A comment about comments

Wow. That dentist post has 225 comments on it. It would be some nice ego-stroking if those hundreds of comments were about my post, but they aren’t. What are those comments about? A whole lot of banging of heads against brick walls and a flamewar laced with personal insults.

This site is the virtual meeting place for Florida Citizens for Science. It’s similar to our group having actual meetings in a physical building somewhere on a regular bases where we share information, swap stories, make plans, and take action. We just do these things here on the Internet rather than in a room somewhere. All of our talking, planning, and action is more or less based on the organization’s general mission: defend and promote sound science in Florida. We’re Florida citizens. We’re concerned about attacks on science education. That’s what brings us together. That’s why I am here blogging.

For a while now, though, the comments have been crashed by folks not concerned with the organization’s general mission. That’s no different than these folks bursting into our meeting room and demanding we debate them and defend ourselves on their terms. When that happens, our mission gets derailed and the site’s image to a person possibly stopping by for the first time is tarnished. Florida Citizens for Science just looks like trash as a result. I’m tired of the highjacking. I am now closing the hottest flamewar threads. If anyone persists in trying to stir up more flamewars, I’m calling security and having those people trespassed (in other words, I’m will ban those folks from commenting in the future). For anyone who thus gets banned, feel free to whine and complain about mean old Brandon expelling you somewhere else. Whatever. If this action of mine causes folks to stop visiting the site and hardly anyone ever comments, then so be it. I’m not writing posts with the goal of seeing how long the comments thread can get. I’m just here to pass along information and offer FCS’s help if needed. If we can have a little fun and make new friends and help each other out in the process, then great.

This is the site for Florida Citizens for Science. Everyone is welcome to participate provided you remember where you are and why we are here.

Thank you.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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36 Responses to A comment about comments

  1. zygosporangia says:

    It may be a good idea to publish a posting policy and come up with some sort of flagging mechanism. Gathering a few of the regulars here who you can trust and giving them some level of moderation power may also be useful, considering that you have a day job. The quicker that trolls are removed, the quieter things become.

    Obviously, you are limited by the capabilities of WordPress. Other blog software or even forum software has better support for moderation and varying levels of trust. Personally, I like the idea of maintaining a Bathroom Wall, or disemvoweling regular trolls:

    I have been culpable in the derailing of threads, by feeding the various trolls you get here. Unfortunately, in doing this, the topics quickly shift from being relevant to the original post to the same old creationist arguments rehashed over and over again. For that, I apologize.

  2. Jonathan Smith says:

    I noticed that PZ Myers has also decided to “pull in the reins” on his site
    Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/plonk.php
    This is a VERY Liberal site so matters must have been getting badly out of hand.I agree with your position Brandon.

  3. Green Earth says:

    It would be nice to have a REAL science discussion with people if they were actually interested in doing some reading/research. But unfortunately the creation/ID advocates visiting here have not been interested in learning.

    Sorry things got so out of hand.

  4. PatrickHenry says:

    Excellent decision! My experience on other sites is that creationist trolls serve no useful purpose at all, other than providing low-grade sport — something like dwarf-tossing. Their only purpose is disruption and “witnessing” to the hell-bound. There are plenty of sites out there which welcome that activity, and precious few where rational discourse is conducted.

    I’ve been lucky with my own blog, and I haven’t had to deal with such comments. Not yet. But if that stuff starts to show up I’ll just delete it.

  5. John McDonald says:

    I’m all about discussion, but I really don’t like being called a relic when trying to do so. Also, if the FCS had not challenged Beyond Expelled and WPC, I would not have engaged in any discussion to begin with. To me you’re just like all the other believers in scientism, and there is nothing here that really would attract my attention. It’s the same arguments from your side too. But when you make remarks against something I am a part of, then you could only expect that I would defend and challenge.

  6. Marni says:

    Upfront, I apologize for exposing FCS to someone like John McDonald, because he probably wouldn’t have “found” you if not for the Niceville event which brought me here, when I was seeking advice and help (thanks for that). I probably shouldn’t have mocked him in that recent thread, either. It didn’t really add to the discussion… I was just tired of his attitude – no excuse, I know.

    Having said that, I also want to say that I have actually learned a lot about science due to the wonderful comments here, in response to such arguments (as they are) from YECs and fundamentalists. In a way, I’ve gained the ability to intelligently refute their nonsensical claims. In particular, Glazius’ posts have been enlightening (especially this one), among others here. I am a fan of science, but do not have in-depth knowledge of it. I really do appreciate what I have learned since coming here.

    I will continue to visit FCS, as it is a wonderful resource. And if/when I participate in the future, I promise to contribute instead of just comment or taunt!

  7. Ivy Mike says:

    As I said on the other thread, there are better places for the trolls (and their respective sockpuppets) to go if they want to repeat discredited arguments. There is TalkRational, IIDB, Rants ‘N Raves, Darwin Central, and RDN, just to name a few.

    One troll in particular has gone FAR beyond simply “defending” himself, all the way to lying, trolling, sockpuppetry, Civil-War Revisionism, and repeating the same foolishness over and over. He’s getting his jollies by doing this and stroking his own self-righteous ego.

    The original post that attracted his attention has long since fallen off the main page, but he persists in his trolling, as he is on this very thread. He’s got, therefore, NO valid claim of “censorship” if he’s banned, as it is he that is abusing this site.

  8. Thanks, Brandon. Many comments are insightful and thought-provoking, but as always it’s the miscreants who cause these policies to be instituted. This is an informative site – keep up the good work!

  9. John McDonald says:

    G hd, XPL m. fgrd y gys wld vntll bl t f fr f lsng th rgmnt. nd dn’t s tht y rn’t, bcs th MPRCL vdnc shws tht th blgs wr ndd bfr cld rspnd t th lst pst nd prsnt n rgmnt. Nc. Tlk bt dshnst n wnnng rgmnts. Jst mk t mpssbl fr yr ppnnt t gv hs rspns nd y lk lk th vctr, bt vryn knws y’r jst th chtr.

  10. S.Scott says:

    Yay Brandon! 🙂

  11. The Voice says:

    Yh ths s th Kbl wbst fr ths wh trmpl n prls. N nd t shw p hr gn. W wll s wh ss pblc mns t prmt ths wbst n nyw, ncldng ths blgs. thr drctl r ndrctl (sch s n txpyrs pd tm , sng t t prmt yr rlgn f Drwnm.) S lts sht p ll ppstn w dn’t wnt nyn rckng th bt. Bsds fr spch s nt gd fr ths wh prmt dgm f th nt-chrstn rlgn.

  12. James F says:


    If you define scientism as atheistic materialism (please correct me if I’m wrong), none of us of are arguing for that to be imposed in the schools or society (folks can correct me if I’m wrong, and in that case I’ll oppose those making that argument). Acceptance of evolution (and other established scientific concepts like the speed of light, radioactive decay, plate tectonics, and so on) does not equal scientism, otherwise there would not be millions of theistic evolutionists in the United States.

    It’s true that holding an anti-science viewpoint for religious reasons causes a conflict. Imagine if, because of your faith, you believe the Sun orbits the Earth. When you walk outside, the Sun certainly appears to rise and set and move across the sky. You could probably go through life relatively untrammeled with this belief, although higher education would be problematic and a career in science or education certainly wouldn’t work out. It would be dishonest to say that evidence supports your belief, however – the number of peer-reviewed scientific papers that refute heliocentrism is the same number as those that refute common descent, zero. It would similarly dishonest to claim that heliocentrism is a religion. Affirming that you reject science (or at least specific scientific disciplines), while obviously unfortunate from my point of view, is at least honest.

  13. Wolfhound says:

    Good job stepping in, Brandon, and I agree with your decision. I will shoulder some culpability here because I brought that stupid dentist’s Op-Ed piece to light. Not that it shouldn’t have been discussed, but I knew that the two (one?) trolls couldn’t resist a strafing run. The latest comments by both (the same?) on this very thread illustrate exactly why such people cannot be trusted to engaged in discussions on this blog in any meaningful fashion. It always ends up as a virtual foodfight with them throwing the same rotting gobbets of nonsense they always do, followed by wails of how they are being repressed and hollow claims of victory when they are finally tossed out on their keisters for bad behavior. Once again, a lovely double standard they hold since science blogs (and freethinker blogs, for that matter) are 99% open comments with no censoring and a LOT of leeway given to trolls whereas the cyberspace latrines such as UnCommonDescent, CARM, and other Creo/ID/Christian Quackery sites do NOT allow the same. FCS proves that we suffer fools for longer than they deserve in the interest of being fair.

  14. Karl says:

    Think about it like this: Wouldn’t be incredibly annoying and unproductive if someone went to church during a Sunday school discussion on Genesis with a biology textbook and provides a scientific explanation to every event mentioned in the bible? You’d probably be right in saying that such a person probably has no intention of generating a rational discussion or debate of sorts and is instead, trolling. We tried to provide a rational debate for claims made by yourself and others by providing contrary evidence and such but by then you chose to end all rational discussion by

    A) Simply repeating the claims

    B) Providing the same falsified evidence to support your claims, despite the many instances where it was shown that your sources were taken out of context, actually provided contrary claims, or were entirely nonexistent.

    C) Making accusations of immoral behavior and other character attacks on our commentators

    This is akin to trying to win a debate by becoming louder and more obnoxious. Ignoring the hilarity that ensued after the racist history of your religious organization was dug up, the overall discussion simply degraded into character attacks with no actual debate on the science.

  15. PatrickHenry says:

    Permit me a brief moment of blog-promotion. This thread has inspired me to post this over at my place: The Folly of Creationism.

    You all know this stuff anyway, so there’s no need to go over there. My conclusion is this:

    Despite the disgraceful denials of creation “scientists” (including Intelligent Design devotees), if you scrape away the thin veneer of sloppily slapped-on scientific jargon, you’ll find a religiously motivated ideologue. Their unfathomable fanaticism does not constitute a scientific controversy; nor does their indefatigable persistence indicate a weakness in the theory of evolution.

  16. Brandon Haught says:

    The Voice and John have now been disemvowelled.

  17. Occam says:

    John McDonald, I’d like to invite you to join our discussions at TalkRational


    Most of the Creation / ID discussions happen in the Evolution and Origins forum


    You can say whatever you want, you can present your positive evidence for ID, and you won’t be ‘expelled.’

    Be advised that there are many professional scientists posting there who will tear you a new one if you try to bluff your way through like you did here. Are your convictions strong enough for you to defend?

  18. zygosporangia says:

    The Voice and John have now been disemvowelled.

    Rock on! 🙂

  19. Skepticism says:

    So what can be said here and what can not?

  20. Calilasseia says:

    Brandon, allow me to make a suggestion that would probably stop the rot at source.

    When I was being educated at school here in England, ALL of my teachers in science subjects – physics, chemistry and biology – had cquired degrees in the relevant scientific disciplines BEFORE acquring teaching qualifications. In fact, one of my old chemsitry teachers was a former research chemist. I don’t know if the same requirement holds in the USA, but if it doesn’t, then it’s about time it did.

    Plus, my experience of subscribing to rationalist forums has taught me a lot about the problems posed by intrusive creationism, and dealing with them. My education in biology had been fairly rigorous during my schooldays, but as I specialised in another area (namely mathematics) in adult life, my knowledge of the state of the art fell a little by the wayside, as tends to happen when one specialises outside the discipline. However, thanks to the excellent standard of education I received, I was able to counter canards by referencing the appropriate scientific papers and presenting their contents. Indeed, in the 14 months I’ve been active in this field, I’ve acquired no less than five hundred papers on evolutionary biology and related topics, and in the process added to my knowledge MASSIVELY in that time. If teachers in the USA were not only required to possess prior qualifications in the relevant scientific disciplines, but were also encouraged as a part of the pedagogical process to reference state of the art scientific papers and integrate them into classes, thus providing an immediate means of dispensing with the canards, this would in my view kill creationism stone dead. Because once the children being educated could see the evidence for themselves, and see it at work, the absurdity of creationist assertions would become obvious and manifest.

    Take the old canard about eye evolution for example. When pressed upon this, I went and located, in journals such as PNAS, papers on eye evolution including papers on blind cave fishes, and experimental work on transgenic Drosophila melanogaster, that blew those canards out of the water with a nuclear depth charge. We have experimental evidence for eye evolution, we know which genes are implicated therein (namely Pax6 and the hedgehog signalling genes, and I can provide the relevant references with ease) and we even have experimental evidence of being able to generate eye structures in transgenic Drosophila virtually at will by experimental redirection of the expression of those genes. If material of this sort was presented in class with the appropriate attention to detail, the tired, recycled canards from the creationist camp would be obliterated. the material is out there, and much of it is, thanks to the enlightened policy of PNAS and PLoS, freely available in the public domain. This is a vast treasure trove of resources that is crying out to be used in biology classes, and which would be of immeasurable value in promoting valid science. Run this past some of the concerned educators and other rational persons intent upon seeing valid science promoted, and see if it doesn’t immediately appeal to them!

  21. Calilasseia says:

    Drat. Typos again. *Glowers at cheap keyboard*.

    The sooner neural typing becomes an engineering reality, the better. 🙂

  22. Karl says:

    Unfortunately, inadequate funding has been a recurring problem with most school districts in America. Overcrowding, relatively minimal teaching salaries, and other problems are enough to turn qualified people away from a career in teaching, especially when other fields have the same qualification requirements and more lucrative employment opportunities As such, the demand for teachers increases, standards are lowered to meet these demands, and all sorts of wackos with slip into the system with their own personal agendas.

    The lawsuits which occurred over this evolution/creationism sham controversy ultimately does exacerbate the situation as it is the school districts themselves that are ultimately footing the bill over the actions of a few “teachers.” There is no easy solution to this unfortunate situation, but perhaps shifting accountability directly to the culprits might make a difference. Instead of the school districts paying, perhaps send the bill to the offending individuals themselves, the churches who supported their actions, and the politicians who try to capitalize on the situation for political support. Of course, given the way our legal system works, a guy can dream….

  23. Calilasseia:If material of this sort was presented in class with the appropriate attention to detail, the tired, recycled canards from the creationist camp would be obliterated.

    . . . how can we best do this with 1 in 8 high school biology teachers in the US presenting creationism as valid science to their students?

  24. The Voice says:

    Brndn, Yr jb n Vls wll nd sn whn th pttns cm n t th nd f th mnth.

  25. Green Earth says:

    There are many problems with public education. The No Child Left Behind Act was “designed to fail”. The idea was to undermine public education in the hopes of leaning toward privatization of primary ed. Also, here in FL we have the FCAT- which is bad! Then of course we have whack-jobs like Storms and Hays screwing with science, hence one reason for this site.

  26. PatrickHenry says:

    # The Voice Says: (June 5th, 2008 at 7:34 pm)

    Brandon, Your job in Volusia will end soon when the petitions come in at the end of the month.

    What’s this?

  27. Wolfhound says:

    Sorry for doubting you, John.

    Patrick, that was the footstomping tantrum of a horked-off troll who is angry that he didn’t get to keep crapping in our yard.

  28. Wolfhound says:

    I’m afraid the Voice is petitioning in the wrong county since Brandon clearly lists his location as Eustis on the main page. Silly, silly Voice. 🙂

  29. S.Scott says:

    Sounds like a threat to me. Hold on to that IP address Brandon. What a whacko.

  30. Karl says:

    Wow. You got past a simple IP block, most likely by using another computer (public library?), reseting your ip address(if on dialup) or rerouting http traffic through a proxy. Do you want a cookie or something?

  31. PatrickHenry says:

    This is why I don’t disclose my identity on the internet. Most people — even creationists — won’t be a physical danger. But some are truly crazy. And there really are sickos — too cowardly to get physical — but who will try to cause trouble at work. I’ve seen it before.

    But when you run a blog for a group that makes public statements and appearances, anonymity isn’t an option. There are laws against internet stalking. Perhaps this situation fits.

  32. S.Scott says:

    I can’t believe he’s been posting here all day and hasn’t said anything!

    Everyone needs to go to PatrickHenry’s blog (see above) for some great news!!

  33. firemancarl says:

    Ugh. I guess the Discoites will now try to get a similar bill passed in every state. This truly looks like the death throes of this movement. A veritable Picketts Charge if you will.

  34. firemancarl says:

    Brandon, Your job in Volusia will end soon when the petitions come in at the end of the month.

    Are you kidding me, Voice?
    Besides, why does his job matter to you? He does not blog during his work hours.

  35. kingprout says:

    Ivy Mike Says:
    June 5th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    As I said on the other thread, there are better places for the trolls (and their respective sockpuppets) to go if they want to repeat discredited arguments. There is TalkRational, IIDB, Rants ‘N Raves, Darwin Central, and RDN, just to name a few.[/quote]

    actually, IvyMike, religious witnessing is explicitly forbidden by our posting rules.
    we at the Conspiracy enjoy a good debate, but we do not permit that degree of trolling.

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