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New Scientist author supports Popular Science shutting down comments.

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Will New Scientist be next?

At New Scientist, a social media researcher comments on Popular Science’s new policy of not allowing comments:

The editors of Popular Science therefore deserve credit for doing what few others have managed: start a long overdue debate among scientists, media and audiences about how we communicate science in this new environment. Online debates – including the comment sections – need to be both heterogeneous in terms of the viewpoints they represent and civil in terms of the exchanges they produce.

Social science tells us that disagreement among citizens can ultimately produce good outcomes. But modern societies also need to learn how to express disagreement without the substance of the debate being drowned out by yelling and screaming – especially in science. Until we get to that point, Popular Science might just have made the right decision in putting a hold on online commenting and giving all of us a chance to debate this issue a bit more carefully.

Excuse me but shutting down the yelling and screaming is fairly easy to do without shutting down comments.

Here at Uncommon Descent, we have a recipe that works: Just boot trolls. Suddenly the decibel level collapses from sonic boom to book club.

Also: “Social science tells us that disagreement among citizens can ultimately produce good outcomes.”

This researcher’s perspective is very badly off base. Society is not a therapy group. In the United States, “disagreement among citizens” is called the First Amendment. It’s their right. They’re responsible for their own life outcomes.

It’s disturbing that science media feel threatened by that. Wonder if there is more to it … ?

10 Replies to “New Scientist author supports Popular Science shutting down comments.

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Scientists have managed to convince themselves and others that they have a rightful monopoly on the production of knowledge. They actually believe that the public who pay their salaries have no right to scrutinize or criticize their activities and pronouncements. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We are witnessing the rebirth of the old condescending and arrogant priesthood all over again. My message to the new priests is this: you jokers are not really that funny. Change your tune or you will sent on your way.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    I’d like to know how the theory of intelligent design explains this.

  3. 3

    If all they are doing is trying to cut down on the vitriol, I can see their point. But a suspicion has snuck up on me (I think they call that a “sneaking suspicion” 🙂 ) that it’s more than that.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    They are losing the origins fights in these days and they feel it.
    So censorship, as in public institutions, is their next move.
    They afraid of comments .
    The wrong side always is.
    They really want to win their case by saying only the experts can decide the case.
    Smart sharp critics in comments sections ruin this idea.
    If they shut down the shops if will help creationism.
    The people have already got the bug about there being a great contention about origin issues out there.
    They will feed a bigger book buying public for creationism.
    They can’t win.
    Openness wil defeat them and closeness will defeat them.
    Somebody is right and somebody is wrong.
    Nature shows a creator and the unlikelyness of evolutionary biology.
    Unless they want to debate this???!!!

  5. 5
    JGuy says:

    How hard is it to automatically filter out lewd comments, and block trolls? You’d think a real science magazine would find a solution that isn’t a scorched earth one.

    And if they are actually considering the comments should be for something productive, then you’d think they would have a reader-commentary liaison or moderator.

  6. 6
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    New Scientist author supports shutting down the internet

    “Look, this internet thing is a real pain in the ass. We regret that it even exists, and support all efforts to just turn the damn thing off. With print media we could pretty much say anything we wanted, and we sounded pretty smart saying it. But now people can just log on and make any comment they want, even pointing out our errors, biases, and inconsistencies. Let’s face it, this internet idea was a big mistake. I’m not sure how else this pandora’s box can be closed, returning us to our previous state of unchallenged glory, other than just pulling the plug on the whole shebang. The sooner the better, or else before we know it, people will simply have too many alternatives to the consensus science narrative.”

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    Unfortunately, I’m sure you are right Chance.

    And I’m sure their message will be more effective this way.

    It’s too bad. Even though it is censorship, they can make their reasoning sound good and the result will be more effective brainwashing for them.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm: I can understand a moderated, objective, letters to the editor system. But maybe there is a suspicion of bias that unjustifiably suppresses, marginalises, stereotypes and scapegoats thoughtful dissent. (I wonder why . . . or p’rhaps not.) KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I suspect that there is a wide range of topics involved: climate issues, medical research and ethics [e.g. stem cells, genetic determinism, etc], conservation vs preservation etc.

  10. 10
    vikingmom says:

    I like the ancient Greek saying

    “An unexamined life — is not worth living.”

    But if you’re an editor of certain publications, maybe you don’t want others to examine your publication’s ideas!!

    The demipriests of “science” do not want constructive dissent.

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