Michael Kinsley discovers the “unnerving seriousness and sophistication” of the blogosphere. Not long ago, Kinsley claimed to have come up with a mathematical proof that Social Security privatization can’t work. He challenged leading economists and proponents of privatization to refute his proof. According to Kinsley, no one responded — except for bloggers, whose responses to Kinsley were, as Glenn Reynolds put it, “everywhere.” See this line-by-line response from Donald Luskin, for example. Or this treatment by Arnold Kling.
Here’s Kinsley’s take on what happened when he “drop[ped] an idea into th[e] bubbling cauldron” of the blogosphere:
What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propaganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don’t get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement — mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profession — with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.
Or, as Hindrocket told Time Magazine, “The world is full of smart people who have information about every imaginable topic, and until the Internet came along, there wasn’t any practical way to put it together.”