Tuesday, January 22, 2008

THE PETER PRINCIPLE DIDN'T GO FAR ENOUGH. Early last year, in her much-covered "20/20 Bias" post, Megan McArdle began by announcing that she had been wrong about the war in Iraq, and then proceeded to explain why people who had been saying the war was a mistake all along were right for the wrong reasons, and were also in some way persecuting her:
This has not convinced me of the brilliance of the doves, because precisely none of the ones that I argued with predicted that things would go wrong in the way they did. If you get the right result, with the wrong mechanism, do you get credit for being right, or being lucky?...

What the doves would like to see the hawk's do--"I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong about everything, I am a stupid idiot, you are a brilliant figure with god-like omniscience"--is no better a guide to future decisionmaking than ignoring the fact that you were seriously wrong about the Iraq invasion.
This sort of work got McArdle a job with The Atlantic, where she has been writing a great deal lately about her diet, in which, her readers have learned, she will "only eat humanely raised meat" and has "virtually stopped eating bread." In this post she starts out talking about "a very real phenomenon: meat-eaters who are angry at you for not eating meat." She describes these unpleasant encounters, and says "Those who, like me, have made ethical choices about our diets that we haven't asked anyone else to emulate, find the aggressiveness of these encounters puzzling..."

By the end, you may have guessed, McArdle is lecturing vegetarians who are "hectoring" and "humorless jerks" and blaming them for making the meat-eaters mad at her. "You're not only annoying them," he says, "you're annoying me by proxy. Please stop."

If you think old-fashioned magazines are dying now, wait till the bloggers they've hired get through with them.

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