"Did you honestly expect them to print a correction?" - 1
Fairly long ago, we described a previous post, "On 'Structural Dishonesty'" (12 July 2008) on another blog.
We documented an instance when the National Review (... "Conservative commentary on American politics, news and culture" ...) could not bring itself to publish a dissenting letter, much less a correction, regarding a "talking point" - a false "talking point" - in one of its opinion pieces.
The description and summary drew this retort:
Did you honestly expect them to print a correction?
Well, no, of course not. To paraphrase a respected former work supervisor, we weren't born last weekend.
"Structural dishonesty" and mauvaise foi - "bad faith" - are not "our" problems. By contrast, these, um, "issues," are characteristic of many if not most of our various loyal and disloyal opponents.
"Structurally dishonest" - a term we'd like to claim credit for - was used several years back by blogger "Cog Pseudonymous" (The Abstract Factory). He describes certain "policy institutes" (also known as "right-wing think tanks"):
... self-consciously ideological, structurally dishonest institutions.
(John Tierney: Credulous stenographer for right-wing think tanks. The Abstract Factory, Sunday, September 26, 2004.)
"Cog Pseudonymous" wrote, with reference to our good "frenemy" Randal O'Toole and his association with the Independence Institute (Golden, CO):
This doesn't necessarily mean that [O'Toole] is a fraud, but how far would you trust someone employed by a think tank that's run by, and employs, scholars who take money from the tobacco industry to publish junk science about the environmental effects of tobacco? How far would you trust an organization that takes money from Microsoft while Microsoft is under antitrust investigation, then publishes a book about antitrust regulation, and then lies about how much money Microsoft gave them?
With reference to organizations, structural dishonesty tends to arise in the absence of institutional controls sufficient to insure accountability and "good faith." It is essential to understand that structural dishonesty does not necessarily arise as a consequence of personal or collective belief systems. Conflicts of interest, lack of transparency and other factors may give rise to structural dishonesty even in an organization composed of  wholly honest people.
We do not believe that structural dishonesty is characteristic of "all" transit critics. Nor do we believe that "all" transit supporters are free of it. However, related to public transport, we have documented a good deal of structural dishonesty by certain "think tanks," and certain associated individuals described typically as "adjunct scholars." It is clear to us that we have merely touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Some organizations which distribute information - traditional newspapers, for example - have vigorous institutional controls designed to separate empirical fact from opinion, to provide feedback, to facilitate fact-checking and to insure correction of errors.
Other organizations have chronic, indeed, remarkable problems with structural dishonesty. These are manifest as apparent unwillingness, or inability, to distinguish empirical fact from opinion, to check facts and to make corrections as needed.  
As we have explained previously, personal and institutional "bad faith" is a key component of structural dishonesty. As a legal term, "bad faith" denotes willful deception of others. However, the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre regarded mauvaise foi ("bad faith") as virtual deception of self. In other words, an individual chooses to ignore facts, options and choices that are, for some reason, convenient to ignore.
Certain organizations may develop institutional bad faith because of their nature, structure, and lack of controls designed to insure good faith. Deception becomes a virtual "mission statement" (or "lifestyle choice") - and this, Sartre explains, can occur even with an organization composed of wholly honest people.
"Public policy institutes," for example, seek to influence opinion and, ultimately, legislation. Staff members and associates seldom if ever participate merely to earn an income (or for lack of anything better to do). They tend, naturally, to be "true believers" - which is not necessarily an inherent problem.
U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) observed that, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
Certain individuals - "true believers" or not - and organizations cling stubbornly to their "own facts." Some institutions omit anything resembling fact-checking or correction from their organizational structures. In other words, such institutions exist, and operate, free of any significant controls that would avoid bad faith. They are therefore vulnerable to structural dishonesty, even given the best intentions of staff members and associates.
Manifestations of this "lifestyle choice" include dishonest acts such as plagiarism, as documented by The Columbus Dispatch in 2003 with reference to editorial columns written by persons associated with two "public policy institutes," the Reason Foundation and the Buckeye Institute (q.v., below).
Mauvaise foi - the "bad faith" of self-deception - is easy to document simply by referring to its opposite - "good faith." Does a particular act suggest honesty and lack of deception? Was it performed with good and fair intention? Does the act suggest self-deception - that a person or organization has chosen to ignore inconvenient facts?
To answer the question posed in the title: No, we do not expect any of "them" to post corrections (although some have done so in "stealth" fashion). Our intent is to document examples of "structural dishonesty" and mauvaise foi by our various loyal and disloyal opponents. This, we hope, will help neutralize their effectiveness.
Our previous coverage of "structural dishonesty" and mauvaise foi:
For Further Reading:
Commentary on Wendell Cox’s “Lexus Argument” (May 2006, reposted 23 September 2007. Pdf version).
"Our opinion? Views should be one’s own," by Benjamin J. Marrison, Editor, The Columbus Dispatch, Sunday, October 5, 2003.
This article is one that staff members of two "policy institutes," the Reason Foundation and the Buckeye Institute, might prefer that our readers (... those few of you who remain ...) not inquire about.
Marrison determined that part of an article written by Joshua C. Hall, a Buckeye Institute director of research, was nearly identical to part of an article written by Geoffrey F. Segal, a Reason Foundation staff member. Marrison wrote that, when confronted, Hall said that the words were his own and that he did not know how they ended up in Segal's column.
Finally, after meeting with Glenn Sheller, our editorial page editor, the president of the Buckeye Institute, Samuel R. Staley, admitted that the research and text were prepared by a public-relations firm in Alexandria, Va., and sent to people who would use the information in such columns.
When submitted, the column carried the dual byline of Staley and Hall. Our policy requires a single byline on an opinion piece, and they chose to use Hall's name.
As a result of this journalistic fraud, The Dispatch no longer will publish columns submitted by Hall or Staley... [emphasis added].
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