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Default Popular Science Shuts Down Comments on its Website

September 27th, 2013, 00:51
http://www.popsci.com/science/articl…g-our-comments

Trolls and fractious pseudo-scientists have been denied this venue, along with valuable commenters, to preserve it's scientific leaning.

But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. In one study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dominique Brossard, 1,183 Americans read a fake blog post on nanotechnology and revealed in survey questions how they felt about the subject (are they wary of the benefits or supportive?). Then, through a randomly assigned condition, they read either epithet- and insult-laden comments ("If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these kinds of products, you're an idiot" ) or civil comments. The results, as Brossard and coauthor Dietram A. Scheufele wrote in a New York Times op-ed:
Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they'd previously thought.

Another, similarly designed study found that just firmly worded (but not uncivil) disagreements between commenters impacted readers' perception of science.
If you carry out those results to their logical end—commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded—you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the "off" switch.
Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story.
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
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September 27th, 2013, 10:41
I saw that … and it is disgusting.

Bottom line - political and religious motivated attacks are threatening the bedrock of scientific knowledge. Everything is up for grabs … we have billions of dollars being put out there to attack climate science, evolution, heck even the word 'theory' is being changed in meaning by religious idiots trying to get the bible to be thought of as a factual reference.

It is really sad … there is a place for critique, dissent and debate - but when negative spamming becomes a way to alter the public perception of proven science … really sad.

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September 27th, 2013, 14:27
Shutting down all comments just makes PS look bad. They should of just banned the trolls. Set down some commenting rules and start swinging the ban stick. People will re register but banning is just a mouse click.
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September 27th, 2013, 15:23
If their comments section is anything like CNN's, where one comment will derail an entire article's intent, I wholly support the action. There's way too many trolls on the internet.
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September 27th, 2013, 15:42
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
If their comments section is anything like CNN's, where one comment will derail an entire article's intent, I wholly support the action. There's way too many trolls on the internet.
The vast majority of whom are in no position to discuss science, data analysis and so on …

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September 27th, 2013, 19:28
Who'd a thought that the internet would actually cause more people to become misinformed?
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September 27th, 2013, 20:18
So again it all comes down to trolls, and allowing anonymous replies. Allot of sites are now taking this serious, and that's a good thing. Even YouTube is finally taking this serious.

"Frankly Sir /Madam I don't give a damn about your opinion."- Couchpotato
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September 27th, 2013, 20:38
Yeah, anonymity may suffer. But making people register won't be enough, I think.
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September 27th, 2013, 20:42
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Yeah, anonymity may suffer. But making people register won't be enough, I think.
It helps cull it. I'm afraid there is no cure for human stupidity. I see to many sites filled with nothing but trolls. Look at GameSpot and IGN.

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September 28th, 2013, 08:32
Maybe they should make a scientific study to determine what a troll is and installs it in the bedrock of science so they can ban quietly trolls…
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September 28th, 2013, 10:56
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I saw that … and it is disgusting.

Bottom line - political and religious motivated attacks are threatening the bedrock of scientific knowledge. Everything is up for grabs … we have billions of dollars being put out there to attack climate science, evolution, heck even the word 'theory' is being changed in meaning by religious idiots trying to get the bible to be thought of as a factual reference.

It is really sad … there is a place for critique, dissent and debate - but when negative spamming becomes a way to alter the public perception of proven science … really sad.
Judging by what's written in the quote, it isnt because of political and religiously motivated attacks. It is because of trolls and the like that add nothing to intelligent discourse. I see nothing wrong with politically/religiously motivated comments if they are done in an appropriate manner. After all science is about being challenged is it not?
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September 28th, 2013, 14:02
It's just sad. This is one of the only sites I read the forums. You guys keep a tight watch on comments. I don't even read my favorite sport teams forums anymore. I don't want to read what somebody thinks about President Obama when I want to read info about my Ohio State Buckeyes. Could you imagine if people acted like this face to face?

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