Is VFR too stingy with praise? A statistical study

Stephen R. writes:

Thanks, in no small measure to your efforts, the immigration issue is moving in the right direction. I am sure you are having an impact, at the very least, on pundits that you have communicated with in the past. I feel the need for more VFR celebrating.

Although each of the recent converts have serious flaws in their reasoning, I want to give them more credit than criticism for exposing their livelihoods and themselves to liberalism’s likely vicious assaults. In that vein, I have carefully counted the words of your recent articles on the new converts. The first column is positive words, the second negative word, the third is neither.

Positive Negative Neither

31______ 117____ 92____ Farah supports immigration moratorium

267_____ 355____ 57____ Spencer comes out for ending all Muslim …

91______ 710___________ Ann Coulter out of closet after 13 years

27_______ 57____181____ Coulter’s late arrival on immigration

44______ 120___________ Limbaugh brings race into the immigration debate

Despite Rush’s motivation and gloomy predictions, with his 20 million ditto heads, he probably had a fair impact on the letter writing and phone calls that turned this around.

My fantasy nightmare is that Jorge Busheron and Congress will come to their senses on the immigration issue. But then after reading VFR, they decide that they’re going to get more criticism for having been wrong in the past then receive credit for finally seeing the light.

P.S. If you’d like to see how I categorized the text of your articles I’d be happy to email you.

LA replies:

Wow, VFR is now getting a statistical analysis of its CQ (Criticism Quotient). Your point seems to be that my negative words about people who are adopting more sensible ideas significantly outweigh my positive words, and that I should be more positive.

You write:

> My fantasy nightmare is that Jorge Busheron and Congress will come to their senses on the immigration issue. But then after reading VFR, they decide that they’re going to get more criticism for having been wrong in the past then receive credit for finally seeing the light.

I must disagree. You just gave me credit for helping move certain parties in our direction. We don’t know that that is the case, but your argument assumes that that it is the case. And if it is the case, then it is a fact that a major part of my effort to move them in our direction has consisted of my NOT accepting incomplete or phony movement as real. Yet many people said to me at various moments in the past, “You’re being too hard on Spencer [or whomever], why should he adopt immigration restriction, if he feels under the gun like this from you and that you’re going to attack him no matter what he says?” Yet, in the actual event, Spencer has moved toward real immigration restriction, despite my supposed meanness.

Further, I said “Congratulations to Robert Spencer,” and called him America’s top Islam critic. The ‘S’ word did not escape my lips. (Jeff in England, a harder to please fellow than I, used it. I did not.)

Further, the idea that people will not move in our direction out of fear that I will find their move to be still inadequate, is overstating my influence just a tad, don’t you think? And it’s certainly impossible that Bush would be affected by anything I say.

Finally, people know that I am a demanding critic. So they expect that and take it into account.

In conclusion, I don’t think that my “demandingness” is a problem. To the contrary, to the extent that I’ve had an influence on opinion makers (and, again, we don’t know that I have, but it is the premise of your discussion that I have), then my uncompromising demandingness would appear to be at least as likely to have been the engine of this influence as any more malleable and accommodating quality on my part.

But thank you very much for this, and for the interest. It is a topic worth discussing, though I respectfully disagree with your conclusions.

And, yes, I would be curious how you categorized the words as positive or negative.

Stephen R. writes:

As soon as I sent you my “word count” email I returned to your blog to read your celebratory words in the Times Mourns article and your very supportive welcoming of Mark Kirkorian to the immigration issue.

Each article is exactly what I was hoping to see.

Conservative Swede writes:

Well, you persistently have a very high CQ, Lawrence. The figures presented by Stephen are figures of substantially reduced CQ level—in fact the CQ level of VFR being in celebration mode! :-)

Gintas writes:

I suggest that there’s a difference between criticism aimed at changing something that is changeable (and needs to be changed), and general negativity, and that you are of the former category. It’s pointless to count “negative” vs. “positive” words. It’s the point of the words that counts.

Conservative Swede writes:

Anyway, a good insight about who you are and what you are about in all this is seen in your article about Spencer’s coming out, e.g., when you defend Spencer against Jeff, or when you write: “Unlike his previous statements on immigration, in which he played with the issue, this is a solid, unambiguous statement. I don’t see him backing off. This is a major step.”

This shows that you are fair and reasonable in your assessment of people. That you require intellectual integrity and consistency, not that people fully agree with you. This is the strong message of the post on Spencer, not the word count.

Stephen R. writes:

More word counts and some seriousness.

The “demandingness” is one of the aspects that I most appreciate about your commentary. (I was most impressed by how demanding you were with those who came to your defense in the Horowitz incident). But in the case of the new converts (excluding Kirkorian) “demandingness,” as the new statistics show, played a little lesser role than mentions regarding their being late to convert.

Spencer—Of the 355 “negative” words, 185 focused on his being late. The other 170 was excellent “demandingness.”

Coulter’s “Late arrival on immigration”—of the 57 “negative” words 36 focused on her being late.

Coulter’s “Ann Coulter comes out of the immigration closet after 13 years” of the 710 “negative” words 407 focused on her being late.

Limbaugh—of the 120 “negative” words 56 focused on his being late.

Farah—all 117 “negative” words focused on his being late.

To Gintas’s point, I favor about as much celebration/praise as negativity on points that cannot be changed.

Regarding the convert’s tardiness, I have enjoyed your past serious explorations as to the reasons behind their tardiness. And you are certainly right that criticism to the extent that the convert’s movement on immigration is not real, is both necessary and appropriate. However, in my view, we ought to be concerned but not presume that their conversion is only transitory. The Gospel’s parable of the returning wayward son is a good model for what to say and feel as we welcome them into the fold.

Again, let us celebrate with “vindictive glee.”

LA replies:

> I was most impressed by how demanding you were with those who came to your defense in the Horowitz incident.

Could you explain?

Stephen replies:

In the thread following the article “Horowitz expels me from FrontPage,” commenters Mark A., Mark P., Mark N., Andy D., Bobby, Laura and others made comments which had the intent of coming to your defense to make you not feel so bad. Most people, in a situation as you were in, would have been so grateful for the support that they would not have seen past the fact that the commenters were not precisely understanding the nature of your situation.

For example, a few times you had to remind them that the expulsion actually took place a year ago.

I found that thread to be an almost textbook example of “demanding precision” in coming to the truth about a subject … again, all the more impressive since it would have been so easy to just gobble up their supportive comments.

My 17 year old son takes a theory of knowledge class and has shown a great interest in critical thinking. I plan to have him read that particular thread as an exercise in the precision needed to come to a precise understanding about a subject.

LA replies:

Thank you for seeing that.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 10, 2007 04:56 PM | Send

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