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Friday, August 31, 2007

Stephen Dubner Acts Like a Jerk

In a recent blog posting on the popular "Freakonomics" website (which I say for fear Dubner might humiliate me on his blog too), Stephen Dubner decides to call out Karl Smith. Beyond the fact that its slighly childish and egotistical to spend an entire post DEFENDING your blog popularity - I personally felt Mr. Dubner violated an unspoken blogging ethic - don't pick on the little people. Here is my response to Mr. Dubner:

"I'm gonna go ahead and assume that Dubner doesn't follow econ blogs enough to know that Karl Smith is quite active in the econ blog community (from what I've seen) and is a regular and thoughtful contributor to Mankiw's site, as well as hosting his own blog.

In any case I thought your post was more attacking than necessary - and I think you assume (perhaps falsely) that Karl Smith meant his statement to be falacious. Perhaps he just made a mistake? Oh wait - that NEVER happens at the NY Times! Sure....

Beyond that, you have a modicum of fame (rightfully so, "Freakonomics" was a well-written book), but with that fame comes the responsibility that you don't pick on lesser known people unless they do or say something really disparaging. Otherwise, you come off as a jerk (which you did to me). Implying that Karl is attempting to spread conspiracy theories or that he states "mistruths" (or, "Lie" to us non-journalists), is just wrong of you.

PS - note that it doesn't work the other way around - which is why I can call you out all I want, Mr. Famous Guy. "

After I posted my response I realized that Karl Smith had already noticed Dubner's post and responded to defend himself:

"Woah . . .
I didn’t know I was starting all of that. Yes, my real name is Karl Smith and you may remember that Steven linked to me as a “Strong Defender” of his work.
At the time I noticed that I also got a link from a Spanish blog that simply repeated the post and what looked liked others from freakonomics. It may not have even been Spanish by the way, that was just what it seemed at the moment. I didn’t spend anytime there.
I attempted to qualify my statement with the term “believe” but perhaps that was not strong enough. In no way was I attempting to start a conspiracy theory against the blog. I think its a great blog and I used the book as the only text book in my Intro to Economics class despite my regular appearance at Greg’s site.
If anyone has been “dissing” your blog based on my comment then I apologize.
— Posted by Karl Smith"

---Good for you Karl. Though I think you were far too easy on him.....

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