Friday, April 26, 2013

The Return of Lazy Mendacity

Oliver Willis yesterday asked:
what is it with cons[ervatives] who provide links to stories that disprove their accusations?
Hey, I know that one! It's lazy mendacity.

On a totally different substantive topic, Conor Friedersdorf had a great example of lazy mendacity, also yesterday -- conservatives linking to a NYT story about Boston and quoting something from mid-story to support a claim that the press was ignoring the bombers' religion, when in fact the headline and the lead (yeah, I spell it that way usually) were about "Islamic Extremist Beliefs As Motive." In other words, while Friedersdorf goes to great pains to show that the claim is wrong, all anyone really needed to do was to look at the story that was supplied as evidence.

The point is that there's something about the conservative marketplace which encourages quite a bit of laziness on the part of those selling to it. You don't need to be clever; you don't need to show your work. All you need is to read the audience well and supply the kinds of outrage they're looking for. And, as conservatives should know, if you provide incentives for something, you'll get it.

Of course, there certainly are very good pundits among conservatives, and solid, substantive's just that the market rewards appear, for the most part, to be elsewhere. And so: lazy mendacity.


  1. Of course, there certainly are very good pundits among conservatives, and solid, substantive politicians

    Name three of each

    1. I link to more than three conservative pundits regularly, but sure: Philip Klein; Sean Trende; Robert Costa. There are more.

      Pols? I wish Tom Coburn didn't go after social science funding, but I think he's substantive; I think Flake is, too. I've always thought John Kasich is substantive. Orrin Hatch. There are, again, more -- but fewer than there used to be.

    2. Josh Barro and Conor, are sufficiently conservative as well.

  2. Thanks for spelling it "lead". That is a word, the other is jargon.

  3. I teach my teenagers that when you are told something that resonates emotionally, that pulls at how you feel, that you need to ask two things. First, what is the basis for this person's authority? Is the information third-hand hearsay from someone else, or is it from someone who has expertise? Second, how does it fit with your experiences, or what you know from other sources? I use concrete examples for emphasis. My fourteen year old might roll her eyes when she hears, "Who said that? Where did they hear it from?" again, but she has learned to answer.

    Teach Defense Against the Lazy Mendacity!

  4. Also I like that this post is called "The Return of Lazy Mendacity" as if it went anywhere.

  5. Liberals lie about fake KKK sighting. Much of lib-sphere plays along. Lazy mendacity begins here:


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