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Speaking of Fraudulent Arguments:

Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber: "In general, I just don't agree with Tyler [Cowen]'s implicit view that there's something illegitimate about making your case forcefully and not giving the kid gloves treatment to people who try to push weak, uninformed or fraudulent arguments against it."

In 2006, Davies falsely claimed in the Comments section on the Crooked Timber site that after they were originally published, I (or someone else) "substantially edited" "lots" of my posts regarding the Qana incident in the Israel-Hezbollah War to cover up how "laughable and disgusting" they were in their original form. I sent him two email messages letting him know that this accusation was false, that NONE of these posts had been edited as he stated, and asking him to retract it. When no response was forthcoming, I I noted the accusation and its falsity on this blog. I still received no public or private apology or retraction, or even acknowledgment of the error.

Please keep this in mind next time you read Davies expressing outrage at others' purported "weak, uninformed, or fraudulent arguments."

Yes, I am still offended that someone would publish a lie about me and then not retract it when called on it. Wouldn't you be?

Seeking coverage:
Sorry to hijack this post, but where is the Volokh coverage of DOJ's brief in Heller? I'd expect you guys to be all over this. We're going on 48 hours! Prof. Volokh's article makes yet another appearance in the brief, drawing praise and criticism from the SG.
1.13.2008 3:33pm
lucia (mail) (www):
David-- to anwer your question, yes. I'd be offended. Also, the only way you let people know the statement is a lie is to say so.
1.13.2008 4:09pm
Daniel Davies (mail):
It was not and is not a false accusation, Bernstein. The actual posts clearly indicate where you edited them.
1.13.2008 4:14pm
Daniel Davies (mail):
viz, this one, where you chop and change as more and more evidence comes in that you're talking out of your hat. And that's without even getting into your outrageous behaviour at the time in editing comments threads to stop people from pointing out the massive gaps in your logic, which I remember quite clearly because it happened to me, which is when I started ignoring you.
1.13.2008 4:19pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Daniel Davies,

Could you please explain exactly what you mean in claiming
this post as evidence? The link does not in and of itself show any evidence of editing of the original text. Is it your claim that, if we were to compare the link with earlier versions of the post, they would be different? Or do you mean to claim that David's "updates", clearly labelled as such, constitute the substantial editing that you complain about?
1.13.2008 4:43pm
dearieme:
Don't piss about, man; pistols for two and breakfast for one.
1.13.2008 4:45pm
The Shadow:

viz, this one, where you chop and change as more and more evidence comes in that you're talking out of your hat. And that's without even getting into your outrageous behaviour at the time in editing comments threads to stop people from pointing out the massive gaps in your logic, which I remember quite clearly because it happened to me, which is when I started ignoring you.


I don't see any evidence of any chops or changes to that entry. In fact, here is the Wayback Machine's archive for this page from the day after it was posted.

The post is the same as it is today, except for the addition of one update. I suppose that an update is a "change", but surely an acceptable one, so long as it's marked as an update.
1.13.2008 4:48pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
Wait. I don't understand. People lie about other people? On the Internet?!?! Say it ain't so . . . I'm shocked and appalled.
1.13.2008 4:52pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
For those who don't want to bother clicking the link, Davies points to a thread with several "updates", clearly marked as such, with no indication of any "chops" or "changes."

Indeed, you can find the original post here, and see that no "chops" or "changes" were made to it.

Let's recall exactly what Davies wrote: "I was checking back on David Bernstein's laughable and disgusting efforts on the Volokh website around the time of the Qana bombing and lots of them have been substantially edited."

If by "substantially edited" you simply meant "soon updated without changing the original text", you could easily have clarified that, to avoid the implication noted above, especially since a normal person wouldn't read "substantially edited" to mean "updated without changing the original text." Obviously, that's not what you meant, as your continued (false) insistence that there were "chops and changes" shows.

Davies: It would have been quite simple for you to just admit your memory was faulty, issue at least a tepid apology, and move on. Instead, you just dig the hole deeper, showing that your concern for truth is selective, at best.
1.13.2008 4:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Oh, and Shadow, as far as I can tell, the post in the Wayback archive is exactly the same as the current version, no extra update.
1.13.2008 4:57pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And finally, note that the "updates" to the post linked to by Davies don't in any way contradict the original post, contrary to his assertion that is shows that I changed my posts "as more and more evidence comes in that you're talking out of your hat".
1.13.2008 5:03pm
advisory opinion:
Looks like Davies is the liar here.

Irony.

Crooked Timber sinks yet another notch and is almost supine in my estimation now. Cue Davies pretending to "ignore" Bernstein for unrelated transgressions.

How utterly predictable.
1.13.2008 5:04pm
NRWO:
Daniel's tone and word use (disgusting) is shrill, but the changes to David's post could reasonably be labeled "edits" (defined as modifying or adapting) or even "substantial edits." Indeed, changes to the UPDATES in the post Daniel references above may exceed the length of David's original post.

In any case, it would have been collegial for Daniel to have responded to David's emails. Likewise, it would have been collegial for David not to have cast aspersions about lying.

Alas, neither Daniel nor David is likely to be collegial, and so let the games about "edit" and "chops and changes" begin.
1.13.2008 5:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If one is going to pick on Davies for dishonesty, there are so many places to choose from that DB's selection is an odd place to start.

For instance, far more egregious was Davies' attack on Milton Friedman, where he repeatedly lied about what Friedman had said. And every time someone caught him in one lie, he would tell another.
1.13.2008 5:08pm
The Shadow:

Oh, and Shadow, as far as I can tell, the post in the Wayback archive is exactly the same as the current version, no extra update.


You're right! Sorry, my mistake. (Note to D.D.: That's how it's done. It didn't hurt that much.)
1.13.2008 5:09pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Okay, I'm going to do other things now, but one last point: Does anyone want to dispute that saying, weeks after the original posts were published, "I was checking back on David Bernstein's laughable and disgusting efforts on the Volokh website around the time of the Qana bombing and lots of them have been substantially edited," has very different implications than saying "I was checking back .... and lots of them were updated (and clearly marked as such) with additional thoughts and information within hours after he wrote them." I, like many other bloggers, often update my posts. What would even be the point of making such an "accusation"?
1.13.2008 5:16pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Does anyone want to dispute...

No, you're right. While updates are a kind of edit, in this context describing them as such is misleading.
1.13.2008 5:39pm
Waldensian (mail):
This whole thread is bizarre.
1.13.2008 6:20pm
davidfriedlander (mail):
Maybe it was a ghost writer?
1.13.2008 6:50pm
Dave N (mail):
Maybe it was a ghost writer?
I understand from another thread that Lew Rockwell might be available.
1.13.2008 7:05pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Huh, I can't see why Davies would pick this post as evidence, since the post doesn't show any evidence of editing at all, just of updating. Perhaps this is a difference between American and British English? That's the only explanation I see that exonerates Davies. If Davies were simply lying (or at least deliberately misleading) why would he dig his grave deeper by pointing to evidence that transparently doesn't support his case?
1.13.2008 7:23pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
On further examination, my "American/British English" theory doesn't hold water since Davies himself uses "update," not "edit" to refer to this kind of change to a post. So I'm at a loss to think of an explanation that exonerates Davies here.
1.13.2008 7:32pm
pst314 (mail):
"What would even be the point of making such an 'accusation"?'"

To condemn you in the eyes of those who will not bother to read your post. I have 40 years experience with partisan hacks who misrepresent what others say, counting on the fact that most people are too busy to track down the original source, so this sort of behavior is not at all surprising.

Out of the crooked timber of Davies, was any straight thing ever made?
1.13.2008 8:17pm
OrinKerr:
I just checked back on this comment thread, after being away for a few hours, and I see that it has been substantially edited since I last read it. So there.
1.13.2008 8:35pm
Deml (mail):
My politics are a lot closer to those (say "left-liberal") of Crooked Timber than those of VC, but David Bernstein is right about Daniel Davies: he is smart, but also crude, vituperative, sneaky, forever posturing and sometimes baldly dishonest. Even when he is on your side of a debate, his tactics are alienating. He will generally try to bully his way through an error, even resorting to outright fabrication when cornered. He rarely strays far from home territory, where, of course, he can ban any commenter whose arguments he finds too hard to handle. Not someone I enjoy reading. (And, unfortunately, his attitude seems to have infected other posters/commenters on CT; it is becoming more of an echo chamber than intellectual blog.)
1.13.2008 8:45pm
Paul Zrimsek (mail):
The man's a thug, and there's an end on't.
1.13.2008 10:44pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Ethically, aren't appended updates and edits (i.e. rewrites) pretty much opposites? One records all the changes of opinion as they are made, the other conceals them. Though it requires more time and concentration to read, a post with multiple updates is far more honest and useful than one that has been revised with no explicit sign of what has been inserted, deleted, reordered, or rewritten.
1.13.2008 11:53pm
Mr. Liberal:
I will be the moderator here.

Apparently, David Bernstein's definition of "substantially edited" differs from Daniel Davies.

That Daniel Davies uses a different definition does not render him a liar.

On the other hand, if all David Bernstein did was update the post, I think that the word "chopped" is not the best adjective. But, it should be noted that Mr. Davies just used this adjective now, while the actual post was in 2006, over a year ago. Perhaps his use of "chopped" is a function of his memory of this incident not being perfect.

The term, "substantially edited," which was used in 2006 is perfectly reasonable for updates that reflect a "substantially" different understanding.

There is nothing dishonest about such updates, but it does demonstrate a willingness to opine without adequate research and understanding of the topic, which is grounds for criticism in at least some contexts. I personally do not think that a blog, especially a blog as informal as VC, is one of those contexts.

I do not agree with Davies criticism of Bernstein for "substantially editing" his post. A rational human being will change their point of view in light of new information. This should, in most instances, be praised rather than criticized.

But I think Bernstein is dead wrong to call Davies a liar, simply for using a different definition of "substantially editing" than himself. I think this exaggerated accusation is a reflection of a personal weakness of Bernstein's, which is to be unduly sensitive to criticism. That Davies made this comment in 2006, and Bernstein is still upset about it in 2008, shows that Bernstein would be better off if he grew a thicker skin. This undue sensitivity is also reflect in Bernstein's tendency (which has been greatly reduced as of late) to not allow comments to his post.

To David Bernstein, on a personal note:
Having a thin skin hurts you more than anyone else. The world of intellectual combat can be hurtful. And just maybe, it shouldn't be as tough as it is. But it is what it is. You should be a stronger man, and take it in stride. You will be more effective for whatever cause you choose to advocate if you have a thicker skin. More importantly, you will personally be a happier person. Do not let slights which occurred in 2006 bother you in 2008. You are the one who has to suffer the primary health consequences of stress caused by a grudge held by you. Let it go. =)
1.14.2008 12:32am
Thomasly (mail):
So Davies is a lying hack? What's new?
1.14.2008 1:10am
advisory opinion:
lol! "Mr Liberal".. your contortions justifying Davies' mendacity are most amusing. As Bernstein notes, Davies' "accusation" loses much of its bite - and indeed, would be rendered pointless - if we adopt your tortured reading of what was written.

Davies' clarification in this comment thread illuminates things nicely, and confirms that Bernstein's understanding of what he wrote is correct.

But because this essentially torpedoes your thesis, you find yourself ludicrously bending over to explain it away via an ad hoc appeal to Davies' 'faulty memory'.

Intellectually dishonest much?

It was clear what Davies meant: that there was substantial revisionism going on in Bernstein's original posts - a charge which he repeats in this very comment thread by saying "chop and change". (And which most commenters - including a linguist (!) - reasonably read as such.)

You're just wrong. Get off your self-appointed throne and stop embarrassing yourself.


"The world of intellectual combat can be hurtful. This undue sensitivity . . ."


Rich, coming from someone who repeatedly changes his pseudonyms but whose supercilious style is easily identifiable. Probably still smarting from embarrassment over his regulatory takings/eminent domain gaffe . . . let it go, pal. :)
1.14.2008 4:45am
Mr. Liberal:
advisory opinion,

You are an exceedingly odd fellow.

All I have to say, is that you are apparently not understanding the idea that the term "substantially edited" can mean different things to different people. Or even different things to the same person in different contexts. One might take a narrow definition that excludes explicit updates, while another might take a broad definition which includes them.

On the other hand, "chop" is not a good description for updates. "Chop" to me sounds like deletions.

But, you have to put this in context. Davies is responding to attacks made by Bernstein that go back to a posting made 2006. If he did not remember exactly how Bernstein edited a post more than a year ago, I would not fault him. Alternatively, possibly he meant "chop" to reflect substance, as opposed to the physical deletion of text.

In any case, accusations that Davies is lying are both premature and immature. It should especially be recalled that Bernstein made the lying accusation before the "chop" language was used.

Finally, that Bernstein would hold a grudge for over a year over differing definitions of the phrase "substantially edited" harms no one except Bernstein himself.


Rich, coming from someone who repeatedly changes his pseudonyms but whose supercilious style is easily identifiable. Probably still smarting from embarrassment over his regulatory takings/eminent domain gaffe . . . let it go, pal. :)


I find this remark puzzling.

Along with the hostility plus smiley faces. You are an exceedingly strange specimen.
1.14.2008 5:37am
Not Mr. Liberal (mail):
"A word means precisely what I want it to mean. No more. No less." Alice in Wonderland
1.14.2008 6:57am
Thomasly (mail):
I wish DD would stop ignoring Bernstein.
1.14.2008 9:03am
advisory opinion:
Mr Liberal, it was explained to you why your "broad" reading would make no sense in the context.. and Davies himself essentially confirms it here.

It's quite simple really. Any other reading would render the 'accusation' of revisionism false, and Davies' remarks pointless. Since Davies, unlike you, is not a completely pointless person, most commenters (including a linguist (!)) read him as such.

Do you really need this explained to you.. again?

Really: when you find yourself bending over so far backwards that you have to explain away Davies' remarks with an appeal to his 'poor memory'.. it's probably time to pack it in.

"Along with the hostility plus smiley faces. You are an exceedingly strange specimen."
Irony.. given your own witless response to Bernstein, which I mocked, that would indeed be an apt description of yourself. I suggest you deal with it internally.
1.14.2008 10:48am
Mindles H. Dreck (mail):
Davies general attitude towards blogging is that of the too-clever young inebriate mixing it up at a university dinner party. He's quite clever, amusing and knowledgeable, but when you nail him down he throws a big blast of chaff (like the above, or perhaps a blustery demand to address some tangential point) and heads for zee hills.

See The History Boys for a primer. Or this.
1.14.2008 10:54am
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
David, as someone heavily involved in the comment thread in question, I can assure you that Davies' accusation against you was probably his least dishonest statement in the entire thread.
1.14.2008 11:42am
Mr. LIberal:
advisory opinion,

If you expect to ever have a conversation with me, you had better take a different tone. If your purpose is to attack while I ignore you, continue as you are.
1.14.2008 1:12pm
Henry Farrell (mail) (www):
I'm quite happy to bear witness that I've seen one post written by David Bernstein which disappeared without explanation shortly after publication. This was a few years ago when Bernstein had it in for some poor gawp who worked at the ACLU and was making statements in his private time that Bernstein didn't like. Bernstein wrote a post about this guy which I remember being highly unpleasant and vindictive, even by Bernstein's usual standards, late in the evening - it had disappeared by the following morning. I've no idea whether Bernstein himself thought better of it (which happens), or whether one of his fellow bloggers removed it, or whether something else happened entirely - but the suggestion that Bernstein's posts are left unsullied and complete, no matter what, is in my experience quite incorrect.
1.15.2008 10:21am
Mindles H. Dreck (mail):
So Bernstein got rid of an unrelated post therefore Davies isn't lying about this one?


That one's so crooked it broke.
1.15.2008 3:26pm
Henry Farrell (mail) (www):
Mindless Dreck - are you able to read plain English sentences? In fairness, I will grant that your choice of nom-de-blog gives some advance warning about the intellectual quality of your contributions to debate ...
1.15.2008 6:09pm
Mindles H. Dreck (mail):
Please, spare me the silly condescension. You've been studying your lifemanship.

Basic logical fallacy on your part. Also, it's "Mindles", after someone who pursued me with approximately the level of wit displayed above.


The suggestion under consideration is most certainly not "that Bernstein's posts are left unsullied and complete" (which you argue directly but tepidly above) but that Davies has provided inadequate evidence for his accusations in this case. I think Paul Zrimsek more or less nails it above.
1.15.2008 6:35pm
Henry Farrell (mail) (www):
Wrong again - it has nothing to do with lifemanship, but with basic reading comprehension. David Bernstein has suggested in a post linked to above that he doesn't go back and edit posts, except for light stylistic changes. I've said that I've seen something which is quite likely evidence to the contrary. As noted above it's also possible that someone else at the Volokh conspiracy removed it, as it was a quite nasty and vindictive little post, even by Bernstein's usual standards.

Do you get it now, or would you like me to explain again? Although I'm not sure how much more simply I can express what is really a rather straightforward point, that has already been stated twice in a manner suitable for the meanest comprehensions &c&c.
1.15.2008 9:48pm
Mindles H. Dreck (mail):
No, I don't think so. Let's repeat all of Bernstein's comments *including* the linked post you are having trouble with.

"In 2006, Davies falsely claimed in the Comments section on the Crooked Timber site that after they were originally published, I (or someone else) "substantially edited" "lots" of my posts regarding the Qana incident in the Israel-Hezbollah War to cover up how "laughable and disgusting" they were in their original form. I sent him two email messages letting him know that this accusation was false, that NONE of these posts had been edited as he stated, and asking him to retract it. When no response was forthcoming, I I noted the accusation and its falsity on this blog. I still received no public or private apology or retraction, or even acknowledgment of the error."

"Does anyone want to dispute that saying, weeks after the original posts were published, "I was checking back on David Bernstein's laughable and disgusting efforts on the Volokh website around the time of the Qana bombing and lots of them have been substantially edited," has very different implications than saying "I was checking back .... and lots of them were updated (and clearly marked as such) with additional thoughts and information within hours after he wrote them." I, like many other bloggers, often update my posts. What would even be the point of making such an "accusation"?"

"I have not gone back and edited ANY of these posts, much less "lots of them." Indeed, while I occasionally slightly edit posts within a few hours of their posting, usually for style, and I certainly often add "updates" (marked as such) within the first day or so, and usually within a few hours, I can't recall EVER going back and editing an old post days or even weeks later."


He states he didn't alter the posts in question and that he *can't recall* ever editing an old post. You say you think you remember one disappearing without explanation. You haven't contradicted him.

It would most certainly lifemanship to say things such as "who is having trouble with the language now? How much more simply *can I* express what is really a rather straightforward point &c &c." Seriously pompous, that.
1.15.2008 10:39pm
Henry Farrell (mail) (www):
You _do_ realise how weak this is? As noted above, Bernstein did indeed *suggest* (nb verb) that he didn't edit posts, except for light stylistic changes. And he did so for a clear rhetorical purpose - to reinforce that any claims that he did make sneaky or unacknowledged changes to posts were unconscionable calumny. As I have repeatedly noted, in one case there's evidence that this may not in fact be true - and you don't seem to be so much interested in denying it as blowing smoke. Not so much mindless dreck perhaps as schoolboy debater casuistry, but to each their own, I suppose.
1.16.2008 1:04am
Free thinker (mail):
Henry, even assuming that you provided evidence that Bernstein's statement "MAY in fact not be true", don't you realize how weak this is? On your own admission, you haven't shown at all that Bernstein's claim IS IN FACT not true, but only that it MAY not be true (which of course means that, for all you know, it may well be true). You are not contradicting him, although you think you are. (One of the good textbooks about how to avoid such bloopers is R. H. Thouless, Straight and Crooked Timber Thinking.)
1.16.2008 3:25am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm embarassed for Mr. Farrell and CT. If Farrell doesn't feel obligated to criticize his co-blogger for lying, then lying again, so be it. But to defend him with disingenuous, irrelevant arguments that don't actually contradict anything I wrote is beneath contempt.
1.16.2008 8:40pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And btw, no one censored what I wrote about the ACLU dude, which you can find by Googling Bernstein Bowles Volokh
1.16.2008 9:18pm