Doublethink in Punditry (Opinion)

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The New York Times

By Paul Krugman

A belated reaction to Mark Thoma’s comments on Barry Ritholtz [What's the Penalty for Pundits Who Get It Wrong?] and the issue of pundit accountability. Mark writes:

I would separate those who are honestly wrong from those who take a misleading position (or one they know is wrong) for political purposes. There should be consequences in both cases, those who are honestly wrong again and again should come to be ignored, but those who intend to mislead and deceive should face much higher penalties.

That’s clearly right — but the division between the honestly wrong-headed and the politically motivated is not, I think, as clear-cut as all that. I don’t think there are all that many self-consciously cynical hacks, who privately admit to themselves that what they’re saying is all wrong but do it anyway to serve their masters. Much more common are people who rationalize — who know who they’re working for, but mostly manage to convince themselves that they’re engaged in honest intellectual inquiry.

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