My work at the Union of Concerned Scientists and relatively unique name makes it easy for people to find my personal website and post stuff here. Thus, this site has attracted some comments from people who want to challenge the science of climate change.
I don’t believe in censorship, so I will never delete comments on the site. But I will move them to an appropriate spot. So I’ve created this post to hold comments from elsewhere on the site that I feel should be moved, especially ones that are off-topic or ad hominem or that repeat what I consider to be well-worn points about climate change science that are better dealt with on other sites.
For folks who have questions about climate science or points they want to raise, I would encourage them to look up those specific topics at SkepticalScience.com and post there. I greatly admire their site and find that its contributors and moderators are happy to address specific points related to findings of climate science.
In my experience, having protracted back-and-forths with someone who has a firm ideologically based opinion about climate science can be very time-consuming. And while doing so has helped me understand what people who disagree with me believe, it has rarely improved my understanding of the science or led to any increased mutual understanding of perspectives. More practically, I often find that people don’t want a dialogue. They’re happy to drop a nastygram and move on, never returning to read what I wrote in response to them. For those that do want to engage, nine out of 10 seem far more interested in “proving me wrong,” which usually involves misinterpreting what I’ve written or trying to get me to play a game of 20 Questions in an attempt to “trip me up.”
This stands in stark contrast to the in-person interactions I’ve had with people who are skeptical about climate change science. When I’m talking with someone face to face, it’s much easier to be reasonable and find common ground.
The Internet is wonderful. And its open systems, ease of publication and anonymity have great advantages, but they also make the medium prone to online discussions that are dominated by the loudest voices with the most strident, unalterable opinions. NPR’s On the Media has explored some of the issues related to bad comment sections online. I’m struck by the nastiness of online comments I see in my field, but it extends to other topics, too. After the Washington Post ran a well-reported story about a woman who faced incredibly difficult choices stemming from her husband’s illness, its online comment section was filled with vitriol. One Post columnist found the comments so exceedingly nasty, he penned a piece on it well worth reading.
All that said, I may sometimes to respond to such comments left on the site, but usually will not.