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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Testable Hypothesis about the Shrill

Glenn Greenwald provides a typically excellent survey of centrist dismissal of harsh criticism of Bush and Conservatives as shrill. He argues that books are dismissed as one sided and shrill without regard to the accuracy of the claims in the book. I am, of course, convinced.

However the MSM Broderite critics of the shrill present a testable hypothesis. I quote from Greenwald's post

"hardly pitched to win over undecided readers, either. "

"Like the rants of Rush Limbaugh or the films of Michael Moore, Krugman's shrill polemic may hearten the faithful, but it will do little to persuade the unconvinced or to advance the national discussion of the important issues it addresses."

"More a partisan screed than a reasoned argument meant to persuade undecided readers, "

Three different reviewers say that shrill doesn't work, that it won't convince the undecided. I think, basically what we have here is people who are convinced by the books they criticize and understand that the Bush administration is a radical menace. So they argue that their approach to fighting Bushism is more effective.

This is testable. Take some people. Ask them about their views. Pay them to read a shrill book and a non-shrill book. Test them on the content of the book with pay depending on their ability to demonstrate they have actually read it. Ask them again about their political views. See which book has a greater effect on people who were initially undecided.

Now it is hard to get people to read books so this would cost a lot. However there is an excellent quick cheap and easy option mentioned by some of the reviewers. Pay people to sit through Michael Moore movies. A core belief of the moderate MSM reviewers seems to be that initially undecided people will not be convinced by Moore because he is shrill. This can easily be tested. It wouldn't even be too expensive.

To make it a contest, people could also be paid to listen to moderate discussion of Bush selected from the immense mass of cable political talk shows. That would let the moderate centrists take their best shot.

Any bets on the outcome ?

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