Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One more thing on the Wallace-Wells piece on Krugman

From the article:
I brought up the work of the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, now with the Obama administration, who has studied the radicalizing effects of ideological isolation—the idea, born from studies of three-judge panels, that if you are not in regular conversation with people who differ from you, you can become far more extreme. It is a very Obama idea, and I asked Krugman if he ever worried that he might succumb to that tendency. “It could happen,” he says. “But I work a lot from data; that’s enough of an anchor. I have a good sense when a claim has gone too far.”
Of course, this came after the article told us about Krugman being in contact with Summers, for example, so I'm not sure why it's necessarily relevant.

In general, I do imagine there's some truth to the research Sunstein is talking about there. I think it shouldn't be ignored.

But you also have to look at the flip side, the other extreme. And that's being in the Beltway echo chamber. That people in the DC establishment have contact with others in the DC establishment, including those with somewhat differing views, isn't something necessarily to be celebrated; rather, it's how the Conventional Wisdom is set. And the CW is not carefully crafted smart thinking; more often it's stupid.

To recap: yes, if someone was isolated from contact from people with different opinions, that's bad. But being around people with different opinions should not be some glorious end-goal, and there are plenty examples of it having bad results.


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