Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo takes on the issue of intellectual honesty.
There are a lot of blogs out there but how can you tell whether they're really any good?
At Politico, Michael Kinsley opines that "Intellectual honesty is more demanding" than regular old honesty (as in not lying or making things up). "It means being truthful about what’s going on inside your own head."
So ask yourself if the people you're reading are really being truthful about what they're thinking -- signs of which, according to [Russo], include things like admitting doubt, acknowledging alternative views, correcting errors, disclosing self-interest, some semblance of consistency or coherence, and a willingness to differ with friends and allies and those more powerful than they are.
He suggests that bloggers who are not intellectually honest are just after your pageviews, or spinning you, or both.
But Kinsley was focused on Washington's bumper crop of intellectual dishonesty.
Intellectual dishonesty...is so built into the Washington culture that you have to force yourself to notice it. It even has a more familiar and less pejorative name: “spin.” Spin is not just another word for lies. A better definition might be “indifference to the truth.” The really great spin artists, like Karl Rove and James Carville, are celebrated as masters of their craft. Journalists crowd around them, longing to get spun.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a master spin artist, plays on this social insecurity among journalists. Barbour doesn’t literally wink as he spins, but he manages to send the message: This is all a big game — a big wonderful game — and you have the privilege of playing it with me.
The other approach, safer, is to remain totally deadpan. Never let the mask drop. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, possibly a primary opponent for Barbour in 2012, has a capacity for intellectual dishonesty that can take your breath away. He can denounce President Barack Obama’s health care reform with such apparent sincerity and venom that you forget his own plan in Massachusetts was essentially the same.
My own aspiration for KSN&C is to be as accurate, intellectually honest, and independent as possible. I hope I can count on readers to let me know it if I fall short.