Comment moderation back on.

Due to an ovewhelming influx of drek from various commenters, I’ve turned comment moderation up a few notches. This will probably mean that your comments will be grabbed by the moderation monster no matter what you say or who you are, because the Moveable Type comment moderation system totally sucks. I’m doing this because I am now about to spend a bit of family time and can’t sit here sorting through shit. I’ll do it later when I have time.

Sorry for the inconvenience. As I noted in a comment a moment or two back, between the AGW denialists and the “scientific” racists, and their sockpuppetry, it may be necessary to start a registration process. Sorry about that.


  1. #1 Anne Gilbert
    December 25, 2009

    GregI, I’m really sorry you have to put comment moderation on. It’s a pain in you know what part of the anatomy. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary, as I’ve found out in my own blog, where spammers just keep trying their best to get in. It’s probably much worse on your blog.
    Anne G

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    December 25, 2009

    Those of us who are here to learn and interact can tolerate moderation.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    December 25, 2009

    That sucks but is completely understandable. As Bob says, we’ll deal. Would it be instructive in any way to restore the comments that led to the change?

  4. #4 bryan
    December 26, 2009

    You can restore your blog to it’s previous, pre-me, state regarding moderating comments and such. Further, say the word and I’ll give you my word that I won’t post here anymore. I have no interest in spending time spamming someone else’s internet creation.

    I do think the deleted threads (including one of mine) will not be restored as doing so would further expose Greg’s face saving move via censorship. I’m particularly interested in the comment “D” made that was deleted very quickly / before I could save it. Orin– who seemed to be very reasonable in his posts to date– was also deleted. Whatever.

    Interesting irony: my wife discovered that Greg and I are facebook friends.

    In the spirit of that, I offer a truce. You go on posting blogs here without fear of retaliation from me. I’ll go on posting elsewhere.

    That’s it; consider accepting my sincerely offered olive-flavored quiche branch on this most 2nd holiest of days so we can both get back to our regularly scheduled programs (on different channels).

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    December 26, 2009

    Bryan, you are more than welcome to keep commenting (it’s not called posting it’s called commenting. I”m the poster, it’s my blog) here as long as you take it down a notch and I arbitrarily feel like it. That’s how it works with blogs.

    One thing you might consider doing is to top saying shit like the three bits Stephanie pulled from your comment in her comment on her QM post. They are good examples of what will get anyone deleted on anyone’s blog (or bitch slapped if you walked into someone’ house and talked that kind of trash). I didn’t earn a PhD in this topic to be told I didn’t know anything, and it is not your place to visit my blog for the purpose of demanding that I prove myself.

  6. #6 bryan
    December 26, 2009

    Sorry, I just expected more from a skeptic/scientist.

    Quite honestly, if you have comment moderation on only because of me, you can take it off.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    December 26, 2009

    Bryan, unless you are responsible for the “ovewhelming influx of drek from various commenters,” stop trying to take credit for the moderation. Nobody’s shutting you up. There are still two open comment threads in this discussion.

    And really, no one cares about your expectations. It’s quite clear you walked into an argument you didn’t expect to be as rigorous as it was and that you didn’t expect to be held to the standards of accuracy that you were. The fact that you’re still whining about Greg having expressed an opinion, which he then additionally clarified was opinion, on his personal blog just comes across as sour grapes.

  8. #8 Bryan
    December 26, 2009

    Uh, deleting my posts and closing a thread when third parties started chiming in on Greg’s extreme unfairness, then warning other bloggers that I might try to hijack them…you could forgive for me for thinking that greg’s face-saving explanation for censorship was me trolling.

    That’s some kind of rigor.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    December 26, 2009

    Bryan, comment moderation was not turned on because of any of the comments I received from you. BTW, the comment moderation I had durned on is off.

    I should add the following for people reading this thread: There is always moderation of comments on this blog, as much as I don’t like that. There is one commenter who sends me a death threat each and every day. 90% of those are trapped and no one sees them. Those comments and a number of other comments are routinely caught by a filter. Viagra ads are caught by the filter. The whole process is actually fairly complex, there are a lot of settings to mess with, and substantial parts of Moveable Types filter and moderation system are either useless or just don’t work.

    Bryan is claiming to have seen a bunch of comments that were deleted . The total number of problematic comments that I removed that he could have seen written by someone else is two (maybe three). This is why I am guessing that Bryan has colleagues, real or imagined, that were sending in obnoxious items that had to be filtered out. Otherwise how would he know about them. I could be wrong about that, I have no way on knowing, and I don’t care. I really do have better things to do than to deal with that.

    I will also add that the anti-evolution death threat comments, the “let’s use Laden’s blog as a place to published the Climate Gate Emails” stream of data, the “Lets put fifteen or twenty comments on how stupid Laden is so he loses credibility if anyone reads this comment” and the “Whites are genetically superior to blacks to the tune of 35 IQ points, we know this to be a fact” google seeds, spread across seven or eight threads, was the issue I was dealing with yesterday (and continue to deal with).

    When the overlords come back from vacation, I want to discuss registration options with them.

    You’ll notice in parallel PZ has been having several problems.

    That is all. I’m going to Target.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    December 26, 2009

    warning other bloggers that I might try to hijack them..


  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    December 26, 2009

    Bryan, you tried to hijack a Linux thread. And feel free to post the comment you claim was deleted at Quiche Moraine.

  12. #12 Bryan
    December 26, 2009

    I’m guessing that discussing this here to the point of tedium is reasonable since this specific blog is about the topic of moderation, and that only those people interested in reading further will do so (i.e., people won’t start posting here claiming “enough already,” as no one’s forcing them to read this thread further).

    Some confusion here:

    My claim is that greg deleted a post from me, from a poster named “D,” and at least one from orin.
    I also think Greg banned Orin from posting here. I say this because of Greg’s last comment to Orin:
    “Orin,Just one last comment to you before you have to go…”

    I’ll paste my deleted thread below. If someone wants it hosted to verify that it appeared here, let me know and I will link to it.

    I saw the post from “D” and tried to save it, but it was gone. I suspect I read it nearly exactly as Greg was deleting it. I know that I was online here when Greg did his deleting.

    Restoring the deleted threads might help, for those who really want to get to the bottom of this.

    Greg’s warning to others that I might troll:

    “To all my regular readers: I fully expect Bryan and his friends to start commenting now on other threads on this site, and to make a general nuisance of themselves.”

    My last post that Greg deleted (right after I posted this is when I noticed threads starting to disappear):

    Everything you’ve provided us with is secondary, derivitive, from known
    racist sources, and that is assuming I know where your information is
    coming from because it is not directly cited.
    Orin:…major ass kicking pending.
    Who is this masked man/woman!
    I promised myself not to post here given the non-specific drivel Greg
    and others use to “address” time consuming and specific posts (ones
    presenting evidence) that I made. How is the above reply by Greg worthy
    of a scientist?
    Like a car accident, though, I couldn’t stop looking back.
    As a science blogger, you owe Orin more than your typical
    obtuse/ignorant reply. At first I thought Orin might be cutting and
    pasting stuff in from other sources. On further reading, I know when I
    am out of my league. I wonder when Greg will realize the same?

  13. #13 Scotlyn
    December 26, 2009

    The “Different races” thread, was strangely compelling, despite also being boring and depressing by turns. All of this was rewarded, Greg, when you crafted this gem of a sentence:

    Actually, I’m pretty convinced that there is a tortured logic using oft cherry picked data and some huge leaps and flaming winged monkey distractions from contrary evidence, cloaked in a recently popular but no longer valid or interesting counter PC dressing desgined specifically to advance a rather hateful racist agenda.

    That said it all, really. Just wondering if “flaming winged monkey distractons” is a technical term?

    Take care.

  14. #14 daedalus2u
    December 26, 2009

    Scotlyn, I think I understood exactly what the term “flaming winged monkey distractions” means. Sometimes, to express a thought, one needs to encompass many levels of abstraction, a thought, a meta-thought, a meta-meta-meta-thought, and also the opposite of a meta-thought, a meta-anti-thought (aka nonsense or something often indistinguishable from nonsense, faith).

    But as I mentioned on the other thread, one needs to be careful when one looks at ideas that are deep in an abyss. The abyss does look back into you, and if you are going to be able to see what is in the abyss, you need pattern recognition to identify what is actually in the abyss. If you run that pattern recognition computation native, or allow it access to your root directory, then when the abyss looks back into you, it can change you in ways that are beyond your control and which can be essentially irreversible.

    One needs to run the abyss pattern recognition computation with the proper safeguards. If one does not, then one risks falling into the abyss, and the abyss is very much like a black hole, it can be a one way trip. Like the red matter in the last Star Trek movie. A little bit of the abyss can catalyze the complete conversion. It is the connections to the idea space outside of the abyss that is protective, reliable facts connected by reliable mathematics and reliable logic. Without those, there is only the abyss.

    This is why the GOP can’t negotiate or even talk with liberals. If they let the tiniest bit of liberalism in, like red matter, it might take over everything. That is the fundamental problem of faith and all beliefs not founded in facts and logic but on feelings. If you let your cognition be ruled by your feelings, then your cognition can accept anything.

    The meme of xenophobia is so very hard to fight because some aspects of it are hard-wired in humans and are pervasive in so many aspects of society. That is why trying to reason with people about xenophobia is so difficult. You can’t reason a person out of beliefs they didn’t reason themselves into. Trying to does generate cognitive dissonance which makes people feel angry, and so they project plausible explanations for why they feel angry, that they were insulted, they were defamed, etc. Once you start trying to rationalize your feelings and lose track of which comes first, it becomes easy to lose your way.

  15. #15 Scotlyn
    December 26, 2009


    You can’t reason a person out of beliefs they didn’t reason themselves into.

    That is the heart and the soul of it, isn’t it – but where do you go next, especially if, in for the purposes of this sentence “beliefs” = “the abyss” you referred to earlier? There is always the moral dimension – I think that provoking both cognitive and moral dissonance can be useful strategies. People do sometimes get waylaid by the anger that this provokes, but sometimes the discomfort becomes a spur to new thinking. In my case it would have been moral dissonance first, and cognitive dissonance second – but both equally uncomfortable – that made me leave the faith I was reared in.

    I am glad, by the way, that Greg continues to peer into the abyss and identify the assorted flora and fauna to be found there, including “flaming winged monkey distractions” and other scary beasties.

  16. #16 Irene
    December 26, 2009

    One can not expect dogmatic people to change their minds (too often) but most people looking on are undecided on some issues. Quiet lurkers who perhaps are thinking about what they are reading for the very reason to form an opinion are the true audience of these discussions.

  17. #17 daedalus2u
    December 26, 2009

    My use of the term “abyss” is metaphoric. Inside the abyss, things may appear to be self-consistent, but that is due to the local conditions inside the abyss. Like the inside of a black hole, the cognitive abyss is not causally connected to the outside reality. The cognitive abyss of YECs is not that different than the cognitive abyss of any other delusional world view.

    I see the cognitive abyss as deriving from having a too strong “theory of mind”, where ideas communicated by an authority (or thought up on one’s own) take on more credibility than actual reality. Ideas “feel” true, as in truthy. Feelings are non-algorithmic ways of processing data. Because it is non-algorithmic, there is no algorithm to check, no way to figure out if the output is correct or not correct, the way an algorithm can be tested.

    Having the ability to compute things non-algorithmically is useful, when the algorithms to do the computations are intractable because the systems are too complex with too many degrees of freedom. One has to be very careful when doing these non-algorithmic calculations to not let extraneous things like wishful thinking influence the results.

  18. #18 Scotlyn
    December 26, 2009

    daedalus2u – your metaphorical language is lovely, although the metaphors derived from IT do slow my comprehension down a bit… not too sure what this means:

    I see the cognitive abyss as deriving from having a too strong “theory of mind”, where ideas communicated by an authority (or thought up on one’s own) take on more credibility than actual reality.

    I understood a “theory of mind” to mean our everyday working supposition that the people around us might have similar intentions/perceptions/thoughts/feelings to ourselves, and the use of that supposition to guide our social interactions. Your use seems to indicate a different meaning for that phrase.

    I’m pretty sure I know what you mean by this:

    Ideas “feel” true, as in truthy.

    And those are the most seductive ideas of all. That is why I believe the nub of all science teaching should be – 1) one or more clearly illustrated demonstrations of all the ways in which we can deceive ourselves and 2) the way in which scientific methods provide us with the only useful antidote to wishful thinking.

  19. #19 Bryan
    December 26, 2009

    English please, unless you’re trying to pull a Sokal on people?

  20. #20 daedalus2u
    December 26, 2009

    Scotlyn, I have a somewhat different and pretty specific concept behind what I mean by “theory of mind”. I discuss it in my blog in the context of autism. My thinking on this is still in flux.

    In some ways it can be thought of as the interface between the part of the brain that has ideas and thinks and feels and how those thoughts and feelings are translated into language and communicated to others.

    Because it interfaces with the part that thinks and feels, the ToM has to be able to interpret those mental concepts and translate them into language. The demarcation between thinking/feeling and translating that into language isn’t distinct. There is a lot of unconscious stuff transmitted via body language that never enters the consciousness of either the transmitter or receiver.

    The purpose of language is to cause the mental state of the idea that the language is trying to convey. When the ToM is “too strong”, language can cause mental states that are indistinguishable from reality. That is what “faith” is, accepting as real something that has been told to you, or that you have thought up on your own with no evidence for it at all.

    The ToM concept as it is used in the literature is mostly an NT concept. I think that most of them do not conceptualize ToM as something that is unique to an individual the way that I do. I think this is mostly because NTs all share a pretty similar ToM. Communication requires a shared ToM. Only to the extent that the two ToMs overlap can there be communication, and then only in regions where they overlap. This is somewhat speculative, but I think the NT ToM is mostly in “hardware”, while the ASD ToM is more an “emulation”.

    I see the ToM as the pattern recognition cognitive component that is necessary to understand communication. You need to be able to understand the thinking that leads to the concepts found in the abyss to be able to understand what is in that abyss. If that understanding is done in “hardware”, then the feelings it invokes are directly felt and can directly influence everything else. If you can do that computation in a “virtual” ToM (what I mean by an emulation), then you can control access to “feelings” and the ANS a lot better. When people get angry when talking about ideas, that is a sign that they are thinking about those ideas in “hardware” where it directly affects the ANS and invokes feelings.

  21. #21 daedalus2u
    December 26, 2009

    Not a sokal, if you have trouble with terms, ask and I will give you definitions as I understand and am using them.

    I am continuing the train of thought I started on the cat/dog/IQ thread and which draws a lot on the blog post I cited above.

  22. #22 Scotlyn
    December 27, 2009


    When people get angry when talking about ideas, that is a sign that they are thinking about those ideas in “hardware” where it directly affects the ANS and invokes feelings.

    I presume by “ANS” you mean specifically the “sympathetic ANS mode” – it might be hard to feel much anger in parasympathetic mode. But an aroused sympathetic ANS is an indication that the organism perceives itself to be in danger, and you suggest the danger is to the ToM, which when it occupies the “hardware” feels personally endangering. Do you suggest that an “emulated” ToM is less invested in, therefore, threats to it cannot be perceived as threats to the self?

  23. #23 mk
    December 27, 2009

    Oh darn… there goes the neighborhood!

  24. #24 daedalus2u
    December 27, 2009

    Scotlyn, I don’t make that much of a distinction between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Those distinctions to me seem kind of arbitrary and to me are not that useful. Most of my interest is in NO, so it is the nitrergic nervous system, which isn’t very well characterized. Part of the problem is that it doesn’t use synapses, but uses more of a volume detector, soluble guanylyl cyclase. So while the NO release may be easy to find (it actually isn’t), the detectors are more difficult (because all cells have them, it is more the path of NO diffusion that is regulated).

    There is a lot of cross-talk in all of these systems.

    I think when the ToM is run in hardware, it is directly connected to the hardware links of hormones, and other stuff. That does give you “better” control of physiological systems, i.e. faster, more robust, higher dynamic range, but then there is feedback on the ToM which interferes with the rational thinking and comparison of ideas.

    I think “invested” is the wrong term.

    A ToM that runs in hardware “feels” more real because feelings are (to a large extent) the feedback through the ANS. You “feel” it in your gut. The cogitative capacities of the gut are primarily concerned with regulation of digestion, glucose, liver, energy status, those shorts of things, not thinking about ideas. An idea “feeling good”, mostly means that it hasn’t activated stuff that “feels bad”. It is more the lack of a bad activation, rather than a good activation.

    How people think about risk illustrates this. Risks that feel bad are those that activate the ANS, people who are different than we are; xenophobia, snakes, loud noises, those sorts of things. Risks that don’t activate those things, global warming, guns in the house, automobile accidents, driving while drinking, self-injected drugs, unsafe sex, those sorts of things don’t activate the ANS, so they feel safe, even when they are not.