The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

The existence, for instance, of religious zealotry, homeopathic medicine and creationism, have inoculated me against amazement at the human ability to believe strongly in ideas for which there is no supporting evidence. So rather than being surprised, I was strangely fascinated by an article appearing in the January 2011 NewScientist magazine, titled “The irrationality vaccine.”

The article described three books, The Panic Virus: A true story of medicine, science and fear, by Seth Mnookin, Deadly Choices: How the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all, by Paul Offit, and Tabloid Medicine: How the internet is being used to hijack medical science for fear and profit, by Robert Goldberg. Here are excerpts from the article:

As he tells it, Mnookin was annoyed by the clueless intellectuals he encountered at New York dinner parties, who boasted about withholding necessary vaccines from their children. To these elites, these thinkers, giving children so many shots “just felt wrong.”

Hmmm. Clueless intellectuals. Science trumped by intuition. Medicine withheld. Sounds familiar.

. . . one cannot grasp how we became so dangerously irrational in our outlook on vaccines without first understanding the role of the mass media – now almost entirely shorn of its science journalists and increasingly driven by sensationalism and crass financial considerations.

Hmmm. Media dominated by sensationalism. Sounds familiar.

Anti-vaccine activists and a few sympathetic scientists raise concerns that, although implausible, draw uncritical media attention.

Hmmm, Uncritical media attention. Sounds familiar.

. . . the activists continue to draw followers and, if anything, only grow more extreme in their convictions. They continue to garner media attention, and so the irrationality the media let out of the bag is never put back in.

Hmmm. More extreme convictions garner even more media attention. Sounds familiar.

Sustained encounters with a small group of like-minded people almost inevitably leads to the conclusion that everyone thinks the way you do. . . Children are dying out there because of anti-vaccine misinformation and those who act on it. . . Offit hopes the press will tell the other side of the story – about the harms caused by anti-vaccine advocates.

Hmmm. Children sick and dying because of misinformation. Sounds familiar.

. . . these three books . . . are a call to arms against the broader phenomenon of tilting against reality, or making up ones’ own version of it, and clinging to it fiercely despite all evidence and consequences . . . Irrationality can be a very dangerous and communicable disease – and we still don’t know how to adequately inoculate against it.

Hmmm. Clinging to ideas fiercely, despite all evidence and consequences. Sounds familiar.

I found the article about vaccine deniers eerily reminiscent of what has happened to the science of economics, where intuition overrules fact, media (especially TV) are shorn of real economists and dominated by sensationalism and extremism, uncritical media attention for factually unsupported ideas, children sick and dying as a result, and vain hopes the media some day will tell the other side of the story – about the harms caused by the anti-deficit advocates.

In essence, the debt hawks are religious zealot, creationist, vaccine deniers. They encourage the media to print wrong-headed, “sky-is-falling” sensationalism. They rely not on facts, of which they have none, but on personal intuition. They withhold from the economy, the one medicine necessary to cure it: Money.

As a result, we have an epidemic of debt-fear, sentencing millions of American men, women and children to a future of mean and miserable lives, then to die prematurely.

Who is at fault? The debt hawks? The media? The politicians? The voting public?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money.