11 March 2005

Expensive lies

So once again, DeLong wrestles with bullshit and comes up victorious. But at what price?
I had to spend my time bringing the reporter's knowledge of the debate back up to the level it was at before Mankiw's misinformation had dragged it down. And I like my time. I have things to do with it.
It's a troubling comment. It makes me think back to Teresa Nielsen Hayden's magnificent "Common fraud" essay, in which she concludes
Deceiving us has become an industrial process
If you didn't read it before, check it out now. When I plugged that essay last time, I said
It's scary because it reminds me that the level of critical reading that TNH demonstrates here, the critical reading that I like to think that I do, the critical reading that is necessary to use the 'net and be a good citizen in a democracy and so forth, is really really hard.
The other aspect of this, that I think I didn't emphasize enough at the time, is the problem that DeLong points to. With truth, as with material things, it is easier to destroy than to create. Clever lies are tricky to defeat, demanding hard, time-consuming work by smart people. And even then, people often only remember the lie. The enemies of truth can win a lot through attrition and exhaustion.

But truth does have the advantage that it is truth.

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