Monday, 19 February 2007

Spin, substance, standards and what bloggers might owe their readers

Span and Idiot/Savant are meditating on spin, substance, standards and what bloggers might owe their readers. I'm with I/S here when he argues,
none of us have to read the crap if we don't want to - and I generally don't. Likewise simply because blogging as an institution has no standards doesn't mean that we all have to wallow in the sewer. The freedom to adopt whatever standards we choose means we can also choose to have some rather than none.

Unlike Span, I am trying to use my blog to push a political barrow. As I've said before, democracy is "participate or perish", and if you want your views to be taken into account, you have to speak up for them. That's what I'm doing here. I am also, in a small way, trying to change minds and influence opinion. The difference between this and some other blogs is that I choose to maintain some basic intellectual standards in doing so.

I like to think I'm doing the same here, albeit with a rather different barrow. Feel free to comment below on either my barrow or my standards.


  1. One problem is that quite often it is inflamatory blogging that gets results.

    Of course, to a degree, the same goes for old-media, but there are checks in place. In the unprofessional world of personal publishing there is nothing stopping the Little Green Footballs of the world gathering armies of like minding people.

  2. Because of the highly deregulated blogging environment hard and fast rules are difficult to define and even trickier to apply however darwinian rules will apply in the end - those that get read will survive the rest won't.

    The interesting aspects are how the blogs will impact on the 'real world' - a la recent US presidential campaigning facas

  3. This blog pushes its barrow well.

    However I would hardly call it a place for discussion. I recall a rather authoritarian poster was swiftly told her point of view was not welcome here - and granted her point of view was rubbish but denying it altogether doesn't make for any discussion rather only agreement.

    However I still enjoy reading this blog.

  4. "One problem is that quite often it is inflammatory blogging that gets results."

    True. But as with the MSM, that's often because it's the more inflammatory writing that gets read.

    I blame the readers. ;^)

  5. "I would hardly call it a place for discussion. I recall a rather authoritarian poster was swiftly told her point of view was not welcome here..."

    Two people only have been asked not to post here. Neither of those requests was "swift," and both were reluctantly done -- but both were necessary in order that reasonable discussion wasn't squelched with irrationality, utter nonsense and baseless abuse.

    Abuse is fine. It's baseless abuse I can't abide.

  6. PC, the only comment I have to make is that your position on climate change seems dogmatic to the point of idiocy at times.

    One particular low point was when you posted a verbatim press release from Dr. Vincent Gray: "The term “very likely” is defined as amounting to a probability above 90%. In other words, there is one chance in ten that they are wrong.".

    What an unconvincing argument: "Very likely" leaves open the possibility they are wrong!!!

    I would love to see more posts about the idiocy of the response of governments to climate change, and less head-in-the-sand fingers-in-ears it-isn't-happening-and-can't-possibly-be-happening posts.

  7. "PC, the only comment I have to make is that your position on climate change seems dogmatic to the point of idiocy at times."

    I recall you said something similar last year about my posts on the protecting predators. And now look at you. ;^)

    Just be clear about the "IT" that you say I'm denying, here's what I've said I agree with:
    Temperature records show a 0.6 temperature rise over the last century, with warming from 1905 to 1950, after which it cooled from 1950 to 1976, then warmed from 1975 to 1999.

    Clear enough?

    If I can summarise what the argument is about:

    1.the extent (and spread) of warming [IPCC suggest 0.53ºC, and of this between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC is the amount that they consider is due to human influence]
    2. the evidence for warming (and the uncertainty over the evidence),
    3. the cause(s) of warming,
    4. whether or not a warming would be good or bad or catastrophic,
    5. whether the best remedy is government "action" -- what as George Reisman points out is simply government action banning private action.

    You think I should just shut my mouth about all that? Or that I should put my fingers in my ears and just accept everything Al Bore says?

    In any case, you've mischaracterised Dr Gray's press release. What you quoted wasn't his "argument": he was simply explaining what the Summary for Policymakers was saying about the science, and what the science itself says.

    On that, his headline summarised the point: "New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended."

    Do you suggest he shouldn't say that? That I shouldn't post it? That he's wrong? What exactly are you saying?

    Are you saying you disagree with the characterisation of ninety percent confidence (which was down incidentally from a stated ninety-nine percent confidence level in the Third Assessment Report)?

    Perhaps you should consider the point of former 'New Scientist' editor Nigel Calder on that point:

    "[The IPCC Summary] declared that most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to man-made greenhouse gases.

    "The small print explains 'very likely' as meaning that the experts who made the judgement felt 90 per cent sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when John Cockcroft, Britain's top nuclear physicist, said he was 90 per cent certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion.

    "It turned out that he was wrong.

    "More positively, a 10 per cent uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latter-day Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea.

    That is how science really works."

    Anything your disagree with there?

  8. This is what Phil (not me) said about sharks:

    Great White Sharks are cool and endangered. We should protect sharks with transferable fishing rights, not hunting bans.

    This is what you said about sharks:

    Sharks are human predators which kill innocent people. They are worthless and have no intrinsic value. Protecting sharks with hunting bans is a waste of public money.

    This is what I said about your shark post:

    "We should protect sharks with property rights. You should have made it clear that Libz policy is not to simply kill them all off. This is what gets us labelled the 'loony Libz'.

    I'll thank you not to 'mischaracterise' me. :-)


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