Thursday, August 15, 2013

New column day

Here, on the tendency of both political decision-makers and the general public to give too much credence to secret information - and the need for citizens to scrutinize leaders all the more closely if they rely on bare declarations that we'd agree with their actions if only we knew what they choose to hide.

For further reading...
- The White House's NSA review panel announcement is discussed here and clarified here.
- The study on public perceptions of classified information is discussed by Leaf Van Boven, Charles Judd and Mark Travers here.
- Joan McCarter's take on creeping secrecy in policymaking is well worth a read.
- Finally, Don Lenihan comments on how marketing and branding have replaced citizen and engagement and debate in Canada's political scene. And Saskboy documents Michael Fougere's latest contribution to that shift.


  1. Well after all, in the case of most governments and certainly the Harper government and (any plausibly electable US government), I disagree with nearly all their actions that aren't secret. Why would the ones so awful they don't want me to know about them be any different?

  2. To be clear, my concern is as much with public actions as with private ones, with the Harper Cons serving as a prime example. Rather than presenting any public justification for, say, their gutting of environmental laws, they keep any analysis hidden and try to stick to a "We're focused on the economy. Why don't you support jobs?" set of talking points rather than answering legitimate questions which seek that they explain their choices.

  3. And of course perhaps the worst of worlds is the stuff they do where the action is public but they justify it based on secrets. They say, "Well, this may seem evil to you, but we have to do it because secret stuff. So we don't need to justify it to you, because secret stuff, but you have to trust us because secret stuff."
    That study you mention certainly points to people's tendency to foolishly buy that kind of argument. Ugh.