Based on Arnold's recent post about extreme behavior on social media, I was lamenting the passage of another era when quiet, intelligent interviewers such as William F. Buckley, Jr. and David Frost would host a wide variety of guests and points of view. And here we are! Perhaps Arnold will be the next quiet, intelligent host who asks a lot of questions.

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Arnold, why not go to a podcast? Your efforts would reach a much larger audience.

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I don't know if there's any good way to address this issue in general, let along in these IMT events, but here goes.

In terms of preventing my own judgments from succumbing to confirmation bias and echo chambering, I worry that I am not getting "the other side of the story" in a lot of instances.

Sometimes you look at some decisions or activities and you just cannot imagine there could be any solid, rational reason behind it. But that doesn't necessarily mean there wasn't one. Ok, probably there wasn't one, but still, maybe.

If there was, maybe it's just that the people involved are prevented from disclosure and compelled to keep it secret, or they don't want to disturb their lives to 'get in the arena', or they are bad at communicating or compelled to stick to some scripted PR lines and talking points, or other possibilities. In line with the strong incentives created by the legal system, sometimes they are advised by their lawyers to keep totally silent about it despite an eager desperation to clear the air, lest they open themselves up to avoidable litigation and liability.

Maybe it would be a total waste for them to try to respond to criticism, because their critics have big platforms and big audiences, (Roger Branigin, "I never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.") whereas they have nothing of the sort and couldn't get it if they tried, either.

That kind of thing happens in some prominent defamation or malicious prosecution cases, where even if one wins in court the damage to public esteem is done in line with Ray Donovan's statement at his acquittal, "Which office do I go to, to get my reputation back?"

So, I find a lot of recent criticism of government agency decisions and of other institutional failure more broadly to be very rigorous and persuasive. Sometimes by accident we get glimpses behind the curtain and see texts or emails or evidence come to light in prosecutions, and, mostly, those seem to support the critical view. Also, a lot of institutions have their own megaphones or capacity to make their case and clear the air, and when they fail to do so convincingly, it's reasonable to infer that it's likely they never had a good case in the first place.

All that being said, my impression is that sometimes they have their reasons that, if only I knew about them, it might soften my cynicism, but I am getting mostly outsider criticism instead of the best defenses insiders could make for themselves.

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Q&A probably scales better and benefits you more. I have been part of many book clubs, and they're wonderful, but they really start to suffer if there are too many participants.

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