#125 Misinformation & Economic Competition

the christian economist dave arnott

Misinformation and Economic Competition

The Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board spells disaster for “misinformation” and economic competition within a civilized society. 

People should be free

I often ask my students at Dallas Baptist University if they’re still required to read Animal Farm in high school. I’m quite pleased by the results because it seems that many have read the classic novel.  This led me to wonder this week if anyone in the Biden administration has read George Orwell’s 1984. Perhaps they have not, because that seems to be the only explanation for the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board. 

This is a serious restriction of freedom that Christian economists care deeply about. I’ve said many times that the intersection of Christianity and economics is FREEDOM.  The idea of a disinformation board is a danger to the First Amendment, which says that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” 

Free speech is important in religion in economics, here’s why: Open discussion and debate are vital within a society.  We need a greater supply of information, not less.  That’s because you can’t know what you believe, and you can’t believe what you know.

God set it up that way. If you could prove God, no faith would be required.  More information helps us to solve these difficult philosophical questions. 

A couple of presidential elections ago, a leading candidate was the Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He was asked by the BBC: Do you believe in evolution?

Well, that’s kind of a dumb question.  Microevolution is a scientific fact, which does not require belief. You can’t believe in science because science is defined as an observation. Do you believe you are reading this currently? Kind of a dumb question, isn’t it?

People should be free is the first of ten biblical commandments of economics that Sergei Saydametov and I wrote in our book Biblical Economic Policy.  Let’s see if we can make a case for the idea of free speech. 

There’s been so much talk about Elon Musk buying Twitter for the cause of free speech. Sorry, I don’t think so.  I see it as a simple business deal.  Think about this analogy: suppose there’s a car company (let’s call it Tesla) that sells cars in only 25 states.  A wise investor will buy the company and expand sales to the other 25 states and double the sales.  Now, let’s change the company name from Tesla to Twitter and change the first 25 states to liberal perspectives and the underserved states to conservative perspectives.  Musk is wanting to open Twitter to conservatives who have been discriminated against by Twitter.  More information distributed within and through Twitter will increase the value of the company, as well as increase the accuracy of the informational outcomes.  


The Competition of Ideas

One of Ginger’s quips goes something like this: “Is Pluto a planet?” because when Ginger and I were in school, it was a planet. See, continuing to seek more information gives us better science and more complete answers.  Restricting information leaves us with worse answers. This might be an interesting case for the “Disinformation Board”

What about the competition between a rich, famous inventor named Thomas Edison, founder of General Electric, who’s one of the scions of the Gilded Age. He favored direct current to light America.  An unknown upstart from Croatia named Nikola Tesla favored alternating current.  Tesla won the argument because open debate and information were allowed, and we now use alternating current en masse.  

An aside: now you know how the car company Tesla got its name, and why the first electric 18-wheeler truck company is called Nikola

In the book Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks explains the market for religion in America that has served us well.  So what economists call markets, the First Amendment calls free speech. People are free to explore different ideas, which makes society richer.  



In the colonial period in which our nation was formed.  Everything that was printed was slanted. Okay, well, we’re all slanted, meaning we are all fallen, but that’s not my point today.  The beauty of the American Republic experiment is that we allow individuals to decide what is true.  

By the way, the benefits of the republic where states are free to run economic experiments are praised in Arthur Laffer’s book The Wealth of States. Each state has the freedom to seek different economic plans currently has people moving from California and New York to Texas and Florida. 

In a post-Christian world, the Biden Administration is trying to determine the truth for all of us. The fear is that the Disinformation Governance Board will look down from Mt. Washington, a statement “A” or statement “B” vouchsafed to the masses what is true and what is false. There is only one truth. That statement may be considered progress for this bunch in office as of today. 

I attended a seminar on Chinese wisdom in Hong Kong.  The eightfold path of Buddhism was on the PowerPoint behind the speaker.  He said to us: “There is no “right” in China.” Huh?? There were eight of them on the slides right behind him.  This led me to write Economics and the Christian Worldview where I wrote: There are no rights in China because there is no right in China. The inability to argue toward a unique, objective truth ends in power. The guy with the best argument loses to the guy with the biggest gun, always. 

By the way, on the other side of the world, when Mikhail Gorbachev took over the reins of the Soviet Union in 1988, he was the first since the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) to have a college degree.  That is frightening.  This is a clear example of powerful thugs taking over when a disinformation governance board takes power over the freedom of speech.

John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. 

Did you notice THE truth? There is only ONE, but to assume humans can find THE TRUTH is pretty egotistical. We humans see through a glass darkly, but the more information we get, the clearer the glass gets. That’s why being in a community with fellow believers is so important.  All of us are smarter than any one of us. We need to exchange information and ideas.


Use Honest Measures

There’s an unpublished manuscript on my computer tentatively titled “There Is a God and You’re Not It”. There are about 50 different life events that all end with the idea that we can’t figure out God on our own. 

The disinformation governance board seems to think they can. I once quipped to a Russian, “Predictions are difficult, especially those about the future,” to which he responded, “In the West, you say you can’t predict the future. In Russia, we can’t predict the past.” There is a picture of Joseph Stalin standing next to a pair of “empty” shoes. The guy in the photo had been declared persona non grata and the administration photoshopped him out of the picture, but for some reason, left his shoes. In Russia, they change history. Are they doing the same thing in the United States by taking down statues? Will we someday deny that slavery existed? Will the disinformation board prevent us from talking about it?

Economics is a social science and here’s how it advances.  We start with anecdotes, which are isolated individual events. A researcher puts them together into a case analysis. After a few of these, other researchers do a qualitative analysis, usually followed by quantitative analysis.  What I would like is to see case studies by the Disinformation Governance Board. It would be interesting to see how they would handle some recent cases of “disinformation”. 

Inquiring minds want to know. It should be case studies that would push progress toward a greater understanding of these concepts. 


The Christian Worldview

There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world because our worldview fits reality. In the book Economics and the Christian Worldview, I explain that our three-part view (Creation, Fall, Redemption) fits the real world; it’s how our world works. Christianity does quite well in a competitive environment. 

There’s a fear that ethereal ideas like Christianity would not fare well in a world governed by a Disinformation Governance Board. You can’t prove the virgin birth. You can’t prove that Jesus is Lord. So why would the Disinformation Board allow individuals to spout such unscientific claims? 

What about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Would Marry Poppins be allowed to fly under the mythical power of her umbrella? The folks who have formed the Disinformation Board are a group who are supposed to be tolerant. In my podcast 59 titled The Intolerance of Tolerance,  I point out the fallacy of attempting to be tolerant. If you’re tolerant of intolerance, that makes you intolerant, and we ALL are intolerant to some extent, depending on the context of the situation. 

As adults, we have to make choices. When Abraham decided there was only one God, the world changed and it’s never going back. Before Abraham, there were multiple gods, so there was no objective, no right or wrong. Now, if there is only ONE God, then you can know THE truth, and that truth will set you free. As humans, we have difficulty determining what the truth is.  The more views we have of THE truth, the more we can triangulate around it and determine its true nature. If we have only one view, we don’t get an accurate and full picture of the truth.

God determines one truth. We humans make many attempts to determine what that truth is. 

Fear God
Tell the Truth
Earn a Profit

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