Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eating Your Own Dog Food, Or Something

There's phenomena among the chattering classes, I believe on all sides of the political spectrum, of eating their own dogfood. That is, when they have an argument to make, their citations tend to be to the secondary, or tertiary, literature, not to primary source material. What it means is there's a tendency to talk in an echo chamber, to repeat the same urban myths, and to ignore facts or alternatives.

There's an example here:
"The last time food prices shot up, in the 1970s, the U.S. response was to put more land into agricultural production. This was the infamous "fencerow-to-fencerow" policy of Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz that Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, has linked to the glut of corn -- and corn syrup -- that has so profoundly affected global diets. "
The whole piece discusses how North Korea was and is a canary warning the world of imminent catastrophe.

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