Here. Professor Sunstein points out that real people are harmed by lies and invasions of privacy on blogs, and Professor Volokh points out that if he had to be responsible for the comments on his blog, he would have to shut down the comments function. Professor Sunstein is too kind to point out that this means making bloggers liable would have a double benefit! But, seriously, this section of the debate is really very revealing, especially given Professor Volokh's special history on these matters. A simple solution, of course, would be to do what I and some others do, namely, open comments selectively, discourage anonymity, and hold comments for moderation.
Here is what economist Edward Glaeser had to say in a recent paper about researcher incentives and empirical methods:
Economists are quick to assume opportunistic behavior
in almost every walk of life other than our own. Our empirical methods
are based on assumptions of human behavior that would not pass muster
in any of our models. The solution to this problem is not to expect a
mass renunciation of data mining, selective data cleaning or
opportunistic methodology selection, but rather to follow Leamer’s lead
in designing and using techniques that anticipate the behavior of
Indeed, Krueger and Card have written a paper
that provides strong evidence that “specification searching and
publication bias” have led to an overrepresentation of studies that
find that the minimum wage has a statistically significant
disemployment effect. The ideological character of much of the
economics profession in the United States suggests that there are
rewards for producing scholarship that confirms the idea that the
minimum wage causes unemployment, and punishment for scholarship that
David Card, a highly regarded economist at Berkeley (among other
honors, he won the John Bates Clark Prize, a prestigious award given
every two years to the most outstanding economist under 40), has
produced many of the best studies taking issue with the old
conventional wisdom about the minimum wage. But he stopped studying
this subject, to a large degree because the reception his research got
was so hostile in some quarters of the economics profession. He said:
I’ve subsequently stayed away from the minimum wage
literature for a number of reasons. First, it cost me a lot of friends.
People that I had known for many years, for instance, some of the ones
I met at my first job at the University of Chicago, became very angry
or disappointed. They thought that in publishing our work we were being
traitors to the cause of economics as a whole.
“Traitors to the cause of economics as a whole”! Those are strong
words, especially coming from someone who seems, on the basis of
interviews at least, to be a fairly mild-mannered, non-drama-queen kind
of guy. And if someone who’s a tenured full professor and one of the
leading lights in his field took so much heat that he abandoned this
line of research, what do you think the chances are that aspiring
Ph.D.s and ambitious young assistant professors are going to touch this
issue with a ten-foot pole?
Michael Graetz, perhaps the leading senior figure in tax law in the U.S., at Yale Law School has accepted a senior offer from Columbia Law School. This is a particular blow to YLS because they have also lost Anne Alstott, in tax law, to Harvard this past year.