Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ad Hominem Blog Posts

My world view is far closer to Brad DeLong's (pro-free-trade "liberal") than Arnold Kling's (conservative-libertarian), but I am concerned with DeLong's seemingly increasing resort to ad hominem attack instead of reasoned argument. In a blog post today (here), he provides the following quote from Kling:
The Neo-Reactionaries: Some core beliefs that I share with the neo-reactionaries.... 3. American government has become structurally less libertarian and less democratic in recent decades.
DeLong then expresses his disagreement with Kling simply by referring to Kling as a "wingnut" and "the stupidest man alive." Now, it maybe that Delong and Kling are good friends who like to engage in trash talk (I have cyclist friends who like to do that). But such blog posts are uninformative and leave a bad taste in my mouth. It's no better, and deserves no more respect, than the unreasoned epitaphs spewed by under-informed and over-opinionated commentators on "cable news."

If that was the first post of DeLong's I had ever read, I would never read another. Instead of simply name-calling, I think bloggers owe it to their readers to engage in reasoned arguments. Perhaps DeLong believes that Kling's assertion does not warrant a reasoned response; if so, then he should at least (and, perhaps, at most) say that. Better yet, refute Kling by explaining the various ways in which the government grew more  libertarian, e.g., through deregulation, in recent decades.

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