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Do Comments On Web Pages Ruin Science?

Soulskill posted 1 year,20 days | from the peer-reviewed-opinions dept.

Communications 281

GregLaden writes "Last week Popular Science shut down comments on their web pages citing the damage being done to the public perception of science as their reason. Earlier research suggested this might be a good idea because trollish, negative comments can color the perception by readers of a news story. However, some have taken Popular Science's move to be anti-science, implying that science itself is positively affected by web and blog comments, as though these comments contributed to the science being done itself. Here, I take exception to this and suggest that while comments are important in relation to the public perception of science (which itself is important) blog and web commentary never, or only rarely, influences the process of scientific inquiry itself."

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Dissident Speech (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019941)

Nope, no room for that, even in the "science" community.

Conform or be squelched.

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Funny)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019971)

Nope, no room for that, even in the "science" community.

Conform or be squelched.

Could you point out a scientific study for your hypothesis?

Re:Dissident Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020185)

Nope, no room for that, even in the "science" community.

Conform or be squelched.

Could you point out a scientific study for your hypothesis?

I believe the official request is posed in the form of [citation needed]

Re:Dissident Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020287)

Citation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Dissident Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020247)

Nope, no room for that, even in the "science" community.

Conform or be squelched.

Could you point out a scientific study for your hypothesis?

Wow, that's offensive. Be a doubleplusgood citizen and apologize or you'll be reported.

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020017)

Since when do random websites have the moral obligation to provide comment sections?

Re:Dissident Speech (0, Flamebait)

blue trane (110704) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020087)

They don't have to. They can be scaredy-cats and get all butthurt by words on the internet if they want to.

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020133)

read the article and the scientific study.
People posting factual incorrect stuff and sway an opinion.
Thank about that for a minute.

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020221)

factual incorrect stuff

How can it be factual and incorrect, you utter flid?

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

Holi (250190) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020301)

Alright Ass, I be you never made a typo either. It was obvious he meant Factually incorrect.

Now GFY

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020485)

This is a brilliant example of how comments don't work. It's emotional, obscene and grammatically incorrect. Comment sections don't foster debate, they tend to foster name calling and repetition of the same damned arguments over and over again.

Re:Dissident Speech (0, Flamebait)

Archangel Michael (180766) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020229)

It is done all the time. Just look at both sides in the DC Shutdown. Both sides are lying. But those that watch FOX News believes one side, and those that watch MSNBC believe the other. Only a few of us can actually decipher the bullshit enough to know that both sides are out to screw the American Public.

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Insightful)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020257)

"Only a few of us can actually decipher the bullshit enough to know that both sides are out to screw the American Public."

Which itself is bullshit, because each side believes earnestly they are in the right. Neither side believes that in the long run it's position is worse for America, but is instead better. One or both sides may be incorrect in this belief...but each side believes in the truth of their fundamental principles.

Re:Dissident Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020509)

Uh, no. *Some* of the people on each side believe they're right. I'm pretty sure that John Boehner is just trying to protect his job (position as Speaker of the House) and wishes the Tea Party never made the demands in the first place.

"The Study" (5, Informative)

cirby (2599) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020249)

...actually doesn't say what Popular Science claims it does.

What it DOES say is that, when confronted by rude or over-the-top comments, most people's views don't change - but the people at the "edges" get slightly more dogmatic about their opinions. We're talking about a very small percentage of comments overall which show any influence at all.

That's it.

No, contrary comments do not turn people off of the stories, keep them from commenting on-topic, or anything drastic.

What the study does end up doing is give journalists (with second-rate or nonexistent science backgrounds) a good excuse to ignore people who notice that they wrote a bad or scientifically incorrect story - or a completely overblown one. Like the meta-story about comments on science stories.

Re:"The Study" (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020347)

Fine by me. I long ago stopped reading anything by science journalists, who, save for an exceedingly small number of them, deserve neither the title "science" or "journalist".

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020137)

That sounds dangerously close to unwarranted entitlement of posting to whatever website.

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020205)

People can say all they want. But they're not entitled to post wherever they want.

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020593)

They do not, but any scientist does have a scientific obligation to not try to repress dissent. Science thrives on dissent.

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020123)

Nope, no room for that, even in the "science" community.

Conform or be squelched.

Scientists, in my experience, typically respect dissident thought. (I am not going to say that good dissident ideas are always embraced, but they are generally listened to if there is serious thought behind them.) Dissident speech devoid of thought, on the other hand, is generally ignored in science. (It is, after all, not a democracy.)

Re:Dissident Speech (0, Flamebait)

Obfuscant (592200) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020295)

Scientists, in my experience, typically respect dissident thought. (I am not going to say that good dissident ideas are always embraced, but they are generally listened to if there is serious thought behind them.) Dissident speech devoid of thought, on the other hand, is generally ignored in science. (It is, after all, not a democracy.)

My mileage varies. If your "dissident thought" would negatively impact funding, like the study of AGW, scientists neither respect "good dissident ideas" nor do they ignore them. They are, in fact, quite abrasive about it. I've seen this is the local papers especially. Someone writes a letter to the editor about AGW that the scientists don't like and there are immediate public responses shouting them down.

Re:Dissident Speech (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020467)

Scientists, in my experience, typically respect dissident thought. (I am not going to say that good dissident ideas are always embraced, but they are generally listened to if there is serious thought behind them.) Dissident speech devoid of thought, on the other hand, is generally ignored in science. (It is, after all, not a democracy.)

My mileage varies. If your "dissident thought" would negatively impact funding, like the study of AGW, scientists neither respect "good dissident ideas" nor do they ignore them. They are, in fact, quite abrasive about it. I've seen this is the local papers especially. Someone writes a letter to the editor about AGW that the scientists don't like and there are immediate public responses shouting them down.

Stop being silly.

Scientists getting grumpy about anti climate change letters to the editor have nothing to do about funding. They have everything to do about the fact that no serious scientific discussion goes on in letters to the editor. You get random gripes, political diatribes, and rants there. You aren't exactly getting novel scientific ideas in letters to the editor in your local paper.

If somebody writes a letter to the editor questioning evolution or gravity or whatever, scientists will get grumpy about that too. But that random letter to the editor will have no effect on their funding.

Scientists just don't like being called out as incompetent at their job by people who generally have no idea of what they are talking about, which is generally what you have with letters to the editor on climate change. I don't think that this is an unreasonable reaction to be honest.

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020167)

It has nothing to do with dissident speech. It has nothing to do with squelching actual scientific discussion.

Read the damn study.

There is no such thing as dissident speech in science. Ignorant, fallacious, and incorrect speech is another thing.

Eppur si muove (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020259)

There is no such thing as dissident speech in science.

Monkey spunk. Tell that to Galileo.

Re:Eppur si muove (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020341)

That wasn't dissident speech in science, the science itself was dissident speech in religion

Re:Dissident Speech (4, Interesting)

boristhespider (1678416) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020315)

What also gets very irritating is someone whose last maths was when they were 15 sitting there, at 46, shouting repeatedly on a website that they have disproved Einstein (not really stating what that means; I normally assume they mean disproving E=mc^2), and then refusing to listen to any response. What is *also* irritating are well-intentioned people who equally are 31 years from their last maths lesson trying to quell that line of thought with something that is simply wrong (and frequently, alas, condescendingly wrong) and then the two sides get in a flame war, and we end up feeling we'd have been better off skipping a comment section entirely.

People with no education in maths or physics claiming without support that Einstein was "wrong" (a word which takes careful definition; no professional physicist would deny, in well-defined boundaries, that predictions of Einstein's theories are incorrect, but that doesn't mean they're "wrong" in the way that is often bandied around) are surprisingly common. About six years back I started compiling a database of emails that I was sent and books my department was sent that argued Einstein was wrong in manifold, creative, naive, inaccurate -- and yet frequently different -- ways. After a few months I got bored of it because they began repeating themselves and the volume was huge.

This was before comments threads. If I'd done it when comments threads were set up I may never have gained my PhD thanks to time spent arguing with people online who refused to learn anything about the topic they were stubbornly opposing - even topics the details of which they stated were inaccurate. Of course, me not getting my PhD probably wouldn't have been much of a loss to science, but I've enjoyed venting anyway.

Re:Dissident Speech (2)

pseudofrog (570061) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020189)

Sorry, they have no obligation to let you post on their site. It's their site, and they can do with it what they think is best. Fortunately, you can start a blog and rant away all you want.

Incidentally, I heard most scientific journals won't let just anyone publish articles. Talk about squelching dissent!

I found the comment section on Popular Science to be worse than worthless. Good riddance, I say.

Re:Dissident Speech (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020223)

This isn't about squelching dissident speech in science ... not among scientists.

It's when trolls, shills, and other many others with personal or idealogical agendas start posting lies, half-truths, propaganda or other questionable facts *as science* on these public forums. The public gets more content from the comments than they do the articles and/or studies. Pollute the comments and you pollute the facts & science the readers take away from the articles.

Re:Dissident Speech (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020335)

Particularly as in many cases - and I do it myself, shamefully - people are normally very good at skipping the article to read the comments. Of course, Slashdot would never succumb to that kind of thing.

Re:Dissident Speech (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020293)

It's one thing for people of near equal knowledge and ability to have a debate, even a heated one, but when we're talking about every one from credentialed experts to netkooks to astroturfers all posting in a format that seems to give equal weight to everyone, the results are anything but productive or useful.

One of my favorite blogs is by Professor Matt Strassler, a physicist at CERN, and also a damned fine writer, but frankly I ignore the comments to his blog entries because for every legitimate question or observation, there's some bloody nutjob who thinks because they use the word "quantum" in a sentence, that somehow makes what they're saying a legitimate critique.

Re:Dissident Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020313)

People that disagree with scientific fact often do it based on having read a couple of dumbed down pseudo-scientific books without having the basic knowledge to understand what they are talking about. Consequently, they create controversy based more on emotion that in analysis, knowledge or research. Such controversy is a useless waste of time and a distraction from proper research.

Re:Dissident Speech (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020493)

When it comes to AGW or evolution, the two topics I've paid the most attention to so far as comments from non-scientists, the bulk of the "skeptics" information seems to come from a very small number of organizations whose sole purpose is to spread anti-science FUD. Whether it's the Koch Brothers and their various shills or Answers in Genesis, it's all the same strategy; muddy the waters by making it look as if there is still huge debate on the scientific theory they're attacking. Throw in a bit of "consensus is evil, only believe dissenters" nonsense, they can give the appearance of a theory being total dreck, without ever having to bother actually publishing a single article in a journal to support the claim. Of course, it helps they have nasty little shills like Michael Behe and Roy Spencer who happily cash the cheques and publish anti-science material with their PhDs prominently displayed, but when you look at their actual publishing history in the journals, never publish anything to support the claims they so eagerly make on blogs, editorial sections or comment sections.

Re:Dissident Speech (1)

aurizon (122550) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020409)

That reminds me of the sign Wile E Coyote - Super Genius....
I feel comments have great potential value in allowing the topic to evolve and can take it in new superiors directions. That said, comment moderation is needed to eliminate trolls. Troll IP addresses should be tracked and once a troll is confirmed, he can get auto deleted or even barred from the topic as long as it is confirmmed he/she authors only crap. It takes a smart moderator to winnow the wheat from the chaff. Some entry creds are needed to weed out trollmods - volunteers who crave power.
This means a parallel to the normal academic process of publication followed by letters to the writer and follow on publication, but on a vastly accelerated form that can only be done online. It may be labor intensive? Where will valuable volunteers come from? Journals already have trouble getting learned critical commentators - will it work online?

Re:Dissident Speech (3, Insightful)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020515)

Science isn't a democracy. There are no scientific dissidents. There are jackasses who are too stupid to understand science, and they yell loudly about how it must be wrong. If you think that a conclusion made by scientists is wrong, we would absolutely love it if you could prove them wrong. People being wrong is how science moves forward. Going into the comments section and telling people that the earth isn't really getting warmer does not count as proving anyone wrong.

Re:Dissident Speech (2)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020641)

I'm amused by the ironic juxtaposition of your post and your sig.

science and perceptions of science. (4, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019983)

it's clear to me that the issue isn't with science itself, or how it's "done" in some sort of ontological sense. the issue is with how people perceive science, and how they perceive others' perceptions of science to be. These meta-perceptions are really what the whole issue is about.

For a comment to further scientific discourse, not only does it have to contribute a constructive thought, but others need to perceive it as constructive and build further on it. Web comments are often exactly the opposite - people make a mental impression of your comment without fully trying to comprehend (or even read!) it, and respond based on that. So you get what we have here today. Trolls, shills, pedants, and grammar nazis.

Actually, my favorite comments are at the right-wing rag Daily Caller. Every single comment thread devolves into one party accusing the other party of being closet democrats.

Re:science and perceptions of science. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020435)

Every single comment thread devolves into one party accusing the other party of being closet democrats.

In San Francisco, the greatest insult you can call someone is Republican/Redneck/Bigot.
On the other side of the mountains, in the central valley farmland, people will insult you and call you a liberal/democrat.

It gets tiring sometimes.

Re:science and perceptions of science. (2)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020473)

n relation to the public perception of science (which itself is important) blog and web commentary never, or only rarely, influences the process of scientific inquiry itself."

popular science articles, especially when directed at the popular rather than technical community, never, or only rarely, influces the processes of scientific inquiry. I want one example of a major grant or new scientific theory that was prompted by Popular Science or Discover or Omni or whatever.

I certainly agree that these magazines promote science, build interest in science, and expose science process to the masses. Which is why comments are so important. In the modern world people are learning to learn through social interaction. I know that in the political structure of the US it seems that no one is willing to change perception or opinions, only try to get other people to their point of view. But that is not true. Some people want to learn.

Re:science and perceptions of science. (-1, Troll)

Tailhook (98486) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020501)

Actually, my favorite comments are at the right-wing rag Daily Caller. Every single comment thread devolves into one party accusing the other party of being closet democrats.

More relevant to the topic at hand is this story [mrc.org] about the Global Warming hysteria spun from the latest IPCC report. Did you know that if all the heat "caused by" CO2 and retained by the oceans had "gone into the atmosphere" then air temperatures would be 212 degrees?

<blink> 212 DEGREES!!!!!!1</blink> herp derp

How can we expect our lay discourse on science to be anything other than a heinous cacophony when people are fed that crap all day?

Science ruins science. Science used to advance controversial agendas, exaggerated by partisans, unchallenged because the "scientists" are paid tools of the policy makers and have pissed away their credibility.

What a self serving twat (-1, Offtopic)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019987)

You come to a site that cover news stories, including science stories and does so through user comments. You then question the value of user comments with regards to having any form of value. How the hell did this troll ever get posted?

Re:What a self serving twat (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020029)

surely it's because they're trolling the trolls of the trolls

Re:What a self serving twat (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020307)

It wouldn't have if it was some random site, but it was Popular Science, which I'm sure some slashdotters posted at. I'm sure those folks might like to discuss it.

As for those who are upset about its messageboard shutting down, I suggest that if they see a story there they would like to discuss that they submit it to slashdot. If it isn't accepted, put it in your slashdot journal.

Most folks who come here like science.

Re:What a self serving twat (1)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020437)

We're in agreement that many Slashdotters are going to like Popular Science and that science in general. My point was that the article was nothing but blatant trolling and served no useful purpose.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45019989)

Next Question.

Moderation (3, Insightful)

Beardydog (716221) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020011)

Maybe instead of shutting down commentary, they should have implemented the kind of half-decent moderation system that the only usable comment sites have adopted.

Re:Moderation (2)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020145)

The mean factually incorrect things could still be modded up.
Read the study on why that turns out to be bad.

Re:Moderation (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020233)

I don't know how many times I've seen the mantra "non-ionizing radiation can't harm you" repeated here and modded up.

Biological organisms are affected by non-ionizing radiation--period. The nature and degree of that effect is still poorly understood. The melatonin hypothesis has come under fire recently, but to entirely discount it's existence reveals a certain degree of ignorance.

Comment systems don't work. Slashdot's might be the best I've come across--but that doesn't mean its flawless.

And hell no I didn't read the article. ;)

Re:Moderation (4, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020381)

The mean factually incorrect things could still be modded up.

There might be a way to combat that, though. You could possibly employ some sort of system where the moderations themselves could get moderated, maybe even allocate moderation points to those users who consistently make good moderations, and give fewer or no points to those whose moderations get consistently labeled as incorrect or inappropriate. I wonder if a system like that would work.

everything in/is moderation (1)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020151)

Moderation is what makes any comments section of a post work. Otherwise you have chaos. Not censorship, but putting useful stuff to the fore and useless stuff to the rear. Kinda like here, where +3 and higher comments get seen and the trollbait/average stuff gets passed.

As for whether commentary does anything for science... 99% of the time, no. But there is that 1% of the time where someone says something you might not have thought of. Scientists collaborate and discuss things between themselves to further their work, right? Who says someone in the public doesn't have the spark of some idea that will help once in a blue moon?

Re:everything in/is moderation (3, Insightful)

notanalien_justgreen (2596219) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020231)

The common man may indeed have a scientifically useful thought to contribute to scientists. However the venue for expressing that thought to scientists is not the forum of a magazine's website. Scientific colloquiums are open to the public and always have QA sessions. Journal articles always have email addresses of the authors. There are many ways to contribute and communicate to/with science, but a comment section is not one of them - no matter how well moderated.

Re:Moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020159)

Slashdot should adopt this magical moderation system.

Re:Moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020227)

Since Slashdot's system is half-decent, I wonder where they put the other half?

Re:Moderation (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020357)

that would need a pool of moderators.

it's pop sci.

likely only people commenting were "christian" scientists and perpetual motion douches. they would have been the moderators in user based moderating system..

Re:Moderation (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020389)

I prefer there is no comment system in place so people creates forums just like Slashdot just to discuss articles and news independently. So it created giant and very interesting discussions. Having comments below all articles on thousands of websites just divide us and make poor discussions.

unasked for advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020037)

a go catch phrase can obscure analysis for 60 years.

moderated + un-moderated comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020051)

Why not create two comment sections for each article -- one for [moderated/edited/upvoted/expert/approved/etc] comments, and another section for anything-goes comments?

Best of both worlds, no? This plan allows for thoughtful/intelligent discussion, and also provides a chance for anybody to get their say. The latter section could be ignored/collapsed, if you don't want to read it.

Paid comments (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020061)

I don't think that open comments systems can survive the onslaught of paid comments. If "winning" means having more comments (say) opposing global climate change than supporting it, that is very cheap to arrange if you have a modest amount of cash (or a suitable number of committed followers). Such tactics render the comments section value subtracting, and it is no surprise if they get turned off over time.

That is especially true if there is not a strong community present on the site. Slashdot has that, and so it is doing better than most sites.

I have left helpful commets many times (1, Interesting)

kawabago (551139) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020063)

and the recipients give plenty of thanks for a simple solution to their problem. If there were no comments, it's harder for me to leave a solution. I have to look up the persons school or work email which takes time and isn't always successful. Eliminating comments is like eliminating roads to stop traffic accidents.

Re:I have left helpful commets many times (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020143)

Sounds like a separate issue. I never, ever assume that authors actually trawl through comments looking for meaningful responses.

Rather than hoping that they will do so, I would advocate that authors who are interested in feedback make sure that their work is accompanied by an appropriate feedback method. Granted, people will abuse that access too, but likely less so.

Re:I have left helpful commets many times (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020281)

And yet, in Moscow, that might be a reasonable city planning decision. The workability of comments deeply depends on the signal-to-noise ratio. Incidentally, some journals have curated comments sections that are quite excellent; I don't think they're in danger like Popular Science's. Remember, today's story was prompted by fears of promoting inflation of conflict [logicallyfallacious.com] , not just worthless posts.

The great thing about today (3, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020067)

Is that if some scientist decides they've discovered X through Y, some dude across the world who's already gone down that path and found a flaw with Y can chime in. And then another one who found a fix to the flaw can also chime in. Thus science wins.

Probability that this actually occurs on a popular website and that the original scientist reads it? I'd assume slim to none. Still, you're taking away the most globally significant feature of the internet by limiting communication.

I'd guess the practical benefit to comments is that kids too young to decide their future might be able to get excited and participate in a discussion here. Nurturing excitement in STEM is always a good thing.

Re:The great thing about today (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020107)

There are other more traditional ways to resolve this built in to the scientific community.

Re:The great thing about today (1)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020153)

If these conversations occur on mailing lists (I am aware of a number), they are typically either not open lists, or under strong moderation.

Re:The great thing about today (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020597)

And if someone decides to hire hundreds of "researchers" to write up bullshit stories that "disprove" the scientist's results simply so that they can delay political action against their corporate interests; science still wins, but the scientist gets fucked over after his name, reputation and work is shit on by the media.

Its not a matter of the comments feeding back to the scientists. Its a matter of the comments feeding back into the media which in turn feeds back to the scientists. It doesn't matter who's wielding the axe, no one wants to stick their neck out when you KNOW there is someone with a bloodied axe outside.

No ... (1)

jamesl (106902) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020073)

... comment.

Do Comments On Web Pages Ruin Pygmy Shrews (1)

justthinkit (954982) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020077)

Same question. Science is bedrock. Comments are the opposite. Comments can have a positive effect, on all kinds of things, provided the wheat and the chaff live on opposite sides of town.

I need help with this one (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020127)

Are trolls part of the scientific process?

Re:I need help with this one (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020423)

By definition, no. Rational debate is part of the scientific process. The hallmark and definition of a troll is not about rational debate. A troll doesn't even play a good devil's advocate, they're just there to irritate people. That's part of why so many people get sucked into a troll debate - they're expecting a rational debate and the person they are debating is just there to irritate people.

formality and science are different concepts (1, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020173)

I can speak like a drunken sailor and be utterly scientific or speak in ideal erudite diction and be utterly unscientific.

Further they're talking about the perception of science which is itself unscientific since perception isn't scientifically relevant.

Re:formality and science are different concepts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020379)

Thank you for entirely missing the point and contributing the kind of comment that has lead to their actions.

Godalmighty, the stupid - it burns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020175)

"Do Comments On Web Pages Ruin Science?"

Does it get any dumber?

Might as well surrender reality to Faux News...

Re:Godalmighty, the stupid - it burns... (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020451)

I'm Ruining Science right now! By these Comments on the Web Pages!

I doubt it (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020199)

PopSci has stories about science, but it's not a primary source (like peer reviewed journals).

Even if scientists are closely involved in the articles, how often do web page comments influence them?

Re:I doubt it (1)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020433)

The scientists? probably very little.Public perception of the science? a lot.
They even linked to the study.

Meh (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020201)

Comments don't do any harm. It's idiots believing comments that does.

not scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020203)

Since when is Popular Science considered a good scientific magazine? I stopped reading it when I noticed most of the articles are about tech gadget reviews and cars.

Use Slashcode. FFS. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020211)

If a collection of scientists and on-line media professionals can't figure out how to put together a working comment section on a website, then I can only wonder at their ability to perform the rest of their duties with any integrity.

What a bunch of whiny fools.

Also. . .

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.

~Suzanne LaBarre

Is she serious?

What kind of idiot could make a statement like that with a straight face?

"The origin of climate change is mistakenly up for grabs"???

"Scientific certainty"???

"The Bedrock of scientific doctrine"???

Those, ladies and gentlemen, are words born of zealotry, not science.

Sure, there are rude comments and insane comments, and that's what moderation is for. But what I'm betting is really the problem here are the intelligent and reasoned critics who raise points the editors can't address without losing their ivory tower air of authority, (at best), or at worst, just looking ignorant and stupid.

Re:Use Slashcode. FFS. (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020401)

"If a collection of scientists and on-line media professionals can't figure out how to put together a working comment section on a website, then I can only wonder at their ability to perform the rest of their duties with any integrity."

Yes, because a professor in loop quantum gravity is an expert in building comment sections and designing and implementing a robust and working moderation system.

Jesus Christ.

Re:Use Slashcode. FFS. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020545)

I remember in Ye Olde Days, when the sci.* Usenet groups started trying to push all the whackos to the talk.* and alt.* hierarchies, where researchers, if they were feeling particularly bored, could go and beat on netkooks. Coupled with moderation, it did return the sci groups back to some modicum of reason.

Is this why... (2)

harvestsun (2948641) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020217)

... The main purpose of the Slashdot beta design seems to be to make the comment system unusable?

Advertdot.com? (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020303)

Who knows. Maybe this submission is a trial balloon from Dice Holdings to see if they can get away with becoming a posted content/advertising only site.

I used to share this opinion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020219)

I used to think that the web comments on science articles tended to consist of an over-representation of people with one or two personal pet ideas (eg: Dark matter is the ether of the 21st century, etc....) but then I discovered that it really was possible to make over $7000 dollars a month working from home on the internet.

Nothing says anti-sciecne (1)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020245)

like making decision based on scientific research. wait, what?

The Internet can be bad for science (3, Insightful)

tmark (230091) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020267)

"blog and web commentary never, or only rarely, influences the process of scientific inquiry itself"

If so, then what does it matter whether or not commentary is allowed ?

What almost certainly happens is a bunch of pseudo- or anti-science gets posted. People then read this stuff and see it as legitimized by being on Popular Science, when they forget - or fail to see the distinction - that the dubious claims are on in a comments section.

Honestly, I believe that the Internet is modern science's biggest boon, and it's biggest threat. When know-nothings have a voice that can be as heard by as many people as experts, we're in trouble, and the Internet has brought that to us in spades.

Science needs funding (1)

rickyb (898092) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020271)

This has been alluded to, but the real issue here isn't whether scientists are going to be persuaded to alter their pursuits. Rather, it's how non-scientists perceive the value of scientists. And, when most scientists are funded by non-scientists (i.e. all of us, through our taxes), this can have a profound effect on whether scientists can continue their work.

Your science can't handle comments? Back to work! (-1, Troll)

itsybitsy (149808) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020275)

If your science claims can't handle some comments from others then (1) it's back to the lab for you to fix your science, (2) you're doing science wrong since science is an adversarial system of people attempting to produce empirical evidence based hypotheses and others attempting to falsify and refute your hypotheses and claims so go back to Science 101 and Re-Learn The Scientific Method, (3) it's not your science that can't handle the comments, it's actually your funding sources that can't handle the comments, in this case you're S.O.L. and it's time to enter the real world where people work for a living. [;-)]

Re:Your science can't handle comments? Back to wor (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020521)

It can take years to do research on HIV and how it leads to AIDS, and it can take some maniac or holistic medicine astroturfer roughly twenty seconds to post an absurd and false claim against your research.

Re:Your science can't handle comments? Back to wor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020523)

(1) it's back to the lab for you to fix your science

Back to your basement to masturbate.

(2) you're doing science wrong since science is an adversarial system of people attempting to produce empirical evidence based hypotheses and others attempting to falsify and refute your hypotheses and claims so go back to Science 101 and Re-Learn The Scientific Method,

Relearn the best method to suck cock.

(3) it's not your science that can't handle the comments, it's actually your funding sources that can't handle the comments, in this case you're S.O.L. and it's time to enter the real world where people work for a living. [;-)]

Best time to enter your mom.

[This has been an example of how comments on the Internet contribute to scientific debate and help improve the results. You're welcome.]

Re:Your science can't handle comments? Back to wor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020565)

It doesn't matter what facts or science was done. The right-wing in the US is bought and paid for by the coal and oil companies and if they have ten to one comments against what was found by the people actually doing the science because it is their opinion, undecided and people who haven't really looked into it will see that there are a lot of powerful bullies and want to side with them so they aren't attacked.

Greg Laden huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020289)

Greg Laden would like nothing more than to shut down anyone who disagrees with him - he is anti-science.

Science is more than inquiry (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020339)

Science is also about communication, and that includes the general public, not only scientists. One of the main points of science is to provide better understandings of the world so that people other than scientists can make use of that information. If you don't directly speak to the broader public, and especially if some of your funding is coming from the public, then in my opinion a scientist isn't doing their job and/or isn't maximizing the value of the work they are doing.

Granted, talking to the general public about science is a big challenge sometimes, but cutting off communication with the general public on scientific issues is not a good thing either.

Answer: (3, Funny)

halexists (2587109) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020393)

I'm pretty sure it's science that ruins lots of comments on web pages.

Don't be affraid to name names. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020417)

We all know who/what the culprit is. Why are we so afraid to name it?

It's right wing paid manipulation of social media. Either primary by paid shills, or secondary by brainwashed followers of right-wing media. There are rich people out to manipulate the public for their own means and they are grossly in one camp. If you believe the "Dems" or the "Left" are equally culpable you have a severely warped sense of perspective and scale, probably induced by exposure to said propaganda outlets. (Or as a coping mechanism to rationalize your pre-existing world view. Nobody wants to believe that their heros are evil.)

It's a systematic attack on the public mind. Ranging from the sabotage of public education, the positioning of public debate, the capturing of media outlets, and the dissemination of propaganda through churches and other religious organizations.

You are being assaulted. The time for compromise and discourse is over. We are being brutalized by mindeless savages that have their morals and rationality removed. It's time to stop being polite.

OPPORTUNITY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020463)

Create your own Science site and do comments "right". Sort of like rather than spam science sites with bullshit science claims, prove your claims on your own site.

Yes, the ruin modern 'science'... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020471)

... because modern 'science' isn't science at all. It's a bunch of circle jerking fund chasing liars, who will lie, falsify data and publish fake scientific results, in order to get FUNDING.

Nice to see that most of you see through this nonsense. The filthy JEWS are trying to shut down all dissent on the last bastion of free speech - the internet.

www.zioncrimefactory.com

Who reads comments? (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020479)

Does anyone actually read the idiocy found on any and all open forums? It's always the same crazies pushing their agendas. I can't think of any case where I'd like to have a forum set up to discuss my web content. If people want to talk about it, go to a site dedicated to discussion, like, oh, this one.

Self-correcting, though.... (1)

DKroos (3326275) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020511)

When science is settled as a framework (evolution, for example), comments about the mechanisms are always fruitful. Any comments that assault the framework in a "Flat Earther" kind of way is really the author announcing their ignorance....so disabling comments is a very unfortunate move for Pop Sci. They should have more confidence in scientific truth to win out, rather than limit participation...

Re:Self-correcting, though.... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020631)

There are plenty of places for morons and lunatics to spout their stupidity. Maybe Popular Science just doesn't want to be one of those places.

No comments do not. (0)

Stumbles (602007) | 1 year,19 days | (#45020555)

It just annoys the publishers and justifies the comments even if such are "trollish" or negative. If "science" cannot handle those comments then it is not science.

Preventing comments is just the nonlethal form of hanging the smart ass because that's what science cannot handle... so much for being objective and all the other things they say they are.

Popular Science does not publish Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45020665)

It publishes gee whiz bang bang articles. It pretends this is Science.

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