"If placebos work, and homeopathy works only as well as a placebo, then homeopathy works. Why then, my friends ask pointedly, do you want to disabuse people of the efficacy of homeopathic remedies?
I came across,...the idea of an economic placebo. The biggest problem for the world economy is that we lack confidence. There are limits to the amount we can borrow to get consumer spending going again. So perhaps what we should be looking for is the economic equivalent of a homeopathic remedy.
The economists who have been debating placebos note that if President Obama were suddenly to abandon his stimulus package, it might cause a stock market crash. So wouldn’t the opposite — giving the idea of much more activism than there actually is — produce a surge of confidence without costing any money?
As the debate went on it became obvious what an economic placebo really was. It was a big lie, designed to fool people to behave in desirable ways. Someone suggested, for instance, that the best placebo of all would be simply to lie about all the figures. Tell the banks everyone was lending to each other, tell consumers they could spend because unemployment was falling, and so forth.
The moment you begin to unpack the idea, it becomes obvious that it would be monstrously unethical. You would gradually become untethered from the truth, with officials lying to citizens. We would be living in something resembling Leonid Brezhnev’s Russia. And as it is with the economy — with pretending that something is being done when it isn’t — so it would be with homeopathy. You see?"
-- Daniel Finkelstein, on how the "sophisticated" thinkers are planning on tying a NewAge knot around Barack Obama, the economy, and homeopathy - i.e. finishing us off by appealing to race, fear, and belief - in The Times Online.