Intellectual Honesty Includes Things Like…

  • Sincerity (do you truly believe what you're writing?)
  • Coherence (have you thought hard and thought it through?)
  • Consistency, or Sauce for the Goose (does this opinion fit with your opinions on other matters? are you prepared to apply the same logic in circumstances where it leads to a less agreeable conclusion?)
  • Skepticism (have you considered the counterarguments?)

Those are Michael Kinsley's words, not mine, and they come from a memo on how to write a good editorial he sent to LA Times editorial writers in 2004.

The memo is included in his latest collection of opinion journalism called Please Don't Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries. I just read it. Some of his essays are dated but most still resonate, all are under three pages long, and all display the wit that makes Kinsley required reading regardless of topic.

Related Posts:

What Does It Mean to Be Intellectually Dishonest?
Why Do You "Intellectually Respect" Someone?

3 Responses to Intellectual Honesty Includes Things Like…

  1. Although I agree wholeheartedly, intellectual honesty may well be a thing of the past with the advent of blogs, etc. There are some very respectable blogs, but the unfiltered Internet is a venue without any intellectual accountability to speak of. It’s really kind of sad.

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    For most blogs with any readership there’s way more accountability than in
    mainstream media.

  3. Shefaly says:

    Ben, I agree with you on this. The problem with the ‘advent of blogs’ etc is not the rise in intellectual dishonesty but the rise in a readership that does not have time to read something, assess it and then judge it. The drive-by-commenting nature of the web means that readers equally do not have to intellectually honest in assessing what they judge to be a blogger’s intellectual intent (leave aside the final ‘label’ of honesty or dishonesty).

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