Discussion thread: Reddit Bans Climate Change Skeptics

reddit_logoMy inbox has been full of this issue this week, and I see it mostly as a tempest in a teapot. But since there is an interest, I’m putting this up for discussion. I can understand the situation, running the most viewed climate related blog, where I’ve noted that a small minority of people can cause a lot of trouble and waste a lot of time. Those people often go astray of the site policy for WUWT, and sometimes find themselves banned for repeated bad behavior. Those that might have contentious views but aren’t intractable zealots learn to work within policy and stick around, and contribute to debate here. That said, a “blanket ban” just wouldn’t work nor would it be sensible. Imagine if a single WUWT moderator decided to make a blanket policy change here. -Anthony

From Fox News:

Critics are slamming Reddit over a single moderator’s decision to ban climate-change skeptics from contributing to its science forum, attacking the move as “political censorship.”

In an op-ed titled “Reddit’s science forum banned climate deniers. Why don’t all newspapers do the same?” Nathan Allen — who described himself a Ph.D. chemist for a major chemical company and a moderator on Reddit’s “/r/science” forum — explained his decision to wipe comments from some users he dismissed as “problematic.”

“These people were true believers, blind to the fact that their arguments were hopelessly flawed, the result of cherry-picked data and conspiratorial thinking,” Allen said in his article, which is posted on Grist.org. “They had no idea that the smart-sounding talking points from their preferred climate blog were, even to a casual climate science observer, plainly wrong.”

Allen went on to attack climate-change skeptics further, saying that evidence to support their position “simply does not exist” and that such people are “enamored by the emotionally charged and rhetoric-based arguments of pundits on talk radio and Fox News.”

‘[Climate skeptics are] enamored by the emotionally charged … arguments of pundits on talk radio and Fox News.’

– Reddit moderator Nathan Allen

Finally, Allen called for other news outlets to follow his example, asking “if a half-dozen volunteers can keep a page with more than 4 million users from being a microphone for the antiscientific, is it too much to ask for newspapers to police their own editorial pages as proficiently?”

The move has drawn accusations of hypocrisy, as Reddit claims to be a haven for free speech and debate. The site describes itself as a place “friendly to thought, relationships, arguments, and to those that wish to challenge those genres.”

Brendan O’Neill, in a blog post for the UK Daily Telegraph, said Reddit has “ripped its own reputation to shreds,” and described the move as “political censorship, designed to silence the expression of dissent about climate-change alarmism on one of the Internet’s most popular user-generated forums.”

James Delingpole, columnist, climate skeptic and author of “The Little Green Book Of Eco Fascism,” was even louder in his criticism.

“The greenies — and their many useful idiots in the liberal media — are terrified of open debate on climate-change because the real world evidence long ago parted company with their scientifically threadbare theory,” Delingpole told FoxNews.com, arguing that Allen’s tactic is part of a “classic liberal defense mechanism: If the facts don’t support you, then close down the argument.”

Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of communications, told FoxNews.com that while it was Allen’s prerogative to ban climate-change skeptics from “/r/science,” his statements “do not reflect the views of Reddit as a whole, or other science or climate-oriented subreddits.”

More here:

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/12/19/critics-blast-reddit-over-climate-change-skeptic-ban/

h/t to WUWT reader “Pete”.

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Does anyone take Reddit seriously anyway?

noaaprogrammer

Indeed, a tempest in a teapot – somewhere between Earth and Mars.

Maybe Reddit will ban Phil Robertson too 😉

Onion

The difference between wuwt and reddit here is that the reddit moderator is relying on the 97% consensus as a rationale for banning ‘deniers’. Yet we know that 97% was based on lies and misleading statistics as wells as shoddy methodology.
If the moderator is incapable of seeing the 97% consensus for the myth that it is, he is surely not fit to determine if sceptic arguments follow from peer-reviewed research. His call for newspapers to close down ‘denier’ comments where the latter have no such rules on arguments needing to be backed by peer-reviewed research, is chilling.

Mac the Knife

I really can’t offer much for comment – haven’t reddit.

What is Reddit?

Gunga Din

Though I’m not it, I know what Facebook is. I have an idea what Twitter is. I’ve no clue what Reddit is. But it sounds like they are suffering from something along the lines of what Wikipedia went through.

Janice Moore

This is, as I said a couple of days ago, the loveliest Christmas gift Red It could have given to us. “Why are they banned…. ?” will get FAR more people to read WUWT and other science truth sites than would otherwise have but for the ban.
Heh, heh, heh. So, A-th-y, how much did you have to pay the guy to do that… (JUST KIDDING).
Thank you, Red It!
#(:))

Janice Moore

@ Mac the Knight in Shining Armor — lol, good one. I haven’t it either.

mkelly

So PHD chemist bans PHD physicist or PHD geologist or PHD other chemist because they cannot possibly know what they are talking about. They but not he cherry pick.

john robertson

Are you sure this is not a publicity ploy by another, dead in the water, website?
After all I am pretty sure when you mention the likes of SS, Real Climate and such like, their site visits spike enormously.
Reddit? Never been there.

leon0112

I wonder if Reddit science has 169 million views.

Greg

Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of communications, told FoxNews.com that while it was Allen’s prerogative to ban climate-change skeptics from “/r/science,” his statements “do not reflect the views of Reddit as a whole, or other science or climate-oriented subreddits.”
Then Victoria had better decide how she wishes to see Riddit’s image as a defender of free speech and open debate in the future and whether they need the services of a self-opinionated bigot like Professor Allen.
This is too much like soviet Russia to be funny.

Rob Dawg

“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
―Princess Leia

Janice Moore

{tapping Gunga Din on the shoulder and —>>=== zoom! running away….}
You’re It!
#(:))

This:
“classic liberal defense mechanism: If the facts don’t support you, then close down the argument.”
is the truest statement on Earth.

Gary

Sounds like somebody needs to set up a skeptics blog on Reddit. Obviously Anthony has his hands full here. This could be a great springboard for some enterprising AGW skeptic with the proper skills, time and passion. Who’ll pick up the gauntlet?

Will REDDIT ban all discussion about their ban?
And if they do, will they ban all discussion about the discussion about their ban?
Andf if they do, will they ban ………………..

Mike Maguire

It just gets harder and harder to defend a position that’s wrong as time goes on.
In the 1980’s/90’s, with global temperatures going up and climate models projecting the increase to continue……..it was a no brainer with no opposition.
In the 2000’s, the opposition grew exponentially as the temperatures didn’t go up and more and more evidence poured in to contradict the movement……….plants grew faster, global climate models became broken…………….but alarmists still had plenty of ammo to fall back on.
Since around 2009, the evidence has become more and more one sided to the point where global climate models are a 100% epic failure on predicting catastrophic warming, study after study has shown the benefits of CO2 to our biosphere, plants and world food production.
In 2012, alarmists still had the Arctic ice melt as a legit real world scientific reality to fall back on.
When the ice grew substantially in 2013, it left almost nothing but the old, easy to bust myths and rhetoric based on a theory that looks to be busted badly.
I say, just name a CAGW statement………..any statement about catastrophic/harmful warming, extreme weather, climate change, CO2 as pollution……..whatever and I can bust it.
I can show it’s either not a threat at all(often a benefit) or there is no evidence that its from increasing CO2. With that being the case, it’s making for tough “sledding” for alarmists to get the upper hand in any science discussion related to this.
Now, if the media and governments would come out of their biased, ratings/agenda/money driven bubble, they might catch on.

FYI, Reddit is very popular with 20-30 yearold crowd. It is ranked 80th most popular web site in the world by Alexa (vs. WUWT at about 25,000th). So while you may not have heard of it, it is in fact a big deal.

DJ

I went to Reddit for the first time ever, as a result of reading this post on WUWT….
Curiously, after going to the Science section, I found this….
http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/12/the-vast-majority-of-raw-data-from-old-scientific-studies-may-now-be-missing/?1
Funny, isn’t it, that the very basis for the skeptic’s platform is ignored if it comes to a different field of science.

DirkH

Reddit is a Condé Nast subsidiary with a very low Alexa ranking. As climate change these days is a traffic killer, the climate change section is obviously not what gives them their traffic, and they can do with it as they like without jeopardizing their traffic.
Censorship will probably not even harm their reputation as I consider them a leftist operation; Leftists were always in favor of censorship of evil right wing ideas and will even applaud the decision.
Condé Nast are in NYC so they’re very likely an entirely leftist company. I don’t know about that, though; it would just be likely.

Rob Dawg

Mike Maguire says:
“In the 1980′s/90′s, with global temperatures going up and climate models projecting the increase to continue……..it was a no brainer with no opposition.”
—–
More a case of skeptics erring on the side of caution and assembling the necessary data and checking their work. That takes time. In the earliest days you needed to schedule time on the department VAX to run your Hollerith card program unless you were lucky enough to have Visicalc on your IBM PC with 10Mb hard disk.

DirkH

M Simon says:
December 20, 2013 at 11:34 am
“What is Reddit?”
A social media news aggregator. Like slashdot was for tech news, only for all news. People write in with their own news summary and link.
When I want to have an overview over the official propaganda I use google news. Others might use Reddit.

Janice Moore

Here’s a little video of Nathan Allen on a typical day. Here he is, putting out a fire by sending an e mail. At least, he had the presence of mind to use a fake name.
The {Red} It People

(apologies the British re: the “made in Britain” gag — figured it was okay since it was a British comedian doing it… btw: why does he call “fire” “foy-yuh”?)

Gunga Din

Janice Moore says:
December 20, 2013 at 11:45 am
{tapping Gunga Din on the shoulder and —>>=== zoom! running away….}

==================================================================
You can run but you can’t hide.
(Unless your real name is “Missing Heat”.)

Janice Moore

Ha, HA! (@ Gunga Din) — Missing Heat cannot be found — ANYWHERE. Bwah, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaaaaa!

Who has heard about Reddit? Certainly, nobody I know uses it. I understand it is somewhat like Slashdot, which is nothing more than others’ opinions. It is generally worthless.

Alvin

Jeff is correct about their clients, and I think that is why Allen is doing that. He accepts his position as advocate for climate change indoctrination. If you perform a search for articles on “climate change deniers” you will find many hundred hits from just this past summer from left-wing blogs on how to shut down their opposition. It’s not about science, it’s about politics and they know they can control the future when they can move the young.

AnonyMoose

They should ban Twilight skeptics. Twilight exists, deal with it.
They should ban heterosexuality skeptics. Heterosexuality is a fact.
They should ban automobile skeptics. Most people support automobiles, so stop rocking the boat.
They should ban “Han shot first” skeptics. We have the screencap and we’re not afraid to use it.

I would like to put in a word for the commenters on WUWT who support the mainstream position in a sensible way. There aren’t many, and they often get given a tough time (which may be why there aren’t many), but they help to test the arguments put forward and to keep everyone else honest. I congratulate Anthony for determinedly keeping WUWT open to all views. It is very much the better for it.

pokerguy

I’m not as sanguine as others here. This is symptomatic of the rising hysteria on the part of mostly liberal warmists as the real world evidence continues to work against them. Didn’t the L.A. Times recently stop printing skeptical letters? Even if there’s nothing formal in place, the impulse to censor is in evidence. I can probably count on one hand the number of skeptical letters I’ve seen published in the NYT’s in the last few years. When Jeff Jacoby (I think it was) dared to write a skeptical column for the liberal Boston Globe, the outcry was deafening….
My sense is this will only get worse.

Joseph Murphy

Jeff in Calgary says:
December 20, 2013 at 11:49 am
FYI, Reddit is very popular with 20-30 yearold crowd. It is ranked 80th most popular web site in the world by Alexa (vs. WUWT at about 25,000th). So while you may not have heard of it, it is in fact a big deal.
—————————————–
Beat me to it! I predict this new policy won’t last long with Reddit. It does go against what they are all about. If it does stand it will not be good for Reddit. I don’t mean that in any deep way, just that how long can you sit around and talk with people who agree with you?

Never heard of it before, but I am going to have a go.

Brian R

I don’t know what the problem is. Reddit is doing exactly what they say they sould. They are challenging the genre that Reddit is a place for friendly thought.

MattS

Janice Moore,
“Missing Heat cannot be found”
If it could be found, it wouldn’t be missing now would it?

DirkH

pokerguy says:
December 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm
“Didn’t the L.A. Times recently stop printing skeptical letters? Even if there’s nothing formal in place, the impulse to censor is in evidence.”
HuffPo and The Guardian’s Komment Macht Frei have been censored for ages. Or Realclimate.
It’s SOP amongst them.
They’re self-selecting for gullibility, that’s all. Let’em.

As the evidence mounts against it, more and more leftist organizations will follow the lead. The LA Times did so first (as far as I know).
The internet makes book burning outmoded. So they will try to make sure no information is posted on the new medium.

folks need to get more creative.
thread bomb him with idiotic pro AGW comments.
post horrible lies about dellingpole. they wont delete those
mess with the upvoting and down voting.
since your readership dwarfs reddit, make them pay.

Tom in Florida

““These people were true believers, blind to the fact that their arguments were hopelessly flawed, the result of cherry-picked data and conspiratorial thinking,” Allen said in his article, which is posted on Grist.org. “They had no idea that the smart-sounding talking points from their preferred climate blog were, even to a casual climate science observer, plainly wrong.””
I would guess this statement is directed at this blog. Of course, I do not believe we have ever had the pleasure of Nathan Allen gracing us with his scientific expertise, unless of course he is hiding behind an alias.

CaligulaJones

“Jeff in Calgary says:
December 20, 2013 at 11:49 am
FYI, Reddit is very popular with 20-30 yearold crowd. It is ranked 80th most popular web site in the world by Alexa (vs. WUWT at about 25,000th). So while you may not have heard of it, it is in fact a big deal.”
…to the smallest, least-read demographic in history…
While quantity may sometimes have a quality all its own, I don’t think that’s the case here. Let’s face it, this is the same cohort that gets all its news from “The Daily Show”.

Do I understand that you folks are skeptical about climate change? You don’t think there is ample evidence that the climate has changed, is very likely changing and is very likely to change in the future? I’ll be darned.
I’m skeptical that the climate is or should be static and that anyone can control it.
Allen claims to be a Ph.D. chemist. I’ve long had a fondness for guys like that. I thought, in general, most Ph. D. chemists were too bright to believe they can control the climate or thought, but I suppose there are some below the average line.

Paul Westhaver

It is useful to the cause of real scientific inquiry that an apparent rag web site like reddeit (I have never visited their site) would self filter itself to the fringes of credibility by inviting only contributors who agree with them. Self-filtering extremists like at reddit self-identify as incredible activists and thereby doom their small readership to bad science mutual masturbators. Yes they make each other feel good don’t they, but they are impotent and sterile.
As for WUWT, the most popular science blog, where dialogue is open and challenging, the cause for science will prosper in the fertile interactive debate.
Reddit is a shallow empty box where global warming activists can sneer aloud and hear their echos reflect back at them so they can feel validated.

bullocky

Nathan Allen’s policy reminds me of the old ‘White Australia Policy’ of yesteryear; designed to create a place where only people like himself are permitted – by decree.

Frank K.

Just delete Reddit already (and 99% of all the “media” out there) – they are for losers. In fact, just get out the cybersphere for a while and do something! Ride a bike. Go for a run (my favorite). Ski. Snowshoe. Play board games. In other words, just disconnect…

Jeff, Alexa is a dated and effectively meaningless page rank metric. While Reddit is very popular with the 20-30 something crowd this has nothing to do with the Alexa ranking (which can be easy manipulated as Reddit is full of script kiddies). I would demonstrate with WUWT’s ranking but my comments are still being moderated so I see no reason to help out.

Richard M

Nathan Allen is moving from stage 1. to stage 2. over the death of his beloved AGW.

Dr Burns

I was banned from the Greenpeace forum some years back. I was very careful to avoid breaking any forum rules but of course the truth is disruptive.

AndyG55

Is Reddit where the though who can’t understand Twitter go?

timothy sorenson

It appears they are using the Scientology approach to critics: attack the critic, vilify and impune.