Chanting to the choir?

Before I head off to the office (or, more correctly, go from watching the news in the living room, to the dining room table) I thought I would briefly mention a recent paper that has analysed blog comments. It’s by Jenni Metcalfe and is about Chanting to the choir: the dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs.

The basic premise of the study was to assess the comments on two prominent climate blogs. The analysis suggests that

both blogsites were dominated by a small number of commenters who used contractive dialogue to promote their own views to like-minded commenters. Such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics rather than deliberately engaging them in climate change science.

The problem is that the two sites were Skeptical Science and JoNova. They are vastly different in terms of credibility. Skeptical Science mostly uses the peer-reviewed literature to rebut climate myths, is regularly highlighted as a reliable source by climate scientists, and has been given numerous awards for their climate communication. JoNova, on the other hand, largely promotes pseudoscience.

Of course, this is a topic that is of interest to researchers, and there is nothing wrong with asking a research question, and trying to determine the answer. I’m just not sure what this particular analysis tells us that those involved in blogging haven’t already known for some time. The views about this topic tend to be rather polarised. If you run a mainstream climate blog, and don’t want your comment threads to degenerate into a stream of abuse, you end up moderating in ways that will tend to discourage a typical JoNova commenter from commenting.

Also, if you accept that anthropogenic global warming is real and presents risks that we should be taking seriously, and you don’t enjoy being verbally abused, you’ll tend to avoid commenting on a site like JoNova’s. So, it’s not a surprise that the comment threads end up with like-minded people.

In some sense the paper has simply pointed out something that few who are familiar with climate blogging will be surprised about. On the other hand, it has implied that there is some equivalence between Skeptical Science and JoNova, which is rather sub-optimal, given that Skeptical Science focuses on debunking myths, and JoNova mainly promotes them. This will, unfortunately, promote a sense of false balance.

To be fair, the author does defend this in this Making Science Public post, and ends with

we clearly need to find ways other than blogs to engage laypeople in credible climate science which leads to political and individual action.

which I was going to say that I agree with, but I’m not sure I do. Clearly there are many different ways to engage with the public; it certainly shouldn’t just be blogs. However, that climate blog comment threads tend to become filled with like-minded people doesn’t mean that blogs can’t play a useful role.

Not only have many people put a lot of effort into providing reliable scientific information on blogs (Skeptical Science, Realclimate, Tamino, etc), the comment threads aren’t necessarily a good reflection of the readership. For example, I have many more unique visitors, than I have unique commenters. So, I do think that one has to be really careful of using the comment threads to assess the value of climate blogs. I’m pretty sure mine would be far less reliable if I hadn’t a strong moderation policy when I started (which, to be fair, was mostly Rachel and Willard, rather than me).

Conflict of interest
I should acknowledge an association with Skeptical Science, which may introduce a bias. On the other hand, one reason I have an a association with them is because I regard them as a reliable source of information about climate change.

Links:
Chanting to the choir: the dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs – paper by Jenni Metcalfe.
Chanting to the choir: The dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs – Making Science Public guest post by Jenni Metcalfe.

This entry was posted in Climate change, ClimateBall, Global warming, Philosophy for Bloggers, Scientists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Chanting to the choir?

  1. morpheusonacid says:

    That is an excellent review of the situation. But blogs are not science. The failure is science itself. The peer review process is not about validating the work, it is about trying to ensure there are no obvious errors and it is putting the view out for discussion, not claiming it is correct. However, politicians and the media have between them broken the scientific process and there are scientists willing to do the same because it keeps the money flowing and politicians get the answers they want, rather than a correct answer.

    Nothing demonstrates this more than the hockey stick work. It was published and accepted as correct by the IPCC. Nobody repeated the study because the details were never released. This is an essential aspect of science – repeatability. The IPCC had previously reported on the Roman and Medieval warm periods and Little Ice Age and these were eliminated from climate history by the hockey stick.

    Another example is the MMR-Autism scare. I belief this work was published in The Lancet and the research was heavily criticised by experts. However, the media got hold of it and created a crisis out of erroneous work. The scientific process is being destroyed by politicians and the media.

  2. David B Benson says:

    morpheusonacid demonstrates the antiscience. Top to bottom.

  3. morpheus,
    You’re probably a nice illustration that the comment threads here aren’t entirely chanting to the choir.

    For the lurkers, this is complete nonsense

    It was published and accepted as correct by the IPCC. Nobody repeated the study because the details were never released.

    Firstly, few scientific papers are accepted as correct; we’re well aware that our understanding typically evolves. Secondly, not only has the exact study been repeated (Wahl and Amman, 2007) but many further studies have also looked at millenial temperatures and have broadly reproduced what was shown in Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998). The details are changing a little, because the methods are evolving, and there are many proxies (so we have better spatial and temporal resolution). The basic picture, though, is not very different to what was presented in the 1998 paper – a gradual cooling from ~1000 years ago to about the mid-1800s, and then warming that starts roughly at the same time as the industrial revolution and that has continued through the 20th, and early 21st, centuries.

  4. Jim Hunt says:

    My Arctic alter ego embraced a theory to explain why “such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics” quite some time ago now:

    “Chanting to the choir” is hardwired into our brains?

  5. Steve says:

    I think you’re right not to assume commenters are necessarily representative of readership. I’ve been a lurker here for years, but have never commented before. Doesn’t mean I set myself against the consensus of commenters, but then I don’t even know what that is – I routinely read new posts, seldom read the comments at all.

  6. brigittenerlich says:

    I can’t speak for Jenni. Just want to say, for what it’s worth, this is, I believe, what she tried to do (but she might contradict me): She did not compare the blogs but she compared the commenting. And she found that even on diametrically opposed blogs (with very different degrees of credibility) the interactions between commenters was largely of the same nature. That’s not revolutionary, but it’s also not false balance.

  7. Steven Mosher says:

    Hmm.

    I didn’t think the paper was that bad.

    The argument in the literature is that blogs do this

    Transform news from being a one-way dissemination of information and opinion to a dialogue where different views are heard and (ideally) valued [Cahill and Ward, 2007; Graham, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Meraz, 2011; Schäfer, 2012; Wilcox, 2012];

    Amplify the voice of publics by allowing them to participate in scientific debates alongside traditional media, government and science [Cahill and Ward, 2007; Carvalho, 2010; Trench, 2012];
    Bypass the framings of scientific reporting by the mainstream media, allowing publics to access and engage with a broader range of perspectives on scientific controversies [Colson, 2011; Graham, 2013; Schmidt, 2008];

    Offer the opportunity for publics interested in science to explore the complexities of science and to use sources of information and news outside of traditional mass media [Lemonick, 2010; Luzón, 2013; Readfearn, 2010; Schmidt, 2008; Ritson, 2016; Trench, 2012]; and

    Enable scientists, journalists and science communicators to engage with publics to explain the scientific contexts behind the news [Bell, 2012; Colson, 2011; Jarreau and Porter, 2018; Luzón, 2013; Swain, 2012; Wilkins, 2008].

    And she found… Nope.

    “This analysis of the comments on two antithetical climate change blogs indicates a narrowing of scientific debate to one dominated by a few major commenters who have little patience with others who disagree with their point of view; commenters are chanting to their own choir. This means that, at least for these two blogs, there is little deliberation of climate science and its role in society. Consequently, it is likely that such blogs are unlikely to engage publics more deliberately in a dialogue about publicly controversial science. Rather, the dialogue that occurs in these blogs offers spaces for like-minded people to share information on controversial science topics through one-way communication.”

    I am not sure I see any false balance here, especially when you focus on the four modes of engagement

    Contributing to the topic — e.g. reporting from an external report or source; making an argument that adds to the topic, explaining more about the topic or asking questions of clarification
    Deviating from the topic — e.g. digressing, insulting, self-promotion
    Expressing attitudes or emotions — e.g. approval, disapproval, regret, personal experiences, anger
    Attempting to influence others’ actions through advice, recommendations, requests and proposals.

    There were, however, differences between the two sites that she did not discuss.

    It might be cool to build a comment system that let other commenters “code” your comments
    Contribute, Deviate, Emote, Influence.

    you could even set up a blog economy of sorts where you got paid virtual bucks for comments
    deemed to be contributions, and charged for comments that deviated or emoted.
    influence ( giving advice) is a hard one to judge, because sometimes you have to tell idiots
    to STFU

  8. Brigitte,

    She did not compare the blogs but she compared the commenting. And she found that even on diametrically opposed blogs (with very different degrees of credibility) the interactions between commenters was largely of the same nature. That’s not revolutionary, but it’s also not false balance.

    Sure, and maybe my comment about false balance was a bit strong. I agree that showing that the comment threads are similar in terms of the nature of interactions is not false balance. However, I do still think that some might interpret the analysis as implying an equivalence between Skeptical Science and JoNova.

    Hopefully a comment thread here where people disagree with each other about the possible implications of the paper will illustrate that not climate blog comment threads are populated be people who always agree 🙂

  9. Steven,

    I am not sure I see any false balance here, especially when you focus on the four modes of engagement

    Indeed, I probably expressed myself badly. I wasn’t trying to suggest that the analysis explicitly suggested a sense of balance between Skeptical Science and JoNova. I do think, though, that some might interpret the way in which it was presented as suggesting an equivalence.

  10. Ed Davies says:

    Just because a blog is chanting to the choir doesn’t mean it’s not useful if it’s helping that choir to learn new tunes. By that I mean that it’s helping its readership understand details of the subject and ways of framing aspects of it that will be useful in discussions elsewhere.

  11. Fascinating discussion. What Brigitte Nerlich says above is absolutely correct. I like Steven Mosher’s idea to get different people to code; this would be an interesting experiment! And I also take the point that those who read a blog won’t necessarily comment, but I was particularly interested in the dialogue that happened on these blogsites, as that was the focus of my study. Do these and similar sites provide a space for deliberative dialogue? My research indicates they do not. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t disseminate excellent information, like for Skeptical Science, and this probably does help “the choir learn new tunes’. But this is dissemination, not dialogue and I did not examine the credibility or effectiveness of the dissemination of the actual blogposts.

  12. Jenni,
    Thanks for the comment.

    Do these and similar sites provide a space for deliberative dialogue? My research indicates they do not.

    Yes, I suspect this is true. However, I do think I tried to do that many years ago and simply found it too difficult to manage. The comment threads simply degenerated into verbal abuse and I found it unncecessarily unpleasant. So, given the polarised nature of the topic, any form of strict moderation is going to tend to somewhat limit the dialogue.

    The other is issues is the motivation behind such dialogue. Is there any point in dialogue about whether or not anthropogenic global warming is real? No, I don’t really think there is. There is so little doubt about this, and those who dispute this are so entrenched in their views, that I can’t see the value in such dialogue.

    On the other hand, there are related topics where such dialogue does have value. For example, what should we do about AGW? How best should we communicate? Should we focus on worst-case scenarios, or should be we be optimistic and focus more on less severe outcomes? Should we discuss tipping points, or should we avoid highlighting these? I think there is quite a lot of reasoned dialogue about these issues, and other related issues, but they tend to be amongst people who are at least like-minded when it comes to the basics – it’s very difficult to have dialogue about what we should do about AGW when some involved don’t even accept the need to do anything.

    This response has got rather long 🙂 but one final point is that some would argue that there is no point to even attempt dialogue with those who dispute AGW. Is your suggestion that we should be finding ways to do so?

  13. Everett F Sargent says:

    A much most important question is: What is the level of understanding of said author on climate change/AGW/HIGW? You know the actual facts and the very basics of the climate change. 😦

    Oh and maybe said author should check out the counterculture literature, you are very unlikely to find two contrarians that agree across the board on their so-called alternatives to the broadly accepted position of actual climate scientists.

  14. Everett F Sargent says:

    “basics of the climate change.”

    should be …

    “basics of climate change.”

  15. Chubbs says:

    Unfortunately only Fox news or similar can reach skeptics. Until March 15, coronavirus was just like the flu. Then the messaging suddenly changed. When the s*** hit the fan.

  16. Jim Hunt says:

    Hi Jenni,

    It’s great to see you engaging in here!

    Further to Ken’s point, why did you pick Jo Nova’s blog to compare with SkS?

    To my way of thinking Judith Curry’s blog would have made for a much better approximation to a “fair test”? Not “good”, but certainly “better”!

  17. Joshua says:

    Brigitte –

    > And she found that even on diametrically opposed blogs (with very different degrees of credibility) the interactions between commenters was largely of the same nature.

    Sounds about right to me.

    Differences in moderatiom can have an effect, but I think it’s marginal – if only because despite certainty in both camps that the other camp moderates unfairly, moderation likewise tends to be of the same nature in both camps.

  18. Steven Mosher says:

    “This response has got rather long 🙂 but one final point is that some would argue that there is no point to even attempt dialogue with those who dispute AGW. Is your suggestion that we should be finding ways to do so?”

    I suppose our rationalist tendencies make us believe that since we are open to having our minds changed (not) that we expect others to be open to having their minds changed.
    Well, I can say I had that expectation. you could say I made of a crusade out of it, thinking that
    if people had access to data and code, that they could reason together to come to agreement.
    Man was I was wrong.

    I think i want to say the only way to get someone to change their mind is through action.
    I know my assessment certain issues was changed when I actually had to do work.
    That work becomes part of my identity and if I prove myself wrong that is a lot easier to swallow
    than accepting someone else’s “proving” me wrong with mere words.

    I do know that writing comments brings out the worst in me and I write things I would never say.

    However, there was a time long ago when I contributed to a blog ( not climate) .. it was a slate blog, where weekly the editor would pick the best comment and give it a star, and then
    reward the best commenters with some virtual prizes gold stars etc.

    I liked getting stars.

    you’d be amazed how much time I would put into comments to get a meaningless star

    of course later discussions got into destructive fights between the commenters with stars and those without over the importance of stars.. So a bunch of us with stars demanded the whole system be scrapped.

    humans.

  19. Steven Mosher says:

    “To my way of thinking Judith Curry’s blog would have made for a much better approximation to a “fair test”? Not “good”, but certainly “better”!

    The comments there are highly dominated by the same 1 guy posting the same shit on repeat.

    it used to be better when Pekka, RIP, was around

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    “I like Steven Mosher’s idea to get different people to code; this would be an interesting experiment! ”
    Ya I have been kicking around this “comment economy” idea for a while, but never
    did anything about it.

    to do it right you need an identity of sorts ( registration with some kind of ID check)
    or damn humans will make a game out of it in some way or other.

    At a minimum, it could just be a plug in for researchers like you so you could
    do your coding as you read.

    and then you could build up a nice database of “training” comments for norming
    other coders.

    The other category that is interesting is “deviations” as we occassional have fights (discussions) here
    about what is germane and what is off topic.

  21. Everett F Sargent says:

    Joshua,

    I disagree. Moderation is one of the main reasons why I like to post here. The way in which ATTP replies or intercedes with contrarian commenters is also a very good feature and not a bug IMHO.

    I also really like the technical level of our discussions here.

  22. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > This response has got rather long 🙂 but one final point is that some would argue that there is no point to even attempt dialogue with those who dispute AGW. Is your suggestion that we should be finding ways to do so?”

    I think you can’t judge all outcomes from blogs based on the nature of the comments. You alluded to thar yourself by referencing lurkers. Just because there’s little meaningful exchange between people with different views in the comments doesn’t that none of the readers gain a deeper understanding of the topics being discussed. Even the djscussants, who don’t display meaningful engagement in the comments may be enlarging their view in spite of themselves.

    Sure, most people, mostly, just filter what they read to confirm their preexisting views, but some open-mindedness probably sneaks in through the back door sometimes?

  23. Joshua,

    I think you can’t judge all outcomes from blogs based on the nature of the comments. You alluded to thar yourself by referencing lurkers.

    Sure, I agree. There could be merit to dialogue in terms of it influence those who might be observing. I guess I was meaning that there is little benefit in terms if finding common ground between those who dispute AGW and those who accept it.

    From a personal perspective, one reason I don’t think it’s worth it is because I don’t think I have the mental strength to continually engage in remarkably unpleasant disucssions.

  24. Joshua says:

    Everett –

    Anders moderation and comments make a difference to me as well. But the question is do “skeptics” see his moderation in a way different from how “realists” see Watts’ moderation? I think for the most part, not.

    Is there some objective way to see how moderation is associated with quality of dialog in hhe comments? I think.probably not.

    If there is something that makes a difference it may well be the extent to which the propieter started the blog to advance a particular viewpoint.

    I think of a blog like Slatestarcodex, where smart people exchange views from a more diverse range of perspectives. But the focus of the blog is more diffuse, and the propieter is more “in the middle” of the political spectrum and the range of topics I’d less focused. That said, there’s still a lot of bickering, but the range of views among hbr comments is more balanced.

  25. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > From a personal perspective, one reason I don’t think it’s worth it is because I don’t think I have the mental strength to continually engage in remarkably unpleasant disucssions.

    Stop.

    It’s not a matter of “strength.” For example, maybe you’re just less addicted to the process.

  26. Joshua,

    Is there some objective way to see how moderation is associated with quality of dialog in hhe comments? I think.probably not.

    I wasn’t necessarily implying that you can link it to the quality. I was suggesting that if you strongly moderate what is likely to be a comment thread about a contentious topic, it is likely that this will tend to discourage one side, rather than the other, given that the moderators in this case have their own bias.

    Stop.

    It’s not a matter of “strength.” For example, maybe you’re just less addicted to the process.

    Sure, but that’s partly influenced by (in my case) how often I can face getting worked up while commenting on a blog.

  27. Everett F Sargent says:

    Speaking of contractive dialogues as opposed to discursive dialogues, how does one go about speaking to social scientists in such a way that they might actually pick up an IPCC report, read it and understand it fully?

    I think I already know that answer, but I would really like to try to have some discursive dialogue with said social scientists.

    Oh and CO2 is plant food. 😉

  28. JCH says:

    In the past I’ve read Skeptical Science a wee bit more than JoNova, which is never, but not much more than never. So you guys have fun.

  29. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > I wasn’t necessarily implying that you can link it to the quality. I was suggesting that if you strongly moderate what is likely to be a comment thread about a contentious topic, it is likely that this will tend to discourage one side, rather than the other, given that the moderators in this case have their own bias.

    Well, my comment was really more towards what Everett wrote…. but still…

    What you say would make sense if one really moderated equally. But that’s hard to do, especially if you have a strong perspective. It would be very hard for you to be as tough on obnoxious or fallacious comments from those who align with you on climate change as you are with those who don’t.

    Judith’s denizens think she’s a symbol of tolerance and even-handefness in her moderation. I think that’s a joke.

    But either way, if say that objectively speaking the exchange at her site is at best marginally different than WUWT (Jim’s views notwithstanding).

    Abd if course,

  30. Joshua says:

    And if course, I always speak objectively!

  31. Joshua,

    What you say would make sense if one really moderated equally.

    Did you actually read my comment? My point was explicitly that the moderation is unlikely to be equal, hence you are likely to moderate one view more than the other. Hence, that strongly moderated blogs tend to have like-minded people commenting is not a huge surprise.

  32. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I misunderstood. I read what you wrote to suggest that the contentiousness of the topic was the determinative factor.

    > I was suggesting that if you strongly moderate what is likely to be a comment thread about a contentious topic,….

    > Hence, that strongly moderated blogs tend to have like-minded people commenting is not a huge surprise

    I’m just saying that theoretically, that doesn’t have to be true. Strong moderation could be applied evenly in all directions. It might reduce contentiousness without resulting in like-mindedness.

    But I think we agree on that even if I seem to be misunderstanding you

  33. Joshua,
    Sure, if you could make it even-handed, then it might be possible. I think sometimes moderation here is based on tone, which can be a bit more even-handed, but sometimes it’s based on a sense that there isn’t much point in allowing a comment that will simply result in the comment thread getting out of hand.

  34. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > I think sometimes moderation here is based on tone,

    That matches my observation (allowing for some deviation)

    > which can be a bit more even-handed,

    Agreed

    > but sometimes it’s based on a sense that there isn’t much point in allowing a comment that will simply result in the comment thread getting out of hand.

    Of course.

    So then there’s the question that even perfect moderation based on tone could result in on-sided discussion if the commenters from one side tend to be more obnoxious.

    Whats funny is that people on both sides are absolutely certain that even-handed moderation leads to one-sidedness because the other side is more obnoxious.

  35. Joshua,

    Whats funny is that people on both sides are absolutely certain that even-handed moderation leads to one-sidedness because the other side is more obnoxious.

    I don’t see why you find it funny, it’s obvious that the other side is more obnoxious 😉

  36. Joshua says:

    Good point.

  37. Everett F Sargent says:

    Like a magnet there are two sides. One pole attracts so-called deniers while the other pole attracts so-called alarmists or some such. Iron filings are the general public. So which side has more magnetism? Which side can attract the most iron filings. One side claims to have science on its side while the other side claims to have antiscience on its side. We are actually seeing this play out today in the US with COVID-19, which side will win this fierce discursive dialogue? The rational or the irrational (note I’m not deciding which is which, in keeping with this discursive dialogue mindset). Probably not a good enough analog but what the heck.

    We do have so-called luckwarmer blogs and so-called doomwarmer blogs, but what we really need is nullcooler and nullwarmer blogs, sort of half-unbaked blogs, places where nothing much is discussed because they must maintain their discursive dialogue neutrality-centrality. But 1st, we will have to blue team that idea, run it up (or is it down) the flagpole as it were. 😉

  38. Everett F Sargent says:

    Note to self: In placed where ‘discursive dialogue’ is used ‘deliberative dialogue’ was meant. My bad.

  39. Tony Banton says:

    I am mostly a lurker here, though have put up the odd comment – I tend to post mostly on CE and WUWT – not because I am anti-science (retired UKMO Meteorologist), but because I find comments there rather like the morbid fascination of seeing a slow-motion car crash (I have similar feels about watching Trump speak).
    Yes, as SM says (I surmise), CE is unfortunate in having the “Thug” dominating threads ( R I Ellison), who argues with all in a dismissive manner as he’s only interested in displaying his intellect.
    I have largely given up the crusade of “teaching” the drivers of the car-crash on WUWT how to drive according to empirical physics, they will never accept it and all you get is ad-hom abuse there in the way of engagement.
    Currently there is a “new kid on the block”, who is arguing (I think) that there is no GHE, but rather the excess warming above BB is due to geothermal!
    I look for sensible commenters and skip the multiple idiots offering echoes and cheers, and the DK afflicted pseudo-science types.
    Those Blogs serve only as foci for polarisation as far as I can see, if any of opposite mind venture in.
    There is one exception … Nick Stokes, he of incredible patience, who doesn’t rise to the many ad-homs sent his way but who also engenders a certain amount of respect from less rabid denizens.
    Really really unworldly qualities are required to venture into the rabbit-hole and stick around.

  40. izen says:

    @-JM
    “But this is dissemination, not dialogue and I did not examine the credibility or effectiveness of the dissemination of the actual blogposts.”

    That the structure of the commentary on blog posts has a common form is a product of the medium.
    And the inherent human propensity to form cliques with a common belief system that results in a stable structure of discourse.

    This can be seen on pro-Flat Earth sites and pro-Globe sites.
    It has no bearing on the quality, credibility, and accuracy of the content.
    Bikini research.

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    “Differences in moderatiom can have an effect, but I think it’s marginal – if only because despite certainty in both camps that the other camp moderates unfairly, moderation likewise tends to be of the same nature in both camps.”

    long long ago the moderator at WUWT would occasionally employ an uneven approach where
    tribe members were held to a higher standard of behavior than interlopers.

    so when an outsider came in “piling on” comments, personal attacks, etc were not allowed.
    But the “guest” could cross all sorts of lines.

    of course other blogs practice the opposite and eat guests for lunch.

    Hmm. we discussed other tactics as well. Ghosting or shadow banning is a good one, where a moderated person
    see’s their own posts but no one else can. kind of a subtle form of gaslighting them
    which was common in the old BBS days.

    For example, take a certain poster at Judith’s who always posts about chaos.
    he would continue to be able to post, but no one would see his posts. he would see
    them and not feel moderated.

  42. Willard says:

    > Ghosting or shadow banning is a good one

    Not sure about that:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Christmas_(Black_Mirror)

  43. David B Benson says:

    The chant is so different
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_chant
    that yes, one needs chant to the choir.

  44. Lurker here. I suspect some, perhaps many don’t feel they’ve much useful to contribute (as others have said). However the anger free (except when Willis swings by) discussions are both refreshing and interesting in ways that are hard to find elsewhere.

  45. anoilman says:

    A gathering of Covidiots shall henceforth be known as a Covfefe.

  46. David Appell says:

    “I don’t really want to say too much about the new article, as I’m wary of incuring the wrath of Roger.”

    But this is exactly why Pielke Jr abuses people — so they’ll shut up and leave the impression he is right.

  47. David,
    That is indeed a factor. It’s one reason I didn’t want to completely ignore this, but I don’t have the energy for a full blown engagement with Roger.

  48. dikranmarsupial says:

    The real problem with analysis of comments on scientific blogs is that you can’t tell who is right by the tone of the debate (or at least it is a very weak proxy). At the end of the day, the thing that matters is whether the argument is sound and supported by the data and unless you understand the science itself, you can’t tell which side is right.

    The problem is that some commenters are fairly logical and unemotional about this, and some a more passionate about it and tend to be, err.. rather forceful in their arguments. I suspect that, depending on your preconceptions about the debate (and we *all* have them), the two approaches will be detectable on both sides of the debate.

    So unless the paper is going to look at matters where there is a “correct” answer, then the result is just going to be a matter of opinion about “the nature of the debate” that is likely to be simply repeating prior beliefs (which seems rife in STS – at least those arguing against consensus messaging, who seem very reluctant to acknowledge any information that disagrees with their position and are unwilling to explain how we should address anti-consensus messaging).

    It seems the article is focussing on issues that have a lot of uncertainty and matters of opinion, rather than matters of fact (CO2 rise is due to fossil fuels, CO2 causes warming, GHE violates second law of thermodynamics). I suspect then you will see a very clear distinction between the nature of the debate on mainstream and skeptic blogs.

  49. dikranmarsupial says:

    “long long ago the moderator at WUWT would occasionally employ an uneven approach where
    tribe members were held to a higher standard of behavior than interlopers.”

    That would be before my first comment there! ;o)

  50. Jim Hunt says:

    Dikran – It certainly didn’t apply when I managed to post my final comment there!

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2019/10/watts-up-with-arctic-sea-ice-thickness/

    My initial comments survived the onerous WUWT moderation process and several of them were published without undue delay…..

  51. dave s says:

    Hi, Just looked in here, a bit late to the party.

    By an odd coincidence, there’s been a discussion on a Wikipedia talk page about whether it’s allowable to say that the blogs Judith frequented at one time promote climate change denial, or instead the term “climate skeptic” from the 2010 source must be used.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Judith_Curry&oldid=953264213#Synthesis_(yet_again)

    Skimming past the comments which are full of arcane policy points, note that someone has quoted Brigitte’s 2010 paper which mentions “Climate scepticism in the sense of climate denialism or contrarianism” to say the labels were interchangeable synonyms at that time, and “skeptic” is best avoided as too ambiguous.

    Make what you will of the quality of the debate.

  52. russellseitz says:

    Recent White House press conferences suggest we are a long, long way from Peak Chant :

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/04/white-house-launches-strategic-virus.html

  53. [Snip – W]

    Climate and energy are highly polarized issues where people have very strong feelings, even their identities at stake. Blogs have a sort of yin yang quality — they can allow trolls or they can be an echo chamber. If you want to argue about these topics without blog moderation, go to Twitter.

    Me, Brad Keyes and Steve McIntyre recently had a big Twitter argument on the hockey stick (where we are absolutely positively right) against all comers, like Rob Honeycutt,Tony Duncan, Eli Rabett, Ken and more. I think the other side actually won on the issue of whether Fortran was appropriate in 1998:

  54. Me, Brad Keyes and Steve McIntyre recently had a big Twitter argument on the hockey stick (where we are absolutely positively right)

    Ha ha, very funny. The somewhat disturbing thing is that you probably aren’t joking.

  55. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” argument on the hockey stick (where we are absolutely positively right)”

    presumably you were arguing then that the basic findings of MBH98 were subsequently corroborated by a wide range of subsequent studies, using larger and better datasets and a wide range of improved analysis methods? And as a corollary that people these days largely criticise MBH98 as a means of avoiding acceptance of what the wide range of subsequent studies tell us.

    At least that would be my guess.

  56. “presumably you were arguing then that the basic findings of MBH98 were subsequently corroborated by a wide range of subsequent studies, using larger and better datasets and a wide range of improved analysis methods?”

    No, we only argued about significant aspects of MBH’98.

  57. dikranmarsupial says:

    Couldn’t have illustrated ” And as a corollary that people these days largely criticise MBH98 as a means of avoiding acceptance of what the wide range of subsequent studies tell us.” any more clearly.

  58. dave s says:

    Now that’s a blast from the past! Mike D, Brad Keyes and Steve McIntyre “only argued about significant aspects of MBH’98”, like “the issue of whether Fortran was appropriate in 1998”.

    Some more old names crop up in a Graun piece by Bob Ward:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/06/neil-ferguson-scientists-media-government-adviser-social-distancing

    Apparently the WSJ has published an article claiming “the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically demonstrated the limits of scientific modelling to predict the future”, by those well-known experts Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford, the director and deputy director of Nige Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation. And hagiographer of McIntyre. Their reasoning? “reasonable people might wonder whether something made with 13-year-old, undocumented computer code should be used to justify shutting down the economy”.

    What is it with these people about the vintage of computer code?

  59. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” they can allow trolls or they can be an echo chamber.”

    I should add, I’ve been to cliscep, it was made very clear I was not welcome in the echo chamber. For example this

  60. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ha ha, very funny. The somewhat disturbing thing is that you probably aren’t joking.

    Dunning and Kruger cracked that one years ago ATTP.

  61. Dikranmarsupial, have any examples or a tally of comments that were not allowed in?

  62. dikranmarsupial says:

    Mike Dombroski I didn’t say that I had comments deleted, I said that it was clear that my input was not welcome (note repeated adversarial misinterpretation of my comments on that thread and the subsequent one). It is an echo chamber with little or no diversity of view.

  63. dikranmarsupial says:

    Besides, if the comments were not allowed in, how would I have examples or a tally? As if commenting on climate blogs wasn’t enough of a waste of time already you think I should be routinely recording my posts on skeptic blogs in case they get deleted?

  64. dikranmarsupial says:

    I actually very rarely get my comments moderated. I suspect the blog where it has happened most frequently is this one. I don’t think that is an indication that this is an echo chamber – quite the opposite.

  65. Willard says:

    > if the comments were not allowed in, how would I have examples or a tally?

    Simple. You do like Canman does. Peddle. Spam. Take snapshots. Then complain on Twitter when being moderated.

    No more “but MBH,” please.

  66. dikranmarsupial says:

    Of course this could just be a means of getting away from the point that the findings of MBH98 (which are obviously the most significant aspect) have been solidly corroborated by the 20 years of research on paleoclimate reconstructions that followed it, using larger and better datasets and a wide range of independent methodologies.

  67. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard – Wilco.

  68. dave s says:

    Hi Mike, and “of course, the flat handle” is denier-speak for a downward slope indicating that temperatures dropped an average of 0.02 degrees Celsius per century prior to the 20th century.

    As the MBH99 team put it in a a 1999 press release, their “reconstruction supports earlier theories that temperatures in medieval times were relatively warm, but ‘even the warmer intervals in the reconstruction pale in comparison with mid-to-late 20th-century temperatures,’ said Hughes.” So “gets rid of the inconvenient MWP and LIA” is stupid nonsense.

    The 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report had said that the Medieval Warm Period found in some areas may not have been global, and the 1994 reconstruction by Hughes and Diaz questioned how widespread the Medieval Warm Period had been at any one time. Recent research, including PAGES 2K, have supported that, so MBH99 may have given the MWP undue credence. Not as much as deniers would like, of course.

    But you were twitting about MBH98, and in that year the George C. Marshall Institute had revealed the MBH98 dastardly plot to deceive by only going back to 1400: “Go back just a few hundred years more to the period 1000–1200 AD and you find that the climate was considerably warmer than now. This era is known as the Medieval Warm Period. … by 1300 it began to cool, and by 1400 we were well into the Little Ice Age. It is no surprise that temperatures in 1997 were warmer than they were in the Little Ice Age”. A point backed up by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas – remember them?

  69. Willard says:

    No more “but MBH,” please.

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