Moderation Hole

It's happened again. A user at this site has decided he doesn't need to follow the site's rules, no matter how simple. Some sites would ban a person for that. I've never liked that idea. Some people are arrogant jerks who feel they don't need to play by the rules, but that's not something I feel means they should be banished forever for.

I came up with an idea to handle this years ago. People who can't follow the rules but don't post things which necessarily need to be deleted will not be banned from the site entirely. Instead, they'll be allowed to post in a single, off-topic thread. I haven't made such a thread in ages as I've not needed to so here's a new one. All people, including anyone soft-banned from this site can use the thread for whatever they want (save for things like cursing and pornography).
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That's "Skepticism" For You

One of the most common complaints of the global warming "Skeptic" movement is people get censored for having views considered to be problematic by the mainstream. This might lead you to think they believe censorship is bad as an open exchange of ideas is important. My experience suggests that's wrong. I've had comments deleted from Skeptic sites numerous times without breaking any rules, I've been banned from a number of Skeptic sites despite behaving better than most of their regulars, and I've even had Skeptics pass around e-mails telling others not to talk to me.

Here's the latest example. Earlier today, I posted a comment comment at the site Cliscep which simply said:

There is nothing in that comment which breaks any rules or norms of civil discourse. Naturally, it needed to be deleted. You see, while Cliscep describes its group as:

Our thinking in launching this new blog (called – very originally – Climate Scepticism) is that a joint site, with more frequent and more varied articles, would be more visible and possibly more useful. 
We don’t aim to compete with Bishop Hill or WattsUpWithThat on the news-gathering front, but to assemble a number of disparate voices in a joint venture. There’s no “party line” or rulebook, and certainly no 97% consensus about anything.

The reality is there is very much a "party line" to that group, just like there is to the Skeptic movement in general. If you cross it, Skeptics will do everything they can to punish you and prevent you from participating in discussions in the future. Even (or especially) if that means censoring you when you point out their errors.
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This Made Me Laugh

I was reviewing some past topics of discussion today, and I happened to spend some time reviewing what happened with a libel lawsuit a scientist (Mark Jacobson) published after he claimed criticis intentionally published false claims about his work. The case itself doesn't matter for today's purposes. What matters is he sued both an author of a paper which made the claims and the journal the paper was published in. That journal is named the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). It made a hilarious argument in response to the lawsuit:


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Conspiracies Everywhere

There was an odd post over at Climate Audit a couple months ago which observed a web domain name involved in a hacking attempt attributed to Russian operatives is now being hosted in New York. A commenter quickly observed the domain name has simply been bought by a company which holds onto hundreds of thousands of otherwise unused domain names as part of its business. The post was updated to note this, observing the apparent oddity was in fact nothing.

All in all, it was a nothing post that wouldn't merit any further discussion. However, posts like it have encouraged a certain segment of the site's audience to discuss ideas which are, to be blunt, nuts. I find it amusing to look at these comments from time to time, and a week ago, I saw one which I thought merited a response. The comment I submitted landed in moderation and has been stuck there for the last week (I presume because the blog is largely inactive now). I don't really care if shows up there, but I do think it's something people should at least consider so here is a screenshot of the exchange:

Seriously, Why Be So Obvious About It?

My last post used the word "lie" somewhat loosely because the person I was discussing in the post frequently accuses people of fraud/lying with the flimsiest of bases. Given such a person was simply making things up, I thought worrying about the exact nuances of what a "lie" is was unnecessary.

However, the person I criticized has continued to behave in a similar manner as before, again saying things which were not only untrue, but untrue in a blatant fashion. Given that, I'd like to spend a little time looking into just what constitutes a lie. Not because what Duarte said or did is that important, but because of a simple question which haunts me: "If a person were going to tell a lie, would they really be so obvious about it?"
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Why Resort to Such an Obvious Lie?

I want to preface this post with a caveat about the word "lie." It is often impossible to tell what a person thinks or believes, and as such, it is often impossible to know with certainty when they are lying. Because of this, I am normally hesitant to accuse people of lying. However, the individual discussed in today's post is quick to use extreme rhetoric, such as accusing people of fraudulent work, based upon very little. Given that, I will be ignoring the nuances of what exactly constitutes a "lie."

I have been a frequent critic of the modern movement of "fact checkers" due to my belief that movement often consists of punditry rather than genuine fact checking. I am hardly the only person to hold this belief. Concerns of bias in fact checking organizations have been raised by plenty of people, and I've seen people make good cases on many occasions.

However, I've also seen many people make bad cases. Some people believe it is best to ignore faulty arguments which support a "cause" as internal dispute detracts from the strength of the movement. I've never believed that. Nietzsche once wrote, "The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments." I believe that to be true. I believe even if one doesn't make the arguments themself, allowing bad arguments to promulgate can only hurt one's efforts.

Given that, I'd like to take some time today to demonstrate a person criticizing "fact checkers" of bias and other things is a liar. And perhaps even worse, he is an incompetent liar.
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Republican or Democrat?

This last week or so has been a truly bizarre time in the United States. Senator John McCain passed away, and there was a great outcry from people who knew him, on both sides of the political spectrum, about how great a loss that was. Republicans and Democrats alike spoke of his personal character, expressing respect and affection despite their differences.

That's normal enough, though I doubt there are many politicians who could hope to get such praise. What's bizarre is how the rest of society reacted. McCain was a frequent critic of President Trump despite (ostensibly) being from the same party. There was a huge feud between the two, and as a result, a lot of the people in the Republican party came to hold a negative view of McCain.

This created a strange situation where it seemed liberals held a higher viewer of McCain than Republicans. Time and time again, I would turn on a "liberal" television station like MSNBC and see more positive coverage for McCain than I would if I turned on the "conservative" station Fox News. This pattern held in my personal experiences on social media and in real life. Even as Republican politicians, aides and other "establishment" members praised McCain, Fox News and Republican voters spoke much less favorably of him.

The situation was even stranger when examined further. Many of the Republicans who did speak out to praise McCain after his passing refused to speak like that while he was still alive. Very few of them spoke in McCain's defense during his feud with Trump. Presumably, they figured siding against Trump would cost them their next election so they kept silent.

I don't have a good way to wrap this up. The situation is bizarre but not really surprising. The Republican party is being held hostage by a large segment of its base. That's "normal" in the sense it's perfectly predictable. But it's also bizarre in that this week, if you were a Republican from 10 years ago, you'd give all appearances of being a Democrat.

That's weird, right?

Nevous? Go With a Friend

It's another busy week as I've decided to go to a nerdy card game tournament at the last minute, and I want to prepare so I might not make too much of a fool of myself. It's nice not to be spending my time dealing with the insanity of things like the global warming debate for a while, but I don't want to be silent so here's a picture from my small trip last week. Remember folks, if you're nervous, go with a friend:

Fact Checking at its Finest, a Buried Lede

This is a busy week for me, and I'll be out of town to go to an advisory committee meeting. I still don't know why anyone would put me up in a hotel just to get my thoughts on a topic, but I won't complain. The result is I don't have the time to go into as much detail on today's topic as I'd like. That's okay though. When it comes down to it, the topic is quite simple.

The rise in "fact checkers" over the last decade has created a culture where blatant dishonesty is somehow promoted as the truth, and even "fact," due to it being said by "fact checkers." I'll discuss two great examples of this I've come across in the last few weeks. I'm also going to bury the lede super hard.
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