Quote of the week – the death of 'Popular Science' commentary


Apparently, the science was too popular, so what do these fools do? Alienate their readers of course:

Starting today, PopularScience.com will no longer accept comments on new articles. Here’s why.

Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at PopularScience.com, we’re shutting them off.

The stupid, it burns like a magnesium flare.

The go on to quote some study as the reason, and blame climate change discussions:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Read it all here: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments

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Two Labs
September 24, 2013 6:06 pm

So, the problem is not scientists behaving badly by stretching conclusions from insufficient evidence, the problem is when thy are called out for doing so by the “general public.”

September 24, 2013 6:09 pm

You just can’t disagree with SCIENTISTS, I suppose.

September 24, 2013 6:10 pm

In other words…..they were losing the comments war and couldn’t back up their “science”

David Ball
September 24, 2013 6:10 pm

Their “solid bedrock” is experiencing liquefaction.

September 24, 2013 6:11 pm

Hear no evil… speak no evil… see no evil. See? Everything’s OK now. Trust me.

September 24, 2013 6:15 pm

I guess they still resent the fact that so few believe the earth is flat. Popular Science – the true defenders of a flat earth.

Ashby Manson
September 24, 2013 6:17 pm

So…leaving comments can change the way a story is read? Good heavens! Um, isn’t that why people leave comments? To effect the way people see the story?
The real problem appears to be that they aren’t successfully defending their beliefs, maybe because the evidence isn’t on their side!
…and I don’t for a second buy that evolution is being undermined by vigorous debate. That’s a baloney straw man.

September 24, 2013 6:18 pm

Comments can be bad for science.” sort of implies thinking can be bad for science.

September 24, 2013 6:18 pm

Doctrine as in religious doctrine is about right.

September 24, 2013 6:19 pm

Popular Science doesn’t want to be popular anymore. 😆

September 24, 2013 6:19 pm

“Comments can be bad for science.” Huh? Bad? For science??? How? The only thing bad for science is censorship.
I think what they mean is, “Comments can be bad for the idiots who pretend they are talking about science and trigger a reaction from those who actually know science.”
I guess their readership number will go down now. Oh well, long may they live and learn.

Mike M
September 24, 2013 6:19 pm

Who needs em’ anyway when we can find out Watts Up right here?

Ed Caryl
September 24, 2013 6:22 pm

They just wrote their obituary!

September 24, 2013 6:22 pm

Hahaha–how long before they’re renamed “Popular Gaia”?
“You keep saying ‘science,’ but I’m not sure it means what you think it means.”

September 24, 2013 6:25 pm

They just need a moderation team as good as WUWT’s.

Olaf Koenders
September 24, 2013 6:25 pm

So they’ve decided to end the greatest “peer review” system available. Looks like they can’t handle the truth, or this is all they can do about it 🙂

September 24, 2013 6:27 pm

So now it’s PopDogma?

Jean Parisot
September 24, 2013 6:29 pm

As noted on a slightly more vulgar, but fun website; the author, Ms. LaBarre, seems OK with commenting about her job on Twitter.
Suzanne LaBarre ‏@suzannelabarre
Why do I poop more when I’m on my period? JOURNALISM
Who needs moderated comments and thoughtful posts, a 140 characters – right now should do?

September 24, 2013 6:31 pm

“I’m not winning so I’m going to take my ball and go home” (Exit stage right pouting and stomping his feet.)

September 24, 2013 6:37 pm

“Comments can be bad for science.”
Translation: “We are unable to defend [our] ideas.”

September 24, 2013 6:38 pm

When I looked at the site, they provided a link to this cutting-edge article (along with the afore-mentioned poop/period piece):
“Why Dudes Who Can’t Smell Never Get Laid”
Somehow I don’t think my grandfather would have shared his PopSci with me when I was 8 with such important “science” as those articles between the covers!

September 24, 2013 6:39 pm

Well, there goes their readership, but it is happening to all of them, from journals, magazines to newspapers, they all lost their way along the way and curiously can’t seem to understand why. Their close the eyes, ears, and mouth attitude is resoundly rejected by most credible scientists who realize that freedom of speech IS the bedrock of science itself. If they cannot describe their hypothesis clear enough for all to understand and accept then it is they that need to reconsider that possibly it is they who are mistaken and reopen their eyes and ears. What I have found is the skeptical scientists of climate changes are the most open and knowledgable of them all, by far.

September 24, 2013 6:42 pm

I quit reading Pop Science 20 years ago. I read some articles on something I was well versed in and the stories were so far from the truth they were sci fi. Only thing that shocks me is it took this long to shut down comments.

September 24, 2013 6:44 pm

I mean: Translation: “We are unable to defend our ideas.”
But that’s a good example, isn’t it? I made a mistake. I wrote “out” rather than “our.” It can only improve things to have the mistake pointed out.
Of course, if you are making pots of money from your mistake, it may not seem like an improvement to have the mistake pointed out. However that is only if you love money more than Truth. And that is where temptation creeps in, and the rot starts.

September 24, 2013 6:45 pm

I’ve posted this before:
Why did I stop reading Popular Science – Editors who brag about their sons homicidal fantasies about killing SUV drivers:
The Editor of Popular Science Wrote:
“DURING A RECENT FAMILY DRIVE out of town, my 13-year-old son,
Rex, launched into a diatribe from the backseat, blasting the environ-
mental myopia of every lone driver spewing unnecessary CO2 behind
the wheel of a hulking SUV. (He actually wanted me to bump them off
the road, thus ensuring that he won’t join their ranks until long after he
turns 16.) “Don’t they realize that if this keeps up, Manhattan is going to be
under water before long?” he demanded”

September 24, 2013 6:45 pm

Who are the idiot advertisers using this for ad placement and how outdated are their target market assessments?

Jim S
September 24, 2013 6:47 pm

Let’s start posting Pop Sci articles here, and comment….

September 24, 2013 6:50 pm

If you can’t beat ’em, ignore them… Popular Science is sick of being beaten up and getting its lunch money taken by the big kids, so it’s home schooling from now on.

September 24, 2013 6:50 pm

I suppose its embarrassing for them when they are claiming 70% or more of the general public believe that man is causing global warming, when the majority of readers in the comments section disagree.

September 24, 2013 6:53 pm

Popular Science Who? Never heard of this obscure magazine. Why are is WUWT covering had beens? Let’s hear more about Joanne Nova, Donna Lafrramboise and all the action going on in the dynamic blogosphere. Thankfully for the blogosphere we can forget that these mindless zombie journals ever existed.

G. Karst
September 24, 2013 6:56 pm

What they are really saying is that they do not consider their reader’s and subscriber’s opinions as having any importance or worth. Telling your customers such, is a sure way to guarantee, that one will not have to worry about the inconvenience, of the annoying public long. R.I.P.

September 24, 2013 6:57 pm

wayne says:
September 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm
Well, there goes their readership, but it is happening to all of them, from journals, magazines to newspapers, they all lost their way along the way and curiously can’t seem to understand why.

I looked at Pop. Sci. & Pop. Mechanics a couple of months ago on a newsstand. Both were much thinner than they used to be.

Paul Vaughan
September 24, 2013 7:05 pm

Some clever spin over here (that will make folks here mighty angry):
“Scientists liken certainty of global warming to deadliness of smoking”
“They say they are more certain about climate change than they are that vitamins make you healthy […] 99 per cent certain […] But the role of nature and all sorts of other factors bring the number down to 95 per cent when you want to say that the majority of the warming is human-caused”

Robert Kral
September 24, 2013 7:08 pm

Science is not dogma. It never is. It can always be questioned. Popular Science is now relying on arguments from authority, which is anti-science. Sad but predictable.

Paul Vaughan
September 24, 2013 7:09 pm

Note that: ALL other factors combined including nature = 4% (WTF???)

September 24, 2013 7:12 pm

This is precisely why I gave up on Anti-Scientific UnAmerican. It is now nothing more than a left wing propaganda rag. Zero integrity.

Tim OBrien
September 24, 2013 7:16 pm

When I was younger I read Popular Science every month. But about 15-20 years ago it changed into something blander and dumber. No thanks.

Gunga Din
September 24, 2013 7:18 pm

A.D. Everard says:
September 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm
“Comments can be bad for science.” Huh? Bad? For science??? How? The only thing bad for science is censorship.
I think what they mean is, “Comments can be bad for the idiots who pretend they are talking about science and trigger a reaction from those who actually know science.

And those of us who may not be able to tell you the Latin name of that dead fish but we know it stinks.

September 24, 2013 7:23 pm

Weatherzone, a commercial weather forecaster here in Australia had a weather and Climate forum running for many years.
The global warming trolls worked their asses off to try and get the Climate forum part of the whole Weatherzone forum shut down.
The skeptics had just about every post one of their posts reported and were consequently regularly put in the sin bin until the principals of Weatherzone, instead of just throwing the alarmists out, sin binned the entire skeptical brigade and then in a fit of political and biased political and environmental and alarmist bigoted correctness, a few months ago shut the Climate forum section down and threatened anybody who brought up any climate related posts with immediate banning from the entire forum.
The global warming cultists involved, openly boasted about the forum shut down on another alarmist skeptic hating forum
In doing so the WZ principals have derived a considerable section of the weather interested population of a source of alternative and skeptical information to the completely bigoted and biased alarmist cult supporting ABC and large sections of the media here in Australia.
And all this just when a whole gamut of skeptically orientated papers are finally being published that bring into question and destroying so many of the formerly hard held and suposedly unchallengeable nostrums from the global warming alarmist faith and the greasy climate pole dancing IPCC.
Consequently quite a lot, ie ; most WZ skeptic commenters who were well versed in climate and weather matters and the technical components of those subjects have up and left. The Weatherzone forum is much the poorer for it and the public much less informed and with less information and material at their fingertips which would enable them to make up their own minds
When the principals of that Forum buckled to the onslaughts of the alarmist trolls there went my respect for them.
I have not been back to comment since and don’t intend to.

September 24, 2013 7:38 pm

From their editorial:

If you carry out those results to their logical end–commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.

God forbid that commenters might shape public opinion.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 7:43 pm

scientific doctrine (0.0) ?!
That, and
and whether and what research gets funded
seem to sum it up.

Bill Marsh
September 24, 2013 7:45 pm

“scientific doctrine”? Do they have even an inkling of the inconsistency and internal contradiction of that phrase? I suppose not. That’s why they wrote it.

Bill Marsh
September 24, 2013 7:48 pm

And here I thought that ‘science’ meant ‘search for truth’.

September 24, 2013 7:50 pm

Notice how they conflate skepticism with denying evolution and flat-earthism, but the only issue in the comments is with AGW.
It’s System 1 thinking, in which emotion and symbolism trump reason and logic, which is known as System 2 thinking.
And to think this is a magazine purportedly devoted to science.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 8:07 pm

Gotta keep those eyes-wide-open, real data, peasants down….
SHUT-UP! (People’s Socialist Science editor in action)

Bill H
September 24, 2013 8:09 pm

Its really bad when the commentors show they have better scientific understanding and knowledge than those writing and publishing the articles. This is a sad state of affairs when you realize that you have fools and charlatans trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and the general public can see it and calls them out on it. Their response is telling… kill the exposure..

Bill H
September 24, 2013 8:12 pm

Janice.. Love the Monty Python clip… The oppressed pheasants… been a while..

Bill H
September 24, 2013 8:18 pm

Kill the exposure rather than fix the problem and address the issues.. Telling in deed.. Religion or political agenda? Because its not about science, as true scientists would not act in this manner.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 8:22 pm

Thanks, Bill, glad you liked that one, too.
And your comments above hit the target with precision.

gopal panicker
September 24, 2013 8:31 pm

Popular Science…gone the way of Scientific American and National Geographic…some moron journalist ‘activist’ types are destroying these once fine publications

September 24, 2013 8:35 pm

rogerknights, yes, I gave that magazine up long ago, even before SciAm. in the 90’s.

September 24, 2013 8:39 pm

It is the equivalent of going back to only publishing The Bible and other important works in Latin so that the plebs only get the Received Wisdom from trustworthy sources, and will be about as effective.
Do they imagine that it is going to boost their readership figures? I would have thought that they will only decline as a consequence.

September 24, 2013 9:12 pm

So you see Galileo Galilei that is why we are called Pope Science.

September 24, 2013 9:16 pm

Good grief, if people think for themselves and form their own opinions, it will upset the scientific process?! What century do these d*ckheads think they’re living in?

September 24, 2013 9:16 pm

Blog god Instapundit recently added comments, and today also covered this story:
Glenn Reynolds was instrumental in the last few years in getting the skeptical message out there in competent fashion. His site has a donation button.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 9:34 pm

Pope Science” (Tom O. Mason) — LOL

September 24, 2013 9:37 pm

Here’s Anthony’s rebuttal 10 months ago to Pop. Sci’s. pontificating:

M. Nichopolis
September 24, 2013 9:41 pm

PopSci: “A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics.”

Mr. Skeptic: “PopSci has decided that science funded by politicians by definition cannot be political (/sarc). However, any legitimate disagreements about politically funded science must of course be partisan attacks — usually inflicted by Mongolian hordes of paid trolls, the likes of which should not be suffered by us more trusting, consensus embracing, gentile citizens.”

PopSci: “If you carry out those results to their logical end–commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.”

Mr Skeptic: “Translation: Of course we don’t support certain political and funding goals! It’s just that you unwashed masses and your comments might shape ‘ how and whether and what research gets funded’ — and we can’t have you partisan, paid troll fools affecting that!”

Henry Clark
September 24, 2013 9:46 pm

For my great amusement, when some of the shorter CAGW scare articles at Popular Science used the term “climate change” without even once explicitly specifying “global warming” or even warming (since a falsifiable hypothesis would be closer to real science and thus anathema), I sometimes noted and linked to the recent predictions of Dr. Abdussamatov (in charge of Russian solar observations on the International Space Station) for the 19th Little Ice Age in the past 7500 years developing by the middle of this century. (Such isn’t proven going to happen, but it as “climate change” compares favorably to CAGW in likelihood and honesty of research efforts behind it).
Anyway, having been one of the several most inconvenient commentators on some of their CAGW articles … I’m flattered. They know what their article writers can deliver can’t stand up to some of us.
I didn’t have http://img176.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=81829_expanded_overview_122_424lo.jpg originally, but even the utter mismatch of CO2 vs temperature in http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/gisp220temperaturesince1070020bp20with20co220from20epica20domec1.gif?w=578&h=396 was fun to highlight (when inconveniently zooming in on the centuries rather than the standard misleading trick of keeping zoomed out beyond ocean lag scales).

John Mason
September 24, 2013 10:00 pm

I used to buy Popular Science and National Geographic as great airplane flight reads with regularity. Ever since they’ve become propaganda rags for the new climate religion I’ve not been able to bring myself to buy them anymore.

September 24, 2013 10:00 pm

I love the study… “hey when people debate and are giving more facts this leaders many to changing their minds out the propaganda line in the story”.
Really? Took you a study to figure that one out huh? Bet that study was tax payer funded as well.

September 24, 2013 10:05 pm

OK, I went to the website….

We’ve Finally Figured Out What Makes LED Bulbs So Inefficient
What Our Eyes Say About Our Sexual Preferences
What Is the Point of the Female Orgasm?
10-Year-Old Accidentally Creates New Molecule in Science Class
Man Diagnosed ‘Comatose’ For 23 Years Was Actually Conscious All Along
Eating Yogurt Does Weird Things To Your Brain

This rag has never been the same since Smokey left. I wonder if they still have ads for X-Ray glasses that allow you to see through dresses?

Alan Robertson
September 24, 2013 10:18 pm

John Mason says:
September 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm
I read the pages off Popular Science, when I was a boy, but haven’t bothered to thumb through a copy at my favorite news stand, for years. They didn’t just run off the road last week, they’ve been in the ditch with their headlights broken for quite some time.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 10:20 pm

“… having been one of the several most inconvenient commentators… ” (Henry Clark 9:46pm)
Good job, Mr. Clark! You shut ’em down.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 10:21 pm

@ Alan Robinson re: “in the ditch with their headlights broken for quite some time.”
LOL — But, still layin’ on the horn. Heh.

Alan Robertson
September 24, 2013 10:25 pm

Whenever i read a statement like the one Popular Science just made, I’m never quite sure if they’re just not smart enough to realize the implications of what they are saying, or if they think we aren’t?

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 10:26 pm

At this very moment, a real life hero is still standing on the Senate floor where he has been talking since 2:41pm this afternoon, EST (trying to prevent vote scheduled for 1 hour after Senate convenes Wed. morning). Ted Cruz, one man standing for freedom from Government Medicine. Go, Ted!
(I think this will link to live CSPAN2 coverage of U. S. Senate Floor)

Alan Robertson
September 24, 2013 10:33 pm

Janice Moore says:
September 24, 2013 at 10:26 pm
One of my Senators, Tom Coburn, just gave the biggest weasel statement I’ve ever heard today concerning this fight. Can’t wait to light up the Senate switchboard, tomorrow morning…

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 10:38 pm

Dear Alan Robertson,
Thank you, so much, for not misspelling my name after my tired brain messed yours so badly. Sorry about that.
Good for you to get on the phone. I hope Senators Mitch McConnell (sp?) (KY) and ? Cornyn (TX)’s constituents given them an earful (and the boot!), too. Judas skunks!
Glad to know my posting re: hero Ted Cruz (et. al.) met with someone’s approval. Thanks for the effective thumbs up.

Alan Robertson
September 24, 2013 10:52 pm

Janice Moore says:
September 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm
Dear Alan Robertson,
You’ve known me for quite some time by my former nom de plume, now abandoned.
If Willis can post au natural, then so can I.
Ps I’m in OKC.

Janice Moore
September 24, 2013 11:23 pm

@ Alan Robertson, a.k.a.,……….. ??? EW3? No, I think that was Allan. Hm. Who have I not seen around lately…. waaaa! I can’t remember ANYTHING at this hour. Well, nice to see you again, Mr. Mysterious Greatheart.
(uh… sorry, but,… “OKC”? Oklahoma City? The only name I know coming out of there is Luther Wu and I was sure that was his real name….)

September 25, 2013 12:17 am

“Comments can be bad for science.” Huh? Bad? For science??? How? The only thing bad for science is censorship.

This is the most apt response I can think of.
Yes, it is true that opening a comments section and not expecting a horde of angry chimpanzees to charge in and begin flinging crap everywhere is a bit much to ask most of the time… but closing one with the excuse that it is hurting science?
What science does PS do, exactly?
How do you hurt a process?

Bill Church
September 25, 2013 1:13 am

Looking at the content of the current PS, I can only conclude that it has joined the likes of New Scientist and Scientific American that I consigned to the trash-can years back.
On a wider point, it seems to me that these types of publications now employ journalists rather than scientists for whom a story is not a story without a catchy headline – preferably doom ridden! Who cares about the content?
This is also true of other media, for example broadcasters such as the good ole BBC where the presenters are so lacking in basic science, business and mathematical knowledge that they let interviewees get away with the most stupid tosh.

September 25, 2013 1:36 am

Here is a comment from the Science Recorder…
ReduceGHGs replied to you
“””Just for fun I looked up WUWT and learned a bit about it. You’re being played. Here are some of the details.
“W A W (A W) is a blogger, weathercaster and non-scientist, paid AGW denier who runs the website wattsupwiththat.com. He does not have a university qualification and has no climate credentials other than being a radio weather announcer. His website is parodied and debunked at the website wottsupwiththat.com Watts is on the payroll of the Heartland Institute, which itself is funded by polluting industries”
What a sucker! Don’t you know how to do a source credibility review BEFORE consuming propaganda? Apparently not. Good grief.
4 hours ago
Apparent recovery of Arctic sea ice this year is illusory, say experts”””
Lots of conversations going on this week. This one has been a peach.
[It is difficult to know whether or not this is an effort to introduce ad homs against our host, however I would point out that AW clearly lays out what he is at the head of the site. He is not on the payroll of Heartland but was once considered and partly funded for a project to make the NOAA data more user friendly. It does represent the desperation of the warmists though as they find the honest, open and welcoming environment here at WUWT to be kryptonite for their childish attempts to scare the world . . mod]

September 25, 2013 2:08 am

FWIW, since 2007 PopSci is owned by Swedes. Swedes on average are about as fanatically green and PC as Germans; maybe more. (see e.g. the rampant importation of Somali Muslims by their president)
Maybe the typical European neo Stalinist Lysenkoism-style approach to science is now pushed through at PopSci.

David L.
September 25, 2013 2:33 am

They are protecting their religion, not science. Science is about scrutiny, religion is not.
As a teenager I began questioning my family’s religious faith. So many things just didn’t make sense to me. My father was devout and scolded me and said “that’s our religion, don’t question it.”
Later in life I became a scientist and chucked the religion.

September 25, 2013 2:34 am

It is a hallmark of psychosis that divergent data must be shut out from the echo chamber of self-affirmation of the untenable. I am not surprised, it is a recurring theme from warmist blogs to The Guardian’s comment section that they are either closed or moderated to death by the acolytes.

Berényi Péter
September 25, 2013 2:52 am

There you go.
“public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded”
Can’t we build a scientific consensus on the idea whatever political system hurts science, it should be eradicated ruthlessly? Now, here is this weird system, in which public opinion is supposed to shape public policy, what was it called? Escapes me. Anyway, one thing is sure, we need no stinking Constitution with its silly Checks and Balances, Elections, Freedom of Speech and the like. Give us our strong &. wise King back, led by His qualified Advisors and supported by a mighty Secret Police. That’s it.

September 25, 2013 3:47 am

Maybe PopSci should rename itself to KorrektSci.

September 25, 2013 3:56 am

I’ve learned something via the internet, and especially from some web sites I’ve developed: If you give everyone a voice, you find out that not many people have anything to say.
Consider this: I built a site for a bar. It allowed customers to review the performance of a live band, Out of over 100 comments, this is typical content:
1-10 – “first comment”
several “band sucked”
several “band was awesome”
two in-depth reviews that actually provided relevant and useful information
an argument between two customers that took up about 30 posts
over 400 attempts to spam the comment section with ads and irrelevant links, mostly from Russia and India, taken care of automatically
one post telling people they should go to a different bar (ip address matched that bar’s website)
So relevant posts were two percent, or if you include the spam, 0.4%
I’ve lately been commenting on articles at my local newspaper. Out of a city of over a million, with the largest circulation newspaper, there seem to be maybe a dozen regular commenters. Often the same arguments and battles are waged across many different articles. As expected, some seem to be stuck on stupid and want to trash the Prime Minister or Mayor on virtually every topic, whether it’s relevant or not (although trashing our Mayor is perfectly acceptable IMO).
Lately a lot of places are using Disqus to handle comments, and it’s fascinating because you can go in and read the variety of articles that a person comments on, from various sources. You can see that some people apparently have no life and just yap on and on at dozens of different sites.
To be honest, PopSci’s decision to stop allowing comments makes sense from a website management perspective, but their reasoning behind it is nothing short of insane. Going public with their realization that reality is intruding on their fantasy world should be the death of their magazine, but it won’t be.
PopSci is a tissue thin magazine these days, with essentially zero content. As far as I can tell the only people subscribing signed up on Publisher’s Clearing House decades ago and just never got around to cancelling. I have NEVER heard anyone say, “Hey, did you see that article in PopSci this month?”, but in the old days it was a common thing. My co-workers and I used to discuss SciAm articles in depth at work. Those days are done.
We are witnessing the end of an era as traditional print media vanishes down the tubes. Their death throes are painful to watch, but oddly amusing too. They seem to still think they’re relevant. They think they’re shaping public opinion. They are not.
That task is being undertaken by those with the financial muscle to own an HDTV channel, especially one that’s on basic cable. There’s the big influence, there’s the big ads, money, power, prestige, and a direct link to the minds of their captive audience. You know who I mean – NatGeo, Discovery, PBS, and a bunch more that are all doom, all the time

lurker, passing through laughing
September 25, 2013 4:07 am

Pop Sci joining Sci Am and so many others on the dung heap of history.
How unsurprising and how sad.

September 25, 2013 4:31 am

I too enjoyed PS when it was my birthday present at age 13 in the 60s. So much so that I resubscribed via a recent ad. Now it is a very light weight carrier system for ads.
and discover that it has always been the same. I was astonished. It has not changed, we have.

September 25, 2013 4:39 am

CodeTech – interesting comment. It is certainly true that the quality of comments on some sites is very low – it’s just Facebook writ large. It’s also true that some sites become venues for a small group of people to enact their version of a bad marriage by having the same arguments again and again without any resolution – Judy Curry’s suffers from that.
But, it’s the price of engagement. A friend of mine was the Letters editor for a large newspaper (back when they mattered a lot more) for a while, and she says it was the same there, except that the volume was lower, and her job was to moderate out the crap. Sometimes, it left her with not much to publish.
A sensible moderation policy at PopSci (assuming that it published anything worth commenting on) would probably produce interesting and informative material, just as it does here.
As for TV stations, it is not all bad news. Sky in Australia is now the most prestigious political broadcaster. During the last election, for the first time ever, the ABC was rejected by both major parties as the host for leaders’ debates – they preferred Sky and its political editor. This was an earth-shaking event in the media world.

September 25, 2013 5:40 am

The interesting and common feature about the contentious sciences is that they all deal with chaotic systems that were oversold far too early and often as Truth despite repeated failures and complete rewrites of the theories. And all used as a vehicle for government school curriculum of the One True Truth. That these sciences in particular are hotly contested by the layman that only pay partial attention to things is both understandable and an obvious consequence of what has been happening in those disciplines as well as in the practice of Science generally.
Nor should any Scientist care. “Don’t believe me? My paper has everything you need to know to replicate it. Have fun, and trust your lying eyes or don’t.”
There’s a regularly used aphorism that runs along the lines that Empiricism is a Sin in Religion and a Virtue in Science. It ought be a regular notion as well that Appeals to Authority are a Virtue in Politics and a Sin in Science. Or, in far better words:
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Richard Feynman

John A
September 25, 2013 5:54 am

The most commented on article on PopSci is this: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/republicans-block-proposal-national-science-laureate-fearingscience
In it the writer excoriates House Republicans for refusing to endorse a “Science Laureate” position. The article is illustrated with a Rockwell picture of a confused hick wondering why his perpetual motion machine doesn’t work.
Now I am not politically conservative, but I recognize that that article was a partisan political statement.
Whether or not there should be a “Science Laureate” appointed by Congress or the President (will there be hearings?) is a political question. Quite what this has to do with whether House Republicans support “Science” eludes me.
The question of whether or not Michael Mann committed scientific fraud in producing the Hockey Stick might have political ramifications but it is, at heart, a scientific question that has yet to be properly investigated, let alone answered. It is not a question of left or right, liberal or conservative, theist or atheist, belief in AGW or non-belief in AGW.
That it has been presented as some sort of touchstone of political belief or religious conviction is one of the great tragedies of our times.
A prediction: PopSci will return with a moderated comment system (a la ‘RealClimate’) when its traffic hits the floor.

September 25, 2013 6:33 am

“Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again.”
This is astonishing behavior from PopSci. Every scientific topic MUST be continually debated and questioned. The great science theories like Evolution will survive, the lesser theories like Anthropogenic Climate Change not so much.

September 25, 2013 6:34 am

“[Watts] has no climate credentials other than being a radio weather announcer”
IIRC, Watts does have some climate credentials–and he certainly has a lot of uncredentialed knowledge he’s picked up.

September 25, 2013 6:38 am

Wow. They actually say the words “scientific doctrine”. Doctrine? Yeesh, just what we need, more fuel for the “science is really a religion and it’s taught in schools so schools should teach my religion too” folks. And yet, those folks have a point: clearly, some people — like the PopSci editors, apparently — do make a religion of current theories even though, scientifically, theories are not to be carved in stone and worshipped as The Truth but to be overturned in later ages when we’ve learned (as I hope we do) something surprising and new from what is, today, just an odd little niggle.
The retrograde motion of 3/three little starlike objects was once an annoying little niggle, too, until one day we realized the Earth-moving (if not earthshaking) significance of it. What odd little inconsistency, today, will one day overturn which currently-reigning theory, I wonder?

September 25, 2013 6:44 am

Let the bitter enders document with their tears the slow death of the biggest science establishment blunder since the 16th century. The world is not warming, get over it.

Yancey Ward
September 25, 2013 7:22 am

She could have saved 95% of her effort and simply written that they shut off the comments because they don’t like people disagreeing with and directly countering their (Popular Science’s) efforts to direct public opinion and policy.
And you can be 100% sure that this change in comment policy is directly related to the climate debate- all the other items were put in there to obscure this motivation.

September 25, 2013 7:22 am

Me says:
September 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm
Popular Science doesn’t want to be popular anymore. 😆
I guess that’s appropriate, they stopped being science a long time ago.

Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2013 7:41 am

Don’t ask questions, Big Brother doesn’t like it.

September 25, 2013 7:49 am

“Scientists liken certainty of global warming to deadliness of smoking”
Right, one “way of knowing” is subjective and the other way is objective. And begging the question doesn’t count against the argument from analogy: therefore, “The gibberish is settled!”

September 25, 2013 7:52 am

Goodbye, Popular Science. We wish you well in your new alternate reality.

Richard III
September 25, 2013 8:06 am

I left years ago when the “Popular” became more important than the “Science”.

September 25, 2013 8:09 am

Wow. I just went to Popsci.com and looked at some of the older articles, ones that preceded the comment cutoff. Reading the lists of comments I’d have to say, “Bravo, and thank you, Popular Science, for closing the mouths of the ignorant upon your site.” I’m serious. Go have a look at the strangeness that once was their comments sections. No wonder they closed it down. Embarrassing.

Martin 457
September 25, 2013 8:44 am

“If it’s a good script I’ll do it. And if it’s a bad script, and they pay me enough, I’ll do it.”
George Burns
The cult of AGW must pay very well.

Rod Everson
September 25, 2013 8:54 am

Ric Werme says:
September 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm
They just need a moderation team as good as WUWT’s.

I think they probably made a business decision, rather than relying upon the scientific justification they used in their article. I also think Ric Werme is correct. If they could afford a moderation team as good as the one here, they’d have more intelligent commentary on a regular basis. Regular “snipping” is very effective, as is troll management (real trolls now, not just those who disagree).
If you don’t have the quality of WUWT’s moderating team, then you do get some awful commentary and I think Popular Science then has a point. In fact, here’s one of the observations from the study they used for supporting their new position:
Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.
Ad hominem attacks work, which is no doubt why the Left cannot say anything about Sarah Palin without including the word “stupid.” (Not trying to divert the thread here; just pointing out an example that is quite apparent in every article about her that allows comments without effective moderation.)
The moderation team here at WUWT deserves tremendous credit for the site becoming what it has become, an excellent source for keeping up with the twists and turns of the global warming debate. Thank you.

September 25, 2013 10:07 am

Jquip says: “There’s a regularly used aphorism that runs along the lines that Empiricism is a Sin in Religion and a Virtue in Science. It ought be a regular notion as well that Appeals to Authority are a Virtue in Politics and a Sin in Science. Or, in far better words:
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Richard Feynman”
This is not quite the case. Historically great abuses have been introduced into relgion through the lack of access to original texts, the refusal to allow translation of texts into living languages, the handling of texts by “experts,” and the lack of literacy of the people.
Access to data and behind the scenes “adjustments” to data by an interpreting class has bedeviled religions as much as science. For example, the abuses of priests in Hinduism (such as taking a family cow away for sacrifice and steak dinner), and the many complications introduced into Hindu practice by the preists, eventually lead to the reforms of Jainism and Buddhism. The Reformation movement also insists on the ability of all people to read and understand the Old and New Testaments for themselves. This ability to read and practice without and expert class of philologists or priests is exactly parallel to problems introduced by a protected class of experts, academics, and scientists; historically both religion and science have monumental struggles and issues regarding empirical verification and accountability.
See Johanna’s post above.

September 25, 2013 11:54 am

We should generate a new “Orwell 1984 Truth Award” just to allocate it to these leftist religious drones that are of the opinion that everything they believe is beyond question. It does appear to be their general mindset across the board. One quick check in the White House, CAGW and Feminism all confirms their severe case of cognitive dissonance, unfortunately.

September 25, 2013 11:55 am

I think the concern about “expertise” reveals the real culprits: lawyers and politicians. “Expert” and “expertise” are really meaningful only in legal or legislative venues. Neither term is meaningful or has any weight in science. If you consider “green” agendas, then where do we see the greatest expenditure of effort? Certainly not in research.

September 25, 2013 12:09 pm

So…POPSCI is now taking the position that the Catholic Church had on Galileo.
They didn’t want any competing opinions either.

bit chilly
September 25, 2013 12:21 pm

i would think the fact AW has little or no climate science credentials is a major plus in the debate on cAGW,as it appears the most widely publicised “climate” scientists are an ignorant bunch with their heads so far up their own arses they are unable to observe the non warming,non melting ice caps,non acidic oceans and near hurricane free world we live in.

September 25, 2013 12:23 pm

So then, when the “popular consensus” says that the Earth is Warming, everything’s OK, but when that same “popular consensus” turns against them, it’s clearly the work of Deniers and Heretics/

September 25, 2013 12:33 pm

This is typical of things to come, especially with obamacare – just wait. A few years ago, just after the passage of obamacare, some Russian wrote in Pravda, “The Americans have not yet begun to suffer.” He was right; just wait – life is going to be an ever-loving nightmare for many of us in the coming years.

Tim OBrien
September 25, 2013 12:34 pm

In mid-1903, the popular scientific consensus was that Man could not fly, too…

Michael J. Dunn
September 25, 2013 12:34 pm

I was a reader of Popular Science since 1959, and looked forward to every issue. But in the last few decades, its editorial staff became populated with trendy geeks, articles began to look like advertisements, and advertisements began to look like articles. Illustrations of future concepts showed only that the illustrator had no understanding of the basic science, but knew how to make things look “cool.” I had to quit.
Now, I refer to them as “Popular Seance.” (Right up there with Unscientific Unamerican.)

bit chilly
September 25, 2013 12:36 pm

i have to take issue with Wmasaw. its got nothing to do with left and right. due to the amount of money required to gain an elite “education” in the western world these days,most of these “climate “scientists.particularly the younger ones are silver spoon daddies girls and mummies boys that would probably have gone into the social sciences if not for the cAGW meme.
despite the education many will not be clever enough to work in the private sector, a bit like uk NGO,s being filled with the thicker kids of british societal elite,and their parents will be monied voters of the right persuasion.they have absolute faith in their peers and the system that has indoctrinated them .
they like to think what they do is for the poor ordinary people,and they hope to go down in history as being someone who mattered .they see themselves as saving the world,and due to the media attention believe they have some kind of rock star quality.
i doubt you could find a real lefty lentil eater amongst them,though it may be the image some project.

September 25, 2013 1:15 pm

goldminor says:
September 25, 2013 at 1:36 am
Sorry for not filling in a bit more of an explanation for the post. It was early in the morning for me. In the last week, I had commented a few times times about the increased censorship at some sites, plus the increased rhetoric by the warmists over the last month as the date for the release of their ‘bible’ has loomed ever closer. They really are in a ‘full court press’ at the moment. So it was in relationship to the subject of censorship that this article brings up, plus the current all out push from the warmists that I posted that. Next time, I will just use a link and a descriptive comment. Sorry for leaving doubt about any negative intentions.

Janice Moore
September 25, 2013 1:50 pm

Hey, Gold Minor, not that you were apologizing to me personally, but, wanted you to know that this morning when I read your post, I was pretty sure (given what I know of your character and views as revealed on WUWT) that what it turned out you meant was what you were trying to say.
LOL, I was tired last night, too — I read a post just above one of mine, then, within 30 SECONDS, called “Alan Robertson” “Alan Robinson!”
Get started on that jogging? Go for it, Gold! Set short goals for a couple of weeks, then, gradually increase the distance, just like you did when you began running years ago. YOU CAN DO IT! (And you have at least one fan standing beside the road, cheering you on and who will be asking you how you are doing ….., mm, hm .)#(:)).

Lauren R.
September 25, 2013 2:58 pm

For several years I was a frequent commenter on popsci as laurenra7, usually responding to articles on global warming because the information presented as “science” was always biased towards the liberal, global warming alarmist position and laden with misinformation. I kept my comments polite and frequently provided links to sources to allow readers to verify for themselves what the global temperature and paleoclimate graphs really showed, hoping that they would would gain some perspective on the issue, and that the writers, typcially Dan Nosowitz or Rebecca Boyle (and others) would pay attention and modify their views (which never happened). The links often pointed to web pages and graphs on WUWT, which has a wonderful Resource page to quickly find graphs and original sources.
When PopSci’s editor posted her reasoning for shutting down comments, I immediately thought of WUWT’s comment policy and the contrast between a website that wants to further scientific knowledge, inviting opposing comments and even guest bloggers with opposing views (WUWT), and one that purports to be a science website but increasingly wants to close its ears to science that challenges the preconceived notions of its editors (PopSci).
I was gratified to note that over recent months and years the comments increasingly criticized the global warming alarmist position and the biased opinions of the writers; Dan Nosowitz being by far the most opinionated and self-deluded into believing his most egregious “articles” were science rather than liberal commentary. The ironic thing is that Dan probably increased readership because we all watched with excitement to see what silliness he would post next so we could correct it.
Too bad for PopSci. Rather than poll their readers to find out whether the comments feature was wanted or not, they simply made a judgement call based on their liberal Manhattan groupthink. It will be interesting to see how their web page views do in the coming months. My guess is that their viewers are more conservative than not and that the comments enabled them to stand PopSci and its frequently distasteful forays into liberal opinion presented as “science.”

Tommy Kelly
September 25, 2013 3:45 pm

Popular Science shutting off comments reminds me of the Pope silencing Galileo on the sun-centered — not Earth-centered — solar system. If it does not back up what they believe, they don’t want to hear it and they don’t want anyone else to, either.

September 25, 2013 4:05 pm

James Taranto in todays Wall Street Journal, commenting on Popular Science’s use of the term ‘Scientific Doctrine’: (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303796404579097192784900688.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion)
“All scientific knowledge is empirically based and tentative; “scientific doctrine” is an oxymoron, and “scientific certainty” a relative term. LaBarre’s comments exemplify the danger of religion’s decline. Science is corrupted when people look to it to provide them with a belief system.”

September 25, 2013 4:17 pm

I went over to leave a comment but it looks like they have been disabled.

Janice Moore
September 25, 2013 4:35 pm

@ Lauren R. — Good for you to pose such powerful arguments defending truth in science that all the Fantasy Science Club members could do was to effectively say, “Shut up!” In other words, you won the debate. (Changing their minds was never an option — THAT will take a miracle.)
@ Jud — Good for you to want to fight for truth in science (or some kind of truth, I’m assuming — heh, maybe you were just going to remind them of a few facts about suppression of speech throughout history, who did it and why…). Lol, “looks like” they ran away from the battlefield. Losers.

September 25, 2013 4:53 pm

I think this sentence in the Popular Science statement is very telling:
If you carry out those results to their logical end–commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.
So shutting down comments is really not about science, it’s about money. Why am I not surprised.

Pippen Kool
September 25, 2013 8:21 pm

Actually, in the case of Popular Science most of the comments are diminished in comparison to the main article. However in a case of Wattsup most of the comments actually improve the article and so I would think that for Wattsup, we would want the comments. This is very different than the Popular Science case, where they have real scientists writing the articles.

September 25, 2013 8:33 pm

Pippen Kool says:
September 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm
Which of these current top stories in PopSci were written by “real scientists”?
Top Stories
Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments
Your Autumn Guide To Apples [Infographic]
These Magnetic Nanobots Could Carry Drugs Into Your Brain
Erase Bad Memories In Your Sleep
Are Acid Flashbacks A Myth?
7 Fantastic Vintage Anatomy Drawings
Valve Announces Multiple Steam Consoles, Will Not Show Them
Why Doesn’t The iPhone 5S Have NFC?
11 Terrifying Childcare Inventions From The Early 20th Century
Chemistry’s Biggest Loser: Official Atomic Weights Change For 19 Elements
Mean, Sexist Gorilla Gets Kicked Out Of Dallas Zoo

September 25, 2013 8:51 pm

I perdicks a huge circulation crash.

September 25, 2013 8:56 pm

To be fair (though it isn’t really necessary), Pop Sci isn’t a magazine written by scientists – the way Scientific American used to be, and American Scientist is. It was once a magazine to bring news of science and technology to the masses. I have a couple of P.S. from the 50s and 60s. (The “flying car” they wrote of hasn’t quite got here yet.) I haven’t read it since then.
However, Pippen gives the writers too much credit. They’re writers about science, and their job is to try to make high-technology understandable by the average reader.
It’s the editors at PopSci who are suffering from extreme close-mindedness.
Scientists are good at science. Only a few of them – like E. O. Wilson, among others – are good writers.

September 25, 2013 10:47 pm

The popular hipster blog BoingBoing.net is parroting the standard view of skeptics as mere mavericks, to support the desperate last gasp of Popular Science, and commenters are writing their own Ph.D. thesis over there now too, devoid of any climate facts but long on popular psychology and applied existentialism:
“Popular Science has an evidence-based reason for shutting down its comment section
Maggie Koerth-Baker at 10:25 am Wed, Sep 25, 2013
Yesterday, the Popular Science website announced that it would no longer allow readers to comment on new stories. Why? Because science, says online editor Suzanne LeBarre, who cited research showing how a minority of uncivilized, vitriolic comments can skew readers’ understanding of the content of a story and contribute to political/ideological polarizations of opinion. Mother Jones wrote about the same study more in-depth earlier this year.”

Snake Oil Baron
September 26, 2013 12:37 pm

As someone who is fully convinced of the general truth of modern evolutionary theory (with plenty of room for new understandings and discoveries), the idea of silencing creationists and Intelligent Design proponents (beyond controlling spam and flame wars) is repugnant to me. So this offends be in both ways–as one being silenced and as one watching my opponents silenced on my side’s “behalf”.

Janice Moore
September 26, 2013 12:44 pm

Well, Snake Oil Baron, that is because you have what they do not:
and love (for your neighbor).
They have: fraud, weakness, and contempt (for their neighbor).

Janice Moore
September 26, 2013 12:46 pm

FYI: don’t use the word “f–r–a- u- – d” if you want to spare the m-o-d having to read another post.

Reply to  Janice Moore
September 26, 2013 1:26 pm

@Janice Moore – I figure when my comments hit moderation, at least one person is reading them! 😉
[The mods are all-reading. Not all-powerful, nor all-knowing, nor all-seeing, but all-reading we got covered. Mod]

Janice Moore
September 26, 2013 1:59 pm

Phil! That is a GREAT IDEA. #(:))

Brian Williams
September 26, 2013 3:47 pm

I have removed PopSci from my RSS feed lists.

September 26, 2013 7:35 pm

Haha! Fine. I wont be reading PopSci till the comments come back.

September 27, 2013 11:37 pm

philjourdan says:
September 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm
@Janice Moore – I figure when my comments hit moderation, at least one person is reading them! 😉
[The mods are all-reading. Not all-powerful, nor all-knowing, nor all-seeing, but all-reading we got covered. Mod]
Now that is funny!!!

G. Karst
September 29, 2013 12:14 pm

goldminor says:
September 25, 2013 at 1:58 am
The link did not show in the first comment….http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/apparent-recovery-of-arctic-sea-ice-this-year-is-illusory-say-experts/#comment-1057958448

Goldminor, I read your replies, and I must compliment you on the polite surgical skill exhibited. You are the perfect model for handling blind faith warmists. Bravo! GK

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