Brian Leiter on “why blogs are bad for legal scholarship” (from 2005):
Blogs differ from other Internet services because they combine three characteristics: they are unmediated (like so much of what is on the Internet), public (like SSRN), and normative (like much e-mail about scholarly topics). It is this conjunction that makes blogs special, and especially dangerous—at least for legal scholarship. (Philosophy, my other academic field, is less vulnerable on this score, for reasons I’ll return to in a moment.) Any second-rate scholar can have an opinion, however ignorant or confused, about the merits of someone’s work, and express that opinion in an e-mail to a colleague elsewhere. Now imagine that same ignorant or confused opinion broadcast to thousands: that is what blogs make possible. Indeed, blogs do more than that: they make possible the repeated and systematic broadcast of non-expert opinions, opinions that can then be picked up and amplified by other non-expert blogs. The result is often what Timur Kuran and Cass Sunstein would call an “availability cascade.” . . .
The underlying speculative psychology here may or may not be accurate, but the phenomenon seems real enough: an opinion that appears to be informed gains credibility by virtue of being repeated and thus becoming current in discourse.
If there is ever a remake of the Fountainhead, Leiter would be great pick -in to play Elsworth Toohey.