After a long discussion of who said what and how the fact checkers told all that lab escape was simply wrong we get this from Matt Yglesias:
There’s a question as to why that fake consensus emerged. But I think the more troubling question is: How did people let the original story of what Tom Cotton even said go so badly awry? Essentially Cotton said something that was then transformed into a fake claim of a Chinese bio-attack, then the fake claim was debunked, and then the debunking was applied to the real claim with little attention paid to ongoing disagreement among researchers.
Well, yes, there’s that argument about how the consensus developed. But that’s intimately tied in with this:
Beyond the genuinely catastrophic media fuckup, the actual policy stakes in this controversy are less clear to me.
The policy stake here being that we cannot allow what is printed – even, what is polite to print – to be decided by consensus.
We are, after all, talking about what is supposed to be news. New stuff, not just events but opinions, logical chains, evidence, all of which are new. Publishing a consensus is, by definition, publishing olds. These, news and olds, are not the same thing.
As is entirely common among us human beings a grouping becomes a grouping. With all those attendant ingroup pressures and so on. This will all be stronger if we draw our group from, well, from within a group.
Near everyone employed in “factchecking” in the US media is from the same fairly narrow group of people. Roughly and approximately those who’ve been to a decent college and probably also a Masters in something like journalism. This is not a group of people with a diversity of viewpoints.
Therefore the factchecking will degenerate into a box ticking process of conformance to the beliefs of that variously woke, ill educated (have you ever looked at the syllabus of a journalism course?) and achingly group-conformant source pool of the factcheckers.
That is, we’re not even going to get factchecking, we’re going to get belief checking. I say this not just because – not just – I am a gammon and disagree with those views held in that slimepit. Factchecking by the theology department at Liberty University would fall prey to the same problem even if it would probably be better informed about evolution*.
This is simply a fact about the way that humans work. Any system of checking facts will become prey to it being a belief conformance performance. Which is why factchecking won’t work. Factchecking in the sense that it is being used now that is, that only those which have passed such a test may be uttered in public.
The only answer is back to that system where all idiocies may be screamed at the top of the lungs and may the people themselves make up their minds. Any pre-filter applied will end up just being the untruths believed by those doing the filtering.
*You often do tend to understand your enemies’ arguments better than they do themselves.