My recent post, “Physics trumps right-wing ideology,” seemed to strike a nerve. The main point of my essay was that global warming denial is an ideological belief system that rejects the fundamental laws of physics. As of today, it has gotten more than 50 comments, far exceeding the total number of comments that my little backwater of a blog had gotten since its inception in January. As a new blogger, I never even thought of having a “comment policy.” That was a newbie mistake.
As it turns out many of the comments in response to “Physics trumps” amount to nothing more than denier spam and scientific gibberish. One person posted more than a dozen comments within three days. Even though the topic of my post was explicitly about physics and climate forcing, the author of those comments quickly changed the subject. He started by challenging the scientific consensus associated with water vapor feedback. Rather than citing published data, his evidence was based on personal recollection. It quickly became apparent that he had no understanding of the difference between relative and specific humidity. He didn’t even know that humidity is the same thing as water vapor concentration (challenging me when I used it as a synonym). In short, he was parroting denialist talking points without having a clue about what he was talking about.
Within three days this commenter invoked many of the standard denialist myths and logical fallacies, even after other commenters provided links to articles that debunked what he was saying. He hadn’t bothered to try to learn the fundamentals, like the difference between weather and climate, the fact that climate is not defined by data from a single year, the idea that attributes of chaotic systems can be predicted, that lead-vs-lag has a different relationship to cause-and-effect in nonlinear than in linear systems, and that the scientific burden of poof is on the party making the extraordinary claim that challenges fundamental principles. Clearly, this person was not interested in learning or discussing valid points, but was simply spamming my blog with gibberish he had collected off the internet. Gibberish that has been debunked by many scientists, multiple times, in many forums.
To avoid this in the future, I’m adopting a comment policy. Rather than start from scratch, I’m simply going to implement the same policy as Greenfyre, who successfully keeps the spam level down on his blog. Here’s Greenfyre’s statement: “Comments that are not relevant to the post that they appear under or the evolving discussion will simply be deleted, as will links to Denier spam known to be scientific gibberish.”