New Here? How to Catch Up?

A few recent interactions have left me with the impression that there are quite a few newer readers of this blog who are extrapolating from recent posts my position on many things. Judging the whole from a few small parts is a normal human survival skill. We make snap judgments all the time, usually without even recognizing that we’re doing it. But that reflexive intuition can be wrong.

Curiously, one of my own limitations is that I resist generalizations too strongly. It isn’t so much that I don’t generalize, it is that I am hesitant to act upon generalizations. How do I know they’re true? If my assumptions are based on scant data they are likely to be wrong. It’s OK to hold incorrect ideas in one’s head. I prefer to treat them as working hypotheses to be tested, not as truth. But this does leave me in the position of examining trees while most others have already found their way out of the forest.

Question is: if you are new here and really do want an evidence-based way to measure the content of this blog what should you do? Very few of us have time to read 400+ posts (that’s about 200,000 words). Well, since I’ve claimed to be an evidence-based thinker, what would I do? How would I find a subset of posts that better represent the whole than the most recent?

Short of my developing an index of links back to key ideas and opinions (which I could do but won’t for lack of time), the next best thing might be to take a look at the Selected Citations page. That page lists and links to, in reverse chronological order, media reports and blog posts of significance that cite this blog or quote one of its authors. Since it links to the work of others who then link back to something here, each entry is a double-hop away from something somebody (who others think important) thought significant on this site. Doing that double-hopping one would land on some of the, arguably, more important posts at The Incidental Economist.

For example, Andrew Sullivan cited the following posts:

That’s just Sullivan. One can play the same game with others. Or, if you really want to know what I think about something, just ask. Put it in a comment to a post, and if I, a co-, or guest-blogger has written about it I’ll point you to it. If nobody’s written on it and it interests me, I’ll put it in my queue.

But please don’t just assume that because I cited Ezra Klein a bunch last week (did I?) or said something favorable about health care reform that I agree with Klein on all things or believe everything will be perfect after reform passes (if it does). My thinking is far more nuanced than that.

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