TheresPhysics breathes fire, threatens to quit but no show

The blogger named Theresphysics became extremely upset after a few stops at Bishop Hill. Frustrated, he declared his intent to close shop. Only he did not.

As noted before, the climate orthodox position has many things but lacks a fighting presence on the internet. Realclimate, Thinkprogress, Deltoid, … – all dead ducks in the water. There is no vibrant community, wide-ranging discussion or fierce exchange of ideas. Hop over to Climateprogress and the customary Thanksgiving climate thread is overrun by climate skeptics from the Facebook world. Tamino’s blog? Shut down. Previous favourite Skepticalscience? Reduced to tumbleweed trash news aggregator.

The problem is that there are a good number of consensus supporters and activists who have nowhere to go. There’s only so long you can huddle in secret peer-reviewing John Hartz’s news snippets before you go crazy and start photoshopping Nazi insignia on your own faces and attire.

Physics provided a sanctuary for the sub-terminally climate displaced  If keeping an active and engaged group of commenters is hard work, constant policing and baton-twirling is harder. No matter, theresphysics put in the good work. Meticulously catching skeptic after skeptic in moderation traps he made sure they were never heard from again. The sanctuary grew, it became a cove shored up by moderation rules and hemmed with comment policies. A tranquil sea, cleansed of biting skeptical piranha. 

Except such a ecologic dead zone is a boring echo-chamber to live in. Thus finds Theresphysics trapped between the awful rude skeptics on Bishop Hill and WUWT on one side and the barren sterility of Moderatistan on the other.

Theresphysics’ case illustrates many of the problems with the climate debate since circa 2007. 

Good discussions used to take place, on occasion, at WUWT or BH. There were brief periods when the old Collide-a-scape blog and Bart Verheggen’s site provided such moments. They are hard to come by now. Maybe the consensus and conspiracy poison spread mindlessly and artlessly throughout the blogs by certain people is to blame.




    Thanks, Shub.

    Despite the best efforts of keepers of public knowledge, the truth

    Is getting to the masses about the stormy pulsar-centered Sun that controls Earth’s climate and every atom, life and world in the Solar System – a volume of space that is greater than the combined volumes of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 Earth’s!

    Coincidence works that way, Oliver K. Manuel

    PS – Your link leads to error message 404.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. mrpeteraustin

    There’s always the Guardian, which has a large following of climate change enthusiasts. For example:

    I’m linking to this article because I love how it says, “The melting of sea ice influences Eurasian winters [makes them colder] because the open ocean is darker than ice and absorbs more heat”.

    Wow, just wow. Apart from the strange physics, this quote is below a chart that shows almost no reduction in Winter sea ice coverage in the Arctic. My point is that the logic doesn’t get systematically dismantled as it would in a forum when sceptics dominate.

  3. @omotforest

    Hi Shub,
    I’m not sure what the solution for the extreme polarisation is. It seems anyone seeking some middle ground gets vituperation from both sides.Even if you create a fair and open forum you will end up with either name-calling or moderation hell and accusations of taking sides and favouritism. It is a sad state of affairs.

    While I don’t have a solution, after many years of following numerous blogs I can highlight some areas of contention in o particular order:

    Theories/models v observations
    Certainty and uncertainty
    Science v Political spin
    Science v Media spin
    Natural v Anthropogenic (see last point here)
    Use of the precautionary principal
    Argument from authority
    Benign or Malign effects
    Libertarian v Authoritarian (which I prefer to Left v Right)
    And my favourite – is Homo Sapiens part of natural processes or an outside influence? If we are part of nature, everything is as it should be.

    I could go through all of these in turn and give a better analysis of why each side find them contentious but right now I have a crust to earn and this technical spec won’t write itself. I might try again if I get time at the weekend. Reducing the arguments to these areas

    I have to say I felt some sympathy recently for Richard and Tamsin. I have had interesting twitter discussions with Richard and while he has to take the company line he is very ready to engage without evangelising. Even when I started the discussion with an slightly aggressive challenge.


  4. Shub Niggurath

    David, there *are* certain things that can be done to keep channels open.

    1) Don’t ban anyone. This is not easy as there are obvious trolls out for disruption. But everyone gets some leeway, even the trolls. Obviously, this creates work for the moderators.

    2) Don’t let one ‘side’ abuse the other excessively. That drives away participation and puts off onlookers. People have described Deltoid as being a ‘sewer’, I can see why. The participants there may consider themselves science heroes by calling all women whores and all men thugs. The same goes for calling climate scientists or scientists grant whores, Nazis etc. But it only drives away regular people. In a busy blog, I understand you cannot control everyone all the time. But excessive-ness can certainly be curtailed.

    3) Don’t let interminable fights brew in comment threads – whether they be on-topic or off-topic. One cardinal sign of trolling is incessant insistence that a particular question be answered before discussion is furthered. A corollary is not letting go of a particular point. Climate Etc has this problem – interminable conversations.

    Presumably, ATTP and Rachel have the same objective/s, but there are small but critical failures. First, they are themselves participants and frequently unable to separate moderation functions from their own prejudices on the topic under discussion. Second they are liberal with their scissors, handing out bans like toffee. Makes you wonder if these are grown-up adults. Thirdly, there is asymmetry – they are blind to what are onerous requests on a certain class of commenters, while protecting the other side from similar requests. There is blindness to asymmetry in rhetorical flourishes that are permitted.

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  6. Willard

    Thank you for your question, Shub.

    Here would be an example:

    First, they are themselves participants and frequently unable to separate moderation functions from their own prejudices on the topic under discussion.

    Last time I checked, prejudices are kinds of beliefs, and beliefs are usually formed in the head of people.

    Add to this that the heads of people belong to the people and you get an ad hominem.

    Which means you need to revise your policy a bit.


    More generally, you recently used the concept of groupthink :

    You might find it hard to practice online psychology without indulging into some kind of ad hom, Shub.

    Hope this helps,


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