Friday, March 25, 2005

Are There Any Right-wing Blogs With Fair Comment Moderation?

I just got censored in the comments at Wizbang!. It was on an "evolution" thread, strangely enough.

One of the hosts there decided he could no longer stomach the challenge to explain what he believes is the best scientific explanation for the origin of life, and if it isn't the modern synthesis theory of evolution, then to also explain why he is confident that his theory is a better one.

So, rather than answer the questions, he edited the post to remove the questions and replace it with a snarky remark. He still hasn't answered the questions, though he does vociferously claim that he's tired of answering them. (He sure gets tired easily.)

I dropped in on Wizbang! because, as near as I could tell, they are the right-wing blog with the largest community of commenters that is not censored for political views. Except, it would appear not. Looks like even they have limits on their ability to resist the siren song of controlling the political expressions contained in their comments.

So, now I'm back to searching for a right-wing blog with fair moderation of its comments. (It's hard enough finding one with comments at all, much less one with fair moderation of the comments. Where "fair" means something comparable to the widely held standards you find in the lefty blog world.)

Update: He's onto me now. I posted a snarky comment (nothing indecent, let alone profane), and he just silently deleted it. Wonderful. Here's what I wrote: "Wake me when you're done reveling in what you don't know. I need a lesson in epistemology from you like I need parenting advice from Michael Jackson's defense lawyers." It's clear he has a double standard about acceptable level of discourse: a special one for me, and another one for himself and his clones. Sigh. I had such high hopes for Wizbang...

Update the younger: Against my better judgement, I'm trying again. The guy has another thread up, titled Evolution Cage Match, where he plans to spend his holiday weekend tweaking the nose of the "oozers" as he likes to call people who accept the modern synthesis theory of evolution and specifically what it holds to be the origin of life. Mind you, I'm mostly interested in determining whether Wizbang! really deserves their reputation for having a fair policy of comment moderation. So, here's what I posted there.
Let's test Paul's self-control. Once again, I will pose a pair of questions to him to get him to clarify what he means to say. We'll see if he feels the need to delete my post again rather than meet the challenge of answering the questions.

+ What does Paul believe is the best explanation science has produced to explain the origin of life?

+ If the answer to the previous question is not the modern synthesis theory of evolution, then why does he believe his preferred theory is superior?

Will Paul dodge the questions? Will he delete the post so that he doesn't get caught dodging the questions? Tune in here later today and find out.

I'll revisit this later this weekend, and see what were the results.

Further meanderings: Attempts to get him to take a position in the debate over evolution continue to meander. He keeps deleting posts and complaining about people refusing to follow his insane rules for participating in the discussion. (Are the rules really insane? Yes, they're insane. Read the post where he outlines them.)

He's been writing about this for three days now, and I've been trying to nail him down to a position for those three days, and he won't take one. Here's his latest response to my deleted comments:
NOPE THAT'S NOT what I said: I've said that people who refuse to accept that the whole oozer theory might actually have some problems are religious zealots. There is a MOUNTAIN of Difference.

You see... This is why I have the tight rules on this post. You are misquoting me PROVING that I need the rules.

Now- You repeatedly complain that my moderation of this thread is not fair. You have just misquoted me. Who is not being fair? Think about it.

He's run away from the discussion temporarily and closed the comment thread. I'll post my response here.

He won't identify the people he's calling "religious zealots" by name. There isn't anyone in the collection of respondants to his weirdness that fits the description. Everybody admits that the modern synthesis theory of evolution leaves a lot of room for further research and refinement. Who are these religious zealots he thinks he's arguing with? Well, there are two choices here, of course: 1) everyone who doesn't share his exaggerated and irrational level of skepticism about evolution; 2) some mythical "scientists" who don't actually practice any science, and who are actually theologians because they regard a scientific theory as if it were the literal word of God. There isn't any in-between, and he hasn't offered any counter-examples to show otherwise.

Either way, how exactly did I misquote him? Where is this MOUNTAIN of difference? (Answer: it's the old sophists trick. When faced with an otherwise irreconcilable contradiction, draw a new distinction and resolve the difference with argumentation. Even a drooling gomer can master this technique.)

What's more: what do the words "whole oozer theory might actually have some problems" mean in his language? He keeps talking about how "the whole theory" is "seriously flawed" while, at the same time, complaining about people who interpret that as an attack on the "whole" synthesis of current evolutionary theory.

Over the last three days, I've given the guy multiple invitations to answer the questions above and he's dodged them all. Answering the questions shouldn't be difficult for him. At times, he seems to be endorsing evolution. At other times, he seems to be endorsing I-D. He's clearly getting a lot of mileage out of reiterating his skepticism of what evolutionary theory says about the origin of life. He openly revels in what he thinks scientists can't know, and gleefully mocks anybody who might be less pessimistic than him about the applicability of the scientific method to the study of evolutionary biology.

Here's an excerpt of what PZ Myers at Pharyngula says about the "drooling gomers" like our friend Paul at Wizbang!, and I couldn't agree with him more.
I know what some people are thinking: just don't call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I've learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. [...]

So what's the argument about? Not science, that's for sure. The opponents of evolution don't know any. They are effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously. They have been relying on their opponent's hesitation or aloofness to escape criticism of their competence or ignorance. They shout with authority when they possess none.

You know what? It's time to stop that.

I particularly liked his observation that these people are "effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously." Because that really does nail down a crucial part of the problem. If they were just nothing more than modern American Lysenkoists, it would be one thing. These people are aiming for something bigger and more troubling.

And they feel no particular compelling need to play fair in going about it.

Oh yeah, and one more thing... If Paul hadn't been so heavy-handed with the comment suppression three days ago when the discussion started and I began pressing him to take a clear position in the evolution debate, then he wouldn't have gotten my ire up. He could have just ignored the questions, and it would have been okay.

But no, he had to be a dimwit and scrub the comments of challenges to his carefully imbalanced dodging of the issue— thereby trashing any supporting argument for the idea that, at least, Wizbang! among all right-wing blogs can handle comments from their political opponents showing up in their website. By the time he arrived at the "Evolution Cage Match" thread and started aggressively managing the discussion, the damage was already done. Spiking and heavily editing my posts in that thread too was just laying down the varnish.

Okay, now I'm done with this. So. Are there any right-wing blogs where the comments are open to opposing views? Or is the right-wing mind simply incapable of fairness in comment moderation?

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