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JohnD
2006-Nov-06, 09:00 PM
All,
Below we celebrate five years of Bad Astronomy, a worthy and honourable event. But are standards slipping?

When it was the BAs own site, before it was merged with Astronomy Today, there was a 'show-us-your-evidence' ethos, set going I have no doubt by the BA himself and his campaign against 'bad astronomy'. That seems to be being replaced by opinion and supposition, unbacked by scientific method, or even by the evidence of peer reviewed articles - scientific method at second hand.

I regret that I cannot follow my own lesson and quote the incidence of such posts, but do others share my qualms?

JOhn

antoniseb
2006-Nov-06, 10:38 PM
I think that the combined forums include some areas that are harder to be forceful about the evidence, and it is also the case that story comments are about stories (from press releases) often containing overstatements about how much the new evidence changes the mainstream view. This opens the door to Alternative supporters using the story as their evidence.

dirty_g
2006-Nov-06, 11:22 PM
I beleive everybody is entitled to an opinion. We live in a laregly free world. I think asking for hard evidence on every little thing can be tedious for moderators to enforce and generally not make it fun for others. Obviously I understand if you get people talking about planet X or rogue stars that will kill us without any evidence i beleive they should be stopped as they can scare some people.

Gillianren
2006-Nov-06, 11:35 PM
I beleive everybody is entitled to an opinion.

But, as the saying goes, not everyone is entitled to their own facts, and that's rather more the issue at hand.

dirty_g
2006-Nov-06, 11:45 PM
But, as the saying goes, not everyone is entitled to their own facts, and that's rather more the issue at hand.
depends on the context though.

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Nov-06, 11:48 PM
I disagree. If you make a claim, you should be able to back it up. Or, if you can't, say so. Tell me if it's personal opinion. If you present it as fact, though, you ought to give me evidence if I request it.

montebianco
2006-Nov-06, 11:57 PM
When it was the BAs own site, before it was merged with Astronomy Today, there was a 'show-us-your-evidence' ethos, set going I have no doubt by the BA himself and his campaign against 'bad astronomy'. That seems to be being replaced by opinion and supposition, unbacked by scientific method, or even by the evidence of peer reviewed articles - scientific method at second hand.

I regret that I cannot follow my own lesson and quote the incidence of such posts, but do others share my qualms?

I'm not aware of any time when it was otherwise. Many here think you can spew any rubbish you like about, for example, economics, and the world alters itself to conform to their proclamations, because, after all, "we're rational."

I'm afraid this website forever crushed my misconception that scientists are more rational than other people. . .

01101001
2006-Nov-07, 12:00 AM
But, as the saying goes, not everyone is entitled to their own facts, and that's rather more the issue at hand.

Yeah, I sure don't mind an opinion. Opinions are fun. I do mind when someone can't back up an opinion with the critical thinking that helped form it. If an opinion is expressed about something that matters to me, and I don't understand it, I really appreciate being able to ask about it.

As for standards...

The merged result does feel different than the old BA Forum. Besides the inevitable differences resulting from the individual personalities of participants, their greater number, a slightly different topic organization, and a revised set of rules, I do notice a tonal difference that I attribute to the luxury of having moderators, bless their hearts. I believe -- having no statistical study to back it up; it's just a perception, a very wobbly opinion -- that offenders are given more slack, more chances to reform, are shown a more meandering path to the door, suffer a wheel of justice that grinds more slowly. The trigger is pulled more carefuly.

I think overall that's good. There's less danger of throwing out a baby with the bathwater, even if it does mean regular readers experience more bathwater, more guff. It's mostly optional guff, though, for it is corralled into the guffish fora.

Who knows? Maybe someday, we'll actually find a baby. Sure. At least the interested observers can learn how one searches for a baby.

Have standards gone down? Sure. Some up and some down. I think the forum's success depends on which standards are considered the important ones.

Uhh... what was the question?

dirty_g
2006-Nov-07, 12:03 AM
I disagree. If you make a claim, you should be able to back it up. Or, if you can't, say so. Tell me if it's personal opinion. If you present it as fact, though, you ought to give me evidence if I request it.
exactly so opinions should be allowed. If you say it's a fact and want everybody else to beleive it then back it up with hard evidence.

Jerry
2006-Nov-07, 12:32 AM
As for standards...

The merged result does feel different than the old BA Forum. Besides the inevitable differences resulting from the individual personalities of participants, their greater number, a slightly different topic organization, and a revised set of rules, I do notice a tonal difference that I attribute to the luxury of having moderators, bless their hearts. I believe -- having no statistical study to back it up; it's just a perception, a very wobbly opinion -- that offenders are given more slack, more chances to reform, are shown a more meandering path to the door, suffer a wheel of justice that grinds more slowly. The trigger is pulled more carefuly.

I think overall that's good. There's less danger of throwing out a baby with the bathwater, even if it does mean regular readers experience more bathwater, more guff. It's mostly optional guff, though, for it is corralled into the guffish fora.

Who knows? Maybe someday, we'll actually find a baby. Sure. At least the interested observers can learn how one searches for a baby.

Have standards gone down? Sure. Some up and some down. I think the forum's success depends on which standards are considered the important ones.

Uhh... what was the question?

As I remember the early forum, in general, persons posting ATM and conspiracy theories were looking for help debunking them. Woo Woo's were quickly herded of off the pages. Some us saw this forum as an excellent venue for testing new ideas, some of which are very difficult to debunk. That is a good thing - one that could actually lead to the nomination of Fraser & Phil for serious awards.

If the days of easy debunking are gone, has the standard bar been raised or lowered?

Swift
2006-Nov-07, 01:30 AM
<snip>
As for standards...

The merged result does feel different than the old BA Forum. Besides the inevitable differences resulting from the individual personalities of participants, their greater number, a slightly different topic organization, and a revised set of rules, I do notice a tonal difference that I attribute to the luxury of having moderators, bless their hearts. I believe -- having no statistical study to back it up; it's just a perception, a very wobbly opinion -- that offenders are given more slack, more chances to reform, are shown a more meandering path to the door, suffer a wheel of justice that grinds more slowly. The trigger is pulled more carefuly.

I think overall that's good. There's less danger of throwing out a baby with the bathwater, even if it does mean regular readers experience more bathwater, more guff. It's mostly optional guff, though, for it is corralled into the guffish fora.

I think 01101001 summed it up well. And yes, this is just my opinion, with no facts to back it up. I think the addition of moderates has been a big plus. And in the areas where facts count the most - CT, ATM, and science, I really don't think our standards have slipped. If anything, we've gotten better - the addition of some expertise on architecture, engineering, and aerospace has really helped debate some of the 9/11 CTers.

In areas such as BABBling, it is looser about facts, but to me, that is the nature of such, and is fine to me.

Compared to the rest of the net I've seen, this is a calm oasis in a sandstorm of irrationalism.

Fraser
2006-Nov-07, 03:15 AM
Seriously debunking someone's pet theory is difficult for several reasons (at least):
1. It requires enough scientific knowledge to understand what the potential problems are, and the questions that need to be asked.
2. It requires discipline and persistence to dismantle a theory piece by piece, request the evidence, and hold people to the outcome.
3. The theorist has the homefield advantage. It's their theory, and they know which parts to emphasize and which to gloss over.
4. You have to be firm, but kind. The theorists often take disagreements very personally, and will lash out. As the debunker, you can't lose your temper when the theorist loses theirs.

Finding people who have all these personality traits is difficult (I sure don't have them). I'm grateful for the number of you that have found your way here.

So, I think the job of debunking has become much much harder. Phil and I had conversations early on as we were planning the forum merger. My hope was that we could have a long and reasoned thread to match up various alternative theories. Since the overall forum is well represented in Google, people can search a theory that someone's pushing on them, and see a good debunking.

I don't think the standards have slipped. Just the opposite. The forum stands as an amazing reference for alternative theories.

Keep up the good work. :-)

If people want to get more organized, or maybe create some kind of archive or permanent resource (a wiki?). Let me know your ideas, and I'd be happy to help support them.

danscope
2006-Nov-07, 04:10 AM
Hi Fraser, Let me take this oportunity to thank you for your patience and hard work within this forum. I have recently joined, and already am enjoying the
scrutiny of a good many discerning gentlemen with intelect. It is both interesting and refreshing.
With most of the threads here, it is obvious to the most casual observer if people are simply poking fun for good humour or taking a serious view of the question of the moment. More importantly, they appear to be well mannered and
capable of honest debate, and patient with the facts of conversation.
I find it a wondeful place to invest my time, and hope my contributions are in kind. Your work is well appreciated.
Best regards, Dan

Gillianren
2006-Nov-07, 05:31 AM
I think we need a glossary at minimum, including acronyms and terms like "woo-woo" that aren't part of the common lexicon. A wiki is probably a good idea, too--there are certain banned posters that get referenced a lot, rightly or wrongly, and it's helpful to the newbie, I think, to know who these people are.

danscope
2006-Nov-07, 05:52 AM
I think we need a glossary at minimum, including acronyms and terms like "woo-woo" that aren't part of the common lexicon. A wiki is probably a good idea, too--there are certain banned posters that get referenced a lot, rightly or wrongly, and it's helpful to the newbie, I think, to know who these people are.

Hi Gillian, You make an excellent point. A newcomer has to scrape and scratch to figure out some of the acronyms. Usually, in some article or paper, if an acronym is coined, the original derivation is spelled out, and the acronym born for the reader to enjoy.
Un explained acronyms often lose the reader, and their original effectiveness.
Best regards, Dan

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Nov-07, 06:29 AM
I think we need a glossary at minimum, including acronyms and terms like "woo-woo" that aren't part of the common lexicon. A wiki is probably a good idea, too--there are certain banned posters that get referenced a lot, rightly or wrongly, and it's helpful to the newbie, I think, to know who these people are.

That's not a bad idea at all. A Wiki with at least a glossary, and perhaps a repository of CTs and counter-arguments?

Damien Evans
2006-Nov-07, 10:59 AM
Hi Gillian, You make an excellent point. A newcomer has to scrape and scratch to figure out some of the acronyms. Usually, in some article or paper, if an acronym is coined, the original derivation is spelled out, and the acronym born for the reader to enjoy.
Un explained acronyms often lose the reader, and their original effectiveness.
Best regards, Dan

As to the original question, i have not been here long, but i do believe standards here are rather high, especially compared to some other forums i've seen

On the subject of acronyms, i think i get most of them, but what does "IIRC" mean?

TriangleMan
2006-Nov-07, 11:29 AM
On the subject of acronyms, i think i get most of them, but what does "IIRC" mean?
IIRC, it means If I Recall/Remember Correctly.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Nov-07, 11:32 AM
If I remember correctly it means "If I Remember Correctly".

Nereid
2006-Nov-07, 11:48 AM
While I doubt this data will have much to say about whether standards are 'slipping' or not, but at least it is something that's a little more than just a feeling.

It's in the Why there is an ATM section at all? (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=46193) thread: here (http://www.bautforum.com/showpost.php?p=817186&postcount=84) and here (http://www.bautforum.com/showpost.php?p=817448&postcount=87).

On just the ATM section: maybe one indication of improving standards is the fact that the longest thread, from pre-merger days, has come to an end, without any loss of opportunity for proponents of EU ideas present their ATM ideas (and have them attacked with glee and fervour). Another is that a certain prolific contributor, in pre-merger days, had been banned. With the amnesty, he returned, and resumed posting prolifically. This time, however, no bans ... yet he posts no more.

On the other hand, there has been, IMHO, an increase in ATM threads which seem immune from being attacked, scientifically ...

Jakenorrish
2006-Nov-07, 12:59 PM
As a member of the Universe Today forum, I was aprehensive about how the new forum would work. I feel however that the forum merge was a necessary process. I have learned a great deal more, from the many more people who use it.

Its inevitable that there will be more scientifically inacurate opinions and statements as there are more people are posting here. Hopefully a lot of the new posters will have little knowledge of Astronomy and will be able to use this resource as a valuable learning tool. Some won't, but that's inevitable given the ridiculous conspiricy surrounding the subject as well as age old superstition of gibberish such as Astrology, which sadly gets linked with science far too often. Its our job to educate people as we ourselves have been and (hopefully) continue to learn and discover.

One should always present an opinion as just that. An opinion. Can you prove that there is no life on the planet Mercury? No you can't, so that is an opinion. Can you show we have been to the Moon? Yes, so that is fact. There is a need for both those discussions here (and many more besides) though one is purely speculative based on the balance of probability.

The merger has to my mind been a great success. The BA and Fraser take credit for having the guts to put in the effort, I for one thank them. The rest of you also deserve credit for continuing to contribute to what is (to my mind) one of the best forums on the internet concerning ANY subject. :clap:

Fazor
2006-Nov-07, 07:22 PM
First off, happy belated 5th b-day to the forum.
As a new member, I can't really comment on the state of the forums now as opposed to then. But I can say as someone with little to no knowlege of astronomy and physics, but a lot of interest in both, I have gotten some great replies to my questions with plenty of links to resources to back things up. There's plenty of people on here that seem less than scientific, but it's easy to pick out the old hands from the less...mature? Anyway, congrats again. 5 years on the net is certianly an accomplishment these days.

Damien Evans
2006-Nov-08, 06:24 AM
IIRC, it means If I Recall/Remember Correctly.

ok thanks for clearing that up

JohnD
2006-Nov-10, 12:13 AM
Thanks everyone!
I should have said that my post was not about the ATM forum, that will inevitably point towards the wilder shores. More importantly I was NOT having a go at long time Astronomy Today users. This one board now,that I hope we will all take forward.

Here's to another five years of an exciting Universe!

John