In this month’s Newsweek cover story “Obama’s Gotta Go,” Harvard history professor and former John McCain advisor Niall Ferguson wrote that the nation’s Affordable Healthcare Act will increase the deficit; he cited a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report to back his point.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman immediately responded on his New York Times blog to argue that Ferguson’s claim was untrue and that it was designed to mislead readers; he characterized Ferguson’s reporting as “unethical.” Krugman cited the same CBO report to support his claims.

Ferguson shot back at Krugman on Bloomberg TV, saying his adversary was being disingenuous and claiming he didn’t understand the issue. Again, he cited the CBO report . . . .

It’s a hugely important issue. How do you know who to believe? Given the number of blogs, newspapers, websites, social media sites, and television channels these days—it’s not easy.

Would we all be better off with fewer news platforms, fewer pundits, and fewer opinions launched at us continuously?

In his new book Deadlines and Disruption, former BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen B. Shepard  looks closely at the remarkable changes journalism has undergone since the rise of the Internet, along with the effect this has on the average news consumer today. In it, he asks the important questions:  “Will the new technologies enhance journalism? Or water it down for audiences with diminished attention spans nurtured by 140-character tweets? Is Google good for journalism?”

Shepard doesn’t wish for the good old days. “I have come to the belief that digital technology will enrich journalism,” he writes, “creating an interactive, multimedia form of storytelling that can invite community participation.”

It’s easy to believe that the past was simpler. It wasn’t. There was just less information available about issues. Things might seem to have been simpler, but just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. Simplicity, one might, say is an illusion.

The Ferguson/Krugman battle is a perfect example of this. If you really want to know who is right—if you really want to form the most educated opinion on the matter—you have to read the CBO report yourself. And no matter how you slice it, the CBO report is not simple.

It’s the case today and it would have been the case 50 years ago.