy numbers that the researcher wanted. They were in no way impartial and disinterested.

But we're wandering off topic. With respect to Trump -- I didn't vote for him and have never liked him. Trump's tweet about illegal votes was unfounded and irresponsible, but it has not resulted in any policy changes, nor do I expect it to (instead, I expect it to quickly be forgotten and vanish from the news). The bogus campus sexual assault claims, on the other hand, have done real harm to our universities and ruined lives of real students who have been caught up in the Kafkaesque campus courts -- courts which have been justified based on this flimsy, politically-motivated 'evidence' of a sexual assault 'epidemic'. Bottom line -- Trump is bad, but he's going to have to do a lot more than tweet to be worse than the status quo.

Unwanted touching can be sexual assault.

I don't think they were reporting someone poking them in the shoulder without permission, to get their attention.

Perhaps, if the surveys weren't designed to create false positives. Northwestern's recent survey on the matter turned both me and my wife into rapists of each other in the data. They got really upset when I called them out on it, to the point where I had informal legal representation (FIRE).

You guys hate the NYT and I won't argue that it doesn't have a leftward lean. But it doesn't just make stuff up--it's not pure activist journalism. It doesn't knowingly spread misinformation. It does actual reporting, which is rare these days.

"It does actual reporting, which is rare these days." True, and sometimes very good work

"It doesn’t knowingly spread misinformation." Not true. It will knowing spread lies, fail to correct its mistakes, and omit very important parts of stories. It's ,ore thruthy than truthful.

What news outlets are actually "truthful," in your eyes?

None, completely. You may laugh (in spite of a Princeton study that shows it to be true), but Fox does a good job on separating opinion and news. NPR did well too.

I'd pick those two if I were limited to only two. If limited to one, I'd pick none.

Fox. Really? Please link to that supposed Princeton study. I find this hard to believe.

You made up that Princeton study, didn't you.

I have a study for you. Google the title to get it. It's in Business Insider.

STUDY: Watching Only Fox News Makes You Less Informed Than Watching No News At All

You ignorant fool, TMC just said he'd use 2 sources or none for news. Your study about watching ONLY Fox News proves his point. Reading ONLY the New York Times will make you less informed than no news at all, likewise. The point is to diversify your inputs.

NYT left wing? Only in America.

Oh, but sometimes they so much as raise the fact that there are vulnerable people who suffer, and discuss the ways this happens and even allude to solutions.

So left wing ...

'and I won’t argue that it doesn’t have a leftward lean'

But you really should - the NYT is pretty much a war mongering tool, as demonstated years ago

The NYT is not 'leftward leaning' - pretty much no media in the U.S. is, by the standards of countries with an actual left to lean towards.

Yeah but who gives a shit about those countries?

The American left is perfectly happy to trade foreign lives for transmen to use the little girls room or whatever Injustice becomes what they have cared about their entire lives tomorrow.

Right, Jason Blair was just poorly understood. Walter Duranty was just the victim of an FBI plot.

Certainly there have been individuals, highly respected and powerful, with the NYT who have "knowingly spread misinformation".

On a more mundane level we have the ever present problem of the Times being ensconced in a liberal bubble where they clearly have no idea about other points of view. Their "actual reporting" is of quite dubious value when they are as clueless as they have shown themselves to be

For instance, the New York Times has repeatedly been unable to correctly characterize Easter. Somehow, the single most commonly observed religious festival in all of human history is too much for the NYT to get correct.

"An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven."

"Nearby, the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried, usually packed with pilgrims, was echoing and empty."

Or it is all the fun little things, like when the NYT profiled Donna Fenton as a Hurricane Katrina victim, did not bother to fact check anything, and then were shocked to find that she was actually committing grand larceny and fraud regarding that exact story. Or when they somehow misquoted a police officer to get from - stop subjects who match witness descriptions given during roll call - to -stop subjects based on race. The NYT cannot be trusted to fact check easy things and they can be trusted to ignore inconvenient discrepancies as long as it conforms with their myopic worldview.

In many ways, this pattern of obliviousness is far more damaging than outright fabrication. Many half-baked ideas are given the veneer of truth merely because the claimant has the right credentials to pass muster with the NYT. The NYT, after all, was front and center promoting the myth that fat was bad for us and carbohydrates were good. The NYT was, of course, also helping along the silliness of "pain is the fifth vital sign" and a small heroine epidemic. And none of that even touches on the basics of partisan issues.

The NYT is not particularly robust in its reporting and it clearly fails, by its own admission, on routine and obvious things outside its bubble. If it ceased publication tomorrow, I highly doubt we would miss it all that much. Certainly, I can get just as reliable of news from much more obviously partisan sources - like the Guardian or the WSJ - at at least there their claims are not treated as being somehow above the fray.

There's a difference between "some people at the outlet over the last hundred years did some particular kinds of things" and outlets which 24/7 flog untruths or inflammatory perspective informed by the barest grains of truth.

Probably the best way to judge this situation is a random visit to a homepage.

Looking at the NYT of today, please direct us to your area of concern with respect to "liberal bias". Being some random day, it probably won't be something huge. But it might be informative.

Well that was easy:

This is basically a retelling of the type of sociological research which has been politically fraught for a long time. Nowhere in the entire article about why fewer women enter law school, get good jobs after law school, or make partner (all points of discussion in the article) is there ever mentioned that it is even theoretically possible that some women might opt for to take a few years to raise a family over pursuing the type of jobs the study holds up as a gold standard. Certainly this could be a sexist cultural construct, but more women sacrifice career potential for families than men. Generally this is conservative argument, and even the lighter versions of it are verbotten lest you somehow give succor to a biological difference in male and female achievement story.

An article about how "experts predict" that Alaskan villages will be "uninhabitable" by 2050 due to global warming. Shockingly, nowhere is mentioned of how past predictions of sea level rise have failed to be quite as catastrophic as originally promised. Likewise, would you be surprised to find that the lead is buried deep in the piece that the featured village is not the traditional site of the village, but rather was created in the 1930s when the US government built a school on the shore on low lying ground. Likewise buried below a lot of climate change wordage is the fact that the village was almost flood out in the 1960s.

Now I did not read either piece in particular depth, but it conforms to a terribly common pattern with the NYT. An expert is quoted and their research is uncritically summarized. Shockingly, these experts tend to be uniformly liberal. Shockingly, simple questions, like how correct have your models been in the past, are not asked or presented. Instead the NYT advances an "objective narrative" that has brought us all manner of trouble (global cooling, opioid liberalization, etc.) in the past. So yes it is a biased fish wrapper. Yes, I vastly prefer ditching all this claimed objectivity and just openly showing your colors (the WSJ, the Guardian, the Nation, the Spectator, heck Jacobin is better than the NYT).

That's right up there with "PROOF: Obama is a muslim!" or more recently, "DNC RUNNING CHILD SEX RING OUT OF PIZZA PARLOR!"

"Nowhere in the entire article about why fewer women enter law school"

Do you have a good answer to that question? I don't think there's anything specifically "left wing" about talking about women. Isn't it pretty normal to talk about women? Other people are talking about men too, so I think it's not specifically left wing to be talking about women in the workplace.

"nowhere is mentioned of how past predictions of sea level rise have failed to be quite as catastrophic as originally promised"

If you look at the full range of estimates, it is true that some of the direct possibilities estimated at some points in time are not presently the trajectory that we're on. However, ice melts and temperate rise have been consistent and there's no reason yet to think it will slow down any time soon.

FYI, this sort of thing is why most of the rest of the planet outside of the USA sees the American right wing, and specifically Republicans, as anti-science.

Personally, I think if villages are possibly going to be flooding in a couple/few decades with probability of 10% or 50%, this is something worth writing about. Is it left wing to care if there is a risk that some villages will get flooded away, to the extent of maybe even reading an article on it in the daily news?

The issue is not weather these are valid viewpoints for the NYT to examine, it is that the NYT does so uncritically.

Sometimes it is articles like these where a clear liberal slant may or may not actually compromise the facts on the ground, sometimes though it does rise up to the NYT having a not insignificant roll in things aggravating an opioid epidemic. Failure to critically engage with experts and narratives because they agree with you mindset on low stakes articles like these builds habits to fail to critically engage with much higher stakes articles. And that can go in all sorts of directions from Stalin apologists to the several fabulists who have graced the pages to Judith Miller.

If the NYT seriously cared about reporting, then we would hear a contrarian viewpoint in these articles. Rather than single sourcing an article about women in law school they might try finding someone to speak to biological differences, like say even Diane Halper might be appropriate here. But no, instead we just get rote rewriting of the favored experts with no critical appraisal.

And that is why the lies and omissions of the NYT are much more insidious than any "Obama is a Muslim" story - they are vastly more widely read and the problems are not built on the surface. When a whopper does come along, ones that could end up killing lots of people, the NYT coasts on an unearned reputation. Because the whoppers tend to agree with the consensus of the NYT bubble, the whopper escapes and causes all manner of trouble. The NYT actually convinces people that its uncritical stance is true, tabloid headlines just preach to the choir. Thankfully, the NYT is heading more toward a choirmaster role the longer it keeps up this silly uncritical recitation of liberal talking points and research.

Judith Miller and "weapons of mass destruction." Walter Duranty and the Holomodor. The NYT narrates; it does not report.

Tyler's other favorite link and Yglesian well of truth

Oh the irony of it! Why oh why do the sheeple not get we are now and always will be living through the 1930's?
After all, we of the wannabe epistocracy have no difficulty reading this sort of article.
Yet we all know the truth-
Authoritarianism features State legitimized physical coercion and thus is irrelevant in any present day context. Orwell, Arendt and Havel may have pretended that the nomenklatura or 'intelligentsia' had some sort of countervailing power which they surrendered for a mess of pottage, or by reason of some epistemological primal error, but the truth is they never had any power at all. There was no Gramscian 'hegemony' subtly influencing you; there were goons who beat you to death on the slightest provocation.

This is not to say 'Totalitarian language' isn't worth investigating. The Kremlinologist did not catalog minute changes in the language used by Pravda in vain because it served a signalling function.
The trick was to separate 'cheap talk' from 'costly signals' so as to arrive at a stable Nash equilibrium which may or may not have an correlated improvement depending on the sort of signals one's own side was obliged to send.
In other words, signalling itself involved a machinery which constrained policy space. But, the important lesson to be learned from the genuine analysis of Totalitarian language that we invested in (not what belle lettrists like Orwell or Arendt dashed off) is that our own discourse includes cheap talk and costly signals which are difficult to distinguish and which introduce hysteresis effects and which destabilize correlated equilibria.
Does this mean, liberal discourse has no place in the real world?
No, if it is part of the ethos of our nation, though it may indeed only add noise to signal in International Relations.
Perhaps Allan Gibbard, to whom Mechanism Design owes the Revelation Principle, is showing us a way forward in the analysis of 'mixed' propositions which appear to have some alethic component. In this case, the crucial test, to demarcate 'cheap talk' from a potential 'costly signal, is whether there is a 'conceptual tie to action'.
Trump's signalling has been received as tactical- because we only started paying attention to him during the course of a bitter 'Social Media' driven election contest. We are only now, very slowly, trying to link these tactical signals to an implementable strategy. There are two types of uncertainty here. One has to do with what Trump thinks is feasible. The other is concerned with the nature of the 'core' in the new game in Washington.
What is exciting and gives room for the optimism the Market currently displays is that there is an implementable strategy which will be good for the median American and also less destabilizing for the World. Will the GOP embrace this opportunity? Or will vested interests line their own pockets leading to a further crisis down the line?

There can be an alethic discourse about this but, I'm afraid, it can't rely on irrelevant masters of literature like Orwell, Arendt or Havel because that's just lazy.

The ability to choose what we believe to be true is the purest form of individualism. Of course, what we actually do is pick a tribe and go along with what they choose to believe is true.

You may not agree with the editorial slant of the New York Times, but I would hazard to guess its commitment to actual reporting is stronger than many of your preferred choices, Jim.

I didn't see any evidence that The New York times was interested in the truth when reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident. A lot of it was horrible unfounded alarmism, and at the same time won't report good news. And the reporters covering the story were runners-up for the Pulitzer Prize. An example from two weeks ago that they ignored despite recently writing two stories on Fukushima:

" A UN official says a Fukushima accident cancer rise is “inconceivable”. Malcolm Crick, secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), said there should be no rise in the rate of cancer occurrences stemming from the accident. His panel has studied the data on radioactive substances released into the atmosphere, ocean and rivers, their effects on food, and human exposures. "

That's funny, here's a NYT article saying that the people around Fukushima got almost no radiation and even if they had stayed they would have at most received a trivial amount of additional exposure roughly equal to having a full body scan.

Notice how the mindset works here. Not saying Todd is a Trumpkin but this is how they work. "Ohhh you think the NY Times is honest, well look at X!" If a source is not perfect, then it must be worthless and if all sources are worthless then one person's claims are as good as another. If the NYT isn't perfect on radiation release in Fukushima from the moment of its first article to its last, then anything Trump says about China inventing global warming or millions of popular votes being illegal can be true.

Reality is if you slavishly only used the NYT, you'd be right more often than not and if you use Trump's twitter feed or your fav. Facebook fakenews bot you'd almost always be wrong. Of course no one just uses the NYT, they will probably use a few sources rather than go deep on one and there's a chance for a topic they may not care about (like Fukushima) they may just remember one article rather than the followups. For those who get very upset by this danger, there's a solution....start a better news outlet that gets it right more often.

I think it diminishes your argument to claim that the NYT only lies sometimes but not all the time. Not talking about honest mistakes but knowingly lying or misreporting is a terrible thing for a newspaper or national news company. They should get zero benefit or support by someone saying but gee they don't lie 50% of the time. Shouldn't the goal of a news organization be to never lie or misreport with intent to deceive???

It's the daily news, not peer-review science which passes across several or dozens of expert hands over months and years prior to publication.

Mistakes will be made in a reporting processes with multiple daily news cycles and constant pressure to publish NOW NOW NOW. Mistakes are not common at NYT, although they do not seem shy to own up to mistakes when they make them.

You are citing one of maybe two *columns*, not an article, over a five year period that was rational about the risks of radiation from Fukushima in the NYT. George Johnson had a regular science column in the paper and is a science writer not a reporter. Look up the over one hundred articles that had ridiculous amounts of fear mongering about radiation and cancer as well as simple facts wrong which were constantly corrected by bloggers.

It wasn't just an error or two now and then. The reporters consistently went against what the *vast* majority of radiation health experts were saying about Fukushima and cancer yet were never quoted. Who was quoted? A music major college drop out who joined the anti-nuclear movement (8 times) and a crank engineer at Kyoto University who was retirement age and never got beyond assistant professor (also 8 times in 2011/2012)

It was always "cancer! cancer! cancer!" when scientists with expertise insisted that wasn't the case.

My kids science teacher goes on and on about Fukushima and cancer. We live in inland California.

Its sad when I have to de-program my own child.

The science teacher's sister got cancer twice so she has a real thing for cancer, which is a tragedy, but c'mon.

"Not talking about honest mistakes but knowingly lying or misreporting is a terrible thing for a newspaper"

Errr yea but you haven't demonstrated anything of the sort. It sounds like cancer was a real concern after the accident. We know Chernobyl killed people from the radiation it put out and it would be killing more if the gov't didn't empty the area out and make it a no-man's land. During the crises it probably was pretty rational to fear the same thing would happen and it seems like one of the main reasons it didn't was that most of the radioactive material ended up going east and that wasn't a problem because the open ocean was to the east. Given that NYT reporters were not going to be able to make live in person inspections of the reactor during the crises (and even if they could they don't have any expertise or equipment to evaluate it) what evidence do you have that they *knew* there was almost no risk of cancer? Because a UN expert said so? Was he the only expert to opine on the matter at the time?

How fun would it be to wonder onto Breitbeit with "you're wrong about X because here's a UN expert who says you're wrong"?

"You are citing one of maybe two *columns*, not an article..."

Regardless if your only source of info was the NYT you'd at least be aware of the possibility that Fukushima produced no radiation deaths or cancers. BTW a search seems to reveal news articles as well stating the threat of cancer in both Japan and Russia might be less than feared (

It may be decades before we have an answer on this.

Stuff that causes cancer is like that.

Berating someone for discussing cancer risks in the days following the accident, in an absence of firm proof that additional cancers were caused in the days after the accident ... all just sounds pretty dumb to me.

If in 20 years or 50 years it is shown that cancer rates were not higher, I don't think anyone's going to be naysaying the people who brought up the concern, rather, they will be praising the response and management systems which made it so.

Let's just say in 20 years they demonstrate that, surprise, cancer rates in Japan do indeed spike because of the accident. The idea that no one was exposed to problematic radiation was just wishful thinking by us today. Will Todd and Gone come one here and say "we were lying back in 2016!".

News reporting is largely truthful and truth seeking IMO. Truth seeking, though, implies continuous revision as old stories will be re-examined and possibly revised in an effort to, well, seek truth. Fake news, in contrast, never has to revise because truth isn't the point of it at all. There will never be a need to revise because its consumers are part of the lie and more 'in on it' than other types of news consumers.

I see one article with that link that is a paragraph long written 16 months after the accident and their constant stream of unfounded alarmist reporting. That paragraph is on a study that says the best estimate was 100 deaths where the range was 15 to 1200. Yet this estimate was based on an old linear no-threshold hypothesis (LNT) that radiation health physicists have overwhelmingly argued has been discredited by studies in the 1980s and 1990s.

The New York Times never reported what experts said "No increase in deaths from radiation". The New York Times also blew stories like the imaginary evacuation plan of Tokyo among other completely alarmist click-bait stories.

The radiation and cancer link has been thoroughly studied for decades. Just because Nathan and Boonton haven't been following along doesn't mean thousands of health physicists who study this type of thing as a career haven't either. The New York Times has no excuse with how they spun the Fukushima story time after time. It also isn't reporting when you quote anti-nukes 95% of the time.

By the way, about 50% of cancer is fatal today. What percent will be fatal in 2040 when someone exposed to high radiation would get cancer 30 years later?

I do not believe that it undermines an entire media operation to find that a journalist quoted experts in a manner that did not fully reflect the entire distribution of potential outcomes, and which did not include extreme perspectives which suggest that relevance trends to zero.

I hope someone would mention to the journalist that better methodologies now exist, and so at the very least they could share a few words inferring limitations of the methods. But I would not consider it as an indictment on the NYT if one of their journalists is not at the cutting edge of nuclear engineering or sciences.

Now, say, if they were coming out swinging at nuclear on a weekly basis while publishing lots of "clean coal" ads. That would make be doubt them a lot.

If you and your team of reporters write around 200 articles on a nuclear accident in 2011 or 2012, it is a good idea to actually interview a nuclear expert, right. The NY Times did not do that. You are saying that they didn't cover "the full distribution" - right on that. They covered the far left non-scientists quite well, though. Robert Alverez gave a few alarmists quotes and was interviewed *eight* times. His formal education is high school and some music in college yet called a nuclear expert. There is no problem with this? At one point, a reporter said that a veterinarian was a radiation expert. The list goes on an on.

It was years of willfully ignoring what scientists were saying and what has been known since at least the early 1990s. The accident could only have posed a tiny risk to a few workers who wouldn't get cancer for 20 to 30 years. But no, they were called "The Suicide Fifty" by the NY Times.

Nathan, why is radiation risk the one area where it is OK for The NY Times to blow off the scientific community that studies effects of radiation?

The assessment of the World Health Organization is the following:

In terms of specific cancers, for people in the most contaminated location, the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:

all solid cancers - around 4% in females exposed as infants;

breast cancer - around 6% in females exposed as infants;

leukaemia - around 7% in males exposed as infants;

thyroid cancer - up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).

That does not appear consistent with the claim of no effect.

Also, this is the published statement years after the fact after consideration, and not the opinion on some particular day by the expert in a leadership position. Which ... sort of vindicates the publication of articles which mentioned the existence of risks as opposed to emphasizing views which downplayed them.

(P.S. - the atomic guy might not be unbiased, because there are obvious links between the atomic industry and uranium markets - no idea, but this has gotta affect some people's biases. WHO has no skin in the game in that regard.)

You are not getting this, Nathan.

The WHO, unlike UNSCEAR used the long outdated Linear No Threshold hypothesis from World War II. UNSCEAR is not nearly as large a bureaucracy as the WHO so was able to update the science.

Do you really believe that 10% of the health radiation experts (and those are usually over 65) who still say LNT should be used as the WHO did are correct and the 85% of health physicists who say "no cancer" are wrong? If so, please explain why you side with the 10%.

All of this was known 15 years before Fukushima but the NY Times went much more extremist than that in articles writing that those with extremely low radiation exposure - twice that of Denver were "in peril".

The entire Fukushima series was journalism at a click-bait bad high school level despite being a major story at The Times for two years.

OK, maybe there's a better method. But how's the science journalist supposed to know if all these top organizations on the subject were using methods like that?

Here's a pro tip: the first bias of every reporter is to tell an interesting story. This can and does produce misleading information and certainly skews coverage toward stories that are interesting.

I always felt, in a better world, people would buy the paper just so they could pay some poor schmo to attend meetings for city council and the planning commission so they didn't have to. In the real world, nobody will pay a cent to even notionally stay informed - only keeping people entertained stands a chance in the marketplace of ideas. So, dozens of stories about a massive disaster exploring the potential for higher cancer risks; a handful pouring cold water on that speculation - seems about right to me.

And, even given all that, you'd still be massively more informed about Fukushima, earthquake risks, radiation risks, the pros and cons of nuclear power, and - pick your topic - reading the New York Times than you would any other news source (understand: there are lots of other good news sources, they simply lack the depth and reach of the NYT).

No AlanW, the NY Times readers were misled repeatedly about radiation and earthquake risks. It was *always* that Fukushima was a threat to thousands and at times millions.

Read what the Japan scholars say about Fukushima and those historians and political scientists at elite institutions and universities think there was a conspiracy to hide radiation amounts, think Tokyo could have been a nuclear wasteland etc.

Have they taken a science course after the 11th grade? No, of course not.

I understand that to many the NY Times is their secular daily Bible reading but science is science.

This is all very academic. In reality, our problem is that, even in good faith, we can't agree on what the truth is. The issues are so multivariate that multiple unprovable narratives are plausibly is play.

It's right that there are few universal truths that any average Joe can understand and internally verify based on his own world experience. And there is often some, usually very small, possibility that even very commonly held truths are actually not "truths." The game that an increasing number of individuals and groups play is broadcasting and amplifying that sliver of doubt when the "truth" is simply inconvenient for them and their goals.

Politifact documents that during his campaign, Trump lied about 70% of the time. This is not "academic." This is a major problem to have this kind of a president elect.

They reported that Trump lied when he said Hillary "acid washed or bleached" email because actually she only used a software program called bleachbit. #fakenews

There are many areas where the truth is genuinely hard to get at and it's arguable who's right, but there are also facts which are well-documented and not in serious doubt. To the extent possible, we want our news sources to report those things as facts, and the ambiguous stuff as ambiguous, and the known-false or clearly-made-up stuff as false or made-up. There will inevitably be gray areas, but a lot of important facts aren't particularly gray.

They cannot afford the manpower anymore, even if they operate in good faith. Even when they could, the canons of newsgathering had them chasing trivia and not doing any serious research. They also never hired people with expertise. They hired people who could turn in copy on time. See Nina Totenberg, who was considered the thinking man's reporter back in the day. She has no tertiary schooling in the arts and sciences bar some distribution credits (she's a j-school dropout), has no legal training, and never worked as a lawyer. I'd be fascinated to know if she could have made her way around a law library before the era of computer-assisted legal research.

+1, albatross.

The sad stink of mood affiliation is strong in these comments.

Which is why you don't want a centralised power structure determining truth for all.

That seems a little overwrought, at least for those of us who remember loads of Sunday morning talk show guests insisting that Bill Clinton never sexually harassed anyone, or that we knew for sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Not to mention the much more watched Sunday evening newscasters touting the Killian papers. Or, closer to home, Peter Salovey's pathetic mendacity in the Wall Street Journal, and the blogosphere hacks who insist that they just don't know enough about events on other campuses to comment. Lies are pretty common in politics--as in academia--and the average citizen doesn't pay them much mind.

It's different when large groups of people are being coerced into repeating these lies. The best recent examples I can think of are when all federal government employees were instructed to go about their lives pretending that the Wikileaks documents from Bradley Manning, which were plastered all over the web and the newspapers, did not exist, and also to deny the existence of the drone program that was being extensively documented in the media.

Those are two incidents that reflect horribly on the Obama administration. I can't think of anything so totalitarian taking place under Bush/Cheney, strangely, although maybe I just want paying enough attention. Maybe some climate science gag orders?

Seriously? The entire Iraq war ring a bell?

What was totalitarian about that? Bush went to Congress for approval, and then the UN. You must have a NewSpeak dictionary.


I'm not sure that "totalitarian" is remotely the right word for either, but in my opinion invading an entire country in a process that resulted in a million civilian deaths should be classed as worse than some thousand or more targeted drone attacks (even if quite a lot of them were poorly justified or based on false information designed to appropriate US drones to eliminate rivals).

The drone stuff definitely has to be gotten under control though. It is not surprising that the first president to have access to these technologies used these technologies more than presidents who did not have access to these technologies. So there's no good point of reference to evaluate the evilness of it. But some means of constraint is needed, or the US president will just be sitting in his White House executing whoever he wants on the planet with no due process.

Daily Headlines web site? A web site that does not identify who it is, and says its FAQ's are "under construction", but one glance at the front page can tell you that it is very very slanted toward Right Wing views. This is where you go to get the truth about WMD's in Iraq?

This is a perfect illustration of how people trust fake news.

OK, i can google for you. Hope NYT is good enough for you:

Another NYT article. You'll have to google the title to get to it. For some reason, I am now unable to insert links in comments here, although I could do so when I first came to this board.

Who Was Right About W.M.D.s in Iraq?

“The discovery of old, degraded chemical munitions in Iraq is not news. The Bush administration went to war expecting to find older weapons, along with a thriving new chemical weapons program (that didn’t exist),” says Simon Maloy at Salon.

"At The New Republic, Jessica Schulberg writes that the existence of aging weapons was not the justification for the war. Or was it a secret? “The secret was the harm that they were causing to U.S. troops and the subsequent failure to care for these individuals.”

"Most of these observers also point out that if indeed these discoveries would have been evidence of a W.M.D. program, those who waged the war would have been, as Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones, “the first to trumpet the news.” They didn’t, and that should be “pretty plain evidence that there was nothing here to back up their prewar contentions of an Iraqi W.M.D. program.”

"The reason the extent of the uncovered aging munitions was kept a secret, commentators point out, is embarrassment, as many of the weapons were manufactured with the help of the West and the United States."

Nathan: "the Iraq War caused a million civilian deaths". #fakenews

I didn't know anyone was denying the drone stuff, although presumably very few are authorized to speak of it.

"Deportations are at record highs" still reported by the press as a fact.

Do you have a link to strong evidenxe that it's not true?

I wonder if it will still be widely reported if Trump, say, doubles the number of people Obama deported under his administration.

If truth is to be the foundation for republican government, will religions have to be banned?

Environmentalism takes it's first hit.

Some people think clean water, good views and fuzzy animals are cool.

Some people even get value from this just by knowing that nature is doing well in places they will never see.

Truth be told, some people just don't give a shit. And that's sad.

Ted Kennedy sure valued good views.

Yes, environmentalism takes its first hit-- in the view of people who believe that Breitbart is a source of truth, rather than believing the majority of climate scientists. .

Will atheism have to be banned on similar grounds?

No. "Every story of a God I've ever heard I've found unbelievable" isn't a religion. It leaves open the option that someone might persuade me about Odin.

You're adept at persuading people you're the sum of your conceits.

By definition, Atheism leaves the option of Odin on the table no more than does Roman Catholicism.

Agnosticism allows for both, but no one is ever a particularly zealous evangelist for the epistemic humility of agnosticism.

It's not epistemic humility. It's just evasion and indolence.

Atheism is the belief is no God. Just as religious as any other religion. Try agnostic.

People will always have beliefs in the absence of information. That is not the same as believing statements that have been proven false.

Interesting revelation.

I want you to pause to consider that you find yourself constantly in agreement with someone who is posting from the psych ward.

This doesn't apply only to lies or only to totalitarian governments (let alone particularly to Trump). A willingness to adopt and publicly support your in-group's beliefs is a loyalty signal, and the signal is strongest for those beliefs that are most extreme and least well-founded (which makes it a costly signal). So, you don't get much credit for agreeing with well-supported claims (e.g. the shooting of Walter Scott was murder), but rather for sticking your neck out and pushing those where the evidence is ambiguous (e.g. the shooting of Michael Brown was murder). Also there's a ratchet effect -- there's an incentive to push the boundaries and gain in-group status by declaring support for novel, avant garde extensions of your group's tenets. And it's not just those in powerful positions -- everybody who'd like to advance in the group has an incentive to try to raise their status by pushing ideological boundaries (though there are risks -- you may be seen in the group as highly committed but also crazy and therefore not trustworthy).

(e.g. the shooting of Michael Brown was murder).

The evidence wasn't the least bit ambiguous. Brown attacked a police officer, tried to take his duty gun, and charged him.

I have difficulty understanding why US police officers have to kill so many people in situations that cops should be trained to neutralize by non-lethal means.

Assuming that Brown did not have martial arts training of any sort, shouldn't the average officer be trained to neutralize someone who is charging them, at least for sufficient seconds until their partner or other officers can assist? The reflex to shoot first ask questions later is troublesome.

It may well be that better nonlethal weapons or training or something could have led to Brown being subdued instead of killed, but that is *miles* away from saying that he was murdered.

Leave it to pasty soft-bellied internet-commenter Nathan to tell a cop what he should do when a 6'4" 300-lb guy is attacking him and trying to take his gun.

Yes, excellent point about Brown's lack of martial arts training. My goodness, you are some kind of dumb.

Not panicking is a good start.

After not panicking, a Kamehameha bomb would have been in order, yes.

Real footage of Nathan vs. Mike Brown (courtesy NYT):

I have difficulty understanding why US police officers have to kill so many people in situations that cops should be trained to neutralize by non-lethal means.

You don't understand what people do all day and why they do it, but you're going to tell them how to do it better.

at least for sufficient seconds until their partner or other officers can assist?

It's a suburban police force with a two digit force. He had no 'partner'. It all went down in a matter of seconds.

The reflex to shoot first ask questions later is troublesome.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has been collecting data on the phenomenon for over 40 years. You have a median of 360 police killings per year, few of them questionable. This isn't Canada. We have ten times the population, over 350 sets of inner-city slums, and a seven digit population of pimp-rolling thugs.

Sounds like a good case for legalizing prostitution, if so many women are caught under the oppressive control of pimps.

I hate how the left wing wants to control everything, including the most basic fundamental human activities, for example throwing people in prison for market exchange between consenting adults which end in sex.

What next, are they going to propose a 10c soda pop tax to raise funds and maybe combat diabetes? Too draconian for my taste.

(ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. The police say that they were justified in what they did. But they never lie about stuff like that. Except, apparently, just about every single time there's a video of the event that they were unaware of ...)

The police say that they were justified in what they did. But they never lie about stuff like that. Except, apparently, just about every single time there’s a video of the event that they were unaware of …)

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a federal survey agency and the police force does not make those determinations, the courts do. Make an effort once in a while to be something other than a verbose idiot.

If the cops manage to cover each other's backs to the extent that a crime by an officer is covered up, there will never be any opportunity for the event to go in the relevant statistics.

So, the purported independence or lack of bias in the department of justice or whatever other mechanism is completely irrelevant to what I'm saying.

Garbage in, garbage out. Welcome to first year stats.

A man who could take a 300 lb felon is rarer than a man with your c.v. being marketable.

The excerpt from Levy misses a mechanism much more concrete than moral compromise. A climate enforcing obvious lies is one in which those who put truth above obedience are easy to detect, isolate and punish.

Excellent point. If my acquaintances are required to turn me over to the secret police because I express doubt about the Dear Leader's eleven holes-in-one, then our conversations aren't likely to go as far as expressing doubt about the wisdom of his economic policies.

Most of the economic and political discussions on the Internet-- this one being one of the rare exceptions-- seem to be places where fake news believers congregate and successfully bash and punish people who do not believe fake news. Want to get a ton of negative karma on reddit? Easy to do. Just go onto some of the politically related sites and express concern about various fake news items, rather than unswerving belief in them.

And people have likely seen the articles about how fake news trended on Facebook more than real news, in the final weeks leading up to the election.

Google the title of this article to get to it. The news site it's on is Quartz, or Qz, owned by the Atlantic.

Almost all the traffic to fake news sites is from Facebook, new data show. (This news site below, Quartz, is owned by the Atlantic.)

But Zuckerberg denies the impact. Article below is on the NPR site.

Zuckerberg Denies Fake News On Facebook Had Impact On The Election

“There's a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way that they did is because they saw some fake news," Zuckerberg says.

If that’s true, then perhaps Facebook should stop accepting revenue from advertising, since it would be “a profound lack of empathy” to say that someone bought goods or services because of advertising. Politicians are advertised in exactly the same way.

It's possible that fake news will rip some Internet companies apart. Some Internet services are obviously afraid to shield out fake news web sites because some of their fake news loving customers object when they do. Apparently customers who are horrified by our immersion in fake news, are not yet objecting when their Internet services sites support and contribute heavily to the income of, fake news sites-- and also contribute heavily to our country's immersion in fake news. But give it some time here.

In a capitalist or crony capitalist country, few people care about anything other than making money. But fake news could easily make Internet businesses based on advertising revenue go extinct. Because, given this issue and its importance, it may be hard for any Internet company to avoid losing a large percentage of its business-- either the fake news lovers or the fake news protesters. And the companies may find it hard to be neutral. You either support fake news sites and make it easy for them to circulate and to make money, or you do not.

Serious question: is you Reddit karma total the first or the second bullet on your resume?

What is truth? (So asketh Pontus Pilate.)

What is truth? (So asketh Pontius* Pilate.)

Soooo, does this cover sins of omission?

Like, if a notable public economist with a deep background in IP suddenly goes silent about the IP portions of the TPP, just when Mercatus and his colleagues are pimping TPP, then would that also be an example?

I'm asking for a friend, Alex.

As offensive as the IP provisions of the TPP are, they probably do strictly benefit the USA.

It's different from the internal IP stuff he talks about.

As a foreigner, of course I think all that IP stuff in the TPP is to be shredded and burned. I do not think that signing up to be an economic periphery to a major economic centre is a good idea, and IP protections for the most technologically advanced partner constitute a move in that backwardizing direction.

I just read Professor Roger Pierre's WSJ column about how he was persecuted and driven out of a regular column and image research altogether not because he denied climate change but because his research contradicted the claim that extreme weather was increasing. No doubt Mr. Levy is a True Believer as you are in Climate Eschatology and would not consider the abuse to be anything but correction. It also is quite evident to me that academe is the place where this type of Orwellian manipulation is furthest advanced in America. I can say what I like at my employer while you dare not do so at yours. Academic freedom? Not if it matters.

I am sure we all remember this chap:

That Bill Gates invented the mouse does not make him an expert on all things related to its usage.

Gates is persona non grata in green circles because he is unwilling to pimp solar and wind as real solutions. #fakeenvironmentalists

In the relevant timescales, it may be centuries until there is statistical certainty about weather events.

The logic that increased total energy in a system (higher average temperature) will increase atmospheric humidity and temperature at the same time with the effect of more extreme weather events is pretty sound.

But when analyzing processes that change over centuries, millennia and longer, we should not be surprised if it takes decades or centuries until scientific certainty can be attributed to the theory.

Anyways, a) it was probably mostly a business decision, and b) could it have been about his tone, or perhaps something about his manner of presenting the fact that this question remains debated which demonstrated bias which damaged credibility of the publication?


It is very sad when academia is so much like the future that Orwell warned us about. I was so disappointed to discover, in 1982 (!), that my university (UCSC) was a hive of left-wing groupthink thoroughly hardened against self-reflection. The final blow was a statement from a protest leader (over divestment in South Africa), "Let's not turn this into a debate!" Debate at the university? God forbid!!!! Years later I agree with their position but I mourn the loss of debate. In 6 years at that university I never even heard a rumor of a debate! True! How did we fall so far so fast?

The pigs look so much like the farmers that it's hard to tell the difference.

They do have a debate team there. Of course, if debate is limited to the debate team, that is very bad, for a major university.

Debate teams now compete to say the n word most, and whites cant ah say ah it ah.

Sorry email editor errors.

just read Professor Roger Pielke’s WSJ column about how he was persecuted and driven out from a regular column and then climate esearch altogether not because he denied climate change but because his research contradicted the claim that extreme weather was increasing. No doubt Mr. Levy is a True Believer as you are in Climate Eschatology and would not consider the abuse to be anything but correction. It also is quite evident to me that academe is the place where this type of Orwellian manipulation is furthest advanced in America. I can say what I like at my employer while you dare not do so at yours. Academic freedom? Not if it matters

Took a while to research this one. (,_Jr.). Pielke's father is a climate scientist. The one you are talking about is a political scientist. He wasn't 'driven out from a regular column'. He wrote a critical article on global warming on Silver's FiveThirtyEight site, two climate scientists wrote that he was wrong, he responded by threatening them with libel, Pielke responded that their depiction of his email was over the top, his boss Nate Silver looked at the matter and determined Pielke was wrong and he apologized for the behavior of his employee.

Perhaps Silver was wrong or perhaps he was right but this sort of back and forth is quite common. Pielke wasn't driven from the field but he was intensely criticized. You can argue that being intensely criticized is something that happens when you boldly demonstrate a commonly accepted 'truth' is in fact wrong (such as arguing the earth orbits the sun) but that is also something that happens when you are boldly absolutely wrong (such as arguing the Holocaust was a hoax or the moon landing was fake). Pielke had and still has many forums where he makes his case, with more visibility than anyone in the comments section here gets and in fact he has more opportunities than most of his critics do. That his stance is intensely rejected is not evidence in itself for some conspiracy to cover up the truth about Climate Change.

You forgot .. and professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) where he served as Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder from 2001 to 2007 ... might have something to do with his research on the environment.

Fair point, however looking more carefully at the wikipedia page he made the argument that damage from hurricanes and extreme weather had increased due to economic and sociological factors rather than climate factors in 2004!

So since 2004 he published 3 books. He wrote for Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight. probably has at least 20 or more academic publications (you can count for yourself).

So this is an interesting example to make of someone who has been 'silenced'.

You are right, he was not silenced. But it is creepy that he loses his column because his message violates the PC line of bullshit.

He got his column *after* he 'violated' the PC line

I thought the take home point was that they fired people who try to sue for libel anyone who writes published disagreement, rather more so than the substance of the debate.

Ah, sounds good then.

Firing or refusing to do business with anyone who threatens libel against those who express professional disagreement.

+1 or 2 in my rather empty good books for WSJ

Consider the case of Lennart Bengtsson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation:

He lost one particular job because he threatened people with libel when they correctly stated that he was wrong? And still writes a lot of books and articles and has more opportunities than most of his critics do? Poor man. My heart bleeds for him.

Your hearts bleeds for a f****** white MALE? Ugh, MR has really gone downhill. Get rid of these raceists!

Oh Nate Bronze said so, so, so, dude hasn't been right in half a decade. Listen to his podcast. It's as biased as you are. So much for data based reporting.

The Truth is what matters. This is why the government must subsidize media outlets so they can tell the Truth! About things like the gang-rape initiations of fraternities and lacrosse teams. About the provenance of papers purporting to show a president going AWOL. Only the accredited and sanctioned media organs with impeccable credentials from top journalism schools can be expected to boldly state the Truth, which is that reporters have a duty to be partisan hacks for the Democratic Party. Truth has a liberal bias, and in fact is defined by its agreement with liberal doctrine. It's high time we stopped everyone from being able to disagree with the Truth.

There are such things as facts. Or at least there were, before our current post-truth era in politics.

Tell us the facts about comparative advantage, IQ demography, biological sexes, nuclear energy...

And you all were up to just what 18 years ago?

Pretty amusing that the Mercatus crew affects to be above-it-all with reference to mundane political disputes, and manifests no interest in the functionality of institutions - right up until enforcement of the immigration laws is a serious threat.

Enforcement of the immigration laws will never be a serious threat, in a crony capitalist system like ours, where corporations benefit greatly from illegal immigration. Republican politicians will continue to rail about immigration to get votes, and then somehow fail to build walls or whatever they promised, once elected.

We need to keep immigrants away from our exploitative corporations.

The funny thing is that despite the shameless self-promotion, exaggerations, etc., I think a lot of Trump supporters see him as a truth-teller on the issues that matter to them. He was the only Republican who was willing to declare the war in Iraq to be a mistake and a failure during the primary debates, he was willing to talk about the low human capital of illegal immigrants, the negative effects of free trade on rust belt communities, etc.

In general, far from foisting a bunch of vicious lies on American people, I think Trump won at least in part by being willing to say what a lot of people were thinking or feeling, much of which the gatekeepers of Respectable Opinion in this country had long ago deemed "deplorable."

There are lies and then there are Lies. Trumpistas may be guilty of the former, but they see themselves as standing against the latter.

None of this is new. Romney sounded almost like a peacenik when he ran against Obama as the 'candidate of drones'. No he didn't come out and say the Iraq war was a mistake, but then Trump only did that to get rid of Jeb Bush...afterwards the 'mistake' was Obama leaving Iraq too soon. If there's any statement in this mess to argue about whether or not it is true it seems pretty complicated "going into Iraq was a huge blunder, but leaving it was also a blunder". Trump's 'position' was essentially "I'd do what Obama did but with different tweaks so it would turn out better". That type of complicated position is rarely one voters rally around with great enthusiasm.

Likewise all of the GOP nominees took a hardline on immigration and on top of that the Republicans in Congress had previously reversed themselves. Where previously they were willing to accept measures like the Dream Act in exchange for increasing border enforcement, They essentially declared they would entertain no such options until some hypothetical point in the future where the border is perfectly enforced with a set up that presumably makes the Berlin Wall look like chicken wire.

If these are the 'truths' Republican voters were itching to express, it doesn't really explain why they would have needed Trump to do it.

I don't recall Romney taking that tact, but I could be wrong. And during the primaries, it seemed like the Republican plan was to trot out Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's Spanish-speaking wife and kids to prove how much they loved Hispanic immigration.

Romney took that tract in the actual debates he had with Obama. It's not a very coherent position but it was attempting to exploit left wing displeasure with Obama for drone strikes while at the same time appealing to right wingers who want more force. Trump did this very same incoherence (hillary's a 'war monger' but he's going to 'carpet bomb' terrorists).

I cited Jeb and Rubio's positions on immigration. What does it matter if they have Spanish speaking spouses?

the idiom is "take that tack"'s a nautical term and you guys might also look up "tact" and "tract" when you have a moment between word spews

Didn't it take Trump a year or two to come out against the Iraq invasion?

I don't think he deserves any special credit in that regard. All it took was about 5 minutes of watching the "war as entertainment" coverage in the first days of the invasion to know that there couldn't have been a very good reason to invade if they were packaging the covering together full with an exciting soundtrack and Hollywood-style coverage.

For serious wars with serious reasons to be fought, coverage would surely be more professional.

Then there was the matter of basing the rationale for the invasion on something that isn't really defined. Musta taken a bunch of geniuses to figure out that something was odd about that.

Africans with grade 2 education are often smarter than PhD holders (or simply average Americans) when it comes to stuff like this.

Trump lied 70% of the time, documented by politifact web site. And fake news traffic exceeded real news traffic in the weeks leading up to the election. So lies elected Trump. Although voting machine fraud may have helped also. And Assange and Comey and Russia. And the fact that we live in country that loves reality TV celebrity stars and worships billionaires-- in particular brash politically incorrect billionaires, who are big time crony capitalists, and who are salesmen who are good at saying whatever people enjoy hearing. With all that going for you, it's hard to lose, and amazing that he didn't win the popular vote.

The fact of mentioning Trump lies is evidence of bias among many of his supporters.

How do you reach people like that? It's like a willful blindness to truth and intensely programmed resistance to doing anything other than ignoring evidence to the contrary.

Trump lied 70% of the time, documented by politifact web site.

This is a misrepresentation of a statistic that was utterly meaningless to begin with. Of the Trump statements rated by Politifact, about 70% were rated as "mostly false" or worse; it of course does not follow that 70% of his statements were therefore false--much less lies--since we would expect any fact-checking operation to focus its efforts on the most questionable statements, rather than a random sampling.

But even if we presume a random sampling on the part of Politifact, we are left with its well-documented biases in evaluating the "truth" of a given claim, including examples of treating nearly-identical claims differently based on the identity of the speaker. See, e.g.,

If 51% and 59% were equal, then the concerns raised in that article would trouble me more.

When an unemployment rate of 8% is considered highly relevant at a societal level, I think it is not unreasonbale to extend this logic to think that the same 8% difference is also highly relevant when in fact is refers to an ADDITIONAL 8% beyond the first 51% unempoyed.

So, if Trump's statement of 59% was based on manipulated statistics and Sanders' statement was not, it is not proof of bias if they evaluate these extremely different statement as extremely different statements.

51% does not equal 59%.

OK, so I don't actually know which answer was more true. But I call BS because the weight of evidence presented relies on 51=59.

You're obfuscating PolitiFact's argument to make it less patently partisan.

When Sanders referred to the underemployment rate as the unemployment rate, he was largely given a pass for simply using incorrect terminology even though "the numbers he used check out."

When Trump referred to the employment/population ratio as the unemployment rate, his numbers checked out--Politifact found 58.5% of black youths not to be working--but because Trump "exaggerate[d] the issue through his misleading use of statistics" he got dinged with a "mostly false.

Both used accurate numbers of something other than the unemployment rate to overstate black youth unemployment. Yet one was mostly true, the other mostly false. I wonder why?

The first mistake you mentioned (Sanders) grouped together the underemployed with the unemployed.

The second mistake (Trump) went further, grouping together people who are busy in school or otherwise not looking for work as being unemployed.

If PolitiFact ranked the second mistake as worse than the first, I would like to find a qualified and employed economist who has ever published anything on labour markets who is willing to publicly disagree with this ranking of the second mistake as worse than the first.

Wow, this must be the ONLY questionable instance of a Trump lie that was possibly unfairly described by politifact. Because Trump supporters always cite the ONE instance to "prove" that politifact can supposedly not be trusted. Okay, assuming that your favorite example is correct, although I am not sure if it is, then only what? 69%? of Trump's statements that they checked on were false.

Oh, only 69%? Not 70%. Oh, no biggie then, huh?

Troll me asks "How do you reach people like that? It’s like a willful blindness to truth and intensely programmed resistance to doing anything other than ignoring evidence to the contrary."

You don't reach people like that. You give up. They are die hard Trump supporters, who, as Trump himself said, would still support him if he walked out on Fifth Avenue and shot someone.

You work on combating fake news so that it doesn't reach even more people in the future. You work on getting states to get rid of easily hackible electronic voting machines. You work to undo voter suppression. You support real news. You've got to work with people you can work with-- not with people who are allergic to cooperation on common goals and who are allergic to the truth.

This is really general, almost like there is a message that dare not be said.

How about the redefinition of racism? I think it is the most evil and pernicious lie. Racism exists and is very nasty, but it has been redefined to mean anything that threatens my power.

Almost any public policy difference in the US is impossible to discuss because it is always racism. So either the problem festers and gets worse out of neglect, or only radicals are involved meaning that any result is radical and damaging.

Open nasty racism is now a cachet of independent thought. It is racist to oppose Obamacare for it's ridiculous structure, it is racist to call a black by a nasty name. Which one is true? If you listen to our betters, both are, and those people are idiots on the take, so neither are.

You have probably seen me claim that you can discuss any public policy problem without using race in your argument. If you do that, it is pretty easy to say "no, I did not discuss race."

On the other hand any "blacks should" or "blacks don't" is open to criticism.

Ok, let's discuss whether college students should be allowed to wear any Halloween costumes they want, and you argue for the Yale administration without accusing me of racism. For my initial statement, I adopt Erika Christakis's statement on the subject of Halloween costumes, which cost her her job.

Sure, kids should be able to wear any costume.

No, no, no, you can's just agree (that's the trivial solution). You have to take the other side, and show how they might advocate for their point of view without accusing anyone of racism.

Ok, "while free speech is important, the school has a special responsibility for student safety, and so asks students to refrain from any costumes that might cause, or lead to, disruption on campus."

Surely burning flags is more likely to lead to disruption than a Pocahontas costume. Why would the school prohibit one but not the other?

Also, shouldn't the other students be at least encouraged not to beat up their classmates?

@y81: fair enough but in that case the policy being discussed is ABOUT race, about dressing as another race. I don't think it's too much to ask people to find another thing to do besides dress as a different race for Halloween.

So let's play this game where the policy being discussed has nothing to do with race, which is most policies. Take Obamacare. Anyone who argues that someone is opposed to Obamacare because of racism is an idiot. I know some do that, they are idiots.

Now, there are many who oppose ANYTHING Obama does because they are racists. But there aren't many of those.

LOL oops. There are SOME who....

"Damn blacks dressing in suits appropriating white culture."

To be honest, I think "without anyone accusing me" is often dangerous and confusing, because we aren't sure who is brought under the "can't accuse" umbrella.

Was Trump saying don't trust a Mexican judege at the same time we were told we "can't accuse" him?

Oh, you mean the Mexican heritage, La Raza activist, illegal immigrant advocate judge?

What you wrote, anon, is true but it is not the first speaker who brings race into the discussion.
If someone criticizes Obama or whoever, it because your racist ect., not because he has a bad point.

How many times does a speaker say something about a topic, but he has no 'voice' because he is a 'He', or white?

How many times does a speaker say something about a topic, but the responder assumes he is racist, so insists he really means this only applies to a minority. It's amazing how many times the responder equates 'crime' with 'black'. Who is the racist?

There are obvious things, like Obama with watermelon cartoons, and there are subtle things, like sneers at community organizing. The second is much harder to judge.

I can tell those apart.

But what you are really attempting is an argument by false parallel. It is common in "what is racism?" If A calls B racist, for some silly reason, then can we discount when C calls D racist, because it is "established" that these are silly claims?

For sure some claims of racism are silly, but some attempts to distract from actual racism are silly as well.

"I can tell those apart." Sure you can, but it's used all the time to discredit people or shut down a side of conversation without regard to the speaker's intention. Not anymore. Now it's a violation of your safe space.

"For sure some claims of racism are silly, but some attempts to distract from actual racism are silly as well."
You example of the watermelon is truly atrocious, and quite rare. You seem to think most things labeled as racist are, where the main function of calling racist is to win a fight.

"the main function of calling racist is to win a fight."

Surely you can see the problem with claims like that.

"the main function of calling evil is to win a fight."

So let's not fight evil, to be on the safe side?

Racism is trotted out whether is exists or not, in order to shut down discussion. I see a problem with that, not my statement. I similarly see a problem call everyone you don't like evil.

Maybe I can come over to your side and we can go burn some witches together.

There are extremes of political correctness that are dysfunctional. And many people who are Left of Center would agree with that. And unless you attend a very expensive university or live in San Fran, you probably don't ever deal with such political correctness issues.

I am glad to be Left of Center-- a point of view people can apparently only disagree with by ppinting to a very small number of people who are extreme in their political correctness. I agree that those people are mistaken. And am proud to have such a tiny proportion of Left of Center people be the ones who can be pointed to as wrong.

The fact that some people cry racism incorrectly or at inappropriate times does not mean that others are THEREFORE incorrect in pointing out more obvious instances of more obvious relevance.

Community organizing is racism? Gee, I thought marxism and violence were interracial?

Keep in mind the guy who just won the highest political office in the US asserted that in a court case he should not have a judge who has Mexican heritage solely on grounds of the judge's race. But I suppose the real problem is somewhere a 'woman and race studies' course went over top with political correctness?

Well, I thought that microaggression class at OSU went over the top. But, I guess there's just no way for students to "use the information gained in this course to become an actively engaged, socially just global citizen/leader within the Buckeye, Columbus, and greater communities" without ramming a Honda Civic into some white people.

Beats me. Sounds like you're saying the microaggression course sounded stupid. Probably it was. So what? I found the last Batman.v.Superman movie stupid too. I at least saw it so I can talk intelligently about it while I'm almost 99% sure your knowledge of it consists of imagining the course.

Or in other words if the student wasn't shot dead and instead was captured trying to kill people with a knife and his car, could I imagine him being entertained in a request that the judge who presides over his criminal case be removed because he had some Indian background and that didn't sit well with him? Could I imagine him running and winning a high elected office? No I can't.

The next class meeting of "microaggressions" was probably very interesting.

My take is that macroagressions are the ones to worry about.

True, I do too. So why is 'microaggressions course' a macro aggression? Because one guy who attended it tried to become a terrorist and got killed before he killed anyone? A few years before some crazy guy shot up a movie theater that was playing Batman. Batman movies do not seem to cause major problems, despite that one incident and truth is most political correctness stuff is harmless. Academics getting into long winded discussions that are important to themselves but fodder for jokes to everyone else. Now and then you get an angry story about someone denied tenure but fact is most Americans who think they are oppressed by PC are simply unable to turn off Fox News.

" fact is most Americans who think they are oppressed by PC are simply unable to turn off Fox News."

touche. although much dodgier outlets exist in that regard too

The point of microaggression agitprop is to prime the low IQ brownshirts for macroaggression. Boonton aims to be at least a colonel in the new SS.

Wasn't the judge a member of 'la raza' a group, meaning 'the race'?

César Chávez was a critic of "La Raza," stating to Peter Matthiessen of The New Yorker, "I hear more and more Mexicans talking about la raza—to build up their pride. Some people don’t look at it as racism, but when you say ‘la raza,’ you are saying an anti-gringo thing, and it won’t stop there."

Seems reasonable to exclude someone with obvious biases.

Post Hoc rationalization, and no one thinks Sons of Italy should be excluded from cases that are "too Italian."

The Sons of Italy has no political dimension and there is no such thing as a case which is
'too Italian'.

La Raza is a bit closer to the KKK than it is to Sons of Italy. I don't know why the people who condemn white supremacy think all other types of supremacy are OK.


Child nutrition and jobs training as a sneaky path to violent revolution?

I'll meet you in the middle. My comparison is as bad as yours.

If you're wrong and he's right, the middle is a piss poor compromise.

Actually I'm more right than anon is, but trying to be nice about it. Your side seems to be unfamiliar with the concept. Go figure.

See the quote above. The leading Mexican advocate is saying this. I bet MLK is an asshole to you too because he wanted respect, not violence.

You're taking a stated critic of the organization as the authority on what they are about.

Maybe this makes sense sometimes, and presumably it's not dumb to wonder about risks, but I think it's quite clear that the main story is that you're deluding yourself.

Lemme know when the KKK starts lobbying for more resources to improve child nutrition and jobs training.

Trump's stated reason was that the judge had Mexican heritage in his family, not anything the judge said, did, or was a member of.

No, he was not a member of La Raza. Judge Curiel was appointed as a California state judge by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two completely disconnected thoughts. I'm sure it sounded reasonable in your head.

"Two completely disconnected thoughts. I’m sure it sounded reasonable in your head."

Nice reply. Your assertion that the judge was a member of La Raza is false. Have the guts to admit you were wrong.

Huh, Ricardo? He certainly was a member. That's really not up for dispute.

Gah! Why has no one learned that Snopes exists? For chrissakes -

The La Raza Lawyers Association is not the same as the political movement.

C'mon that took less than 10 seconds to Google. When you literally can't take 10 seconds to check your facts, I'm not inclined to give your position the benefit of the doubt.

Oh he wasn't a member of The Race, just a member of The Race lawyers, who advocate for America to be required to give money to members of The Race. Ahhh, got it, thanks.


I found that pretty offensive too, but I'll point out that it is absolutely commonplace, when there is a claim of some miscarriage of justice against a black defendant, to talk about how the white prosecutor, policemen, judge, and jury were all inclined to railroad him for his race.

So I'm okay with either standard, as long as we're consistent. We can have world #1 where we assume that the race and ethnicity of policemen, judges, jurors, prosecutors, etc., is relevant to their judgments and actions in legal matters. Or we can have world #2 where we only make those assumptions when there's massive evidence in favor of the claim of bias. But it doesn't seem rational to have a different standard when talking about white officials vs nonwhite officials.

The complaint is sometimes made about juries and that is entirely legitimate complaint in cases where the jury does not reflect the make-up of the surrounding community. Courts have repeatedly held that prosecutors may not systematically exclude minority jurors from serving.

The complaint is sometimes made about juries and that is entirely legitimate complaint in cases where the jury does not reflect the make-up of the surrounding community.

Let's rerun the OJ trial.

Valid point, there's two different claims in such a statement:

A: Defendant was railroaded
B: He was railroaded because of his race

Clearly most people only really care about A. "innocent man wrongly convicted' is a story that appeals to our emotional need to be angry at injustice.

But even in such cases I have never heard an activist claim Black policemen, judges, jurors, and prosecutors solve such problems. I think if you press most of them they will say black representation in those positions decreases the chances of people being railroaded because of their race but doesn't guarantee it won't happen (even if you have black officials involved in a particular case). I believe a few of the cases Black Lives Matters has been protesting actually involved African American cops who shot African Americans.

This analogy to the Trump U case breaks down. Clearly no one will claim non-hispanic whites are not represented in the judicial system as judges! A better analogy I think is the idea of the race huxster, someone playing the race card only for personal benefit or the benefit of their agenda. In that analogy Trump is like a white Al Sharpton. When the judge rules against him he is racist, when he rules for him he is wise.

You don't understand... Trump is a f****** white male, and Boontons demisexual polyamorous girlfriend ain't giving it up if he ain't fighting the bad whites.

All good points, imo.

We should not feel shy to point out the obviousness of a racially prejudiced mode of reasoning on a question. But some activists are truly chasing shadows and in so doing do much injustice to the cause the purport to advocate for.

I doubt you guys on this board would believe me, but in some outlets I get the anti-racist or anti-mysognist lynch mobs after ME for the fact of failing to satisfy some particular detail. It's so absurd that some part of me wonders how many of such comments are intended to make people throw their hands up in the air in frustration and never bother to issue a moderate perspective on such questions. Like ... harassing someone about every tiny detail until they don't give a bleep about anything.

Sorry to hear that you are harassed on the Net. It happens a whole lot. It certainly happens to me constantly on boards where I am harassed for being a "libtard" etc.

On line bashing and abuse is wrong.

I am grateful to have a forum like this one, where there is a lot of back and forth discussion and comparatively little bashing and lynch mobbing or dog piling-- where large numbers of people pile on to bash you, if you are on the "wrong" side of the political spectrum.

No one has called this the net since 1998.

My reaction to the quoted section and commentary was "well, duh."

It is actually surprising to see so many above making direct or oblique attacks "on truth." (If I read them correctly truth is either bad, or just too hard.)

I am not at all surprised. Go to some other Internet sites. E.g. reddit political sites are full of people defending their right to "the truth" i.e. fake news that they say is "true" just because it came from a news source they trust because their political tribe trusts it.

Jonathan Haidt on truth vs social justice in the academy:

"But something alarming has happened to the academy since the 1990s. As the graph below shows, it has been transformed from an institution that leans to the left, which is not a big problem, into an institution that is entirely on the left, which is a very big problem."

In the arts and sciences faculty, try 'since the 1940s'.

Yes, it's shocking that academic faculties don't contain too many Right Wing science deniers. But it may be because oil and gas companies, and other polluters, pay much higher wages to educated people who are willing to lie for their pay, and those people tend to be Right Wing, because most crony capitalist welfare queen apologists are Right Wing.

You and Tyler neglected to take much of a stand against Trump for the last two years. Hopefully you will now. This is a good start.

Aping Scott Sumner is not a way to improve the intelligence of one's public commentary.

Sumner does have a Right Wing echo chamber in his comments section, much like Scott Alexander. What is it about Scotts and Right Wing echo chambers?

Art, are there any comboxes at sites of bloggers you respect? It's childish the way you carry on here and at Sumner's site about how terrible the hosts are. No one is forcing you to read them or post. You're kind of a joke.

No, Levy's post was typical leftist chest-thumping about how Trump is uniquely dishonest.

For an actual worthwhile post about the importance of truth, read:

Come on, Matthew, even if you support Trump or just hated Hillary or whatever, you can't deny he is pretty uniquely dishonest. He's sui generis with that.

"Being made to repeat an obvious lie makes it clear that you’re powerless; it also makes you complicit."

That is why I don't want to be forced to refer to men who are "transgender women" as "she". They are men.

Who exactly is forcing you here? What exactly do you mean by 'force', as a verb?

Reprimands and job losses at academic institutions and in public-sector agencies (and at corporations, if the lawyers have their way with the HR apparat).

You've lost positions for professorships, public sector agencies and corporate jobs because you refuse to call Caitlin Jenner 'she'? I'd love to see your LinkedIn page, you must be the world's most overqualified person.

There's a prof at U of T who's getting some flak for refusing to use certain non-gender pronouns.

What a crock. I worked as an editor through the final stages of transition from the ubiquitous use of "he" to "he/she" or "they" as appropriate.

There's nothing wrong with the "he", but it should be used when referring to men, and not when it is relevant that both/either men or women could be the subject.

So ... nothing more was ever needed than to change a few words, and if the writer doesn't like it they won't work with you (or perhaps, like adults, they can just mention their preference and you do what they say after ensuring that they are at least aware of the debate). End of story, no problem.

The point is that there does seem to be some ridiculously absurd agitation in some directions about this stuff. I'm all in favour of trying to call people what they want to be called. It is a pathetic demonstration of non-power and active disrespect to get off on calling people things other than what they want to be called.

But, conversely, if for thousands of years we have had male and female pronouns, and right before my eyes I can see the difference between males and females (not withstanding difficult to classify individuals), it is beyond offensive to think that some 20 somethings are going to come along and tell anyone that we must not refer to male/female realities in the fact of referring to a person.

Even more retarded though, is black and white thinking which purports that the collective left wing is conspiring to do such things for the facts of some handful of events in some handful of universities which go beyond merely discussing whether or not that might be a better way of doing things.

Me, no. Is it happening? Without a doubt. It's just a fairly novel phenomenon.

Who "forced" the Christian bakers to bake a gay wedding cake? A $135,000 fine is a lot of force.
After so many years of gay marriage lies that gay marriage won't hurt others.

Many anti-gay marriage folks "knew" that the real purpose was NOT to allow gay folk to have same sex, but to force Christians to "say it's OK".

The clearest recent example of using gov't to compromise the morals of believers.

There are no Christian bakers forced to bake a gay wedding cake, but you're changing the subject. I asked who exactly is 'forcing' anyone to call a transgender person 'she' and what exactly is meant by 'force'. Word of caution here, "I don't fit in at this party if I don't do this" is not 'force' and "I can picture in my imagination people being rounded up and fired for insisting that Jenner is really still a man" is not an answer to the question.

I think it's less about the he/she as whether the face is curled up with disgust while spitting out the relevant pronoun.

People tend to pick up on that stuff, even when you use "nice words".

"There are no Christian bakers forced to bake a gay wedding cake," <> Who exactly is forcing you here? What exactly do you mean by ‘force’, as a verb? <<

The gov't is doing the forcing. Using fines to take people's money is force, not the only kind.
You shouldn't ask questions then claim that answers to those questions are "changing the subject", just because you don't like the true answers.

You. You are the advocate of violence in the face of disagreement. You.

Of course Hillary didn't have any classified information in her emails, and if she did, it's not a big deal, Colin Powell did it too. It's hard to know what's classified information anyway, and there's no evidence her servers were hacked. Comey exonerated her completely and applied the same standard the FBI always applies to investigations regarding handling of classified information. None of this has anything to do with her business interests in the Clinton foundation, that's just Trumpkin liars lying in between their racist appeals to the hordes of white nationalists that make up their base.

Is the election over yet?

So the election was run on strict adherence to gov't employee email policies (although no actual policy existed prohibiting a private server for the boss)? Certainly the new administration will correct the matter by actually going to court and proving crimes were committed in the places they claimed crimes were committed. That is how you do things or is conviction by Tweet the new policy these days?

Now we at least have a blatant example of dishonesty. Hillary used her own server to conduct official business, which is against the law. Powell had 2 emails he sent, in a time that these laws were far less developed. Hillary sent thousands, there was no mistake there that could be forgiven as an accident. Hillary emailed instructions on how to remove classified marking from documents to get around the restriction. (she was dumb enough to think that classified markings makes information classified, not the content). She then destroyed data after being subpoenaed not to.

There is nothing innocent or accidental about her behavior. She was in the position to enforce this behavior, and had been warned about other attempts to circumvent security in the past.

I see we have our first evidence of the multi-verse here. TMC's comment has fallen through a wormhole created when the first quantum computer was hooked up to the Internet. TMC writes in a universe where Trump did not win the last election and Republicans were swept out of their Congressional majorities. In that universe he can cling to the fiction that Hillary broke the law but this can never be proven because the Power Elite controls everything from the White House down so no such case will ever go to trial.

In this universe how can such claims still even begin to still carry water?

"in that universe he can cling to the fiction that Hillary broke the law but this can never be proven"

Comey came out for an 11 min speech. 10 min on how she broke the law and 1 min on that they will not prosecute because she didn't mean to, even though intent was not part of the law and others get prosecuted regardless of intent. In my world Trump did win, largely due to the antics above.

"the fiction that Hillary broke the law but this can never be proven because the Power Elite controls everything from the White House down so no such case will ever go to trial."

Hillary is going to trial? Well, maybe I am in a different universe. In mine, she skated.

You are not guilty of a crime because the FBI director says you are (or says you are then changes his mind). You are guilty of a crime when charged and a case is proven beyond doubt in a court of law where evidence is admitted under oath and by the rules of evidence.

Now that has not happened. Comey's opinion then is about as relevant as an NFL coach's one who will win this year's Super Bowl. Until the actual game happens it's just speculation and possibly BS talk, political games, etc.

Now I can accept someone who asserts a person is guilty but the system either failed or for various reasons they just won't be prosecuted. For example, I think OJ is guilty of murder despite the verdict. I think Chris Christee knew about Bridgegate but will never be prosecuted because no one will go after the case because he still runs NJ. You don't have that excuse here. A man was elected promising to set aside dirty political favors, 'drain the swamp', 'lock her up' etc. etc. If Hillary is not charged with anything for emailgate it is because she is innocent and the whole thing was bullshit from the start. Unless you want to now start telling us Trump is in on the Grand Clinton Conspiracy (might as well start doing it now since you'll be there before 4 years is up), you don't really have any excuses. You were given the chance to put up or shut up and your side choose to shut up. Now you're going to tell us after your side ran away from the boxing ring you should be awarded the title because you would have won if you bothered to fight?

I get the whole weird different universe thing now, after that word salad on unconnected thought. The evidence of Hillary's guilt is out for all to see thanks to the leaks. The FBI wouldn't release the relevant emails because they contained classified information. We also know what the law is and how it's been applied in the past. Comey detailed what the FBI found, which is the same as all public evidence. Hillary was guilty of at least a hundred felonies.

TMC wants trial by public opinion, in the post-truth era at that.

This will end well ...

She asked for all emails post-categorized as classified to be released to the public so they can decide for themselves.

The only one I'm aware of refers to "classified information" contained in a press release which was issued later that same day. So, maybe that information appeared in a classified document, or someone or another decided some years later that it was pretty sensitive. But on that there day that someone sent that "classified information", the information was produced for the explicit purpose of public dissemination.

Then there's something or other about removing identifying names, etc., from a message because the dedicated secure fax wasn't working - which does not mean that the content was classified, but that Clinton did not want the identifying names attached if it was to be sent in a way that was not confirmed as secure.

As Clinton suggested, I'd really like to see so I can decide for myself. surely there is no information in any of those emails which remains sensitive so many years later.

("Powell did it too" is indeed a very poor justification for having done it. But it's a pretty good reason to think that she shouldn't go to prison.)

"Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you!"

It's often very hard to discover the truth. Over the decades, I've heard the following innumerable times..."Studies have shown..." Have you ever tried to discover these so-called studies? I don't think I ever heard the interlocutor ask "And what studies might those be?" Unless the person specified the study at the outset, I came to conclude that there wasn't any such study when people said this. It was enough for the person to state that there were such studies in an authoritative manner and tone of voice. Indeed, this was what was required to be asked on media outlets. It probably had to do with time restrictions, as well.

Yes, I see the "studies show" hand waving in the MSM often. In addition to time, and space, restrictions there are education restrictions. There is not enough time to absorb all that lefty received wisdom and study. All the dogma has to chunked into the heuristic machine before the blood rimmed tide of the journalism cadre is loosed upon the world.

Talking in an authoritative manner does it for a lot of people-- like Trump's kind of macho aggressive manner. The rule for such people is: Might make right. What the most aggressive person says is true-- especially when he threatens to lock up his opponent. How could such a person not be totally trustworthy, LOL?

One of the reasons it's regrettable that humanities education has fallen so far into the toilet is that hardly anyone learns the canonical list of logical fallacies anymore. See, for example, the steaming pile of tu quoque that is most of this comments section. The lies are okay because the other side lies too! Cool.

No, moving one side's lies into the sunlight while keeping the other's in the shadows is in itself deception and is not living up to the standard of objective journalism, such as it is. In the op ed section it's ok, as long as the editors have dualing fibbers. When all you see is fibbers of the same stripe, like the NYT, you gotta wonder. I wonder often these days ...

LOL, and Breitbart and Fox don't make you wonder at all?

Moving one side’s lies into the sunlight while keeping the other’s in the shadows is in itself deception-- Yes-- and that is what the media did leading up to the election-- almost always pro Trump and anti Hillary. And much of this was done in the NYT-- focusing on Hillary's small flaws or uncertainties about her emails, rather than on Trump's many evidences of corruption, alleged rapes etc. There are quite a few Hillary bashers in the NYT. How many Trump bashers are there at Breitbart?

See the Vox article:

Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage

Vox: ahahaha. Your hero leqd a conspiracy to create fakenews. #journolist

When I was young I didn't know what I didn't know. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize just how much I don't know. Indeed, it seems that the more I know, the more I realize how much I don't know. Tabarrok and Cowen often use this blog to impress upon readers the distinction between knowledge and belief, what readers know and what readers believe. As scholars, they are in pursuit of knowledge, so for them it is essential to appreciate the distinction between knowledge and belief, what they know and what they believe. I am a Christian (cradle Episcopalean). Of course, the very nature of religion is belief; indeed, suspension of disbelief is a requirement. Evangelical Christians, of which there are many in my low country community, are conditioned to equate belief with knowledge: they believe it, so they know it. It's not surprising that so many evangelical Christians would support a candidate who makes no distinction between belief and knowledge. But that doesn't mean that religion is necessarily incompatible with knowledge. I enjoy studying the New Testament. Why? It's part of me and who I am, but also because it can clarify the distinction between knowledge and belief. Bart Ehrman is a renowned New Testament scholar. A former fundamentalist, he now describes himself as agnostic rather than an atheist. Why the distinction? He doesn't believe there is a God, but he doesn't know it. How could he? The Niskanen Center (which published the Levy post linked by Tabarrok) is a libertarian organization dedicated to impressing upon policy makers the distinction between knowledge and belief. Well, they don't quite put it that way, but that's what they mean. Knowledge can support less government intervention in some cases, more government intervention in other cases. Government policy dictated by belief rather than knowledge can produce more government or less government, depending on the belief. Unfortunately, belief is no basis for government policy. Might as well throw darts.

How can you have "a libertarian organization dedicated to impressing upon policy makers the distinction between knowledge and belief." Libertarianism is an ideology, that is, a belief system.

I looked it up though, and it doesn't seem to be like Cato, where 100% of the "research results" always are in support of Far Right Libertarian policies.

Government policy is not base on belief. It's based on legal bribes of Congress members by crony capitalist welfare queen corporations. Although Congress members claim to ascribe to certain ideologies, that's all just window dressing to justify the enacting or preventing of the policies they are paid for enacting or preventing.

Bill Clinton is a rapist: a response worthy of your vomit.

On third thought, I don't think Trump's claim about the popular vote even falls into the category of 'lies that subordinates must be coerced into repeating to demonstrate loyalty'. He seems to be up to something more like trolling than trying to force supporters into line. The same is true of the 'flag burning' tweet, which seemed an obvious troll (and an effective one, especially given that Hillary didn't just shoot her mouth off about it, but actually had introduced legislation to punish flag-burning -- something many of her supporters apparently did not know or had forgotten). Probably even the phone call to the Taiwan falls into the same general category. I don't think Trump has any intention of following up the flag-burning tweet with, well, anything at all.

Trump does not coerce people into anything. He charms them into it, fake newses them into it, helps them to feel powerful and strong by leading the charge against the approved scapegoats that they enjoy raging at and bashing. No coercion is necessary at all.

1) "Blacks and whites have essentially the same IQ".
2) "Blacks have lower IQs on group average than whites".

Only one of these statements is true. But MR does NOT promote this truth.

We will NEVER reduce the racism problem in the USA without the truth.

To which group does the President belong? Both? Neither?

I will remind you of the informed opinion of genetics experts:

"Until recently, “human population geneticists have tended to ignore the U.S.,” says Joanna Mountain, a geneticist and senior director of research at 23andMe, a company in Mountain View, California, that offers genetic testing. With its long history of migrations from around the world, she says, the country was “considered to be kind of messy in terms of genetics.” But Mountain and her colleagues thought they might have a fighting chance of deciphering Americans’ complex genetic ancestry. Their secret weapon? 23andMe’s huge database of genetic information."

Calling people "white" or "black" is not scientifically founded, especially here in North America.

Great point. Let's limit our IQ observations to genetically homogeneous pools in Asia, Europe and Africa. What do you see now?

Differences in access to education and effort at school.

What do you see?

(P.S. - I'm not blind. I can see that pink and brown and tan are not identical. I am able to see that.)

From what I have read, self-reported race almost always agrees with what a DNA test would say about your ancestry. Obviously, a DNA test can give a lot more detailed information, but it is also a lot less convenient and more expensive. Race also correlates with a bunch of hard-to-observe cultural/behavioral stuff. This is an excellent reason for collecting data on race in all kinds of scientific experiments, like drug studies or observational studies of how lifestyle affects health, or how some new educational intervention works out.

23andme is illegal thanks to the left.

Assume #2 is true. What do you think that proves?

#2 is likely true. But exactly what do we do once we all agree with that? It's like the baby games with the (((Ivanka Trump))) and (((Sheldon Adelson))) stuff. OK, you are informing us that persons X and Y are Jewish. Now what do we do with that really insightful knowledge? Let's keep it with IQ, Jews of European heritage probably have average IQs higher than non-Jewish whites. OK, so what?

Even better, two job candidates one has an IQ of 105 and the other 115. What do you do with that? Will you always do better going with 115?

So we stop imputing racism to outcome delta? We increase policing in some neighborhoods and save thousands of black lives?

Average IQs by race are not in any doubt--there are tons of data on this, consistently showing that blacks have much lower (something like a standard deviation) IQs than whites on average. What is not clear is what this means and what causes the difference.

Very few media outlets will openly talk about the black/white IQ gap, probably because they worry about the public taking it as justification to mistreat blacks. That's certainly worth avoiding, but not telling the world relevant and important and rock-solid facts because they moght get the wrong ideas is pretty-much the opposite of what I want from news sources I read.

There are many facts that news agencies might choose to report. Out of those, do you wish news organizations to select those facts that would likely result in increased racial discrimination against blacks and focus on those? There must be some facts that can be selected out that would likely result in attitudes and behaviors that would be likely to harm you personally. Would you like news organizations to focus on those?

I want news sources to seek out and report relevant information for the story they're reporting, without worrying whether it's sending the wrong message or empowering the bad guys. I want this when we're talking about the black/white performance gap in school (where IQ differences are very relevant) as much as when we're talking about how our latest foreign intervention is going (where our use of torture or killing of lots of civilians is very relevant). In exactly the same way that I expect a report on drug resistant bacteria to explain the evolutionary reasons why it's happening, even if some people will be offended and others will take the theory of evolution as license to behave amorally. In exactly the same way I expect them to not withhold reporting on an illegal surveillance program until after the presidential election so the voters don't get a say.

Reporters are not smart enough to withhold relevant information from the world--nobody is. All they can do is report the truth as best they can find it, perhaps subject to very narrow limits like not reporting a crime victim's address or not revealing an undercover agent's identity. Anything more and they are likely to leave people making serious decisions with an incomplete or plain wrong understanding of the world, to everyone's cost.

There are some kinds of reporting of the truth that are proven to have some pretty bad negative effects. When you know for sure that this is happening, you tend to avoid it. E.g. if media cover every suicide, it can start-- or increase-- a suicide trend.

Media coverage as a risk factor in suicide
The above is the title of an article in jech.bmj Journal of Epidimiology and Community Health

There is already somewhat of a suicide trend in Seattle, perhaps related to the cloudy weather..
The above is the title of an article in Social Capital Review

News media don't report every suicide that happens there, and it's probably better that they don't.

I do agree that the question of what to report, or to focus on, should not be made lightly. And in most cases, relevant information should be covered.

The way the media report can lead to a lot of bias in the public. As I mentioned before, Hillary got more negative press coverage than Trump during the campaign. See vox article with the following title.

Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage

Anecdotally, it seemed to me like Trump got a lot of fairly empty outrage coverage (Trump said X, lots of people are angry, let's have a half hour of empty-headed chatter about it) where Clinton got some more substantive negative coverage (mostly about the FBI investigation into her email server).

"Very few media outlets will openly talk about the black/white IQ gap, probably because they worry about the public taking it as justification to mistreat blacks. That’s certainly worth avoiding, but not telling the world relevant and important and rock-solid facts because they moght get the wrong ideas is pretty-much the opposite of what I want from news sources I read."

Actually I don't hear much reporting about IQ in general. For example, there's no shortage of reports about whether it's good for young kids to play with tablet computers or not, whether this or that food is good for them but I never see much in the way of "Is your child's IQ too low? What can you do to make it higher?" And should we? I'm not aware of any job that uses IQ tests to select candidates (and if you say that's because of discrimination laws in the US how about China? Do firms there use IQ tests? ).

The only two places I regularly see IQ referenced in most news sources is when there's a story about lead exposure or about some guy on death row with an IQ of 55 who may have just been tricked into confessing even if he was innocent.

The IQ numbers arent intuitively meaningful; it's often more meaningful to talk in terms of percentiles. An IQ of 100 is the 50th percentile--half the population does worse. An IQ of 85 is around the 16th percentile--only 16 percent of the population is lower. An IQ of 130 is in the 98th percentile, and so on.

ASVAB and LSAT stand out here as millions of jobs, including some of the 1%. Blacks and women and Boonton can't score 170+, and that's not fair.

3) Some geniuses think that immutable genetic properties can be determined by administering a test that has no bearing on the lives of anyone.

I conclude that eager beavers, easily whipped subservient creatures, and other such types, will do disproportionately well on this test which has no bearing on their lives. Also, you can study/prepare for this test which has no bearing on the lives of anyone, a fact that might influence outcomes.

Want me to teach you how to answer several types of questions typically included on an IQ test? The answer had better be NO WAY HOSE or you're biasing your next result.

For egalitarian purposes, all children should be banned from attending school, or from contact with anyone whatsoever, perhaps stuffed into some sensory deprivation chamber for their first 18 years, so that we can get an unbiased assessment of their abilities before entering into adult life.

Maybe someone should run some kind of big observational studies to figure out how much of IQ is heritable, and what practical impact IQ scores have on real-world educational and work performance. Ideally, there might even be a whole subfield of psychology devoted to this sort of question, with occasional contributions from economists and geneticists and such. You could give it a catchy name like "psychometrics" or something, and accumulate decades of research and operational experience.

Ah, but that's just dreaming. I mean, who'd go to all that trouble?

Interesting subthread that really illustrates the problem well. The original poster is right, there are "truths" that we (for some definition of "we") can't acknowledge. Even anon, who is reasonably smart and educated, and who continuously claim to be rational and impartial, also continuously deny a reality that has been known for decades.

Yes, African-Americans are 15 IQ points to the left of whites (and more with respect to Asians and Jews). Even why is known with some reasonable confidence. (It is hard to explain how when 80% if IQ is inherited the remaining 20% could move the needle by 15 IQ points, especially when one knows that the 20% from the environment is essentially noise and that the shared environment has zero effect whatsoever on IQ.)

By the way, Albatross, you're a great commenter here (rational, fair, civil). I wish you'd participate more.

whatever: this information is likely true. OK, we agree. Now what?

More policing = thousands of black lives saved. Different edu methods =milluons more educated blacks. Not blaming whitey: tens of millions better adjuusted adults. Deleting critical theory: thousands more Starbucks employees and fortune tellers.

Let's embrace truth.

If you have links to share that can't be disregarded as irrelevant based on 1st year stats principles, then please do.

In polite society lies are told by way of statistics. That explains why the elite are tut-tutting at Trump. They're not afraid he'll out-Big Brother them; they're afraid he'll eat his steak with the salad fork.

What an odd idea. A person would have to be very charmed by Trump, and very walled off from facts and real news, to think that the worst risk with Trump is that he’ll eat his steak with the salad fork. We should be so lucky.

When people parrot your lies, you may easily believe you have power over them. The more outrageous lie you can get them to parrot, the more power over them you know you have.

When people reproduce truths, this is plausibly an act of independent free will.

In the current times, people are unaware that lies are lies. They really believe the fake news.

This is less about truth and lies than about what is more important to humans than truth-- being included in a tribe that you identify with and that you believe is smart and right and strong and winning. Truth pales before this most basic of human values.

Yeah, I saw a video of some Trump supporters being interviewed the other day, and it's stunning the certainty they are willing to transmit about things which a) they couldn't possibly know either way and b) have no evidentiary reason to believe are true.

I can't trust you until I know your blackmail. This will lead somewhere good.

Let the hunt for Jesus begin! .... first we need blackmail on everyone. This will lead somewhere good.



"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."

Yes, Obama got a thing or two wrong sometimes, through no fault or intention of his own. The insurance companies decided to restrict people's choices of doctors. There was nothing in ObamaCare that required insurance companies to do that.

In contrast to Obama occasionally getting a thing or 2 wrong, Trump lied 70% of the time during the campaign. But no biggie there, huh?

What if I don't want to be lied to by either party?

The Obamacare lie had far greater policy consequences than the Trump tweet that sparked Levy's post. And add we see above, the followers don't give up even when the lie is blown; they just fall back to lying about the lie.

It wasn't a lie. There was nothing in the ObamaCare law that prevented people from keeping their doctor. It was an insurance company decision. But you are madly in love with your belief that Obama lied. So there is no way anyone can tell you otherwise.

Obama: "the new $100/hr min wage: if you like your job you can keep your job"

Low status lefty moron: "McDonalds didn't have to fire you. Obama was right, you raceist. Give me money."

Gee, isn't sending Susan Rice to proclaim the Benghazi debacle was csused by an anti you know who video the perfect example of Alex's topic?

I was surprised that the link was basically a trashing of Trump, no mention of the Clintonion lying as a way of life or the Obama lying to get ACA passed.

All lies are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Are there any lies of the losing candidate who is no longer relevant which are more relevant than the lies being told by the winning candidate which attack the basic legitimacy of the process?

Because if failing to flog the Clinton email scandal for the ten millionth time in an article discussing very recent, ongoing and continuous lies on the part of the winner of the election, is to be deemed as a sign of bias ... sheesh, what to even say.

Imagine that Clinton had won, and people were diverting the subject to discuss faults of the losing candidate whenever the winning candidate was pressed on something.

The author is affiliated with the Niskanen Center. That should tell you something about libertarian academics. Complaining about gross mendacity by BO administration officials (including the President) is status lowering. Complaining about Trump is not.

Well, Trump gives people who like facts a whole lot more to complain about than BO does. Perhaps people at this Niskanen Center like facts.

See the Vox article:

Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage

Only academics think that truth is important to homo sapiens. What is important to homo sapiens is food, clothing, shelter, sex – and being included in a tribe that you identify with and that you believe is competent and virtuous and strong and winning. Truth can not hold a candle to these most basic of human values.

That is true if your goal is to be popular or win an election or sell something. But if you are trying to build a bridge that won't fall down, or a plane that will stay in the sky, or a medicine that will cure your disease, or a program that will get the sums right, then the truth is the thing that matters. Nature could give a f**k how popular your ideas are, or how deserving you are.

True. You can't do engineering that way. But politics, unfortunately for all of us, is quite tribal.

Truth is a foundation for republican government. But truth is certainly not a foundation for Republican government, since the vast majority of fake news is Right Wing Republican biased.

Have people seen the propornot web site?

Google for this Washington Post article about them.
Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say

That seems to be the only positive article about propornot. Everyone else seems to hate them, both article writers and commenters everywhere, including commenters on that Wa Post article. They made a long list of sites that they say echo the Russian government viewpoint on news.

So just like the Assange material came from Russia, perhaps a lot of the fake news that helped Trump to get elected, comes from Russia too.

Are we all going to be having to learn to speak Russian within the year?

To the extent that the Russian role is obviously non-zero, drawing strong conclusions about an official role might prevent looking in other relevant places.

Alex, thanks for this post. This kind of tyrannical lie-telling happens in organizations and companies, too, and I paid the price personally for being a truth-defender in the workplace about a year ago. Since then I've been indulging the urge to read more Primo Levi and Orwell. Your post and the cited quotes put that impulse into focus for me.

I'm not sure what most of these comments have to do with your post, except to demonstrate the urge towards mood affiliation.

Actually most of these comments do not illustrate the urge towards mood affiliation, although some do. You must really love the term to try to fit most of more than 230 comments here into that framework. But thanks for mentioning the term, because it caused me to find Tyler's post on this in 2011, The Fallacy of Mood Affiliation.

I do see what Tyler means, and I too see it as a real phenomenon. But a lot of it overlaps with political tribe affiliation. And where the two overlap, political tribe affiliation is the correct term to use, because it is a far wider and more encompassing and ubiquitous phenomenon than mood affiliation.

And some of what Tyler describes as mood affiliation is no fallacy at all. His examples #1 and #2 do ring true to me, as fallacies, and as being based on mood. Maybe some people could take prozac and then change their views on the relevant issues, LOL.

#3 simply describes beliefs of a person who believes that the poor are, at least on average, doing the best they can-- probably the belief of most Democrats. People who believe that the poor are generally responsible for their own plight, are standard Republicans. If he wants to say that Democrats are committing the Mood Affiliation fallacy, it is perhaps even more true to say that Republicans are committing the Fundamental Attribution Error (See wikipedia page on it) in this case of the poor and their responsibility or lack therof for their fate.

His #4 example is interesting.

" People who see raising or lowering the relative status of Republicans (or some other group) as the main purpose of analysis, and thus who judge the dispassionate analysis of others, or for that matter the partisan analysis of others, by this standard. There’s simply an urgent feeling that any positive or optimistic or deserving view of the Republicans needs to be countered. "

That could be a simple tribal political belief system. On the other hand, what if we replaced "Republicans" with "Stalin" or with "Holocaust deniers?" Perhaps the person who so argues, really believes that the person or group has or had such overall negative effects on their country and/or the world, that being Pollyanna about them is quite unjustified and unrealistic.

You might also want to look up the term logorrhea.

While there may be a level or two of middle management running fiefdoms that they feel are under threat, in most cases I'd think that in the interest of departmental or company-wide success, if you can manage to skip a level or two to get your message to the right person, you might be able to prove yourself very beneficial to the overall quality and profitability of the operation.

(I don't recommend agitating to take away executive 5-star lunch tax writeoffs in the meantime ...)

In the meantime, if you don't have them already, a few intro or mid-level courses in business management subjects might give you the ability to use a lot of effective vocabulary in communicating about these things. imo

Religions and politics play the same games.

Both are tribal belief systems with lots of power plays going on.

What's a "tribal belief system"? Tribes are groups of people that are related. It has nothing to do with politics. Tribal members certainly aren't in agreement about many things, since they are individuals. When you political obsessives use the term "tribal" it's meant in a derogatory sense, evidently because you haven't been able to come up with a term that describes political affiliations that you disfavor. You could use an injection of imagination.

Orwellian. The universities are the ultimate post-truth institutions, at least in the social so-called "sciences," and they are dying, even though they don't realize it yet. The hard science side of universities still produces a net positive for society. The social "science" side is a clear net negative, and jeopardizes both the federal funding and the tax exempt status that universities currently receive. Not to mention the absurd special status of student loans, including their exemption from normal bankruptcy rules.

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