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There are two types of evidence: evidence you agree with; and
evidence you don't. It is naive to think that in politics evidence informs
opinion: opinion chooses evidence. I am left of centre, therefore I nod
approvingly when the Institute of Fiscal Studies says that the cuts will
affect the poor hardest. On the other hand, Nick Clegg simply describes
the Institute's analysis as "distorted and complete nonsense", and that is
To see what happens to economic argument out in the wider world, take
a look at bulletin boards and the like. People laud the internet for
allowing anybody to respond to published articles, and it could be a boon.
But it isn't; it just provides noise. The Guardian avers that "Comment is
free", and its Comment columns attract many published responses every day.
Other newspapers do the same. All they illustrate is that Comment is
dross, that short, fact-free rants achieve nothing beyond putting up the
blood pressure of those who respond and those who react.
But the colour of the trees was wonderful this autumn.