[Question] What’s the information value of government hearings?

Background:

I’m curious about both:

  • Generalities – for all/​most/​some governments (and different types of hearings if that’s relevant)

  • Specifics – (relatively) concrete details about specific governments, or specific hearings

My own model (roughly):

  1. Hearings are, by default, political theater.

  2. Political/​legal rhetoric has a very low information density.

  3. Information from the hearings might be true; but definitely not all of it.

  4. At least some of the people compelled to participate in hearings will lie.

  5. Most hearings are run by partisans from multiple coalitions.

  6. The leaders of hearings are NOT generally trustworthy or honest.

  7. Even if we assume that we can determine [2] (what info is true), we should expect to be manipulated, if nothing else, the distribution of true info that is made public.

  8. It is – somewhat – possible, still, given [1-7], for some people to extract some true info from government hearings.

  9. It is hard to identify the people of [8], even if you’re one of them.

There’s a particular concrete example that inspired this. I was implored by someone to watch the ‘January 6th’ hearings. I replied that it didn’t seem worth doing and that I would instead just rely on my own network of [8] that I have accumulated. I did get a nice update from someone outside my network, but I don’t think I can ‘operationalize’ that kind of serendipity.

My current model of ‘January 6th’ (roughly):

  1. Trump might have had a plan to disrupt the ‘vote certification’[1].

  2. If the vote certification had been disrupted, it very probably would have resulted in an extremely ‘undefined’ state of the presidency and the executive branch.

  3. If the system had reached that undefined state, Trump (maybe) could have remained President.[2]

  4. [Normative] [3] would have been terrible.

Most of the above is relatively new for me! I did not know those details a few weeks ago. I even considered those ‘classes’ of possibility before then, but believed they were too implausible. I did feel very confused. I was (and am) curious about better understandings and more details.

But I didn’t think me directly watching the hearings about Jan-6 would be a particularly valuable use of my time. Was I wrong (in your own estimation)?

Am I wrong about the information value of government hearings in general?

Do you think I should watch more of them myself directly (based on either my values or your own, or anyones/​someones)?


  1. It was depressing to learn that this is, very probably, an actual gaping hole in the overall security of U.S. presidential elections! I think it’s also very strong evidence of some kind of malfeasance that what you would think are the relevant authorities have not already sealed this actual gaping hole in the system’s security. WTF?! ↩︎

  2. I do not in fact think that he would have NOT been ‘thrown out’, somehow, even had this happened, for even a brief moment. ↩︎

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