Re: Please write articles!

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 10:34:49 -0700

Peter McCluskey wrote:
> It seems a bit odd to hear what sounds like a plea for more altruism
>coming from an economist.
> It is fairly obvious that the flame warmongers' goals are different
>from what you want them to be. I'd guess the motives behind flame wars
>involve the desire to prove oneself a reliable member of a certain group
>(the more you insult the enemy, the more you burn your bridges and prove
>your commitment to stay on the side you are currently allied with), and
>a desire to persuade others to remain in your group by demonstrating how
>strongly they will be ostracised if they waver in their support for the
>memes that the group knows are correct.

Your analysis seems plausible. But the key thing it suggests to me in our context is that flamewars indicate that to many list members the salience of the issue-groups they flame about is less than the salience of the list as a group, or of a wider community of intellectuals.

Someone who cares little about their general reputation among this group, or their reputation as a thinker in general, but who does care about their acceptance among issue-oriented groups, feels free to flame here. In contrast, those wishing to show their attachment to this list group as a whole should act calmly and civily here, while those wishing to gain a reputation as intelligent contributors should be receptive to my suggestion to write articles.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884 after 8/99: Assist. Prof. Economics, George Mason Univ.