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« Branded as Scholars | Main | Celebrating Israel Kirzner’s Unique Œuvre »


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But this isn't a commons. You can delete the offending remarks. You have very strong property rights here.

"When comments are allowed to run free, the equilibrium tendency appears to be the deterioration of the quality of the conversation."

True but then there is the "4chan" phenomenom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan They do seem to be coordinating quite well under their mix of total anonymity and very very minimal rules, even though they're pretty much only using this strength for objectives of questionable ethics.

I agree with you Pete, though Michael Martin's comment made me realize we're probably abusing terminology by calling it a tragedy of the commons.

During some of the more recent unpleasant comment-pruning on my own blog, I was tempted to declare, "People! Stop using 'anonymous'! If you are afraid to put your name on something, shouldn't that be a signal to yourself that your comment is out of line?"

But I was afraid the jokesters in question would start posting under the names of actual economists who were the subject of the arguments.

In the grand scheme, I actually think anonymous comments aren't too terrible. What would really be bad is if people routinely posted as if they were somebody else.

Thanks for noticing!

As for the comments space being a commons. They are as much a commons as the blog admin lets them be. Some are much moreso than others, of course.

Politics Daily started with unmoderated, anonymous comments -- as commons as it can get. Now there are moderators who dip in and kill what they consider the worst of the comments. But it's still more free rein than not. And the ideal goal is to let the comments to be as free as possible.

Pete, why do you keep grousing about anonymous comments? Maybe you just need to learn not to "feed the trolls". (If I remember correctly, someone or other gave you a good ribbing about feeding trolls.) Maybe it's something us youngin's do instinctively, but it's very easy to just skip over the merely provocative comments and respond to the more substantive ones.

Regardless, how does one make this argument:
"When comments are allowed to run free, the equilibrium tendency appears to be the deterioration of the quality of the conversation."

First, I'm not sure how you'd precisely define "the quality of the conversation," but second, I've seen so many instances in which anonymous comments gave way to better discussions than would have obtained otherwise. This doesn't gainsay the kind of bad experiences you are likely drawing from or referencing, but I'm not sure that probability, even, is on the side of your position.

You also write:
"You cannot shame an anonymous poster, and pseudonyms while they can (and have historically) played an important role in dissident political discourse, seem more often than not in the comments to be an excuse to avoid responsibility for an argument they are about to make."

This is another assertion about your feelings and perceptions, but again, I'd have to see some evidence tied to an argument before I'd believe it to be true.

Still, even if your assertions about the likely motives and results of anonymous postings were proven correct, you in no way present an argument that says that anonymous postings *preclude* what you refer to as "true engagement." Again, the solution would be to ignore (or delete) the trolls.

[btw, if you want to know my real name or email, Steve has it already. The reason I post (semi-)anonymously is that I look forward to a career in which an interest in Austrian economics could seriously compromise my employment prospects. That's all.]

"You cannot shame an anonymous poster, and pseudonyms while they can (and have historically) played an important role in dissident political discourse, seem more often than not in the comments to be an excuse to avoid responsibility for an argument they are about to make."

If I told you my name was Robert Thorpe what would you care? Almost no one who knows me by that name knows anything about economics.

If you insult Current you are insulting someone who cares. If you're insulting Robert Thorpe then, in this context, I don't care.

On many parts of the internet pseudonyms act like real names.

The most scalable mechanism for moderating I have seen is over at Slashdot. The moderation is directly democratic, with each reader having control over what level of comments may be viewed.

There is no problem with exercising strong property rights over blog comments so long as the frequency of commenting remains matched to the amount of time available for pruning. Problems arise when blogs get so popular that their owners do not want to devote the time necessary to pruning despite enjoying the good comments that come in.

The analogies between offline property rights and institutions for resolving disputes over conflicting use and blog comments are fun to consider. For example, what if the blog owner delagted authority to edit comments to a commenter elected by blog readers? What if the blog owner instituted a three strikes rule? &c., &c.

My general sense is that far fewer "anonymous" comments would be made if such commenters saw how much information blog owners get when such comments are posted. Very few "anonymous" commenters are as a practical matter anonymous.

It would take longer to develop, but have you considered a members-only approach, where each member must be sponsored by N existing members in good standing? You'd need to (and, I think, would want to) seed the membership with a sort of editorial board. Seeding is important to set the direction, because initial members would be responsible for new members in a sort of "accountability chain". You might combine this with a karma-like system similar to slashdot's but with more teeth.

Best regards,

Slightly off topic, but I think the following information by "James H" is chilling:

[btw, if you want to know my real name or email, Steve has it already. The reason I post (semi-)anonymously is that I look forward to a career in which an interest in Austrian economics could seriously compromise my employment prospects. That's all.]

I couldn't imagine applying for a job where my intellectual freedom would be so constrained that it's unacceptable to be interested in Austrian economics, even in one's free time!! I wonder what type of career James is pursuing (ambassador of the DPRK? PR consultant to the farmers' lobby?)


It's a very tight job market for much of academia, but as you probably know well, some fields are more politically diverse than others. It's not that there are official proscriptions against having an interest in, or a preference for, free markets, but all the same, hiring decisions are inevitably subjective. We all know that decisions to hire involve considerations of the personal and political qualities a candidate brings (e.g. would I want this person to gain tenure and spend the next decade or two working with our department, etc.?). I don't think I'm being alarmist or paranoid, just sensible.

Even within the field of economics, aren't one's Austrian credentials/affiliations likely to be met with at least some skepticism?

Within my own field, fortunately, Austrian or free-market economics aren't really an issue as such, so I'm not intellectually constrained in my research and writing. Granted, I'm not happy about the situation, but that's the way it is for now.

What about logins? I had a blog in which cospiracy theorists commented by cutting and pasting KBs of text about rubbish about corporations killing Lincoln and Kennedy (and, as I read once, also Julius Caesar) for monetary reasons.

Thus, I closed the anonymous comments, and although the number of comments fell, the number of stupid comments was reduced much further. Those who really cared about what I wrote kept on commenting anyway.

In a sense, I fenced the blog: on most platform it is a zero explicit costs fencing technology. The real cost is that occasional readers (or readers from other PCs) are a couple of steps away from expressing their opinion.

PS Anyway, I noticed that when I'm anonymous I commit more grammar mistakes, I think less about what I write and (less often) I resort more often to potentially obnoxious irony. I think I'll mail Kahneman on this. :-)

I have another doubt. What about the interblog variance of the quality of the comments? Not all free-to-comment blogs have nasty comments, and sometimes login-to-comment blogs have (I think it's the administrators' responsibility in this case).

I write on an italian online economics magazine and I very seldom receive silly comments. I wrote on another more generalist magazine and comments were often ridicolous. It appears that there are issues who stimulate animal spirits (such as conspiracy theories or party politics) and issues which do not attract sociopaths (like abstract philosophy, technical economics...).

Maybe it's just the artifact of volumes: difficult things do not attract as many obnoxious people as other issues, but it may help to add some differential equations here and there, not for substantive reasons but as a scarecrow. :-)

James H:

I'm at an Asian business school, and here at least policy preferences are considered irrelevant. But I can imagine that certain socialism...I mean sociology departments may be very different.

@ David EA

this happens at economics departments! Perhaps this has something to do with prominent Austrians like Peter B., who suggests in the comment section of his own blog that the daily business of distinguished theorists is "mental masturbation".

@ Peter

would you consider expressions like "mental masturbation" as "deterioration of the quality of the conversation"? see http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2010/01/supply-and-demand-is-all-about-plan-coordination.html#comments


You may have a point about crude expressions. I'm a little surprised about the source though, given his generally respectful tone regarding mainstream standards of scholarly achievement. I guess we all have our unguarded moments.

I was thinking that some similar blogs do attract comments of higher average quality (but not as many comments, or necessarily better best comments). For example O&M, which is somehow more "sober" than this blog, although with similar (identical?) policy preferences. On the other hand, my personal ratio of visits is probably about 3:1 when comparing AE(CP) vs. O&M.

Another interesting observation is that some of the theoretically most interesting posts get no comments at all, while anything relating to the pros and cons of anarchism or academic upward mobility triggers an avalanche of disparate views (some thoughtful, some not).

I think anonymous comments also help when people have valuable input but fear some sort of repercussion -real or imagined.

First year grad students come to mind. Lots of them don't want to say anything in classrooms or seminars from fear of looking stupid or angering professors that they may have to work with one day.

Similarly, colleagues may have opinions that they would rather keep to themselves as they don't want to ruffle any feathers in the department. But anonymous posts allow them to share their ideas while avoiding this.

We can pretend that people are purely objective and don't get their feelings hurt by having some ideas challenged. But, the reality is that just like anonymous posters are jerks. Some people are jerks in real life too.

These reasons can seem silly. But having been a PhD student at GMU, I was really surprised how little students would question or challenge professors. There were even some students who would laugh and snicker at people who would ask a "dumb" question in class. (Yeah, it's hard to believe it on the graduate level but it happens)

So, I think anonymous posts can open up the conversation more so in these cases. Anonymous posts let you say anything. That has two sides of the coin. Perhaps, you will be less polite. But, perhaps you will contribute ideas that you would not otherwise be comfortable sharing.

I am signing my name to my "unguarded moments" --- so yes perhaps I could have used a better phrase to describe the pure theory exercises of the general competitive equilibrium agenda. However, brilliant those thinkers were with respect to deriving mathematical proofs, it is my assessment that they were NOT capturing what Adam Smith meant by the invisible hand, nor establishing the welfare criteria for the assessment of the performance of the market economy. It was something totally different, and they missed the essential characteristics of the market economy as laid out by Adam Smith and his contemporaries. I learned that from F. A. Hayek and James Buchanan.

As for the claim that having an intellectual interest in Austrian economics as an impediment to advancement in academia --- I am on record as arguing that I believe this to be (while not totally absent) way over blown. Academics is just a hard profession to compete in --- the very best guys are clever as well as smart; articulate in both spoken and written form; and can command an audience. The number of people who actually possess those abilities in full is very rare, and the positions at the elite schools are limited. The counter-evidence to the claim that it is impossible to succeed is in fact the professional recognition achieved by not only Menger, Wieser, Bohm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, Machlup, Habeler, Morganstern, Lachmann, Kirzner, Shackle, etc. as well as fellow travelers such as Alchian, Buchanan, Coase, Demsetz, Easterly, Leijonhufvud, McCloskey, North, Olson, Tullock and Yeager, etc.

If you do good work you will be rewarded, if your work is judged as not so good, then the market will sort accordingly. In my career I have had the opportunity to teach or hold positions not only at GMU, but also NYU, Stanford and LSE. I have also held positions at Oakland and Manhattan College. The market for academics adjusted each time and reshuffled me. Would I have preferred to stay at NYU, or been offered a chance to stay at Stanford or LSE? Of course. Did the reason I didn't get that opportunity have to do with Austrian economics? No, I enjoyed my time there but I didn't achieve what is required to be in those places. On the other hand, I didn't stay long at Oakland or Manhattan. Again both great places with great people who I enjoyed teaching with, but the market for academics pulled me away.

Academic markets are rigid and full of inefficiencies due to the tenure system and state involvement, but as Adam Smith argued, markets are so fluid that they tend to find away around the imprudent obstacles put in the way. In short, the market muddles through --- and the best advice anyway can give you about competing in this game is to ignore all claims to ideological bias (though it is there) and focus instead on the quality of your work and its placement. Understand the pecking order in the profession both in terms of position and placement of articles and books, and think of the profession as a giant classroom in which you are trying to contribute to the discussion not end it for all time. If your work can be seen as a productive input into the production process of other economists, you will go far in this profession --- well as far as your talents will allow you to climb. As Jim Buchanan always told us --- work 6 to 6 and you can outwork most other economists. If you happen also to have some natural skills as an economic thinker and as a writer and speaker, and you combine that with a work-ethic, you will go very far indeed.

At the end of the day, it is all about choices YOU make. If you choose a field that isn't that highly valued (say history of thought and methodology), then don't be surprised when Harvard isn't knocking even if you are the best in the field. If you choose to act in anti-social ways, then don't be surprised when others find you difficult to be around. If you choose to consume the leisure time of academia rather than work, then don't be surprised by the outcome. It is about choices people make. But rest assured, IF you are doing high quality work, you will find employment. It doesn't matter if you are 'Austrian' or 'Institutionalist' or 'Post-Keynesian' or neoclassical, solid responsible work in economics is rewarded. Irresponsible work is not.

All of us can do better, more responsible and solid, research in economics and political economy. Lets focus on that, rather creating phantoms of barriers that are blocking our brilliant work that is misunderstood. In 95% of the cases or more, brilliant but misunderstood work is neither brilliant nor misunderstood --- it is understood all too well and judged to be far less than brilliant and correctly so.



A public university just isn't a market. I know that a lot professors would like to think that to make themselves feel better, but look it just isn't. It's an enterprise run by the government.

When profit and loss are not the consideration for choosing employees, discrimination takes place. Or, so I learned at GMU from Walter Williams. I'm not saying that this discrimination is necessarily "because someone is an Austrian" but it can be a number of things.

Just because people do things to compete for an academic job does not make this a purely competitive market. Government bureaucrats compete for jobs at the Department of Agriculture too. It doesn't mean that the best guy or the most hard working guy gets picked for the job. With no profit incentive, the guy can be picked or denied for any number of discriminatory reason.

Of course, you can't be a complete lazy bum and get picked and the worst guy isn't going to usually be picked at the Ag Dept. either. However to claim that it's all hard work and this is a truly competitive market does not go along with basic economic theory.

If you don't think these "phanton barriers" exist at all, you're making a pretty bold anti-market statement about the hiring practices of public institutions and markets heavily subsidized by the government.

"If you do good work you will be rewarded, if your work is judged as not so good, then the market will sort accordingly."

I don't see how your above statement supposedly applies to a public (government run) university and not the Department of Agriculture???

A few readers may appreciate the irony in a similar discussion held over at the Chicago faculty blog (now four years ago, sheesh):


Why didn't they just ask Ronald Coase?

Because Vedran you have a fluid private college and university system that competes with the public university system for faculty. You could get a job at Loyola University in New Orleans for example, or you could get a job at West Virginia University. Loyola and WVU compete with one another for faculty --- not anyone, but only those who are high quality to be attractive to both faculty.

My advice is only --- do work that will attract the attention of a variety schools and you will do well. Logically rigorous and scholarly work that is responsible and employment is not going to be a problem for even the most committed Austrian or even anarcho-capitalist young economist. The evidence on this is starting to be overwhelming but many myths persist.


P.S.: Look at the range of employment that was achieved by those who entered our PhD program in the year 2001 --- faculty positions at UC Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon, WVU, and even U of Chicago, public policy jobs, and private sector jobs. That is just one class of students. Look at the track record over 25 years --- academia, think tanks, public intellectual venues, and private sector. And many of those individuals are explicitly free market in their outlook and Austrian in methodology.


Ok. Loyola competes with WVU for employees. The Department of Energy competes with Exxon Mobil for employees.

Although both want generally high quality candidates, the Energy Department is not going to make the same profit maximizing decision as Exxon Mobil. They're not going to pick the worst guy, but maybe they'll pick the 4th guy down the list because he seems funner to have lunch with.

I think that the evidence of government entities discriminating in hiring and not getting the best people is the overwhelming evidence here. I'm arguing this as a matter of economic theory.

I'm not saying that Austrians are necessarily discriminated against. I'm saying that when profit/loss analysis is not the determinant for hiring, decisions will often be based on some form of discrimination.

You are essentially saying that government enterprises will make the same hiring decisions as private enterprises.

Does that not strike you or anyone else on this blog as not exactly a free market statement?

P.S. I wouldn't call the university system "fluid." I would call it "dominated" by government money and non-profit institutions.

That a blog that is totally anonymous can seriously deteriorate was ironically recently shown by the student job market rumor blog and the comments on the Nobel for Elinor Ostrom, which was one of the most astoundingly egregious spectacles in the history of econoblogging.

Needless to say, however, the arguments of the poster are just a bunch of *%^#@!)^($*#!!!


As a pseudonymous commentator, I of course am going to take exception to the "more often than not" remark. My favore non-pseudonymous blogger, Robin Hanson, notes that our discourse is massively warped by "signalling" incentives over truth. If you don't use your real name you have a lot more space to say things without repercussion and THAT IS OFTEN NECESSARY. My favorite pseudonymous blogger, Hopefully Anonymous, thinks that every prominent non-pseudonymous blogger should also have a pseudonymous blog where they can say things they wouldn't say otherwise.


Why is that often necessary in a society of free discourse? I understand in a dissident culture within an oppressive society why one may in fact find pseudonymous positing (authoring) important. But why in this society? All that goes on here is accountability and reputation.

Do you believe scientific papers would be better if they were anonymous or under pseudonyms? If so, why? If not, why? And then why doesn't the same argument apply to discourse in general, including blogs.

I am trying to respect both the original article that motivated this post, and Lin's work on rules in form, rules in use, and the function of rules. To me one of Lin's great discoveries is not only that what matters is rules in use, but also that rules in use can serve the function of certain rules in form even when they don't take that form. In other words, collective or community ownership rules can serve the function of private property rules (limit access and assign accountability) without taking on the form of private property rights.

So in this case, the rules in use of accountability for argument and the shaming of those who abuse rather than engage in responsible intellectual activity. This isn't about signaling but about accountability.



You and I and some others here are tenured profs. We have job security. I have some sympathy for people who are not in our position wanting to either have a moniker or post anonymously (although I prefer a consistent moniker, which at least keeps all the Anonymouses apart).

That said, I think there are way too many people using monikers or posting anonymously who really do not face serious problems of possible retaliation from anybody, and are just doing so because it is cool, or they think so, or something else equally silly.


I believe TGGP is saying signaling incentives can be at odds with telling the truth, and so in some circumstances an anonymous blogger has more incentives to do so. Obviously no one faces physical assault or imprisonment for telling the truth, but that doesn't mean the incentives aren't there or don't matter.

It is very common nowadays for employers to Google the names of prospective employees. I can see very good reasons many people might want to remain anonymous online, even in serious academic discussion. While professors are given tenure and generally expected to hold a number of off-the-wall beliefs, the rest of us aren't.

BTW, I once used my full name on this blog, and had another commenter find my home telephone number and call me. The call didn't end up being unwelcome, but it different circumstances it very well could have been.

On other blogs with more politically heated discussions, I can see a lot of benefit to remaining anonymous (although I can't see a lot of benefit to participating in those 'discussions', so I never do myself).


I don't buy it. (1) What about journalists who sign their articles -- they don't have tenure; what about political pundits? or comedians or other commentators?

What in economic discourse would cause a prospective employer to NOT hire someone? Differences in political opinion exist throughout this society. Perhaps IF one's views are so beyond the pale that others shun them (positive role of shaming), then perhaps they should think twice. Why would they be shunned? Various hypothesis come to mind: (a) obvious ignorance of economic facts; (b) obvious logical errors in reasoning; (c) bias on the part of the reader; (d) arrogance in presentation, etc. , etc. In many (most) of the cases the fear of "shunning" by peers is in fact a useful disciplinary device, or incentive to prevent or correct error.

In Polanyi's The Republic of Science he lays out 2 conservative forces in science --- plausibility of the argument, and intrinsic interest to the community --- and 1 radical force --- creativity. These three factors (plausibility, interest, creativity) play off against each other to determine whether or not a scientist is judged to be making a contribution, let alone a competent member of the community of scientists.

I would argue that an important component is intellectual accountability -- without it, I think we lose the discipline required for free conversation to work. Anonymous posting makes the individual "invisible", and with that non-accountable for their behavior. That is, I think, a real problem.

So I remain unpersuaded by the arguments presented that anonymous posting protects individuals from being called out on their argument yet does not lead to a lower quality of discussion.


P.S.: On the other point about privacy --- I think this is a real concern, but it is also a consequence of engaging in public discourse. Anyone can track me down anytime they want. They know my name, they know what I think, they know where I work. Heck they can even find out what various students I have taught think about me. All of this information is a few clicks away. I just think this is a cost of being part of a public discourse.

Yes, I think it would be beneficial for some scientists & journalists to use pseudonyms for some of their output.


From my experience working in DC, you will definitely be judged by what you have written online. The company that I worked for on K Street regularly googled applicants names to see where they stood on certain issues. They actually even asked applicants in the interview if they blogged and if so on which sites so that we could secretly check their posts. I'm not kidding.

Also, an internship director at a DC think tank where I briefly interned told me that they checked all finalists online writings for ideology. (And that's just for an internship!)

This is a necessity in some cases. If you're lobbying against universal healthcare, having a hardcore Obama healthcare fan on board is a risk and a liability. You have to check their background if you can.

Journalists too have to watch their reputation. Why do you think that so many repeat the same party line? You write what is safe to write. Does anybody remember George Will recently coming out against the Middle East wars? There was an uproar! This was a risky move for even a conservative with an established career.

There have been two conversations on this post. One dealing with anonymity and the other on discrimination against Austrian professors.

But, I think that both issue have the same underlining problem. You (Pete) seem to have a very idealistic and perhaps even naive view about how other people judge each other.

You are judging actions based on how people should act not how they actually act.

People aren't objective emotionless agents who respect other's points of view. Sometimes, they are cruel, judgmental, and outright spiteful toward others who do not share their ideas or criticize certain ideas.

Anecdotal evidence supporting Vedran:
I also recall that Bruce Bartlett got fired for heresy during the Bush admin. I like Bartlett a lot more when Bush was in office, he's been sloppy recently (his argument with Henderson about Friedman which Cowen ended up conceding, claiming tax cuts can't work now because there aren't profits & new hires).

Michael Scheuer also got fired, though since he made the remarks in public a pseudonym wouldn't have been very helpful:
I'm amazed I forgot to mention James Watson & Larry Summers.

Nothing too bad happened to Michael Bailey, but in retaliation for a book he wrote some people tried to get him fired and possibly even have charges filed against him:

No one is arguing that ideological bias never matters in the workplace (at least I wouldn't). However, I would just caution you all to remember the unseen: there's plenty of folks out there (and not just those with tenure) who say what they think all the time and haven't been fired. In addition: those of us WITH tenure didn't have it once. I have NEVER hidden my politics nor my approach to economics from my colleagues here and I've had my materials online for well over a decade, yet not only did I get tenure, I got promoted to full, appointed and renewed as an associate dean, and given a chaired professorship. And I'll remind you that SLU is *not* a bastion of free-market thought, suffice it to say.

Yes, people sometimes get fired for saying the wrong things, but plenty of people don't. And the best thing one can do to prevent it happening to you is to be really, really good at what you do. It's no guarantee but it sure helps.

Let me also add that although I do share Pete's general point about anonymity and accountability, my own position is more accepting of anonymous comments. I would just make the following observations:

1. Pseudonymous comments are better than anonymous ones. Pick a name and stick to it so at least we know who you are in some sense.

2. Picking a name that junior high kids would have put on the attendance sheet for a substitute teacher immediately disqualifies you from being taking seriously in any way whatsoever.

3. Once #2 is satisfied, as far as I'm concerned it's all about content. You can use a pseudonym and make really sharp comments or you can be yourself and be a jerk, or any combination thereof. Ultimately, it's content that matters. Be civil, be intelligent, and stay on topic and you're fine with me.


I appreciate your arguments as far as they go, and more or less agree. However, this:

"So I remain unpersuaded by the arguments presented that anonymous posting protects individuals from being called out on their argument yet does not lead to a lower quality of discussion."

I invite you to test this empirically. (I'm not sure that a priori arguments are sufficient -- in other words, there is no *necessary* reason that in an academic context anonymity leads, or usually leads, to poorer discussions.) An inherent difficulty in testing your argument is how to define "better" or "worse" discussions or what "true engagement" means. Maybe take this blog as a test case. The discussions here are, without doubt, the "best" I have seen anywhere on the web. I'm not kidding. And yet, Steve allows anonymous comments.

Second, why are we all presuming a blanket approach to anonymity online? Certainly it is better for some individuals, but wouldn' it also be better therefore for society as a whole? For instance, you might argue that tenured professors should always sign their posts, absent real political or physical threats. Meanwhile, it may make more sense for others to comment anonymously.

My own case is that of a grad student in the humanities. It is a known fact, and something I have observed personally many, many times, that the vast majority of humanities professors believe that "conservatives" and "free markets" are "bad" or at least wrongheaded. Under no circumstances would you want a hiring committee to view you in the same light.

That being said, I relish the day when I can "take responsibility" for my views and be held personally accountable for them. I would love to be in that position. And I expect to be. Just not yet.


Thanks for your kind words about the comments here. I happen to agree with you that the quality of the comments, for the most part ;), are excellent.

However, for whatever reason, I can't seem to convince Pete of this claim. I suspect my friend Professor Boettke is suffering from a blogospheric version of the Nirvana Problem. He is comparing what he sees here to what he imagines the ideal is, or at least what the ideal is in a real-world seminar.

I keep trying to convince him to engage in some comparative institutional analysis to see just how much better the discourse is here than in most other places on the web, but I keep hitting the wall.

Any time someone else makes the case, it can only help!

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