Posted by Jeff Id on October 4, 2010
Steve Fitzpatick left this comment on the Conversation with a climatologist thread.
Well, there have been a lot of comments, a lot of detail, a lot of information exchanged back and forth…. and no snark.
Has to be a skeptic blog.
The discussion Steve refers to was not an overly warm discussion, it was not an easy discussion, it was definitely a nuanced discussion which I know helped at least me clarify statistical details of climate models that are important. From it, I know more than I did two days ago, I know more than I did two years ago.
Blogs are thinking peoples playground now and predictably will be in the future. Words are far too permanent when written, it forces more care than normal. Distance from the individual you are in conflict with, allows a more complete honesty (or sometimes dishonesty) of thought. Slowness of conversation allows greater consideration and suppression of emotion to some extent. The weight of being proven wrong in a hasty opinion forces honesty and care — on average.
Could you have that kind of discussion verbally?
Not a chance.
Could people learn from a discussion like that verbally?
Not to the same level.
Do the heavily moderated blogs work — not a bit. They kill discussion if the moderation isn’t let through quickly.
This new form of science is not a minor phenomenon. It is healthy, it is powerful because it seeks truth or the crowd will destroy your argument. That is no sophistry, exaggeration or dogma in any possible sense. I’m just glad to be a part of it. I’m quickly becoming a fan of Bart Verheggen’s blog for that reason. He doesn’t fear disagreement any more than I.
It is a thinking peoples game where reality almost always wins over everything else. There is no choice for us monkeys trying to keep up, except to learn to use better sticks. Exaggerated climatology will be the first victim of the blog, of that I’m confident, what will be the next? There is simply too much brainpower available in this world, too much ability to understand the good and bad of statistical nuance. Only the correct will win, open discussion is far too powerful.
All that aside, time is required. People are confused and angry about ghostly, invisible consequences of AGW. Enough so that joking about blowing people up who don’t agree is considered funny. The world is a scary place, but if the consensus duma is truly right, skeptic blogs will be one of the first places you will read it – and when you do, it won’t be a small thing. Sure other websites have written it endlessly, but if you don’t have the ability to make your point to the thoughtful public, the autobeliever won’t matter.
Why are such a high percentage of blogs moderated?
I haven’t had to clip a single comment here in ten months. Not that I wouldn’t or won’t in the future, but I haven’t had to. Sure some of the comments are annoying and off topic, but not a single snip in ten months. Through friggin’ climategate people. British anti-terror squad, mainstream press, yet not a snip.