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Monday, November 02, 2015

Why does Evolution News & Views not allow comments?

The Discovery Institute blog, Evolution News & View (sic) doesn't allow comments. They're beginning to feel a bit guilty about that so there have recently been two posts on the topic.

David Klinghoffer says: Why No Comments at Evolution News?

Michael Egnor writes: Comments by Darwinists: Another Perspective

The problem from their perspective is that their opponents are rude, crude, and abusive so they have to ban all comments. Here's how David Klinghoffer puts it.
So what are we supposed to do when, under a free-for-all commenting policy, Darwinists like Moran -- who is far from scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as online evolutionists go -- post abusive, defamatory, and false comments on our own news site? Should we delete their comments? Edit them? But then we would be accused of "censorship."

Should we perhaps allow them to say whatever they like, fouling the carpet in our own living room? When they have every opportunity to write what they like where they like and receive an answer from us, if the challenge rises to the level of being worthy of a reply? Why in the world would we do that?

If we can't accept providing a free forum for a great deal of nasty, false, and vacuous chatter, the only alternative is to devote significant time to moderating the forum, policing the sandbox, and then defending that moderation at every step as it is challenged. That would require staffing that we can't afford.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that there already is an ID blog that allows comments. Check out Uncommon Descent to see who's fouling the carpet.

What they're really worried about isn't the "Darwinists." It's Mung, bornagain, Vy, Andre, Virgil Cain, Upright BiPed, Mapou and others like them who will dominate the comments section and give the Discovery Institute a bad reputation.


  1. Really. They allow JoeG, but anyone on the opposing side is "rude" and "crude".

    That's it. I'm just retiring my irony meter for good. No amount of repairs will ever make it work again.

  2. Well Larry, this is a good question.

    I've been thinking about that, on and off, for a while now.

    However, when I've re-analyzed just your and NickM comments over the last few days at UD and your deliberate refusal to answer the many challenges you both have been presented with (including a couple of mine), I have to agree with E, N and Views.

    One of the issues they most likely want to avoid is someone like you commenting there and presenting his own views without any evidence and when challenged to provide such, he/she just ignoring it and moving on, pretending that the challenges don't exist.

    I'm not making it up Larry. I can provide you with ten examples like that just within the last few days at UD, yours and NickM.

    I would paste them here but I know they are unlikely to last so.....

    1. Incoming ellipsis, shields on full captain !

    2. I wonder why all ID proponents think that their posts will be deleted and or modified? I've been on dozens of science forums and no one has done that... on UD however...

    3. Oberski,

      Did it ever occur to you that making a 1% intelligent comment can prompt someone to engage in A conversation? Try to come up with one and you may get lucky.... Otherwise you may be facing a huge problem; nobody will care to read your rubbish.....

    4. J-Mac, have you analyzed or re-analyzed how many "challenges" IDiots never answer at UD, here, and other sites? Have you analyzed or reanalyzed the fact that ENV doesn't allow any 'challengers' and the fact that UD only allows a small number of 'challengers' and has banned many 'challengers' and deleted many comments for no good reason?

    5. Did it ever occur to you that making a 1% intelligent comment can prompt someone to engage in A conversation?

      You make a good case for keeping things below that threshold, then.

    6. J-Mac says,

      However, when I've re-analyzed just your and NickM comments over the last few days at UD and your deliberate refusal to answer the many challenges you both have been presented with (including a couple of mine), I have to agree with E, N and Views

      I tried to address some scientific questions in order to educate a few IDiots. I don't feel obliged to answer every "challenge" that's thrown at me on those blogs.

      Frankly, I didn't remember any of your questions so I did a search. Here they are ...

      When I mentioned that much of the argument was about personal opinions that "may not be informed by facts and data," I specifically said that it referred to me as well [Double debunking ...] You replied ....

      Yes, professor Moran; They are your personal opinions too, just in case you think that your opinions carry more weight…

      You have been selling those same your own personal opinions to everyone as facts though. Can you explain why?

      Well, we have it on record now…. You have admitted to it.
      Can you see the difference between an opinion vs faith?
      I don’t, especially when someone is spreading his own personal opinions with religious conviction…

      I didn't feel it was necessary to reply to such stupid ramblings.

      Later on in the same thread you contributed this gem ...

      Since Larry and Nick represent a large crowd of believers, I would like them to provide me with one answer only;

      1.What was the ONE piece of scientific evidence that convinced you personally that life must have originated without an interference of a superior and Intelligent Designer. Please do not overwhelm this blog with too much scientific evidence!!!

      Again, it's such a stupid question that I didn't bother to respond. Do you understand that I'm an atheist and I've been a nonbeliever all of my life? You are asking me why I've failed to be convinced of the existence of supernatural beings who can design bacterial flagella and insert them into some primitive cell about three billion years ago.

      You want one piece of scientific evidence that such beings don't exist.

      That's crazy. The burden of proof is not on me.

      On another post [Larry Moran doesn't like us you said,

      ‘You guys (and especially professor Moran )steadfastly refuse to offer any evidence at all for unintelligent design or for the existence of an unintelligent designer;’

      Do I have to spell it out for you professor Moran what the above means? I hope we don’t have to get to this stage of “understanding”.

      I will follow up soon…

      Sorry I didn't answer that question! Here's my response so you can reply here.

      Yes, you DO have to spell out for me what it means to provide evidence for an unintelligent designer.

      Later on in that thread you asked ...

      What happened to this thread? I comment on this thread once or twice and then I leave for a day or two without internet connection and Larry Moran abandons it? Why?
      What did I do wrong?

      I admit that I was tempted to answer your question ("What did I do wrong?") but that would have resulted in a comment that was longer than a bornagain comment so I didn't.

      I didn't see any other questions.

  3. DI would probably attract more comments then other blogs by anyone. its seen as headquarters for the ID revolution.
    So staffing is a issue. What do you do with abusive,or off thread comments??
    I don't accept it from any camp. I don't ever do it (despite accusations).
    Perhaps DI could let certain threads get comments if the thread author will police.
    UD has some threads with no comments but mostly is free.
    Its the prestige of DI that is the issue.
    It would be a focus because it matters more to take on the big thinkers then the rest. The rest matter too but its relative.
    On Sandwalk its manageable because there is not many creationist posting. ON DI there would be heaps of evolutionists ,high or low born.
    If a DI author thinks they got a killer point then they should open for comments/or a while to allow criticism and maybe informative or game changing criticism.
    There should be more origin contention blogs and forums.
    It really does end up selecting only the lost interested and intelligent on the subjects.The others get weeded out by their own arareness of not keeping up with sincere debate. I noticed that over the years.
    People who have nothing to say eventually realize it under attrition from those who do.
    I have something to say and endure abuse, censorship, from EVERYBODY.
    Never deserving of coarse. (And English prose and spelling isn;'t a reason Shakespeare of the world)

  4. A brazen display of hypocrisy. They don't want to be censors, so they allow no reader opinions at all at ENV. As for UD, the same nice folks who hate both censorship and abusive language employ Barry Arrington as moderator. They hate false and vacuous chatter, so Denyse O'Leary's handles their science reports. They wouldn't like to wade in "gallons of bilge", but the bilge spouted by kairosfocus and bornagain is the holy water of Lourdes.

  5. I opened the Michael Egnor link and found:
    My opportunity to read the candid comments of evolutionary biologists about the scientific questions raised by the evidence for design in nature taught me a great deal about the Darwinian perspective. The real scientists -- the people asking the honest questions and following the evidence -- were on the intelligent design side of the debate.

    Implicit: only ID scientists(?) ask honest questions and follw the evidence.

    My honest question is: The world is waiting for the evidence, where and what is it?
    Ten years, books and forums have not produced any usable answers. All we know is that appearance of design does not equate to evidence of design. To me it looks like both Dembski and Behe have failed in their mission. What and where are their legacy?

    1. Another pearl formed in Michael Egnor's oyster brain:

      A decade ago when I turned my attention to the evolution controversy, I noticed something that astonished me: the arguments by the intelligent design community were thoughtful, polite, and carefully reasoned.

      It would astonish me too, if it were true.

    2. Rolf the problem is from extremists who demand religious answers from each other. It's a corruption of science.

      A real scientific discussion of the issues leads to this:

      The name of the theory adding detail to how whales "evolved" does not even matter. But in a forum like this one it's everything.

    3. Sorry Gary, but that isn't a scientific discussion, it's more a collection of people having fantasies they are being 'scientific', acting the scientist. All the while trying to come up with ideas how to overthrow ET.

      I fell over laughing in the second sentence: Whales regrowing gills? WTF?

      I continued reading hoping for some real science, and what followed was this gem:
      "A genetic system is just like us learning over time. It might have a fuzzy recollection of what happened a few billion years ago,"

      Ye gods...

    4. Ed says: "Ye gods..."

      You provided another example of how the subject is changed to religion.

    5. Let's look at a specific example of the "real scientists" on the ID side of the debate.

      Denyse O'Leary posted a response to a question about "evolutionary fossils" where she talks about the fact that horseshoe crabs and coelecanths have not evolved. She mentions stasis and she mentions something about understanding evolution (really!) [We can’t understand evolution without understanding stasis and extinction].

      I thought it might be helpful to explain that modern horseshoe crabs and coelecanths actually have evolved. Not only are they significantly different than the ancient fossils but at the molecular level they appear to be evolving at the same rate as all other species.

      I provided links to website that even IDiots could read and understand.

      You'd think this was a simple case of correcting facts but that's not how the ID crowd saw it. Apparently it's extremely important to them to show that horseshoe crabs and coelecanths have not evolved.

      So Mapou, Vy, PaV, Virgil Cain, Mung, and bFast had to come to the defend the "real scientist" (Denyse O'Leary).

      The funniest response was from Vy who claims that bacteria haven't evolved in over "2 BILLION Darwin years."

      This is the sort of thing that's bound to happen if Evoution News & Views (sic) opens up to comments. I think they know that. I think they realize that it's their own creationist supporters who are going to pollute the blog and make them look even sillier than they look when they post their main articles.

      I suspect they're also worried about ID supporters who might disagree with them. That would be a PR disaster from their perspective. Over on Uncomon Descent we see ID proponents arguing about common descent. The Discovery Institute can't allow that to happen on their website.

    6. I thought Uncommon Descent was run by the Discovery Institute, or at least by people closely aligned with it. Am I mistaken about that?


    8. That doesn't really answer my question, but it is entertaining reading:

      Another source of endless debate is that most of the regular editors at Uncommon Descent are often wrong. And they tend to perpetuate their errors even when corrected - the best one can hope for is that they wait a couple of days until they repeat their old canards.

    9. Lutesuite from my having been there in the early days and almost right away banned: with his picture on the top of the page UD was clearly William Dembski's personal blog. But he (then later others) used it to represented ID in a way that made it appear to be a blog controlled by the Discovery Institute that is "Serving the Intelligent Design Community" at large.

      The Evolution News & Views site is more of a Discovery Institute creation. It's the place where Casey Luskin speaks through, instead of UD. It's hard to say how much control the DI has on what else is authored at Evolution News & Views but that's where the more official ID news is supposed to come from.

      My science news primarily comes from making it a point to keep up with all announced here:

      That (and their public forum for what others discover in the news) is were to find the serious information for those who are serious about discovering more about how "intelligence" of any kind works.

      In this case the ID community is welcomed to join the discussions. But much of what becomes a topic at UD and other places would be off-topic and possibly closed by moderators. In a forum like that you have to love keeping up with the latest in machine intelligence technology and have cognitive science related IDeas that help develop its emerging science fields or you're better off at UD or somewhere else.

    10. Larry said:

      "Apparently it's extremely important to them to show that horseshoe crabs and coelecanths have not evolved."

      To the IDiot-creationists, if evolution actually occurs, horseshoe crabs and coelecanths and every other life form should have turned into humans long before now. They believe that if evolution actually occurs it must be a process with a goal and that the evolutionary goal in every life form is to become the 'highest' possible life form, which to the IDiots is the human life form. That's why they ask the stupid question: 'If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?'

    11. Ed said: "Ye gods..."

      IDiot-creationist gary gaulin responded with this asinine remark: "You provided another example of how the subject is changed to religion."

      gary, you're hopeless.

    12. gary gaulin said:

      "The Evolution News & Views site is more of a Discovery Institute creation. It's the place where Casey Luskin speaks through, instead of UD. It's hard to say how much control the DI has on what else is authored at Evolution News & Views but that's where the more official ID news is supposed to come from."

      gary, the discotoot totally owns and controls ENV.

  6. This needs to go on your CV: far from scraping the bottom of the barrel....

  7. On the rare occasions that I spend time at UD, the posturing and stilted language remind me of a little boy with a magic marker mustache, oversize sport coat and tie dragging on the ground as he slowly and deliberately clomps around the house in his father's shoes, squeakily barking orders for the lawn to be mowed and dinner to be fixed.

    Damn you Moran, you heartless grinch, for ruining his fantasy playtime.

  8. Here's another example of something that's posted on Evolution News & Views (sic): Here's Why We Answer Some of Our Less Cogent Critics.

    In this case, the IDiots don't want to allow comments because they're afraid of what we might say. David Klinghoffer writes,

    You may wonder why we reply to someone like Moran at all. Because, I think, it shows the caliber of many of our critics in the scientific community. This may be hard to accept if you're in the habit of venerating scientists (as distinct from loving science as the pursuit of truth), but Moran is not atypical. Otherwise, you would find thoughtful scientists speaking out to distance themselves from the less thoughtful ones, and then responding adequately to the argument for ID.

    Actually thoughtful scientists are always fighting among themselves. Some of them criticize points that I make about intelligent design because we don't always agree. It's pretty silly of Klinghoffer to make such a point about his critics when one of the main characteristics of the ID movement is to stifle internal disagreement.

    But you don't find that, which in itself suggests something about the relative seriousness of the two sides in the dispute about Darwinian theory. Remember, when folks in the media denounce ID, equate it with creationism, etc., it's scientists like Larry Moran they point to for support. Yes, they do.

    I don't know whether Klinghoffer understands my view of creationism or not. He's certainly had lots of opportunity to see it and discuss it. If I were allowed to comment on ENV I'd probably embarrass him by quoting Philip Johnson and other ID proponents who admit to being creationists in the broad sense of the word. Even more embarrassing, I'd ask Klinghoffer himself whether he believes in creator gods.

    You can see why the people at the Discovery Institute don't what stuff like that to appear on their website. Censorship is safer than embarrassment.

    Is ENV really about the news and views of evolution and the scientific case for intelligent design? They would like to think so but they can only maintain that illusion as long as they go to great lengths to block criticism. Otherwise people like me would ask them why these articles appear on their blog and that would be embarrassing.

    Wesley J. Smith: Human Cloning Advance: Ban Now or Cry Later

    Michael Egnor: Weighing the Impact of California's New Physician-Assisted Suicide Law

    Wesley J. Smith: In Pursuit of a Death Culture, Wearing Decency Down

    David Klinghoffer: In a Radio Debate, Our Jonathan M. Meets Thoughtful Atheist Cory Markum

    Michael Flannery: Was Darwin a Scholar or a Pitchman?

    Doanld McLaughlin: Ideas Have Consequences: A Report from the National Conference on Christian Apologetics

    anonymous: Register for Christian Scientific Society Conference, Hosted at Discovery Institute, November 13-14

  9. This is old, but I don't think anything has changed.

    Which side of the argument uses terms like "Liar", "Coward", "Willfully Ignorant", "Dirt Worshipers", "Strawman Humpers"?

  10. Two observations. When Dembski moderated UD many years ago, I signed up and asked a single question that got me banned by Dembski himself (I'm so honored!) as a "troublemaker." I asked for a description of the theory of ID and how it works and manifests itself in nature. It was about the time that Dembski went on a little rant about not "rising to the pathetic level of detail" of the modern theory of evolution.

    Second. Some years ago good old Carl Zimmer was allowed to have a brief back-and-forth with Luskin on ENV on the chromosome 2 fusion event. Zimmer was his ever-so polite self, accurate and concise but his posts were heavily moderated and the Attack Gerbil finally ended the discussion and declared victory. I think even the Gerb realized the discussion was totally embarrassing to the ID community.