bans most reasoned dissent?

As a long time blogger I’m going to start calling out other blogs for an outrageous practice that is becoming very common and very frustrating to any clear thinker:  banning comments simply because they don’t line up with a particular blog’s point of view and biases.     Blog authors have a lot of control and it’s increasingly abused in the name of groupthink.    At the WordPress conference I was alarmed to hear a prominent blogger say something along the lines of “it’s my house and I can kick out whoever I want to”.    Blogs already suffer from inhibiting good two way communication and it pains me to see bloggers make the problem worse by wasting their time censoring comments.   I comment far less now than I used to at blogs like because I know that even a calm and reasoned comment may be deleted by the heavy handed and irrational moderation practiced there.    This form of censorship distorts the conversation, often misleading the gullible into thinking there is concensus where there is none.

There are many obvious gray areas in terms of censorship but I’m seeing an increasing number of blogs cross the lines of reasoned discourse in the interest of lining up support for their positions.   Interestingly this is becoming something of standard operating procedure in much of the climate alarmism blog community, where ClimateProgress stands out conspicuously as an alarmist voice for the poorly informed who want to stay that way.

My hypothesis is that this irrationality and censorship stems  from several new factors:  Ego-driven science of the last few decades, unreasonable attacks on scientists that were common in the Bush “anti science” administration, overspecialization in the sciences that creates narrow bands of expertise that have little relevance to larger context issues like Climate Change, grade inflation (there are a remarkable number of scientists who now write and discuss things as irrationally as a TV pundit – acting more as advocates than purveyors of information.

A spectacular example of this is Joe Romm’s , a targeted and uninformed collection of misleading  posts about Climate Science.   Most are simply attack dog pieces on reasoned voices who do no share Romm’s irrationally alarmist views about Climate change.     Although I’m a fan of Tom Friedman his implied endorsement of this blog forces me to reconsider Friedman’s coherency.

Now, we are living in the blogosphere so ranting irrationally has a lot of entertainment value, but Romm’s has the audacity to simply ban or moderate those who don’t agree with him.

I feel a combination of anger and pity for people who choose to limit the conversation to strengthen their own (usually weak) positions, but when this is done in the name of “science” it *REALLY* pisses me off, and I’ll be bringing this up regularly as the intersection of advocacy and science continues to metasticize in the blogOsphere.

OK, I admit the comment below, posted over at  is kind of snarky but he should at the very least post it in the interest of dialog since he’s attacking *both* Pielke’s, who any reasonable person would agree are well qualified climate scientists who suffer enormous abuse at the hands of their intellectual inferiors for simply pointing out the obvious about climate alarmism.

Ad Hominem BS as usual – do you EVER address any reasoned scientific critiques here? Both Pielke’s represent voices of reason in the rising sea of alarmism that represents the greatest exaggeration of risk in the history of humans on earth.

The main point for those of us who accept global warming and accept the anthropogenic nature of that warming but don’t preach catastrophe is that 1) related natural factors are very significant and poorly understood and affecting things as is obvious from the last few years of cooling 2) the models suck to the extent they don’t predict things well and are generally presented as unfalsifiable 3) the changes are gradual and small, presenting us with engineering issues, not existential ones.

These three points are *totally obvious to informed people* yet they don’t line up the groupthinkers.

PS – shame on you for deleting this comment!

Or this one at RealClimate.   I used to participate there often but noticed that if I addressed people who attacked me in the same snarky vein I’d sometimes be moderated.    This form of targeted censorship has no place in the blogs where free spirited discussion should rule the day.

Commenter Chris wrote: <i>In the interest of civility, I think we should await Pielke’s response before heaping abuse on him</i>

My reply: (I predict this will be deleted by the RealClimate censors):  Sure, but you obviously don’t belong here at RealClimate, where no reasoned objection goes unchallenged by blustering nonsense. Only here does “less change” become “more change”. The whole problem for clear thinkers is that the models are predicting things that are not happening. Predicted warming is not materializing as expected, and the *very recent* data suggests even more strongly that the idea we are poised on the brink of (Hansen’s term here) “Climate Catastrophe” is simply nonsense. I don’t even think you guys are *sincere* anymore. Egos and alarmism now trump the data on virtually every public front, though ironically the non-politically polluted studies remain of good quality.

12 thoughts on “ bans most reasoned dissent?

  1. There are many obvious gray areas in terms of censorship but I’m seeing an increasing number of blogs cross the lines of reasoned discourse in the interest of lining up support for their positions.

    Good post. Moderation often creates a snow-ball effect. Blogs and webmasters start out by saying TOS will be enforced: no obscenity, rudeness, insults, etc. After a while it becomes, no trolling, and no un-PC comments. A while later the TOS, real or implied, enforce a “No Neo-con or Republicans” standard, or something along those lines (tho’ most right-wing sites do this as well).

    Pretty soon the censor-webmaster demands registration, captchas, and moderates everything, and thus bans any opposing viewpoints, whether in regards to skepticism regarding global warming, the Obama Admin., his views on religion, and so forth. (See Max and his boyfriend B-ronius’s site, New KGB Worlds for examples)

  2. The Feeding frenzy currently underway on the leftist blogs brought about by Palin’s resignation also indicates the Language Politics. I didn’t vote for McCain/Palin (or ObamaCo), but respect Ms Palin’s libertarian aspects to some degree (not her religious fundamentalism, or support for BP and big oil however). Yet the regs at the DailyKOS boutique consider her sort of a female Heinrich Himmler–once they’ve “rated” her as a nazi (incorrectly–for one, she’s supportive of AIPAC and Israel), they feel justified in defaming her in any possible way, or making up bogus accusations. Some X calls a Kossack on the accusation–has Palin been convicted of a white collar crime, or even charged??etc.–and they call the X a nazi as well, merely for asking for proof or confirmation. Orwell understood these games.

  3. Yes Horatiox and Houston, I think we have a problem and agree that it starts with what appears to be a reasonable moderation policy which metasticizes into a groupthink sort of police state, often where the regular participants become the attack dogs in the comment sections, though this itself tends to breed more irrationality in the posts themselves.

    I can see this clearly at RealClimate where they used to tolerate some dissent but over time seem to have expanded the moderation to exclude critics. Not surprisingly they still allow a handful of foolish critics to post comments so the group can attack them and make the critical views look stupid.

  4. Along these lines I’ve registered “ClimateComments.Com” and hope to put up a site where I’ll try to let the debates about climate change flow unfettered by censorship. The tricky part is to discourage personal attacks and appeals to irrational foolishness in favor of talking about ideas. Ideas deserve to be held up to the light of day and examined from every angle. People, on the other hand, generally deserve a measure of respect regardless of their views.

  5. Sounds cool Mr.Duck. I don’t pretend to be a research chemist, but I have noted a few supposed experts (even Dr Hansen) waffling on the man-made C02- as-culprit claims. Sometimes they say it’s GHG (including methane, CO1, H20 vapor, other nasty stuff), and then shift back to C02 as the biggie, even though the research does not appear to support that. There are still questions regarding the reliability of, certainly of IPCC’s research. I don’t agree with McIntyre’s approach, but he’s written some interesting essays suggesting bias on part of Mann/IPCC (as in, make the problem worse than it is to keep the shekels rolling).

    I’ve also been attacked and banned for even mentioning these concerns. Say, there are some doubts about C02 as culprit, and the webmaster or regs bark, AGW denialist! And say, well, the evidence is not in, etc. and they bark “Fox News loving, beefeating nazi!” etc. It’s rather unscientific, and very ideological. The same thing occurs on many sites when one dares question some aspects of Obama, or the holy Democratic party line: sort of the automatic either/or: you don’t care for Obama? Then you approve of GOP/Rush /Coulter/global capitalism, and war! Not at all valid inferences.

  6. Another type of dissent-prevention involves a sort of “bait and switch” technique. A blogger posts something controversial, or debatable, say where facts are still in dispute (as with global warming), and then an outsider X posts some dissent, and is perhaps a bit passionate about it (like, “”where’s the f-n research PROVING man-made C02 leads to rising temps,”” etc), and then the regs following the party line all chime in, ridicule the person, make the usual associations (a Fox news watcher, a right-wing misogynist! etc), the discussion escalates, and then the blog bans Outsider X, without ever addressing his points. Then once X is banned and “troll rated”, they can sort of attack him at will, without any concern for any facts, data, evidence.

    You see this at KOS, and similar sites (and real climate, I suppose). The hacks at New Worlds specialize in this technique–sort of SOP for J-Edgar.coms . (And it’s all the more amusing, since the NWs crew are not even Gorean democrats, but right-wing fundamentalists and libertarian anti-tax types with a few token liberal views, for the most part)

  7. Pingback: Thank you Nathan Myhrvold! « Joe Duck

  8. I think in order to keep your blog legit, you have to post comments even if they don’t agree with your view point. What’s the point of having a comments section if you filter the comments because they don’t agree with you? Doesn’t make sense. Either have comments or don’t, but if you do– only delete those that aren’t relevant. Kudos for the article, it definitely needed to be said.

  9. I’d say the big problems are that we have a case of ‘framing’ argument where acceptable conclusions fall within a narrow range of possibilities.
    I blame both ‘sides’ for that : both the corporate flailing against AWG and refusal to leave their game of reckless disregard for the environment : and the dismissive posing of alternative possibilities as ‘Deniers’ lies paid for by ad budgets ( and those are considerable and ongoing) . That one could expect if there was a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow : carbon credits being an international tax on the use of fire is certainly an ambitious enough scheme.

    I don’t have much hope for impartial debate to be favoured by Search Engines. If you like what I’ve started I’m sure it could be organized into more coherent form. I just don’t consider myself scientifically literate enough not to be sucked into b.s.

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