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“Lies don’t work as well as they used to…”

Glenn Reynolds, a past Foresight Director, writes some analysis of the recent special election in Mass.:

Of course, what the GOP apparat does is less important nowadays than it was. As I noted before, there’s a whole lot of disintermediation going on here — Scott Brown got money and volunteers via the Internet and the Tea Party movement, to a much greater degree than he got them from the RNC. Smart candidates will realize that, too.

And lies don’t work as well as they used to. Obama promised transparency and pragmatic good government, but delivered closed-door meetings and outrageous special-interest payoffs. This made people angry. If Republicans promise honesty and less-intrusive government, but go back to their old ways, the likelihood that the Tea Party will become a full-fledged third party is much greater. …

via Instapundit » Blog Archive » SO, BROWN WON. This is big news; while the White House is still in the healthcare bunker, things li….

We don’t deal with politics here but we are concerned with technological developments that improve social decision-making and governance.  The internet has clearly been such a technology.  As one very tiny part of the generation of computer scientists that built it, I will happily accept the plaudits of a grateful world in their behalf …

Of course, the Internet could be improved as a fact-finding device, and ought to, as Eric Drexler notes:

We could benefit immensely from a medium that is as good at representing factual controversies as Wikipedia is at representing factual consensus.

What I mean by this is a social software system and community much like Wikipedia — perhaps an organic offshoot — that would operate to draw forth and present what is, roughly speaking, the best evidence on each side of a factual controversy. To function well would require a core community that shares many of the Wikipedia norms, but would invite advocates to present a far-from-neutral point of view. In an effective system of this sort, competitive pressures would drive competent advocates to participate, and incentives and constraints inherent in the dynamics and structure of the medium would drive advocates to pit their best arguments head-to-head and point-by-point against the other side’s best arguments. Ignoring or caricaturing opposing arguments simply wouldn’t work, and unsupported arguments would become more recognizable.

Success in such an innovation would provide a single place to look for the best arguments that support a point in a debate, and with these, the best counter-arguments — a single place where the absence of a good argument would be good reason to think that none exists.

9 Responses to ““Lies don’t work as well as they used to…””

  1. William Blight Says:

    I have several concerns with the recent posting by Glenn Reynolds. First, when did this site begin espousing political positions? Second, what, if any credentials, does Reynolds have for making political commentary. In my opinion, the election of a Cosmo nude star – who, yes, he does own a truck – is more indicative of America’s growing collapse as a world power. These idiots like Palin and Brown, and the brown shirted tea party thugs, do not bode for better times – nor does gridlocked government. But on the bright side, the small government that Reynold espouses may greatly reduce scientific funding and may force him to look for honest (no government tit) work.

    [Glenn espouses a particular political point of view, which we don't -- we're interested in TECHNOLOGICAL advances that make social decision-making processes, including the political one, work better. I trust that most readers can understand that quoting someone to the effect that lying is harder to get away with, on either side of the aisle, isn't an endorsement of either party (both of whom Glenn implicitly accuses of lying in this passage).
    Further replies advancing particular political points of view will be squelched as off-topic. -jsh]

  2. Valkyrie Ice Says:

    I’ve said frequently that whatever your opinion of Obama, one thing is certain, he’s focused American attention on politics like never before, and exposed the desperate need to overhaul the entire system.

    And it’s through the ability of the internet to enable more people to connect and communicate that I see such overhaul proceeding. It’s going to be a rough few years, but as the internet continues to allow people greater and greater access to information, lying is going to become harder and harder to get away with, and transparency is going to be the inevitable result.

  3. William Blight Says:

    Let me see – President Obama is cast as a liar without factual evidence and the reader should see this as even handed? In my opinion, your squelching of political points should begin in the articles you are presenting. You also be open to the likelihood that your understanding of your readers may be more limited than you think. Please stick to science or if it makes you happy, squelch anything that doesn’t agree your with your point of view.

  4. William Blight Says:

    There’s one other point that the Foresight Institute should be aware of. If you are engaging in political positions, your nonprofit status could be called into question. (Squelching can go in more than one direction.) You would be well advised against posting politically-biased attack articles. By the way, Bush’s orchestrated lying about the Iraq war would be a much better example of lying and one with which your readers could agree.
    [What do you think "if Republicans promise honesty ... but go back to their old ways" means? -jsh]

  5. Al Fin Says:

    You cannot separate politics and technology, as the recent Obama EPA ruling that tries to define CO2 as a toxic pollutant illustrates.

    Technological advances depend upon wise public policy. Smart politics is crucial to the development of optimal technologies.

    Unprecedented government debt plus crippling new regulations on technology lead to a society without technological innovation. We have to watch this destructive trend and nip it in the bud if we can.

  6. William Blight Says:

    At what point have “Republicans” promised any form of honesty or given any indication that they would do so? Fantasy or magical thinking is usually associated with irrational, childish, tribal-level thinking processes. In addition, the Republicans have given us an 8 year track record of downright, orchestrated lying, massive deficit spending and a nearly moribund economy. As I have pointed out previously, your article and its attendant thinking process is either magical or extremely politically naive. Oh, and the idea things will be solved by a third party conglomeration of righteously indignant, brown-shirted tea party-iers (led by Glenn Beck and Faux News); now that’s hilarious! And once again, many of your readers do not accept your author’s premise that President Obama has engaged in lying and lack of transparency. This is a politically biased form of name calling for which you need to be held accountable by your readers!

  7. George Says:

    William Blight,

    I’d be interested to hear what your opinion on Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty. In regards to the OP, we already have the medium: The blogosphere.

  8. William Blight Says:

    I believe that Ron Paul is intelligent and well intended – and his efforts are to be respected. Unfortunately, the problems with our government are systemic, complex, and massive. Perhaps a government of, by, and for the people is now completely unrealistic. Maybe a Corpocracy ran by powerful corporations and special interests is inevitable. I’m just not sure it will be too benevolent to either individuals or the environment. Like the mad tea partyiers, perhaps the large media propaganda outlets will keep us busy pointlessly protesting our ugly fate. Sorry, I don’t see a happy ending.

  9. Aaron Agassi Says:

    By “factual”, does Drexler mean: ontological?

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