The Plank

Ibd: Mendacious Or Just Stupid?

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Ezra Klein is up in arms about this Investors Business Daily editorial which makes the following claim:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Ezra writes:

It's not just that they didn't know that Stephen Hawking was born in England. It's that the underlying point was wrong, as you'll note from the continued existence of Stephen Hawking. They didn't choose an unfortunate example for an accurate point. They simply lied.

This actually raises a bit of a philosophical conundrum. If the IBD writer believed Hawking was American (or French or Austrian or anything but British), can the writer be accused of lying when he/she writes that Hawking would have been left to die by the National Health Service? As far as the IBD writer knows, the only reason Hawking is alive today is for the grace of not being British. In other words, the point the IBD writer was trying to make would have at least been theoretically plausible if, as the writer believed, Hawking was not British.  I don't know, I'm just reluctant to credit the IBD writer with the sufficient smarts to concoct such a lie. Seems like basic stupidity is the easier explanation here.

--Jason Zengerle

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