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Health Care Lies Will Last for Years

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMarch 25, 2010 6:19 PM


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Brendan Nyhan, an old friend of mine who's now at the University of Michigan, has a must-read oped in theNew York Times today:

For Democrats nervous about political fallout from the bill in the November midterm elections, it’s reassuring to imagine that the myths about the legislation — that it provides free coverage to illegal immigrants, uses taxpayer money to subsidize abortions and mandates end-of-life counseling for the elderly — will be dispelled by its passage.

But public knowledge of the plan’s contents may not improve as quickly as Democrats hope. While some of the more outlandish rumors may dissipate, it is likely that misperceptions will linger for years, hindering substantive debate over the merits of the country’s new health care system. The reasons are rooted in human psychology.

Nyhan goes on to talk about how we ideologically filter information to support our political presuppositions--e.g., conservatives will hold on to lies about "death panels" long after the bill's passage. It's a great piece, but it is missing, I think, an important angle. I believe the Internet makes this problem of misinformation and ideological filtering a lot, a lot worse. I wonder what Nyhan would say to that. Furthermore, we know well around here which blogs are spewing misinformation all the time on global warming. But which ones are the culprits on health care?

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