H/T to tweeter ‘ILuvCO2′ for reminding me about this essay from the excellent ‘numberwatch’ website, written by its owner John Brignell back in 2009. Still fresh and relevant.
That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
Tennyson – The Grandmother.
It is to some extent forgivable when people adopt extreme positions out of misapprehension or delusion. It is quite another matter if they mislead others by deliberate falsehood. Politicians, of course, treat the lie as part of their professional equipment. Indeed, in some circumstances they are obliged to use it (when, for example, telling the truth about the economy would cause a run on the currency). In science, up to recent times, there is no circumstance in which a deliberate falsehood is justifiable. It requires at a minimum being drummed out of one’s learned society.
All that has changed with the rise of authoritarian government. In Britain this took the form of nationalisation of the universities, begun under Thatcher and completed under Blair. In the USA it took the form of new state-funded bureaucracies, such as the EPA, who maintained control by the monopoly of funding. The global warming religion changed everything.