Do Trolls Make Us Dumber?

February 3, 2014

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”― Aristotle

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.” ― Winston Churchill

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves and wiser people so full of doubt.”
― Leah Wilson

“Wise men profit more by fools than fools by wise men.”― Cato

“We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.” – Johann W. von Goethe

“Life teaches us to be less severe with ourselves and others.” – Johann W. von Goethe

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”- W. B. Yeats

As many of you know, I’ve been mulling over my policy on open discussion, and whether there should be some kind of screen or control on trolls and those who abuse the comment threads.
I’ve come to a policy that I’ll call “modified open door”.  You may be aware that we haven’t seen a couple of the more obnoxious posters in a few weeks. That’s because I’ve blocked them – or at least, insofar as I understand WordPress’ tools for screening comments.

trollhunter

Whereas formerly I left the comment threads almost completely unsupervised, except for the very occasional trashing of comments that were threatening, or that I deemed racist, sexist, or otherwise beyond the pale. Occasionally I have edited comments that were book-length Gish gallops - if you want that kind of space get your own blog and develop your own readership.
-

Agnotology is the study of misinformation, and using such misinformation to gain better understanding of a topic.

The direct study of misin- formation—termed agnotology (Proctor 2008)—can potentially sharpen student critical thinking skills, raise awareness of the processes of science such as peer review, and improve understanding of the basic science.  - Daniel Bedford

The bedrock impulse behind the Climate Denial Crock of the Week series was my idea that an industry had sprung up devoted to the generation of ignorance, thru the use of carefully crafted “climate crocks” – climate denial memes, simple enough that Rush Limbaugh can speak them in 15 seconds, but which often take an honest scientist hours to explain – and communication skills that are beyond most science experts.

This blog is a teaching tool, first, for myself, in that I use it to track down, spotlight, write about and discuss the various subjects that eventually make their way into the video series – but also for readers – readers that I hope will take knowledge gained here to the water cooler, the mailing list, the holiday dinner, and the cocktail party, and become themselves better communicators of the actual science behind this most important of issues.
For that reason, I find it useful when the occasional highly motivated misinforming poster crops up on these threads, as sometimes happens, and we hear new wrinkles on the disinformation, new blind alleys to track down, and new distortions of scientific papers and writings.  In my experience, when I follow these threads up, I not only learn something myself, but I’m able to bring that insight to others.  One good example of a classic climate denial crock is the “CO2 follows Temperature, not the other way around” crock – which I treated in the video here.

One nice feature of the ‘hands off” policy was that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time supervising nonsense and could devote myself to other things.  Over the last few years, however, we’ve developed such a strong community of well informed posters, many of whom know way more than I do – that the site has developed a pretty strong immune response of its own. You know who you are.
Many of you have been writing me about this or that troll that is disrupting discussions and refractory to any kind of normal reasoning process. The worst of those are, I hope, now gone – we’ll stay alert – always open to nominations.
Some of those will stay, because as much as its a pain in the ass as the repetitive circular reasoning, bonehead misconceptions, and egotistical puffery sometimes is, I do still find that by tracking some of this stuff down, or better yet, when a motivated reader tracks them down and shares the results, I learn something, we all learn something, and we are better prepared for our work in dispelling ignorance among our circle and in our networks.

I welcome any and all comments, and hope that I’ll continue to get alerts when commenters or comment threads get out of control.

DFTT remains a good operative principle, unless one thinks that by creatively FTT, one can learn more, or demonstrate something to the wider readership. Thanks to all who have made comments during this process, and continue to make this a beneficial tool for me, and I hope, others.

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105 Responses to “Do Trolls Make Us Dumber?”

  1. jimbills Says:

    The basic problem is that there is such a thing as a bad question or a false statement, and there is such a thing as people who will intentionally ask bad questions or make false statements to cause chaos.

    Critical thinking is born of conflict, not comfort, but there is distractive conflict and constructive conflict. The first only aids critical thinking in the understanding of its identifiers, while the latter can lead to real and meaningful revelation. I wish I saw far more of the latter than the former in the trollish comments here, but that’s pretty rare.

    Anyway, despite that, I tend to agree with your decision here. It can always be re-visited if it’s necessary. Love the quotes, too.

  2. ubrew12 Says:

    To the extent that ‘Doubt is the Product’ of trolls, it definitely makes one dumber. Doubt is the obfuscation of direction. While useful in the field where direction is being set, the purpose of doubt OUTSIDE that field is to obscure the truth and the direction that truth would lead. If you tell the average Joe ‘don’t believe these experts on Climate’ you are inviting the average Joe to think of himself as an expert in Climate. How realistic is that? If Joe is an expert in Auto Repair, or Tax policy, how likely is Joe ALSO an expert in Climate?

  3. rayduray Says:

    For some truly soul crushing comments about the madness of humanity and its collective fossil fuel based thrust at species suicide, it’d hard to top this thoughtful essay by Tom Englehardt:

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175801/

    Select quote:

    “(Humanity’s failed response to AGW) is is the road to hell and it has not been paved with good intentions. If we stay on it, we won’t even be able to say that future historians considered us both a wonder (for our ability to create world-ending scenarios and put them into effect) and a disgrace (for our inability to face what we had done). By then, humanity might have arrived at the end of history, and so of historians.”


    • Engelhardt has a nice discussion of the rehearsal to CAGW, nuclear end of times. During that era, no one ever asked if it was worth it to destroy all of humanity to protect ourselves..!? from Reds? or a policy of mutual assured distraction. This madness descended on us like disease of the mind. Our new end of times is dealt with in a similar coma. As Mr. E explains, it does not fit the news cycle mentality, and so is not new (s) worthy. Its the ever hotter bath boiling the frog.

  4. rayduray Says:

    Here’s a nice antidote to Tom Englehardt’s pessimistic view of the species. Dan Britt presents a much more “don’t worry be happy” romp through geological pomp and circumstance.


    • “Just because you can’t figure out reality. Thats not reality’s problem. That’s YOUR problem.” – Love Britt’s quote.


      • And “…scientists don’t believe in theories, we observe them, and so we are constantly testing them…” as a nice punctuation to the little denier at the end there with an opinion in front of a professor who has studied this for half of his lifetime at least. Perhaps he has some property in the Keyes and stared in disbelief on the last slide there. :)

        Btw fantastic presentation. Hadn’t seen that one before.


    • “All in a line, marchin’ through time,
      Millions of species strong.
      Doin’ our best, adaptin’ to stress,
      And passin’ our genes along.
      Philogenes growin’ like trees,
      Nary a missing link!
      And except for a few in an epoch or two
      We’ll all become extinct!”

      - Dr. Jane Robinson, “The Evolution Drinking Song”

  5. climatebob Says:

    It’s my impression that the deniers are running out of steam. On every web site comment section they get dumped on and ridiculed. Even Fox news is keeping its head down because it is used as an object of ridicule.

    • fortranprog Says:

      It is my impression too, William Shakespeare sums it up “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. Look at David Burton still clinging onto imagined injustices of climate-gate and climate-gate II, engineered by the creeps who trawl through e-mails, (like perverts looking for dirty underwear), trying to catch someone out like a naughty schoolboy, ignorant of the fact that others from Universities and respected institutions of the world are also coming to the same conclusions as the few unfortunate people cited in the sick, sad and nasty enquiry.

      What makes me cringe is that he appears to earn a living with computers, yet rejects the professionally built state of the art models. What sorry and sad people.


      • This has always been one of the things that has surprised me too about many of the people in denial. That they so easily accept the science that brought them fast and powerful computers but is totally convinced that another field within science is some kind of conspiracy theory hoax. In essence a lot of the essential knowledge a climate scientist, geologist or biologist need come from the same basic knowledge of physics and chemistry. They just have different focus and results in what they discover about the matter that the universe is built out of. Why, some of those people should really go about and be at awe at the latest iGadget like it was something magical and the engineers have somehow captured “gods essence” and put it in a stylish casing. This is at least how they brush away a whole field of science, that its “out of our hands”, that its “gods work” or that its too complex for us to understand.

        Since people so readily accept the “magic” of electronics I have come to the conclusion that if they refute climate science they do it out of pure selfish motives in fear of loosing some comfort in life (don’t touch my car or raise taxes). I generally say that people who are so afraid of socialism being pulled over their ears that it is in their own power to change their own behavior without anyone telling them what to do if they feel so. Those who do dare to venture there might discover that life is much more than whats going on in their belly button.


        • If it’s ‘good’ it’s handed down directly from God, if it’s not it’s either not true or it’s the devil’s work and they wash their hands of any responsibility.


          • But there are (at least in Europe) a substantial growing amount of atheists that are convinced global warming is a political left wing hoax created to regulate markets and people. A lot of these are very strong in their anti-religion rhetoric and frequently reference the scientific evidence of evolution, while in the other hand just dismissing the whole branch of climate science. I cannot see these people as having any other motivation besides the fear of lower living standards through reduced consumption or purchasing power, in other words just plain selfish people defending their turf like some monkey banging his chest. Ofc the classic “in god we trust” dollar bill connection between god and money is one I will never understand as anything but a plain display of capitalistic greed concealed as religion. So the majority of “believers” are basically just praying for more money and the church is basically a place to show you are a “good citizen” with birthright to your share of the wealth. This is also why I say to many bible-thumpers that the majority of them don’t really get the message of their own book(s). Most religions have some very good ideas about conservation and loving ones neighbor and just generally be a wise person and observe humanities impact on our planet. We’d probably be better equipped if more people understood this, whether you have a faith or not.

          • markle2k Says:

            Actually a response to John Christian Lønningdal @9:48:
            In God We Trust only became our national motto in 1956 and it was basically a rude gesture to the evil godless commies. That it’s on the money is more to make it ubiquitous than to join the two. Other monkeys in another time beating their chests.
            Sooner or later that embarrasment of a law will be deemed unconstitutional, since it contradicts the First Amendment in such an obvious manner. Hopefully then, our previous de facto Motto, E Pluribus Unum, might actually be codified into law.


      • What makes me cringe is that he appears to earn a living with computers, yet rejects the professionally built state of the art models.

        Just because you know computers doesn’t mean you know physics, and the effects of GHGs ultimately comes down to physics.

        The software guy needs certainty:  algorithms, state transition diagrams, all bases have to be covered or the code is likely to fail when fed anything outside the narrow vision of its authors (and sometimes even then).  Climate models rely on a lot of things that aren’t measured very well and interact in unknown and sometimes unknowable except statistically (chaotic) ways.  A decade-scale oceanic cycle affects seasonal weather around the globe.  There’s going to be an urge for some people who can’t handle their lack of understanding to deny that there’s any understanding to be had.

        Sad.  But all too human.

        • omnologos Says:

          The language used in these comments suggests I am the only one with any practical experience of science, computing and computer modelling.#notsurprised


          • Must admit, I don’t see where you got that from E’s comment. I see a difference in world-views too, depending on a person’s area of expertise. This seems obvious to me. Those who deal in absolutes in their everyday life, aka programmers can’t even leave the ; off the end of their code without it failing, also seem more likely to deal in absolutes with stuff that shouldn’t be dealt with that way.

          • omnologos Says:

            You haven’t earned your living developing or supporting code, I think.

            We are not talking about displaying ‘Hello, World’ here. It’s complex pieces of code with undeterminate output, and the syntax problems like a missing semicolon as the least of one’s issues.


          • I’ve made my living doing little else for more than 3 decades.  You’re wrong about most of the rest, too.


          • Same here, full time programmer, but I still don’t feel you contribute anything meaningful to the discussion olog but bitching about this and that like a whining disappointed child. But I am a guy who easily forgives if people show signs of improvement, so assuming you are really interested in this science as you give the impression of, perhaps you too will become enlightened and actually read what scientists say. Perhaps you will also understand the massive amount of research involved and even statistically its very unlikely that absolutely all scientists are all doing it to get grant money, appear intelligent or want to be part of the science-club.


          • While I can’t claim to be an expert programmer, I do enough of it in my job to get by, and I’ve worked around programmers, engineers and scientists my entire life, and do see a trend. I was a research scientist for at least a decade, although I stopped doing that a decade ago. I’ve been at a software company for the last 5 years. I think there are plenty of us on here with sufficient scientific and/or programming backgrounds.

            One cannot say ALL people of a certain background are a certain way but you can definitely see generalities. Maybe it’s not the exacting nature of programming so much as a certain view many (not all!!) have that they are intellectually superior, which blinds them to the fact that they aren’t smarter than everyone else about Everything.

          • jsam Says:

            The language used in that comments suggest he is the only one with any failed experience of science, computing and computer modelling. #notsurprised

            Sigh, Omno. Is there anything you actually know anything about?

            Yours, a CSMP III developer

          • omnologos Says:

            well with all this experience around I am sure these statements will help inspire a laugh or two

            (a) he appears to earn a living with computers, yet rejects the professionally built state of the art models

            (b) The software guy needs certainty

            (c) Those who deal in absolutes in their everyday life, aka programmers can’t even leave the ; off the end of their code without it failing

            In fact (a) negates the enormous field of production software support. Then (b) is a la-la-land vision of what programming is about, maybe learned in the 1950s and stuck there, negating the existence of agile techniques for example where certainty is the last thing.

            Finally (c) shows little exposure to what programming means in a complex field where as I said nobody knows the output beforehand, so nobody can tell if it’s going to need improving, or even if it’s any good unless tested tested and re-tested (going back to (a) then).

            Definitely no surprise in a thread where quotes such as “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves and wiser people so full of doubt” are commented positively with “Doubt is the product of trolls”. Perhaps somebody will explain if Leah Wilson was a troll herself.

          • jsam Says:

            Ok. I asked a question and I got an answer. It was “No”.

            Thank you for playing ClimateBall. Better luck next time. New contestant, please.


          • Omnologos, as I already said, I’m not a programming expert. Nope, I have not done complex computer modeling.

            What I don’t understand is why you had to make a comment that you are the only one on this blog with a science or programming background. And what the relevance is to the discussion. Unless your point is that you’ve done modelling so you’re the only one with a grasp of climate science. to which I would point out that climate science rests on measurements rather than predictions.

            Really all that kind of statement does is piss people off. And take the discussion completely off-course. Just being real here…

          • omnologos Says:

            you are the only one on this blog with a science or programming background

            Alas I was the one accused of not understanding irony. What did I know. Well, I shall confess, I know very well that there are many people here with a science or programming background.

            I also know there are many people here who don’t see how the quotes used by Peter are totally _against_ their uncompromising the-world-is-going-to-burn stance (where “burn” comes in various degrees).

            That’s why I am not surprised to read people who should know better, simplify computing into a series of incredible naivetes. Why did they do it…of course, in order to box in whoever thinks differently as a fundamentally dishonest person.

            It’s the old story, how do you board a computer-modeled airplane but are skeptical of computer-modeled climate projections (well, please, airplanes get tested, and we know in advance how they should be flying, and we can control an enormous amount of variables – plus of course all the modelling software is tested very thoroughly, and in each test we know all the inputs to whatever precision, and we know the expected output with the same precision. That’s all that is obviously impossible to do, with a climate model).

            As for “pissing people off” this is the blog where I am regularly taken as the person who thinks the world is not warming, and then when I explain that’s not true, some other kind soul surfaces to “show” that I am a “denier” regardless (presumably, because I do not believe in the “burn” part). Not interested.


          • I don’t consider Peter a person carrying a “world will burn” message, but rather have a balanced view of our predicament. There are frequent posts of growth in renewable energy as well as good scientific information about the state of the planet. The videos also generally “park” a lot of the nonsense too. I am sure even you agree that there is truth in Peters videos about many areas within climate science.

            I sort of get your message, that its not as bad as some people make it sound like. But personally I am not sure that the current models that surface in e.g. the IPCC reports is good enough to capture a lot of things like the rate of melting of the glaciers and the fast decline in Arctic sea ice. These things can seriously speed up the problems we have at hand and will by some be seen as rather catastrophic. Its important to consider the worst case scenario than trying to avoid it because its unpleasant. That is why we wear seat belts and take out insurances on our houses. Just like we don’t hope that we will crash and be saved by the seat belt, scientists don’t hope that “the world will burn”. There is a serious energy imbalance and we don’t yet know in which way this energy will leave the system in a race for equilibrum and in which rate this happens. No doubt the rate of change is the biggest problem here, where species previously had time to adapt even to a slowly growing glacier coming or retreating. When changes are so fast that it influences even human habitat we know its getting out of hand. For some that is catastrophic enough, and can’t really be called “alarmism”.

            Instead of coming with snide comments, perhaps you could entertain us with some real opinion and some decent science to back up those ideas? I am sure we are all ears for the likeliness of CO2 forcing being way less than we thought or that the planet has some fantastic way of dealing with the energy imbalance. Discussing whether natural variations is the cause of the warming we are experiencing is off the table though, as there is just too much evidence that excessive CO2 is the primary forcing in action for the current changes to the biosphere.

          • omnologos Says:

            JCL – I really appreciate your comment. I cannot respond in much detail at the moment and this thread has been going on for a while….for now I’ll only promise to stop snide remarks, with the caveat that I will _not_ respond to the clever people who use any form of insult in their comments.

            My impression at the moment is that the world can be divided in precautionary people and cautionary people…the former group is ready to do anything to avoid the risk of catastrophic climate change. The latter group is wary of what the precautionaries might get up to, and even more so having read the suicidal thoughts of those who believe a Venusian warming is a distinct possibility.

            Among the precautionaries there are some who believe to be at war, and in war, as they say, everything is allowed (hence the insulting of strangers), and Truth is the first victim (hence the fantastic thoughts about evil people).

            I hope we can reset things and stay away from that.


          • The planet has endured climate states way worse than we can create with burning of fossil fuels and there is a natural limit to how much we can burn anyway until it becomes just too costly to extract them. Runaway Venus states simply aren’t possible. I believe its the rate of change that is the worrying aspect, 100 years might seem like a long time but in earths climate history that is really really fast for a several degrees of average warming, and there is simply no chance we or any other species will be able to adapt to this change. Its literally a different planet we pass from one generation to the next. Relating to something Dan Britt say, one generation passed WW1/WW2 to the next, the next one the Cold War… but what are we passing on to our next generation?

            Humanity is already facing a crisis with our ignorant relation to cheap energy from which we built industrial civilization. So in the middle of the changes we will face due to the planets slow but determined response to a 400ppm CO2 atmosphere, we also have to figure out how to transition to some other energy source, whatever that might be. Some say its renewable but where we seriously need to scale down the economy, some say its a massive nuclear investment trying to replace fossil fuels 1:1. All possibilities are in the air, but as a species we are without doubt already above carrying capacity of the planet so I can perfectly understand why some feel our future looks bleak and take a more “doomer” kind of position to our future.

            One thing we know for sure, fossil fuels brought us into this problem in record speed, and perhaps even kept us from chopping down every tree on the planet as an interesting “positive side effect”. But what happens now? What energy source do people in Greece turn to when they cant afford gas? And why would a new round of wood based energy be a complete and utter disaster for the planet? Heck we cant even keep ourselves from chopping down wood for making cheap palm oil for cookies, so how do we treat the planet when people just want to keep warm in the winter?

            The challenges ahead are insanely complex and they all involve energy at some point. Given that any large amount of fossil fuels we burn will keep adding to the already big energy imbalance, we are basically sealing the planets fate for centuries with our current inability to handle this intelligently as a species. This whole discussion deserves way more space in the media, public and politics as its only through acknowledging that the planets resources are certainly finite in the speed we have gotten used to extracting them. How do we even prepare our kids for this?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “Runaway Venus states simply aren’t possible”

            Really?. There are many who would argue that point with you. Can you cite any reputable climate scientists who would agree with you?


          • Fair enough. I don’t see you as a troll or a denier, though I know many on here do. I’ve seen you say climate change is happening, though from what I’ve seen of your comments you take the side that it’s not likely to be drastic. Which is a difference of opinion. And from that perspective maybe the modeling does become important, since that’s a prediction of the future rather than an assessment of the data leading up to present.

            The thing is, it’s way too easy for these blog comment sections to go off-course, as it did in this instance, and as it almost always does. People react to what they are reading at a given moment, not to the overall thread. And it’s probably obvious, but people react to what they read, not to the intent of the author which is unknown.


          • Mi,mi,mi,mii,me,me,me

          • archaeandragon Says:

            “The language used in these comments suggests I am a Totally Awesome Dude!”

            About the same kind of assessment, really.

            I have nearly 40 years of practical experience of science, computing, and computer modelling, which is likely more years than you’ve been alive.

            Not sure what it has to do with anything said here by anyone else, but there it is.

            #colormenotimpressed

          • archaeandragon Says:

            well, please, airplanes get tested

            ..and climate models don’t get tested?

            and we know in advance how they should be flying

            Throughout aviation history, this has only very recently become remotely true. There are lots of experimental aircraft which have failed to perform their most important function — fly — completely against the expectations of their designers and engineers. This statement only shows that you either are completely clueless as to the history of the field of aeronautics, or you’re making the grossest of generalizations.

            and we can control an enormous amount of variables

            Often, though, not nearly enough.. hence all the failures.

            plus of course all the modelling software is tested very thoroughly

            How? The same way all the CLIMATE modelling software is tested — by taking known datasets and running the models either forward or backward to see if the model output agrees with the known results from observations.

            and in each test we know all the inputs to whatever precision, and we know the expected output with the same precision. That’s all that is obviously impossible to do, with a climate model).

            Obviously impossible? O.o Really? Why is it impossible? We know the history of the climate (in various degrees of certainty over time), and we have data from the past which the models can churn through so we can compare their predictive capabilities. If it is impossible, how do you explain the fact that it HAS been done?

            The more I read what you write, the more it seems like you know little to nothing about how models are constructed and tested in any field, let alone climate science. No, the models are not necessarily *exactly* the same across disparate fields, nor are the processes for constructing and testing them, but there are far more similarities than there are differences.

            I’m sorry, but I am just not buying what you’re hawking here.

          • omnologos Says:

            archaeandragon

            > The more I read what you write, the more it seems like you know little to nothing about how models are constructed and tested in any field, let alone climate science.

            It’s a common feeling among people who have never dealt with computer models. Get yourself some experience, you are totally clueless with your casual mixing up of engineering and natural-world modeling.

        • fortranprog Says:

          Agreed with your prognosis climatelurker – I remind myself I retired 6 years ago and will definitely change my handle again… shaking off my murky past of logic, code and more logic – and working amongst so many superior intellects……

        • andrewfez Says:

          There’s a subset of deniers across the internet, I’ve noticed over the last 3 or 4 years, that are programers who have arguments as simple as, ‘If I’m programing a computer to make temp rise when CO2 does, then that cannot be considered proof that such is true because I’m the one defining it’, to, ‘You have to tweak other parts of the model, creating ‘unnatural’ conditions, to get it to work right’, to as complex as miniscule criticisms of bits and pieces of the model they worked on using language only a mathematician would understand.


          • I don’t want to sound too paleolithic, but it might be nice to point out that climate models are not computer programs. We can make them into one, but they start out as equations. You can use a pencil. Or a calculator. Or an abacus. I prefer a computer. But thats a choice. I don’t trust programs absolutely. But this message probably arrives OK, if a little bit misspelled by the errant, overly ambitious spell checker. I think a lot of denier theory is magical thinking. Rather than roll up the sleeves and wade in to find out, they spin magical thinking without any real understanding. Its part of our present day world, with egoists pretending to be experts and substituting their knowledge. Its easy for an armchair opinionated. Their job is not on the line for casual opinions. There is a quote from Dexter. Like this (mangled) , ” My daddy told me to trust a person that seeks the truth. Don’t trust a person that says they have found it.” Scientists are seldom that certain. When they are, its not their opinion about theory, its the weight of evidence.


          • Important to remember always that the denialists are not about engaging with the scientists but deceiving the non-scientists. They so often go after climate modelling because they can be confident that the vast majority lack the competence to evaluate their claims about it. Most people, in other words, are eminently dupable in this area. Calculated, cynical opportunism, this. “Let’s see, where can I most easily drive a wedge between the scientists and Joe Public.”

          • andrewfez Says:

            Yeah, wasn’t it Fourier that made a 2D model which was just a line for the earth’s surface, an arbitrary line somewhere in the atmosphere to represent some heat trapping boundary, and a few arrows here and there? I’m trying to remember that from David Archer’s class at U of Chicago.

          • andrewfez Says:

            And incidentally, about the time Fourier was speculating on a heat trapping component in the atmosphere, glass houses, hot houses, orangeries, and conservatories (different names/types of greenhouses) were starting to pop up in the gardens and homes of the super rich: glass and iron making had (and were) making technological progress that made such possible. Progress begets progress.

    • kanspaugh Says:

      I wonder if this might be Steyn’s defense against Michael Mann’s defamation suit, that actually it was Mann, writing under Steyn’s name, who compared himself to an infamous child molestor and accused himself of falsifying data, this to get Steyn in hot water. Yea, THAT’S the ticket!

      Not more kooky than some of the conspiracy theories the denialists have attempted to sell . . .

  6. archaeandragon Says:

    Regarding the subject, I know that Greenman is a very fair and balanced arbiter of discussions, so I am not too concerned about comment filtering. I may even eventually run afoul of said filtering, as I tend to give no quarter in debates/discussions. I don’t have the time or patience to play patty-cake.

    That said, I think that any discussion forum needs some kind of signal-to-noise level filter. There are posts by people whose sole aim is to just make information-deficient cacophonous noise, adding nothing of value to the discussion, even as a challenge to educate oneself to face them down.

    Personally, I won’t shed any crocodile tears for their forced departure from the discussion.


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