Free speech

The issues of free speech and censorship seems to have cropped up in a number of places in the climate debate recently. Judith Curry has a recent post where she has highlighted and commented on recent articles about this topic. I have a number of issues with introducing this topic into the climate science debate. One is that it seems that some are arguing that they should be allowed to say whatever they like. Sure, but your right to free speech doesn’t override my right to not be adversely and unfairly influenced by what you say. What you say has to be true and defensible, especially if what you’re saying reflects on someone else. Another is that it seems that some are complaining that they’re being unfairly targeted for what they say. It’s almost as if they object to being criticised. Again, you’re free to say what you like, but I’m free to criticise you if I think what you’ve said is untrue – again, while staying within the law. So, until someone can show that some are trying to introduce legislation that makes it illegal to say certain things about climate science, it’s hard to see how it’s really a free speech issue.

There’s also an element of irony to some of what people say with regards to free speech. Some people criticised my post about The BBC and its balance as being undemocratic and as arguing against free speech. Really? Surely, it’s perfectly democratic for me to present an argument as to who a major media organisation should interview about a complex topic? I wasn’t proposing new legislation, I was simply suggesting that if a media organisation is to interview someone about something like climate science, maybe they should typically interview an experienced climate scientist. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that certain people should be prevented from expressing their views – I was simply suggesting that major media organisations could be more selective. Of course, those criticising me are well within their rights to suggest that what I’m proposing is undemocratic. That’s the beauty of free speech. I’m then within my rights to suggest that it seems somewhat hypocritical to play the free speech card while – at the same time – trying to delegitimise what someone else has said. Of course, such a process could go on forever and achieve nothing, which may well be the point.

In some sense, one of my main issues with introducing free speech arguments into the climate science debate is that it seems like a cop-out. Free speech doesn’t mean immune from criticism or that you have the right to any kind of platform. It just means that you have the right to express your views – assuming you don’t break the law while doing so – without fear of prosecution. If you’re finding it difficult to get a platform to express your views, or if you’re being heavily criticised when you do, maybe your views aren’t sufficiently robust and your arguments aren’t particularly coherent. Maybe you should think about what you’re saying, rather than suggesting that others are trying to prevent you from speaking freely.

In a similar vein, Collin Maessen had a recent guest post about Legitimate skepticism. Collin’s always had a very strict moderation policy which he explains in his blog rules and which, if I remember correctly, he’s applied to one of my comments in the past. His application of his moderation rules is robust and even-handed. Yet, when he applied them to some of the commenters yesterday, he was accussed – on Twitter – of censorship. Again, this seems absurd. If I don’t let you comment on my blog, I’m not censoring you. You’re welcome to comment elsewhere. You can even start your own blog if you think you’re unable to comment here and wish to respond to what is said. If you can’t follow a site’s moderation rules and your comment gets deleted or edited, it’s your fault for not following the rules, not an example of censorship.

This really brings me to the main reason for writing this post. It was really just an excuse to post the cartoon below which – I think – summarises the position succinctly and accurately.

credit : xkcd

credit : xkcd

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174 Responses to Free speech

  1. I should add that I think there are some real concerns with respect to free speech. I just don’t think that, currently, it’s really applicable to the climate science debate.

  2. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders, this is an interesting piece of (personal moral) legislation:

    > Sure, but your right to free speech doesn’t override my right to not be adversely and unfairly influenced by what you say. What you say has to be true and defensible, especially if what you’re saying reflects on someone else.

    It’s hard to disagree with the ethical principle you’re standing up for here. One does, however, run into problems as soon as one requires speech to be TRUE. Maybe you didn’t think that word—”true”—through to its logical conclusion: it forbids debate, since one side (at least) in any debate is guaranteed to be advocating an INCORRECT view.

    I think the best one can, or may, or should, demand is that speech be HONEST. That way, one allows the expression of disparate, ignorant and mistaken beliefs, as long as they ARE the beliefs of the speaker, which is a precondition for the contest of ideas and (ideally) the survival of the fittest.

  3. Brad Keyes says:

    But if we grant that this is how speech “has to be”:

    > Sure, but your right to free speech doesn’t override my right to not be adversely and unfairly influenced by what you say. What you say has to be true and defensible, especially if what you’re saying reflects on someone else.

    [Mod : I don't want this to degenerate into a discussion about whether or not what someone has said is libellous or not, so have removed this claim.]. Objectively false libel is intolerable, isn’t it?

    So I heartily agree with you here Anders.

    [Mod : removed name] right to free speech doesn’t override the public’s right to not be adversely and unfairly influenced by the lies he tells. What he says has to be true and defensible, especially if what he’s saying reflects on someone else.

    Can I get an Amen here, to verify that (whatever our differences in climatic opinion) we still inhabit the same moral universe, and can proceed from there in good faith?

    Thanks
    BK

  4. AnOilMan says:

    Funny… Another aspect of censorship\moderation is eliminating the negative impact of obnoxious comments. If you let that happen on your blog… no one will read it, or worse no one will understand it.

    http://www.desmog.ca/2013/03/05/incivility-trolls-and-nasty-effect

    Yes this is published research;

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcc4.12009/abstract

  5. Yes, I agree. I was thinking in terms of what someone might claim about someone else, but you’re right TRUE wasn’t the best term to use in this context.

  6. Yep, I indeed applied it once to one of your comments. It was a comment you left on my blog post ‘Responding To Criticism‘.

    People who have know me for a while have seen me apply these rules to everyone, it doesn’t matter to me who you are. You could be a friend, or someone I work with on projects, a complete stranger, an opponent, or someone who agrees with me. I just don’t care about who your are, if you violate the rules I have I will intervene. If I didn’t I would be one of the biggest hypocrites out there as I criticise others for not being consistent in how they apply their rules.

    I’m so strict on content I control because I’ve grown tired of people yelling at each other in comment sections, making the most ridiculous fact-less claims, or go on weird tangents that have no bearing whatsoever on the content they’re responding to.

    Before I created the rules I have my comment sections were a free for all, if you look at my old content you’ll notice that those comment sections can be a mess. But since I’ve been using those rules the quality of comments has gone up, people enjoy themselves more (I’ve had several folks tell me that they like the atmosphere I create with it), and it has done wonders for my exasperation about folks who just derail comment sections.

    I can imagine it’s not for everyone, and it can take some effort to moderate everything consistently and in a timely manner. But I find it worthwhile.

    However, this is still a learning process for me. And I’m not infallible, I can make mistakes. That’s why I also have procedures in place so that people can contest my moderation decisions. It has happened before that this resulted in me reinstating comments (I always have a copy of the original comment). And if I notice that something doesn’t work, I’ll change my rules or procedures. Something I’ve done on several occasions, and every time things go more smoothly.

    What doesn’t change is that there’s always a group of people who complain when they are moderated. Doesn’t matter what you say or do, they just continue complaining. Although it never cease to amaze me that they yell “censorship” and raise free speech issues while using their free speech rights (And Then There’s Physics already mentioned Twitter, but I also noticed them complaining on Bishop Hill). After all, I only moderate my content. They’re free to say what they want somewhere else, as is their right. But it’s also my right to criticise them if they misrepresent me or what I do. ;)

  7. BradK,
    Firstly, I don’t particularly like the “agree with me to prove that you’re decent” style of dialogue.

    Secondly, I don’t know the specifics of the situation you mention so don’t know if what you claim to be objectively true, is actually objectively true. You haven’t provided any evidence. So, as much as I agree that people should be held responsible for what they say about others and should apologise (or be held suitably accountable) if what they say is not true, I can’t agree with you about this specific case because I don’t know if what you claim is actually correct. Objectively false libel is, however, intolerable. I will add, however, that it would be great if everyone who did libel someone else would simply apologise and retract what they say. Sadly, that doesn’t often happen and is why we have the legal systems that we do.

  8. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 4000

  9. The XKCD cartoon is excellent. A libertarian climate-skeptic (ex!) friend of mine always use to yell “censorship!” if anyone couldn’t tolerate his particularly unpleasant approach to climate commenting. It never made sense to me – if I’d invited him round for dinner and he was acting that way, I’d show him the door too. My house. Get out and come back when you’ve stopped being an obnoxious t**t. Free speech?? WHU???

  10. I used to allow all comments when I first started my blog. I became so annoyed with idiots spouting the same denier canards over and over I changed my rules and banned all contrarian talk. Is it censorship? Yes it is but for me it is on moral grounds. Just as I would ban antivax commentators for their dangerously misleading nonscience I ban deniers for theirs. Do I care how they feel about it? Not at all.
    The interesting thing I have noticed is that my blog used to tick along with the same average number of views day after day. Since introducing my zero tolerance rules the numbers have steadily grown while comments have gone down.
    Anyway, love the cartoon. I may steal that and pin it in my rules section.

  11. izen says:

    {Reposted from the Judith Curry ‘free speech’ thread (with minor edits).}
    The right and ability to speak, to express personal views has obviously expanded enormously over the last century. Partly this is due to technology, printing and the internet, but also because many societies have become considerably less authoritarian.
    An obvious example, a century ago JC would not have been able to host this sort of discussion. As a woman she would have been unlikely to be able to pursue a scientific career and would have lacked any social standing. Ethnic minorities were similarly suppressed.

    But while many more of us have the right and ability to speak, (publish, blog etc) speech is only free when it has no cost.

    Many US citizens are free to assert that the Earth was created around 6000 years ago in an act of divine magic. The only cost of this is that the scientifically literate will regard them as idiots.
    However asserting that the Earth formed by natural processes around 4.5billion years ago will get a person kicked out of most bible colleges. A person is free to make the assertion about the age of the Earth but in the context of universities with a religious agenda it carries the cost of exclusion.

    If a person asserts something that damages not their own reputation, but that of another person, the right to ‘free’ speech comes into conflict with the sense of natural justice that for one person to suffer harm at the hands, or words, of another requires that they can seek redress if that accusation is false.
    To claim that free speech implies that when that speech inflicts a cost on others the speaker has no responsibility to redress that cost would fly in the face of well established social ethics.

    As modern societies have abandoned authoritarian systems of governance speech has become considerably MORE free. Rarely do societies choose to penalise statements that contradict the majority dogma, but do still restrict speech that has the effect, intentional or otherwise of damaging, or inflicting a reputational/financial cost on other individual(s).

    In the past dismissing, for example, the contribution of women to scientific discourse was a conventional dogma and no speaker would have expected any damage to their own reputation by claiming that the female of the species was cognitively unsuited to logical analysis.

    Some of the complaints about the ‘slow death of freedom of speech’ looks suspiciously like those who would still assert those old dogmas are complaining that not only are they now disparaged for expressing such views, but those they potentially damage or denigrate have a ‘natural justice’ right to seek redress.

    The specific case of MBH98 and the long campaign against Mann is odd. An accusation of fraud is contradicted by the multiple lines of additional evidence that have largely confirmed the original work, while also exposing its statistical flaws. It is rather as if some people were still accusing Prof Doll of fraud because the initial epidemiological studies that shows a link between cancer and smoking were statistically weak and used old fashioned and now dubious mathematical methods.

    It has no effect, and is not intended to be, a reasoned critique of the science. Certainly nothing Steyn has said has any traction with the scientific community. Its audience is the uninformed layperson who welcomes confirmation of their ‘scepticism’. Asserting Mann’s work is fraudulent is an attempt to damage the reputation of a scientist because of political differences not because there is any valid doubts about the science, just as was the case with the special interests fueled rejection of dangers from DDT, CFCs, asbestos, lead and tobacco and cancer.

  12. izen says:

    An update:
    When I wrote the previous post I thought that the example of people still claiming that the science of medical harm from smoking identified by Prof Doll from epidemiological studies being attacked was purely hypothetical.
    I certainly did not expect that it was possible to encounter a real example of someone exercising their free speech to still be ‘sceptical’ of the link between smoking and ill health.
    And then I encountered this article and the subsequent comment thread!

    http://theaimn.com/2014/04/20/fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-twice-shame-on-me/

  13. izen,
    Wow, that comment thread is quite something.

  14. izen says:

    It is somewhat off topic from the free speech subject, but the objections made by ‘Harley’ Davidson to the science of medical harm from tobacco are a revealing parallel to the climate debate.

    It IS ‘wrong’ to claim that smoking CAUSES cancer, it ‘merely’ loads the dice in a natural process, (massively!).
    As with extreme weather events it is the probabilities that are shifted by AGW, it does not directly cause them. As with smoking there are good biochemical/physical reason why tars/CO2 can be attributed as the factor altering the probabilities, but those biological/physical findings are largely restricted to in vitro/lab bench measurements. Otherwise the link is just a correlation which as statisticians often remind us is NOT a confirmation of causality. However as someone once said, while correlation may not confirm causality, it does sit there shouting ‘look over here!’

    The attack on the link between smoking and disease has given me an idea for new a metaphor for the effects of AGW on extreme weather. I used to say we are living in a ‘Lance Armstrong’ climate. While you cannot attribute any particular win to the (denied) effect of steroids it shifted the probabilities.
    Now I will make the comparison between the increased chances of cancer, circulatory diseases etc with smoking and the increased chances of extreme weather events with CO2 emissions.
    A useful communication device with the added bonus of a well documented history of intentional obfuscation from business interests impacted by the obvious policy implications of the science.

  15. Joshua says:

    Yet, when he applied them to some of the commenters yesterday, he was accussed – on Twitter – of censorship. Again, this seems absurd.”

    Indeed.

    The frequent cries of “censorship” from people whose climate-related blog comments have been moderated is, IMO, one of the best examples of how absurd and out of touch people can get when their are blinded by their biases. It is certainly a positively absurd claim.

    Of course, it happens all over the blogosphere, not only at climate-related blogs, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens at climate blogs at a particularly high rate (certainly, the whole “Yes, but RealClimate moderation policies” – an extension of the “Oh, momma, I’ve been censored” hand-wringing – has been one of the defining features of the climate wars”)

    Anyway, the “concern” about censorship should help people to see that the dynamics of the climate wars are nothing particularly unique, and are not grounded in anything specific to climate change. Larger forces are at play – related to how people reason when faced with controversies that overlap with social, cultural, political, and psychological identifications. So the question is, why are people sometimes so inclined towards delusions of victimhood and persecution?

  16. Brad Keyes says:

    I used to say we are living in a ‘Lance Armstrong’ climate. While you cannot attribute any particular win to the (denied) effect of steroids…

    Really? Oops. I’ve been attributing all his wins to that!

    Now I will make the comparison between the increased chances of cancer, circulatory diseases etc with smoking and the increased chances of extreme weather events with CO2 emissions.

    Excuse my ignorance, but is the “increased chances of extreme weather events with increasing CO2″ meme actually backed up by data—i.e., increased frequency of extreme weather events with increasing CO2? If so, then out of curiosity: what CO2 concentration is associated with the fewest extreme weather events per annum?

  17. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua—

    The frequent cries of “censorship” from people whose climate-related blog comments have been moderated is, IMO, one of the best examples of how absurd and out of touch people can get when their are blinded by their biases. …So the question is, why are people sometimes so inclined towards delusions of victimhood and persecution?

    Slow down big guy! The tradition of crying “censorship” when your comments have been erased may come across as a tad melodramatic but to call it delusional would be equally… er, melodramatic. For starters, they don’t literally believe they’ve been silenced anywhere else. But put yourself in a human’s shoes for a second, Joshua: you’ve spent considerable time crafting the best argument of which your finite intellect is capable—then you’ve submitted it to someone else’s blog in good faith (90% of the time)—yet rather than responding to your idea, or even just ignoring it, they’ve deleted it. If that thought doesn’t piss you off then I dare say motivation is interfering with your empathic faculties. If your first instinct in that situation was to cry “censorship!”, it would strike me as pretty pompous and—in your words—”out of touch” for a third party to object on jurisprudential grounds. Sure, Oliver Wendell Holmes must be rolling in his grave every time a dissatisfied customer of a censorious blog uses the term so loosely, but until you can suggest a better way [for the common man, who lacks a Law degree] to express the unpleasantness of being redacted from a comment thread, don’t be surprised if (normal, lucid, oriented) keep blurting out the first word that comes to mind.

  18. AnOilMan says:

    You know… I prefer moderated blogs. It keeps ‘them’ on a leash, and me as well. I’ve noticed that this stuff has rubbed off on me in the wrong way. Its spilled over into real life. Heck Rachel noted a while back that people had started self moderating, and saving her the trouble.

    “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” –Mark Twain

    Hmm. What would a good corollary for them be?

    “Never argue with smart people. They will enlighten you with their knowledge, and then you’ll learn something.” – AnOilMan

  19. Rachel says:

    Brad,

    “Excuse my ignorance, but is the “increased chances of extreme weather events with increasing CO2″ meme actually backed up by data”

    I read (well, skimmed is probably more precise) the first seven chapters of the IPCC report WGII AR5 and this is what I found:

    Climate change will increase the frequency of droughts, floods, and heat waves. There will be more heavy rainfall events and the frequency of landslides is expected to increase.

  20. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    When I go to a blog and write comments that I know will annoy the moderator, even if I”m not 100% sure that it might be moderated, I know full well that the moderator might respond by deleting my comments. I am responsible for the outcome.

    ” Joshua: you’ve spent considerable time crafting the best argument of which your finite intellect is capable—then you’ve submitted it to someone else’s blog in good faith (90% of the time)—yet rather than responding to your idea, or even just ignoring it, they’ve deleted it.”

    IMO – that isn’t what happens. In fact, I’ve never seen what you describe happen. It depends on what you describe as “good faith.” Good faith means that you don’t write comments in a way that will obviously antagonize the moderator. There are all kinds of ways to get any point across in ways that don’t engender that kind of a reaction.

    The point is that when you write comments on a blog, you know that the blog moderator has the hammer. You are invited into their playground to play. If they kick you out of the playground, it isn’t censorship. You haven’t been silenced. You haven’t been prevented from expressing your opinions. Claiming it is censorship is delusional.

    Say I invite you to my house and you start saying things that I find insulting, and you know I will find insulting. And we exchange some words and I make it clear that I find what you’re saying insulting. So if you continue, and I kick you out of my house – could that in any way be considered censorship? If you think my analogy fails, to let me know.

    At any rate, in my experience, blog discourse is largely made up of people looking to justify their sense of victimhood – if not consciously then unconsciously – and so then it makes perfect sense (is “rational”) to do something that you know will set up a situation where you can claim that you’re a victim. But actually, it is usually conscious, IMO. People looking for a certain reaction because it will confirm their biases, prove their point, make their “enemies” bad and intolerant people. People who don’t have a bone to pick or a chip on their shoulder don’t get censored at blogs. Even when moderation is inconsistent, anyone with an open mind knows that when they’re stepping into territory where they might get moderated. For example, I think that Judith has no clear set of criteria, uniformly applied, for her moderation. I have had comments disappeared when, in my assessment of her stated criteria, my comment should not be moderated whereas comments that I was responding to where the ones that should have been. But I know full well, even in those situations, that Judith could well delete my comments. I think that my comment being deleted is evidence of a double-standard on her point. But still, It just can’t equal censorship because it’s her blog.

    (And yes, I just said that being delusional can be rational – because it’s rational in the sense that writing a comment that got deleted gives someone a chance to validate their sense of victimhood even though they aren’t a victim and the result was an easily predictable outcome of their own actions).

    “If that thought doesn’t piss you off then I dare say motivation is interfering with your empathic faculties” It doesn’t piss me off because I don’t take all of this stuff so seriously. People need to get over themselves. Their blog comments, for God’s sake. In an environment that’s full of nastiness and name-calling and subjective reasoning and double standards and arbitrariness.

    ” don’t be surprised if (normal, lucid, oriented) keep blurting out the first word that comes to mind.”

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least. First, I’ve seen it countless times. Second, it’s easily predictable, because of the nature of the biases that influence our reasoning. I’m not surprised in the least that people are so often so easily self-delusional.

  21. Joshua says:

    …They’re (hot their) blog comments, for God’s sake….

    So even though you don’t agree with me Brad, play along for a minute as if I”m right, and ask yourself a hypothetical; if I were right, what would make people so easily self-delusional so as to believe that they’ve been “censored” because a freakin’ blog comment got erased?

  22. Brad Keyes says:

    Hi Rachel

    thanks for finding this:

    Climate change will increase the frequency of droughts, floods, and heat waves. There will be more heavy rainfall events and the frequency of landslides is expected to increase.

    But it’s a prediction. It hasn’t happened. It might not happen.The exact opposite could occur for all I know.

    We’re still no closer to understanding where izen’s idea about “increased chances of extreme weather events with CO2 emissions” actually came from.

    At some point it has to be grounded in some actual data, observations, frequencies.

    Otherwise the claim is baseless and izen is monging pseudoscience, and has to stop.

  23. Joshua says:

    and btw – Brad, in case I didn’t dig my hole deep enough already.

    I also think that people are deluding themselves if they think that deleting comments is some step that is necessary to prevent a discussion (between people with different opinions) from degenerating. That doesn’t mean that I question the “right” of someone like Anders to delete comments from his blog. Of course he has that right. But, IMO, deleting comments does not further the goal of having good faith exchanges between people with differing viewpoints. It may help keep people from getting annoyed (with the comments of the type that get deleted), but I have yet to see deleting comments actually generate better discussions.

    I guess the one exception might be if there were some blog where there was some established history of good faith exchange between people of differing views that got attacked in some coordinated effort to undermine those discussions. In fact, while have been accused of attempting to undermine such discussions, the accusations were laughable – and I have never seen a situation where something like that happened. First, I’ve never yet seen a blog where there was an established history of what I would call good faith exchanges between people of differing viewpoints. Second, I think that it is very unlikely that if such blogs do exist, there would ever be a coordinated attempt to undermine it.

    In my view, the best way of establishing a forum for good faith exchange of views is for the blogger to set a good standard. IMO, Anders has done an admirable job of setting such a standard (Kahan does a good job also). And while this blog is perhaps one of the best, IMO, in that regard, we can see that still, the task is incredibly difficult. The problem is, people who might be interested in good faith exchanges are very conditioned and habituated to poor-faith exchange, and further, not many people are really looking to engage in good-faith exchange in the first place (see above comments about vindicating a sense of victimhood)

  24. izen, the harley dude is typical of a number of the paid trolls (or delusional idiots) you will find in any blog that discusses some sort of science be it, climate, tobacco, vaccination, evolution etc in that his stream of posts are long and separated by only minutes. A quick cut and paste into google reveals he cuts and pastes everything and has probably plagiarised it originally from elsewhere. I have on occasion had that sort at my blog and now everytime I get a new commentator whose first comment is held in moderation, I do the google test to see if its a cut and paste, regardless which “side” they are coming from.

  25. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    that’s a perspective I hadn’t thought of—and I don’t want to say it’s any less valid than mine.

    I wasn’t actually thinking of insults. But you’re absolutely right: readers who simply insult their hosts and add nothing to their hosts’ blog can’t (rationally) invest much in a comment whose survival is (rationally) doomed.

    I wasn’t thinking of low-quality, stupid, lazy comments of any kind.

    I was thinking of comments that are deleted because they’re good, not because they’re bad.

    You probably never even see these comments because they get deleted faster than any other kind.

    What I had in mind—because it happens to me several times a week—is the situation where your host is wrong, and you write a comment proving this.

    Any host who feels insulted by correction is a coward. Any coward who deletes corrections is a cowardly liar.

    Such people hate the truth, and don’t deserve a place at the adult table. They need to be exposed.

  26. izen says:

    @- Brad Keyes – Re:Lance Armstrong’s drug use –
    “Really? Oops. I’ve been attributing all his wins to that!”

    He was a dedicated (obsessive?) athlete who trained hard and had a good team to back him up. Some of the ’cause’ of his success is attributable to that.

    @- “Excuse my ignorance, but is the “increased chances of extreme weather events with increasing CO2″ meme actually backed up by data—i.e., increased frequency of extreme weather events with increasing CO2?”

    Good question, I think yes because ‘extreme weather events’ in this context is any local weather that is outside the average rate experienced over the last 6000 years during which humans have established the agricultural infrastructure that underpins our civilisation.

    @- “If so, then out of curiosity: what CO2 concentration is associated with the fewest extreme weather events per annum?”

    Whatever CO2 concentration that would preserve the past 6000 years of (relative) climate stability.

  27. Brad,

    We’re still no closer to understanding where izen’s idea about “increased chances of extreme weather events with CO2 emissions” actually came from.

    I think you’re being disingenuous here. There are already some extreme events (heatwaves) that are attributable to GW. However, that wasn’t really the point. The point was that, as with smoking and cancer, GW is not going to suddenly start causing extreme events to occur that have never occurred before. It will load the dice so that some events become more likely than they would be in the absence of GW. You might argue that this is unproven, but that’s not the point being made. Also, if you think we can continue adding energy to our climate system without influencing – in some way – extreme weather events, then maybe you should go and read a first-year physics textbook.

    What I had in mind—because it happens to me several times a week—is the situation where your host is wrong, and you write a comment proving this.

    Any host who feels insulted by correction is a coward. Any coward who deletes corrections is a cowardly liar.

    Such people hate the truth, and don’t deserve a place at the adult table. They need to be exposed.

    I don’t know if this applies to you, but as the host of a blog, there is a massive difference between someone who clearly explains why something I’ve said might be wrong and someone who states I’m wrong with virtually no evidence. Just because someone believes very strongly that I’m wrong does not make it so. Just because they repeat it over and over again, doesn’t make it so. So, it very much depends on how one has expressed the view that the host is wrong and I do sympathise with those who might get irritated by someone who claims they’re wrong without actually putting any effort into explaining why or considering that maybe they are mistaken themselves.

  28. Brad Keyes says:

    izen,

    I don’t understand this:

    > Good question, I think yes because ‘extreme weather events’ in this context is any local weather that is outside the average rate experienced over the last 6000 years during which humans have established the agricultural infrastructure that underpins our civilisation.

    ‘Extreme weather events’ are events. They’re not “rates.”

    Their frequency could go up or down.

    You said their frequency was going to go UP as CO2 concentrations go up.

    Not down. Not “outside” (whatever that means). UP.

    You analogised it to smoking. The more you smoke, the HIGHER your risk of cancer.

    You analogised it to steroids. If an athlete takes steroids, his chances of winning will go UP.

    But there’s a problem with the analogy, izen:

    We KNOW steroids enhance athletic performance because we’ve got countless medical trials showing, time after time after time, that winners do drugs.

    We KNOW smoking increases your risk of airway cancer because we’ve got a lot of epidemiological data— [Mod : unnecessary comparison removed] —showing a robust positive correlation.

    You THINK carbon dioxide emissions will increase the rate of extreme weather events.

    You SAY carbon dioxide emissions will increase the rate of extreme weather events.

    But what evidence do you have?

    (I’m just trying to sift the science from the religion.)

  29. Rachel says:

    Brad,

    “You SAY carbon dioxide emissions will increase the rate of extreme weather events.
    But what evidence do you have?”

    I’ve already answered this. The recently released IPCC reports say that certain extreme events – flooding, heat waves etc – will increase in frequency. Sure, these are projections and they may turn out to be wrong, but they are still evidence-based.

  30. Brad,
    Okay, it is quite possible that GW will reduce the likelihood of some extreme events. Tornadoes, for example, need energy (warm air) and some kind of wind shear. Global warming will increase the available energy but might reduce the wind shear. Hence it isn’t clear quite what the impact of global warming will be. However, this is rather beside the point and you’re getting close to nit-picking, rather than addressing the point that’s being made. The basic point was that global warming, which will add energy to the climate system, will not specifically cause individual events but – in the case of some events – will change the distribution of events so that certain events become more likely than they would be in the absence of global warming.

    As far as your “KNOW” goes, sure we do know lots about the link between smoking and cancer. Of course, there is evidence to suggest that what we know today is consistent with what we suspected decades ago. Scientifically, we could choose to wait 50 years to ensure that we KNOW the link between global warming and extreme weather. That may be scientifically interesting but societally very damaging. Of course, I would argue that one reason for doing science is so that we can try and understand what might happen so that we can avoid potentially damaging impacts.

    This xkcd cartoon seems relevant.

  31. AnOilMan says:

    Don’t feed the trolls. They only come back for more.

  32. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders:

    > Firstly, I don’t particularly like the “agree with me to prove that you’re decent” style of dialogue.

    No, neither do I, sorry about that.

    > There are already some extreme events (heatwaves) that are attributable to GW.

    But as izen argued, and I tend to agree, individual events CAN’T be attributed to GW.

    > It will load the dice so that some events become more likely than they would be in the absence of
    GW.

    So you say.
    But I notice you’ve reduced the claim substantially. izen and I were talking about ALL extreme weather events, in total, their combined frequency.
    Izen said the frequency would go UP.
    I would simply like some evidence for that.

    > You might argue that this is unproven, but that’s not the point being made.

    I don’t want proof. (I’m aware that this is a scientific question, not a mathematical one.)
    I just want evidence.
    Since I’m constantly accused of ‘denying’ the “evidence,” it’d be interesting to see what it is I’m supposed to be denying. At least once.
    Just out of curiosity.

    > if you think we can continue adding energy to our climate system without influencing – in some way – extreme weather events, then maybe you should go and read a first-year physics textbook.

    “Influencing in some way”?
    Wow, that’s a backpedal!
    Please let’s stick to the topic.
    Izen didn’t make the (banal and undeniable) prophecy that extreme weather events will change in some unspecified way from year to year.
    He said they will become more frequent. That their rate would go UP. Not down. Not left.
    I’ve never seen any evidence for this. It’s not that I’m DENYING the evidence, it’s just that I keep asking for it but nobody seems to know where it is.
    I’m beginning to suspect it’s just something izen SAYS.
    He just made it up, right?
    If it’s just a faith-based assertion, then please feel free to say so! Everyone makes mistakes. No biggie.

  33. Brad,
    This really is turning into one of these tedious, bad-faith discussions. You’re pedantically interpreting what Izen says as fundamentally relying on the use of ALL while suggesting I’m back-pedalling because I added some caveats and essentially acknowledged that ALL is maybe too strong. Let’s be very clear about something. If you think the consequence of continuing to add energy to our climate system is that extreme events will typically reduce in frequency and intensity, then you’re an [Mod: snip]. We would typically expect them to increase in frequency and intensity. Therefore, unless you’re going to argue that Izen is wrong because it should be ALMOST ALL, rather than ALL, Izen is essentially correct.

    Also, you’ve deflected the discussion from the point that was being made. The point was mainly related to the analogous issue of whether smoking CAUSES cancer. No, it doesn’t but it certainly influences the likelihood of cancer. Similarly, AGW doesn’t CAUSE extreme weather but it will almost certainly influence their frequency and intensity.

    As far as proof goes, as I’ve said before, my role isn’t to provide evidence to convince others of something. If you’re clever enough to play these semantic games, you’re clever enough to look through the evidence yourself. Rachel’s already provided some. There’s this RealClimate post about extreme weather events. For Tropical Cyclones, there’s this paper by Elsner that finds trends in some basins, but also finds an increase in the frequency of the strongest TCs with increasing Sea Surface Temperature. That’s an interesting result because it could be argued is essentially an attribution test. If the frequency of the strongest TCs increases with increasing SST and if AGW is going to increase SST (as it will) then AGW will lead to an increase in the frequency of extreme TCs. You can also read this post about Roger Pielke Jr’s US TC analysis. Even though he concludes that the losses due to landfalling TCs won’t increase for a long time, that is still based on model results that suggest that the rate of landfalling category 5 TCs will increase by a factor of 3 by 2080.

  34. Tom Curtis says:

    Geophysical, meteorological and hydrological events from Munich re.

    Note, all three are climbing. The increase in geophysical events is probably due to increased reportage, and provides a benchmark for the effect of increased reporting. The increase in meteorological and hydrological events (both climate related), even when normalized against geophysical events is stark.

    People who have not seen this evidence have simply not being paying attention.

  35. verytallguy says:

    On free speech.

    Scenario 1: I occasionally am roused by religious door-knockers who wish to recruit me to their organisation. I politely say “no thank you” and shut the door. I am not censoring them.

    Scenario 2: If they barged into my house (I hasten to add they don’t, they’re very polite) and shouted and raved about how wrong my morality was I *still* wouldn’t be censoring them if I asked them to leave and shut the door in their face.

    Scenario 3: If they leafletted my neighbours, falsely accusing me of immoral acts and I went to law to stop them, that wouldn’t be censoring either.

    Match the scenario to the talking point from the climate wars.

  36. The free speech can be discussed on many levels. I have written two comments on Collin Maessen’s site on signs of attitude that I see as contrary to free speech at the level of society. Such attitudes make me uneasy even when they are only hints, and surely not influential as such.

    Free speech on individual blog sites is a totally different issue. It’s not directly a societal issue, it’s an issue that affects the nature and quality of the site, and society more generally only to the extent that single site has an influence. On this level the comment of Joshua is relevant:

    I also think that people are deluding themselves if they think that deleting comments is some step that is necessary to prevent a discussion (between people with different opinions) from degenerating. That doesn’t mean that I question the “right” of someone like Anders to delete comments from his blog. Of course he has that right. But, IMO, deleting comments does not further the goal of having good faith exchanges between people with differing viewpoints. It may help keep people from getting annoyed (with the comments of the type that get deleted), but I have yet to see deleting comments actually generate better discussions.

    My basic view is very similar, but I don’t put so much weight on the actual moderation. In most cases the negative effects of moderation are not severe, but I feel that many otherwise interesting sites suffer more from another similar issue. They have eager regulars, who seem to feel morally superior to some of the other commenters. The behave more papal than the pope, and ridicule those who have “wrong” opinions. In case of issues related to climate change they tend to go far beyond what IPCC tells, and to use both quotes from the IPCC reports and from scientific literature very selectively. This kind of behavior leads to a site that cannot support real argumentation on issues where a range of opinions is fully legitimate. Such a site cannot contribute anything, because the relatively small audience agrees already on everything, be their views correct or in error.

    My above paragraph may describe a caricature, but I think that much of the climate blogosphere suffers to some extent from that, more than from errors in moderation.

    Implying or stating even directly that those who disagree are morally inferior is one of the worst errors that can be made in discussion in my view.

  37. Pekka and Joshua,
    So, yes, I agree that it can become a societal issue. But let me put a slightly different spin on things. It’s my right to delete someone’s comment and typically I would do so if I don’t see it being a constructive comment and because I don’t want to have the moderation hassles that it will likely produce. Call it selfish, but this is just a “hobby”. However, people are welcome to come back and try again. So, if deleting/moderating a comment doesn’t improve the discussion then that – in my view – is partly the fault of the commenter for not then trying to see how they can say what they want to say without leading to a degeneration of the discussion. It is perfectly possible to disagree with others without annoying them at the same time – in my view at least. That’s not to say that as the moderator I don’t share any of the blame, but a something I encounter are those who seem unwilling to acknowledge their role in how discussions develop. Maybe it shows strength of character if someone believes that they’re absolutely correct. Personally, I would argue that it doesn’t.

  38. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders:
    > This really is turning into one of these tedious, bad-faith discussions.

    I seem to have misunderstood you, and vice versa—which does NOT imply bad faith (and you shouldn’t be so quick to jump to that inference, Anders).

    > You’re pedantically interpreting what Izen says as fundamentally relying on the use of ALL

    No—Izen didn’t even use the word ALL, if I recall correctly. I’ll try to be clearer this time!
    izen claims “extreme weather events” simpliciter, overall, in general, in sum, all events considered, are going to become more frequent.

    My question is: why should we believe that? Evidence?
    (Tom Curtis may have answered my call, at last, so I’ll have to check out his source. Thank you Tom.)

    > while suggesting I’m back-pedalling because I added some caveats and essentially acknowledged that ALL is maybe too strong.

    Nuance is great. Detail is great. Thank you.
    I apologise for thinking (and therefore saying) that you were backpedalling, Anders.
    The word ‘ALL’ is a distraction.
    The question is: are “extreme weather events” simpliciter (overall, in general, in sum, all events considered) likely to become MORE frequent with GW? Are you happy to make that prediction, along with izen, Anders? Yes or no? Or would you rather say this “isn’t quite clear”?

    > Let’s be very clear about something. If you think the consequence of continuing to add energy to our climate system is that extreme events will typically reduce in frequency and intensity, then you’re an [Mod: snip].

    I don’t “think” (predict? believe?) that, and I didn’t say that.

    > We would typically expect them to increase in frequency and intensity.

    Would we? That’s plausible, but not obvious, to me. My quibbles would be:

    1. I’d intuitively expect heatwaves to become more frequent, while cold spells became rarer. (Since cold spells are very bad news from a population medicine POV, this seems like a good tradeoff. So “intensity” is a less relevant metric to me than body count.)
    2. The other type of extreme weather event on everyone’s mind—the cyclonic event—could very much go either way, couldn’t it?
    3. Intuition seems pretty pointless in this kind of question. All I’m interested in knowing, as a scientific person—and perhaps Tom has supplied something along these lines—is the empirical trend.

    > Therefore, unless you’re going to argue that Izen is wrong because it should be ALMOST ALL, rather than ALL, Izen is essentially correct.

    Izen is only correct if the evidence tells us the probable number of extreme weather events per year will increase as GW continues. Does the evidence licence such a statement? Yes or no? And if so, when did the increase begin? If you had a magic wand, which year would you return the planet to in order to maximise our chance of enjoying the least-extreme weather? (There MUST be an answer to this question if we have respectable data on extreme weather.)

    > Also, you’ve deflected the discussion from the point that was being made.

    No I haven’t. This is a CONVERSATION. Dozens if not hundreds of distinct points have been made so far. I simply focused on the most interesting one.

    > AGW doesn’t CAUSE extreme weather but it will almost certainly influence their frequency and intensity.

    Well yes. This point is so obvious I can’t see why so many words are wasted on it. Are there actually people out there who think AGW *causes* specific events? Have you ever met someone who needed a “loaded dice” analogy in order to disabuse them of such a facile metaphysics?

    If we “blame” a heatwave on AGW, do we also have to “thank” AGW for every cold snap that might have happened without AGW?

  39. @Pekka: I suggest you carefully read my final response to you on my blog. As what you’re saying misrepresents what I already have said to you.

    What my point is that there is very big difference between talking about something that is uncertain, new, or unknown. Or undermining well established science in the case of for example anti-vaxxers who then cause harm. That’s the situation where morality and ethics come into play.

    And Pekka, I come down just as hard on people who make incorrect claims about climate change who are on my side as those that attack valid science.

  40. I do see the benefits of clear moderation. And in my view exactly the opposite of Pekka Pirilä happens: the pseudo-sceptics, lacking arguments and evidence, do their best to frustrate the discussion with bad language and trying to misinterpret or focus on details, just like Brad does above. Moderating this kind of behaviour can lead to a more factual discussion. And I would argue you see the differences clearly. Also within the camps, the tone of the discussion at HotWhopper, here or Collin Maessen is very different.

    Bard Keyes, just read the special report of the IPCC on extremes and you will see that for many types of extremes the increases in frequency have been detected already.

    [Mod : final paragraph and associated comparison moderated.]

  41. Brad,

    The question is: are “extreme weather events” simpliciter (overall, in general, in sum, all events considered) likely to become MORE frequent with GW? Are you happy to make that prediction, along with izen, Anders? Yes or no? Or would you rather say this “isn’t quite clear”?

    Yes, in my opinion GW will – in general – increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

    I’d intuitively expect heatwaves to become more frequent, while cold spells became rarer. (Since cold spells are very bad news from a population medicine POV, this seems like a good tradeoff. So “intensity” is a less relevant metric to me than body count.)

    I don’t think that this will be a good tradeoff if we follow our current emission pathway and potentially increase average global surface temperatures by 5 degrees by 2100.

    The other type of extreme weather event on everyone’s mind—the cyclonic event—could very much go either way, couldn’t it?

    The influence of GW on tornadoes is unclear, but the general view is that GW will increase the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones. There is evidence for statistically significant increases in some basins (Elsner et al. 2008) and this is what most models are predicting/projecting .

    Intuition seems pretty pointless in this kind of question. All I’m interested in knowing, as a scientific person—and perhaps Tom has supplied something along these lines—is the empirical trend.

    I don’t think that considering how increasing the energy in the climate system will influence extreme weathers is intuition.

    Well yes. This point is so obvious I can’t see why so many words are wasted on it. Are there actually people out there who think AGW *causes* specific events? Have you ever met someone who needed a “loaded dice” analogy in order to disabuse them of such a facile metaphysics?

    No, I don’t think there really are credible people who think AGW causes specific events. What there are, though, are people who claim that there are people who think this.

    If we “blame” a heatwave on AGW, do we also have to “thank” AGW for every cold snap that might have happened without AGW?

    If AGW was only ever going to increase the global surface temperatures by a degree or so, this may be fine. Given that there is a non-negligible chance that if we continue on our current emission pathway it could increase global surface temperatures by as much as 5 degrees by 2100, then I doubt that we would be thanking AGW for reducing the number of cold snaps.

  42. Why you continue to entertain trolls is beyond me. You need only go to this clown’s “satirical” blog to realise he thinks trolling is a whole lot of fun. Like every other typical troll, he has managed to hijack this comment thread and turn it into a discussion of minutiae.

  43. Collin,
    I didn’t intend to comment at all what you have said. If I have misrepresented you that’s unintentional at that level.

    Neither did I intend to imply anything about your moderation. My very limited impression on that is in agreement with your statement on trying to be equally harsh to all who don’t follow the guidelines.

    I linked to my posts at your site only because I consider their content relevant to this thread here, and because the first contained a link to the guest post on your site making it less applicable to copy the content of my comments here.

    The issues I discuss are IMO a concern for most sites. Maintaining a site or writing regularly at a particular site is motivated by something. It’s common that that something involves a belief of being right on something, and trying to promote that way of thinking. That’s, of course, a good motive, absolutely nothing wrong with that. All of us should, however, try to be humble, and accept that we may err. (I try, but I cannot really judge how well I succeed.) We must also accept that most people are similarly moral and ethical. Still people have highly different views and opinions. I believe that people who do their best to be critical of their own views, and who genuinely accept the value of differing views have the change of hosting also best blog sites.

  44. Victor,
    The pseudo-skeptics may have bad intentions. Some of them resort effectively to spamming and moderation is a way to stop spamming, perhaps the only way.

    Otherwise I would trust more the readership in general. Other readers are as intelligent as you or I. They are not immediately misled by some stupid comments. Therefore allowing some more stupid comments is a lesser loss than what results from driving out sincere contributors of differing views worth further considerations.

  45. verytallguy says:

    So, attempting to remain on-topic, I’d like to respectfully disagree with Pekka on moderation. Indeed I offer

    Tall’s moderation hypothesis: There are no unmoderated climate blogs whose comments sections are worth reading.

    This hypothesis is easily falsified. I look forward to your proposals!

    Also I’d like to thank Brad for so amply illustrating the point in ATTPs cartoon, that free speech

    doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit, or host you while you share it

  46. @Pekka: Sorry, didn’t mean to imply you did it intentionally. I use misrepresent in a neutral way, I don’t mean to say either intentional or unintentional with it. Just forgot to add the little caveat I normally add when I use the word misrepresent.

  47. VTG,
    I haven’t objected to moderation.

    As an example my own site requires registration, and I retain full right to stop commenting from anyone. (It’s quiet and has had only few half-lively discussions, but the idea is clear.)

    What I have been discussing is the relationship between the goals of a site and the level of moderation that serves those goals best. Even more I have emphasized the way those people are met, whose views differ from the typical of the regulars, but who have not made it fully clear by their behavior that they are spammers or not what they pretend to be.

  48. verytallguy says:

    Pekka, I obviously misunderstood you, apologies

  49. Collin,

    You might note my approach. Right now I write the first time Dave123. I haven’t referred to him. I haven’t referred to his post as a whole. I haven’t made any claims on his real views. What I have written is that the implications of one sentence in his post made me feel uneasy. Then i explained, why that’s the case.

  50. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders:

    > Secondly, I don’t know the specifics of the situation you mention so don’t know if what you claim to be objectively true, is actually objectively true. You haven’t provided any evidence.

    Oops, I did try to post the evidence earlier—my comment got lost somewhere. Sorry about that.

    [Mod : You’ve missed my earlier moderation comment

    [Mod : I don't want this to degenerate into a discussion about whether or not what someone has said is libellous or not, so have removed this claim.]

    I really don’t want to start a detailed discussion about a specific issue. This is not the place for it. ]

  51. izen says:

    @- Brad Keyes

    At the risk of perpetuating this Off topic jousting…

    Others have already pointed out examples where there is already statistical evidence of increasing extremes and I thank you for acknowledging that I did not use the qualifier ‘ALL’, I actually said – ‘any’ extreme weather event.

    But I apologies for any ambiguity that I may have created in trying to keep things short. I know that gives the motivated pedant an opportunity to cherry-pick the least defensible interpretation of a post to attack it.
    Done that myself on some occasions. {grin}

    So to (hopefully) clarify, I think that increasing the energy in a chaotic system will increase the range of variation. Extreme values become more probable at both ends of the PDF.
    Extreme in this context is weather events that impact our civilisational infrastructure, especially agriculture. I think that both the intensity and frequency of such extreme events will be affected.

    There is one impact of AGW that has the effect of increasing the impact of certain extreme events already without any need for statistical detection, and will continue to do so.
    Sea level rise has already increased the severity and incidence of storm surge damage and has increased the rate of coastal erosion. The rise and increasing rate of seal level change is an objectively measurable physical property (no statistical significance test required) with well established consequences for coastal communities.
    There seems very little prospect of that process reversing.

  52. Tom Curtis says:

    Brad Keyes:

    “1. I’d intuitively expect heatwaves to become more frequent, while cold spells became rarer. (Since cold spells are very bad news from a population medicine POV, this seems like a good tradeoff. So “intensity” is a less relevant metric to me than body count.)”

    I wish people would examine their parochial assumptions. Failure to do so results in silly “intuitive” expectations. In this case Brad Keyes generalizes the likely near term effects of global warming on heat and cold deaths in temperate countries (in one of which, no doubt, he lives) and assumes that is generalizable to the world at large. In fact, however, the majority of the worlds population is to be found in tropical or sub-tropical regions where deaths due to cold are a rarity, while heat related deaths are not uncommon. The result is that by one estimate, in 2010 there were 33,800 excess deaths due to heat. The data are summarized in the report (43 MB PDF):

    “The global impact of climate change on heat and cold-related illnesses is estimated at 35,000 additional deaths a year in 2010, with one million more people affected than would have been
    the case without climate change. The net figure includes approximately 45,000 deaths, mainly in developing countries, and close to 10,000 deaths avoided in developed countries, which are expected
    to see a net positive effect. The worst affected countries are mainly developing countries of Africa and
    Asia, but include Russia and several Commonwealth of Independent States countries where chronic disease burdens are very high. The largest total effects occur in India, with over 10,000 deaths per year. Very high total impacts are also seen in countries such as Nigeria, Russia, the Ukraine, Bangladesh, and DR Congo. The death toll is expected to remain relatively stable through to 2030, with mortality increasing to 55,000 people, but with avoided deaths also doubling from 10,000 to 20,000 over the same time period.

    The net mortality by nation is here.

    It should be noted that Russia was an exception to the pattern of reduced deaths in temperate countries (for obvious reasons given the record breaking heat wave in 2010). That is significant because 2010 style heatwaves in Russia are expected to become relatively frequent events (return intervals < 5 years) with high emission scenarios. Therefore with ongoing climate change in the long term, even temperate nations will see an excess of heat related deaths over reduced mortality from cold related deaths.

  53. Tom Curtis says:

    And apologies to the moderator who snipped Brad’s post as off topic after I started responding. I would plead with them, however, to retain my response for at least 24 hours so that Brad Keyes can read it. The parochial thinking he evidenced is pernicious and needs to be combated.

  54. Tom,
    The comment you’ve responded to is still there, I think. I was just snipping accusations of libel.

  55. izen says:

    In an attempt to return to the ‘Free Speech’ topic…

    Everything from blog moderation to taking people to court for libel/slander is NOT censorship, its just the management of social interactions. To claim otherwise (as Steyn does) is rhetorical hyperbole.

    Generally censorship is the preserve of governments. A topical example would be the present government of Turkey blocking social media and youtube.
    However non-governmental groups can also impose censorship on others by inflicting penalties that inhibt free expression. I have already mentioned the consequences of free expression on students at bible collages in the US. But another example would be the complete absence of any attempt to reprint the cartoons about Mohammed (saw) that got the Dutch(?) magazine into trouble. Angry mobs and assassinating people is almost as effective as government edict in suppressing free speech.

  56. Brad Keyes says:

    izen:

    > At the risk of perpetuating this Off topic jousting…

    Speaking of the actual topic of the post, yes, I’d much rather discuss something that goes right to the question of Free Speech and its moral and legal limits, but my comment keeps getting censored. Oops, I mean deleted!

    ;-D So we’re forced to talk about extreme weather events.

    And by the way, I’m not “jousting” with you izen. Asking someone what evidence they have for a theory about nature is not “jousting.”

    It’s not debating.
    It’s not adversarial.

    I’m not trying to beat you.
    I wish we could step outside the bunker/cult/Climateball mentality for once.

    > Extreme in this context is weather events that impact our civilisational infrastructure, especially agriculture.

    This is a COMPLETELY novel definition of ‘extreme’ for me, izen.

    With apologies to Prof Abraham, this kind of thing is “Why We Can’t Have a Normal, Sensible Conversation About Climate Change.”

    I’m not blaming you, izen. The problem is systemic. Everybody is speaking a different language. Maybe what we need in the climate debate is not “free speech” but Speech Codes.

  57. BBD says:

    And by the way, I’m not “jousting” with you izen. Asking someone what evidence they have for a theory about nature is not “jousting.”

    Then stop the sophistry and go back to what Tom Curtis says above.

  58. AnOilMan says:

    That brings me back to Canada… ’cause I know Canada.

    The conservative government has been censoring scientists and preventing them from talking to the public. When government scientists are allowed out, they are accompanied by political minders. The latest trend is to appeal to the uneducated by painting expert opinion as some sort of liberal plot. (That plays on two levels… to the unwashed, and to the party faithful.)

    http://www.desmogblog.com/bringing-climate-censorship-home-to-canada

    8 years after that post;

    http://desmog.ca/2014/02/21/michael-mann-canadians-should-fight-harper-s-war-science-and-u-s-should-help

    I grew reading George Orwell’s 1984, and thinking that censorship was a bad bad thing. Canadian conservatives seem to be using 1984 like a manual.

    The real question is… Why should governments be afraid of scientists?
    The answer is obvious… When they aren’t your government anymore.

  59. AnOilMan says:

    Brad Keyes: What page and what paragraph of the IPCC working group report are you stuck on. Perhaps we can help you with that.

  60. OPatrick says:

    Can I ask how people are baselining their measures of extreme events? If it’s based on the pre-warming climate then it seems intuitive that any significant shift in climate will increase extremes, if what’s previously counted as an extreme event continues to be viewed as an extreme event. If you have a bell-shaped curve and define the top and bottom 1%, say, as extremes then moving the curve in one direction will significantly increase extreme events (assuming these are not redefined) at one end but only marginally reduce them at the other.

  61. Dr C says:

    Izen says: Extreme in this context is weather events that impact our civilisational infrastructure, especially agriculture.

    What if, however, it is the opposite that’s true. What if it is our ‘civilizational infrastructure’ [sic] that is moving into where these weather events are in fact completely normal occurrences?

    Take, for example, the current drought in California. Notwithstanding the tragedy of it, it is a completely normal occurrence in California. In fact, the past century in California was one of the wettest the region has ever had. The state may be return to its normal extremely arid state. Unfortunately, the population has moved into CA, which is normally a desert, and we expect it to remain in the unusual state it has been in for the past century. Mother Nature is such a tease.

    Sea levels wax and wane. Just ask the Dutch, who have a remarkably good record of sea levels over the past 700 years. They made their most ambitious land reclamation progress during the LIA, when sea levels were lowest. In fact, in one famous moment when they wanted the countryside to flood, the sea levels were too low to behave agreeably.

    Enough. Back to the topic, in which Anders is perfectly within his rights -it’s his own blog, after all- to censor people. Yes. It’s censorship. Call a spade a spade. There is nothing wrong with it.

  62. jsam says:

    I’m pleased the good Dr C has entertained us with his free speech. It was worth every penny. What if he had some evidence?

  63. OPatrick,

    Can I ask how people are baselining their measures of extreme events?

    Personally, I had always assumed that we were talking relative to today. For example, consider a distribution of the properties of a particular event. Temperature’s probably an obvious one, but could be wind speed, precipitation, length of drought. Define extremes as events where this property is more than 2 standard deviations from the mean (for example). If AGW changes the distribution of this property, then it will change the frequency of these extremes. If we consider temperature, then it’s fairly clear that it will shift the distribution to higher temperatures and so we’ll see more events that exceed the extreme limit (frequency will go up). Also, we’ll see some events that are hotter than they’ve ever been in recorded history (intensity will increase). The same could apply to other types of events. So, I’d certainly be meaning relative to what we’d regard as an extreme event today, not relative to some mean in the future (in which case the frequency may not increase, but only because we’ve change the absolute definition of an extreme event).

    Dr C,
    I think the evidence is that the climate we’re moving into will be unlike anything the human species has experienced before.

    Yes. It’s censorship. Call a spade a spade. There is nothing wrong with it.

    Semantics, maybe, but as I understand the term, censorship is more general than simply being prevented from saying something somewhere particular. It’s to do with being prevented from saying it in general.

  64. AnOilMan says:

    Dr C: “What if, however, it is the opposite that’s true. What if it is our ‘civilizational infrastructure’ [sic] that is moving into where these weather events are in fact completely normal occurrences?”

    If by that you mean, ‘Normally Bad compared to today’, then you may be right.

  65. Tom Curtis says:

    Dr C, it is more like calling a fork a spade. Our comments on this site are published by Anders. His declining to publish what we write is no more censorship than any my local newspaper declining to publish articles written by random strangers. It would only become censorship if Anders took steps to ensure your views were not published in any format or location.

  66. Mike Fayette says:

    I have no problems with the curator of a blog setting whatever rules they like, so long as they publish those rules. If the rules are silly, I can choose to leave. The only real “danger” is when some blogs delete opposing comments without notice, creating the illusion of consensus when there is none.

    In terms of Brad’s comments above, I am afraid I stand with him. All he is asking for is for someone to point him to some actual measured data that there has been an increase in extreme weather events, and – if so – how this might correlate to the known increase in CO2.

    So far, nobody here seems to be able to answer this question and it is one I have had as well. Rachel’s answer was to the effect that an “evidence-based” theory was just as good as data.

    With respect, I can’t see how that is possible……. Data is data. Theories are theories…….

  67. Mike,

    All he is asking for is for someone to point him to some actual measured data that there has been an increase in extreme weather events, and – if so – how this might correlate to the known increase in CO2.

    Did you actually follow any of the links. I provided a link to Elsner et al. (2008) which found a trend in tropical cyclones with SST. I also provided a link to a RealClimate post that not only discusses attribution of heatwaves but also discusses a specific paper.

    Also, as I think I’ve suggested before, scientific discussion don’t progress by one party saying “I don’t believe it, prove it”. It progresses by both parties having done some work and considering the evidence. Ideally, it should be some kind of dialogue.

  68. jsam says:

    The default “climate sceptic” setting is “you have to show me I’m wrong, else I must be right”. It’s the opposite of scientific thinking.

  69. Carrick says:

    Tom Curtis:

    is declining to publish what we write is no more censorship than any my local newspaper declining to publish articles written by random strangers

    I’d call that editorial selection not censorship, unless they did publish articles (or letters) from random strangers, unless the articles, which otherwise would have been publishable, did not fit the political/social/etc. agenda of the editors (which makes it censorship).

    If, as a blog editor, you tell somebody they can’t post insults or they can’t post off-topic to a thread, I’d call that editorial selection too.

    If you tell somebody they can’t post because you don’t like the message, even if it otherwise follows comment moderation rules, for moral, political, etc), then I’d call that censorship.

  70. AnOilMan says:

    jsam: You neglect the part where they don’t follow any links and can’t cite a single problem, then run around exclaiming, “Why are you persecuting me! I’m expressing my opinion! None of that climate science is true!” An odd combination of selective dyslexia and user centered link rot.

    I don’t know what the the problem is, I’m sure its hard to pronounce.

  71. Carrick,
    As I understand it, censorship is the suppression of speech or communication. It’s hard to see how a blog owner preventing someone from commenting on their blog (for whatever reason) qualifies. As far as I’m concerned “You’ve annoyed me too often in the past” is a suitable, non-censorial moderation rule :-)

  72. Carrick says:

    Anders, ” “You’ve annoyed me too often in the past” is a suitable, non-censorial moderation rule ”

    Yes, that does sound like an editorial judgement rather than a political judgment.

  73. izen says:

    @- Mike Fayette
    “… Rachel’s answer was to the effect that an “evidence-based” theory was just as good as data.
    With respect, I can’t see how that is possible……. Data is data. Theories are theories…….”

    Darwin had an opinion on this-

    “About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorise; and I well remember some one saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service! ”

    Of course Quine’s epistemological problem of the indeterminacy of data to theory then raises its head…

  74. AnOilMan says:

    PS… There’s a pig farm down the road. I don’t think anyone would complain about what you say there.

  75. John Mashey says:

    1) I’ve participated off-and-on in public bulletin boards and blogs since 1985, and claim that unless well-moderated, they usually degrade into such low Signal-to-Noise Ratios that they become useless, even if not on any topic one might think contentious.
    Example: comp.arch (computer architecture) was an early USENET board, and in the 1980s. The SNR was very high as it was frequented by a) Serious experts b) others with a real interest. It had very good discussions, people asked good questions and listened to answers. A blog equivalent would be RealClimate. Experts debated real issues. For years, one might encounter senior technical people who said they’d learned a lot from reading it. Good comments were often excerpted for publication in ACM SIGARCH newsletter. In 1993, Eternal September began and the SNR worsened, as non-experts flooded conversations, often expressing strong opinions that showed they knew little, rather than asking and listening. When this all opened up to the WWW, it degraded even further, and the overall progression was that experts dropped out. USENET even had useful KILLFILEs that let one ignore all comments for a given source, something blogs have not yet achieved. But even that wasn’t good enough, because even an interesting discussion’s SNR would get degraded so fast.

    2) That’s in a relatively uncontentious topic. Anything around climate (or evolution or some areas of medicine) are far worse. It is quite plausible to give a potential real skeptic a fair chance to ask questions and get answers, as in handling of keith in this discussion. He was a biochemist who doubted climate models could be useful, and it took several rounds of discussion before I realized he’d been exposed to problems in early protein-folding simulations, which of course had very different characteristics than climate models, the former being in some sense an initial value problem in which an error in a single step could lead to wild diversions of the final result. When the difference was explained, he got it. The challenge was that the number of people in the world who knew enough about *both* protein folding codes and climate models … is rather limited.

    But of course, Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics. and they can drive the SNR of an unmoderated discussion arbitrarily close to zero, as is often seen on blogs attached to newspaper articles.

    Sadly, still primitive are good mechanisms for identity, efficient blog moderation, and especially reputational management, although people are certainly working on these.

    Gresham’s Law of unmoderated blogs: bad commentary lowers SNR, and the more knowledgeable people stop bothering.

  76. Tom Curtis says:

    Carrick, if a newspaper or magazine publishes an article, they assert something by doing so. Typically they assert by their action that they largely agree with the opinion published; but at a minimum they assert that it is not complete nonsense. As part of free speech, you are not required to assert, even implicitly, things you do not agree with. Therefore, as part of free speech a magazine editor cannot be required to publish views they consider to be nonsensical, or not worthy of consideration. Their failure to publish such views is not censorship. Rather, it is an exercise of their “right” of free speech.

    So, in this case, a clear editorial policy based on the subject matter of the prospective article rather than mere matters of style, perspicacity or whatever is not censorship.

    By analogy, refusing to entertain discussion on, for example, the theory that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere generates a negative forcing is not censorship. There is, and cannot reasonably be, any ethical obligation to entertain balderdash as if it were reasonable.

    So, there are clear instances where not allowing content based on the views expressed is not censorship. But, as we cannot and should not compel people as to what they think, it follows that there is no general basis for calling moderation decisions based on views expressed as censorship. “Sky dragon slayers” are entitled to their opinion, and can remove comments supporting radiative physics just as much as Science of Doom or Anthony Watts can delete the views of “Sky dragon slayers” out of hand. In neither case is it censorship.

    There is only one case that genuinely represents censorship in moderation IMO. That is when you pretend to have an open discussion about a particular topic while deleting without notice or notification your opponents evidence, and arguments.

  77. AnOilMan says:

    John Mashey: Self moderation doesn’t work… Desmog used to scale post text with votes. But the blog soon filled with trolls who’s sole purpose was to vote near as I can tell. Even though they don’t scale anymore. I’m typically voted down quietly every time I post now. That’s probably because I’ve been championing deletion of naughty posts. I’d rather see nothing than a comment section blog full of half wit garbage.

    Where or where is WIllard… I had some ideas for Climateball scoring.

  78. Rachel says:

    Brad mentioned above that more heat waves in exchange for fewer cold spells is a good tradeoff.

    From chapter 11 of the IPCC WGII report, Human health: impacts, adaptation and co-benefits:

    The IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events (SREX)concludes that it is very likelythat there has been an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights, and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights, at the global scale.If there has been an increase in daily maximum temperatures, then it follows, in our view, that the number of heat-related deaths is likelyto have also increased. For example, Christidis et al(2012)concluded that it is “extremely likely (probability greater than 95%)” that anthropogenic climate change at least quadrupled the risk of extreme summer heat events in Europe in the decade 1999-2008. The 2003 heat wave was one such record event: therefore the probability that particular heat wave can be attributed to climate change is 75% or more, and on this basis it is likelythe excess mortality attributed to the heat wave(about 15,000 deaths in France alone (Fouilletet al., 2008)) was caused by anthropogenic climate change.

    The rise in minimum temperatures may have contributed to a decline in deaths associated with cold spells, however the influence of seasonal factors other than temperature on winter mortality suggests that the impacts on health of more frequent heat extremes greatly outweigh benefits of fewer cold days (Ebi and Mills, 2013; Kinneyet al., 2012).

    And further down:

    For reasons given above, it is not clear whether winter mortality will decrease in a warmer, but more variable,climate (Ebi and Mills, 2013; Kinneyet al., 2012).Overall, we conclude that the increase in heat-related mortality by mid-century will outweigh gains due to fewer cold periods, especially in tropical developing countries with limited adaptive capacities and large exposed populations (Wilkinsonet al., 2007).A similar pattern has been projected for temperate zones. A study of three Quebec cities, based on SRES A2 and B2, extended to 2099, showed an increase in summer mortality that clearly outweighed a small reduction in autumn deaths, and only slight variations in winter and spring (Doyonet al., 2008).Another study in Brisbane, Australia, using years of life lost as the outcome,found the gains associated with fewer cold days were less than the losses caused by more hot days,when warming exceeded 2ºC. (Huanget al., 2012).A similar trend is reported in the United Kingdom (Health Protection Agency, 2012)and in New York City (Knowltonet al., 2007).

    This second quote was taken from page 12 if anyone is interested in the “reasons given above”. I don’t want to copy and paste the whole thing.

  79. Joshua says:

    “If you tell somebody they can’t post because you don’t like the message, even if it otherwise follows comment moderation rules, for moral, political, etc), then I’d call that censorship.”

    If you throw a party and tell friends to bring friends, and one of those folks at the party started making comments that annoyed you, for whatever reason, you can tell them to shut or leave and then kick them out if they don’t stop.

    It’s ridiculous to call that censorship, and it has nothing to do with the rights of free speech. The person you threw out from your party can go wherever else they want to continue their convo. Anyone whose comment got deleted at a blog is perfectly free to start their own blog and say whatever they want.

    As Brad speaks to, this is another one of those climate war scenarios where people hold serious issues, like censorship, hostage to silly drama-queening. It’s like when people exploit holocaust denial hostage to the silly “outrage” about the term climate denier.

  80. John Mashey says:

    AnOIlman: I agree 100%. With the current state of software, it is all too easy to game things, which I should have spelled out more as part of reputational management. Currently, there is no reasonable substitute for human moderation.

    People might check reviews of Murry Salby’s book, although one of the reviews is not really a book review.
    Another (“Bible of Climate Science”) is by a retired optometrist who runs Hyzer Creek Disc Golf Course, which we learned from his posting his undergrad transcript amidst the 200+ comments on my review. It is unsurprising that a book filled with partial differential equations might have been over his head, as his transcript didn’t show much more math than the equivalent of high school AP calculus. Nevertheless, the 2 5-star ratings outweighed the 1-star.

    I don’t know if this is still true, but a while ago, downvoted comments on ratings @ Amazon were suppressed as “:not useful”, requiring clicks to see them. I once saw someone give a 1-star rating to a poor climate book. Then, people downvoted the review, and starting making negative comments. That reviewer would answer them … and get downvoted so fast that every answer was suppressed, leaving only the negatives.

  81. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    “There is only one case that genuinely represents censorship in moderation IMO. That is when you pretend to have an open discussion about a particular topic while deleting without notice or notification your opponents evidence, and arguments.”

    That also fails to = censorship. People can “pretend” to be whatever they want. They can present themselves in ways that you might consider misleading. You, or anyone else, has no say in whether or not they do so. And the definition of what comprises an “open discussion” is entirely subjective, as we see time after time in these threads and threads at other sites. Who determines when someone is being authentic or “pretending?” You?

    I think it’s better if a moderator leaves a record of having deleted comments, but just because they don’t it doesn’t mean censorship has taken place – because no one is actually prevented from saying whatever they want. No one has been silenced. No one has had restrictions imposed upon them in any meaningful sense.

    Again, as an analogy, not allowing you to come into my house and say things I object to, for whatever reason I choose to restrict your comments in my house, does not equal censorship.

    If someone were to force you to delete comments from your own blog, that would be censorship. If someone were to not allow you start your own blog to express your opinions, that would equal censorship (with the understanding that even there, there are certain parameters for public discourse that might apply). Perhaps if I forced you to write specific comments on by blog, that would be censorship (but would really be a secondary issue in comparison to the fact that I was forcing you to take actions against your will).

  82. AnOilMan says:

    John Mashey: The Climateball thread ended with some entertaining conversation;

    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/climateballtm/#comment-19988

    script; http://www.ralentz.com/old/misc/humor/game-of-questions.html

    I wonder if its possible for a moderator to simply score an argument with negative points. Just like real games only instead of scoring for field goals you can see points lost to lack of citation, or avoiding the questions. etc. Over time you’d see a particular pattern for particular people.

    We could call the scoring the Willard Climate Ball Score WCBS. Like it or not… as the argument progresses, rank asshats are going to look bad. More experienced folks might just scream to the end and look at the score for that individual to see if its worth reading.

  83. jsam says:

    I’d like to thank Rachel for her forbearance in showing Brad and Mike where to look in the most fundamental document.

    But, of course, they probably both already knew that information. I’m reasonably certain they’d tell you they have read and absorbed all the IPCC reports.

    Climateball isn’t just one game. It’s a league. I’d be willing to bet they’ll continue to use the same “show me where in the literature or I win” gambit on extreme weather in other forums. If your purpose is to spread confusion and you’re playing ten games simultaneously it makes little difference if you lose the odd one. Ok, here, you showed them where more extreme weather due to climate change is projected. But there will be a half dozen other places the assertion will pass, unrebutted.

    You still see this with “Trenbreth’s heat is hiding in the ocean”. Yes, some will point out the measurements of ocean heat content. Some will link to sites that show how heat does move. But the same original poster will be spotted posting the same inanity, aware that, most of the time, no one will bother and the disinformation will stand and attract the unwary. “It must be true, no one contradicted him.”

    If the game was about learning the original poster would thank you and not use the same opening again and again. But it’s not about learning. It’s about winning by playing the percentage shots, ensnaring the gullible.

  84. Anoilman,

    Trollopathy

  85. > I’d be willing to bet they’ll continue to use the same “show me where in the literature or I win” gambit on [...]

    Everyone is allowed to use that move. BBD, to name a name, used it all the time. What ain’t in the lichurchur ain’t in the lichurchur.

    ClimateBallers who refuse to admit this have tougher times moving their ball onward.

  86. > Data is data. Theories are theories…….

    Without the theories to make sense of the data, data is meaningless. Worse than that, observational data may even be theory laden:

    [S]eeing is a “theory laden” undertaking.’

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/science-theory-observation/

    Checkmate.

  87. Joshua says:

    “Without the theories to make sense of the data, data is meaningless.”

    One might also say that without models, data are meaningless. And as we all know, models are the tool of the devil.

  88. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    “What I had in mind—because it happens to me several times a week—is the situation where your host is wrong, and you write a comment proving this.”

    That’s not what I see happening. What I see happening is that someone writes a post that they think proves the host wrong, and insist that it shows that they’ve proven the host wrong – but the host doesn’t agree. The host thinks in fact, that the person who wrote that comment is wrong and is obnoxiously refusing to acknowledge their error.

    I see both behaviors as essentially the same. Both insisting that they are “right,” and both confusing fact and opinion.

    The difference is that the host holds the hammer. And so the host deletes the comments. No one promised a commenter a bowl of cherries or a rose garden.

    There is nothing remotely “unfair” about a host deleting comments for whatever reason they choose to do so, IMO. It’s their blog, and so fairness is exactly what the host determines it to be, no more and no less. By entering the hosts “house,” it is on the guest to accept the terms of the engagement. If they refuse to do so, it’s on them, and I personally have no sympathy for them if their comments get deleted. As Anders says, and as I said above, there are many ways to express your opinions that don’t antagonize hosts.

  89. John Mashey says:

    As I’ve written many times before, moderation tools and blog reading tools seem unnecessarily crude. Given an incoming comment, a moderator should have a choice of:
    a) Accept
    b) Suppress, with reason code (this is the one that’s missing)
    c) Edit and accept

    Case b) should leave the commenter name/date in place, add a reason code, and either leave the text in place but require a click to see it (best choice, I think), or move it to A Bore Hole, Rabett Burrow, etc, or more elaborate shadow thread. The whole point is to maintain a decent Signal-to-Noise Ratio with a few clicks, but preserve the useful information that may help calibrate the commenter. Moderators reluctant to delete comments could use this. I’d guess there are not that many decent reasons for suppressing one, and standardized codes would be nice and quick.
    OFF-TOPIC is certainly one.
    SkS#n for long-debunked meme, #n from the SkS FixedNum list
    Repetition
    Assertions without citation
    Ad hominems (of course, some blogs allow those if directed at selected commenters)
    etc

    If one wanted to do reader upvote/downvote and has enough identity information to avoid the easy gaming, that could be useful, ESPECIALLY if you could click and see the list of handles that have voted up or down.

    On the reader side:
    I think I’ve seen software whereby some cookie says whether you want to automatically see all comments, or you will by default skip suppressed ones. Of course, it would nice if there were some way to get the equivalent of USENET KILLFILEs that worked pervasively. That’s hard.

  90. AnOilMan says:

    John… reverse it.. They need the cookie to see the suppressed comments.

  91. Tom Curtis says:

    John, another reason is “citation or picture without explanation”. It should not be incumbent on other blog participants to mind read as to why you think a particular citation or image is relevant.

  92. jsam says:

    Ah, but no, nevaudit. “Everyone is allowed to use that move” just isn’t so.
    Second, it is reasonable to assume the readership is aware of the basic literature, such as the IPCC reports.
    And, first, you’d have to show me where in the rules of Climateball that is.

  93. John Mashey says:

    AnOilMan: cookie: yes, but I actually was thinking of cookie(s) that generally allow the user to increase the SNR of what they read. For instance. some blogging systems let moderate upvote comments and some allow users to vote down/up. One can imagine separate cookies, and even saying: “right now, just show me moderator-upvoted”.
    Paradoxically, I think good strong moderation actually lessens the need for doing much of it.

    Tom: yes, that’s a good one

  94. Brad Keyes says:

    Rachel:

    re heat vs cold deaths, thank you, I hadn’t seen that line of argument. Unfortunately I usually only read the mainstream medical literature, which hasn’t caught up with the IPCC on this question yet. If you’re right, it suggests that great swathes of the Pop Med/Public Health/epidemiology world (with whom I have some occupational contact) are under-informed. Far too few medical researchers I know take the climate change threat seriously.

    VeryTallGuy:

    > Tall’s moderation hypothesis: There are no unmoderated climate blogs whose comments sections are worth reading.
    > This hypothesis is easily falsified.

    Yes, very easily.

    1. My young blog has already hosted more than one epic, fascinating debate “under the line,” from which I’ve learned just as much from me readers as they have from me, not despite but thanks to my policy of redacting only one thing: direct assertions of dishonesty against the blog itself. Not even the whole argument; only the accusation ITSELF, just for the sake of keeping things pleasant. I will not delete any reasons people give for accusing or suspecting me of lying, or of trying to destroy the planet. I will not even delete death threats against me—and most threads contain one or two. Like Voltaire, history’s first hateblogger, I respect and validate everyone’s views and feelings, whether I agree or not. It’s a little thing called morality; ethics; integrity.

    2. Professor Dan Kahan at Yale follows a totally hands-off policy on his blog, which fosters the no-holds-barred exchange of provocative ideas you’ve probably never seen elsewhere. (Notice how politely Joshua and I manage to debate, despite each reviling and vowing perpetual enmity to everything the other stands for on every level possible. This is no doubt because Kahan trusts us to behave like adults, which “guilts” us into pretending to be grownups. His success in bringing us to the table nonviolently—Joshua and me, the Israel and Palestine of climate change!—goes to show just how cunning and manipulative psychologists can be.)

  95. Brad,

    If you’re right, it suggests that great swathes of the Pop Med/Public Health/epidemiology world (with whom I have some occupational contact) are under-informed. Far too few medical researchers I know take the climate change threat seriously.

    Given that the IPCC produces synthesis reports and doesn’t do research of its own, it would be quite remarkable if its conclusions are completely at odds with the published literature. Easy enough for you to illustrate as you claim to be familiar with the literature. Bear in mind, of course, we’re talking about the global influence, not the local influence.

    As far as your views on moderation goes, I think it is simply a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” issue. You may enjoy free-for-all comments streams. I don’t.

  96. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, Brad may well be correct for the simple reasons that:
    1) most studies of heat deaths relate specifically to the USA, and presumably Europe, rather than taking a global perspective;
    2) many of them are based on an assumption of uniform increase in temperature rather than accounting for the impact of heat waves specifically, and
    3) most do not consider changes in deaths due to hypothermia vs deaths due to hyperthermia (as does the IPCC), but rather includes deaths due to cold related diseases (pneumonia, influenza) while not considering heat related diseases (malaria, dengue fever, ross river fever, etc) in part because the later are well controlled in the developed nations on which they focus.

    It should be noted that temperate cities mentioned in the IPCC are either for studies of impacts late in the 21st century when temperature increases will be much larger (quebec), or for cities in the sub-tropics which cannot be considered representative of temperate cities in general (Brisbane).

  97. Tom,
    But surely the IPCC must get its information from somewhere, given that it doesn’t actually do research of its own.

  98. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders,

    “But surely the IPCC must get its information from somewhere, given that it doesn’t actually do research of its own.”

    Yes, and I dare say you’re not the first person to notice (and be puzzled by) that! I get my information by actually doing research; you get your information by actually doing research; the conventional wisdom is that you need to do research in order to understand a problem.

    And if it’s a problem nobody else has answered, you need to do original research. Research “of your own,” so to speak.

    For example: a body set up to evaluate a diabolically complex question like “how bad will global warming be for the planet as a whole, taking the whole picture into account?”, a question no other body would even have the manpower to research, would surely (according to common sense) need to RESEARCH the problem… right?

    But the IPCC, paradoxically, has repeatedly assured us that it carries out no research! This makes it even more impressive that it consistently gets the right answer. Can anyone shed light on how it manages this?

  99. Brad,
    You’ve (possibly intentionally?) misunderstood what I was getting at in my question. Since the IPCC – quite rightly in my view – doesn’t actually do research, it simply synthesises research results, it must get it’s information from somewhere. Rachel has already provided parts of WGII that both discusses this topic and provides references to published work. I haven’t checked that the references actually say what the IPCC document credits them with saying, but it should be straightforward to check that and also straightforward to do some kind of literature survey to see if the IPCC’s assessment of the literature is reasonable. I have no great interest – or time – to do this at this stage, but you could do so if you wished. In fact, continuing this discussion in this way without doing so would be discouraged.

    This makes it even more impressive that it consistently gets the right answer.

    I don’t know what you mean by the right answer. What answer is it getting?

  100. verytallguy says:

    Brad,

    your examples of unmoderated blogs seem, to my mind, to reinforce Tall’s hypothesis nicely. Your own blog recalls Oscar Wilde

    “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”

    Your risible opinion that

    …it happens to me several times a week—is the situation where your host is wrong, and you write a comment proving this.

    provides great insight into your self-awareness.

    My opinion, having followed this thread and looked briefly at those you linked, is that your input to comment threads is tedious and self regarding, and that hosts who moderate your comments probably feel similarly.

    Anders may or may not agree; either way I won’t be back on this thread.

  101. VTG,
    I certainly find it hard to disagree.

  102. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, yes. The IPCC gets its information from the studies that are not purely parochial; which do distinguish between deaths caused by cold and deaths caused by influenza; and studies which recognize the difference between a uniform increase in temperature across all days, and the impacts of increased and more intense heat waves. That is, they filter out the studies that are only marginally relevant to the issue at hand due to misconceptions about global warming, purely parochial interest or vague epidemiology.

    Brad, as you well know, the IPCC does no direct research, but:
    1) The authors of the IPCC chapters are experts in the field who have done significant research. Consequently, they understand the issues involved, and are familiar with the literature.
    2) The findings of the IPCC are based on peer reviewed research. Not only that, they are extensively “researched” (in the sense of reading the relevant literature) and extensively reviewed to avoid error (although not always successfully).

    Your airy dismissal of the IPCC is a fairly sure sign of bad faith on your behalf. You are using talking points because they conveniently deceive rather than because they have any rational basis.

  103. jsam says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Brad’s original research.

  104. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    I think that there are a couple of reasons that Kahan’s comment section fosters constructive dialog. The first is that he takes responses to his posts very seriously. When someone raises a question, he responds in depth and at length. I have never noticed that he’s deleted a comment, but I think that is more an outcome of his moderation policy more than a driver.

    The second is that his posts are very dense, and thus it drives away many people who are primarily looking to get into fights.

    The third is that his subject material, although it is largely about opinions on controversial issues, is not really about the issues themselves – so the subject matter itself is less inherently divisive than something like climate change. I doubt much moderation happens on blogs about cats.

    There is the occasional flare-up of typical blogospheric juvenility at his blog – primarily when a particular post gets linked to at some website frequented by “skeptics” or other libertarian/conservative dominated media outlets. My favorite was when Willis tried to cover for his own stupid error by calling Dan a liar and accusing me of being getting paid to be Dan’s “spin doctor” for pointing out how the problem was that Willis jumped to conclusions. (How did Willis know how I earn my living? The man is brilliant for figuring it out!).

  105. > I’m looking forward to reading Brad’s original research.

    Perhaps this qualifies:

    Anders is a cowardly eunuch and his pretense of hosting an open discussion is a lie [...]

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-mysterious-mr-revkin.html?showComment=1398340126612#c5815426375358554894

  106. > it is reasonable to assume the readership is aware of the basic literature, such as the IPCC reports.

    “Read the IPCC report” is not a valid response to “citation needed”.

    * * *

    > And, first, you’d have to show me where in the rules of Climateball that is.

    Here you go:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_of_reciprocity

    Everything you do or say can be used against you in ClimateBall ™.

  107. BBD says:

    Everything you do or say can be used against you in ClimateBall ™.

    Sounds oddly familiar:

    You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

  108. BBD,
    Oh dear, trying to inflame the whole criminal negligence thing again :-)

    Willard,
    Your link doesn’t appear to go to anything that seems similar to what I think you’re suggesting Brad might have said. Cowardly may be fair. I can’t prove that eunuch isn’t, but I would suggest that it is unlikely. I don’t think I’ve ever stated – or even pretended – to be hosting an open discussion. If anything, I think I’ve regularly stated that my attempts at that have failed dismally.

  109. > Your link doesn’t appear to go to anything that seems similar to what I think you’re suggesting Brad might have said.

    Blogger’s pager, like most pagers, sucks.

  110. AnOilMan says:

    John Mashey… What about a troll filter.

    I mean, what web site would not want a troll filter? Surely you know someone in the industry who can help John?

    Something similar happened as the internet became popular, it was called SPAM, and it threatened to destroy the very basis for the internet… communication. There was a bit of an arms race starting with blocking email addresses.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3014029.stm

    I was getting upwards of 50 SPAM a day before I started using SPAMBayes with outlook.

    http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/

    Then my ISP teamed up with other ISPs and service providers to identify and block SPAM. After that, it trickled off. Now all I get are strange poems.

    [Just an FYI but CBC is using non statistical filters, keyed to specific letters or words. I’ll let ou guess which three letters block talk son the war of 1812; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tecumseh%27s_War.%5D

    By definition you’d want to control the input sources, ’cause we know how trolls will game it. There is most certainly a lot of material to train such a filter, and I bet a lot of bloggers would want to use it. You could let them train themselves, or offer a filter service.

    In keeping with ClimateBall ™ interests it would need multiple correlations, from general ass hat, to lack of citation, etc. It couldn’t follow a discussion, but I bet posts with ‘CAGW’ ‘Alarmist’ would get tossed pretty quick. Some would auto block, others would publicly score the post.

    I bet a Bayesian filter would work. Surely I’m not the only one who’s thought, “Oh here we go again.” as they exhibit an odd combination of selective dyslexia and user centered link rot.

  111. John Mashey says:

    AnOilMan:
    But blog comments are (usually) not just SPAM.
    Recall the business model behind SPAM, which means sending out vast numbers in hopes that a tiny fraction will buy. There is ~zero cost.

    If someone is doing more than repetitive cut-and-paste, they are actually investing time, and if every comment is so bad it gets Boreholes or Burrowed or hidden, after a while, anecdotally, they stop, perhaps while complaining elsewhere about evil moderators :-)

    Also, real moderation is always needed to inhibit comments by normally-good commenters, who get too far off-topic. Occasionally, such may actually be worthwhile, enough to move to a new or different thread. I’ve seen threads hundreds of comments long, where there actually may be 3+ unrelated arguments.
    A good exercise is to pick a few blog threads a year old … and assess the extent the words are worth “immortalizing” …. although if I were still helping sell storage, I’d be delighted to think how many copies of such there might be. :-)

  112. jsam says:

    “Read the IPCC report” is a valid response to “citation needed”, at least according to the Mornington Crescent variation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mornington_Crescent_(game).

  113. AnOilMan says:

    I’m thinking of a combination of auto moderation and manual. Its not like a filter can follow a conversation, and it may not be able to spot some of the gentler trolls.

    SPAM has a different delivery model, and more to the point, clearly and easily identified traits, like financial transactions. But it arrived in your inbox just like real mail. It wasn’t the same email that arrived in your inbox, all were different to the receiver, yet scored as SPAM. With SpamBayes, it wasn’t always obvious what drove the score.

    However, I see what you’re saying in that it may be a lot muddier to see the difference between trolls, and non-trolls at times.

    I think having posts publicly troll scored, may help quite a bit.

  114. > “Read the IPCC report” is a valid response to “citation needed”, at least according to the Mornington Crescent variation.

    I agree, considering that:

    Despite appearances, however, there are no rules to the game, and both the naming of stations and the specification of “rules” are based on stream-of-consciousness association and improvisation.

    Op. cit.

    A related move is “Source: the Internet”.

  115. John Mashey says:

    AnOilMan:
    Yes, yes, I’d say automated scoring might be useful, but not sufficient.
    I’d certainly think adding mechanically generated scoring to comments would be useful, and yet another attribute that could be tested under user control, which now looks like:
    1) Moderator : up for especially good, neutral, down for default hidden (and in climate with SkS #s, or in other domains, others if there are catalogs)
    2) Mechanical troll score
    3) User votes

    One might then be able to intercalibrate, a good topic for some social science research.

  116. OilMan,

    The main problem with your suggestion is that trolling may be a social phenomenon:

    A common phenomenon in online discussion groups is the individual who baits and provokes other group members, often with the result of drawing them into fruitless argument and diverting attention from the stated purposes of the group. This study documents a case in which the members of an online community–a feminist web-based discussion forum–are targeted by a “troll” attempting to disrupt their discussion space. We analyze the strategies that make the troller successful and the targeted group largely ineffectual in responding to his attack, as a means to understand how such behavior might be minimized and managed in general. The analysis further suggests that feminist and other nonmainstream online forums are especially vulnerable, in that they must balance inclusive ideals against the need for protection and safety, a tension that can be exploited by disruptive elements to generate intragroup conflict.

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01972240290108186

    The emphasized bit explains why a good understanding of ClimateBall ™ may matter more than good technology, at least until we build engines to deal with pragmatics.

    The last sentence helps understand Brad’s move “AT’s not really open.” Were AT truly open, he would tolerate Brad’s abuses. Wouldn’t he?

  117. AnOilMan says:

    willard; When it comes to managing a problem, its impossible to identify that its solved if you don’t have metrics.

    Its not always obvious what will be identified as trolling language. (Yes.. I know… I use some at times. I like this place because its discouraged.)

    I bet Brad’s accumulated behavior score would be rather high long before we got to discuss his next move. In short… helping people understand;

    I believe that many of us understand what is happening even as we feed them. Even more interesting would be watching our own troll scores rise with our responses. (Personally, its been a slow but steady degradation for me.)

    However, the first step in solving a problem is measuring the problem.

  118. AnOilMan says:

    Willard, I bet Brad’s “We’re still no closer to understanding” would set off Trolling alarm bells, long before he got deeper into his game.

  119. > [T]he first step in solving a problem is measuring the problem.

    If you ever seek a new career, OilMan, please don’t try counselling.

  120. jsam says:

    How is counselling related to solving a problem?

  121. AnOilMan says:

    willard: Actually many people come to me for help in a variety of ways… Lately as my cholesterol counts his been rising with middle age spread, my doctor has decided to give me advice on diet. Its all in the metrics.

    As an engineer I view problems as something to be solved, often not through the usual means;

  122. Rachel M says:

    OilMan,

    “Anders\Rachel, have you looked into this?”

    Plugins aren’t available for WordPress.com hosted blogs. I don’t think we have a problem with spam comments as Akismet catches all of them, including some that aren’t spam. And as for comments that are considered trolling, this really needs a human to decide as people have different definitions for this word.

    JohnMashey,
    I do like your suggestion for the third option to suppress a comment. I think that’s a great idea and have suggested it to WordPress as a feature for a later version.

  123. John Mashey says:

    Rachel: thanks
    If enough people bug providers of blog software, and thye implement well, the ideas will spread. Some of these cannot be hard to implement.

  124. Steve Bloom says:

    Willard and anyone else interested, NPR SciFri has a segment tomorrow on philosophers and climate science.

  125. Joshua says:

    willard –

    “A common phenomenon in online discussion groups is the individual who baits and provokes other group members, often with the result of drawing them into fruitless argument and diverting attention from the stated purposes of the group. This study documents a case in which the members of an online community–a feminist web-based discussion forum–are targeted by a “troll” attempting to disrupt their discussion space.”

    Without having read the document referenced, I will say from my personal experience that the description is rather tautological, as has been the discussion of “trolling” whenever I’ve seen it: A troll is a troll because I say that he’s a troll, and the fact that he’s trolling is the proof.

    When I go to Judy’s, I am often called a troll. I won’t deny that I bait and provoke (with some people sometimes, but certainly not always and very rarely with some people – those who seem to me to be interested in good faith exchange), but my intent is not for fruitless argument, and besides, what’s going on there is, IMO, fruitless irrespective of my input. I have no intent of “diverting” anyone from a stated purpose, and if they choose to be “diverted,” that’s on them and not me. I am not “intending” to “disrupt,” – and I find the rather constant assertions that my intent is such to be laughable and based in an inflated sense of self-worth among the “denizens.”

    I’m not sure that it’s any different with Brad. I’d guess that Brad’s intent is to “provoke” others and himself into careful analysis. That isn’t to defend his style, or to find fault with Anders for moderating Brad’s comments but I doubt, highly, that Brad has an “intent” to “divert” or “disrupt.” If I were to speculate about his “intent,” I think that there are quite a few other answers that would be more probable.

  126. BBD says:

    I’d guess that Brad’s intent is to “provoke” others and himself into careful analysis.

    Brad’s intent is to provoke others into error so he can fuck with their heads. This is so blindingly obvious, only you could have missed it.

  127. Joshua,

    First, what you take as a definition is just a fairly general description of what is trolling. Second, that’s not a trivial description (a tautology is not exactly the same thing), as there are commenters whose speech patterns can’t be described as trolling. Third, these are two nits that are of little relevance with the important elements of the description, which are the diversion and the disruption.

    Fourth, we should distinguish behaviours and effects: diverting leads to disruption. Fifth, this can be described without postulating anything about why this is happening. Sixth, you can get by now that I’m numbering for no good reason and to sound more authoritative.

    Seventh, we should embrace once and the idea that trolling is a social phenomenon. Being a social phenomenon, no commenter is by essence a troll, but a shared responsibility. Eight, trolling obtains when commenters (a) flame and (b) this flaming is justified by a trigger, i.e. the trolling comment. Ninth, triggers and baits, just like trolling, are relative to how participants themselves deal with them.

    Tenth, I’ve succeeded it telling all this without appealing to anyone’s intent. There is no need to probe into anyone’s intentions to notice when the discussion space becomes a food fight when baits tri. Eleventh, the first rule of a food fight is – don’t ever mention it. Twelfth, the eleventh point was a joke.

    ***

    Only Love and Light can tame trolls who live in caves and regenerate:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/loveandlight

    Managing conflicts while seeking and preserving truth in conversations is an art.

    There’s no automatic ways to do that.

  128. I don’t know why the comment was eaten by WP’s spam filter, but that sucks. In any case, I can provide a short answer to this:

    > How is counselling related to solving a problem?

    I will suppose that this is not a rhetorical question and that I’m not getting trolled. Here’s a random paragraph where the word “problem” appears in a Wiki entry about counseling:

    It wasn’t until the 1950s that therapists began treating psychological problems in the context of the family. Relationship counseling as a discrete, professional service is thus a recent phenomenon. Until the late 20th century, the work of relationship counseling was informally fulfilled by close friends, family members, or local religious leaders. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers have historically dealt primarily with individual psychological problems in a medical and psychoanalytic framework. In many less technologically advanced cultures around the world today, the institution of family, the village or group elders fulfil the work of relationship counseling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_counseling

    Sometimes, just venting helps solve problems. Isn’t why most commenters are here anyway?

  129. > As an engineer I view problems as something to be solved.

    This can lead to a very big problems, OilMan. Imagine if someone were to say that there’s no point to say that we have a problem AGW until we have more certainty, or more accurate numbers, or bigger numbers. In fact, you don’t even need to imagine that:

    That far it’s easy, but it’s not as easy to say, how much CO2 we may dump anyway, or to tell, how the necessary reductions are to be implemented.

    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/climateballtm/#comment-19975

    In my opinion, this way of framing the problem is fallacious. It is invalid to argue that unless we know exactly all there is to know to do something that we should do nothing. Necessity is not a quantity, and human action falls outside definite calculations most of the times.

    ***

    That’s not to say that metrics are not useful. They are, or else we would not do build them. But they can’t replace judgments and values.

    Think of it as this game of Engineer-Scientist-Philosopher:

    Engineers audit Scientists;
    philosophers wisen Engineer;
    scientists empiricize philosophers.

    As long as there are people who will believe that there are no non-numerical problems, philosophers will have a job. Besides, they sometimes make an impact that can be accounted in numerical ones:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/03/05/286126451/living-wills-are-the-talk-of-the-town-in-la-crosse-wis

  130. guthrie says:

    I think it clear that BBD’s diagnosis of Brad’s actions is much closer to the truth than Joshua’s.

  131. Joshua,

    I’m not sure that it’s any different with Brad. I’d guess that Brad’s intent is to “provoke” others and himself into careful analysis.

    Given that Brad is currently – on Twitter – suggesting that I’ve said something that I haven’t, I have to conclude that BBD’s diagnosis is – as Guthrie suggest – closer to the truth than yours.

  132. Joshua says:

    “Brad’s intent is to provoke others into error so he can fuck with their heads. This is so blindingly obvious, only you could have missed it.”

    Well I’m not very bright, BBD, so it’s par for the course. Or perhaps it is just that I’m blind?

    So help me to understand fully. Brad doesn’t actually believe what he writes. He spends hour after hour engaging in blog arguments, writing elaborate comments, writing elaborate posts for his own blog, And it isn’t that he actually believes others are in error. He does what he does not because he believes he is right and others wrong, or because he’s interested in determining what is or isn’t correct. Actually, he knows that what he writes is full of shit, but he does what he does because he wants to fuck with people’s heads.

    I assume you don’t think this is true of all “trolls” (or do you?) – so what are the blindingly obvious signs for how he differs from other “trolls” (that I am just to dumb or blind to see)?

    Also, out of curiosity, do you have some idea of what motivates Brad to want to fuck with people’s heads? Is he just a mean person who gets some perverse pleasure out of provoking others to make errors?

  133. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, it appears to me that you are presenting a strawman view of BBD’s claim. As I understand it, BBD claimed that Brad’s strategy was to provoke intemperate responses that, because they are intemperate, either are poorly phrased or poorly supported (ie, errors), so that Brad can then focus on the errors rather than substantive issues – thus generating the appearance of debate without the substance of it. I don’t think BBD ventured any opinion as to whether Bad genuinely thought such false debates were substantive or not. (BBD, please correct me if I have misunderstood you.)

  134. Brad Keyes says:

    [Mod: Brad, please have this discussion elsewhere, thanks. This comment is only here to avoid accusations that comments have been deleted without other commenters knowing.]

  135. Joshua says:

    Fair enough, Tom.

    I hadn’t thought of that angle. I can see where your explanation makes some sense. I still don’t think that is the most likely explanation – but it does seem plausible.

    I think that Brad actually thinks he’s making validly strong arguments, and that people are afraid of the strength of his arguments. Of course, if that is what he’s thinking, I think that he’s wrong and that people just find his insistence that he’s right to be obnoxious and/or just boring.

  136. Rachel M says:

    Anders is a cowardly eunuch and his pretense of hosting an open discussion is a lie

    Personally, I think it takes courage to delete comments because you have to be prepared to deal with the backlash which is exactly what’s happening now. This is why it’s often easier just to ban users who becomes a nuisance as it saves the hassle of dealing with this.

    I’ve met AndThen and he’s not a eunuch. Although he didn’t show me his bits, so I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I’m pretty sure. :-)

  137. John Mashey says:

    I urge people to consider virtual KILLFILEs, in the absence of the real thing: if you would have KILLFILEd somebody in the old days, just silently stick them on a list, and treat every comment as nonexistent, forever after. Life will be better.

    Blog software that puts name at the end is annoying, since you may read text first before realizing who it is.

  138. Rachel M says:

    What do you mean by virtual KILLFILE, John? Are you saying just to ignore certain comments? Because no matter hard I try, I would not be able to do that. I can stop myself from replying, but I can’t stop myself from reading them.

  139. As everyone else does, I receive comment notifications in my email. With this thread, as soon as I see “Brad says:…” in the subject line, I just skip to the next one. I am 100% certain there isn’t anythinf he will say that I haven’t heard from any number of the hundreds of other trolls out there. I won’t allow curiosity to kill this cat. In fact, the absence of the need to facepalm is probably saving mean an endless amount of unnecessary pain.

  140. John Mashey says:

    Yes. One must resolutely resist the urge. As evidence, I cite “everyone is now dumber” Billy Madison.
    As noted earlier, I’ve got nearly 30 years'; experience with online public discussions, and one learns to recognize commenters who *never* say anything productive.
    (Note: my formal and on-the-job management training included bringing out opposing views, getting them articulated as well as possible, resolving differences if possible into better solutions, i.e., “12 Angry Men” style. But it also included recognizing people who simply disrupted discussions, turned clarity into mush, wasting time … and tactics for getting them out of there.)

    Of course, one could always say: “I have seen hundreds of comments from them, and none have been productive, but MAYBE this will be the one.” :-)

  141. Rachel M says:

    Well, if you’re a moderator or blog author you don’t really have much choice but to read every single comment.

  142. John Mashey says:

    Yes, that’s true … and one of the reasons I’ve wished for the intermediate option of hiding a comment, i.e., people may be more willing to do that quickly than to delete.

  143. Joshua says:

    That’s quite a thread, willard, although I gave up reading after maybe 100 comments or so…

    That thread will be in psychology text books.

  144. For what it’s worth, Joshua, Brad declared a victory:

    > It seems my harassment of Dana has paid off! The snivelling little fuckwit has quietly modified his lie [...]

    Notwithstanding Brad’s problems with the concepts of lie, evidence, discussion, and the like, we now have evidence that Brad admits that his peddling tricks amount to harassment.

    ClimateBall ™ – the game where there are no pyrrhic victories.

  145. It’s also interesting that responding to criticism and changing what’s been said is really not good enough. I have a suspicion that nothing would have been good enough.

  146. jsam says:

    I have “debated” Brad before. When I sunk to his level vanquishing him was enjoyable enough. But I’m pretty sure no-one else bothered to read the hundreds of drivels of postings exchanged. We wasted many bits.

    But, be sure, Brad always declares victory. Much in the same way we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  147. Brad always declares victory.

    and everyone he disagrees with is a snivelling little fuckwit? :-)

  148. > I have a suspicion that nothing would have been good enough.

    If the Guardian edits the caption, the snivelling little fuckwit has quietly modified his lie.
    If the Guardian does not, the snivelling little fuckwit has not.
    In either case, Brad wins in harassing the snivelling little fuckwit.

    And if you don’t want this harassment on your blog, AT,
    that’s because you’re a cowardly eunuch,
    and your pretense of hosting an open discussion is a lie.

    Understanding how can a pretense be a lie is left as an exercise to readers.

  149. jsam says:

    Being called a snivelling little fuckwit by Brad is much like being hated by the Daily Mail. A compliment.

  150. AnOilMan says:

    Willard and co: I wanted to say that I really appreciate Willard’s comments. He’s very even handed.

    I never intend to permanently block certain kinds of talk. But providing feed back and metrics is a good thing. Its worked around here right? Rachel has said, people are self moderating now. (mostly) Which kind of brings me to the point that in the long term, language that is less inflammatory would become more prevalent, and is more desirable.

    That is a good thing and it helps prevent damage to otherwise good articles.

    Rachel: In the olden days usenet used your email address to identify your posts. If you put a commenter in the kill-file, you’d never see them. Personally I’d like to see it work such that you have to unblock someone who’s been blocked. You have to consider how it looks to someone who’s just dropping by and someone who’s got intent to be there.

    John; That would be hard to implement in that there are so many different services to offer posting privileges. Integrating the ability to block their customers would be awkward.

  151. AnOilMan says:

    jsam: Nasty Effect.

    http://www.desmog.ca/2013/03/05/incivility-trolls-and-nasty-effect

    And oddly, according to the professors of science communications who conducted the research “it’s not the content (of the comment) that matters. It’s the tone.”

  152. AOM,

    “it’s not the content (of the comment) that matters. It’s the tone.”

    I certainly find my self responding more to tone, sometimes, than to content. Of course, in some cases, it’s so extreme it’s almost laughable.

  153. If I understand correctly the last sentence of the post of Jim Hoggan

    And she’s right. Actually, the logic of the research reminds me of a deeper point, something the renowned Buddhist master and human rights activist Thich Nhat Hanh once told me: “speak the truth but not to punish.”

    it tells something close to my thinking.

  154. John Mashey says:

    AnOilMan:
    “That would be hard to implement in that there are so many different services to offer posting privileges. Integrating the ability to block their customers would be awkward.”

    Yes, I know, I’ve lamented that fact ever since blogs started, but of course it goes further.
    In the olden days, there was a roughly 1-1 correspondence of emails to people, which helped the identity resolution issue tremendously.
    But note that I prefer NOT blocking anyone if at all possible, because comments are data, and sometimes one actually does want to go look. The issue is:
    a) Collect information from moderator, algorithms, other users, whatever and attach it to comments
    b) Give each user enough control that *they* can decide what to see.

  155. > Thich Nhat Hanh once told me: “speak the truth but not to punish.

    Only love and light stands the test of time.
    They stand together.

    * * *

    Killfiles worked because only über-geeks used what was not even the Internet.
    Nowadays, we might be able to do something using tools like GreaseMonkey:

    Greasemonkey is a Mozilla Firefox extension that allows users to install scripts that make on-the-fly changes to web page content after or before the page is loaded in the browser (also known as augmented browsing).

    The changes made to the web pages are executed every time the page is viewed, making them effectively permanent for the user running the script.

    Greasemonkey can be used for customizing page appearance, adding new functions to web pages (for example, embedding price comparisons within shopping sites), fixing rendering bugs, combining data from multiple web pages, and numerous other purposes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greasemonkey

    Not sure it’s worth it. I seldom find coding worthwhile, so I might be biased. What we’d need would be something like eBay’s reputation system. For instance, there’s a way to see if some account is used as a sock puppet to boost the auction of one particular seller.

    Anyway. Let’s shovel this to behavioural economists.

  156. Rather simple Greasemonkey scripts have been used for filtering on some discussion forums and worked well. Making a script work on a WordPress blog might require some tuning to the theme used on the site, as the theme affects the code visible for the client.

  157. John Mashey says:

    I’ve used Greasemonkey+KILLFILE, but found that blogs changed fast enough that it was hard to keep up.

  158. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Re blog comments and killfiles, would it be easy to echo all (WordPress or whatever) blogposts and their related comments in a Usenet newsgroup, where kill etc tools are already available? Let’s say there’s an alt.attp.blog or something. Would it be difficult to make every blogpost here automatically start a new thread there and copy every new comment from here to there swiftly enough (within 12 hours?) to make the ASCII-only-but-with-easy-comment-filters clone worthwhile?

    If such a thing were implemented here, I doubt that I’d killfile many commenters (no more than half a dozen, or perhaps a dozen – twenty max) but there are some blogs whose comments sections are so very [bla] that they pollute the whole enterprise and you just don’t want to go anywhere near them. Stick it on Usenet and it’d be easier to block the stink and sniff anything worthwhile. Probably.

  159. > Making a script work on a WordPress blog might require some tuning [...]

    There’s this one:

    http://climateaudit.org/ca-assistant/

    Not sure it would work for a vanilla WP blog, but at least it’s something.

  160. Rachel M says:

    I said earlier: “Personally, I think it takes courage to delete comments because you have to be prepared to deal with the backlash which is exactly what’s happening now”

    Sometimes the backlash can be so absurd that it’s amusing. Like this:

    https://twitter.com/TLITB1/status/459814259590184961

  161. I have tested a slightly tuned version of Climate Audit’s ca-assistant on Climate Etc, not for filtering but for ordering the comments in chronological order. It works, sort of, but not well enough for regular use. The task of ordering is more complex than filtering. Thus filtering might work better.

    My own view is, however, that if I follow a site, then I want to see all the messages others see on that site.

  162. It is wonderful when people like TLITB illustrate so clearly why they’re not welcome here. :-)

  163. Frank says:

    In my experience, comments are deleted most often because the host doesn’t want to deal with the issue I’ve raised or have it polluting the host’s blog. (This hasn’t happened to me here.) It shouldn’t take much bravery to delete a comment – you can always delete the backlash that follows. IMO, it takes far more bravery to reply to clearly to an uncomfortable or incorrect comment and trust your readers to recognize the merits of your position. This can work when a science blog is discussing a scientific issue, but issues like free speech and censorship usually involve opinions. Discussions of motivation are also problematic.

    However, the appropriate strategy for dealing with comments does depend on the purpose of your blog. If you wish to advocate for a certain point of view in an echo chamber with relatively few distractions, then the host should delete unwanted comments. If you advocate for certain scientific hypotheses, you aren’t being much of a scientist if you delete comments that put your hypotheses to a test. Pretending to host an open discussion of science and then deleting reasonably polite scientific comments is worthy IMO of being called censorship.

    Personally, I learn the most when a controversy is effectively debated and I can’t form my own opinion about who was right, even if I end up being the “loser”. However, all too often one party is closed-minded and somewhat incoherent and one can’t learn much from them.

    If you have the time, C-Span has an hour-long debate about the Future of Free Speech between four experts on the First Amendment and the history of free speech. Holocaust denial was discussed several times (relevant to climate change denial). It was very interesting to hear Professor Fish explain that academic freedom has little to do with free speech – tenured professors devise mechanisms for deciding what subjects are excluded from academic discourse. Equally interesting was the gay Jew who thought that hate speech had helped his cause and that suppression of Holocaust denial caused it to spread. The audience voted at the end.

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?318476-1/free-speech-us

  164. AnOilMan says:

    Willard says:
    “There’s this one:

    http://climateaudit.org/ca-assistant/

    Not sure it would work for a vanilla WP blog, but at least it’s something.”

    Careful! Mcintyre’s software is known to have issues with detrending…

  165. > It shouldn’t take much bravery to delete a comment – you can always delete the backlash that follows.

    Run a climate blog and try it, Frank. Then report. I don’t think AT can delete all the backlash that follows, for the simple reason that ClimateBallers can go whine elsewhere.

    The usual moves are:

    – counterfactual innuendos like “if you wish to advocate for a certain point of view in an echo chamber with relatively few distraction”, not unlike you just did;

    – conflating censorship with moderation like we can read recently at Brandon’s;

    – assuming that deleting thread bombing and thread jacking is unfair, like Brad did at Eli’s:

    – using the incident to peddle the “Yes, but RC moderation” :

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/yesbutrcmoderation

    The overall strategy is called playing the ref. Playing the ref is so obnoxious that it may take some courage indeed to moderate.

    * * *

    Thank you for the C-Span video. I expect to see a demonstration that suppression of Holocaust denial causes it to spread. I sincerely hope it will be there.

  166. AnOilMan says:

    Pekka… check it for back doors.

  167. John Mashey says:

    If someone competent, say, a Nobel physicist or the CEO of a major gas/electric utility wants to learn about climate issues, what do they do?
    A: ask around, figure out who real experts are, and talk to them. Admittedly, as Burt Richter said in his book, having a Physics Nobel does open doors :-) but many experts are quite willing to answer reasonable questions from other people, recommend books, etc. Go read, ask more questions. Admittedly, this is easier some places than others.

    Otherwise:
    1) Many universities have local researchers on climate or visiting speakers, with seminars often explicitly open to the public and even if not, usually calling a department and asking works.
    If not local, sometimes speakers do outreach. Seeing a speaker live, asking questions and seeing their responses is hard to beat.

    2) Of course, even better is to attend AGU (US) or EGU (Europe), listen to speakers, ask questions, walk the poster sessions.

    Following debates on some blogs is like the “Everyone is dumber” scene in Billy Madison., because pseudoskpetics of dubious competence hold forth their opinions at great length, and people who cite good mainstream science sources get ad hominemed to the point that only the rhino-hided persist. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but likewise, others are entitled not to have reasonable discussions swamped by nonsensensical opinions about facts.

    Thank goodness this blog is sensible.

  168. Thank goodness this blog is sensible.

    Thanks :-)

  169. Tom Curtis says:

    Having just watched the C-span discussion linked by Frank, I’ll note that while interesting in its own right it contains nothing direct of relevance to this thread. As it happens, I also think both sides in that debate are wrong, but won’t go into it as the issues aren’t relevant to this discussion.

  170. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News, April 27, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  171. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News, April 27, 2014 [A Few Things Ill Considered] | Gaia Gazette

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