Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Truth is Less Likely When You Pay Equally for Things Which are Untrue

   Perhaps, indeed, the intelligence dossier on Donald Trump printed just more than a week ago was newsworthy. CNN did the right thing by printing a summary, and BuzzFeed did the right thing by printing the whole of it.
   But, tonight, I have some thoughts that do go the opposite direction.  A group opposed to Donald Trump hired investigators to dig up dirt on the Donald. This was not just someone hearing something bad about Trump and deciding to find out if it was true. No, if I understand correctly, the investigators first were given the charge to find something evil. Now, if the definition of a witch hunt is to search out evil on someone you don't like, this amounts to no more than that -- a witch hunt.
   That does not mean truthful accusations cannot come out of a witch hunt. But it does lessen the odds. If you aren't looking for both sides of whether something is true, you are most likely just to find the negative. If you are getting paid to find the negative, that is where your incentive lies. That's not a healthy model for finding the truth.
   This, I would guess, is a true principle: If you dislike a person, you will surely find untrue rumors about them. Things can always be made up that aren't true about someone, and if you are looking for the negative, these untruths will fall into your bag.
   Truth is less likely to be found when you pay equally for things that are untrue.

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