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Warning: Bias Ahead!

How often do you encounter organizations that seem to have “no agenda” or claim to be “non-partisan.” If ever there was a time to do some mental substitution, this would be it. I worked for a “non-partisan economic research foundation” once. They were gold bugs and some strange blend of Marxist sympathising libertarians. I had a kid from NYPIRG come to my house the other night to tell me about fracking and its dangers. He claimed that NYPIRG was a non-partisan group. I asked him if he knew a single libertarian working for them, he looked at me and said, “well, our mission says that we are non-partisan.” Which is to say, nearly 100% of the people who work for this non-partisan place are lefties. Same thing for our “non-partisan” intellectually diverse universities. And the same thing for the conservative side too. The AEI, CATO, etc. all claim to be non-partisan. And I suppose that is strictly true. But these places are not non-partisan. They attract people with a particular view.

In fact the more honest I see an organization about their partisan leanings the more serious I take them. So, for example, I take Paul Krugman far more seriously than I’ll ever take someone from NYPIRG. We’ll explore this further when folks are in the mood to read more. But it’s the holidays, and these posts should be like little candy treats.

4 Responses to “Warning: Bias Ahead!”

  1. AB says:

    Non-partisan doesn’t mean “no agenda.” It just means they don’t support a particular political party. All of those think tanks have their agendas outlined on their home pages.

  2. Speedmaster says:

    Couldnmt agree more. When some groups claims the be “non-partisan,” the louder they are, the more left I assume them to be. I’m usually not disappointed.

  3. Speedmaster says:

    On a tangential rant:
    I often see celebs decribed as “humanitarian” or something similar in their bios.

    “So-and-so is an actor and humanitarian.”

    How does one get that title? Do you give it to yourself? Are there some (any?) objective criteria involved?

  4. Harry says:

    I’m not so sure that AEI, Cato, Heritage, and other conservative think tanks advertise themselves as being non-partisan, unless that is a legal word of art to distinguish between support of a particular candidate and a candidate’s ideas, in order to comply with McCain-Feingold. I do not think they try to disguise their point of view, nor, for that matter does AHI, or AHIW.

    As far as taking Paul Krugman seriously goes, he had more credibility after he won his Nobel than he does now, but I give him credit for saying from time to time that the reason he became an economist was to influence public policy. This is a mild disclaimer, an indirect way of saying that nearly every proposition he utters will suffer from some fallacy, usually an appeal to authority. It would be refreshing if he devoted an Op Ed or two to how that Keynsean multiplier has worked out over the last eighty years or so.

    And yes, I wish the Environmentalist crickets would be more candid about the implications of ending carbon energy.

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