I guess I just had my fifteen minutes of fame. “Jane Galt” apparently decided that my response to Will Wilkinson was worth a response on her front page. I responded there, because even a comment on her site will get about 100x more hits than something on the front page here, and I’m not a traffic whore so I don’t care whose page-view statistics are affected (in fact I kind of prefer that the bandwidth not be consumed here). Thanks for the opportunity to speak to a broader audience, Jane/Megan.

That was pretty much the only interesting thing about the whole affair. The original article by Jonathan Chait was really pretty tedious, and Wilkinson’s response even more so. I’m not afraid to say that the same is probably true of my response to Wilkinson, and Jane’s response to me, and most of all the various JV players’ attempts to jump on Jane’s bandwagon. What I do find amusing about it, though, is how this whole non-event supports Chait’s original claim. Wilkinson, Galt/McArdle et al did seem inclined to let herd instinct override the empirical evidence (regarding the quality of various essays) in front of them. Any strongly worded article written by an anti-liberal will be greeted with a predictable chorus of praise from the choir, while the same from a liberal will often lead to other liberals bickering amongst themselves – the same kind of uniformity vs. “incoherence” that Chait talked about. To some people, “brilliant” or “stinging” means nothing more than “I agree” just as “unreadable” or “self-refuting” means “I disagree.” Those of us who care about debate as a craft and a way to increase understanding will just have to keep working on those who see it only as a way to get points from one’s friends at the expense of one’s enemies.