I was wrong about Kieran. I apologize.
Kieran’s tone rides a mean edge, and the comments on his posts are markedly meaner than others.
Not that one is able to remove the plank from one's own eye, but I'd disagree with that characterization. I'd say that your view is colored via a selection effect: the awful comments on that post about you and kids (the post itself was not at all mean), and the couple of posts I've written this week in sharp disagreement with someone else.
1. Seems like there is data enough that the hypothesis is testable. Some grad student could code the posts and comments for a year of Crooked Timber, whom we presume are a common pool, and see whether the effect I see is really there.
2. Do your co-bloggers get that same effect?
After saying that Kieran was mean and getting that brutal response from him, I got to thinking that I would prove it to him. I would prove it to him using numbers and science, just like I wrote. After all, if you’re faced with numerical proof that you’re a big meanie, there isn’t much you can do but admit it and change your ways. Armed with a hypothesis (Kieran’s posts are meaner and elicit a meaner response) and some vague memories of my methods classes, I spent a few hours coding nearly three hundred Crooked Timber threads (Jan-April 2007) by number of ad hominem attacks. My dear readers, as a special treat, today we have data.
The thing that immediately jumps out at you, the startling outlier, is, of course, Kieran’s outrageously high score. That score is based entirely on the number of fights he incites as a blogger, the fights that are a reflection on his personal nature, the inner viciousness his blogging has inadvertently revealed to the world, spotlighted by my startling perceptiveness and willingness to Call It Like I See It.
Except that I was wrong. There is nothing remarkable about Kieran’s score. I knew that early in the project, because when I re-read Crooked Timber posts and comment threads as a block, it became obvious that Kieran’s posts are not mean, nor close to mean. His comments threads don’t stand out. Kieran’s explanation, that selection effect was coloring my memory of his posts, is right. In addition to being wrong about the nature of his posts, and wrong to impute that to his character, I was wrong to do all of that before going back to check his posts and comments, which were available to me. Kieran, I owe you an apology; I am sorry to have libeled you in the previous post. I take it back, of course, and will prominently correct that in the post itself. I owe my readers an apology as well; if any of you got a bad impression of Kieran from what I wrote, I am sorry that I led you wrong. My regret over this will be a sharp reminder to be very slow to accuse people, especially when I am emotionally involved. I am sorry, y’all.
P.S. In our email exchange where I apologized to him directly, that son of a bitch called me a bad blogger:
"you know, all this openness to data and willingness to recheck your assumptions and basic generosity --- are you sure you're really cut out to be a blogger?"