Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Failings of Conventional Wisdom

Another interesting bit from the most recent Jorge Zepeda Patterson column:
In the first version of this article, Saturday morning, I wrote that eveything indicated that Alfredo del Mazo would be the candidate of the government of Mexico State. It's not that any bird (or Gaviota) had told me so, or that I had intercepted an email from Peña Nieto's own desktop. I simply responded to the echo of a dozen or so political columns that had taken for grantd that Mazo would be the PRI's horse. Before finishing my article the mayor of Huixquilucan had stepped aside for Eruviel Ávila, surprising everyone. What happened?

Normally the punditocracy has a good batting average. The newspapermen and columnists tend to anticipate changes in the cabinet or the sort of projects that are cooked up behind the scenes. But the mistake with Del Mazo reveals one of the weaknesses of a system based on leaks, true or not. The leak is not an opinion that you can rebut, it's not a piece of info that you can verify or debunk easily. It's a prophetic revelation that upon circling enough becomes assumed as truth. The best demonstration of this power was the decision to anticipate the unveiling of Eruviel Ávila on Saturday, before the rumor in favor of Alfredo del Mazo elevated the cost of the political fracture that all defeats entail.

There was a revolutionary general who used to say in that the symphony of barking that rattled around the night, only the first dog knew why he had barked, all the rest were simply his echo chamber. Something similar occurs with the punditocracy. One analyst declares the Del Mazo is "the one", another repeats it and 24 hours later it has become truth.
I have nothing to add, but interesting to see a veteran journalist acknowledge that.

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