Category: Weblogs

The role of the blogosphere

New research supports the notion that we fixate on enemies, and inflate their power, as a defense mechanism against generalized anxiety.

The longer article is here.  This is another way of putting the point:

According to one school of thought, this tendency to exaggerate the strength of our adversaries serves a specific psychological function. It is less scary to place all our fears on a single, strong enemy than to accept the fact our well-being is largely based on factors beyond our control. An enemy, after all, can be defined, analyzed and perhaps even defeated.

In what way is blogging science?

Scott Sumner has a long and thoughtful post.  Here is one bit:

According to the Official Method, none of these tidbits matter.  But I have noticed that they have had some impact on my readers.  They are each slightly persuasive about some aspect of my argument.

It has to be read in the context of the longer post, but it's a very important point.  And this:

So that’s the goal of my blog, to constantly use theoretical arguments, empirical data, clever metaphors, and historical analogies that make people see the current situation in a new way.

Read the whole thing.  It's one of the best statements of how blogging can make a difference; just don't call Scott a blogger…

This is a test (but not a trick)

I'm interested in understanding why MR has such a high-quality comments section.  I'd like you to consider this passage, from today's Guardian (not today's Onion), and try to write high-quality comments on it.

The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's
permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that
"available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were
involved in child sex abuse.

Let's see how you do.  If you can indeed produce high-quality comments, it means you're better than the other blog commentators.  If you can't, maybe it means that Alex and I are in some way better with regard to what we post and how we present it.  In that case, once our splendid framing is off-scene, you revert to your usual, rotten selves.  I want you to end up with most of the credit.

Maniacs, all of us

Is blogging declining?  Matt writes:

Laura at Apartment 11D offers an excellent précis
of the ways in which the blogosphere of today lacks much of the charm
of the blogosphere of four or five years ago. I would say that there
are compensating benefits to the new, more professionalized, more
institutionalized blogosphere. But it really is different and the
change has been for the worse in many ways.

Laura links to many comments.  I'm more optimistic.  Very few (if any) of my favorite bloggers have quit and of course there are some new ones.  It's surprising how few of them have quit.  (If blogging is so great, why hasn't competition competed away their returns?  What about comparative advantage in this sector is so persistent?)  The rest of the output you can ignore.