They can't both be right

When I’m on radio or TV, or even here, I tend to speak with a pretty confident and direct tone.  Usually, that’s because I tend to stick to policy and research, and on that footing, I feel like I have enough evidence to know that’s it’s unlikely that I will be wrong.

When I’m guessing, or talking on a topic where I don’t feel confident, I will say so.  I will also use less declarative language.  This is especially true when discussing politics.

But if you turn on the TV today, you’re likely to see – sometimes in the same segment – people declaring as absolute truth that health care reform is going to pass or fail.  Obviously both can’t be true.  Even Megan McArdle notes this:

The opinions on both sides seem so confident, and so incompatible, that one group of people is clearly borderline delusional.  I don’t see how they can be right–even if passing health care makes the party better off (I’m doubtful), it does not improve the fortunes of members in conservative districts who do not get much mileage out of their affiliation with the Democratic Party (and will get even less mileage if they are seen as enabling unpopular legislation).
But of course, borderline delusional people don’t think they’re delusional, or else they wouldn’t be delusional.  So there you are: either it’s a done deal, or it’s dead.  There’s no longer much middle ground in between.
So, for the record, I’m much more confident that health care reform s going to pass in the next few weeks than I was a month ago.  That said, nothing is assured.
But more importantly – I think that people who make a living declaring things with absolute certainty should be held accountable when it turns out they are wrong, regardless of which side they are on.  Why do we continue to listen to them?

Hidden information below


Email Address*