In my private offline life I have taken to demanding people bet me $10 when they make an assertion that I suspect is wrong. I’ve won enough money now because I tend to do this only when I’m confident about facts, which is often, that I’ve now gotten several people to back off and just admit that they are probably wrong when I challenge them to put their money where their mouth is. I do this because life is short, and I won’t tolerate bullshit which wastes my time. There are easier ways to make money, but as Alex Tabarrok has noted bets are a tax on bullshit. Unless I’m joking I mean what I say, and I usually say things strongly when I am highly confident about what I’m saying. If I don’t know, I’ll admit it.
This is on my mind because of a frustrating exchange below with BP contributor SidDutta. To not put a too find a point on it I feel that he was caught in a moderately dumb implication, and he should have just admitted that and qualified it appropriately (which he somewhat did later). Instead of cutting the exchange short by admitting his slip up he began to barrage me with only tangentially relevant facts and lines of argument. In response to an analogy with circumcision he fired up Google and amplified his whole ignorance of this topic.
SidDutta is a contributor to this weblog, and a more frequent presence here than I myself am at this point. He has some license and liberty, though I think I made my displeasure with his behavior clear on that thread. But understand very clearly that if you try and pull bullshit on my threads you may simply be banned without warning. I think I need to say this because the ‘community’ here growing quite a bit, and Zach et al. run a more laissez faire ship than I am wont to do.That is entirely proper, as this weblog is not my primary focus. The norms will develop in a direction out of my control, or even perception. But as a co-founder of this website I will assert the privilege to control my own threads and enforce a tone which is aligned with my values. So just avoid commenting on my posts, or be on your best behavior. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. It’s a good prior model to assume I won’t be interested in what you have to say unless you actually know a fair amount about a topic.