Reddit Bans Dissent

Reddit banishes another anti-revolutionary
Reddit banishes another anti-revolutionary
I tried posting a thing or two at Reddit a while back (by invitation), but one of my i’s wasn’t dotted, or a t wasn’t crossed, and the ankle biters who make up the bulk of its moderators and who act like over-zealous college freshman who just memorized Robert’s Rules of Order made the experience so unpleasant that I never went back.

Plus, too many folks who haunt that site, basking in the anonymity, engage in things like this: “‘I fought back with awesome’: Woman who lives with painful skin condition shames the bullies of Reddit who thought her picture was a laughing matter.”

I am therefore not in the least surprised that the Dear Leaders on the science forum on that site has banned dissent from the party line that global warming is going to strike—soon, soon—and destroy us all. Reddit is now no different from many major newspapers, television outlets, learned societies, and peer-reviewed journals.

It will be interesting to see if Reddit “cleanses” past posts of skeptical comments in the same way various Peoples regimes erase enemies from photographs.

Anyway, all these organizations (in their forums and house organs) have decided that the science is settled, and, that being the case, there is nothing more to say. A valid argument if the premise is true and the science really is settled, which they all believe. Strangely, though, given there is nothing more to say they still manage to keep on saying things and at ever-increasing rates.

What do they talk about? Us. Mostly, they talk about us.

They gather for the sole purpose of shaking their heads at each other in bewildered amazement that people like us could imagine that the science isn’t settled. “All the people who agree with our view that the science is settled,” they say to themselves, “say that the science is settled. Therefore the science is settled. The deniers who deny what we believe most faithfully must therefore be insane, wicked, evil, and whoppingly ignorant. We are the opposite.”

They also thus talk about themselves and how wonderful their selves are.

They talk about the many, many failed forecasts and say, “Those darn deniers don’t understand that these forecasts haven’t failed. They were off in observation, but they were right in spirit. And since they were right in spirit, the science is still settled and the end is still nigh.” Right in spirit means wrong in reality, yes, but the theory which defines the spirit is so achingly beautiful that it is truer than reality.

They talk about the motivations of skeptics. “They’re all in the pay of big oil! And those vile Koch brothers!” “I know just what you mean. I was so mad about it I almost couldn’t finish my grant application to study the effects of global warming on racism.”

They talk about what awards they should give each other. “Oh! How about calling the James Hansen Bravery…

Skip it. This kind of thing is now utterly routine. The party of tolerance and openness and diversity and honest debate doing what they do best.


  1. Doug

    Link to image removed

  2. Sheri

    I was reading The Reference Frame ( and found one of his takes on this situation very different from most “I have been thankful to as one of the sinks of the trolls’ energy – a place where this foam of the Internet interacts with itself so that it has less time to annoy decent Internet users.”
    I suppose if you look at it that way, this could be a good thing. All the trolls can stay together and reinforce their group-think while leaving the rest of us in peace.

  3. An Engineer

    Oh, I get it. We are no longer interested in explaining the unknown or undiscovered. We have declared scientific victory and are satisfied we can explain with high confidence everything we observe and even things we can’t observe. Does observation effect outcome? If a tree were to fall in the woods and no one was in the forest, would it make noise? Do we recall that Rene’ Descartes was a mathematician before a philosopher? I suppose “Cogito ergo sum” is proved false. There is no more scientific method; there is only settled philosophy.

  4. DAV

    What a clumsy photo edit. Looks like it was done with scissors. Magic Marker would only have been slightly more obvious. A tree (above the left guy’s head) was also removed. A mere accident or was the tree another enemy of the state?

    Luis has a point.

  5. DAV

    An Engineer,

    Interesting questions although there isn’t much difference between a mathematician and a philosopher.

  6. Milton Hathaway

    Reddit? What’s that?

    The first time I heard the totally satisfying explanation that “the science is settled” was on the subject of evolution. I was young and trusting of ‘authority’, and I bought into it for years. At some point, I became curious enough to try to learn the ‘why’, and was very disappointed. There were some pretty gaping holes. I turned my attention to optimization theory instead. While certainly a very interesting area, it shed no light for me on evolution – there are many unsolved problems in the field of optimization theory that are trivial next to evolution theory. Unless the field has advanced considerably in the last ten years, having total faith in the classic theory of evolution is essentially a belief in miracles.

  7. andyd

    Milt, the classic theory of evolution has advanced a bit the last 100 years.

  8. Paddy O'Furniture

    “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
    ― Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science

  9. La Longue Carabine

    Cogito cogito ergo sum, cogito.

  10. Joshua

    “I am therefore not in the least surprised that the Dear Leaders on the science forum on that site has banned dissent from the party line”

    Drama queen much?

    Have you read the statement? They haven’t “banned” dissent.

    “Skip it. This kind of thing is now utterly routine. The party of tolerance and openness and diversity and honest debate doing what they do best.”

    I love the selective reasoning. Everything you describe is entirely consistent among “skeptics.” Your conccern and outrage might come across as more sincere if it were consistently applied.

  11. Sheri

    Joshua–the policy is clearly discriminatory in nature. While they can post all they want about the 97% consensus, it remains a lie, created using a uniques combination of limited input and statistical manipulation. The science is anything but settled. Saying it is does not make it so.
    One doubts they would ban a discussion on whether or not the earth is flat. Settle science or not. The reason for banning is always the fear that you might be outed as wrong.

    It fascinates me most that true believers in climate change are the ones banning dissent. It’s science and if you can’t defend it, you need to reevaluate it. Yes, skeptics can obnoxious, so can believers. If you don’t want to deal with this, Remove the Topic Entirely. Not just one side. Until that happens, it is indeed censorship.

  12. Joshua

    As much as “skeptics” might want to dramatize these issues, they are not being “censored.” People are perfectly free to express whatever opinion they want in any number of venues.

    The monitors of a blog have every right to block any comments they don’t want to deal with – for whatever reason. I have been blocked from making comments at a few sites. Does that mean that I’m being “censored.” Of course not. Having comments fail to pass through blog moderation does not equal “censorship.”

    But even further, if you read the description of the rationale behind the policy, it makes it quite clear that it is not an attempt to simply disallow “dissent.” People will continue to be able to express disagreement if they conform to the blog’s policies about how to engage.

    “One doubts they would ban a discussion on whether or not the earth is flat.”

    If the doubters had an established history of commenting in the way described in the link I posted, of course they would not be allowed to continue to comment.

    Censorship and squashing of dissent are serious issues in many places on the planet. “Skeptics” should stop cynically exploiting those important phenomena just so they can play the victim card.

    “It fascinates me most that true believers in climate change are the ones banning dissent.”

    Just as with Reddit – most “skeptical” blogs have moderation policies that end in some comments being deleted or filtered out through moderation.

  13. Briggs


    You’re quite right. Reddit can ban all they want. It’s their right and God bless that right. But please no public speeches about how noble, how scientific, etc. That’s what rankles.

    You lost me on the “consistently applied” bit. Did I anywhere express “outrage”? Me? I scarcely think so.

  14. Sheri

    How many “skeptical” blogs do you follow? Can you list “skeptical” blogs that have banned all content favorable to AGW? Reddit was reported to have banned ALL skeptical information. (Can’t tell if they actually did, however.) Also, climate change believer’s blog rely heavily on peer-reviewed journals, using the appeal to authority as justification. In effect, this bans people from posting materials from the skeptical side since peer-review is basically friend review and the journal’s friends are all true-believers.

    Yes, all blogs have moderators–but unilaterally banning comments is NOT the same as moderation. (No one’s playing the “victim card” here–just point in out the reality of the situation. If I found a “skeptical” blog that did ban all AGW believers, I would call that censorship, too.)

    Wiki: Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet or other controlling body. It can be done by governments and private organizations or by individuals who engage in self-censorship.

    Banning skeptics because they do not like the science and views thereof fits that definition, does it not?

  15. David

    I’m just wondering if it should still be called a “science” blog, or just a “promotion” blog, since science usually includes some debate, pros/cons, on the one side/on the other…

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