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Communications The Internet Science

Popular Science Is Getting Rid of Comments 473

Daniel_Stuckey writes "From an article announcing the sites' decision to do away with comments: 'It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter. ... even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. ... A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.'" This comes alongside news that Google is trying to clean up YouTube comments by adding integration with Google+. "You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles."
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Popular Science Is Getting Rid of Comments

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  • Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geek ( 5680 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:18PM (#44943807)

    "Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again"

    And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs. This is just the mag trying to silence dissent. I happen to agree with evolution but I have no problem debating it with people who do not. Nor do I believe evolution is settled science, we continue to learn a great deal and there is always a possibility of some groundbreaking new development to come along and rock the whole foundation.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:22PM (#44943833) Homepage

    Between these sites slamming the door shut on public comments, walled login gardens, and NSA slimy fingers on everything, it's just super depressing. Feels like a mortal wound.

    Seriously, critique the Slashdot comment system if you like, but it's a thousand times better than 99% of the sites out there. And it's pretty simple. Sites not ripping off this system seem like they conscientiously want a reason to slam the door on public conversation.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:28PM (#44943865)

    All the better to just push an opinion.

    A meaningless comment. In fact, pretty much a troll.

    PopSci brings up a lot of good points, and they have made a decision that I think more and more on-line pubs will make. You are free to send them a Letter to the Editor, but these ugly snipe-fests that go on in many forums have little if any value.

    The comments at the Seattle Times are a great example, having been taken over by extremists who apparently have no voice anywhere else.

    The fact is that in most forums that don't have a "moderation system" become flooded with trolls that render the whole forum concept useless for any real conversation.

    PopSci isn't the first to ditch forums, and will not be the last.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:30PM (#44943893)


    When the ideas of science are no longer up for grabs then it ceases to be science and become religion.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:34PM (#44943923) Journal

    "Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again"

    And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs. This is just the mag trying to silence dissent. I happen to agree with evolution but I have no problem debating it with people who do not. Nor do I believe evolution is settled science, we continue to learn a great deal and there is always a possibility of some groundbreaking new development to come along and rock the whole foundation.

    You might want to consider re-weighting the importance of various venues. Internet comment sections are not...exactly... a notorious haven of scientific enlightenment (regardless of topic). The SNR is shit, and it's basically just psuedoanonymous people regurgitating links and copypasta at one another (like some sort of horrible combination of wikipedia and what a decadent late-imperial roman would have considered a good party).

    It's perfectly possible for new developments to come along; but the probability that they'll emerge on a message board (rather than, say, during the course of archeological or gene sequencing work) is negligible.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halexists ( 2587109 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:37PM (#44943937)
    Yes, but one hopes that debate carries some sort of rhetorical value. When the debate takes the form of "I believe in X and here are blatant falsehoods to support my view and you can't talk me out of claiming they are true," I can understand why Popular Science doesn't want to associate its brand with that.

    I'd say that Popular Science isn't trying to silence dissent as much as it is trying to not be party to this type of discussion, which is an affront to the scientific method. It is too bad that the quoted rationale centers around "established facts in science" rather than not wanting to legitimize non-scientific discussion of the sort that crops up in their comments section.
  • Re:Metafilter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:42PM (#44943983) Journal

    As a long-time user who sometimes choses to post AC and is always logged in, I start at 2. It's my understanding that the 2 comes from having good Karma. I've been around long enough to remember when numeric Karma was visible to users. This resulted in contests to see who could rack up the most points, which became a problem. Sometimes people like myself would get bored and commit "Karma Suicide" to re-start the game. They hid numeric Karma to stop that. I haven't read SlashCode; but I understand the number is still lurking in there so that the system can decide where to start our posts.

    Anyway, I digress. I don't want money factoring into the equation. The Slashdot moderation system went through several changes early on and has stabilized quite nicely AFAIK. Would any actual Slashdot employees care to comment on the last time a major change was made to the algorithm? It isn't broken. Don't fix it.

    I don't think it's patented either. I too wonder why more sites don't adopt it.

  • Amen: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Delusion_ ( 56114 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:46PM (#44944017) Homepage

    > A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics.

    True worldwide, alarmingly so in the US, where "it inconveniences my politics" carries the same weight in discussions as "there is no evidence for this hypothesis".

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:52PM (#44944079)

    No, I think you're missing the point (and fixating on a poorly worded sentence).

    welcome to the internet.

  • by geek ( 5680 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:59PM (#44944137)

    For some reason The Register also seems to have good quality comments. As does The Guardian, so it can be possible to build a commenting community that works. Maybe it's a British thing?

    Good comments or comments you agree with? I ask because they aren't necessarily the same thing.

  • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:02PM (#44944173)

    I couldn't agree more. My time is valuable and its too precious to waste on wading through troll droppings.

    There really are many with an ideological bent, who are actively seeking to disrupt sites discussing science for purposes that have nothing to do with science, but rather to influence discussion that may come from the consequences of scientific findings.

    The reality is that modern science has become so specialized that few commenters are really capable of adding anything to a meaningful discussion anyway. For example, what kind of meaningful input might one expect of the average commenter provide say on the discussion of the importance of Uryshon's Lemma or Gershgorin's Circle Theorem to modern bioinformatics or aerodynamics? It is a shame that the electronic equivalent of graffiti artists have vandalized so many useful commenting sites to suit their own personal and ideological fantasies, Particularly, since it denies so many a peek into the intrinsic beauty inherent in such discussions.

    You're right, however, and without some form of moderation or peer review the entire effort takes on the character defined by the lowest IQ posting. Many may complain that scientist are retreating to their ivory towers, but the sad fact is that the vandal's sacking every website they can overrun make such towers the only safe haven to continue to do science. If they want into the ivory towers, they will first have to develop the credibility to enter.

    Its far better to submit "letters" to the editor, with comments and let them make the best judgement as to which most advance the topic under discussion. This can be done by a few moderators on most sites. I would be quite happy not to see my own posts or questions, if I knew I was instead reading better or more informative ones.

  • by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:03PM (#44944177)
    In the earlier days of the internet, forums and news groups and such led to incredibly brilliant discussions. And I think some people at the time felt this would eventually lead to a paradise of "mass human thought engine" resulting into some sort of "hive brain" of human collective thought.

    But in the real world, most people are just bored or bigoted or want attention --- and humans as a whole are more Homer Simpson or Miley Cyrus than Albert Einstein or Carl Sagan.

    And this reality won. For now. Scientific and intellectual thought will find a new way to win again. Given enough time.
  • by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:08PM (#44944205)
    > And this why we can't have nice things. Thanks a lot!

    We can. But nice things require a lot of attention, the lesson is more that "nice things just don't happen by themselves".

    Nice things have to be perpetually earned and re-earned. Sucks but true. There are always barbarians at the gate; there always will be.
  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:13PM (#44944241) Homepage

    AC does not understand the concept of censorship. And posted as AC - so, self censorship in a way.

    Pretty sad.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:22PM (#44944305)

    I disagree, message boards are great for getting those alternative perspectives out there. If you don't know how to think without an authority telling you what to listen to you aren't thinking scientifically anyway.

    Many people, probably a majority, *don't* know how to think without an authority telling them what to listen to. That "authority" is not necessarily government, or church leaders, or politicians, it's *anyone* who's charismatic enough that people trust what they say or write. Rush Limbaugh, Steve Jobs, Greenpeace activists, Jenny McCarthy, market analysts, parenting experts, a non-techy's tech friend, etc. Most of those in turn have their own authorities that they listen to.

  • by Delusion_ ( 56114 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:38PM (#44944405) Homepage

    They have. They've scientifically developed a way for Christian fundamentalists to complain about articles about evolution, political conservatives to lambast every major article about climate science, a way for every nutjob conspiracy theorist to have their own say about events, a way for scientists in their actual field of specialty to discuss issues, and a way for generalist laymen who are genuinely interested in science to discuss it:

    Let them discuss it in their own communities and on their own websites.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:49PM (#44944477) Homepage Journal

    And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs. This is just the mag trying to silence dissent. I happen to agree with evolution but I have no problem debating it with people who do not. Nor do I believe evolution is settled science, we continue to learn a great deal and there is always a possibility of some groundbreaking new development to come along and rock the whole foundation.

    Groundbreaking new developments come from research, not youtube comments. The people posting troll comments about climatology and biology are almost universally unqualified to be making the statements they're making. If someone tells you that if you drop a rock it will fall upward, why do you need to give them the time of day? The fact that millions of people may believe very strongly in "intelligent gravitation" or some bullshit doesn't make it right. Some things in science are not up for grabs, at least not by random laypeople and corporate shills trolling on the internet.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:56PM (#44944513)

    The problem is, even on a site like slashdot where you'd think theres a degree of scientific literacy you still find people who actually believe climate change is some sort of vast left wing conspiracy, when we actually know that its both real, and overwelmingly caused by human CO2 output.

    Its not a debate in science but for some messed up reason its still a debate in the public. I can certainly understand why a lot of the scientific community is pretty fed up with having to deal with a nutbags flooding the real debates, namely how serious the problem is, and how to fix it, with deceptive or stupid denialist junk.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @11:58PM (#44944517)

    Not letting you (yes, you AC) deface my website isn't censorship. Nor is it an infringement on free speech.

    They've decided (probably rightly) that comments on their site are a net negative feature and so they're getting rid of them. Personally I think too many sites have embraced the web-2.0-everything-must-allow-you-to-express-your-opinion-right-the-hell-now bandwagon.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hohosforbreakfast ( 40807 ) <ajeffri@angrywithunicorns.org> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:13AM (#44944593) Homepage

    As a former fundamentalist Christian, I can speak to this.

    There are a couple of things going on here. First, if evolution is true, then the creation story in Genesis is not true, and thus there is no fall of man and no need for a Savior. The whole of fundamentalist Christianity falls apart. This is why their panties get in such a bunch over evolution.

    Second, in fundamentalist Christian circles there is a disdain for expertise not based on the Bible. This includes science. There is a well-known verse, Proverbs 3:5-6, that says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." In other words, only god knows how things are to be, and putting human understanding against the wisdom of the imaginary sky daddy is sin. Some would call it idolatry.

    These folks will never trust science that does not already agree with them. We who do promote science should not waste our time in extensive debates with fundamentalist believers. Just leave a nice, bright Exit sign above the door for those who decide to leave the fold.

  • Re:Metafilter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:14AM (#44944597)

    Because it still rewards group think and creates a popularity contest rather than a forum for actual discussion

    I keep hearing people say this, but I have found the comments on Slashdot to come from quite a diverse group. There's no doubt that there's some deep groupthink such as the anti-Apple and anti-Microsoft sentiments on this site, yet you can still find comments praising both of these companies modded up despite the overall bias against them.

    In reality, all they need to do is allow you to block anyone you wish. No points, no popularity contest. Just block the people you dislike and move on. You dont see them, they dont see you, everyones happy in their bubble.

    I am strongly against this idea. First of all, there are so many people commenting on the site that it would be nearly impossible to block out all of the noise one commenter at a time. Secondly, there are some people that have very rational viewpoints and make great contributions to the discussion 90% of the time, but there's one or two topics in which they go off the deep end. The current moderation system allows you to mod them up when they're making good points and mod them into oblivion when they go mental.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:19AM (#44944869)

    Absolutely true: fundamentalist Christianity is tied to sola scriptura.

    Basically, there is no point arguing with a fundamentalist because all their responses/positions will come back to a Biblical citation or a statement of faith. Ultimately, their cite on the inerrancy of the Bible is self-referential. It's an incredibly strong, interlocked system & philosophy... unless you knock a hole in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible.

    For anyone not well versed in fundamentalist Christianity, what parent and I refer to works something like this. Poke a single hole in the fundamentalist's belief in *any* aspect of the Bible, and they are likely to leave Christianity altogether—because the entire self-referential construct falls apart. Disprove some aspect of Genesis, then the Bible isn't absolutely inerrant, then the entire New Testament is in question, the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, the remission of sin, the existence of sin that needs redemption at all, well... you get the picture.

    It's really hard to argue with a fundie, because ultimately their beliefs are non-falsifiable. There is always the legitimate out of "God made it that way, for reasons we don't understand."

  • Re:the difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:07AM (#44945033) Homepage

    That's the problem. Simply because it's unpopular doesn't mean it's wrong as you pointed out, but that fosters group think and /. has no shortage of people who believe that anything contrary to their very *special* world view is unworthy of being modded up. And of course then there are the mod trolls, or people who mod down someone they simply don't like because they can.

  • Re:the difference (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:29AM (#44945107) Journal
    Slashdot needs to give out more mod points. There aren't enough, and it limits the number of comments. People get depressed if they never have a comment modded up.

    Right now, moderation does a good job modding down really bad comments, but a lot of comments that are good don't get modded up, because they don't catch the right person's eye on a quick read-through. It's ok to have some mediocre comments modded up, as long as the trolls and spam stay hidden.
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:29AM (#44945111)

    In the early days of the internet, only those involved with academia were online. Even the least-educated were at the very least students in higher education.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:32AM (#44945121) Journal
    Agree. It's proper to consider all opinions and alternatives, but you don't have to read every GNAA and goatse post to figure out it's a troll. People whom claim to read everything in the hope of finding an interesting nugget at the bottom of the pile are either full of shit or have an extremely narrow range of interests. Scientists (or anyone else for that matter) don't have time to adress the same brain-dead critisizims over and over agian, best strategy is not to engage with the unteachable in the first place.

    Our modern world is so complex no one person can ever hope to understand it all in depth. Like it or not we all turn to an authority when we need to know more about a subject, and since we are all doing that I like my authorities to be based on Science with Nature as the umpire (and I'm not talking about the journals with the same names). If someone has a better philosophy to disseminate mankind's collective knowlege to the next generation, I'm all ears.
  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <schulz@eprover.org> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:38AM (#44945147) Homepage

    It's possible to use technology to let each user see a picture of the comments that they prefer.

    You make that sound as if that is a good thing. It is not. The very point of communication is to be exposed to new and possibly uncomfortable ideas. Strong filtering bias is a very real danger - 1000 digital TV channels means I can always find a rerun of Firefly, and I never have to encounter even a news flash. Customised news aggregators allow me to filter out all comments from lefty windbags and/or Austrian economists. I can comfortably live in my bubble of self-imposed ignorance. Don't get me wrong - on a personal level, I of course like the choice. But as a society, we need moderately informed citizens able to have an intelligent dialogue on important issues. How we achieve both is a non-trivial question.

  • Re:the difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ralphbecket ( 225429 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:51AM (#44945209)

    Let me precis this argument:

    (1) The moderation scheme here essentially filters out postings that disagree with the "group-think."

    (2) Commenters here are "unusually intelligent" and they define the group-think.

    (3) Therefore if you disagree with the group-think, you are probably not "unusually intelligent" (and hence your opinion is probably not worthy of consideration; you belong with the trolls and drunkards).

    The problem is step (2), which is a lot of self-serving bollocks. I think the suggestion that Slashdot moderation fosters group-think is on the money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:21AM (#44945301)

    i LIKE strange comments. i love youtube AS IT IS. i DO NOT want to see featured comments from "personalities." I like the offensive and non-PC stuff from unknown. That's why I watch YouTube and not other forms of media. I want the raw, uncensored, the good and the bad. I wouldn't be surprised if Google ruins it, as they're on a streak of ruining all of their products lately.

  • Re:the difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hovelander ( 250785 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:27AM (#44945323)

    Like democracy, Slashdot's moderation system is the worst one out there, except for all the other alternatives.

    I'd have to say this is absolutely the case as well. I've been pretty disillusioned with the simple up or down vote system that Ars Technica implemented just recently. It absolutely highlights the problems of down voting due to simple disagreement when it was initially instituted to help stem obvious trolls or abuse. Devolved down into the "downvote, don't agree" syndrome immediately and has led to some very strange groupthink because of it.

    Funny part is that the real conversations/debates just happen further down the list/next pages where only the crickets chirp and the freaks are too stubborn to let things go while they speak out into an increasingly empty chamber. Not sure why I've been finding it so fascinating.

    Slashdot, despite all its flaws, has been the best site I've known to watch it as it evolves. I applaud /.'s use of complexity in the commenting system and wish more sites like Ars would fucking use it. Not the simple up or down popularity contests that the majority of disqus using sites have become before entropy in the 4th dimension just wipes it all clean for another day, another article.

    For good or ill, the human race is engaging in debate on a massive scale now that we didn't before. All the good learning and counter points that have helped me grow, or pissed me off entirely, have been in forums and comments. Not in books. For despair I read the comments under news articles. For absolute hope, the comments and forums in MOOC's are amazing!

    Our roots as humans are completely on display in commenting systems in a way never before possible. Taco and all you fuckers here on /. have absolutely been pioneers in this fascinating area of computer science meets cultural chaos.

    I don't think I could ever quite do it justice, other than to say thank you and fuckoff! I absolutely say that with love to each one of you bastards. Slashdot is broken and always was, but I know my thinking and knowledge has grown and is better off for even the small amount of participation I've engaged in here.

    PopSci are pussies for giving in too soon without adding the complexity to the system like we have here on good, old, aggravating Slashdot.

  • Re:the difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:55AM (#44945429) Homepage
    Good points well made. There are definitely some posts that get down-voted because they go against the common opinion of the site but as you say better posts that go against the norm are normally ok. It does seem hard to get a postly highly rated if it goes against some of the stronger memes (suggesting punishing piracy isn't morally wrong for example) but that's why people with good posting records get rated up automatically.

    What people tend to ignore is that 90%+ of the time two opposing views can exist on Slashdot without one side being modded to hell. At least one of the responses to your post was someone saying it was basically a load of bollocks and at the moment both your post and his are equally rated, which is a pretty good sign that group-think doesn't define anything.
  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @04:36AM (#44945535)

    Pay some people or give the better commenters the ability to temporarliy ban trolls. That's how you solve the problem, not by removing commenting.

  • Re:the difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:05AM (#44945617)

    If you disagree, you should write a comment explaining why, otherwise, what have you added to the conversation? You're just taking part in a popularity contest at that point.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:15AM (#44945977)

    But... but... if modern culture has taught me anything its that my half-assed, poorly thought-out, after-10-minutes-consideration, opinion is every bit as valuable as any experts!

    And if I can't be bothered to share my half-assed opinion, I should at least have the option to "like" someone elses', damn it!

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:35AM (#44946357)

    Anonymity and censorship are two separate things.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tburkhol ( 121842 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:43AM (#44946415)

    I know that by saying "is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television" they are talking about the politicization of scientific issues. The objection I put forth is that discouraging science being "up for grabs" in *any* realm or discouraging debate of scientific issues is basically the exact same thing.

    I think Pop Sci, and their explanation of this policy in particular, do a great job of stating that they do want to encourage real debate and discussion of science topics, for exactly the reason that we don't know everything yet. The problem is deciding what constitutes "real" debate and discussion.

    If you've ever tried to debate gun control, abortion, or vivisection with someone, you know that facts and logic go right out the window, and every statistic you throw up in support of your position can be countered by a matching and completely incompatible statistic from the other side. Neither side will change their position, which is based more on emotion and personal ethics than reason. It is issues like these that have defined the way in which many people see and understand debate. There's little distinction between repeatably tested facts and weaker forms of evidence. Whoever yells louder or can more vehemently discredit the opposition 'wins.'

    Historically, scientific debate has been a (sometimes only slightly) loftier process, largely restricted to experts (loosely defined) and objective evidence. It generally uses more formal language that excludes emotional phrases like "fucking moron." There are people in the general public who have the interest to really follow the arguments and raise excellent and interesting points. Or even just to raise relevant questions that help clarify the discussion for the less expert. PopSci should be lauded for having tried to allow the most open and inclusive discussion possible. Nor is it any surprise that when science is used to support one or another public policy, then the scientific discussion gets clouded by political discussion. People are a lot more passionate about their political positions than their scientific positions, so that side of the debate will quickly overwhelm the less passionate, more technical scientific debate.

    I see this decision as PopSci's admission that they can't separate the political and scientific discussions fairly, and will have to revert the scientific discussion to the more formal forum of articles and letters-to-editor. I don't see that as a bad thing - maybe it will help people recognize the difference between scientific debate and political debate.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:18AM (#44946617)

    I almost never mod stories when I have mod points. Why? Because the stories that I have enough interest in to read through I want to post in and you can't mod in stories you post in. Stories I don't post in I usually don't have any interest in.

    This leads to a paradox where things you have knowledge of you can't mod, and things you don't know about you can mod.

    I think you should be able to apply mod points into stories you post in, but make the limitations more specific -- ie, you can't mod the parent you replied to and you can't mod the replies to your post. This would prevent the self-promotion and group think because you wouldn't be able to promote favorable responses, either.

  • Re:Sour grapes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gottabeme ( 590848 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:53AM (#44946907)

    "There's no debate! There's consensus! It's settled! Now shut up and go sell your car, you stupid denialist."

    That's what many alarmists' reasoning boils down to, i.e. not reason at all. Your reasoning is full of non sequiturs and red herrings and exaggerations and generalizations.

    "Climate change is..." Allow me to complete that for you: "whatever we say it is, and whatever we want it to be."

    "We" most certainly do not know for a fact that human CO2 output is the primary cause of global warming. There is no consensus on that. Maybe you missed it, but the paper by Cook, et al (which was even tweeted by Obama as if it were truth) was basically a big lie, planned ahead of time to ignore data not supporting their presupposition--and they even schemed to manipulate their data to skew the results. The truth was that the majority of scientists did not take a position on whether global warming is mostly due to human output.

    Here's what I see: most alarmists rely on ridicule (e.g. from your post, "stupid", "nutbags", "denialists"), while most dissenters refrain from ridicule and rely on reason.

    But when someone has already made up his mind, it's not possible to change it for him. He has to take his own fingers out of his own ears.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.