Posted by: clholoman | December 27, 2011

Truth and Politics

Just a quick post from the road to circulate this article. Probably goes a little further than I would, but the basic point, captured in the last paragraph or so should be read by everyone:

One of the worst features of contemporary politics is the tendency — found on the right, on the left and in between — to label our opponents liars, often without a shred of evidence that the person we’re attacking is saying something he knows to be false. PolitiFact makes that problem worse, not better, by giving a supposedly authoritative imprimatur to such loose accusations.

The reason we have politics at all is that we disagree, sometimes deeply, about how to promote the common good, and we need a peaceful and productive way to resolve or at least manage these disagreements. We disagree about how to improve U.S. health care, and we disagree about how each other’s proposals to change it should be characterized. The pretense of PolitiFact, and other media “fact checkers,” is that many of our political disputes have obvious correct answers on which all reasonable people looking fairly at the evidence can agree — and any other answer is “simply not true.”

This pretense really is false, and like dishonesty, it is corrosive.

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Responses

  1. I would really like to argue that the writer is making a false equivalence between the lies of the right and those of the left, but with great discomfort I am forced to agree. Commentators and activists on both sides do distort the truth, but accusing someone of ‘lying’ when they are making statements that they believe to be true is poisoning the system.

    Even the best ‘fact-checking’ sites fall into this trap.


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