What’s it for?

My previous post on The BBC and its balance was another one that seemed to generate quite a bit of interest and quite a few comments. There were a couple of stages where the comment thread got slightly out of hand, but overall, I think there were some interesting and useful exchanges. However, I could see some getting frustrated and others were making some suggestions about moderation practices. To be honest, I don’t mind that at all. Well-intentioned, constructive criticism is welcome.

So, as a result, I’ve spent a little time thinking about this blog; what it’s for and whether or not I should consider making some changes. Then I realised something. It’s just a blog. I started it on the spur of the moment, I write what I want when I want, I try to be careful and qualify what I say, but it’s still just a blog. I don’t really want to take it that seriously and I don’t really want anyone else to take it that seriously. If I’ve written something that makes people think, great. If I’ve written something that annoys people, then I’m sorry (assuming you didn’t deserve to be annoyed, that is 🙂 ). All in all, it’s just me and my views (with some moderation help from Rachel). If you really want to learn something more about climate science, then I would recommend going to Skeptical Science, or Real Climate. They’re very good and I can’t and don’t want to compete with what they’re doing.

The comments also play a role. They’re there for people to correct me when I’m wrong, as I often am (well, as long as you can convince me that I’m wrong at least). They’re also there for discussions, and they’re there for people to express their opinions. I know that some get frustrated by how some of the comment threads evolve and by some of the comments/commentors, but I don’t really want to this to become entirely dominated by one view. As long as people can stick to the moderation and comments policies, I’m happy for anyone to comment. On the other hand, I also don’t want this to become a place where people can express their contrarian views, so some semblance of scientific credibility would also be a requirement.

These are just my thoughts at the moment. Things may of course change with time, but this is my view at the moment. However, feel free comment and express your own thoughts if you’d like. Just remember not to take it too seriously 🙂

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60 Responses to What’s it for?

  1. Oh. I didn’t expect that to inline 🙂

  2. Careful, someone might think you’re suggesting violence 🙂

    BTW, I think WordPress is now allowing inline video clips.

  3. Joshua says:

    Just remember not to take it too seriously 🙂

    Typical warmist, trying to deny serious nature of the civilization-destroying, children-starving implications of the AGW hoax, perpetrated by a cabal of money hungry elitists chasing the gravy train of academic funding.

  4. Rachel says:

    There are 466 comments on that thread now and still counting! I don’t like that most of the conversation is happening when I’m asleep as instead of watching it evolve, I wake up and read the whole lot after it has already occurred. Although this has been interesting in a way as well.

    I know that there are lots of complaints about moderation from both sides. Some dislike that there is any moderation at all while others complain that it is not tough enough. I tend to agree with you that the differences of opinion, within reason, are useful to have and can be thought-provoking.

    It is as you say, just a blog, and it’s your blog so it’s really up to you how the comment threads develop but I for one have enjoyed the recent discussions.

  5. Joshua,
    Spot on 🙂

    Rachel,
    Thanks.

  6. Okay, I will never suggest again to change the moderation rules and to disallow analogies! 🙂

  7. Docevus says:

    [Mod : Actually, I was going to put this through, but I’m not interested. Docevus, to answer your question though, yes I got the specifics of that wrong. Happy?]

  8. Docevus says:

    [Mod: Off-topic and rinse and repeat. He’s already acknowledged he got it wrong. Do you want the shirt off his back too?]

  9. Joshua says:

    Oy. Good to see that Docevus, at least, has taken to heart your advice to not take things too seriously.

  10. Louise says:

    I don’t often comment but I visit several times each day and read all the comments. I tend to agree most with the comments from BBD in that I think the pseudo-sceptics that post are frequently allowed to get away with outrageous comments and Anders is too self effacing at times. This is not reciprocated. For example, I don’t see Barry or Foxgoose or Scottish Skeptic or Latimer Alder ever say “I might be wrong but…” or “You’re right, I could have phrased that better. ” I then read these guys on twitter slapping each other on the back for their prowess at raising a response.

    Is that what this is for ‘cos that’s how they use it?

  11. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @Docevus

    You should take a close look at the person who you think showed &Dan wrong (which is correctly accepted by &Dan here to be the case on some minor detail) and this person’s (on face value pathological) tendency to pick out one specific needle and to then build an imaginary needle (hay) stack around it (hmm… maybe mote & beam would have more appropriate here). You could also try to find some past exchanges between said person and &Dan on blogs or twitter to find clues why there may be a ban here. (&Dan, is there a real ban, or are comments allowed by you-know-who when reasonable?). Otherwise, do not try to diverge this thread by using an example of one “personality mismatch” being indicative of &Dan’s general behaviour (which would mirror the behaviour of said person).

    Mods, please feel free to delete if this post is considered to be pushing an inappropriate side issue of the ATL post.

  12. plg says:

    People who believe problems can be solved by violence should be shot. – Anon.

  13. plg says:

    I do not think there is a “right” solution, I believe you have struck a good balance. On one extreme is no moderation, which will lower signal to noise ratio and cause tiresome or even destructive comments, on the other hand there is too much moderation, which makes the whole blog uninteresting since it will kill any real debate.

    Overall, I really enjoy this site and I believe the balance is about right. Please keep up the good work.

    I cant help comparing this to a much larger issue: should a true democracy allow organizations whose purpose is to destroy democracy? Endless debate…

  14. Docevus says:

    It is not asking for someone’s “shirt off his back” to ask for an acknowledgement of what they got wrong. But even if you think that is too much, surely it’s not too much to ask why a person who proved the host wrong was banned immediately after doing so. And surely it’s not too much to ask why the host hasn’t acknowledged he was wrong in the location where he was wrong so people viewing his claims won’t be misled by them.

    I was taught when you find you’ve made a mistake, you acknowledge the mistake, correct the mistake and try to make amends for it. I think that’s a reasonable standard to hold anyone to.

    [Mod: I will let this comment stand in its entirety if only to allow you to have your word and be done with it. Any more like this will be deleted for rinsing and repeating. I just want to say though that I’ve never known anyone to acknowledge their mistakes more so than our host. You don’t have to read much of this blog to see that.]

  15. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @Docevus

    I take point 4 from here:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/may/28/global-warming-consensus-climate-denialism-characteristics

    and change it to:

    4) Impossible expectations of what one person can deliver

    Are you squeaky clean? Do you always live up to your perfect standards?

  16. plg says:

    @Reich.Eschhaus: Interesting link, new knowledge for me. However, I noted that the law has never been invoked, and I believe the real problem is extremist groups that appear to have a polite dialogue and are given space in media as a legitimate party (or organization) and even capturing seats in the government. Several European countries already have extreme parties sometimes with 10-20% of the votes. I find that really scary.

    Back to the blog, there is a parallel in this micro cosmos where the obvious trolls or unpleasant people may get moderated, but the semi-reasonable comments that insidiously are disrupting the debate by carefully crafted wording may go on for quite some time. I really do not know why I am bringing this up, since I do not believe there is really a good solution except to be on guard for the “apparently reasonable” comments that have hidden agendas. This goes for political parties as well.

  17. jp says:

    OMG. “Sceptics” have been shown to be wrong, logically or factually, on just about every talking point they’ve raised: the hiatus, no hockey stick, comparing themselves to Galileo, cooling predictions, greenhouses gases not responsible for any warming, no sea level rise, no “stagering” reduction in Arctic ice, siting of temperature gauges affecting overall temp readings, etc.etc…Hands up those who have seen any of them aknowledge their “wrongness”.

  18. Rachel says:

    plg,

    …but the semi-reasonable comments that insidiously are disrupting the debate by carefully crafted wording may go on for quite some time.

    I find these the hardest to deal with. Firstly, they can be difficult to spot and then secondly, they are difficult to moderate because it’s not always obvious which of the moderation rules they are in breach of.

  19. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @plg

    if you switch to the German version of the link, you get a somewhat more thorough description of what streitbare demokratie is all about (I don’t know your knowledge of German). The English wiki is a bit short. Having thoughts about abolishing democracy is OK, having a program to actually do so is not.

  20. Docevus says:

    [Mod: No, sorry. You can publicise it somewhere else, thanks.]

  21. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @Louise

    ” For example, I don’t see Barry or Foxgoose or Scottish Skeptic or Latimer Alder ever say “I might be wrong but…” or “You’re right, I could have phrased that better. ” I then read these guys on twitter slapping each other on the back for their prowess at raising a response.”

    You are quite right! I see lots of tweets where someone makes a point about climate science. Invariably this is followed up by Barry, Foxgoose, Scottish Skeptic, Latimer Alder and others telling the world that the tweet is rubbish and congratulating themselves that they agree (often the person doing the initial tweeting has blocked them a long time ago; they are reaffirming themselves on lost positions). They think they are starting to win the discussion. :O

  22. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @Docevus

    I happened to see your first comment on this thread. It was deemed off topic (or so). You have not reacted to criticism of you position though. I would agree to a link but I leave that to the blog owners
    You need to make a case though.

  23. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Mod,

    someone is going to complain on some other blog about censorship here

  24. Rachel says:

    Ok, just so readers here don’t think AndThen has something to hide, here’s an archived version of the link that Docevus (aka BrandonS) would so like to provide.

  25. Rachel says:

    Reich,
    Are you on twitter? They already complain.

  26. Rachel says:

    and

  27. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Twitter? Me? No way!

    They always complain. Nothing new

  28. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    And let me add. They are always the same limited group of people. They reinforce one another. Even when they are wrong.

  29. Skeptikal says:

    However, feel free comment and express your own thoughts if you’d like.

    Okay, I can see the humour in that.

  30. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysicsguy: The obvious question that you have to ask yourself is whether the care and feeding of this blog is the best and highest use of your time and energy. If it is, carry on. If it is not, shut it down.

  31. Rachel says:

    badgersouth,

    The obvious question that you have to ask yourself is whether the care and feeding of this blog is the best and highest use of your time and energy. If it is, carry on. If it is not, shut it down.

    No-one can answer yes to that question. Is our commenting on this blog the best and highest use of our time and energy? Of course not, but we do it anyway for various reasons. I like reading this blog and I like reading the comment threads, even the long and unwieldy ones. Please don’t encourage AndThen to shut it down!

  32. Steve Bloom says:

    So let’s see if I have this straight.

    Anders has an interchange where he incorrectly states the number of hockey sticks published in MM 2005 as 10, and that these had been cherrypicked to give a misleading impression that red noise would preferentially generate a hockey stick shape using MBH’s methods. That was indeed incorrect, I would assume because it was from memory. Such errors happen to all of us.

    But what’s the substance of the matter? Blogger Deep Climate dug into all this several years back. Key excerpt:

    Recall M&M’s description of the “sample” PC1 in figure 1 (Wegman et al 4.1):

    “The simulations nearly always yielded PC1s with a hockey stick shape, some of which bore a quite remarkable similarity to the actual MBH98 temperature reconstruction – as shown by the example in Figure 1.”

    That’s “some” PC1, all right. It was carefully selected from the top 100 upward bending PC1s, a mere 1% of all the PC1s.

    Oops. So 10,000 were run, the 100 most resembling an upward-bending hockey stick were selected, and 1 of those was reproduced as a representative sample (2 others were printed in the paper, but those were taken from MBH 98). And this was the basis for the central claim of the paper. To my knowledge MM have never come clean about this.

    The 100 indeed are not reproduced as a graph in the published (printed) paper, but are very much part of it since they’re in the paper’s supplementary information (generated from a code in it, strictly speaking). The one that appeared was 71st out of the 100.

    So Anders was off by a factor of 10, but actually in the other direction!

    Anyway, more breathtaking hypocrisy from the usual suspects.

  33. Dovecus (aka Brandon) – I’ll answer this once. You’re not banned because you showed I was wrong about something. That’s fine and many have done so in the past and will do so again. You’re banned because in that discussion you threw around accusations of lying. A mistake is not immediately a lie. I’m not interested in discussions with people who very quickly make such accusations. I’m also not discussing this with you again. I really, really do not want to encounter you ever again. It may not say so explicitly in my moderation policy, but sockpuppetting is also not allowed.

  34. jsam says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I am deeply concerned that you have annoyed foxgoose and Shub, two of the most scientifically literate bloggers on the web.

    Just kidding.

    Kind Regards,
    jsam

    ps1 keep it up.
    ps2 try the kitten setting, http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/21/the-kitten-setting/

  35. Rachel says:

    jsam,
    That is so funny. And very tempting.

  36. Steve Bloom says:

    Speaking of kittens.

  37. jsam says:

    People posting on blogs like to forget that to post is a privilege, not a right. They also forget that the blog owner has the right to do anything she damn well pleases. Unpredictability is the moderator’s friend. Rules can be circumvented; resist the urge to placate those who seek rules only so they can play the rules. Rational, evidence based, civil and humorous are guidelines – and guidelines have feathered, not sharp, edges.

    If I take the loss of Shub, he has probably gone back to the echo chamber. I suggest his leaving this blog and returning to his nutty homeland may well have increased the intellect posting on both blogs. It certainly has on this one.

    Al Gore!

  38. Rachel says:

    Steve,

    Speaking of kittens.

    What a great idea, if only to avoiding seeing pics of Tony Abbott in his budgie smugglers.

  39. John Mashey says:

    Hockey sticks:
    To be precise, see Deep Climate and Moyhu

    MM05 code generated 10,00 graphs, using bad statistical parameters, sorted by a “hockey stick index” that they invented, and used the top 100, 1%, a superb cherry-pick, and impossible to do by accident.
    MM05 showed one of these 100.
    “MM05x” was the May 11 2005 presentation by McI+McK for George Marshall Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute (the same one defending lawsuit by Mann). This was discussed in SSWR Appendix W.4, although with one slight error, in that GMI kept changing version on website. THIS one is the original PPT file (not PDF), which Joe Barton’s staffer Peter Spencer gave to Ed Wegman … as the “blueprint” for the Wegman Report. (When SSWR was written, the PPT had not yet been seen, just various PDFs.)

    p.18: they use 4 of the graphs.

    As Deep Climate showed, the Wegman Report used 12 of the graphs, again, all from the top 1%. I guess 4 wasn’t enough.

    Noel Cressie *told* Wegman he needed to show some going the other way, but too late, and Wegman never retracted it. Wegman promised Henry Waxman to provide the code, never did.

    1) The original MM05 not only had bad statistics (which might be incompetence), but the explicit code to sort and sample from the most favorable 1%: falsification/fabrication.

    2) in MM05x:
    p.9 is a cherry-pick

    p.10 has multiple falsifications/fabrications:
    a) The exact image is not actually from IPCC(1990) Fig 7.1(c), and McIntyre told Tom Curtis he couldn’t recall where he got it, but it does happy to be identical to one that John Daly used.
    The curve is right, but some of the image details are different, imply that McI+McK didn’t have IPCC(1990).
    b) In any case, a false citation was given of IPCC 1995. There is no graph there that looks like this, so they likely didn’t have that either. Usually, people who cite things are supposed to have looked at them…. and by the way, Wegman used a version of the graph and admitted in testimony that *he* didn’t have access to IPCC(1990).

    p.11 uses a graph that Huang’s group declared unusable for this by 1998. See SSWR pp.138-139.
    d) p.12 The dog astrology journal quote, which Montford used and then amplified.

    However, MM05x went further and fabricated this as a quote, not from JSE, but from Science, very strange because McK had gotten it right a few weeks before in a similar talk with many similar slides.
    JSE is not Science.

    And some people cling as absolute truth to this fraudulent manufactured attack (and I know what the word fraud means in this context, and do not use it lightly.)

  40. BBD says:

    ATTP

    It may not say so explicitly in my moderation policy, but sockpuppetting is also not allowed.

    Please update your comment policy accordingly. This is a rule no self-respecting comment policy can afford to be without.

    Post facto is better than nowt, as dear old grandma used to say.

  41. BBD says:

    jsam

    All these years and I didn’t know John Scalzi had a blog. Thanks.

  42. Barry Woods says:

    We could maybe change the lyrics…

    “Blogs, What are they good for, absolutely nothing?” – discuss

    (and I might refr to all the blogs in theclimate bubble, inc WUWT, RC, etc, do they impact at all onthe geneal public – I don’t think they do)

    and by adding the question mark generate, a title for an interesting blog, post,
    (and I might refer to all the blogs in the climate bubble, inc WUWT, RC, etc, do they impact at all on the geneal public – I don’t think they do)

    As Rachel says, this blog has been interesting (Dana and WMC’s interactions were quite fascinating), and someone here has perhaps discovered who Chamberlain was.. 😉

  43. Barry,
    I think you’re right. I don’t think blogs do do all that much. In many ways that’s a good thing 🙂

  44. Barry Woods says:

    oops, by editing skills are lacking, (rearranged comment, forgot to delete duplicate)

    just for the record, I have no control who tweets @ me, not been following that particular twitter conversation (BRandon’s gripe), and I have no problems with Rachel’s moderation (it’s tough job, which is partly why I can’t be bothered to blog myself,

    please see this:

    Shub Niggurath ‏@shubclimate
    .@Foxgoose @BarryJWoods @richardabetts @theresphysics Censorship – the worst crime. And that’s all they do.

    Barry Woods @BarryJWoods
    perhaps too offtopic.. my comments are going through fine, though wordpress playing up @shubclimate @Foxgoose @richardabetts @theresphysics

  45. Barry Woods says:

    keeps us off the streets,…..

  46. guthrie says:

    In terms of mass awareness and publicity, blogs don’t do much.
    In terms of spreading information, helping people hash out better arguments, providing psychological support and somewhere interested people can find answers, they are very good and much better than a random collection of people you might meet down at your local pub.

  47. Rachel says:

    Barry,

    As Rachel says, this blog has been interesting (Dana and WMC’s interactions were quite fascinating), and someone here has perhaps discovered who Chamberlain was..

    Yes, I have. And thank you for sticking up for me on twitter. What can I say? Thanks.

  48. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Final remark on Docevus/BS (if allowed).

    From here:

    http://hiizuru.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/admitting-mistakes-and-dishonesty/#comment-127

    I had not called anyone a liar in any of the exchanges I had with him. He is simply making that up. And he is using that complete fabrication to justify banning me so I can’t point out he completely fabricated a claim to criticize a paper by people he dislikes.”

    (my bold)

    Huh?

  49. Pingback: Science and Policy | And Then There's Physics

  50. Reich, yes it did. I haven’t gone back to read that comment thread for a long time, so it is quite possible (as your quote seems to indicate) that he used the word “fabricate” rather then “lie”. Unless someone can convince me that “fabricate” means “I think you’re wrong, please clarify” rather than “To concoct in order to deceive” (free online dictionary) my reasons remain as they were at 7.01am.

  51. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Well, he made a post about his comments here (his post before that was about when it is acceptable to use sock puppets! 😀 ) and the quote is from a comment he made on his own post.

    If one does not want to claim that he is contradicting himself within 3 sentences, then one must assume that according to BS/Docevus “he completely fabricated a claim” cannot be paraphrased as “he is a liar”. Now I don’t know about Docevus/BS’s cognitive style of thinking, but I am starting to suspect that there must a word for it in some textbook…

  52. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    WordPress seems to think I only write junk today…

  53. Rachel says:

    It’s not just yours, Reich. I found three in spam along with your earlier one. I’m checking it regularly now.

  54. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Rachel, thanks for standing up to the censorship of WordPress!

    (as an antidote to some twitter conversations 😉 )

  55. BG says:

    Sort of off topic. But so much to catch up on.

    I’ve almost begun cheering for global warming. 🙂

    From 12:45 pm (local) on Monday to 02:30 am on Friday, I was without power for a total of 67 hours in sub-freezing temps. 😦

  56. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    On topic, What’s it for?:

    &Dan, did you ever show a contrarian the error of their ways?

  57. JonhM,
    I notice that you’re being accused of libeling McIntyre on Twitter by the person who shall remain nameless. If you follows the exchange I had on his blog, in which I made an early mistake, I later uploaded the lines from M&M05’s R code in which I think they extracted the 100 most hockeystick-like results from their analysis (I also added that I may have been wrong about 10 to that comment – not good enough obviously). The response I got was – and I quote –

    The code you referenced was not used in any McIntyre and McKitrick paper

    This is despite the link I provided (and the segment of code I posted) being directly to the supplementary information for M&M05’s GRL paper. I would argue that the response I got was wrong, but have no evidence to suggest that it was fabricated (by which I mean a lie) 🙂

  58. Pingback: More on sock puppets | quakerattled

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