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Severing the corpus callosum of blogdom

September 25th, 2002

The distinction between the left and right hemispheres of the brain is one of those startling scientific discoveries that has passed (in an oversimplified form) into popular folklore. As we all know, the left hemisphere is supposed to control rational thought, language and calculation, while the right hemisphere controls emotion and creativity.

Most of the evidence on this came from ‘split-brain’ surgery, where the corpus callosum (the bundle of nerves connecting the two hemispheres) is severed. As a result, information supplied to the left hemisphere is unavailable to the right hemisphere, and vice versa.

Something very similar seems to have happened in blogdom though the main problem seems to be with information flowing from the left brain to the right brain.

For example, when right-brain blogger Professor Bunyip observed that Ken Davidson had borrowed significant bits of a recent column, Ken Parish was quick to link to it and to give a thoughtful discussion of the issues involved.

By contrast, a good deal of recent left-brain activity has pointed out that right-brain favourite Mark Steyn’s columns are routinely based on extensive borrowing (usually with misquotation), urban myths and absurd historical errors. But Professor Bunyip, James Morrow and other right-brain bloggers have continued quoting Steyn with approval and without reference to the left-brain.Tim Blair, another Steyn fan, also ignored the issue, though I don’t think he’s quoted Steyn since it came up. A partial exemption goes to Bernard Slattery. Although he did not take much notice of the left-brain efforts, he took the trouble to do a Google search and noted the dubious quality of one of Steyn’s sources.

(To make the left-brain, right-brain metaphor work properly, we need to class Jason Soon with the left brain, since he certainly does engage in sensible debate with the left-brain of blogdom . But Jason is one of those hard-to-classify mixtures of libertarianism and social democracy, and can’t really be called a rightwinger).
Update: The comments thread for this post is intertwined with that over at The Parish Pump so you have to read both to get the full story. Comments are great, but I wonder how much interesting content is being lost forever in locations that are apparently inaccessible to Google and even more prone to failure than blog archives.

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