‘Jane Galt’ and Kevin Drum have made “civility pleas” on their web logs. What they are saying is that people’s comments ought to treat opponents with respect.

Let me add a similar plea to this blog. I’ve always felt that the stronger the case for the idea, the less need to attack the person.

Calling my clear-headed, careful, Nobel-prize-winning dissertation adviser a “hack” does nothing to advance your cause. (then how come in a forthcoming article you use the expression “foam at the mouth” to describe that same economist?–ed. Er, I thought I was criticizing his, um, behavior as opposed to degrading the person. Still, a bad choice–ed.)

Many years ago, I played a game of Othello (sometimes called Reversi) in a tournament against a British opponent. At one point, I made a stupid blunder, and he said, mildly, “I don’t think that was your best chance, actually.”

What I learned from that experience is that understatement can be as devastating as anything.