Friday, June 20, 2003


I'm not a huge fan of Michael Kinsley's brand of sophistry, but I couldn't help smiling over these paragraphs in his latest column:
As someone who manufactures opinions for a living, it is my job to be sure. And my standards for the ingredients of an opinion are necessarily low. There may be a few ancient pundits such as George Will who still follow the traditional guild practices: days in the library making notes on index cards, a half-dozen lunches at the club with key sources, an hour spent alone in silence with a martini and one's thoughts -- and only then does a perfectly modulated opinion take its lovely shape. Most of us have no time for that anymore. It's a quick surf around the 'Net, a flip of the coin and out pops an opinion, ready to go except perhaps for a bit of extra last-minute coarsening.

Still, even the most modern major generalist among the professional commentariat likes to have a little something in the way of knowledge as he or she scatters opinions like bird seed. The general public, or at least the part of it that deals with pollsters, is not so cowardly. Most people, it seems, will happily state a belief on a question of fact that nobody knows the answer to, then just as happily do a double back flip from that shaky platform into a pool of opinions about which they are "sure."


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