2010-10-01 22:40:58Lying incompetent morons
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

I'm glad that John caught and deleted that comment by Doug Mackie, in which Doug criticizes those who propagate some of the more egregious skeptic arguments as "lying incompetent morons".  That is probably not the tone we want to encourage. 

However, I can sympathize with Mr Mackie on this.  The inconvenient truth is that we are afflicted with a plague of lying incompetent morons.  It is hard not to smile wryly when "skeptics" complain about the moderation on this site.  In point of fact, every day on here most of us have to bite our tongues to avoid saying what we really think, and almost every day one or another of us has to delete some well-intentioned comment for the sin of impolitic truth-telling, like Doug's.

OK, sorry for this pointless venting.  It makes it a bit easier to remain polite on the regular site, in the face of repetitively repeated disinformation propagated by lying incompetent morons, if we can occasionally moan and groan about it over here.

2010-10-02 00:11:53I emailed Doug about that comment
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

I as politely and delicately as possible let Doug know I'd deleted his comment, gave the reasons why and encouraged him to resubmit.

Haven't heard back from him yet :-(

And yes, I'm finding this forum quite therapeutic also. Another unexpected bonus. All that calm, dispassionate reasonableness is not easy to maintain, sometimes you have to let off some steam!

2010-10-02 02:22:17
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

Along the lines of wondering just how important these noisemakers are in the grand scheme of things, do you keep statistics on what percentage of visitors actually click links to second or subsequent pages of comments, John? 

Point is, I suspect the loudmouths have little impact on readers visiting the site but it would certainly be interesting to know as opposed to guess. If we could derive how many second and subsequent comment page clicks are generated by "normal" people as opposed to us registered, warped types who actually follow threads to the bitter end, we'd know something about the relative importance of blowhards. 

Could presumably be measured by tracking counts of logged-in extended comment page views versus not-logged-in. 

2010-10-02 21:39:50
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.194.7
Doug, I'm with you on this, it would be useful to know what actually works and what doesn't. Unfortunately the "lying incompetent morons" have the distinct advantage of perpetrating the myth that people don't need to do anything - always an easy sell.
2010-10-03 04:53:16
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

DW: ...people don't need to do anything - always an easy sell. 

After pondering on the Royal Society report, feeling there was something fundamentally wrong with it and then realizing the glaring omission,  I've got to say it's pretty enraging to see yet another high-profile opportunity for discussing uncertainty go unredeemed. 

If we look at the core product of our RSVPs , our JohnDs, what they're selling is almost always something attractively draped on an armature of uncertainty.  

Thinking about uncertainty is something we've known we're poor with for decades. The IPCC, the RS, NAS, all of these lofty organizations are dedicated to science but they simply can't fathom the value of the science that's been done around how people think about risk and uncertainty, thus end up droning out facts and figures that splatter everywhere except on the bullseye of human cognition.

It's becoming rather pathetic, really.  

2010-10-03 12:21:17What works and what doesnt
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Being a data junkie (if it's wrong, I don't wanna be right), I've often thought about collecting meta data to track whether SkS has an impact on readers opinions. Eg - do a survey on positions on global warming then repeat it periodically to see if positions shift. I was on the verge of programming such a survey a few weeks ago and got some excellent advice from Dougs wife on how to approach it. But then I got involved with Steve Lewandowsky and some of his cognitive colleagues who is very interested in the phenomena of science blogging and they're planning to do some research into the subject that I'm going to help them with. In November, I'm heading over to Perth so hopefully we'll sit down and design some cool experiments.

nevertheless, my data addiction goes unsatisfied until late November so collecting meta-data about surfing habits could keep the habit going for 2 months. Isuppose what I could do is have a counter for every blog post - number of hits on each comments page and the ratio of logged in to non-logged in. Or maybe session rather than page view as logged users will commonly load the page more than once. We want the # of eyeballs, not page views.

2010-10-03 12:25:38Btw, heard back from Doug Mackie
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
He didn't seem too happy with me moderating his comment. The role of censor is never a popular one :-(

on the subject of uncertainty, this would be a good topic for a blog post. I'd probably try to get double value for such a post by reusing it as the rebuttal for an argument like "the science is too uncertain". So if anyone wants to hit this one...

2010-10-03 14:12:20
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

...number of hits on each comments page and the ratio of logged in to non-logged in. Or maybe session rather than page view as logged users will commonly load the page more than once. We want the # of eyeballs, not page views.

Yeah, that would do it. Very fascinating to see what happens. I'll wager hardly anybody goes past the first page, which unfortunately would mean we're probably all pretty warped. :-)  Come to think of it, just speculating about it means I'm warped...

2010-10-04 08:43:32
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
71.181.75.53

JC write:  Being a data junkie (if it's wrong, I don't wanna be right), I've often thought about collecting meta data to track whether SkS has an impact on readers opinions.

I was recently mulling over the idea that it would be neat to do some kind of ongoing survey of SkS participants' opinions about various core issues.   My idea would be to have a separate page with say, ~20-30 statements.  For each statement, the user could pick Mostly Agree, Mostly Disagree, or Don't Know.  (Or perhaps instead of agree vs disagree, it would be better to have some kind of sliding gauge from "100% agreement" to "Uncertain" to "100% disagreement".)  Over time, people could keep going back to the page and updating their answers if they wished. 

It would be interesting to see how much common ground there is, and which of the various "Skeptic" arguments have more vs. less support among our readers.  It would also be interesting to watch the stats evolve over time. 

I can imagine a natural tendency towards a bimodal distribution on every question, with almost all the "skeptics" expressing complete disagreement with the "consensus" position and the rest of us expressing complete agreement.  Thus, the poll might get a bit boring unless we put in some questions designed to split each of the "camps" somewhat.  One way to do this would be to include a few "extreme" options on each end (e.g., "Do you agree that the greenhouse effect is compatible with the Second Law of Thermodynamics?" might divide the saner skeptics from the hard-core loons ...)

Not suggesting we should actually do this (I have an informal policy against suggestions that involve more work for John) ... Just speculating.

2010-10-04 09:33:41Ongoing survey
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Ned, I love that idea. The survey I was planning was very simple - asking the 3 basic questions "is it happening?", "is it us?", "is it bad?" with answers from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree (5 options). Then I'd repeat it every 6 months or so and see whether opinions changed among registered users (eg - not just whether average results change but more importantly, do individuals change their own opinion over time). Eg - is our message having any tangible, quantifiable impact?

But because I'll be involved in some peer-reviewed research that will employ surveys on the SkS website, I decided to keep my powder dry for now even though I'm itching to collect that kind of data (itching powder?). In late November when I go to Perth, I'm going to sit down with some cognitive scientists and we'll devise some experiments. I'm hoping to come back from that trip with some surveys I can soon implement on SkS.

2010-10-05 19:06:18Pageview stats added
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Started new thread on this. Look for Pageviews link in left margin.
2010-10-05 20:51:13
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

 

I've worked w/coders quite a bit. It's an old saw in software development circles that a certain few coders are 10 times as productive as others, John's clearly one of those. 

Truly awesome, John. Thank You!