David Horowitz has a comments forum for his Black Book of the American Left:
I welcome comments on the Black Book and will reply to as many as I am able. I especially welcome comments from the left which so far has pretended that this critique does not exist. This is a throwback to the Stalinist era, and I hope that there are some leftists with the integrity to attempt to meet an argument rather than stamping it out. I hope all commenters will treat the intellectual issues involved and not resort to name-calling and anti-intellectual rants.
And below, above the fold, one can read his extended, serious reply to a leftist whose insults had included: “crazy,” “delusional,” “waste of energy,” and “nonsense”.
At this “forum” for his book series, Horowitz seeks feedback and discussion, especially if anyone has a reasonable/serious criticism. It’s a Paths Forward page!
I’ve long noticed the best people tend to be particularly open to discussion, even if they’re high status and busy. I already knew Horowitz talked with people on Twitter. Rand, Feynman, Popper and others answered letters in the mail in addition to all the effort they put into having conversations with people in person (e.g. Rand routinely invited over groups of people for many-hour discussions). And now with the internet, I’ve found people like Deutsch and Szasz far more accessible online than other, inferior intellectuals.
The reason for this is that smarter people are less fearful of criticism, and actually have a confident and eager attitude regarding learning new things and correcting their errors. And the better people are more capable of explaining what they mean and communicating well, and also value practice communicating. The best people also are curious in general, and interested in what the world is like and what people think – and they have the capacity to think about that instead of being overloaded just from trying to do the minimum requirements of their career.
This method is not at all an exact method for judging people (which isn't the point, the point is about the importance and value of discussion). But interest in discussion and criticism is a big deal. And anyone who says “I get plenty of great, critical discussion through private channels” is a liar. There is a shortage of quality discussion in the world, and no one has access to a bunch of great private conversations to the extent that it no longer makes sense for them to use any publicly visible resources. There is no hidden reserve of really smart people for the famous people to have secret access to. That is a myth.
In a nice demonstration of his interest in public discussion, David Horowitz replied to me on Twitter about this.
> Thanks. I believe this is generally true of conservatives, which is why I say that conservatives are the only real liberal in America. They like conversations to have two sides.