This crow is delicious! May I have another serving?

Yesterday, I wrote a rather derisive piece about a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling abouta lawsuit against a tobacco company. I based my commentary on the Boston Glob’s coverage, and someday I’ll remember that using them as a single source is not the best of ideas.

wavemaker, a student of the Mass. courts, apparently, thought there was something odd about the story and did some digging. He did more than I (or, for that matter, the Glob’s reporter) did — he got his hands on the ruling and actually READ it. And he discovered that the ruling was not about absolving the victim, but based on a long-established principle of law. I disagree with the court’s ruling on principle, but it seems that they were on semi-solid legal ground when they made their ruling.

This, naturally, sent certain folks into paroxysms of glee. One particular commenter talked about “Tea-lemmings” (a concept I find slightly flattering, in the thought that I could inspire such a following, but more insulting) and was positively ecstatic that I might have publicly made a mistake.

Like that’s anything new. I’ve lost count of the number of retractions and apologies I’ve issued. It’s an occupational hazard. I deal with it and move on.

But back to this case. My first reaction to markswrite’s assailing was to get defensive. I’m one guy, a nobody from nowhere with a nothing job and no life, who read the story and pulled the best information I could get my hands on with such short notice. I don’t have access to the kinds of resources that a newspaper like the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) does. And if they get a story wrong, why can’t I?

But then I realized that that was wrong. I do have access to better resources than the Glob, and this incident proves it.

I have you folks.

Here’s the proof: yesterday, I had a full analysis of the Court’s ruling, showing exactly what the court ruled and why. And I got it by one of the easiest ways I can imagine: I just opined on the matter publicly.

You, the readers, are an amazingly diverse and resourceful group. I personally know of doctors, lawyers, engineers, scholars, authors, politicians, students, mechanics, and scads of just plain folks who are experts in almost every imaginable field or endeavor. And I can tap those resources at will, with almost no effort.

The first method is the obvious one — I can ask. I’ve done that a few times, and it’s worked out all right.

The other method is far more effective. I just have to say something wrong, and you folks line up to take turns at whacking me with the truth. And if it’s a debatable point, you folks will sometimes go at it hammer and tongs. It’s sometimes a little bruising to the ego, but it’s a good kind of bruising — I usually end up a smidgen wiser afterwards.

This is the greatest power of the blogosphere, and though it’s been said many times before, it always bears repeating:

They may be smarter than any of us. But they sure as hell aren’t smarter than all of us.

Thanks, wavemaker. And even a little thanks to you, too, mark.

New England's flooding: now it's personal
Carnival of the Trackbacks LXIX


  1. epador May 20, 2006
  2. Gambit May 20, 2006
  3. Billy Hollis May 20, 2006
  4. jp2 May 20, 2006
  5. Faith+1 May 20, 2006
  6. Jay Tea May 20, 2006
  7. wavemaker May 20, 2006
  8. Mikey May 20, 2006
  9. bobdog May 20, 2006
  10. virgo May 20, 2006
  11. Henry May 21, 2006
  12. Mike May 22, 2006