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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Is blogging Bad for America?

It’s too easy to preach to the converted on political blogs.

Part 1. Variety and Specificity

Old Nana (this is apocryphal) says her home town had but one radio station. The terrible result was she had to listen to country, classical, and gospel, to hear her beloved Elvis. The wonderful result was she was exposed to country, classical, and gospel, in her quest to hear Hound Dog. If Nana was a kid today she could probably discover, on her satellite receiver, (radios? HAH!) a station playing Elvis 24/7.

Political blogs provide the equivalent variety and specificity of choice to Political Blog Readers (PBR). Nobody knows the ratio of PBR to political blogs. Are there 10,000 PBR for every would-be Daily Kos? Maybe the ratio is as low as 100-1. There may, in fact, be more political blogs than PBR available to read them. (Not encouraging, exactly, for those of us who like to write them.)

Given this plethora of choices, libertarian-leaning-conservative-sci-fi-and-gadget-fanantics-who-figure-gays-should-be-allowed-to-marry-but-legislatures-should-decide-that will end up at Instapundit, while libertarian-leaning-conservative-non-sci-fi-and-gadget-fanantics-who-figure-gays-should-maybe-be-allowed-to-marry-but-legislatures-should-decide-that will visit Powerline. (My apologies to the authors of those blog if I misinterpreted their stances). Of course that is an extreme example of specificity, and those two blogs share PBR and in fact link to each other pretty regularly. However, Daily Kos PBR read Powerline about as often as Quakers participate in Hamas rallies.

I imagine.

The point is that, given the MSM’s decreasing influence, more people will rely on bloggers who reinforce their views and fewer people will be exposed to opposing opinions. This will result in a more divided republic, and perhaps in what you could call a Kook Republic. I’ve little doubt that the left is controlled by the Far Left, or Loony Left, Moonbats, or Kook Left, and no doubt those Loony Lefties think the right is controlled by fascist, racist, Right Wing Ideologues, Hitler Dopplegangers, or other manifestations of the Kook Right. The fact that I’m sure, or, more importantly, that you’re sure, that the Right is right and the left is wrong about this, is immaterial. The internet allows us to surround ourselves with those who reinforce our own viewpoints. If you think the other side is run by kooks you are a kook, no matter what side you’re on. We are ALL Kooks.

Part 2. Inductive Argument

One might ask how a person can combat this. I don’t know. Blogs persuade through induction, rather than deduction. Go to Powerline and read their every article for a month and, through induction, you will have realized that:
1. The UN sucks
2. The MSM (MainStreamMedia) sucks
3. The liberals suck
You’ll know this because you’ll have read 30 or 40 instances where the UN, MSM, and various liberals sucked. Powerline won’t try to prove it logically, they will merely provide examples.

Inhabit The Daily Kos and, I imagine (why imagine? why not go there? health reasons) for a month and you’ll learn, through induction, that:
1. Dubya sucks
2. Rumsfield sucks
3. The war (any war, take your pick) sucks
And, again, you’ll learn this, not because the Kos (is that how he/she/it refers to hishersitself?) says so, but because you’ll have read 30 or 40 examples of them sucking.

Now, given this inductive learning process, the odds that Powerline or Daily Kos PBR will be open to opposing opinions are very low. For every example a liberal gives me that the UN is a force for good, I (and other Powerline PBR) will remember 30 or 40 examples of the UN effectively being a force for evil. The political gulf between Daily Kos and Powerline PBR, therefore, will only widen over time. (Unless The Daily Kos and Powerline blogs become more similar. However, if they did, more than likely they would lose substantial PBR rather than persuade their PBR closer to a respective center.)

Part 3. The Induction Bomb

So I don’t know how you can unKook a Kook, except, perhaps, by dropping an Induction Bomb on them. What is an Induction bomb?

Let’s say Sally, a loyal Daily Kos reader for years, has learned from Kos that the UN is a force for good. You will never be able to track down every bit of information, every story, every anecdote, every article, every claim, that led Sally to reach that conclusion through induction. (For one thing, she won’t even remember most of them.) You cannot, therefore, refute her sources.

You can however, present her with a number of excellent refutations of their logical conclusion. Tomorrow I will drop an Induction Bomb which proves, through induction, that the UN sucks.


  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger big_wannabe said…

    The lefty blogs are so FOS they are unreadable.

    I have yet to find ONE example that comes close to powerline or instapundit, or LGF, or Volokh, or Belmont, or Belgravia, or JustOneMinute, or Captains Quarters, or Roger Simon, or...

    You've seen crooked timber (http://www.crookedtimber.org/). I've seen good posts over there. then again.

    oh yeah this dude claims to be reality based: http://yglesias.typepad.com/

    I've yet to see libbys that don't suk dirty ass.


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