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Comments interfere with preaching a "scientific doctrine" (presumably a religion of sorts), according to PopSci

First they came for the BoingBoing comments, then they came for the Popular Science comments, then they came for... wait, that pretty much sums up the current state of affairs.  After BoingBoing opted to scrap its in-article comments for a forum in a few months back in June, PopSci just announced its decision to follow in suit with an article entitled "Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments".  This remarkable act of reader censorship is backed by a number of questionable assertions -- most notably the notion that reader comments undermine the preaching of a "scientific doctrine" and that "comments are bad for science."  

(The New York Times has also scaled back comments, disabling them entirely in some pieces.)

I. Censorship, the Tired Retreat of the Thin Skinned

These decisions may smack some as subjective or even malicious.  After all comments are arguably the digital age response to print's "letter to the editor" -- and they often contain criticisms of the article ranging from grammatical erorrs to factual oversights.  Some may view the decision to ban comments as a form of censorship, a means for writers to escape any sort of visible accountability among their audience.

And while moderation of extreme trolling is at times necessary, comments provide an essential outlet for user opinion.

Science
PopSci views comments as "bad for science". [Image Source: MNN]

But PopSci argues that the evil of comments outweighs their merits.  It says that it has been ovewhelmed by "trolls and spambots" and its editor Suzanne LaBarre writes:

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

And since the blog is about science they at least attempt to back their conclusion with a scientific study -- a journal paper published by Dominique Brossard a Life Sciences Communication professor at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.  Published in the February 2013 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, Professor Brossard's study involved perceptions of a fictious nanotechnology article, which people were asked to react to.  

People reacted neutrally when comments were disabled, but even when comments were generally positive their reactions did not noticeably improved.  However, when the reader feedback took on a "less civil" tone with people questioning the merits of nanotechnology, user perception of the publication itself (not just the topic discussed) took a decidedly negative turn.

II. PopSci Complains That Comments Interfere With Its Ability to "Indoctrinate" Readers

PopSci piece also in a roundabout way suggests it had to revoke its users' commenting rights due to their criticisms of studies on global warming.  It writes:

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.

She cites an editorial in The New York Times voicing similar complaints.

South Park
PopSci is preaching a "scientific doctrine" according to its top editor.
[Image Source: South Park Studios]

But it is Ms. LaBarre's use of the phrase "scientific doctrine" which should is most interesting, and perhaps telling.  The root word of indoctrination -- brainwashing with a rigid set set of beliefs -- is "doctrine".  Indeed the Wikipedia entry for "doctrine" states:
Doctrine (from Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. The Greek analogue is the etymology of catechism.[1]
Often doctrine specifically connotes a corpus of religious dogma as it is promulgated by a church, but not necessarily: doctrine is also used to refer to a principle of law...

And Google Inc.'s (GOOG) built in dictionary describes doctrine as:

a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.

Science has little to do with beliefs.  Science is the process of observation, of collecting hard, repeatable evidence.  Belief is unnecessary to a scientist who does their job right, as they are simply studying reality.

The phrase seems decidedly odd as coming from a science publication: after all isn't open, informed debate the root of all science?  Since when has indoctrination -- peddling of a set of rigid, unquestioning beliefs, most often associated with religion -- become part of the scientific process?


Perhaps lack of critical feedback, user bickering, and spam may indeed improve the perception of PopSci.  But it's hard to imagine Socrates or Plato, were they alive today, shutting the door to public commentary.  After all, as journalists we all have to remember we aren't actually doing science -- at least not at our news jobs -- we're simply trying to represent it in a clear and concise form that the public can understand and enjoy.

Socrates
Socrates chose death before submitting to censorship and surrendering his right to free thought and free expression.

While PopSci writes "we have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters," it's hard to escape the impression that its editors think themselves greater science minds than their readership.  Perhaps that's why they're so eager to "indoctrinate" readers (quite literally what Ms. LaBarre says is the site's goals) with their superior wisdom (i.e. interpretations) of science.

But here at DailyTech we take a different view.  We reject censorship and believe in free expression.

We welcome all opinions from the novice to the professional.  We welcome respectful criticism of our authors, our articles, and the material therein, in a public place for all to see.  We don't believe doctrines and indoctrination have a place in open scientific discussion.

At the same time we acknowledge that comments -- criticism, trolling, and more -- are a painful burden at times.  But it is a burden we choose to bear because we must.  Perhaps it will hurt our readers' impressions of our site.  But journalism and science are founded upon open discourse and a receptiveness to feedback.  Once you lose that, you risk rapid loss of your accountability and credibility.

Sources: PopSci, BoingBoing, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, The New York Times



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RE: How low they've falled
By Motoman on 9/25/2013 10:14:47 AM , Rating: 0
People are vastly too stupid to understand what you're saying.

Science is reality. Non-science is...not.

Any and all people who think they're more qualified than the assembly of the world's *actual* climate researchers to decide whether or not climate change is real, and/or exacerbated by human activity, are wrong. For the same reason why you don't seek the opinion of a plumber when you are told by a cardiac surgeon that you need a heart transplant.

Our society is consumed by vast numbers of ignorant, and willfully ignorant people, who haven't got the slightest problem ignoring reality when it doesn't line up with their baseless beliefs - which includes all religions, anti-vaccination nuts, moon hoax conspiracy theorists, flat earthers, and of course climate change deniers.

While I may not agree with the decisions of these websites to turn off their comments sections, the fact of the matter is that they do often become breeding grounds for the ignorant reality-deniers. Like right here, on DT. Just look at them all...including Jason Mick.


RE: How low they've falled
By Ammohunt on 9/25/2013 10:36:04 AM , Rating: 3
If i had 100k gullible sheeple like you i could conquer the world. ;-)


RE: How low they've falled
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2013 11:08:03 AM , Rating: 3
Do you have kids? Would you trust their health to a vaccine rushed to market? I don't but I won't when I do. A friend of mine got his son most vaccinations but skipped the new chicken pox vaccine and the HPV vaccine. Why? Because of what I said before. They were rushed to market and there were some known issues with them. And in the case of chicken pox, why? It doesn't kill you. Just let the kid get it and fight it the natural way. Sure it can be bad later in life if you don't get it young. But that's a lot of things in life.

And plenty of "scientists" believe in the things they're trying to prove to the point that they don't care what the evidence says or how they get there. Look at carbon dating. While I don't throw out the entire notion, the issue of what the level of carbon in the atmosphere at the time of thing being dated was completely thrown out. It was just assumed that the level has always been the same. If the Earth actually was that old, the idea of the amount of carbon being exactly the same in the atmosphere throughout history is absurd. If nothing else we know that the Earth's magnetic field varies over time. Today it is 10% weaker than when measurements were first taken around 170 years ago. That alone changes how much Carbon-14 is generated. So the assumption that the same amount has been generated and then absorbed by living things(directly or indirectly) is utterly absurd.

There is plenty of skepticism to be had about many "facts" today. And one is not stupid or ignorant to do so.


RE: How low they've falled
By ipay on 9/25/2013 11:28:16 AM , Rating: 1
Oh yea... rushed to market... The first Chicken Pox vaccine was developed in the mid seventies and available in the US in '95. Such as rush. Damn.


RE: How low they've falled
By ResStellarum on 9/27/2013 8:39:40 AM , Rating: 2
Do you think they use the same vaccines for decades? Of course they don't. Big pharma is constantly reiterating vaccines. One reason is that the viruses/bacteria themselves aren't static.

Most of the vaccines, including things like tamiflu are rushed to market without the usual testing. That's why the cure can sometimes be worse than the vaccine.

There's another issue as well. The more live attenuated viruses there are out there, the bigger the chance of mutations into more virulent kinds. So someone given a vaccine can be killed by it and end up spreading a new strain.

I also don't trust the content of them either. I've heard tales of governments putting all kings of things in them, from sterilisation to HIV. Conspiracy? Maybe, but I'm not taking any chances. I know what private corporations and governments are like, and I wouldn't trust them with my health.


RE: How low they've falled
By ResStellarum on 9/27/2013 8:42:35 AM , Rating: 2
s/vaccine/disease


RE: How low they've falled
By JasonMick (blog) on 9/25/2013 11:54:20 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
While I may not agree with the decisions of these websites to turn off their comments sections, the fact of the matter is that they do often become breeding grounds for the ignorant reality-deniers. Like right here, on DT. Just look at them all...including Jason Mick.
So you've put up a strawman -- unnamed hypothetical readers -- who you then knock down.

Logical fallacy.

And you then attack my credibility, while providing no details to support your claims.

Logical fallacy.
quote:
Our society is consumed by vast numbers of ignorant, and willfully ignorant people, who haven't got the slightest problem ignoring reality when it doesn't line up with their baseless beliefs - which includes all religions, anti-vaccination nuts, moon hoax conspiracy theorists, flat earthers, and of course climate change deniers.
And yet until Dr. Wakefield's studies linking autism to vaccines were invalidated, the "anti-vaccination nuts" had a scientific backing for their claims and YOU and I were skeptics !

Read:
http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/

Research misconduct is rampant in today's high pressure, high risk, high reward academic atmosphere.

Any scientist will tell you a level of skepticism and open mindedness is extremely valuable and warranted.

Fundamental physical chemistry -- that carbon emissions create manmade warming -- or that evolution -- particular of simple organisms -- frequently and observably occurs is provable beyond a doubt. I have never debated such facts, and I think few of my readers would either.

Most skepticism/debate among informed readers centers on whether it's wise to resort to extreme measures -- banning or rationing meat, spending hundreds of billions if not trillions in funding, or limiting travel -- to fight a "doomsday" scenario of runaway warming , which has not been definitively proven. And remains highly controversial/speculative, even in the scientific community.

I respect your opinions, Moto, but your post has little substance.


RE: How low they've falled
By DominionSeraph on 9/26/2013 9:52:39 AM , Rating: 2
RE: How low they've falled
By Paj on 9/26/2013 3:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
The world is warming - on this, the figures are crystal clear. The weather is changing. Droughts are increasing, and food prices are rising and water tables are falling. So you advocate a 'business as usual' approach?


RE: How low they've falled
By Schrag4 on 9/26/2013 5:52:29 PM , Rating: 2
None of what you say matters unless you buy into the notion that the earth is only warming because of something we as humans are doing AND that we can somehow stop it. What if we stop burning fossil fuels altogether and the earth keeps warming, droughts continue, and water tables keep falling? Was it worth it?

And surely you recognize that the earth was warming and cooling for billions of years before we came along, so don't try and tell me that if we stop burning fossil fuels then temps will flatline.


RE: How low they've falled
By Bruzote on 9/30/2013 11:29:22 AM , Rating: 2
The threats with climate change are simply are much greater than almost any other threat imaginable. That's why the issue is huge. Famines kill. They bring down civilizations. Lack of proper access to water can bring about war. Climate change can make famine and water shortages happen. So, comparing climate change to a wider range of other issues involving uncertainty is simply boneheaded. We should look to analogies involving similar costs and similar potential levels of suffering.


RE: How low they've falled
By ppardee on 9/25/2013 12:56:05 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm being a bit too philosophical, but science is not reality. Science gets stuff wrong ALL the time. In fact, the vast majority of the history of science, it's been wrong (meaning not reality).

Science is a belief system. Most scientists don't test the basic principles upon which their science is founded. They're taught that it's true and accept it at that. Sometimes people DO question the basics and we have revolutions. But the general public just believes the flawed theories taught to them by teachers and the media (like PopSci).

quote:
Our society is consumed by vast numbers of ignorant... who haven't got the slightest problem ignoring reality when it doesn't line up with their baseless beliefs


Right. So when we don't see any statistically significant global warming for more than a decade, do we A) Continue to post articles ridiculing people who doubt it, or B) question the base of our belief system.

Clearly, we can't admit that the theory that we've used to control the people could possibly be wrong. It is doctrine at this point. It doesn't matter to the people pushing it if its real or not.


RE: How low they've falled
By michael67 on 9/28/2013 10:42:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Maybe I'm being a bit too philosophical, but science is not reality. Science gets stuff wrong ALL the time. In fact, the vast majority of the history of science, it's been wrong

You are correct, science gets it wrong from time to time, but you are also fundamentally wrong in your idea how science works.

The theory of evolution is believed to be correct by 99.9% of scientist, and is believed that it will never change, some of the details can change, but not the fundamental theory it self.

The theory of relativity is also believed to be correct by 99.9% of scientist, buy is believed that it could change, and hat some of the fundamental details can change, but again not the fundamental theory it self.

The theory of global warming on the other is believed to be best explanation of what is happening with the worlds weather, by 90% of scientist, and is believed that it will change, some of the fundamental details can change, and even parts the fundamental theory it self.

Sometimes a theory is to believed to be 99.9% correct, other times like with string theory its believed to be the best explanation of something no one know for sure.

The problem is, is that most non-science people, and apparent a specially modern media (Fox News anyone) don't understand the difference between.

I would say to all like you read "Big Bang" from Simon Singh, he is a wonderful writer, that can breakdown complex scientific theories and explanations in to layman's words.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang_(book)

And reading that book will do three things.

1 Explain how science came generally to believe in the "Big bang theory"
2 Explain how science came generally develops theories, and the difference between them, on how correct they are to bee believed to bee.
3 Enjoy a well written and sometimes even funny book on science.

"Big Bang" should imho be mandatory reading for all high school students, together whit watching Adam Curtis documentaries .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Curtis

Would at least not make people any stupider then they all ready are made by the likes of Fox news.


RE: How low they've falled
By DougF on 9/25/2013 1:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
...and you've just proven why PopSci had to take down the comments section.


RE: How low they've falled
By drycrust3 on 9/25/2013 7:08:14 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Any and all people who think they're more qualified than the assembly of the world's *actual* climate researchers to decide whether or not climate change is real, and/or exacerbated by human activity, are wrong.

Excuse me for intruding, but even people who don't hold a science degree, like me, can easily be well qualified to spot an obvious error in the scientific process. In the case of "global warming", we have the University of East Anglia who took it upon themselves to corrupt over 100 years of carefully compiled world wide daily temperature readings so it matched their then favourite global warming theories, and then, when this became public, they were proud of doing this.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that the one thing you shouldn't do is corrupt your raw data, and especially you don't corrupt it so it fits your favourite theories. Theories change ... and then what?
In addition, the university got caught loading the peer review system so their own reports, presumably based upon their corrupted data, got printed, while the work of others who didn't follow the university's line (and possibly used the uncorrupted data) was rejected.
Notice how this happened with the approval of the exact people you claim are the only ones who are "more qualified" than the rest of us to make opinions on the scientific process.
Now we are in the situation where data that was corrupted to tell us there is global warming is being now used to tell us there is global warming. Notice a problem? You're discovering your own treasure.


RE: How low they've falled
By Bruzote on 9/30/2013 11:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
Oh - my - God. Do you realize that the East Anglia issue is not relevant to the conclusions of science? It's a canard to distract you from the main issue. You could also find errors in papers discussing gravity experiments, does that mean gravity is not real? You could find errors (and plenty of misconduct) in medicinal research, but does that mean it's OK to smoke cigarettes or eat arsenic? Try being balanced and honest with yourself. The totality of the evidence is what you should look at. That is even part of the scientific process. This "doctrine" simply is a belief that the best way of living is to evaluate evidence, weigh each piece on its merits, and consider ALL the evidence. You should not just look at the East Anglia complaint you have. Look at the truly incredible number of independently researched and authored (and reviewed) papers. And even there with East Anglia, look at ALL the evidence in the issue behind your complaint, and you'll find the overall conclusions about global warming still stand.

How many research papers have you read from a diverse source of universities and scientific institutions? How many abstracts even? Extreme claims about untrustworthy and sloppy science require extreme evidence. Until you have thoroughly done your homework, don't accuse people of fraud or unreliable science. It's easy to claim you're being prudent even as you're being imprudent by making claims about research of which you know nothing. Try actually being prudent. Try reading a large, representative sample of current research articles and understand their content. If you can't, then talk to the experts in the field whose claims you doubt. If you're unwilling to listen to them when you lack an understanding of their science, then you have no business of accusing their work of being untrustworthy. Period.


RE: How low they've falled
By michael67 on 9/27/2013 11:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
People are vastly too stupid to understand what you're saying.

Of course they are!!!

How can they not be, if kids learn at school that Creationism is a real science.

And when the news is delivered by companies like News Corp, that has run down every serious news outlet it got its hands on, from a serous news source to infotainment fluff papers and channels, and news that purposely twist the truth(1).
(1) www.google.com/search?q=fox+news+purposely+twisting

Owned by the worst modern day robber baron(2) that has no problem running competitors in to the ground by stealing there intellectual property(3), and cry at politicians that there is stolen by consumers, and want if possible the dead senescent for those pesky consumers that dear to steal from him!
(2) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robber_baron
(3) www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/murdoch-tv-hackin g

That man has done more damage to modern society then Hitlers Germany did in the 40s, at least most of the Nazis did it out a believe that they ware doing it for the Fatherland and improving the world (even do it was a very twisted view of one), Murdoch dose it because he is sociopath that gets of on controlling people, and getting even more money that he dose not need anymore.

ps. Crappy links due to incompetence of the DT website designer, that don't allow us to use normal links. (failing anti spam protocol!)


RE: How low they've falled
By troysavary on 9/27/2013 1:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That man has done more damage to modern society then Hitlers Germany did in the 40s


That statement invalidates everything else you might say because it proves you are an idiot.


RE: How low they've falled
By michael67 on 9/28/2013 12:57:37 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
because it proves you are an idiot.

Maybe, but maybe on the other hand, not everything is black and white!

First of all let me say that "antisemitism" and "The Final Solution" are things i am against from the core of my being, and i am opposed against that part of what the Nazi's did.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Solution

But the reason Hitler came to power, is because after WW I, that started because England did not wane share power in the world whit Germany, Germany that was faster in the technical revolution at that time then England, and wanted a bigger share of the world trade, and because of imperialism of both the leaders, after Germany lost WW I, the "Treaty of Versailles" devastated German economics.

And gave rise to bottom feeders like Hitler, that feed on the underbelly feelings of the people, but the economics of Germany's National Socialism ware solid, and Germany rose from the ashes,, from being a bankrupted country, to a world dominating power, that challenged the hole world, in just 10 years.
(And i don't believe any other country in history ever shown such and quick growth)

But Germany also developed and build infrastructure in Europe, that still to day is being used, And Germany did not only developed weapons, but did also lot of civilian development.

Murdoch's media Empire dose mainly destruction of the informed mind!

Rupert Murdoch owns hundreds of major media outlets including ultra conservative Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and he's using his media power to help his oil buddies stop governments acting to curb their profits. In the US alone, most of the climate stories from Murdoch's select papers mislead readers about global warming and many other subjects.

Start watching Fox, and a real and dependable news outlet like BBC, and compare how both bring the news, and i am not saying the BBC never gets it wrong, but at least they are neutral when they bring the news.

If i would be offered to go back in time, but i could go only once, and had to pick between killing a young Hitler and Murdoch, it would be a hard pick, but i would pick Murdoch.

Why?, because imho Murdoch is responsible for many of the problems we have to day, because Murdoch's Newcorp failed to do its job, covering the real news, and not generate infotainment!

Newscorp is imho reasonable for most of the polarization in the world now a days, and the public cynicism about politics, because if they really did and knew there job, politicians wouldn't get a way whit most the shit they do now a days!

And things like allowing banks to use money from there core business, to speculate on stock market, one of Clinton's biggest fails, was there ever even a discussion in the news about lifting the law that prohibited banks to use money from there banking business, to speculate?

Not saying its all Newscorps fault, but they are really the worse of them, and just like Apple started the patent war, Newscorp started to make infotainment more profitable then real news.

And how can people make a well informed opinion, if they don't have reliable information sources!

Ware the Nazis believed what they ware doing was to progress the human race, Mordoch dose all what is in his power to regress the masses, and make them stupid polarized entertainment and infotainment junkies!

So whats worse?, i am not sure, but imho Murdoch done more harm then Hitler ever did, only Murdoch dose it from the dark, ware with Hitler you can point your finger at the concentration camps, that dose not mean the damage Murdoch has done is not real, it means its much harder to fight his evil then Hitlers.

And compared to Murdoch, Joseph Goebbels was just a nice amateur.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels


RE: How low they've falled
By michael67 on 9/28/2013 1:31:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That statement invalidates everything else you might say because it proves you are an idiot.

Ooo, and you just made my point, people cant think for them self's any more, and everything is polarized to black and white.

Just because you don't agree with a part of my opinion, the rest of my opinion is also invalid

People use to say things like, "I agree with you on most what you say, but that part is just wrong/bullocks".

But now a days if you a Republican you have to be against everything Democrats say, and visa versa, if you believe in God, evolution is just bs, and should not be at schools, if you a R you have to be homophobic, and if your a D you have to be pro-gay, if you R you watch Fox news, if your a D you watch NBC, if your a R you have to think "Global Warming" is a long con, if your a D you support it.

Come on stop polarizing, make up your own mind, and pick up idea's from others, friend or foe!

To quote a man i really don't like, Steve Jobs "Good artists copy great artists steal"!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU?

The same could be said of good politicians, "Good politicians copy great politicians steal" and it dose not mater if the idea is from friend or foe!
(But in my opinion, if yyou can steal idea's from your enemy's, you doing a good job)


RE: How low they've falled
By Bruzote on 9/30/2013 11:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
The Nazi comparison might invalidate his right to the respectful assumption of reasonable judgment, but it does not invalidate any factual arguments or logic he has already used or may use (outside of any argument appealling to authority). So, don't throw away an argument you've already spent time reading just because the person makes a ridiculous claim at the end. You might not be interested in reading his further arguments, but if he made good points, they should still stand regardless of over-dramatic Nazi comparisons.


RE: How low they've falled
By michael67 on 10/2/2013 1:05:55 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
they should still stand regardless of over-dramatic Nazi comparisons.

I dont think i am over-dramatic, yes what the Nazis did was horrific, but he world got stronger from it, like a broken bone that is stronger after it heals.

But Murdoch is just like a cancer, he is rotting us to the bone, and the worse thing is, most people er not even noticing it!

How can politicians be hold accountable for what they doing, if the press is not doing its job, everyone is disillusion about government an politicians, why?

Because there is no press that was holding them accountable.

Every one knew the NSA was doing more then they should, all the signs and rummers ware there, and what did the press (mostly owned by Murdoch), they ware sitting on there hands.

So people can call me over-dramatic, but i think Murdoch is the worst thing that happened to the world in the last 100 years, but no one is noticing it, because the system that should warn us is in the hands of that same sociopath!!!


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