I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Name:
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Law journal paper by Wexler cites censorial Panda's Thumb blog

A law journal published a paper by legal scholar Jay Wexler that cites Panda's Thumb, a blog that has a bad reputation for arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters. A Panda's Thumb article says:

In an article forthcoming in the Washington University Law Quarterly, Prof. Jay Wexler responds to the arguments of Prof. Francis Beckwith on the constitutional issues involved in the teaching of Intelligent Design. It’s a good article that will help the efforts of evolution’s defenders—and, as an added bonus, Wexler cites posts from the Thumb and allied blogs in his footnotes! (bold added, exclamation sign in original)

Panda's Thumb's arbitrary censorship is described here.

Needless to say, blogs that do not allow open debate should not be cited in any scholarly journal.

Popular blogs that get many thousands of visitors daily -- e.g., Panda's Thumb, Uncommon Descent, Pharyngula, and Dispatches From the Culture Wars -- are major public forums like newspapers and as such have a particular obligation to allow open debate, but none of the aforementioned blogs do.

Furthermore, blogs that practice arbitrary censorship should be ineligible to receive blogging awards. However, Pharyngula received a 2006 award for best science blog and Panda's Thumb received a 2005 Scientific American magazine blogging award and an award for being a finalist in a 2006 best science blog contest.

Labels: ,

19 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Pot calling kettle black.

Monday, March 05, 2007 1:09:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...
>>>>> Pot calling kettle black. <<<<

How's that? Please explain.

Monday, March 05, 2007 1:23:00 AM  
Anonymous peter irons said...

Larry,

How about the Discovery Institute's Evolution News & Views blog, from which you frequently crib, and which allows no comments at all? Do you think they should?

Monday, March 05, 2007 6:21:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

peter irons said...
>>>>> How about the Discovery Institute's Evolution News & Views blog, from which you frequently crib, and which allows no comments at all? Do you think they should? <<<<<<

I would like for them to, but IMO accepting some reasonable comments and commenters while rejecting others is infinitely worse than accepting no comments at all. Accepting only favorable comments and commenters is unfair and may give a false picture of the validity and/or popularity of the blog post (articles) and/or associated posted comments. Also, because EN&V is a well-known and controversial website, its posts are often discussed in comment threads elsewhere on the Internet (unfortunately, often in places that practice arbitrary censorship), though of course that might do no good if only the EN&V post is cited.

One of the greatest advantages of Internet sources is the potential for commenting: commenting is always possible, all reasonable comments can be recorded and broadcast, and comments can appear immediately so that the subject can be discussed at a fast rate. Arbitrary censorship defeats this great advantage. I hope that Internet culture will change to make this censorship widely frowned upon. ISP's and blog services could help by making blocking of commenters difficult or impossible. For example, AOL, my ISP, helps Internet censorship by routing my Internet connection through a proxy with a fixed IP address. And IP address blocking can affect a lot of people, not just the target of the block.

Also, some comments -- such as yours -- explicitly or implicitly ask for an answer from the blogger, and maybe the folks at DI don't want to bother answering. That is why the masthead on this blog says, "My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer." Some bloggers avoid ticklish questions just by deleting comments and/or banning commenters. A lot of websites do not monitor comments directly but just ask commenters to report allegedly offensive comments.

Some direct monitoring by bloggers may be a good idea, and maybe one reason why DI does not accept comments is that the DI staff does not want to bother with monitoring comments. I do some direct monitoring myself. Despite my no-deletions pledge, I have deleted (1) comments from commenters who misrepresented my views by impersonating me and (2) comments that gossiped about my private life, and I feel that I was justified in doing so.

Monday, March 05, 2007 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I might add that whereas non-acceptance of any comments is out in the open and obvious, selective blocking or deletion of reasonable comments and commenters is often sneaky and underhanded. It is often not apparent to readers of a comment thread that some reasonable comments and/or commenters have been censored or that some commenters didn't bother to post reasonable comments because of fear that those comments would be censored. And the readers of course cannot decide for themselves whether a censored comment or commenter is reasonable or not, unless they happened to see the comment before it was deleted or have an opportunity to see the censored commenter's similar comments at another website.

Particularly hypocritical is PT's infamous gimmick called the "Bathroom Wall," a website where undesired comments are dumped. The PT staff uses the "Bathroom Wall" to hypocritically pretend that they are not really practicing censorship.

I confess that I was reluctant to post comments on Uncommon Descent because of that blog's censorship practices. I am now no longer reluctant to post comments there because (1) I have been kicked off of the biggest Darwinist blogs and (2) I feel that this former reluctance was cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Monday, March 05, 2007 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> IMO accepting some reasonable comments and commenters while rejecting others is infinitely worse than accepting no comments at all. <

> I might add that whereas non-acceptance of any comments is out in the open and obvious, selective blocking or deletion of reasonable comments and commenters is often sneaky and underhanded. <

Then why do you practice it? What a hypocrite!

Monday, March 05, 2007 4:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

The Discovery Institute is generally regarded as The Great Satan by Darwinists: which became the source of all of their problems after it was founded in 1990.

Gosh, a sinister plot! And an amazingly influential one, at that!

But I would have supposed that trenchant and lengthy attacks on Darwinism by such great scientists as zoologist Pierre Grasse, as well as Fred Hoyle, beginning in the 1970's, had something to do with the decline in faith in that old theory? Not to mention geneticist Michael Denton in 1985?

If the Discovery EN&V blog accepted comments, I believe that it would be immediately and massively attacked and infested by the common parasitic species Darwinistus trollus, making it impossible to operate.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said,
>>>>> If the Discovery EN&V blog accepted comments, I believe that it would be immediately and massively attacked and infested by the common parasitic species Darwinistus trollus, making it impossible to operate. <<<<<<

Yes, the Darwinist trolls are the worst. They know that they are always right and that the opposition never has anything worthwhile to say, so they just say that you're wrong or you're stupid or something like that and nothing more.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 4:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief! Larry posts as Jim Sherwood and then answers his own post!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 9:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see why censorship, legitimate or not, has any bearing on the validity of the arguments presented on a blog. If it were an article on, say, public viewpoints on a given topic on given blogs, I could see censorship providing a serious problem. I don't see that being the case regarding the essayist arguments presented on any given blog. Even newspapers practice censorship in a number of ways: 1) they don't publish all letters that they receive; 2) they edit some letters that they do indeed publish; 3) they show bias through the stories they carry and where they are published. Each of those is a form of censorship. That doesn't mean that the articles published therein are simple propaganda pieces, though that is sometimes the case.

Manuel

Thursday, March 15, 2007 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous (Manuel) says,
>>>>> I don't see why censorship, legitimate or not, has any bearing on the validity of the arguments presented on a blog. <<<<<<

The arbitrary censorship shows the intention of the blogger(s) to present just one side. Many comment threads are astonishingly one-sided, often because of arbitrary censorship.

>>>>>If it were an article on, say, public viewpoints on a given topic on given blogs, I could see censorship providing a serious problem. I don't see that being the case regarding the essayist arguments presented on any given blog. <<<<<<

What in the hell is the difference between "essayist arguments" and an "article on public viewpoints on a given topic on given blogs," and why is this difference significant?

>>>>> Even newspapers practice censorship in a number of ways: 1) they don't publish all letters that they receive; <<<<<<

Because of space limitations, they don't print all the letters that they receive. And where a newspaper's website opens an article to comments, there is no arbitrary censorship of comments.

>>>>>2) they edit some letters that they do indeed publish <<<<<<

That is to conserve space -- and they try to preserve the original letter's ideas.

>>>>>> 3) they show bias through the stories they carry and where they are published. <<<<<<

That is unavoidable -- the newspaper must choose priorities. Anyway, how is this an excuse for arbitrary Internet censorship?

>>>>> That doesn't mean that the articles published therein are simple propaganda pieces, though that is sometimes the case. <<<<<<

The reporting is supposed to be objective, but unfortunately it often is not. Anyway, none of this justifies arbitrary Internet censorship.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 11:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sides are presented in peer-reviwed research publications? Only those that are reprsented by the author(s). IF the point is what was published by the blog-writer(s), the comments are superfluous and therefore unnecessary.

If the article addressed the comments, the fact that some comments are censored or moderated does need to be acknolwedged in the study, but that's not the case here.

MAnuel

Friday, March 16, 2007 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous (Manuel) said,
>>>>> What sides are presented in peer-reviwed research publications? Only those that are reprsented by the author(s). <<<<<<

Blogs are different from peer-reviewed research publications because blogs can be set up to accept all comments. I am bothered a little when no comments on a blog article are allowed at all. But what really pisses me off is when some reasonable comments are allowed while other reasonable comments are rejected. That is very one-sided.

>>>>>> IF the point is what was published by the blog-writer(s), the comments are superfluous and therefore unnecessary. <<<<<<

The readers cannot be stopped from reading the comments except by a decision of the blogger to hide the comments (assuming that the blog service offers this option), but how many bloggers do that? This blog service, blogger.com, has three commenting options for each post: allow; don't allow, show existing; and don't allow, hide existing.

>>>>> If the article addressed the comments, the fact that some comments are censored or moderated does need to be acknolwedged in the study, but that's not the case here. <<<<<<

Blog articles normally do not address the comments because the comments are posted after the blog article is posted (though the article can be revised to respond to the comments). The blogger's responses to visitors' comments are normally entered in the comment thread.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing you state refutes my point that citing something on a blog that accepts any and all comments differs in any substantial way from one that doesn't. Of course, this is no surprise to your two, three, or four readers.

Manuel

Saturday, March 17, 2007 1:21:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> Nothing you state refutes my point that citing something on a blog that accepts any and all comments differs in any substantial way from one that doesn't. <<<<<<

The hell they don't differ. I could make a good case that the earth is flat by posting an article that holds that position and then censoring all comments that disagree with that position.

>>>>>> Of course, this is no surprise to your two, three, or four readers. <<<<<<

I suggest that you visit my Site Meter (the icon at the bottom of the left sidebar). I get a respectable average of 30-50 visitors per day (which is good but not considered remarkable). However, what is really amazing is that between about 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 of my visitors view 10 pages or more and/or spend more than 1 hour here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>>>The hell they don't differ. I could make a good case that the earth is flat by posting an article that holds that position and then censoring all comments that disagree with that position.

That won't make the earth flat; that won't make your proposition that the earth is flat true. Just because you say it (without dissent) doesn't make it true.

Manuel

Sunday, March 18, 2007 9:11:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> That won't make the earth flat; that won't make your proposition that the earth is flat true. Just because you say it (without dissent) doesn't make it true. <<<<<

You obviously missed my point. I gave an extreme example to illustrate my point that a bad argument can be much more convincing when opposing arguments are censored.

I shouldn't have to explain the obvious.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 9:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>>You obviously missed my point. I gave an extreme example to illustrate my point that a bad argument can be much more convincing when opposing arguments are censored.

But you've missed mine, but maybe we should talk about yours. Do you have problems saying no to salespeople? Believe everything you hear in commercials? Unless you have these problems, I don't know why you have the difficulties with understanding what is cited in academic research -- the post on the blog and not its comments. Besides, you obviously disagree with Ed Brayton and PZ Myers, yet well over 90% of comments on their sites are positive (even when yours were still allowed).

Manuel

Monday, March 19, 2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> Do you have problems saying no to salespeople? Believe everything you hear in commercials? Unless you have these problems, I don't know why you have the difficulties with understanding what is cited in academic research -- the post on the blog and not its comments. <<<<<<

I don't get the connection between blog posts and salespeople & commercials.

>>>>> Besides, you obviously disagree with Ed Brayton and PZ Myers, yet well over 90% of comments on their sites are positive (even when yours were still allowed). <<<<<<

What do percentages have to do with arbitrary censorship? Arbitrary censorship shows an intent to present a one-sided view. Also, the probable reason for the 90%+ figure is that most of the opposition has been run off.

To me, the comments are a very important part of a blog post -- I try to read all of them if I have the time (that is often not practical because some comment threads run for hundreds of comments, sometimes long comments).

Monday, March 19, 2007 2:08:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home