Are Libertarians Especially Predictable?
By Bryan Caplan
I’m grateful for the Wall St. Journal‘s coverage of EconLog, even if they can’t spell my name correctly. I was struck, though, by its “quibble”:
The blog’s libertarian viewpoint means that you can almost always guess the punch line.
1. The same complaint plainly applies to forthrightly liberal and conservative blogs. But I’d go further: It also applies to moderate and contrarian blogs. You can count on moderates to be moderate. More strikingly, you can count on contrarians to be contrarian. Consider Tyler, my favorite contrarian. You can be almost sure that he’s not going to give a clear, unadulterated answer to a controversial question and stick to it. Yes, he may change his mind; but when his mind changes, it changes it to another contrarian answer.
2. It’s important to distinguish between consistently partisan and consistently ideological blogs. Since every group of reasonable size contains blatant wrong-doers, consistently partisan blogs always wind up defending the undefendable. As a result, they’re awful and unreadable. In contrast, consistently ideological blogs might be correct – and even when they’re not, they help you refine your thinking. Many libertarian blogs are dogmatically ideological. Since they rarely feel compelled to stand up for all members of a group of human beings, though, at least they don’t sound like something out of 1984.
3. Yes, predictable can be boring. But there are many sources of entertaining variation. If I fear I’m boring my readers, I don’t need to change my mind for their amusement. It’s at least as stimulating – and a lot more intellectually honest – to simply change the subject.