John Brignell: How we know they know they are lying

“Unseasonal weather is occurring somewhere around the globe all the time. According to the principle of selectivity, a thousand occurrences of “normal” weather are ignored and the abnormal case is broadcast around the world.”

Tallbloke's Talkshop

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…

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