Sunday, July 23, 2006

THE POWER OF POSITIVE NON-THINKING. Christine Rosen has an interesting TNR article about the Ole Perfesser and why he sucks. She has one very good point -- that is, that the Perfesser's idea that new technology will improve political writing (and just about everything else) is disproved by the Perfesser's own blog:
But what would we-dia actually look like? This is a question that can be easily answered by InstaPundit. Reynolds's blog consists largely of links to news or opinion articles and other blogs followed by comments consisting of such profound observations as "Heh," or "Read the whole thing," or "Indeed." (These are recurring tropes whose centrality can't be exaggerated.)...

...Reynolds exposes how the blogosphere, at its worst, values timeliness over thought. After linking to an article on congressional earmarks, he'll add, "Well, that's encouraging. Sheesh." Quod erat demonstrandum. Or he'll carp, "Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, is just dumb"--a point that may be perfectly true but probably requires some explanation or proof beyond the simple assertion. In the end, this method provides the intellectual horsepower of, say, an Andy Rooney commentary. To wit, he wrote in December, "A battery recall on the XM portables. Is it just me, or are we seeing more battery recalls lately." Well, no need for The New York Times, then.
But Rosen is a little compromised here. She characterizes the Perfesser as a "libertarian," and strongly implies that his techno-utopianism is based on that political orientation. Libertarians "believe that technology, in many cases, obviates the need for government," says Rosen, though we may assume that this free-wheeling approach will do for our society what InstaPundit has done for political commentary -- that is, nothing good.

You should keep in mind that Rosen also writes for the Ethics and Public Policy Center -- in this essay, she compares embryonic stem cell advocates to eugenicists. So for her the central meaning of Glenn Reynolds is Science Gone Too Far, or about to go there. But her Reynolds essay is in The New Republic, so she doesn't emphasize the baby-killing power of the Perfesser's brave new world, leaning instead on the blogosphere's threat to the sort of "peer review" and "sustained research" one finds at... The New Republic. This woman will never starve.

We've gone round and round here at alicublog about Perfesser's Reynolds' politics. As I've said before, take any page's worth of postings at InstaPundit, and the POV will remind you more of Hugh Hewitt than of Harry Browne.

What Rosen takes for libertarianism in the Perfesser's case is just laziness. He's an educated Babbitt who thinks everything will work out because it's worked out for him. That's why he loves the idea of robots and gadgets and web toys that will save the world while he sits on his ass. That's why he was so juiced about the "Cedar Revolution," with its cell phone photos of protest babes -- and so bummed when Israel wound up bombing Lebanon anyway. That's the real source of the "triumphalism" that bothers Rosen -- not science, but its opposite: an unshakable faith in one's own obliviousness.

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