Fuller's "Pogrom"

A common topic in blog discussions is tone. It's usually a waste of time. People complain about what name a person calls them, how people phrase their criticisms and all sorts of other stuff that's just... boring. It's so bad there's a phrase for it, "tone trolling." You may remember this came up during a funny Twitter exchange where after I said:

The blogger Anders responded:

My response to Anders shows how bad things have gotten. People have gotten so used to complaining about and hearing complaints about tone they just expect it all the time. I was actively insulting Anders during our exchange, and he still somehow managed to believe I was complaining about his tone. And the truth is, many people would.

That's what I want to highlight today. Thomas Fuller, a blogger whose book I recently criticized with some harshness, recently banned Anders from his site. Visiting the post where he announced this, we find:

You’re a KKK member looking to kneecap your policy opponents no matter what they believe about the science.

That's pretty vile. I get why a blogger would ban users who write comments including remarks like that. I don't think tone is all that important for discussions, but even so, I accept there are lines. Calling people KKK members is inexcusable.

The problem is Fuller said that, not Anders. Anders was banned for bad behavior by a person who said, "You disgust me" while calling him a KKK member. Apparently Anders had a reason to think I might complain about his tone while insulting him.

Now, in theory Anders might have been behaving worse than Fuller despite how pathetic Fuller's behavior was. I don't know. You see, Fuller didn't just ban Anders from his site. That wasn't enough for him. Instead, he went the extra mile and then deleted all of Anders's comments from his site so nobody could read them.

That's inexcusable. If Anders wrote comments which were bad enough they needed to be moderated, it's fine to moderate them. Deleting every single comment he ever wrote is not fine. That's pure spite. As I've said about this sort of thing when we've seen it before:

The problem isn’t that his comments got deleted. The problem is they got deleted now. Why wait several days to delete comments? Why delete comments days after you edited them for moderation reasons?

Going back and secretly deleting every comment from a user, despite having already moderated those comments, is dishonest.

I stand by that statement. What was done to Fuller was dishonest.

Yes, I said what was done to Fuller. You see, Fuller apparently got this idea from something that happened to him a few years ago. He had posted at a site run by Stephan Lewandowsky (the man known for his work painting global warming skeptics as conspiracy theorists) for a few days when he got banned. When that happened, all of his comments got deleted. This led to a post by Steve McIntyre which read:

Conspiracy theorist Stephan Lewandowsky, in keeping with SkS style, has rewritten the history of his blog hosted by the University of Western Australia.

Tom Fuller, who does online commercial surveys for a living, has sharply criticized the Lewandowsky’s tainted methodology – a methodology that relied on fake data to yield fake results.

Over the past week or so, Fuller has commented frequently on Lewandowsky threads here, here, here and here.

Although Lewandowsky snipped some of Fuller’s comments, over the past week or so, all or part of about 50 comments were approved.

Today, Lewandowsky (who is being assisted by an SkS squadron) liquidated every single comment by Fuller on the entire blog, leaving rebuttals to Fuller in place without the protagonist. This is different from not approving the blog comments: it’s an after-the-fact cleansing of Fuller from the blog.

The University of Western Australia should hang its head in shame at Lewandowsky’s Gleickian antics.

So we can see Fuller has done the exact same thing that was done to him to someone else. Just as it was wrong when it was done to him, it was wrong for him to do it to Anders. People should be just as outraged over Fuller doing this as they were over whoever handled Lewandowsky's moderation doing it three years ago.

Actually, people should be even more outraged. As McIntyre noted in an update to the post:

According to a comment at Lewandowsky’s blog operated by the University of Western Australia, Lewandowsky’s moderation is being done by (presumably) members of the SkS squadron, who were merely trying to silence Fuller as a commenter on the blog, stating that their liquidation of the history of Fuller’s comments was an accidental by-product of silencing Fuller.

Fuller's liquidation of Anders's comments wasn't accidental. He did it on purpose. He specifically said:

Update: Sorry for those in the comment thread. I just booted ATTP and yanked his posts. It will disrupt the threading. That’s four people I’ve booted in four years. Sigh…

That means he did this one purpose, which is far worse than it having been accidentally done to him.

Now obviously, I'm no fan of Anders. He's no fan of me. I'm banned at his site, and he's blocked me on Twitter. That doesn't make this okay. This is horrible and wrong. Thomas Fuller has, in keeping with SkS style, rewritten the history of his blog. He should hang his head in shame at his Gleickian antics.

For people who don't get the reference of this post's title, Steve McIntyre originally titled his blog post, "Lewandowsky's Pogrom." Some people took issue with this, and he changed it to it's current title, "Lewandowsky's Cleansing Program." I chose this title as a callback to that as a hint for people who remember that. I also put pogrom in quotation marks to show I'm not trying to compare this to an actual pogrom.


  1. Brandon

    I looked at your post last night on my iPad then again today on my laptop. Two totally different experiences! None of the tweet graphics can be seen on my iPad and the post looks very pedestrian. A different matter on the laptop though.

    Anyway, I clicked on the first' there's physics' tweet which then brought me right up to today. Lots of well known climate warriors carrying on short and pointless exchanges. Not the way to have any sort of adult exchange with anyone whose mind you want to change.

    If the situation is as posted I agree that it seems odd that Tom tOok the action he did. However, who knows what goes on in someone's mind. Tom sometimes stops by here so hopefully he can tell us first hand why he did it?

    Have you linked to it at his blog?

    Interesting article by Sou at her blog about Judith curry. There is a lot of bile in the climate blogosphere.


  2. Huh. I didn't realize the tweet graphics would fail to display on some devices. That gives me yet another reason to use screenshots instead of the embedding feature. The other reason is I've had a couple tweets I linked to disappear because they were deleted, meaning they wouldn't show up in the post anymore since I use live links. I might have to consider using screenshots in the future.

    And yup, the biggest reason I don't care about global warming is people act in a way which indicates I shouldn't. If I believed global warming were a serious threat, I'd never behave like these people do. Anyone who stopped to think about it would realize the sheer childishness of their behavior will ensure people (as a whole) won't take them very seriously.

    As for Fuller, I didn't try to alert him to this post. I considered it, but every exchange I've had with him has involved petty and idiotic behavior on his part, so I didn't see much point. My breaking point was when he declared making a mistake then correcting that mistake makes you a liar. It's hard to find motivation to go out of your way to talk to a person after something like that.

    That said, if people actually start discussing this post, I'll definitely let him know so he can join in to give his side of things. Otherwise, this is just me observing the hilarity of the situation. If people want to ask him why he did what he did, they can, but I'm content to just point out how absurd things are.

    As for Sou's post about Judith Curry... I don't think I could bring myself to read it. After about the tenth time she calls a person a liar in some offhand way just to smear them, I think it's clear how disgusting her behavior is. Combine that with my knowledge of how she distorts things, and I don't have the stomach to read thousands and thousands of words of her drivel. I honestly don't understand how anyone can participate at or promote her blog. Even people who call for civility and complain about how other people behave seem perfectly okay with the fact she calls people liars in every single post she writes. Nevermind the fact she is engaging in theft of intellectual property with every post, flouting copyright law like it doesn't even matter...


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