Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars?
Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Morons?

Credibility Gaps (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Tim Lambert catches this one:

Deltoid : Iain Murray, comes out with an article in the American Spectator in favour of pundit payola:

An opinion piece -- whether an individual op-ed or a column -- exists to promote a point of view by argument. It does not seek to establish a fact, but to win people over to a particular viewpoint or opinion. Therefore, the strength of the argument is the key factor in determining the effectiveness of the piece. A sloppily constructed, poorly thought-out argument will convince no one -- while a tightly constructed, coherent, and well-written argument can sway minds. That is why opinion pieces are considered intellectual ammunition in the war of ideas.

The only valid response to a persuasive argument is an equally persuasive argument towards a different conclusion. Yet the witch hunters' central argument has nothing to do with the virtues of the arguments presented by Bandow and others. Their argument is, essentially, that because the writer has not disclosed information about his income, he is essentially untrustworthy and his opinions should not be given the time of day. This argument is flawed enough to make it invalid. In logic, that's called a fallacy.

Say, rather, that there are (i) people who write what they believe; (ii) people who write what they are paid to write; and (iii) people who write what they are paid to write but who want you to think they write what they believe. People in category (iii) are--by their own actions--less credible and less trustworthy than people in categories (i) and (ii). Evaluating their arguments is difficult, time consuming, and requires constant research and fact checking.

Given that there are many too many good people working hard in categories (i) and (ii) to read, is there ever any reason to ever read anybody in category (iii)? I can't think of one.

A more interesting question: is there ever any reason to read anybody, like Iain Murray, who tells us that it doesn't matter which category--(i), (ii), or (iii)--people are in? Once again, I can't think of one.