Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Down to four out of six

This letter, to The Australian's Higher Education Supplement, didn't get published either. So here it is:

I was saddened to read Barry Brook's endorsement of the cry 'Don't feed the troll!' If you are in the business of science education, you should treat every comment on your blog as a legitimate inquiry from a seeker-after-truth and respond politely. If your science is good, it will be obvious to your other readers if their response is to "sidestep valid critiques and ignore counter-evidence". If your science is good, it also doesn't matter how many times you repeat yourself. You will be improving the delivery of your message all the time.

It doesn't do any good to call people who disagree with you names ("sceptics, denialists, contrarians, delayers or delusionists" ... "cut of the same anti-intellectual cloth") or accuse them of being on the take ("Groups with vested interests in business as usual..."). If you are trying to communicate with those who are not already in your camp, such ad hominem attacks are worse than useless.

I thought it was unfortunate that an article entitled 'Science must prevail' contained no actual science. A calm 622 words outlining the physical mechanism of the Greenhouse Effect and the observational evidence for anthropogenic global warming would have been a much better use of space.

Best regards,

Chris Fellows


winstoninabox said...

I can only assume you're not trolling.

Chris Fellows said...

I am still not entirely sure that word means what I think it does...

For the past eighteen months or so I have been waging a low-level campaign where I write to denialists trying to convince them that Anthropogenic Climate Change is real, and to true believers trying to convince them that its useless and counterproductive to try and stop it. In general, the denialists are more likely to respond with some sort of rational argument, while the true believers almost invariably ignore me.