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Ed Driscoll

Paul Krugman’s Three-Inch Salute

August 4th, 2010 - 3:58 pm

“Krugman Concedes Defeat,” Emily Esfahani Smith writes at Ricochet:

I don’t usually see the words “marvelous” and “Krugman” in a sentence together, but Fred Douglass over at The American Thinker has the good news (hat tip Cindy Simpson):

A marvelous thing happened over on Paul Krugman’s blog at the New York Times last week. Krugman effectively conceded defeat on a range of economic debates. Who defeated him? People who posted comments on his New York Times blog. Mere commenters.

More from Smith’s Ricochet post:

Once upon a time, Professor Krugman gushed “I love my commenters.” Why? They showered him with fawning praise: “Paul, you are a God-send for those of us who appreciate a superior intellect with common sense! Thanks for applying your brilliance,” and “Paul, dig deep dude. You are brilliant.”

But how the times have changed.

Now, whenever the professor sings his one note tune–austerity: bad, stimulus: good, tax cuts: bad, Keynes: good–his commenters scribble away long posts, full of data and analysis, applying the sand to Krugman’s flimsy economic vasoline. As Douglass writes, the comments responding to Krugman were “reasoned. They were knowledgeable. They carried citations to economic science literature that one might expect in a Ph.D. dissertation.”

Here are some pretty damning examples of Krugman getting sand kicked in his face on his own beach:

[Click over to Ricochet for the quotes from Krugman's commenters -- Ed]

As a result of such posts from the commenters–”ranters” and “trolls,” as Krugman has come to call them–the professor has changed his comments moderation policy. Now, comments can be no longer than “three inches.” As Douglass says, Krugman’s “thinking must have been thus: Three inches are sufficient to write “Krugman is brilliant,” but not sufficient to present a documented and persuasive rebuttal to whichever of Krugman’s standard arguments he was peddling that day.”

No, really! Here’s Krugman’s post from July 28th:

I’m going to try an experiment here. As regular readers know, a lot of comment inches on every post are taken up by the same few ranters, who say the same thing every time; it kind of degrades the experience for everyone else. But I’m not going to edit out hostile comments (and by the way, neither I nor the various other people who moderate here ever have.) What I’m going to try instead is a three-inch rule: if it takes up more than about 3 inches on my screen, I’m going to tag it as spam. I don’t know if the other moderators will follow suit, but I’m suggesting they do.

So feel free to rant, if you’re so inclined. But if you want your insights published, keep your language clean, and be terse. You’ll probably find that it improves your writing style.

Hey, it’s no fun when the Confirmation Bias you’re used to stops flowing.

It’s Krugman’s blog at the New York Times, and he and Pinch can do what they want with it. But like the JournoList scandal (of which, Krugman was a member), this is yet another example of America’s Ruling Class being frustrated that it’s no longer 1965, and they don’t have a monopoly on how — and in which direction — information flows.

(Apologies to Jackie Gleason for the headline title.)

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