I blog about free markets in medical care and transparent pricing.
It’s hard to know what to believe these days. It’s reasonable to think, for instance, that news outlets won’t report news or facts contrary to the interests of those buying advertising from them don’t you think? Do you find it tough to strike a balance between the irritating cynic with whom no one wants to associate and dangerous naivety?
While it’s important to identify the liars and scams with various “truth filters” it is just as important if not more so to train ourselves to identify the truth tellers as quickly as possible. Everyone has their litmus test that determines whether information is true or false, compelling or repulsively disingenuous.
I have become intrigued with the writings of individuals who knowingly risked their careers to write what they did, political and literary. Years ago I embarked on a reading mission devouring any novel I could find the writing of which landed the author in jail or grappling with a lifetime of legal troubles. These authors weren’t fools, knowing full well what writing this or that book would mean for them. They felt strongly enough about what they had to say to discount if not completely ignore the consequences for them personally for doing so. I found these books powerful, inspiring and courageous whether I agreed with them or not. Now I want to be clear. I’m not talking about writings the outrageousness or apostasy of which brings notoriety to the author, writings with an ulterior “fame” motive.
Political or economic writers that have not compromised for money or fame have also intrigued me as more likely “truth tellers,” no matter how shocking or difficult their writings have struck me at first. Academics that have achieved fame and fortune by aligning themselves with the state and “mainstream” thought I automatically reject as liars, as their writings and thoughts must fit the agenda of their masters in order for them to be successful. Academics whose writings have burned the bridges to the “prestigious” institutions intrigue me much more.
In short, money or fame at the end of an author’s sentence hurts his credibility with me. Fully anticipated unemployment and ruin at the end of an author’s sentence gets my full attention. Now let’s look at some applications.
How likely is it that government-funded “scientists” will report a finding, the discovery of which will end their grants and therefore their livelihood? Is it possible that the discovery of a cure for a disease, for instance, is an impossibility and the “scientists” know this, but know that this revelation will end their ride? Is it possible that these same scientists would hide or manipulate data to further their own interests? Is their credibility suspect due to this arrangement?
If hospitals and giant insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies buy loads of advertising from the television or print media giants, how likely is it that “news” will be reported about the economics of health care (like the effects of free markets) that would be contrary to the corporate interests? What kind of health care articles do you think you will see from these outlets?
How likely is it that the material promoted by a “free market” think tank, funded primarily by giant corporate interests would be contrary to the corporate interests of those funding an institution like this?
Is it possible that the giant corporate interests that have promoted Obamacare have done so solely because they will profit from it? If you agree with me that certain corporations will make loads of money due to the Obamacare law, are those company’s statements about how great it will be for the health of those in the U.S., not incredibly and obviously suspect?
I’m not saying that everything you see or hear from mainstream sources is lies, just that it is many times what those financially supporting the sources want you to hear. Applying Rothbard’s “cui bono” has proven useful for me time and again, perhaps most importantly in this area, the establishment or denial of credibility.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.