Friday, November 18, 2016

New comment policy: No more nonsense denial comments

Sou | 1:40 PM Go to the first of 34 comments. Add a comment
Given what's happened in the past few weeks and months, I've revised the comment policy. No more false information will be tolerated in the comments. That mainly means that I'll be deleting nonsense from deniers who use HotWhopper to spread their disinformation.

Pinocchio by André Koehne
Comments debunking disinformation are welcome.

The reason for the new policy is that it's clear that too many people have lost the ability to tell fact from fiction and I'm not going to assist in this regard.

Read this account of a fake news writer and what he discovered. It's so bad that Oxford Dictionaries has made "post-truth" the word of the year.

The point is that extreme right wingers don't particularly care about the difference between lies and facts. It's probably worse than that. They prefer the lies and don't care that, for example, the fake promises of Trump and the Brexit campaigners were lies.

Anyone who thinks that extremists will care when the promises of Trump and the Brexiteers don't pan out are deluding themselves. It is quite possible that we are seeing the beginnings of the collapse of societies, and the associated relative peace and prosperity we've enjoyed for the past few decades. Societies that shut the doors won't survive. Societies that don't value knowledge won't survive. Societies that push for global warming won't survive (and lots of people outside those societies won't survive either).

I will continue to write about the nonsense and conspiracy theories at blogs like WattsUpWithThat and, occasionally, Judith Curry and Jo Nova and elsewhere. Articles aren't as prolific at the moment mainly because I'm very busy at the moment, also because there's more politics than science being discussed on denier blogs right now. Nasty stuff - more disinformation and dark conspiracy theories, and not much science.

The downside of this new policy is that it removes one opportunity to debunk denier disinformation. This is why I've been more lenient in the past. So I'd be pleased to get your reaction to this policy - for and against.


  1. We are in end times as the religious nutters pray for. I am sorry I will survive this rabble.

    Jared Diamond on the collapse of societies.



    1. Thanks for the link Bert. Another book that warns against worshipping ignorance is the recent one by Shawn Otto: The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It

  2. You could consider a one-lie-a-time comment policy. And that the nonsense should at least be on topic. That gives the possibility of a reasoned response, which is difficult/much work with Gish Gallops. Because you can only partially correct these gallops something will stick.

    1. That might work, Victor. I'll think about it.

      I don't usually have time to edit comments, so it would be straight up deletion if a comment doesn't comply.

    2. Naturally.

      You have enough well-informed readers to answer the most bunk. Allowing a challenge shows that we can answer any bunk.

    3. In my opinion Gish Gallops from anyone should be deleted. They are TL;DR for me anyway, I won't read them.

  3. Tim Lambert used to have a policy of disemvowelling the more lurid crap of the Denialati. I thought that it worked a treat - the comments were basically still decipherable if people really wanted to follow the conversation, but it requires a fair degree of concentration, and the appearance of disemvowelled text is such that it very clearly red-carded.

    1. Tm Lmbrt sd t hv plcy f dsmvwllng th mr lrd crp f th Dnlt. thght tht t wrkd trt - th cmmnts wr bsclly stll dcphrbl f ppl rlly wntd t fllw th cnvrstn, bt t rqrs fr dgr f cncntrtn, nd th pprnc f dsmvwlld txt s sch tht t vry clrly rd-crdd.

  4. My preference would be to replace all such comments with a very short (and unkind) description of the idiocy it contained. But if there's too much time involved then straight deletion is fine by me.

  5. I agree. The fact that the some people are perfectly happy to make and vehemently defend self-contradictory claims that share only one thing in common, denial of science, is more than enough evidence that facts are superfluous to some. We don't need their untruths posted here; there's plenty of denier blogs for that. I am sick to death of the faux 'consider the other side of the argument' line when there is no argument, let alone another side to it.

  6. Dunno, Sou. I think it might take away all the fun. You handle it at the moment much like tamino does:

    1. A denialist posts, yourself and your readers deconstruct the bullsh#t.

    2. Denialist posts again with more bullsh#t, attempting to defend their previous bullsh#t.

    3. Sou and readers deconstruct again.

    4. Frustrated denialist posts outright insult, and they're off to the Hotwhoppery.

    Meanwhile, interested lurkers might learn something. IMO, it's the way most science-oriented blogs work.

    1. Not exactly.

      We (that is: you, because I quit diplomacy with thugs years ago) do not 'deconstruct BS' of denialists. Instead we (..) fall for the fossil fuel lobbyists' and climate revisionists' yes/no contest trap, time and time again. The overall effect of this is that bona fide blogs like Sou's function as shops of doubt. They systematically lend evidence to one of those revisionist' talking points - that 'the science is not settled', that climate change is 'under heavy debate throughout'.

      As to point 4, the revisionists are not frustrated with debunk after debunk after debunk. Contrary so: it is exactly what they want. 'Debate, debate, debate'. This is why they dead coolly always recycle the same utter nonsense for us (you) to run after again and again and again.
      It works every time.
      It is why the 'debate' never changed in 25 years or more.
      And it is why the Keeling Curve rises, ever faster in fact.

      Sou has totally made my day. And my tomorrow.

  7. cRR Kampen,

    You have a point. Nothing ever gets resolved in these interchanges with deniers; instead, we just go round in circles until we tire of the conversation and move on to the next one. We imagine this helps to inform an unknown qunatity of 'lurkers'. But really, unless said lurkers are reasonably up on the science, they may well think the deniers' talking points are as valid as our rebuttals :-\

    Thanks, you have changed my way of thinking about this. I'm now more inclined to agree with putting a stop to the bullsh#t.

  8. Sou,

    Consider letting a porkie thru if it is interesting eg not an outright lie, just a distortion or misrepresentation.

  9. I am sure someone will cry "you are denying me free speech" or some such civil liberties nonsense.

    But ignore it. If someone calls a free speech violation, just remind them of the borderline psychotic bullying that goes over at Jo Nova, WUWT and Climate Etc, usually ignored or encouraged by the moderators (they like to join in sometimes).

    1. Agreed, but I'd be more robust about this. This is Sou's blog: a private space to which admission in comments is a privilege not a right. If she removes comments, that doesn't constitute a violation of free speech or 'censorship' or any other fake-victim twaddle of that sort. Anyone so edited needs to get this fact clear in their head.

  10. I like the policy they have at Skeptical Science. Repetitive comments, or off-topic, or political grandstanding, or insulting, are not allowed. If a topic has been previously addressed, a reference is given, and the commenter is (politely) told to go look there and STFU.

    Objections that are actually unusual are allowed, because they can lead to interesting and informative conversations, particularly among people who aren't idiots.

  11. Thank you for your thoughts, everyone. Looks as if it's generally agreed that Gish gallops are the worst.

    I should make it clear that the focus will be on comments not on the people making them. That is, the judgement will be on the content, not the person. Is the comment factual or false? Could it be written with the intention of deceiving readers and spreading FUD about climate or scientists?

    Having said that, it's interesting that no objections have been raised by people who reject science. So can I assume that they are supportive of the new policy? :D

  12. Instead of alienating classical liberals and small- l libertarians alike by embracing your inner authoritarian, why not allow anyone to say anything as long as they use their real names:

    The cold dawn of transparency is to trolls and PR facks as sunrise is to vampires.

  13. I would be quite happy to have my posts deleted, if moderator had the courtesy to point out where I was in error.

    My sources are non-deniers.

    Why the fuss?

    I have been branded as a socialist on some sites, a conservative on others, on the basis of a single comment.

    It is why I seldom post on blogs.

    1. NoNotThatBob - I agree that would be ideal. However, moderators have very limited time and don't always have time to do your research for you. I suggest you do your own research before posting a comment - you can use the search bar up top, or Google. It's probably best to use reputable sites, checking the expertise of people writing, checking the references they use - and be very skeptical of what you read on denier/conspiracy sites - double and triple check right back to the original source. (If the original source is just a denier/conspiracy blog - you can pretty well reject it unless you can find a scientifically reliable source to back it up). Also, take notice of the corrections from other more knowledgeable commenters on the other thread you posted on. Check out what they wrote (see prev), and don't just repeat your wrong claims.


    2. NoNotThatBob.

      "Why the fuss?"

      Very simple really, your posts are incoherent and too long. And it is poor manners to expect others to list all the problems in your post.

    3. It would indeed have been nice if NoNotThatBob had acknowledged that his claims about Hansen's scenarios and the conclusion Bob drew about Hansen's understanding of atmospheric physics were disastrously wrong, and in fact evidence of NoNotThatBob's own failure to understand what Hansen actually did.

      But that acknowledgment never came.

    4. But that acknowledgment never came.

      No, it did not. Screeds of contrarian rubbish combined with obstinate refusal to acknowledge errors is not good enough.

    5. But his paper was flawed because of his activism.

      Pure assertion and as I showed you, wrong.

      Yet you keep on saying it - which is dishonest. Instead of acknowledging your error you double down and I have had enough. I call foul.

    6. NoNotThatBob said:

      "I probably have the lowest Carbon Footprint of any of you."

      That's what the lunatic Steven Goddard says as well, but then he tweets pictures of himself kicking over tree saplings in the Rocky Mountains. They are all behavioral duplicates of Trump.

    7. I removed NoNotThatBob's comment because it didn't comply with the revised comment policy.

      Incidentally, Hansen is urging action on climate because of the strength of scientific research and findings in climate science, not the other way around.

    8. I'd suggest that given Bob's fondness for making arguments based on claims that cannot be verified and his tactic of replying to posts days late (he seems to be anew kind of persistence troll) his posts should be automatically binned.

    9. @Millicent

      Seconded. Is there anything more irritating - and conversationally unacceptable - than someone who will never admit error and who keeps repeating the same false claims?

      If you don't play the game, you get kicked out of the playground.

    10. I always liked the statement from the moderators of the Reddit science forums

      "After some time interacting with the regular denier posters, it became clear that they could not or would not improve their demeanor. These problematic users were not the common “internet trolls” looking to have a little fun upsetting people. Such users are practically the norm on reddit. These people were true believers, blind to the fact that their arguments were hopelessly flawed, the result of cherry-picked data and conspiratorial thinking. They had no idea that the smart-sounding talking points from their preferred climate blog were, even to a casual climate science observer, plainly wrong. They were completely enamored by the emotionally charged and rhetoric-based arguments of pundits on talk radio and Fox News.

      As a scientist myself, it became clear to me that the contrarians were not capable of providing the science to support their “skepticism” on climate change. The evidence simply does not exist to justify continued denial that climate change is caused by humans and will be bad. There is always legitimate debate around the cutting edge of research, something we see regularly. But with climate change, science that has been established, constantly tested, and reaffirmed for decades was routinely called into question.

      Over and over, solid peer-reviewed science was insulted as corrupt, while blog posts from fossil-fuel-funded groups were cited as objective fact. Worst of all, they didn’t even get the irony of quoting oil-funded blogs that called university scientists biased.

      but I do find myself slightly conflicted, as a former "lurker" in some way it was the repetitive and logically inconsistent posts from the deniers that challenged me to really try and understand the actual science

  14. In the presidential campaign just past, reporters noted that when one candidate was out of the public eye (as when Hillary Clinton rested to recover from pneumonia), that candidate fell in the polls. With some large fraction of the population, it seems, mere exposure confers popularity -- and hence credibility.

    Therefore I enthusiastically endorse this new policy. The Denialists have had decades of access to open forums where they attempted to make their case, without success. If they still think they have a case to make, let them make it on their own time, using their own resources.


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