Kozinski v. Sanai
Later

Jugulars, Capillaries, and Canaries

David Giacalone, writing about my post about the Times' typical incompetence, writes:

Mike says the article shows "why blogs were born - because the Times can't get anything right."  That assertion -- along with Mike's conclusion that "There isn't too much [thinking] at the Times" -- shows why weblogs frequently can't be taken very seriously: They're more about the writer's pet peeves and boogeymen than about objective analysis.  They go for the jugular (but hit only capillaries) in order to attack an enemy or nemisis at every opportunity with gross generalities.   

As far as I'm concerned, weblogs were not born to correct minor factual errors that aren't important to the main story being told.  Little old ladies and nitpickers have done that since the first newspaper was published. Let's hope most webloggers have more important things on their mind.

I agree with David that "weblogs were not born to correct minor factual errors that aren't important to the main story being told."  But I do not know everything.  If the Times' error overlaps with something I know, then I'm suspicious.  I think to myself: "I know this is wrong.  What other mistakes have been made?"  It becomes a question of credibility.  A newspaper that I routinely spot making errors cannot be trusted.

As Judge Ralph Adam Fine noted in an online book review:

I was  enjoying Canaries in the Mineshaft until I came to page 127, where Ms. Adler wrote:

"...[Justice] Stone, speaking for a unanimous, far from `liberal' Court in 1938, in footnote 4 of U.S. v. Carolene Products-the most important footnote in American judicial history." Adler apparently did not read the decision.

***

As Adler points out earlier in the book, in connection with an error made by another author, errors cause a reader's faith in the author to "unravel." Here, the error was not caught in 1987, when the article first appeared, or, recently, when Canaries was cobbled together.

Frankly, I stopped reading when I got to page 127 because I could no longer trust anything in the book to be accurate. The canary of truth died.

I, like David, am willing to excuse minor errors.  But when I regularly see errors in areas that fall within my expertise, I have to wonder how many other people are noticing errors.  Or perhaps I should assume that only I  am spotting errors?  That seems more presumptuous than assuming the Times can't be trusted.

Comments