A modest proposal to Skeptical Science

UPDATE: Some new data has come to light, see below.

As Bishop Hill and WUWT readers know, there’s been a lot of condemnation of the way John Cook’s Skeptical Science website treated Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. recently when he attempted to engage the website. Shub Niggarath did a good job of summing up the issue (and demonstrating all the strikeouts of Dr. Pielke’s  comments) here, which he calls a “dark day in the climate debate”.

As the issue found its way through the blogosphere, the condemnation of the technique became almost universal. Pielke Sr. tried again, but finally resigned himself and gave up trying to communicate. WUWT received some criticism from SkepticalScience as a rebuttal to the issue of “Christy Crocks” and other less than flattering labels applied by the Skeptical Science website to sceptical scientists whom they don’t like. They objected to the category I had for Al Gore, (Al Gore is an idiot) which I created when Mr. Gore on national television claimed the Earth was “several million degrees” at “2 kilometers or so down”. I thought the comment was idiotic, and thus deserved that label.

In the dialog with Dr. Pielke this label issue was brought up, and I found out about it when he mentioned it in this post: My Interactions With Skeptical Science – A Failed Attempt (So Far) For Constructive Dialog.

I decided the issue of the Gore label, like Dr. Pielke’s complaint about labels like “Christy Crocks”, was valid, and decided immediately to address the issue. It took me about an hour of work to change every Gore related post to a new category (simply Al Gore) and delete the old one. I then sent an email to Dr. Pielke telling him that I had taken the suggestion by Skeptical Science and Dr. Pielke seriously, and changed the category, with the hope that Skeptical Science would follow the example in turn. You can read my letter here.

Meanwhile Skeptical Science dug it its heels, resisting the change, and Josh decided that it might be time to create a satirical cartoon, about how Skeptical Science’s proprietor, John Cook had painted himself into a corner not only with the labeling issue, but because Bishop Hill had caught Skeptical Science doing some post facto revisionism (months afterwards, logged by the Wayback Machine) making moderators inserted rebuttal comments look better, which in turn made commenters original comments look dumber.

Of course the original commenters had no idea they were being demeaned after the fact since the threads were months old and probably never visited again. The exercise was apparently done for the eyes of search engine landings.

Both WUWT and Bishop Hill carried the cartoon.

I figured, since Mr. Cook makes part of his living as a cartoonist, he’d appreciate the work. While he has since removed the reference to his cartoon work from his current Skeptical Science “About us” page, it does survive on the Wayback Machine from December 2007 like those previous versions of commenter web pages that have been edited. A screencap is below:

The cartoon where he spoofs Mr. Gore is something I can’t show here, due to copyright limitations (there’s a paywall now on Cook’s sev.com.au cartooning website) but it does survive in the Wayback Machine here.

So point is, like me, even Mr. Cook has spoofed Mr. Gore in the past, he’s an easy target, especially when he makes absurd claims like  the temperature of the interior of the Earth being millions of degrees.

While we haven’t (to my knowledge) heard from Mr. Cook what he thinks about Josh’s latest bit of cartoon satire, we all have heard plenty from Skeptical Science’s active author/moderator “Dana1981”

While we could go on for ages over what was said, what was rebutted, etc, I’m going to focus on one comment from Dana1981 that piqued my interest due to it being a splendid window of opportunity for us all.

Dana wrote in the WUWT cartoon thread:

dana1981 Submitted on 2011/09/24 at 5:42 pm

Please, can people stop using the acronym “SS”? The correct acronym is “SkS”

Dana probably doesn’t realize the magnitude of the opportunity he opened up with that one comment for his beloved Skeptical Science website, hence this post.

For the record: this was my reply:

REPLY: On this we agree, folks please stop using it. Now Dana, would you agree to stop referring to people here and elsewhere using that other distasteful WWII phrase “deniers”. You’ll get major props if you announce that. – Anthony

Note that this wasn’t the first time I admonished WUWT commenters on the issue,I also said it as a footer note in this thread:

Note to commenters, on some other blogs the Skeptical Science website is referred to as SS.com with the obvious violations of Godwins Law immediately applied. Such responses will be snipped here in this thread should they occur.

Dana is obviously upset about the “SS” abbreviation, due to the immediate connection many people have to the feared and reviled Schutzstaffel in World War II. I understand Dana’s concern first hand, because when I first started my SurfaceStations project, I had a few people abbreviate it as SS.org and I asked them to stop for the same reason. I suspect that like me, when Skeptical Science created the name for their website, they had no thought towards this sort of ugly and unfortunate abbreviation usage.

But this distaste for “SS” as an abbreviated label opens up (or paints a corner if you prefer) another issue for Skeptical Science – their continued serial use of that other ugly and unfortunate WWII phrase “deniers” in the context of “holocaust deniers”. Of course some will try to argue there’s no connection, but we know better, especially since the person who is credited with popularizing the usage, columnist Ellen Goodman, makes a clear unambiguous connection:

I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, February 9, 2007 “No change in political climate” on the Wayback Machine here

Skeptical Science authors, moderators, and commenters know that people involved in the climate debate here and elsewhere don’t like the “denier” label any more than Skeptical Science like the “SS” label.

The big difference though becomes clear when you do a site specific Google Search:

A similar search on WUWT for “SS” using the internal WordPress engine search yields two results, Dana’s comment/my response, and another commenter asking about the issue which is fair game. The other handful of “SS” references Dana 1981 were removed from the thread per his request (click to enlarge image):

So,  since Dana1981 has not answered my query about the use of the word “denier” on Skeptical Science and since there is such a huge disparity in usages (thousands versus two), I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring the issue forward.

In addition to their own sensitivity over ugly and unfortunate WWII labels, Skeptical Science has two other good reasons to stop using the term “denier”.

1. Their own comments policy page, which you can see here on the Wayback Machine (Feb 18th, 2011 since I can’t find a link anymore from the main page, correct me if I am wrong), emphasis mine:

No ad hominem attacks. Attacking other users or anyone holding a different opinion to you is common in debates but gets us no closer to understanding the science. For example, comments containing the words ‘religion’ and ‘conspiracy’ tend to get deleted. Comments using labels like ‘alarmist’ and ‘denier’ are usually skating on thin ice.

Interestingly, the first appearance of the comments policy page (Jan 17, 2010) said this:

No ad hominem attacks. Attacking other users, scientists or anyone holding a different opinion to you is common in debates but gets us no closer to understanding the science. For example, comments containing the words ‘alarmist’, ‘religion’ and ‘conspiracy’ are usually skating on thin ice.

So clearly they have moved to address the use of the word “denier” in policy, which seems to have appeared in March 2010, but strangely I can’t find any link to the comments policy page on their main page today that would allow users to know of it. Again correct me if I have missed it.

2. The other good reason is their recent Australian Museum Eureka Prize award (Congratulations by the way to John Cook) which has this to say in their code of conduct policy

Not calling people you disagree with on science issues “deniers” with a broad brush would be consistent with both Skeptical Science’s and The Australian Museum policies on how to treat people. Mr. Cook might even ask the Museum to remove the phrase from their press release (2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Winner Press Release pdf – 1,419 kb) since it clearly violates the Australian Museum’s own written policy:

While he and Dana1981 may not realize it, there’s an excellent opportunity here for Mr. Cook to redeem himself and his Skeptical Science website in the eyes of many.

My “modest proposal” is simply this:

Make a declaration on your website, visible to all, that the use of the word “denier” is just as distasteful as the use of “SS” to abbreviate the website Skeptical Science, and pledge not to allow the use of the word there again. Update your own comments policy and ask the Australian Museum to adhere to their own policy of respect on the treatment of people, and remove it from their press release as well. As Eureka winner, you are now in a unique position to ask for this.

In turn, I’ll publicly ask people not to use “SS” in referring to your website, and to ask that in the future the phrase “AGW proponents” is used to describe what some people call “warmists” and ask the many bloggers and persona’s I know and communicate with to do the same. I’m pretty sure they would be thrilled to return the gesture of goodwill if you act upon this. I’ll bet Josh would even draw a new cartoon for you, one suitable for framing. (Update: Josh agrees, see comments)

You have a unique opportunity to make a positive change in the climate debate Mr. Cook, take the high road, and grab that brass ring. Thank you for your consideration. – Anthony

——————–

UPDATE: Tom Curtis in Australia in comments works mightily to defend the use of the phrase “climate denier”. One of his arguments is that the word “denier” has a long period of use, going back to 1532, and of course he makes the claim (as most AGW proponents do) that “we shouldn’t be upset about the phrase” because there (and I’m paraphrasing) “really isn’t much of a connection”. He didn’t accept examples such as the one Ellen Goodman made in 2007 that really propelled the phrase into worldwide consciousness via her syndicated column.

So I thought about this for a bit, how could I demonstrate that the word “denier”, by itself, has strong connotations to the atrocities of WWII? Then I remembered the ngram tool from Google Labs, which tracks word usage over time in books. So I ran the word “denier”, and here is the result:

Note the sharp peak right around WWII and afterwards, as books and stories were written about people who denied the horrible atrocities ever happened. No clearer connection between WWII atrocities denial and the word “denier” by itself could possibly exist. It’s a hockey stick on the uptake.

Curiously, the phrase “climate denier” is flatlined in books, probably because many book editors rightly see it as an offensive term and don’t allow it in the manuscript:

UPDATE2: In comments, Tom Curtis now tries to claim that “holocaust denial” is a recent invention, and thus the peak use of the word “denier” after WWII has no correlation with the war. This updated graph shows otherwise:

As would be expected, the word “Nazi” starts a sharp peak around 1939, and then starts tapering off after the war ends. In parallel, and as the war progresses and ends, the word “denier” starts peaking after the war, as more and more people denied the atrocities. But as we see in the Jewish Virtual Library historical account, “denial” started right after the war.

Paul Rassinier, formerly a “political” prisoner at Buchenwald, was one of the first European writers to come to the defense of the Nazi regime with regard to their “extermination” policy. In 1945, Rassinier was elected as a Socialist member of the French National Assembly, a position which he held for less than two years before resigning for health reasons. Shortly after the war he began reading reports of extermination in Nazi death camps by means of gas chambers and crematoria. His response was, essentially, “I was there and there were no gas chambers.” It should be remembered that he was confined to Buchenwald, the first major concentration camp created by the Hitler regime (1937) and that it was located in Germany. Buchenwald was not primarily a “death camp” and there were no gas chambers there. He was arrested and incarcerated in 1943. By that time the focus of the “Final Solution” had long since shifted to the Generalgouvernement of Poland. Rassinier used his own experience as a basis for denying the existence of gas chambers and mass extermination at other camps. Given his experience and his antisemitism, he embarked upon a writing career which, over the next 30 years, would place him at the center of Holocaust denial. In 1948 he published Le Passage de la Ligne, Crossing the Line, and, in 1950, The Holocaust Story and the Lie of Ulysses. In these early works he attempted to make two main arguments: first, while some atrocities were committed by the Germans, they have been greatly exaggerated and, second, that the Germans were not the perpetrators of these atrocities — the inmates who ran the camps instigated them. In 1964 he published The Drama of European Jewry, a work committed to debunking what he called “the genocide myth.” The major focus of this book was the denial of the gas chambers in the concentration camps, the denial of the widely accepted figure of 6 million Jews exterminated and the discounting of the testimony of the perpetrators following the war. These three have emerged in recent years as central tenets of Holocaust denial.

These books and the reaction to them clearly account for the post war peak in the word “denier” [at least in part, the word denier also is used with nylon stockings which came into vogue during the period – see comment from Verity Jones] . My point is that the peak of the word “denier”, is associated with WWII and the atrocities committed that some people did not believe, and wrote about it. Unless Mr. Curtis wishes to start disputing the Jewish historical account, clearly the peak is related and I find it amusing he is working so hard to distance the word from this association with WWII. Sadly, it is what users of the word do to justify their use of it when using it to describe skeptics, which is the whole point of this post.

==========================================================

Note to commenters and moderators – extra diligence is required on this thread, and tolerance for off topic, rants, or anything else that doesn’t contribute positively to the conversation is low.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

[snip off topic – we already have that story on WUWT front page right now]

michel

Yes, this is a mature and reasonable proposal, and lets hope that it is received in the spirit offered. Congratulations. And congratulations to Mr Cook if he takes it up. It will greatly improve the quality of debate.

Personally I like to use the terms “AGW’er” and “AGW’ist” which are short and to the point.

Rhoda Ramirez

Good luck with that. Maybe I’m overly cynical, but I’ve noticed that the left (and I definately include the AGW movement as leftist) demand standards of behavior that they are not willing to apply to themselves. Indeed, this is so pervasive that I use it as a way of identifying leftist political movements.

[snip too far off topic – let’s stay positive – Anthony]

Wijnand

Wonder if they will accept or slap away…if I had to put money on it, I’d say they will ignore instead…

AdderW

I am an avid AGW opponent

Leon Brozyna

Well played.
And, FWIW, there is a real website at SS (dot) com and it deals with … Social Security. But I agree that using SkS as an abbreviation for Mr. Cook’s site is far fairer and more neutral. Name-calling won’t advance the cause of science.

Robinson

I really don’t understand what the point is of trying to engage SS here. They’re shilling for the alarmists and without the hyperbole, cherry picking and other such nonsense they know their argument is eminently ignorable. So you know, why waste your energy on it? It’s going to remain the top hit for many GW issues for as long as Goggle’s proprietors are raging tree huggers.
REPLY: Because I like to give everyone an opportunity to do something positive. Most people know what they should do, but sometimes it helps for others to remind them to listen to themselves. – Anthony

Bernie

I have tracked and participated to a small degree in the recent discussion concerning SkS here, at SkS, at Bishop Hill’s and most recently at Luica’s Blackboard. In general the tone of SkS regulars towards with those who are skeptical of CAGW or lukewarmers has been OK, though the recent interactions with RPSr were definitely strident and non-inviting.
I assume, therefore, that JC, Dana and other SkS regulars would have no trouble agreeing to your request. Whether all will be able to abide by the civil discourse guidelines, however, will be another story.

PaulH

A reasonable policy – I will comply.
Paul
P.S. Don’t you just love the Wayback Machine? 🙂 Who knew all those hours of my youth watching Rocky and Bullwinkle would help my cultural/nerdist understandings? (Of course, the original was called the WABAC machine, dontcha know.)

Latitude

[snip – not a positive contribution to the conversation, note the footer regarding comments – Anthony]

bikermailman

Hope springs eternal! Here’s to hoping the rhetoric gets toned down. Even if they don’t care to play, good for you taking the high road, Anthony.

Personally speaking, I believe that one should conduct the debate according to ones own standards. It’s not a question of saying ‘I’ll be civilised if you will also be civilised’
If you did go over the top by calling Al G names, then apologise, move on, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Having said that, I do hope they will accept your offer, it’s clearly heartfelt.
EO

He he.I never thought it made sense to use the SS stuff anyway.Why stoop low,while complaining about the “Denier” word they commonly use?
I have a habit of calling them AGW believers.A neutral phrase works well for me.But then that is a brand they are losing interest in these days.A phrase that is beginning to put then into an untenable position of supporting.
I am glad that you are taking the high road on this.It is for the benefit of everyone in reducing conflicts by cutting out the baseless and hostile phrases.

There is some usage of Holocaust denial connections going back a littler earlier in the UK, by two journalist in 2 different Mainstream Media (non tabloid) UK newspapers.
(one of whom has been publically disgraced for his behaviour involving extensive misquoting, plagiarism and the abuse and smearing of journalistic rivals and collegues on wikipedia under the psuedonym David Rose- the journalist Johann Hari.) both journalists will have made significant ‘contributions’ to the issue of climate change.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7240523/from-the-archives-is-that-you-johann-hari.thtml
Johann Hari is/was The Independant star prize winning columnist/journalist
The Independent – The shame of the climate-change deniers – April 2005
More than 10,000 reputable scientists believe in man-made global warming; seven doubt it
Hari concludes:
“The climate-change deniers are rapidly ending up with as much intellectual credibility as creationists and Flat Earthers. Indeed, given that 25,000 people died in Europe in the 2003 heatwave caused by anthropogenic climate change, given that the genocide unfolding in Darfur has been exacerbated by the stresses of climate change, given that Bangladesh may disappear beneath the rising seas in the next century,
they are nudging close to having the moral credibility of Holocaust deniers.
They are denying the reality of a force that – unless we change the way we live pretty fast – will kill millions.
—————–
Some oft repeated early climate sceptic linkages too ‘denier’ is also shown in the above.
A year later.George Monbiot (The Guardian) had this to say:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/sep/21/comment.georgemonbiot
“Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial. But I’m not celebrating yet.
The danger is not that we will stop talking about climate change, or recognising that it presents an existential threat to humankind. The danger is that we will talk ourselves to kingdom come.”
—————
The Guardian and George Monbiot judgement imh, went out oft he window, when they published George very own Top Ten Photo Hall of Shame of climate change deniers.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/mar/06/climate-change-deniers-top-10
REPLY: Thanks, I never claimed Goodman was first, but it really took off after she popularized it, her column was widely syndicated and quoted – Anthony

Yes, count me in! Always happy to do a cartoon…
😉

To expand on this a little.
I run a small forum that actually tries to resist the contentious debate format.I prefer the Discussion format where people try to understand each others viewpoint without losing their cool.Here is my position as I posted in response to some trouble in the forum:
http://www.globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/thread-1412-post-9189.html#pid9189

kalsel3294

The positions assumed by some of the more fanatical SkS contributors are so deeply entrenched that it will be difficult for them to change their approach. In fact they may possibly prefer discontinuing contributing if it ceases to be a convenient soapbox for their style of preaching.
However I believe that John Cook himself may support such a suggestion as it might allow him to regain some semblance of control back from the zealots who effectively hijacked the site through continued hypocritical abuse of the moderation process and the comments policy.
This recent episode drew my attention back to the site, having given it up as a joke some time ago due to the ongoing poor treatment of some of the more worthy sceptical contributors, whose reasoning and attention to detail in the arguments put, generally forced their opponents onto the back foot and highlighted the extent to which they, the SkS team are inflicted with the. Dunning–Kruger effect, perhaps best typified by the revelation of the book review presented by dana1981 of a book he later conceded having not read.
Having said all that I have detected changes taking place at SkS where many of the arguments seem to be swinging away from the previous black and white positions towards that of those who have long argued against the science being settled. These changes are subtle and I doubt if any of the science is settled crowd are even aware they are taking place, but they would be evident to anyone who has not visited the site for some time

Doug in Seattle

Of course SkS is the acronym for a Russian designed semi-automatic rifle that was in use from the end of WWII until East Block nations adopted the select fire AK rifle.
Wikipedia provides a more in-depth summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SKS

pat

I am afraid things will only worse now that it is clear they have lost the American and Australian public, with Canada leaning toward skepticism. Some countries such as China and Russia simply don’t care about the issue except to the extent it makes the West weaker. All in all, Warmists are talking to themselves and no one else.

Kev-in-Uk

Much as I agree with your sentiment, Anthony, Sir – I do think this is somewhat too PC for me. I agre that there will always be those who seek to denigrate others via some form of acronym or other – but did anyone really use the skeptical science abbreviation as a deliberate reference to Hitlers elite? Yes, it follows that any abbreviation may well be denigrating, but as a confirmed D word person – I don’t take offence as I don’t think of it as denigrating – in fact I’m probably quite proud of denying the alleged concensus!
I will, of course, respect your wishes – but I do think it is allowing the political correctness to rear its extremely ugly head again!
Of course, the downside is that further ‘terms’ will be coined….
and add to that the fact that when someone says any approved ‘new’ term – we will REALLY know what they mean! Ergo, it is really rather pointless – IMHO.
Take a typical expletive – re-writing it as xxxxing this or xxxxing that, doesn’t really help in the readers interpretation – it’s just the bloomin presentation for the sake of those easily offended! In this instance, this is justified, as swearing is indeed offensive – but I’m sorry, a AGW proponent is indeed a person of the warming persuasion and I don’t see how the ‘former’ used term is offensive!
Again, whilst I do think you are making a good proposal – I fear that realistically it will NOT defer the vitriolic style outpourings from various sides – but merely deflect them into alternative language?

Schitzree

For the most part I agree with you on this, Mr. Watts. However I (and I believe many others) don’t consider the term ‘Warmists’ to be an insulting term, not like ‘Alarmist’ or ‘Denier’. I’ve usually seen it used as a basic descriptive term, along with ‘Skeptic’ and ‘Lukewarmers’, as a means of denoting which side of the debate someone is on.

Paul Coppin

There is a special irony for some… I have a Chinese-made copy of a Russian firearm known as an SKS. Fine, if albeit cheap, firearm. You can bet the factories that made them care little for climate change….

SSam

SkS eh? So now they are seismic S wave traversing the mantle as a P wave and re-emerging as and S wave after the transit?
[snip – not a positive contribution]

Jeremy

Take a look at the latest Economist magazine use of the denial word. Republican “denials” and “warming denial”. It is also uses alarmist hyperbole to a degree that would normal only be found in something like The National Enquirer.
http://www.economist.com/node/21529001
Opening paragraph:
“AS THE American presidential election approaches, expect to hear plenty of talk in the months ahead about “energy independence”. Some candidates may also express fears over “peak oil”. The merits and terrors of nuclear power will be discussed. Anthropogenic climate change, or Republican denials of it, already has been. Energy is a critical issue in today’s political debate—as is only appropriate. Providing sufficient energy to seven billion increasingly affluent humans without burning up the planet may be humanity’s greatest challenge. “What is at stake”, writes Daniel Yergin, “is the future itself.””
2nd last Paragraph:
“That is a lot to worry about, and Mr Yergin’s book, which includes almost 100 pages on the history of climate science and politics, should be required reading for all those in warming denial. ”
Such a pity that what was once a great weekly journal has become so infantile, trivial and irrelevant.

I’d like to point out, IMHO, that Anthony’s position, while well meaning and noble, will probably not be very fruitful since to expect irrational people to act rationally is mostly a futile expectation. .
Cook’s website is not about skepticism or science, it is about misrepresentation, distortion, and manipulation while degrading any proponent of an opposing view.

Alba

For example, comments containing the words ‘religion’ and ‘conspiracy’ tend to get deleted.
I suggest that WUWT adopt the same policy.
REPLY: did you notice that this post disappeared as soon as you posted it? That’s because those keywords are already flagged for further inspection of the comment – Anthony

I believe you’ll find that this moderator at least has always used the terms AGW proponent and skeptic, although it is possible I may have slipped up once or twice in the last 3 or 4 years.

John Whitman

I simply disagree entirely with Anthony on this one.
John
REPLY: That’s OK, but let’s wait and see what happens before we pass any final judgements. Always give your opponent an option. – Anthony

It took me about an hour of work to change every Gore related post to a new category (simply Al Gore) and delete the old one.

Hmm, in the “categories” section of my Guide to WUWT, I update the last two weeks of posts every night, so I’ve picked up some of the “Al Gore” posts. I’ve considered reindexing everything from time to time, but I think the best thing here is just to change my database and rebuild whatever it is I’ll need to rebuild.
Hmm, that code is over a year old now. I can figure it out again. Figuring out the magic MySQL command, hmm, should be trivial.

There’s so much snipping tonight, it looks like a RealClimate redux. Watch out, Anthony, by over-reaching to the (self-snipped funny adjective) side, you’re risking to fall into it whole 😎
REPLY: I hear you, I just want to keep it positive – Anthony

James Allison

Would calling (C)AWG advocates Wannabe Climate Changers be OK?

charles the moderator says:
September 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I believe you’ll find that this moderator at least has always used the terms AGW proponent and skeptic, although it is possible I may have slipped up once or twice in the last 3 or 4 years.

FWIW, good scientists are arch-skeptics and are skeptical of their own findings (like neutrinos go faster in rocks than vacuum).
There has been one attempt to retire the term “The Warmista.” I have mixed feelings on that, but it’s been cheapened enough by people using the plural form so apparently a lot of people don’t realize what it compares to.
We really need some better terms. Minnesotans for Global Warming are certainly AGW proponents. However, their message is’t in sync with the Jim Hansen’s. 🙂

James Allison

ooops meant (C)AGW.

D. Cohen

I wonder whether the ‘post’ or ‘censure’ dichotomy is the right way to go here. Why not borrow a page from the movie industry and rate all the posts by their degree of ad-hom., amount of mouth froth, etc.? That way both those who want civilized discussion as well as those who want to vent can get what they want. We can even rate the responses on more than one axis, with the editors noting that some posts use strong language to make, maybe, one or more valid points whereas others just use strong language. There is perhaps a half or quarter step already being made in this direction with some posts being partially censored, but I would in fact rather have the posts left intact and given the appropriate rating.

Gary

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great…”
The reward, if nothing else, is knowing you have done what is right. Good job, Anthony.

Jeremy

Just received a letter from the United Nations Assoc of Canada.
It states,
“There has never been a time when the world has needed the United Nations more than it does today.
Global Warming, pollution, threats to the global economy, rising food and oil prices, riots over food shortages, and the continued spread of HIV and AIDS…..”
it goes on,
“No individual government has the ability to find comprehensive solutions to these problems. Only a system of global governance can advance the agenda of human progress. That is why the United Nations is crucial to our future as a global society.”
and,
“…the people who have concluded that the United Nations is absolutely essential to envision and realize true human progress…”
I am not a conspiracy theorist but this letter pretty much exploits every possible example of human suffering, and scare tactics in order to advance an agenda of global governance. At least that is the stated goal of the United Nations Assoc. of Canada. It puts the Rio “Earth Summit” in perspective.

Latitude

John Whitman says:
September 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm
I simply disagree entirely with Anthony on this one.
John
==============================================================
Me too John, their demeanor is their achilles heel and I think they should be encouraged to do more……..
note to Anthony: I apologize, didn’t see the footnote the first time.
Sorry……

Fred Bloggs

This is a good test of their “good faith”. I am not holding my breath though.

Schitzree says:
“…I (and I believe many others) don’t consider the term ‘Warmists’ to be an insulting term, not like ‘Alarmist’…”
The term “alarmist” comes from a great American sage, H. L. Mencken:
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
The current global temperature is well within the parameters of the Holocene. Nothing unusual is happening. The temperature is not accelerating as predicted. The number of hurricanes and tornadoes is not increasing. It is becoming more evident that more CO2 is desirable, and causes no harm at all. And so on.
But there is no money or power in explaining those facts. So the alarmists sound the alarm. It is a false alarm. Their predictions have failed. But still they alarm the populace. They are alarmists, no?
Mencken also identifies the prime motivation of the alarmist/enviro crowd:
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

Dale

My reason for not liking the “climate change denier” tag is much simpler. I acknowledge, accept and respect climate change. I do not deny it.
If need be, call me a CAGW denier. That is accurate as I deny catastrophic human caused climate change.

Terry Jackson

Always give the other party the opportunity to do the right thing. Just don’t actually expect it.

SkS.
I think I used the shortened version without the ‘k’ on Bishop Hill and perhaps on Lucia’s, until I realized that it was distracting from the real points I wanted to make.
Folks who disagree with Anthony might consider that. If you want people to engage you constructively then use SkS.
And for the religious amongst you … ( not moshpit, I assure you)
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Kev-in-Uk

Just a slight afterthought, after reading most of the comments herein….
don’t you think this may harm the site – having such a strict policy? especially for something that is really quite trivial (IMO)? Just asking…….from my experience this site has had such a reasonably good ‘protective’ attitude to freedom of speech up ’til now (within reason obviously!)

Bulldust

I am not sure what you will achieve with this generous gesture. SkS is such a patently biased a web site and the author’s stance is quite clear. He is all about “winning” an argument regardless of whether he is scientifically correct or not. Any concessions you make will be taken by SkS and no ground will be given by them. Ask yourself, and this is merely one of the first links I clicked on their site, why there are no Democrats* on their “Climate Myths from Politicians” page?
http://www.skepticalscience.com/skepticquotes.php
A certain gent with the surname Gore springs to mind who has probably told more porkies (porky pies = lies) than the entire page of contenders he presents.
And the SkS author wins a prize for promoting science communication …
* It should be noted, though it is entirely irrelevant, that my political stance is left-of-centre by US standards. However this is irrelevant to the point I make here. The fact is that plenty of climate science garbage is spewed by both sides of politics, but SkS choses to show one side only. Hardly a scientific approach to exposing “climate myths.”

hstad

A – interesting you taking the high road!
I call it something else – you negotiating with yourself!

Theo Goodwin

Now, that is due diligence. Hats off to Anthony.

Dave N

Out of interest:
Alarmist: “Person who tends to raise alarms, esp. without sufficient reason, as by exaggerating dangers or prophesying calamities”.
For amusement:
Denier: “A unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers. It is defined as the mass in grams per 9000 meters”

Shevva

Be nice if you can get it out of the playground and back in to the classroom.
Heres hoping.