'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Lucy P Marcus - Truth, lies and trust in the age of Brexit and Trump
To make good
decisions, voters need to assess reliable facts, from economic data to
terrorism analysis, presented transparently and without bias. But, today,
talking heads on television would rather attack those with expertise in these
areas. And ambitious political figures – from the leaders of the Brexit
campaign in the United Kingdom to US Republican presidential candidate Donald
Trump – dismiss the facts altogether.
The environment is
ripe for such behaviour. Voters, particularly in the advanced economies, are
jaded by years of broken political promises, revelations of cover-ups, and
relentless political and media spin. Opaque or dubious dealings have cast doubt
on the integrity of organisations and institutions on which we should be able
to rely. For example, the New
York Times recently published a series of articles on thinktanks that
highlighted the conflict of interest faced by those who operate as analysts,
but are beholden to corporate funders and sometimes also act as lobbyists.
As soon as a few
experts are found to have been offering half-truths – or worse – the
credibility of the entire field can be called into question. Christine Todd Whitman,
who was Head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 11 September 11
2001, told residents of New York City that the air was safe to breathe and the
water was safe to drink in the days after the terrorist attack on the World
Trade Center. But, as a
2003 EPA report noted, the agency “did not have sufficient data and
analyses to make such a blanket statement” at that time. With cases of severe respiratory
illness piling up, Whitman now admits that the statement was wrong.
Likewise, as the recently published Chilcot
report showed, the Iraq War was launched in 2003 under false
pretences. Intelligence reports had not established that there were weapons of
mass destruction in the country, yet British prime minister Tony Blair
dutifully followed US president George W. Bush in ordering his military to
invade. The consequences of that decision are still emerging. If our leaders can be so willfully wrong about such consequential matters, how
can we believe anything they tell us?.. Read more: