Austin Frakt Calls Us Out

Austin complains that, in reproducing parts of a post at his site, I neglected to put an ellipsis between the two paragraphs I reproduced. Was this fair?

I saw no problem, but when I tried it out on some of my colleagues, they sided with Austin. We have subsequently added the ellipsis.

I report, you decide.

Comments (12)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Devon Herrick says:

    In blog posts I author, I routinely excerpt whole sentences or whole paragraphs without using an ellipsis. I use an ellipsis when I cut out words from a sentence I excerpted from an article or blog post.

    I would argue whether or not it is appropriate to use an ellipsis depends on whether the context of the excerpt quoted is different than the context of the original piece. Since Austin’s original post was about value-based insurance design, it would probably have been appropriate to mention the subject of Austin’s post was different but that the post raised another interesting question. Merely adding an ellipsis does not convey any information other than the fact the text is an excerpt rather than the entire post.

  2. Jeff says:

    I’m with you, John. Austin is over-reacting.

  3. steve says:

    Hmm, you still have not said anything about value based insurance.


  4. Dan says:

    Yes you are supposed to include the ellipses of course. You neglect the broader context of his claim by not mentioning value based insurance and you make it seem like he just wants asthma meds to be free, or cheap, for no rational reason which is a gross misunderstanding of the original post.

  5. Paul H. says:

    I disagree with some of the comments here. Austin is saying that asthma drugs are a merit good. This implies they should be provided for free, regardless of abilty to pay. See here:

    This really has nothing to do with value based health insurance.

  6. Rusty says:

    The original Austin Frakt post was confusing. A “merit good” is a good that is provided for free, like public education. “Value based insurance” is many things to different writers, but mainly it is about cost effective insurance.

    I assume that Goodman left out the later reference because it seemed like an annoying distraction from the main point: make asthma drugs free. Austin’ s reaction implies that he thinks the “merit good” reference was the distraction.

    It’s worth noting that there have been a slew of NCPA posts arguing that ashtma patients (along with diabetics and others)should manage their own health care budgets. This would internalize the externalities, without any need for a merit good approach.

  7. Ian Kodanik says:

    Austin needs more society in his life.

  8. Dave says:

    I think we’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The fact that this discussion is happening is great! The replies by Dr. Goodman here and Thomas at Incidental Economist clarified the issues at hand.

    This is a model debate about what the standards should be for blogging. Regardless of which side one supports in the debate, this post should give readers comfort that;

    a. Dr. Goodman reads (and doesn’t dismiss) his colleagues,

    b. Engages informal peer-review with colleagues who feel empowered to professionally express opposite viewpoints on an issue, and

    c. Is open-minded enough to add the ellipsis and honest enough to describe the whole process.

    That gives me faith as a reader that he isn’t distorting the authors he quotes and will cooperate with his colleagues if they have any dispute. This seems like a good outcome to an informative back-and-forth.

  9. Greg Scandlen says:

    I fail to see how your post was misleading. Some of the comments to your original post claim that Austin’s comments were “about” value-based insurance, but they weren’t.

    His post was titled “Why are asthma meds so expensive?” (He doesn’t address that, either.) And his sole comment about VBI is, “Value-based insurance design is a good concept. We have a long way to go in getting it implemented more thoroughly.” This is hardly a discussion of VBI, more an off-hand comment.

    In fact, I can’t tell what the point of Austin’s post is, other than yet another observation that people with higher incomes can pay for stuff easier than people with lower incomes.

    I don’t know Austin but he seems confused. VBI would not make asthma drugs less expensive, it would merely shift the source of payment. But even then, he notes it is a good “concept,” but apparently not yet a very good product.

  10. Avik Roy says:

    I would count myself as a pro-ellipsis guy in this instance, but FYI Austin (who I like and have a good relationship with) is extremely prickly about how his work is cited. I think the end result is that his work is cited less often than it could be, but that’s his cross to bear…

  11. AB says:

    I think the ellipsis should be there, for the simple reason of always trying to quote someone as accurately as possible. But this was really a distraction from the real point which others have pointed out: the mention of VBI was not really that relevant once the claim of a merit good was made. To have said that and then to claim the post was all about VBI is a bit disingenuous.

  12. Virginia says:

    Most people click through to the original post if there is any confusion. But, it is probably a nice touch to add the punctuation.