Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

[PopSci] Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments [Debate is bad for science] (barf)
Popular Science ^ | 9/24/2013 | Suzanne LaBarre

Posted on 09/24/2013 6:37:34 PM PDT by markomalley

Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at PopularScience.com, we're shutting them off.

It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.

That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters. Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.

But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. In one study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dominique Brossard, 1,183 Americans read a fake blog post on nanotechnology and revealed in survey questions how they felt about the subject (are they wary of the benefits or supportive?). Then, through a randomly assigned condition, they read either epithet- and insult-laden comments ("If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these kinds of products, you're an idiot" ) or civil comments. The results, as Brossard and coauthor Dietram A. Scheufele wrote in a New York Times op-ed:

Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they'd previously thought.

Another, similarly designed study found that even just firmly worded (but not uncivil) disagreements between commenters impacted readers' perception of science.

If you carry out those results to their logical end--commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded--you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the "off" switch.

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

There are plenty of other ways to talk back to us, and to each other: through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, livechats, email, and more. We also plan to open the comments section on select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussion. We hope you'll chime in with your brightest thoughts. Don't do it for us. Do it for science.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: 1984; achillwind; algoreisnotmygod; censorship; debate; dnctalkingpoints; evolution; flamewar; globalwarmingscare; greenjournalism; junkscience; orwelliannightmare; popularscience; pseudoscience; science; shutupandsitdown; stalinisttactics; theinternet; thoughtcrime
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-73 next last

1 posted on 09/24/2013 6:37:34 PM PDT by markomalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Who wants to place a bet that this started when they started getting their asses kicked on global warming debates?


2 posted on 09/24/2013 6:42:06 PM PDT by freedom462
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Yup that’s what I was taught in engineering school.... check popular consensus and proceed full speed ahead. /s


3 posted on 09/24/2013 6:42:12 PM PDT by Nifster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

In other words, we don’t want to take the time or spend the money to have Moderators on our site so take your discussion somewhere else that cares.


4 posted on 09/24/2013 6:43:39 PM PDT by Mastador1 (I'll take a bad dog over a good politician any day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Simply including an ad hominem attack

Susie La Barre would make a good stripper name.

5 posted on 09/24/2013 6:43:55 PM PDT by PAR35 (i)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again.

Money quote.

6 posted on 09/24/2013 6:43:57 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Popular Science jumped on the man-made global warming bandwagon a number of years ago (in addition to a few other half-baked liberal causes). I haven't picked up a copy since.

Q: How can you tell when one-side is losing a debate?

A: They cut off debate.

7 posted on 09/24/2013 6:44:11 PM PDT by Arm_Bears (Refuse; Resist; Rebel; Revolt!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Bunch of quacks . . .


8 posted on 09/24/2013 6:47:02 PM PDT by Olog-hai
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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

Yep. And it's about damned time.

Case in point - the 1984 NIH Consensus Conference on Cholesterol. After decades of scientific studies that had persistently shown no relationship between saturated fat in the diet and heart disease, a carefully packed government committee, ignored the results and declared a "consensus".

And proceeded to sentence millions of americans to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

But it's taken 20 years for the story of how business interests manipulated the research, the grant funding, and the peer review process, to ensure that evidence exonerating healthy animal fat, and placing the blame where it belonged, on sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and industrial seed oils, never made it into the discussion.

It was so much easier to control the process, back in pre-internet days, when control of the committees and control of the media made sure that dissenting voices were never heard.

9 posted on 09/24/2013 6:48:47 PM PDT by jdege
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freedom462

Taking that bet would be like taking pablum money from a baby. LOL

No doubt about it. Can’t have the natives outing the magazine for jumping on board the goreball worming nonsense.

Will have to qualify this saying I’ve not follow Popular Science’s position on Global Warming. If they did agree with the “man made myth”, they deserve what they get for it.


10 posted on 09/24/2013 6:50:52 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (This post coming to you today from behind the Camelskin Curtain. Not the Iron or Bamboo Curtain...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

If you can’t take the heat, get outvof the kitchen.

Precious.


11 posted on 09/24/2013 6:52:59 PM PDT by buffaloguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nifster

Yup, I understand that is the new “Scientific Method”! :>)


12 posted on 09/24/2013 6:53:55 PM PDT by TaMoDee (Go Pack Go!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: TaMoDee

See I spent all that money when it could have been done for so much less ;)


13 posted on 09/24/2013 6:54:49 PM PDT by Nifster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: PAR35
Isn't that ad feminum.?
14 posted on 09/24/2013 6:54:53 PM PDT by FredZarguna (And yet remain evil. To me shall Fëanor come soon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
They ought to change their name to “Popular Democratic Party Propaganda” what with publishing titles like Republicans Block Proposal For National Science Laureate, Fearing Science . . . not a shred of scientific integrity here, nope.
15 posted on 09/24/2013 6:55:47 PM PDT by Olog-hai
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

This is what Popular Science is reduced to?

#
Why Dudes Who Can’t Smell Never Get Laid
#
What Is the Point of the Female Orgasm?
#
What Our Eyes Say About Our Sexual Preferences
#
Man Diagnosed ‘Comatose’ For 23 Years Was Actually Conscious All Along
#
Will Running Barefoot Cure What Ails Us?
#
8 Signs That Girl You Met On The Internet Is Fake


16 posted on 09/24/2013 6:56:28 PM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jdege

Pales in comparison to the DDT ban, which has killed around 100 million people in the Third World; also the result of junk science.


17 posted on 09/24/2013 6:56:34 PM PDT by FredZarguna (And yet remain evil. To me shall Fëanor come soon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Hmmm, Britt Hume is now saying that talk radio is bad for the GOP since it calls out pubbies who say they are “conservative”.

Interesting trend.


18 posted on 09/24/2013 6:57:10 PM PDT by DBrow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FredZarguna
ad feminam
19 posted on 09/24/2013 6:59:29 PM PDT by scrabblehack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Leftscum shutting down facts that don’t fit their political meme?

Color me shocked. NOT!


20 posted on 09/24/2013 6:59:36 PM PDT by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FredZarguna
ad hominem works for either sex, although it is grammatically masculine.

ad virum would be a male person only.

21 posted on 09/24/2013 7:01:34 PM PDT by scrabblehack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: markomalley; a fool in paradise; Slings and Arrows
They won't admit how right they were!


22 posted on 09/24/2013 7:02:46 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: scrabblehack

Haven’t had anyone to practice my Latin with for forty years, and you just can’t get the newspapers in Latin out here in the boonies.


23 posted on 09/24/2013 7:02:55 PM PDT by FredZarguna (With bell, book, and candle, please.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: scrabblehack

[it was facetious]


24 posted on 09/24/2013 7:03:49 PM PDT by FredZarguna (With bell, book, and candle, please.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television.

These guys obviously haven't heard of Werner Heisenberg. Certainty is the anathema of science. I stopped reading PopSci a long time ago and this just reminded me why. They've gone PC.

25 posted on 09/24/2013 7:04:59 PM PDT by InABunkerUnderSF (Because 2 terms with Jerry Brown as Governor was all I could take.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

At one point, the consensus among Europe’s intelligentsia was that earth is flat. Until science and scientific methods showed that consensus meant nothing in science. But then, it became very important again: It’s a consensus that the science of climate change is well established.


26 posted on 09/24/2013 7:05:57 PM PDT by paudio (Liberals teach Whites about guilt and shame better than Christian churches do...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jdege

You can add the magically disappearing hole in the ozone cured by banning R-12 Freon to that list. It was the practice run for GoReBalWarMinG!!111!!!eLeBiNtY!!!111


27 posted on 09/24/2013 7:07:10 PM PDT by 98ZJ USMC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself.

Uncivil comments? Or inconvenient comments?

28 posted on 09/24/2013 7:07:38 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

When your positions don’t comply with 8th grade SCIENCE you grow too embarrassed to allow public ridicule.


29 posted on 09/24/2013 7:09:01 PM PDT by G Larry (Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Psalms 109:8)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rockrr

pathetic

then again, it’s the ‘indepth investigative studies’ the low info progressives are use to


30 posted on 09/24/2013 7:09:36 PM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Back in the 1970s, the term “Greenhouse effect” was quite popular. One issue, I believe it was Popular Science, after years of using it, had an editorial that they would NEVER use that term again. That was when they believed that a new ICE AGE was starting.

I watched their issued and sure enough, several years later the were using another term, GLOBAL WARMING!


31 posted on 09/24/2013 7:09:56 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freedom462
Who wants to place a bet that this started when they started getting their asses kicked on global warming debates?

I dunno...they've been getting their asses kicked on this subject with some regularity for the past decade.

32 posted on 09/24/2013 7:12:54 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty (It's hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to hear.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

“A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television.”

Ha! Everything from evolution to the origins of climate change? What else is in that “everything” spectrum? I don’t recall any politician or tv talking head debating relativity or the big bang, so I am guessing there is no “everything”. They are just mad that the public won’t swallow their very politically charged “scientific opinion” on those two topics as the gospel.

You know what? If you politicize science, then you can’t complain about science being fodder for political debate.


33 posted on 09/24/2013 7:17:01 PM PDT by Boogieman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Revolting cat!

I didn’t know that Dick Nixon used to be a taxi driver. A well-dressed one, too.


34 posted on 09/24/2013 7:21:41 PM PDT by rfp1234 (Impeach We Much!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Science ain't ever "settled."

No scientific model is ever complete.

Any science that claims to be "settled" ain't science.

35 posted on 09/24/2013 7:21:44 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (When your policy is to rob Peter to pay Paul, you can count on enthusiastic support from Paul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PAR35

No doubt.

But I would like to air a pet peeve. The phrase “ad hominem attack” is a degenerate form, and I would say a vulgarisation, of the original idea of an “ad hominem argument”.

“Ad hominem” means “to the man”, not “against the man”, and it originally meant an argument tailored to a particular audience. For instance, if speaking to an audience of astronomers one might include rhetorical references to stars and galaxies and other astronomical objects. Galileo actually used the term ( ad hominem ) in a sense close to this.

I think the particular meaning we have today arose because of one form of arguing “to the man” in a debate before an audience. One might try to sway the audience by ridiculing the opposing debater, suggesting that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, etc. We can suppose that this sure-fire formula would be widely practiced and become familiar to all as the “ad hominem attack”.


36 posted on 09/24/2013 7:21:49 PM PDT by dr_lew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
The facebook page is a laff riot. Bunch of posts, "Oh it's terrible you had to shut off the comments, but there were a lot of mean people acting mean and saying mean things just to be mean!" I guess pointing out the errors in their popular science is mean.

Hey Gang! The name of the rag is "Popular Science." It's all about what's the popular "thing" right now. I wouldn't go there for anything higher than an eighth-grade level of understanding. Which was fine back when I was in the eighth grade....

37 posted on 09/24/2013 7:23:45 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty (It's hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to hear.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rfp1234

And he took fares that smoked!


38 posted on 09/24/2013 7:25:56 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty (It's hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to hear.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: dr_lew; PAR35

I saw a movie once called “Attack of the ad hominems”.


39 posted on 09/24/2013 7:30:19 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Revolting cat!

Minivans with sunroofs! No cup holders?


40 posted on 09/24/2013 7:33:14 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Any news or information website that does not have comments in this day and age is worthless. If it doesn’t allow comments I don’t even bother reading it.


41 posted on 09/24/2013 7:36:01 PM PDT by Count of Monte Fisto (The foundation of modern society is the denial of reality.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freedom462
you peeked.
"...Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again."
42 posted on 09/24/2013 7:37:22 PM PDT by stylin19a (Obama -> Fredo smart)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: paudio

“It’s a consensus that the science of climate change is well established.”

You’ll notice that certain apologists only get concerned about consensus when they can’t point to clear experimental verification.


43 posted on 09/24/2013 7:39:44 PM PDT by Boogieman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: stylin19a

Eventually people are going to realize that the issue with evolution is that believing in the whole of it requires you to believe G-d does not exist at all and the backlash will intensify. Einstein was not an evolutionist, Newton, if evolution had been as prominent in his time, would not have been an evolutionist, neither would Galileo or Kepler.


44 posted on 09/24/2013 7:41:03 PM PDT by freedom462
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
Gore Says Global Warming Skeptics Should Be Treated Like Racists And Homophobes

That's about as ad hominem as you can get.

Does PopSci want to shut Algore's pie hole?

45 posted on 09/24/2013 7:41:39 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

We reserve the right to free speech.

You are free to say anything we agree with.

I’m sure you ignorant, racist, Global Warming deniers understand. :)


46 posted on 09/24/2013 7:42:35 PM PDT by Tzimisce (The American Revolution began when the British attempted to disarm the Colonists.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PAR35

http://www.johnspeedie.com/healy/heyho.wav


47 posted on 09/24/2013 7:43:53 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

“Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at PopularScience.com, we’re shutting them off.” That reads almost like satire, but they’re serious about it. :-)

But why limit it to science? Shouldn’t those who believe they have the truth about other topics as well suppress dissent from those who they believe don’t? What a wonderful idea! (Or have we gone down that path before — both civilizations in general and science in particular?)


48 posted on 09/24/2013 8:11:25 PM PDT by GJones2 (Popular Science shuts off comments)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Maybe I’m imagining this, but doesn’t the history of science — and practically every other field of inquiry — show that the establishment has been wrong time after time, and about all kinds of things?

“Comments can be bad for science”? I feel like I’m watching a Monty Python skit. Yes, comments will include some stupid ones — many stupid ones — but the better ones should have the advantage in the arena of ideas. That’s the foundation on which free societies are based, and much of the progress of the last few centuries. If you can’t defend your ideas, Popular Science, then that’s too bad. Maybe they suck.


49 posted on 09/24/2013 8:14:00 PM PDT by GJones2 (Popular Science shuts off comments)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: paudio

You know people really didn’t think the Earth was flat- that is a myth by humanists and later secularists to defame the previous generations and eras as incompetent and ignorant and along with disparaging religious people as if they were all anti-logical bufoons.


50 posted on 09/24/2013 8:25:17 PM PDT by Sheapdog (Chew the meat, spit out the bones - FUBO - Come and get me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-73 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson