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I invite you to go to yesterday's Open Thread, where I posted a list of the most-commented ET threads -- most of which are a record of previous big fights on ET -- and read into some of them.

A lesson is that there are different faultlines running across the community in opinion, with who is in a majority and who not depending on the issue.

The good news is that ET as a community came back after each of the previous big fights, despite then also hurt feelings and perceived and real insults, and continued disagreements.

The bad news is that presently, a not sizeable part of the regular readership (who have the sympathy of even wider parts of the readership) have developed what I will pointedly and with honest conviction characterise as a groupthink, about frontpagers acting in unison, with the same (and one-sided) opinion and oppressively. Then it becomes impossible to say or do anything without being put into this frame (see the Jacob Freeze story), and assumption of ill will will take precedent over the ET norm of pondering whether you've mis-understood the other. This is not about values but group dynamics. I hope we will come back from the brink again (and there were a number of signs towards the end of the blow-up diaries -- it was the Boxing Day punch up material thread by Chris Cook and Hostility to the notion of limits to growth by Jerome a Paris; have you read them?), but clique formation is still a danger.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 01:26:15 PM EST

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