Politicians everywhere lie when they talk budget cuts in services

napoleonby Iwan Gabovitch

Why is evidence so hard for politicians?
[Via Bad Science]

One thing you hope for, with politicians, is that they won’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

Last week we saw that the government has overstated the problems in the NHS by using dodgy figures (to be precise, they used misleading static figures instead of time trends). We saw that Andrew Lansley’s repeated claim that his reforms are justified by evidence was untrue: the evidence doesn’t show that his price-based competition improves outcomes (if anything it makes things worse); and the evidence also doesn’t show that GP consortia improve outcomes (unless you cherry pick only the positive findings). It’s okay if your reforms aren’t supported by existing evidence: you just shouldn’t claim that they are.

Now Lansley’s junior minister Paul Burstow MP has kindly responded, repeating the exact same mistakes again, only more clumsily. I find this, in all seriousness, genuinely frightening from a minister, so I’ll explain how he does it.


Using ‘facts’ that are not supported by evidence and misquoting  papers are hallmarks of the denialist. It is something not only seen in American politicians but can be seen in the UK also.

When the only way to get support for cutting services is to lie, one would thing that path would represent failure. Instead, many people blithely follow that path, because the wonderful music played by their favorite Pied Piper sounds so good.

The lie is better than actually facing facts.

Never mind that the real world works very differently. It is a real sign of dysfunctional world views when they rely so much on points that are demonstrably false. Too many people today hold exactly those sorts of dysfunctional views and follow leaders who propose them.

The leader says “I’m really Napoleon Bonaparte. Onto Moscow” and the followers start packing their winter clothes.

A sane person would be calling the mental health authorities. Cargo Cult Worlds could well be a sign of an inability to deal with the complexities of the modern world. Retreating to a safe fantasy is better than dealing with reality.

We are in for troubled times when the false narrative is more important  than the facts. Is anywhere safe?