Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

john jansen is also puzzled by the institution of "trolls" over at Brad DeLong's place:

what exactly is a troll? i have intermittently posted stuff at left wing sites and have taken a ton of flak. i have posted reasoned positions which i thought were worthy of these blog sites,be they left or right,require that all postings be of the same general view or is polite and robust debate encouraged.........onr thing that disturbs me is gratuitous use of the "f" word.i think it demeans the writer and makes me wonder about his/her intellect.the eschaton site seems to have the most violators there.anyway,most of these things post interesting and worthwhile stuff and it is fun well and peace.jjj

Brad DeLong likes to maintain a conversation underlain by certain assumptions, e.g. that Bush is bad, the Iraq War was bad, Social Security reform is a terrible idea. Readers don't necessarily have to share those assumptions, and they can even stealthily undermine or question. But Brad doesn't commenters openly to question those assumptions, and he won't allow commenters to attack them.

Is this a conversation worth having? Sure. A good debate usually rests on some common premises. But this kind of censored conversation has trouble adapting if its assumptions turn out to be wrong.


  • Don't be unnecessarily foolish.


    "Brad seems to think that Hazlitt quoted Keynes out of context.... But the misreading is Brad's not Hazlitt's. Keynes is criticizing classical economics for focusing on the long run and this certainly includes the classical focus on savings as a key to economic growth. Hazlitt, as Brad notes, is restating classical economics so when Hazlitt points out the long-run problems with using spending to increase short-run aggregate demand, Keynes does, in effect, reply 'We are all dead in the long run.'..."


    "Has anyone here actually read Hazlitt's book? I highly doubt it, and I highly doubt that anyone here knows much of anything about Hazlitt..."

    One is a troll. The other isn't. Guess which is which.

    By Blogger James, at 7:24 PM  

  • Well, from reading Brad's blog, I'd say that 1) the first commenter is certainly not a troll, but 2) there are a lot of comments of about the quality of the latter remark that go uncensored, so if Brad wants to call the second a troll, he's very inconsistent in his enforcement of the anti-troll policy. My remarks were not much like either; they went for the big issues right away, unlike either comment.

    In practice, Brad tolerates the most mindless mouthing-off if it seems to fit the Bush-hating paradigm, but doesn't allow the other side to engage in the debate except in a discreet way.

    By Blogger Lancelot, at 8:26 AM  

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