2979 posts • joined Monday 31st May 2010 16:59 GMT
6.6 million readers
That's...really impressive. I'd like to put in my loud "hell yes" on the topic. I am glad my favourite technology magazine is doing so well. I maintain that El Reg is the best on the net for current events in IT; I don't think I could do my job without it! (Gotta know what the current and upcoming tech consists of!)
Cheers to El Reg and all of her staff. May the readership continue to grow year on year unto the end of time.
I thought I might be able to convince the "preview' screen to run arbitrary code, but I tried about 15 different languages, and *pfft*, nothing.
So disenchanted. How am I supposed to compromise the system to change the front page to a PARIS & LOHAN tribute now?
The price of meat in Switzerland
Increase the price of meat, and all you are going to do is make me sleep less. Because I'll be writing more articles. To get more money. So I can nom beef.
It's beef. Logic and market forces don't apply. Must. Have. Beef.
Taxing alcohol and cigarettes don't lower consumption. They just make people work harder to find the money to support the addiction. I am positive that being raised on BBQed steaks is no different. I am weak; I admit it.
Now pass the HP sauce!
If you are directing that comment at me sir, I am afraid it is never quite so simple. I’m the sysadmin blogger around here. Not the science guy. The reasons for that are fairly obvious; my day job is as a systems administrator. With over a decade under my belt as a sysadmin, I even border as “expert in my field.” (That really depends on the criteria you use for expertise.)
Thus it is reasonable to assume that when it comes to computers, I know what I am talking about. (Most of the time, at least. We all make mistakes!) I can write these sysadminning articles and (hopefully) I add more to The Register than I might subtract from it with my lack of experience as a writer.
Science writing is a different kettle of fish. I possess no university degrees. I am not a fellow at some pompous think tank nor am I a prominent member of a research team or political party. I have less that two years of writing experience behind me. Perhaps two dozen interviews and – I think – two articles that are “reporting news” instead of “analyzing things.”
Why would readers listen to me? What credibility do I bring to the table reporting science news? I am humbled by your enthusiasm for my commetnard blathering, but I am what I have always been: an Internet troll who knows how to work a computer. I can only hold my own in scientific debates because the pursuit of scientific knowledge is both a hobby and passion for me. (It has been my whole life.) It is not something for which I have any formal credentials or professional position.
There’s a question of audience, too. How many people read The Register for viewpoints like mine on all topics science? The comments section would seem to indicate that my approach to scientific discovery – and the resulting understanding of our current state of knowledge – appear to be in the significant minority here at The Register.
For these reasons, I don’t believe it is my place to ask to write science articles. I am happy enough to be invited to write articles about computer-related things. I will get my science on where I always have: as the technical nerd attached to some project at my local university, helping then build a UAV or some godforsaken Linux cluster.
But also here; on internet forums. My “roots” as it were. At the end of the day, I still haven’t grown much beyond what I have been for two decades.
A random troll on the interbutts.
A.O.: Ah, Ye Olde Precautionary Principle returns.
Last seen looking for WMDs in the desert in 2003....
Nope, nyet and nein. Been there, done that, came back as an amputee
>The precautionary principle applies only if you don’t do your due diligence beforehand. In the case of climate science, we do a cost/benefit analysis of the whole scenario, and then pair it up against he likelihood of the science being right. (And this being science, the quantification of “how likely are these predictions to be true” is a huge part of the game.)
>If you have a 95% chance of saving trillions by spending a few billion, you do it. That’s not blind faith. It’s not gambling either.
>There exists a scientific consensus on the subject. There exists a great deal of literature as to the outcomes, what kind of impact they will have, what their likelihoods are. The precautionary principle simply doesn’t apply here. The idea is for application when there either A) is no scientific consensus, B) there remains a great deal of uncertainty regard the variables in the cost/benefit analysis or C) there is legitimate reason to doubt the scientific consensus.
>A and B are covered. If you are advocating C – that there is legitimate reason to doubt the scientific consensus – then put some peer reviewed evidence on the table. Assuming it isn’t the same old crap that has been thoroughly debunked before (that I run into every single day at Ars,) then I will cheerfully look into it. (New knowledge is good!) Convince me! You are arguing against the scientific consensus here, so the burden of proof is on you.
>I am not remotely closed minded about the topic – despite your insinuations to the contrary. Present solid evidence and I will review it. If I cannot find a solid refutation of that evidence – and if it is so damning that it throws the entire scientific consensus on climate change into question – then I will write an article about that evidence myself.
>I have no pride tied up in this. No honour or Belief. I am swayed by the science I have seen presented by the extant consensus. Further science can change my mind. It wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve been wrong about something, or taken the wrong path of investigation.
MJI: Yes it is changing - it always has. But I get the feeling that trying to control it we will use our enrgy supplies up quicker.
>Possibly true. “Controlling” it is likely a waste of time. Mitigation by switching to vast quantities of Nukes for energy however is probably a worthwhile investment.
MJI: Personally I am of the opinion we should be using less resources and tackling pollution first.
>Very true! But the question remains “how to we encourage efficient use of resources?” Tragedy of the commons still applies if we allow individuals, corporations and entire nations to continue to externalise costs. (Pollution, CO2, Methane, etc.)
MJI: As to CO2 best thing to do as far as I am concerned is plant lots of trees.
>Problem is, that doesn’t put the carbon back in the ground. You’d have to grow the tree, then chuck it down a hole. If you grow the tree then burn it, you’ve delayed the CO2 a little, but not removed it from the system.
MJI: There seems to be unsure about warming or cooling, what effects there will be.
>Actually, we know it’s warming. The science is pretty conclusive here. “What effects there will be” is indeed an open area of inquiry.
MJI: The idea that we break up fossil fuels to remove the carbon before burning seems ludicrous, wasted energy.
>Who what now? I haven’t heard this one. Link?
MJI: CO2 is plant food, we need to capture it in wood.
>Yes…but what do we do with it once it is wood? Where do we store it so it doesn’t get back into the atmosphere?
MJI: We do not need massive beef ranches do we?
>Well…no. But I want the massive beef ranches. I’m Albertan. I love beef. OM NOM NOM. This is why I really, really want someone to come along and prove all this climate change stuff to be hokum. Because one of the biggest things we could do to alter our climate footprint as a species is get rid of the massive beef ranches. And damn it…I don’t like that idea one bit.
A.O.: Your default mode is "anyone disagreeing is a troll or a crank".
That is very much putting words in my mouth. You are incorrect: my default mode is “anyone disagreeing needs to present peer-reviewed evidence.” Disagreement doesn’t make someone a troll or a crank. Disagreement in order to elicit an emotional reaction in your opponent makes one a troll. Inability to produce peer-reviewed evidence to back your claims makes one a crank.
A.O.: Have you not even tried, over the years, to find these?
I have spent a great deal of time reviewing all evidence presented me to disprove global warming. That includes everything on Anthon Watts’ page, amongst many similar sites. I have gone toe to toe with some very intelligent and well armed deniers on the Ars Technica forums, and read each and every link provided
I have even taken the initiative to delve into the research on my own. I have an entire browser dedicated to “climate change denier and creationism research.” There are over 1000 bookmarks. So yes, I have done the legwork of looking into arguments that say “climate change isn’t happening” or “maybe it’s happening, but humans have nothing to do with it” or even better “humans are so insignificant we can’t possible affect the whole of the earth.”
A.O.: Or to find out when and how the current climate "consensus" was created?
Well, how do you mean? The fact that the consensus occurred more or less spontaneously on its own over time, or the fact that after it had largely occurred, a bunch of governments got together (under severe pressure from the environmental lobby) to make it “official” by forming entities like the IPCC?
Are you veering into conspiracy theory territory here? I’m very curious.
A.O.: This tells me it's largely about Belief.
Of course it is about Belief. Belief is the problem on both sides of this debate. You have enviroNIMBYs on the one end freaking out about everything and giving climate science a bad name. They agitate way over there, far beyond what the science is actually saying, distorting and twisting anything they can to support their pre-existing beliefs.
Then over here you have the folks who cannot cope with the concept of climate change at all. For some, it is because it interferes with their religion. For others, it is because they stomach the economic implications. For still others it is about nothing more than guilt. People love their children. Their love their families, nieces, nephews. They want to believe they are leaving these kids a world at least as good as they were left.
Start telling them that our current choices as a society may in fact be creating an unnecessary burden for those same children, and people will deny it. They don’t want to hear that. They don’t want to feel guilty. The emotional reaction causes them to lash out against the science: “it can’t be true.”
But your attempt to state that my understanding of climate science is somehow a religious belief on my part is nothing more than an ad hom. Naturally, if I disagree with you, I must be a nutter who is so engrossed in my “religion” I can’t see “sense.”
The problem here is that I have no stake in my understanding of climate science. Provide peer reviewed evidence. Something that hasn’t been thoroughly debunked and torn to absolute shreds by subsequent peer-reviewed science would be preferable.
Understand me very clearly: I want to be wrong about climate change. I have far more invested in that outcome than in being correct!
But this isn’t about “belief.” It is about science. I have spent years of my life learning it, pouring over studies – new and old – and learning everything I can on the topic. I do it because I am fascinated by it. (The same reason I learn about particle physics, medicine, geology, evolutional microbiology, genetics and so forth.)
Right, wrong, climate change exists, climate change doesn’t…it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the science. What does the science say? And why? How did we come to these conclusions? How can these experiments be repeated? Proven? Disproven? What statistical analyses were used? Why?
If you want a “religion” you can ascribe to me – if you need that to be comfortable with what I espouse – then ascribe the religion that “science and the quest for knowledge are more important than any other consideration.” Because for me, this is Truth. For me, that is Belief.
Whether or not climate change is happening isn’t relevant to me. The science of how we determine the truth of the matter is.
Running around the internet arguing with people and requiring they back up their assertions with peer-reviewed evidence on topic I have thousands of bookmarks for is just the amusing hobby that results from all my learning.
After all, I said that I science, and the pursuit of knowledge were like a religion to me. I never said I wasn’t a gigantic douchenozzle.
So how about it? Got any peer reviewed evidence disproving climate change (or various aspects of it) that I can chew on? All fascinating reading for me...
My views on the subject can be summed up as follows:
1) It probably is warming.
2) Some/most/all of that effect may be our fault.
3) The "doom & gloom" predictions are nothing more than FUD.
4) While a massive cut in our emissions might turn things around, the chances of actually getting a meaningful agreement on that are on a par with those of my looking out of my window tomorrow morning and seeing Satan skiing to work.
5) QED. If you want to make a difference, try working on technologies and systems for living with a warmer climate rather than on polishing chairs and arguing a lot while crusties wave placards at you.
I agree with everything here except 3)
The "doom and gloom" predictions are not all FUD. Ocean acidification alone is a Big Deal. I agree with you 100% that "climate change =/= the end of the human race." I don't think most scientists involved do either. (That is usually NIMBYs.)
But we are altering the planet, and with it doing serious damage to entire ecosystems. Ecosystems many of our species rely upon and enjoy. So there is doom, and there is gloom. Adapting to the changing world will cost us a great deal of money and resources.
The questions center around "what is the optimal expenditure now to minimise long-term risk?" What is the low hanging fruit? What things can we do today to minimise the damage and perhaps even benefit from global warming?
So yes: we should be focusing on adaptation. But I argue we should also be focusing on mitigation when and where it makes solid economic sense.
Piracy is bad.
Without things like copyright, how do writers make a living? But SOPA is also bad. There has to be a middle ground here that we can all agree on.
I'm a content creator; I create content, El Reg owns the copyright. That makes me really no different from a band and their relationship to their label. Yet I am also a consumer. I want to be able to read my books on every device I own. Watch my movies on every device I own, and format shift to my heart’s content.
I need people to pay for what I create. I am willing to pay (and reasonably well at that) for what others create. Why does it all have to go so horribly, horribly wrong from there?
IPOA would have some bandwidth scaling problems for those on the ground, its true. But that will be addressed in a future RFC...
IP over Avian Carriers
Pigeons are but one possible transport mechanism for the internet. Can't stop the signal...
Do a twitter search for "WTF."
Screaming teenagers unable to do homework without wikipedia abound.
@Sean Baggaley 1
Find me one single climate scientist who has claimed "humans are the only agency at work here." I can't think of any. There is no science to my knowledge that supports this.
The issue at hand isn't even that humans influence the climate. Believe it or not, we have a pretty good idea of how much the biosphere can cope with before we start making a definitive mark of our very own. We are way past that point.
Volcanoes and solar changes and so forth all have their part to play, but we have also been pumping out more CO2 in the past 100 years than anything since the Siberian Traps when berserk.
I also agree wholeheartedly that we don’t know exactly how the climate works. We don’t know exactly how gravity works, either. But I still know that it takes a lot of special equipment – or 150 million years of evolution – to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
We don’t need to know “everything” about climate change to do the science. Science isn’t about absolutes. It is about determining that something is “somewhere between A and B” and then doing a great deal of hard work to narrow the gap between A and B.
Every year we can state with more confidence what our climate predictions will be. We can state with more confidence what the totality of human impact is. We can state with more confidence what role solar cycles play and so on and so forth.
But with what we know today, while not absolute knowledge, we still know enough to know that A) we are in trouble B) we’re mostly responsible.
There isn’t a great deal of debate about those points anymore. Not amongst the scientific community. There is an enormous amount of debate about how exactly we continue to narrow the gap between A and B, but the outer boundaries for the values of A and B are well established.
The question that need to be answered are: what (if anything) do we do about this? What will it cost? How should we go about it? Science can tell you “what is happening” and it can tell you “this will happen (somewhere between A and B) with this % of certainty.” You then hand that off to politicians and policymakers and it is up to them to make decisions about what to do.
The problem is the people going back and trying to argue “well, we don’t know things to absolutes, therefore we must do nothing!”
That is the exact same bullshit rationalisation as “evolution hasn’t explained every possible biological item (mostly because we haven’t had the time to study every single biological item!) therefore, obviously God created us.”
So I agree with you on balance: humans are not the sole causative factor in climate change, and we still have a great deal to learn about how the climate works.
Where we seem to part ways is that I don’t believe the “we don’t know everything, therefore God” style arguments. We don’t have to know “everything” to take action. We need to know things with enough statistical relevance that the possibility of being wrong is insignificant. And here, I believe that most climate science has indeed done the job.
Climate science isn’t going to tell you the weather next Tuesday. But it can tell you about things like increased storm frequency, intensity, changes in current patterns, changes in the jet stream, changes in rainfall, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other such things.
I never claimed it was absolute. I claimed that the debates over “is it occurring” and “are we responsible” are largely over. I claimed that climate science can make falsifiable predictions and be right more often than not. There is a huge gap between that and claiming absolute knowledge.
Wait...I just thought of something.
We're going to give El Reg commenttards the ability to make a topic about anything. In the same bucket as "fanboi wars," or "ideological wars" we are going to have another problem to deal with:
Oh, the threads demanding an icon for X, and the removal of the icon for Y! They will overwhelm!
Doom! Apocalypse! Lack of Scotch!
El Reg has a diverse group of writers, and they do allow us some leeway. I've been writing here just under two years, and I haven't been told "what to think" once yet. Good folk, them.
The government is in the way. Big Tech could buy Big Content 100 times over and still have money in the bank. But this would get the antitrust alarms going full bore, and nobody wants that.
So the standoff remains as is. Big Content owns Congress. Until that can be remedied, Big Tech will always face massive antitrust scrutiny, especially if they attempt hostile takeovers.
There are other forms of power than money. Never forget that Big Content controls our collective culture. Through that, they control public opinion. They also have decades of history as important backers of politicians from all parties. That simply doesn’t change over night.
But here, now…we witness Big Tech making its play. We are watching as Big Tech says to the world “see? We can influence public opinion too! We have these eyeballs, they look at our websites. We too have influence that once was the sole province of Big Content.” Big Tech is flexing its muscles, and seeing just how much cultural imperialism they are actually capable of.
Mark today. It is important. If Big Tech succeeds, then the oligopoly control of our culture will have definitively been broken, and our society will never be the same again. If they fail, it could be decades before anyone has the chutzpah to try again.
It's not changing fast enough!
Climate change science does make predictions. Testable ones. A great deal of climate change science is rightly and properly falsifiable. That is what makes it science. I simply would not use the word if it were not so. (I am an absolute stickler for the "falsifiability" test.)
The problem with deniers is that they all too often conflate climate with weather. They love to stand up and shout “because you cannot tell me the exact localized effects of climate change, you know nothing!” Which is roughly the equivalent of saying that because we don’t have a unified theory of everything, God must be the only possible answer, and all of physics is a lie.
A lot of climate change predictions have been verified. Ocean acidification, net glacial melt, a continuing global warming trend, etc. (Even cherry picking the data so that you only look at 1998-> present isn’t helping the deniers much after 2010!)
Climate science says that we should see an increase in CO2/Methane/etc. levels where our historic proxies indicate temperature increases. Sure enough, we’ve found them. Climate science predicts a statistical increase in storm intensity, and that is beginning to materialise.
Climate science predicts a shift in weather patterns that will bring extended droughts to some areas, flooding to others. Here things are a little more squiggly, but we are getting the predictions right more often than not.
Yes, climate science is still developing. Yes, it is still early days. But if we wait until after the global temperature has increased past the various flexion points, we will be too late to actually do anything about it.
As to the complaints that boil down to “well, if you believe in AGW, obviously you want to destroy civilisation,” that’s all bunk. The asshats pushing windmills and photovoltaic as the answer to everything are the ones who will destroy civilisation, and they are emphatically not climate scientists. They are generally NIMBYs with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and/or entrepreneurs looking to make a buck.
Stopping climate change probably isn’t possible. Managing it however should be. Slowing it to something we can more easily deal with; finding the point where the investment now provides a significant ROI down the line.
Right now, today, that’s nukes. Lots and lots of lovely nukes. It’s also natural gas. Anything but coal. Hydrocarbons are a critical energy resource and we simply cannot stop using them.
But we need to use them wisely, with forethought and the cost of long term climate change in mind.
In other words: we need to stop externalising the cost of pollution in all its forms. Climate Change is a tragedy of the commons, and we're fools if we don't remedy that.
The Register has offices in the UK, the US, and Oz. They have writers from all around the English-speaking world. The "flavour" of the site is British, and the corporate headquarters is in London. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the site itself is more than just “British.”
Normally, it is a distinction that doesn’t matter; but in the context of an article and discussion regarding the nationalisation of the Internet vis-à-vis SOPA/PIPA, I feel the distinction is important.
The Register is the living example of a company that could face all sorts of troubles thanks to SOPA. This “British” website has offices in the US. It is subject to American law. If it closed those office tomorrow, a huge % of its reader base would still be American, its advertisers would be American, it would rely on American payment processors.
The Register has a .co.uk domain, but also a .com one. What about Australia? Do they get a say in exerting their beliefs upon El Reg, and all similar companies? I’m Canadian, what laws to I need to be aware of when I am posting content created here on a British website?
In the context of the above, I question the concept of “a British website” when you have offices and hacks spread hither and yon. The Register is a website. But like the internet, neat little categorisations defining nationality of cultural ownership have become quite fuzzy with time.
And isn’t that what this whole thing is really about?
@Audry S Thackery
As I said earlier... I find it quite interesting who dismisses the science as hokum. A.O.'s reaction is more or less expected. If he knows the science as he claims, he is guilty of the very same "rejecting that which doesn't fit his worldview" as we all are about various and sundry topics.
People’s reaction to the article is always interesting. The gut reaction for nearly everyone is that it has to be absolute hokum; they are in fact correct about everything, it is the entire rest of the world that has it wrong and just doesn’t understand. The folks I choose to drink beers with are the ones that come back to it a few days later, after the gut reaction has worn off, look at the science and see that the dude is in fact on to something.
That said, I am very curious about A.O.’s claim that some of "the best empirical science is being done by those evil "deniers"." That’s a hell of a claim, and one I would need proof for – peer reviewed papers – before I could do anything but dismiss it as a troll or a crank.
You see, I do know the science here. My hobby is going toe to toe with some of the best trolls on the internet. I’m an Arsian; fighting these battles is what we do.
But contrary to Andrew’s take that I have a "side," or that I am pushing some agenda that (obviously!) is counter to that of the (surely correct!) deniers, my motivations are not so cut and dried. My motivation is to see science done. To see facts, evidence and a through understanding of statistical significance spread far and wide.
I don’t care if your misperceptions are "liberal" or "conservative." I don’t care if you are wrong about evolution, climate change, vaccines or cell phones. What matters is that you be able to prove the sh*t you are shovelling.
Climate change is a great example. The scientific consensus exists for a reason. It is not some massive overarching conspiracy; it is the net result of an overwhelming preponderance of evidence. I am capable of understanding this; of seeing that this true despite the fact that it irritates all sorts of elements of my personal philosophy and I something I simply don’t want to be true.
I would love to buy into the "teach the controversy" tactics employed by deniers and believe that there actually is a controversy over the science. But there isn’t. NO more than there is a controversy over HIV Causing AIDS.
Are there still scientists who believe with their heart and soul that the entire rest of the world is wrong? Yes. Are they statistically significant? No. The only controversy that exists is that which is manufactured by those who so very desperately need AGW to not be true.
In some cases, the people involved are smart, intelligent people who put a great deal of effort into their work, and try very hard to disprove modern scientific consensus with actual hard science. So far, they have each and every one of them failed spectacularly, but the few among them who aren’t outright cranks guilty of everything from plagiarism to outright fraud are scientists I have myself donated a significant chunk of my personal income to.
The best science comes from those who struggling to disprove the standing consensus, and I very much so want that consensus to be wrong.
But so far, it has stood up well.
One thing that the Ars Technica forums have taught me is how to spot someone who doesn’t really understand the science, but is willing to latch onto anything that sounds scientific and supports their worldview. Climate science is a great litmus test here.
If the individual’s arguments can be ticked off one at a time from Anthony Watts’ page then they are unquestionably full of sh*t. Every single thing on that site has been thoroughly debunked a dozen times over. Yet the arguments persist amongst hardcore deniers because they sound scientific. They can cling to it and say "see, this has to be real! It’s all quite scientific sounding and it says what I expect/want it to say!"
Life doesn’t work that way.
I don’t have a horse in this race either way. I have no children. No plans for children. No genetic linage to leave to the ages. I live in the Canadian prairies; it is pretty much impossible for the climate to change rapidly enough for this to hurt me, personally.
But the debate is interesting to me. I have taken the time to learn the science. To learn about the scientists themselves, who funds whom, who is a douche to whom and why. I have taken the time to talk to hundreds of scientists from around the world on the topic, and have friends in both camps.
I have taken the time to do experiments on my own, run the numbers on my own, and have indeed designed and flown scientifically valid tests of my own design. I hold no degree on the topic – and thus make no claim that my own view on the topic are as/more valid than a proper scientist – but I feel I know enough about something I have studied my entire life to have a solid understanding of the truth of the science.
I don’t like what the science says. I like how the science is spun by the protestant anything-that-is-pleasurable-is-a-sin uber-NIMBYs even less. (Left wing douches get on my tits as much as right-wing ones do!)
But the ability to understand this particular bit of science quite well allows it to serve as a fantastic barometer for one of my other hobbies:
Climate change is an interesting intellectual puzzle to me. Nothing more. But oh, does it tell me a great deal about other people.
But it isn’t about politics. It isn’t about economics or what "side" you are on. All of the neat little boxes society makes around people are vulnerable to this. Left, right, black, white, USian, Canadian, You name it. Each "crowd" is guilty of clinging to some belief against all evidence.
I do it; my belief that "objectivity is the single most important philosophical concept ever" can and does get me into trouble. Awareness of the science does not make you immune to the reality of the phenomenon!
I could go on, but I believe my point is made. We are all guilty of letting our beliefs override our judgement. And the reaction to a hyperlink speaks volumes.
Subitting in word
Submitting in word is bad. (.rtf or drew bludgeons you!) But some of us old geezers still use it for writing in. (Spell check with 20 years worth of custom dictionary...)
Suspect users will be harder to bead into compliance than the few straggling backwards writers. (And by few, I suspect that is only me. >_> *fleeing*)
My Mooney is only reporting on the peer reviewed science. There have been a number of different papers relating to the topic, all of which seem to come to the same broad conclusions.
I always find it interesting to see who thinks the article is utter bunk and who doesn't however. Especially in light of the ongoing research in the area. (Seriously, it's a great topic, and Google scholar is your friend.)
I suppose it’s a natural topic for me to be attracted to; my entire family is full of shrinks. Group dynamics, observational bias and confirmation bias are all topics I am absolutely fascinated with. They combine to create people like this guy. Otherwise sane, rational and logical people who nonetheless reject some aspect of science because it deeply conflicts with their beliefs. Even in fields they themselves pioneered!
That particular case is sad; people accepting his bunk take on science resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, possibly more. But is climate science – or the hype around renewables – any different?
Climate change is real. Humans are causing it. This isn’t a debate excepting amongst those who must believe it because it would otherwise harm their belief systems. And yet this drags on. And on. And on. The zealotry with which some deniers are attached to the concept is frightening!
The other side is guilty too. Wind power? Are you kidding me? Photovoltaic?!?
We all cling to our beliefs in the face of hard science. We look for any loophole, any crack, any moral argument or unexplained phenomenon. Seven pages in to this thread, and we’ve still not moved past the basic denier argument of "evolution hasn’t yet explained everything, therefore intelligent design must be considered!" (There’s even a whole bit about "fluorescent cats, therefore god.")
Let’s completely bypass the part where "no biology has yet been discovered which evolution cannot explain." No…the mere possibility that something might exist which evolution cannot explain means that Intelligent Design absolutely must be considered as a valid alternative to evolution!
The mind-warping logic is truly stunning.
We could cover virtually anything. Cell phones causing cancer to vaccines causing autism, to "Fukushima was worse than Chernobyl, and all of Japan will have mutant babies OMG." Climate change deniers to creationists, or economic/political/psychological extremists. It’s all bunk. Life isn’t so black and white as we seem to need to believe.
Science is hard. It’s hard to understand, it’s hard to even dip your toes into the many and varied disciplines that exist enough to even be able to reasonably comprehend how very, deeply wrong most of us are about most things. We all have misperceptions and misconceptions. We all have these ingrained beliefs and prejudices.
One misconception in this area over here can cascade into a lack of understanding here, there and there. Suddenly, you become absolutely convinced in the overwhelming wrongness of everyone else because your entire string of logic makes perfect sense…all the way back to the one tiny misunderstanding somewhere in a completely unrelated field.
Tracking these down is hard. They are usually taught us as at a very young age. Identifying these flaws in our understanding of science is difficult. Correcting them may well be impossible.
So all of us – even the most distinguished of scientists – are vulnerable. Even those of us who know that we are and accept that we are. How then are we to overcome our human weakness and move forward?
I don’t have an answer. The only solution seems to be "in aggregate."
Sometimes what is needed for science to advance is for old scientists to die.
This is why I study this. All of this. People. Group dynamics. Psychology. Astrophysics. Evolutional biology…science in general. I want to correct my misperceptions. I want to learn everything I can learn. I want to know as much about the world as possible so that I might better contribute to it.
I don’t want to be one of those people whose greatest contribution to the species was to simply get out of the way.
The interesting part is that this desire in and of itself provides a source of bias and a perceptual filter through which I filter information.
Some days, its just not worth chewing through the straps…
Spell check, Word, and “
A lot of people type comments in word. When they do so, they will create their HTML in word as well. (This is done because word = quick-and-dirty spell checker.) It is known that the CMS doesn't turn word's stupid “ or ” quotes into ". (As per my having to clean articles of such cruft before submission.)
While that’s find and good for us writer types to have to pay attention to when submitting an article, it is going to cause some consternation amongst the masses when it comes time to submitting a post with HTML.
I think we need some parsing enabled on the CMS to convert any instances of “ or ” into ".
That of course assumes that this post goes through and the crazy word quotation marks are properly represented on screen...
Single entity fanbois
"Single entity fanbois" seem to be far more rare. They occur when (usually) when someone is so deeply impressed with a product/ideology/etc. that they quickly incorporate it into their own personal "image." These can occur “in a vacuum;” for example when someone is entirely unaware of any alternatives but encounters the New Shiny that does the thing they want it to do.
A great example is my own sweet salient self and Plex. I am a Plex fanboi. But the reality is not that this occurred within the context of “competing products or brands.” Rather it occurred whilst I lacked exposure to any competitive products whatsoever.
Plex did the job, it did it well, it impressed the hell out of me. Only afterwards did I really go hunting for alternatives. (I was aware that things like XBMC existed, but honestly had never really played with them much.)
It was after running across Plex that I decided to go hunting for all the various alternatives – I was bored! – and the deeper down the rabbit hole I went, the more I respected Plex. I ended up being a bit of a fanboi for the product, something which translated to the brand as a whole when I finally had a chance to talk to their CTO as part of an interview for my article. (Great guy. We ended up yakking for hours after the actual interview on any number of topics.)
So fanbois can develop without the competitive factor, but my research into the science of the matter indicates that the statistical significance of such events pales in comparison to the importance of brand/product competition to personal identity and the subsequent creation of "fanbois."
And if you still thing the above is all hokum...
...I really recommend you take some time to peruse the science of why we don't believe science.
It's relevant to the topic, and quite fascinating when applied to pundits, commenttards, politicians and more.
The design of a comment/mail system depends on the methodology used to cache session variables. In typical modern forum software, session variables are not stored in cookies. Instead, cookies are used only to store a session identifier. The variables of relevance are actually stored in the database.
This is critical to implementing a mail-back system because it allows the forum to keep track of "when the last time you visited the website" was.
Assuming that the El Reg forums employ such a system, it should be a moderately difficult – say 4 of 10 – item for Murray to implement a system wherein the individual monitoring the forum receives an e-mail that a post has occurred in a forum they are following, but in which they receive no subsequent emails until after they have viewed that forum.
I suspect the groundwork for this is already in place due to the behaviour of the “posts since you last ‘starred this forum’” system that Murray had in place shortly before holidays. (This functionality has since been retracted and replaced with the older code of “posts since you last posted.”)
This indicates that at the bulk of such a notification system already exists in the code base, but that tweaks must be made before it is ready for prime time. That said, once Murray has the “posts since you last starred/visited” ironed out, implementing the single-email/multiple-comments functionality will be trivial.
And yes, I am a giant nerd. I sadly do spend my time inferring all sorts of things about software design from such trivial minutia.
Apparently I need more hobbies.
Worth a read on the topic:
Additional reading that is related:
UI issue: "open forums."
Two UI issues related to "create a new forum."
The first is an issue raised by Mr. Mellor; namely that "create a new forum" seems to be a single path to creating both "user" forums and "moderator" forums. Perhaps these should be separated into two "links" in an effort to more firmly create distinction between user ("visible to all") and moderator ("restricted visibility") forums.
The second issue is closely related. When a "moderator forum" is created, this forum is listed under "open forums" in the "my forums" page. From the perspective of the moderator-as-end-user I find that a little disconcerting; at first glance it would appear that the forums I created in the moderator section are "open" to all.
Thoughts from everyone else on the topic?
Any new product has some issues. Behind the scenes flaws as well as UI elements that have been overlooked. If you run across them, drop them here. If it is particularly egregious, and you feel it must be dealt with ASAP, please email Murray at email@example.com.
The Cookie JarIn every forum I've ever moderated, there are threads both for mods-only praise and alerts regarding specific community members. These are generally important concepts; the “owner” of a site – or the primary mods in the case of large forums – doesn’t always have exposure to the totality of the community. Different topics attract different people. As The Register moves towards a more self-moderating platform, we’ll need a place to nominate individual commenters for “elevation.” (Either to superuser or to moderator.) This thread will give Drew a single place to visit when looking to bolster the ranks. If you have a commenter you feel has proven over time to be “above and beyond;” level-headed, reasonable, aware of The Register’s culture and so forth, mention them here. Eventually, the cookie jar may dispense them a cookie.
People rejecting saturation advertising isn't really a different phenomenon though; these are people identifying with *dislike* for a product. Look at how many people are Apple anti-fanbois, and that very hatred of the brand is part of what they use to define them.
Indeed; saturation advertising has been used in the past in order to achieve just this effect; a polarisation of the “fan base.” It ends up making your own “fans” more insecure about themselves such that they then “retreat into the brand” all the more.
It’s all group psychology. As a competitor you can cause something similar by simply mentioning the opponent brand repeatedly. This can cause saturation of the opponent’s brand name and thus the creation of a group of people fiercely loyal to anyone who isn’t said brand.
The thing that gets me is that so many people mistakenly treat this all like voodoo. “Oh, that’s cute, but it’s all lies and speculation.” Etc.
We’ve spend over 100 years refining this into hard science. You can get multiple flavours of PHd in group psychology, mass manipulation and so forth. We not only know how this stuff works, we have actual laws that ban various types of it! (For example: pheromone use, subliminal messages of various types in auditory and visual media, etc.)
Fanbois aren’t happenstance. They aren’t a deficiency of the individual; an abnormality of personality that sets them apart from “normal.” Fanbois are made. They are carefully crafted en masse by people who know damned well what they are doing and why.
Zealots of any type only very rarely spontaneously appear. (Think Tim McVey.) Zealotry is not something that normally occurs in isolation. Quite the opposite; it requires a social context. It requires a “high priest” of some variety pushing the faithful towards ever greater heights. It requires a community that is deeply insecure, feels it is “the underdog” and is given the repeated message that they are “better” than others for some reason.
There is little difference between the creation of a pack of religious nutters willing to slaughter millions and fanbois fawning over the latest iPud. The differences that do exist are in the end goal of the techniques used to create the zealtory, not in the techniques themselves.
Apple – or any corporation – doesn’t want an army of the faithful willing to blow up others. They want money out of the wallets of the faithful. So instead of training martyrs, they train fanbois. But the evangelical nature – the cult, if you will – is no different. The techniques, the science of the group manipulation is the same.
That isn’t to say we aren’t responsible for constant vigilance against this. We should be as wary of the shysters at $megacorp as we are the clowns trying to sell us a sky fairy. But it also means the deck is stacked in their favour.
I’m not psychological superman, and neither are you. No matter how much you think you know, no matter how prepared you are or how ardently you believe in your own mental defences, they know more.
The best we can hope for is to pick elements of social identity – from brands to beliefs to politics – that do the least amount of damage. As for the rest, we shall see…
Always thought it was "fangurrl."
Also; I think you're off base. No "buying the wrong thing and getting bitten" required. It's far simpler: we all like to feel like we belong. We exist in a consumerist culture. What we buy - or don't - defines us. (Corporations have spent trillions on creating culture over several decades.)
It is perfectly natural then to polarise around a brand. We are taught since birth that this defines us. The more insecure we are, the more we cling to the identity provided by the brand.
But even awareness of the science behind tbis does not make one immnune. We are pack animals; we need that social bond. We all of us - even those who are aware of it - fall prey.
I should point out also that awareness of the sciences relating to propaganda and subliminal suggestivity also provide no immunity. Humans are sheep.
Moi aussi. Baaaaaaaaah.
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Who here doesn't know about my TASTY PI?