Why bloggers are so negative

17 Dec, 2018 at 19:13 | Posted in Varia | 3 Comments

negative-people-negative-1bci5m Rather than getting into a discussion of whether blogs, or academic sociology, or movie reviews, should be more positive or negative, let’s get into the more interesting question of Why.

Why is negativity such a standard response?

1. Division of labor. Within social science, sociology’s “job” is to confront us with the bad news, to push us to study inconvenient truths. If you want to hear good news, you can go listen to the economists …

2. Efficient allocation of resources. Where can we do the most good? Reporting positive news is fine, but we can do more good by focusing on areas of improvement …

3. Status. Sociology doesn’t have the prestige of economics (more generally, social science doesn’t have the prestige of the natural sciences); blogs have only a fraction of the audience of the mass media (and we get paid even less for blogging then they get paid for their writing); and movie reviewers, of course, are nothing but parasites on the movie industry …

4. Urgency … As a blogger, I might not bother saying much about a news article that was well reported, because the article itself did a good job of sending its message. But it might seem more urgent to correct an error …

5. Man bites dog. Failures are just more interesting to write about, and to read about, than successes …

And, yes, I see the irony that this post, which is all about why sociologists and bloggers are so negative, has been sparked by a negative remark made by a sociologist on a blog. And I’m sure you will have some negative things to say in the comments. After all, the only people more negative than bloggers, are blog commenters!

Andrew Gelman

3 Comments

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing it.

    This made me laugh: “If you want to hear good news, you can go listen to the economists …”

    And this: “Sociology doesn’t have the prestige of economics (more generally, social science doesn’t have the prestige of the natural sciences)…”, implying that economics is a natural science? Yeah, right! /s

    I think Gelman might have been drinking some mainstream economics Kool-aid when he wrote those statements.
    ——-

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