I found some interesting discussion about the tendency of pundits to be dishonest since it is the good story that sells. The situation has some similarity with the classic game of prisoners dilemma. For both parties individually it is better to defect, but both would be better of if they collaborated. When they parties cannot trust each other and collaborate, individual self interest tragically trumps the benefits of collaboration.

When it comes to media, it would be better for society to have a high quality and honest journalism, but since each journalist (or pundit) individually benefits from good and catchy stories, not necessarily true ones, how to get there? In game theory such problems are “solved”, by having memory, playing the game repeatedly, and being ready to punish cheaters. In media the last part is often lacking. Part of the reason is certainly the readers themselves. How often are we actually after facts and honest reporting and how often are we looking after stories that seem to confirm the opinions that we already have? I think I personally do this very often. Under such circumstances it is the stories that pamper to readers biases that win the day. The discussion also pointed out the in science things are somewhat different. While cheating certainly exists it is not as prevalent as in media since the likelyhood of being caught is high (especially if you are doing something really interesting). Furthermore, being caught for misconduct has a severe penelty since it has the potential to destroy your scientific career entirely.