2010-10-04 21:33:57Comments that drive me wild
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Sometimes, comments just drive me wild. The science tells us warming of 2C will raise sea levels 6 to 9 metres. How people respond to this is an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance. Because it takes a valiant feat of psychological gymnastics to be comfortable with that piece of knowledge.

The Watts Up With That blog post about the same research features predictable comments - largely attacks on the scientists. If you want to reject uncomfortable information, attacking the messenger is always the easiest method. However, you can't get away with that kind of shenigans at SkS. So here's how RSVP deals with the info:

For this worse case scenario, has anyone demonstrated that there will actually be less habitable land as sea level rises? Shouldnt all kinds of land tracts be getting freed up of ice compensating loss of coastal regions?

I mean, such a ridiculous line of thinking. Climate change is a serious issue and demands serious thinking. How can you completely ignore the devastating effect of displacing millions of people with a flippant "hey, there'll be a dead rock somewhere in the Arctic we can all move to". Anyway, sorry, I restrict myself from going off the handle on the website so this forum is a good opportunity for me to vent about these things.

2010-10-04 22:47:26
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
What I call "magical incantantion," same escape hatch as imaginary conspiracies, bias against publication. A kind of intellectual hernia, where the strain of maintaining denial results in thinking being pushed entirely through the wall of rational constraint.
2010-10-04 22:56:25
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.46.226

John,

RSVP's response is patently ridiculous. If no one can come up with one better than that, they're stuck...

2010-10-05 01:38:01
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

Yeah, RSVP's comments frequently seem to come from the bottom of the barrel.  I like this one, from a few minutes ago:

What is all the fuss about? If man survived sabre tooth tigers and wooly mammoths for millions of years, what is the particular urgency here?

Righto.   Why worry about anything?  We as a species weren't exterminated by sabertoothed tigers and woolly mammoths!

Feel the power of my logic!

2010-10-05 02:34:46comments
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

That one is definitely a head-smacker.

Something I've noticed about the comments is that on most blog posts they seem to turn into a few 'skeptics' (cruz, BP, RSVP, etc.) making incorrect statements, several others trying to explain why they're wrong, the skeptics turning the subject to their personal favorite argument (i.e. water vapor for BP), and then JC or somebody telling them to take it to the correct rebuttal comments.  It seems to be a very consistent pattern eh?

2010-10-05 02:37:39nice headline
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

I like Watts' headline on the subject - "Now it’s 2°C climate change target ‘not safe’".

Now?  2°C has been considered the 'danger limit' for years.  I guess Watts didn't get the memo.  Surprisingly he seems to have just reported on the research without making any dumb comments about it.  I guess he feels safe leaving that to his readers.

2010-10-05 06:52:50
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

Regarding the consistent evolution of comments threads into the tit-for-tat among the usual gang, that's one of the reasons I'd love to see the comments-thread-view-metric  system discussed on the "tech" thread. From a practical perspective, the question is whether comments are a matter of any urgency once they've rolled onto a second page and require more than a scroll to reach.

Put another way,  does anyone in our "target audience" actually read extended comments? Are RSVP et al actually howling into what would be energy-sapping silent darkness if we didn't provide an audience and more stimulation? How much time are we wasting dealing with these people?

2010-10-05 08:27:36archiesteel
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

archiesteel made a useful comment on the subject.

"I'd love to be able to upvote comments such as #28 and 37. Threaded comments and the ability to flag off-topic posts would also greatly enhance the level of discussion."

One useful feature on Yahoo Answers is the thumbs-up/down of other answers.  If an answer receives a certain number of thumbs-down (5 more down than up), it's "hidden due to a low rating".  If you want to see the answer anyway, you can unhide it.  Something to consider.

2010-10-05 11:29:30Hiding comments
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
That feature is on joannenova.com.au too - it's frequently used by the many skeptic readers to remove any pro-AGW comments from view. Not a big fan of the concept. I like the web 2.0 aspect of upvoting and downvoting just to add more meta-data to the discussions (can't get enough data) but hiding? I dunno.
2010-10-05 11:31:08Ratio of proAGW to skeptics on SkS
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
BTW, the ratio of skeptics to proAGW users on SkS is approximately 22% skeptic, 78% proAGW. So having the downvote feature will effectively remove any skeptic comment from view. I'm not sure that's the message we want to send - that any dissenting comment, no matter how reasonably questioned, will be deleted.
2010-10-05 11:58:14comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.21.244
I agree with John
2010-10-05 14:07:57But then the true nature of the skeptics will be revealed for all to see...
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
130.36.62.222

The upside to such a system will be that anyone revisiting a thread will be immediately able to separate the wheat comments from the "chaffe".

A nice addition would be to reveal the screen names of the voters (up or down), if the reader desired to "unhide" those.

But leave no place to hide for those spreaders of misinformation.

 

The Yooper

2010-10-05 16:51:14hiding
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
Hiding isn't the same as deleting, but fair enough.  You could still make a comment's overall rating visible as an alternative.  That way the absurd skeptic comments would probably have less bearing on a reader's opinion of the article.
2010-10-05 22:50:02
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

John, just curious where you get the statistic of a 78/22 ratio for mainstream vs skeptics on the site?  That is something I've often wondered about.

I agree that a system that let people vote on others' comments would likely degenerate into the two sides each busily downvoting each other.  So I'm not particularly in favor of that idea.   But there might be ways to disincentivize that kind of behavior, though this would make it a lot more complicated.  For example, there could be a weighting system whereby each user has a "weighting factor" for her or his ratings of others' comments.  Higher weight would be given to people who:

* Have been here a long time

* Have made lots of comments of their own

* Have received more positive ratings on their own comments by others

* Better yet, instead of just approve/disapprove, let people rate comments on a scale of 1-10 or whatever, and keep tabs on their voting record.  If it's heavily bimodal (mostly just 10s and 1s) reduce the weighting.  If they have a more even distribution, increase the weighting.  

As a broader issue, I think the site is less useful and interesting when we are in "two warring camps mode" and much more interesting when there's more of a continuous range of opinion.  Thus it seems to me that things that would tend to promote monolithic unity on each end of the spectrum should be avoided, while things that would split up those unified blocks should be promoted. 

So, in the context of rating systems, what I think would be neat would be some kind of system that was able to identify and promote comments that are seen as at least moderately high quality by people in the other "camp".  Informally I have tried to do this myself, by explicitly recognizing and complimenting the (rare) skeptical comments that don't seem completely deranged or dishonest (e.g., my repeated accolades for  chriscanaris) while being similarly blunt in pointing out how bad skeptic arguments make all skeptics look bad. 

2010-10-05 23:39:28Privilege to vote on comments
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.155.58

On the premise that comment-rating is deemed helpful for visitors of SkS:

Could it make sense to restrict the right to rate comments to authors and moderators (and translators once comments for translated comments become available)? That should eliminate the risk of everybody just "downvoting" comments of the "other side" as rating would not be available for everybody.

2010-10-06 03:06:46
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
Chris Canaris is a psychiatrist. Too bad he's a skeptic; we could use a good shrinking right now. 
2010-10-06 03:55:43
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

Not just psychiatrists, now we need a mop and a bucket. johnd just took a cue from 10:10 and exploded dramatically, with embarrassing caps-lock, etc.

Drat. He was moderated; we should have left this post as a humiliation. I confess I find johnd more irritating than any other single skeptic on the site, even including RSVP and in part it's his droning, robotic style that gets my goat.

 

"JMurphy at 23:42 PM, whats with the congratulations to doug for finding the original.

Immediately above it you mention I had previously referenced a similar email exchange at JAMSTEC. 
ROTFLMAO.
I was wondering if you remembered that occasion. IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME EMAIL EXCHANGE, DUDE. So you had read it all previously, in it's entirety it seems, and remembered it as well, it also seems from your comments.
ROTFLMAO

I did not say back then that Japanese scientists disbelieved in AGW, you are deluding yourself on that, most definitely. 
Either retract that statement, or if you feel you can support it, then do so. 
EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP, it is making you look more like the crank that doug invoked the image of earlier.

It seems that all this comes about because you and doug are ignorant of the difference between data from the Indian Ocean and the Indian Ocean Dipole.
In post johnd at 08:25 AM, I mentioned that the BOM were not incorporating the IOD in the modeling, which doug challenged. 
The copy of the email I provided supported my claim 100%, I'll say it again, supported my claim 100%.
And so it should because my claim was based on information from the BOM researcher himself, saying exactly that, and giving the reasons why it was not being incorporated, blaming himself partly.

Now it is you who are yet again cherrypicking and ignoring the overall context of what has been written and referenced, twisting to get out of the hole you doug yourself into, trying to stop yourself from looking foolish. Well, it's not working, dude.

Ask yourself, if I provide the link to all the information that any assertions I make are based on, as you indicated with regards to the previous occasion you recall the JAMSTEC emails, how can you claim that is cherry picking?????

What is so obviously happening is that you don't read all the information available, instead cherry picking what suits yourself, twisting it out of context to suit your own narrow preconceived opinions instead of approaching it with an open mind. "

 

2010-10-06 04:23:23
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

Doug writes:  Chris Canaris is a psychiatrist. Too bad he's a skeptic; we could use a good shrinking right now.

No kidding.  In the comment you link to, he apparently blames global cooling for killing his mother.  That would seem to make it unlikely that he'll be able to objectively consider the evidence pro and con.

2010-10-06 05:20:19
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

Somebody or other just took up the mantle of Moderator to make this request of johnd:

This is also a good time to take the entire topic of Australia's climate and the IOD to a more appropriate thread. Please use the search box at upper left, choose a better thread, and make further remarks there.

I'm not sure that will work.  We don't seem to have a thread yet for the well-known skeptic argument  An Australian university and/or meteorological agency failed to recognize the importance of the Indian Ocean Dipole early enough and/or sneakily tried to take credit away from the Japanese for recognizing the importance of the Indian Ocean Dipole and they should have listened to me years ago when I tried to tell them about how important the Indian Ocean Dipole is but no they wouldn't listen to me, therefore AGW isn't happening.

2010-10-06 05:59:19
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

That was me, Ned. I actually went back to suggest the What causes short term changes in ocean heat? topic as such changes are intimately connected to phenomena such as the IOD, but I stopped myself after seeing JohnD actually confessing he'd carefully constructed his screed with the specific intention of being offensive. 

"To the Moderator, whilst the post I find offensive and a distortion remains here, then my responses must also be here.

In the interest of transparency and fairness I feel that whoever is moderating my replies to the JMurphy post should declare that they are not one of the parties to the exchange in question because it certainly appears that way.

My earlier deleted response was very carefully and calmly considered, and constructed to make specific points responding in kind to what I considered an offensive post, and it was intended to offend back. 

The topic of IOD was not declared off topic earlier as you know due to the parties involved wanting to maintain continuity of the debate, and so the points in contention should be finalised here, especially the allegations made against me.

I do not see this as a trifling matter that is going to be swept under the carpet so as someone is not seen as having lost face."

 

I'd twice earlier in the thread suggested dropping or moving the topic,  so "...was not declared off topic earlier as you know due to the parties involved wanting to maintain continuity of the debate..." is pretty much a fabrication.

 

2010-10-06 06:11:36
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

Yikes.  That guy needs a cooling-off period. 

BTW, Doug, nothing in my comment above was even remotely intended as criticism; those of you who have been dealing with this are doing a fine job IMHO.

(I suppose this discussion is, er, off-topic for the "Authors" board, and should probably be taking place on the "Moderators" board....)

I am a bit surprised that we don't seem to have any skeptic arguments or blog posts specifically about Australian drought, Australia's climate, or really anything at all with "Australia" in the title (aside from University of Western Australia Open Day 2010 ).  How can this be??!??!  Are there no skeptical arguments about Australia?  :-)

2010-10-06 06:17:40
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

No problem, Ned. I'm ordinarily squeamish about moderating anything to do with a discussion I've participated in, but this seems fairly cut and dried; JohnD is massively overreacting to being caught spinning.

Plus, posting his original response as he keeps demanding we do would actually be a disservice to him; it's quite embarrassing.  

2010-10-06 07:43:17Warmists vs skeptics on SkS
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Ned, to answer your question on where my 22:78% ratio comes from, a while ago, I added a bias field to the user database and a bit of code so as comments came in, I could specify whether the user was skeptics or warmest/proAGW/mainstream (still haven't found a satisfactory term for our side). I only assign bias if its obvious from the comment. I haven't done anything with that data yet, I'm not even sure why I'm doing it other than my obsessive compulsion to collect data. The other day, Steve Lewandowsky (cognitive scientist) asked if I had any numbers on the ratio of skeptics to warmists so I dove into the database and counted up around 100 assigned skeptics and around 400 assigned warmists.
2010-10-06 08:56:36
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
71.181.75.53

Wow, John.  I assume that's done manually (you see a comment and you qualitatively decide whether to call it skeptic or mainstream)? 

Like you I am a data junkie ... it seems like with that classification you could do all kinds of neat stuff.

2010-10-06 09:02:09
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
Interesting to note, JC's observed proportion is nicely within shouting distance of other studies, presuming it's the fringe hardcore doubters who bother piping up here.  
2010-10-06 09:12:52Our side
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.108.75

is the anti-denialist side.

But that's not a term we can use, because it would offend the denialists; or more importantly, people who are sitting on the fence about whether they're denialists or not.

We've been calling the denialists "skeptics", but it would be unfair to ourselves to adopt the term "anti-skeptics": the whole motivation behind the name of SkS is that real skepticism is a positive quality.

I don't like the term "warmists", because it sounds like we would be motivated to preferring warming. The term "pro-AGW" is even worse, 'cause we're against AGW, if we can ever figure out how to motivate the rest of humanity to join us.

The best term at which I've arrived so far is "AGW-concerned": It seems accurate, if not exactly soul-stirring.

Where is Jeanne d'Arc when we need her?

 

2010-10-06 09:15:05Classifying readers
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Yes, it's done manually - if a user hasn't been classified yet, beneath their comments is two tiny links AGW | Skeptic. If the comment clearly shows their bias, I click the link, easy peasy! So far, those links are only accessible to me but I'd be happy to make it accessible to moderators if you guys are keen to get into the act. Just like moderation, no onus, no extra obligation, just if you see it and want to act on it, feel free. Of course, it only happens for newbies these days as all the regulars have been classified by now.

Yes, all kinds of neat stuff possible with that data. I've been having some intriguing conversations with Steve Lewandowsky who's throwing cognitive experiment ideas at me to see what's technically possible. Having a significantly sized group of people classified as skeptic or proAGW makes all sorts of interesting experiments possible.

2010-10-06 12:43:45
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
71.181.75.53

How do you have me classified?

:-)

Looking forward, you might not want to close off the option of a non-binary classification, allowing for people to be positioned along a scale from hard-core denialist to hard-core anti-denialist.

2010-10-06 15:06:38Classifying Ned
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Ned, for you, I added a new classification, data-geek :-)

I share that classification.

Seriously though, the whole skeptic/warmist thing is not something I've put too much thought or time into - don't know if I want to go into scales of skepticism/warmism just because of the higher maintenance of it. I was going to do a survey that would've polled people by degrees but that's now been put on hold indefinitely.

The cognitive boffins seem to be most interested in the question of how science blogs have an impact on people. Eg - testing for things like whether mostly positive or negative comments have an impact on how people retain the information in the blog post. Personally, I'm hoping to do some experiments that track peoples' views over time in order to quantitatively measure whether people's opinions change over time (in other words, are our efforts making a difference). I'll bring that up in late November, see whether they go for it.

2010-10-06 22:13:26
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.80

"Mainstream", perhaps. Doesn't carry too bad connotations (except much mainstream music is awful: we're not Cheryl Cole! Then again, she is quite popular)

 

 

 As for the 2C warming leading to 6-9 m of sea level rise, it only seems to happen at 6-9 mm/year. I've sort of accepted that as being tragic, but since there's no way we're going to stop warming at 2 C unless climate sensitivity is low (which I desperately hope is true), at least it won't collapse our civilisation.

2010-10-07 13:34:51
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

A classic Chris Canaris comment, heavily freighted with unilateral enrollments in "we all agree," concerning things on which we don't actually agree. 

Under that seemingly semi-reasonable exterior, Chris is actually extremely sneaky.  He's the David Brooks of Skeptical Science.

2010-10-08 04:14:10
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

He's the David Brooks of Skeptical Science.

Ha.   Why am I not surprised he's a huge fan of Judy Curry?