Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I know, I know, like many people I didn’t think it was possible for Scientific American magazine to sink any lower. I loved Scientific American as a kid, the “Amateur Scientist” column was a godsend on the ranch. But then, slowly your magazine morphed, first into less-science, then non-science, then non-sense, and then finally anti-science. I (like many people) quit reading the magazine years ago. Your hatchet job on Bjorn Lomborg, for example, was disgraceful. For me these days Scientific American is known by its shortened name, ScAm.
But now, it’s even worse. You, Bora Zivkovic, write a blog titled A Blog Around The Clock: Rhythms of Life in Meatspace and Cyberland. And who are you when you are at home? Your mini-bio on ScAm says:
Bora Zivkovic is the Blog Editor at Scientific American, chronobiologist, biology teacher, organizer of ScienceOnline conferences and editor of Open Laboratory anthologies of best science writing on the Web.
There’s more there, you’re not just a blogger, you’re the Blog Editor, and you teach introductory biology, not the advanced kind, at Wesleyan College. Got it.
And on the 28th of January, you took all of us low-lifes to task on your blog. You say some commenters are a problem, and your solution to the problem of inconsiderate people asking scientific questions on a ScAm blog is quite simple:
Automatic Computer-model-based Censorship.
I can only bow my head in awe. I mean, what better way is there to keep you from answering people from WUWT and other sites who might want answers to actual scientific questions, than not allowing them to speak at all? Let me give other readers a glimpse into the future of scientific discussion, your brilliant plan for hands-off blog censorship … here it is, and as you explained, it involves computer models (emphasis mine)
If I write about a wonderful weekend mountain trek, and note I saw some flowers blooming earlier than they used to bloom years ago, then a comment denying climate change is trolling. I am a biologist, so I don’t write specifically about climate science as I do not feel I am expert enough for that. So, I am gradually teaching my spam filter to automatically send to spam any and every comment that contains the words “warmist”, “alarmist”, “Al Gore” or a link to Watts. A comment that contains any of those is, by definition, not posted in good faith. By definition, it does not provide additional information relevant to the post. By definition, it is off-topic. By definition, it contains erroneous information. By definition, it is ideologically motivated, thus not scientific. By definition, it is polarizing to the silent audience. It will go to spam as fast I can make it happen.
See, Bora, the beauty of your plan is, you don’t even have to think about censorship once you do that. The computer does the hard work for you, rooting out and destroying evil thoughtcrimes coming from … from … well, from anyone associated with Watts Up With That, or with Steven McIntyre’s blog Climate Audit, or anyone that you might disagree with, or who is concerned about “alarmists”, you just put them on the list and Presto!
No more inconvenient questions!
The beauty part is, censorship in that manner isn’t personal or based on prejudices, it’s gotta be 100% scientific—because hey, it’s based on a computer model, and the modelers constantly assure us that model-based science is the real deal. For example, a noted advocate of computer models and transparency in science posted this insightful comment in support of your fascinating proposal for secret hidden computer-model-based censorship of unwelcome views …
Astroturf pay-4-trolling outfits? I gotta say, Mann has lost the plot entirely. He’s sounding like one of those goofy ads on the insides of matchbook covers, “DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY—Make Money With Your Computer At Home While You’re Trolling!!! Call 1-800-ASTROTURF now!”
I swear, there’s no way to parody this stuff, Bora. You and Mike, you’ve truly outdone yourselves, your idea of computer-model-based censorship is worthy of the modern ScAm you work for.
The sight of a so called “scientific” magazine advocating for hidden censorship based on where someone might comment or their saying the word “alarmist” or where they might find some particular fact, well, that is an abomination, Bora. It makes me fear for the students at Wesleyan College. Do you turn people away from your classes as well for disagreeing with your revealed wisdom, or because they may have read my biology piece about extinctions on WUWT?
Unlike your pathologically computer-censored blog, here at WUWT we just ignore the jerks, or I metaphorically beat them severely about the head and shoulders for bad behavior … but we don’t censor them for reading or citing your or any other web site, ever.
So how about you have the stones to do the same, my friend, and you stop hiding behind your pathological computer models from folks who read or cite this web site?
Finally, Bora, you are (of course) free to comment below on my open letter and defend your position. Unlike your site, where I could invisibly be made a non-person and my ideas prevented from ever seeing the light, here at WUWT we actually DO preach and practice science of the old-fashioned, transparent kind, where even the advocates of hidden, under-the-table censorship like yourself and Michael Mann are free to comment. And if we do snip someone’s particular comment for being a jerkwagon, we note that fact, we don’t just sweep them under the rug like you do.
I won’t be surprised if you don’t show up to defend the indefensible, however. I’d be a fool to expect that kind of honesty and forthrightness from a man who secretly destroys unwanted questions from his scientific opponents …
But I invite you to surprise me, my friend, I’m always overjoyed to see a man moving to become an actual scientist, one who listens to and answers inconvenient questions from his scientific opponents … heck, who knows, you might just learn something.
Of course, I am aware that no one will be able to cite this open letter on your blog, you’ve erased that possibility already … gosh, that’s science at its finest, Bora.
How do you justify this to yourself?
Has noble cause corruption really affected your moral compass to that extent, that you not only invisibly censor people whose scientific views differ from your own, but you actually attempt, not just a pathetic justification of that underhanded action, but an even more pathetic and anti-scientific celebration and and advocacy of such hidden censorship? These questions and more, I invite your answers.
My regards to you, Bora … and I’m totally serious about your sneaky, invisible trashing of people’s comments based on where people post and what they might cite—your kind of cowardly hidden censorship is absolutely antithetical to science, as is conclusively proven by Michael Mann’s approval of your plan.