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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Potential disclaimers

Tyler Cowen has a modest ethics proposal:

 

For anything in the social sciences written by a citizen of China, or by someone with relatives living in China, or by someone working in or for China, there should be a disclaimer on the publication: “Produced under conditions of censorship and threat of career penalty.”  I don’t favor actually doing that, but the absence of this idea from the debate is itself revealing.

 

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/01/demystifying-the-chinese-economy.html

 

We could probably extend this idea far beyond China to other countries.  (Remember Salmon Rushdie?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Rushdie#The_Satanic_Verses_and_the_fatw.C4.81

 

And, lest we forget, there’s a variety of self-editing that occurs when writing about issues related to one’s employer or one’s clients. 

 

It’s not really practical to do all these basic disclaimers, of course.  And some of the existing disclaimers may not have the desired effect, particularly ones pointing out that this or that is owned by News Corp, which also owns the Wall Street Journal.  While this is the required and ethical disclaimer, it also sounds a bit like a product endorsement by the Wall Street Journal.