Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kristof Calls for Expert Accountability

A few weeks ago I lamented the disturbing lack of accountability among our political and media elites. For the supposed experts who hyped WMDs in Iraq and the bubble economy of the last decade, there have been precious little consequences. They are mostly still treated as serious commentators - at least by their fellow elites - and seem to feel no sense of chagrin over their manifest errors. Bill Kristol is the poster child for this phenomenon.

Nicholas Kristof at least deserves credit for bringing this issue to the forefront. From the New York Times:
The marketplace of ideas for now doesn’t clear out bad pundits and bad ideas partly because there’s no accountability. We trumpet our successes and ignore failures — or else attempt to explain that the failure doesn’t count because the situation changed or that we were basically right but the timing was off.

For example, I boast about having warned in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq would be a violent mess after we invaded. But I tend to make excuses for my own incorrect forecast in early 2007 that the troop “surge” would fail.
This is obviously but a single column, but raising this issue of the unaccountability of our often wrong experts is a good first step. Of course, this is not to say that if someone makes a bad prediction they should be barred from offering their opinions. Rather, that chronically bad prognosticators - some might say propagandists - should be discredited, and not continued to be treated as Serious People due to the clubby nature of elite media.

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