Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Comments can be bad for science"

"Comments can be bad for science" is a surprising statement from Popular Science, explaining why their website, has shut comments off.

This magazine devoted to science and technology news was founded in 1872, and is “committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. ”

But they say the problem is that trolls and spambots have overwhelmed intellectual debate, and diminished their ability to spread the word of science. “It wasn't a decision we made lightly.” They claim research points to the depressing conclusion that ignorant and vituperative comments can skew popular perception of issues such as climate change. Full story here. is a site I like to keep an eye on.  For example a recent article on How Do You Dispose Of Chemical Weapons?

Syrian soldier in gas mask from
(Wikimedia Commons)

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure this is not a decision Popular Science will have rushed to, or found easy. Online comments, alas, are often anything but "lively, intellectual debate". Instead they expose the fetid underbelly of the internet*. Yet by disabling comments, Popular Science have anaesthetised the very thing they want to stimulate.

    *A phrase borrowed from my friend Ben McKenna.