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Blog personalities

Seth and I are both pretty aggressive conversationalists in person. But on the web, we’re much different. I have an equanimous, mellow blog personality and generally try to see both sides of an issue. Seth is more of a tough guy; see, for example, here and (amazingly) here.

I can think of a couple reasons for this. First, Seth and I have different incentives. As a bestselling author, he has much to gain and little to lose by making provocative statements. In contrast, as a primarily academic writer, I think I can lose more than I gain in reputation by being controversial (except, of course, where I can back up my ideas with research, but even there I try to use a mellow tone; see, for example, here and here).

Another explanation has to do with the norms of different academic fields. Statisticians are trained to say No a lot and worry about uncertainty; in contrast, Seth has been doing a lot of self-experimentation which has given him more of an appreciation for bold conjecture.