Wizbang is featured in this New York Times article today, Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate. They spend a great deal of time analyzing the bizarre conspiracy theories that cropped up at Democratic Underground after the disaster, and spend a fair amount of time trying to salvage the reputation of DU in the case of earthquake and tsunami conspiracy theories.
They mention a Wizbang post that highlights many of the wackiest theories being promulgated at DU about the tsunamis. Since they don't link the Wizbang post they are referring to, I'll provide the necessary reference and link - What Would Life Be Without DU?.
Then they trot out the experts on crackpots...
But the blogosphere's tendency toward crackpot theorizing and political smack down could not be suppressed for long.In this case that's were Wizbang and our readers came in....
"It's so much of what they feed on, so much of what they are," said James Surowiecki, the author of "The Wisdom of Crowds."
...Mr. Surowiecki pointed out that there is nothing new about ill-informed rumor-mongering or other forms of oddness. "There were always cranks," he said. "Rumors have always been fundamental about the way people talk, or think, about politics or complicated issues." Instead of a corner bar or a Barcalounger, however, the location for today's speech is an online medium with a potential audience of millions.
But there is another, more important difference, Mr. Surowiecki and others say. Internet discourse can be self-correcting, with near-instant feedback from readers.
It wouldn't be a New York Times article without a few dubious assertions and questionable facts. First the questionable facts - They interview Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing and assert that the record at BoingBoing is corrected via comments. At BoingBoing the record is never corrected through comments, since BoingBoing does not have a comment section.
On the dubious assertion front they close with this, "and on Wizbang, the vituperation continued unabated, spreading even to many victims of the disaster," which is really a mis-characterization. Vituperation is, sustained and bitter railing and condemnation, which is not really what you find in the case of our What Would Life Be Without DU? post. What you do find instead of bitter railing is mocking humor and caustic remarks about the sheer stupidity of the DU posts highlighted. There's no "spread" to the victims of the disaster.
Update: The DU'ers aren't impressed either...
Note: There is a different post (out of the many stories at Wizbang about the disaster) where some stupid remarks about victims (and their ability to swim) were posted. When tens of thousands of people a day are given an opportunity to comment in this (mostly) open forum some of them make complete asses of themselves.
Paul Adds When the comments in question were pointed out to me, they were deleted. More context in the update to my post below.