I’m going to try a new policy. We’ll see how it works out.
It’s this: stick to the science. No baseless ad hominem. No “demonizing” others. That goes for comments here as well. If you honestly believe that someone is deliberately lying, or has been “bought” by big money from the fossil-fuel industry, you’d better point to a lot of evidence; simply asserting that won’t pass muster.
Even if you have lots of evidence, if I allow such a comment you will be directed to take the discussion elsewhere. That’s not what I want this blog to be about; I want it to be the science, so if you regard accusations of deliberate misconduct so egregious as to need discussion, the follow-up discussion will have to happen some other place. If your accusation doesn’t pass my (very high) standard of evidence, your comment goes into the trash can. And even if it’s that important to accuse someone of deliberate misdeeds, there’s probably a much better place to do that than here.
If you contribute a remarkably insightful comment about the science, but it includes one sentence calling someone a “liar” or “murderer” or “tool of fossil fuel money,” that too will find the trash can.
Feel free to insult someone’s idea, or relevant skill; “grossly incompetent analyst” is allowed, but there had better be evidence to back that up too. You can call the idea “stupid,” but not the person. You’ll still have lots of room to rail about someone’s mistakes and foolish ideas — but not the person.
I am not going to let my comment section turn into appeals to emotion, to get people “riled up” and angry, even furious. That’s what turns a heated discussion into a mob eruption. I’m not going to do it in the posts either.
I predict that my current readership will do a fine job adhering to this, and those dust-ups that happen will be a stutter, not a diatribe.
Here’s the challenge to Anthony Watts: make one post about a scientific topic which does not contain accusations of “fraud” or “lying” or “in it for the money.” Stick to the science. Call us fools, even idiots, but accusations not relevant to the science are not allowed.
And now the hard part: Anthony, don’t allow that from any of your readers either. Don’t let your blog perpetuate the demonization of opposing viewpoints. I expect you might be shocked by your readers’ reaction. It’s an opportunity for you to find out where your real support comes from. Will disallowing demonization in the comments reduce your readership? Will your loyal followers lose interest if there are only scientific claims, and if they’re not allowed to incite themselves into a mob? Because, Anthony, if that turns out to be the case — if your “most read climate blog” status depends on the kind of “low road” I’m hoping to avoid, then I’d say you really, really want to find that out.
As for Anthony Watts: I think he’s not competent to do analysis or evaluate climate science. But I do not believe he is doing it for the money. I’ve heard that accusation and I think it’s ridiculous — if he really is “in it for the money,” he’s doing a lousy job of getting rich. I do not believe he wants the third-world poor to suffer so we can still keep burning fossil fuels. Confine your criticisms to the scientific claims.
Anthony, are you willing to try this? One post without the invective I see so much of in your comment section?
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