“Science and religion are both the same thing. They’re there; they’re life. If it’s not science, it’s not a fact.” -Chuck Berry

We always take pride in what we put out into the world here at Starts With A Bang, and I like to think that all of you take that same pride in everything you do. Before we get into anything else, I have some sad news to share with you: one of our long-time commenters, known here as MandoZink, has died of cancer. (He also commented elsewhere as BeyondApsis, if you knew or encountered him elsewhere.) His real name was Ron. He was so curious about everything; he loved knowledge and learning. He was overjoyed every time he learned how something worked. And he also spent time in jail at the Muhlenberg County Detention Center for growing his own medical chemo-relief medicine while he battled his cancer. He loved the mandolin; he loved John Prine; and he loved learning about the Universe. He wasn’t ready for his time to end, and I’d like to thank his sister, Donna, for reaching out to me to share the news of his passing. A bright candle has gone out amidst the great expanse of the Universe.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt.

It makes me think about what we put out into the world and about how we treat each other. Recently, I have seen a few of you who disagree get engaged in name-calling wars, baiting each other and generally engaging in “poking the bear.” I can think of nothing better to do than to try and make peace. We all have different ways of interacting with the world, different perspectives and different opinions. Some of them are downright incorrect, but I would encourage and implore you to be good to each other, always, even when you observe bad behavior. It’s only through our goodness to each other that existence becomes bearable. Thanks for being willing to consider my suggestion, even if you choose not to take it.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration.

With that introduction out of the way, we’ve had a busy, information-filled week here, and I’m happy to share everything new we’ve published:

I’ve decided to only highlight the comments that I’ve chosen as the best (and it’s subjective, as always), so let’s continue onto our comments of the week!

Moving close to the speed of light results in times and distances transforming, with lengths -- including the length of your starship -- becoming shorter in the direction of motion. Image credit: David Taylor of Northwestern, via http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~infocom/Ideas/einstein.html.

Moving close to the speed of light results in times and distances transforming, with lengths — including the length of your starship — becoming shorter in the direction of motion. Image credit: David Taylor of Northwestern, via http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~infocom/Ideas/einstein.html.

From Michael Mooney on special relativity and length contraction: “So the distance between stars depends on the speed of the traveler (no objective cosmos independent of frame of reference), but spherical bodies in space don’t flatten out (contract in diameter) depending on speed of the observing point of view. (“We don’t think so” anyway.) So what is the difference here? Please explain.”

There is a big difference between what different observers see; that’s the key point of special relativity, and one of the biggest sources of confusion for those trying to learn it and wrap their minds around it. From the point of view of someone on the spaceship, traveling close to the speed of light, the distances of external (but not internal) objects along their direction of motion are contracted, as are the distances between objects. To someone watching the spaceship, the fast-moving ship itself is contracted. If there were an electric (or gravitational) field coming from the fast-moving object, it would have the effect of being contracted as well.

The difficulty comes in trying to interact. For example, you might try and put a relativistic train that’s 200 feet long into a 100 foot long barn that’s at rest. Could you, if the train were moving fast enough? The answer is “no,” and that’s one of the tough parts of how special relativity works. Both observers need to agree on what result you’d get, and they don’t. This is sometimes referred to as the ladder paradox. It is well-understood in physics, even if it’s not well-understood by most people in general.

Image credit: Duncan K Bliths, via Reddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/1173ge/yeah_bitch_magnets/.

Image credit: Duncan K Bliths, via Reddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/1173ge/yeah_bitch_magnets/.

From eric on out-of-control comments: “As an aside, does anyone know if there is a way you can not-see posts from specific posters? I think that can be done on some boards, just not sure whether it can be done here or how.”

I think everyone who’s actively posting here should continue to retain the rights and privileges to post, but the repeat comments have got to go. It is just spam to me, and to everyone else. If you can’t help yourselves, I will enact a temporary 1-week ban on anyone (and it’s going to take two of you, I imagine, in which case I’ll knock you both off for a week) who’s just filling up the comment threads here — particularly new, active ones — with garbage.

This was designed as a place for people to come and talk about science, the article, or their thoughts related to it. It’s not a place to just be terrible to one another, even if (perhaps, especially if) you think the other person is legitimately terrible.

Image credit: © 2005–2009 by Rainer Sparenberg, image editing by Stefan Binnewies, via http://www.airglow.de/html/starclusters/m70.html.

Image credit: © 2005–2009 by Rainer Sparenberg, image editing by Stefan Binnewies, via http://www.airglow.de/html/starclusters/m70.html.

From John on why we aren’t expanding if the Universe is: “This ties back neatly to the “Cosmic superclusters, the Universe’s largest structures, don’t actually exist” thread.”

What’s pretty interesting about this is that if you take a bound object — like say, a planet or star — and have it exist stably within a gravitationally bound structure, the expansion of the Universe will have no effect on it, ever. It will remain bound. But if it gets ejected, perhaps gravitationally, from the structure it’s in, suddenly the expansion of the Universe will begin to increase its velocity away from the object it was formerly bound to. The Universe doesn’t stop expanding just because an object is bound; it’s only that it’s ineffective so long as there’s sufficient binding. Remove that binding by whatever means necessary, and the expansion occurs again.

Image credit: White Dwarf, Earth, and Black Dwarf, via BBC / GCSE (L) and SunflowerCosmos (R).

Image credit: White Dwarf, Earth, and Black Dwarf, via BBC / GCSE (L) and SunflowerCosmos (R).

From Ragtag Media on the far future of the Universe: “The Universe mathematically and factually (and Biblically) only has enough informational “energy” to sustain itself until it does not.. and then…. Poof. Nothing…LOL”

Well, that’s not quite mathematically and factually true. (And my bible doesn’t have anything to say about this at all, but perhaps you read a different version than I do.) Information is not energy, and energy cannot accurately be described as informational. In fact, the word you’re looking for, entropy (which is related to information), always increases. As energy drops and the Universe expands, and gravity unbinds or causes the merger of objects, as the stars burn out and die, as space becomes emptier and emptier, the Universe comes no closer to ending. As far as we can tell, it should sustain itself for an infinite amount of time into the future… although we cannot say this for certainty, just to a certain (the limits of our measured) precision.

Hubble Space Telescope optical image (green), mass map (Limousin et al 2012; contours), and CSO/Bolocam 140 GHz (red) and 268 GHz (blue) maps of the galaxy cluster MACS J0717+3745. The lack of 268 GHz signal at subcluster B (second large concentration from upper right) is due to the kinetic Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. Image credit: P. Korngut.

Hubble Space Telescope optical image (green), mass map (Limousin et al 2012; contours), and CSO/Bolocam 140 GHz (red) and 268 GHz (blue) maps of the galaxy cluster MACS J0717+3745. The lack of 268 GHz signal at subcluster B (second large concentration from upper right) is due to the kinetic Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. Image credit: P. Korngut.

From Anonymous Coward on what to call the individual merging clusters in MACS J0717: “I know it’s just some silly pareidolia on the last image in the synopsis, but might they be called, from left to right: the fried egg cluster, the slug cluster, the chick cluster, and the fish cluster?”

These contour maps that show cluster masses all look like frogs to me. I would call them, from left to right: bug-eyed frog, surprised frog, delirious frog and pollywog frog.

Which is to say, I think we’re in agreement here.

Left: An infrared view of the sky in Ursa Major. Right: an enhanced view with known sources masked, showing fluctuations of the infrared background. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (Goddard).

Left: An infrared view of the sky in Ursa Major. Right: an enhanced view with known sources masked, showing fluctuations of the infrared background. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (Goddard).

From B.A. on dark matter: “There are those of us that believe dark matter is nothing more than particle sized and up, primordial black holes formed at the time of the Big Bang.”

And perhaps those of you who believe that will someday publish and present your good evidence for believing that. Primordial black holes are disfavored by:

  • a huge slew of observational constraints that have almost entirely closed their mass window for being the dark matter,
  • the lack of a mechanism for producing them that doesn’t violate quantum rules during inflation or the observed Harrison-Zel’dovich spectrum,
  • X-ray and gamma-ray observations that show no evidence for PBH dark matter under any circumstances.

There are a few true believers out there, but even Barrow, Carr and the other founders of the PBH idea have all but abandoned it in the face of damning evidence against it. There are non-physicists on the internet who are still believers, but until there’s evidence for it in some fashion, your “belief” is unfounded in physics.

Image credit: NASA / GISS global average temperature data from 2011.

Image credit: NASA / GISS global average temperature data from 2011.

From Denier on something respectable: “My driving motivation is in trying to give my 4-year old son the best world I can. I have learned that people can be far more threatening than can a tenth of a degree or a few millimeters of ocean rise. Given what I do know about economics, governments, history, human nature, and the threat of a warmer climate, I’m satisfied with my position currently but it’s always adaptable as I learn more.”

Well if you’re more concerned with economics and politics than climate change, and the future of your four-year-old son, perhaps you would care to share what you believe the quantified economic and political costs of ignoring climate change are? There are people who study those things professionally, including the United States military (who views climate change as a national security threat), and they have their own quantifications. It sounds like yours is far, far lower than what they attest.

I’m curious as to what your reasoning is, and as to why you think you’re more qualified to make those assessments than the professionals in the field?

Image credit: © Средняя оценка, via https://wallpaperscraft.com/download/black_hole_space_stars_circles_universe_61036/1920x1060.

Image credit: © Средняя оценка, via https://wallpaperscraft.com/download/black_hole_space_stars_circles_universe_61036/1920×1060.

From John on infinities in physics: “It is noteworthy that in certain instances infinity is considered a problem in Physics, one example being the singularity of a black hole, while in others, it is presented as a solution to problems in Physics, as in some versions of the multiverse.”

I would encourage you to think a little deeper about this. Infinity is a mathematical construct that gets applied in a variety of physical contexts, but this is usually in the context of limits. In the case of a singularity at a black hole, it’s not that “infinity” itself is the problem, but rather than distances below a certain scale (or times below a certain scale, thanks to their interconversion by the speed of light) run into inherent quantum limits. Infinities in the context of the multiverse aren’t, as they’re often touted, solutions to anything, but rather as features of the theory.

There are many people who point to things like the “coincidence problem” — why are two seemingly unrelated things so close together — or the “hierarchy problem” — why are two seemingly related things so far apart — and say that these are examples of how physicists will never be satisfied. In reality, these are both examples of fine-tuning problems: why are things the way they are and not slightly different, especially given that slight differences would have substantial consequences?

I’d encourage you to think about the particulars of the problem, rather than to try and lump “infinity” in as the thing they have in common.

A quantum optics setup. Image credit: Matthew Broome, winner of the Australian Research Council’s photo & data competition from the Centre for quantum computation and communication technology. Via http://cqc2t.org/node/6026.

A quantum optics setup. Image credit: Matthew Broome, winner of the Australian Research Council’s photo & data competition from the Centre for quantum computation and communication technology. Via http://cqc2t.org/node/6026.

From Carl on a summary of what the comment thread has degenerated into: “This arguing and name calling is very immature. John taunts, Wow spews a venom and profanity-laden tantrum.
There are no winners here, boys.”

And we are all losers when we can’t talk to each other like we have the common interest of advancing our understanding. We may disagree about how to go about that, but I mean it; knock it off — and Carl has nailed it: it’s boyish, taunting, venomous and tantrum-like behavior — starting now.

Detection and Attribution as Forensics (source: NOAA NCDC), in: Walsh, J., et al. (11 January 2013), “Appendix II: The Science of Climate Change”, in FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE DRAFT CLIMATE ASSESSMENT. A report by the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee.

Detection and Attribution as Forensics (source: NOAA NCDC), in: Walsh, J., et al. (11 January 2013), “Appendix II: The Science of Climate Change”, in FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE DRAFT CLIMATE ASSESSMENT. A report by the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee.

From dean on the way climate change has been unfairly and dishonestly politicized: “Part of the reason these models are so effectively ridiculed by the deniers (dishonestly, of course, since they grossly misrepresent the models and what they say) comes is in no small part due to this:

Models have been very effective in predicting climate change, but have not been as effective in predicting its impact on ecosystem[s] and human society. The distinction between the two has not been stated clearly.

The liars are very smooth at saying this means the models fail in any number of ways (just as they are smooth in lying when they say that climate science is not a real science and its practitioners support restricting the rights of people). Once the false narrative has been released the only way to counter it is with a technical discussion, and in today’s world too many people “don’t have time for that.””

I think this is exactly right. This is the same line of attack that creationists/ID proponents use when attacking evolution (how does evolution explain the origin of life?), or that gish-gallopers (the debate tactic is known as “spreading”) use when trying to undermine any legitimate point. Say something that takes a long time to refute clearly, say it many times and in many different ways, say a lot of those arguments, all with the same goal: delay, confuse, and sow uncertainty. But that in no way changes the scientific facts or the success of the scientific models.

Heat-trapping emissions (greenhouse gases) far outweigh the effects of other drivers acting on Earth’s climate. Source: Hansen et al. 2005, Figure adapted by Union of Concerned Scientists.

Heat-trapping emissions (greenhouse gases) far outweigh the effects of other drivers acting on Earth’s climate. Source: Hansen et al. 2005, Figure adapted by Union of Concerned Scientists.

From Denier in two different spots: “I’m not going to pull my punches here. Ethan has flat out lied to everyone. In the article he wrote the following bit in a way that made it appear to be not only a conclusion of the paper but a direct quote of the paper. […] First of all that quote is not anywhere in the paper although there is similar language with regards to a 5-fold increase of stratospheric water vapor. Secondly, the number provided is wrong. Lastly, and worst of all it implies a conclusion which the authors roundly rejected.

[…]

I’m wrong. I did find the quote Ethan pulled. It was in the abstract. While Ethan’s assertion of “Predicted Global Warming Almost Perfectly” is still ridiculous, the line that drew my wrath was indeed from the authors and my attacks directed at Ethan with regards to that line were unwarranted. Ethan did not lie. I was wrong.”

Good for you for admitting your wrongness when you convinced yourself of it. Yes, if you had read the fourth sentence of the abstract, you would have found your error immediately. But your “secondly” and “lastly” points are also wrong, and the authors have been quite public about standing behind their work and its conclusions for… you know, fifty years. That paper I referred to has been named as the single most influential climate change paper in all of climate science in a 2015 poll.

In other words, the full suite of your attacks were and are unwarranted, at least as respects the climate science.

Global land and global ocean surface temperature anomalies. Light lines are 12-month running means and heavy lines are 132-month (11-year) running means. Image credit: "Global Temperature in 2016", J. Hansen et al. (2017), via http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2017/20170118_Temperature2016.pdf.

Global land and global ocean surface temperature anomalies. Light lines are 12-month running means and heavy lines are 132-month (11-year) running means. Image credit: “Global Temperature in 2016”, J. Hansen et al. (2017), via http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2017/20170118_Temperature2016.pdf.

Commenter Craig Thomas on another feature of climate models: “Every one of two dozen or more research projects by a variety of people using a variety of data have all produced confirmation that the original hockey stick paper was accurate.”

I remember when I first became aware of the hockey stick when I was in middle school, and how lots of people claimed it was absurd. Scientists who helped come up with the model have since said that the hockey stick was the icon that they thought the anti-warmist camp could smash, and if they could smash that, the results of climate science would be smashed, too. But the hockey stick has held up to scrutiny in every study done so far. The Earth is warming, CO2 is the cause, and this effect will run away causing warming, ocean acidification and sea level rise. The only question is by how much, and that is directly dependent on how much additional CO2 we continue to emit.

If the answer to the latter question is “all of it,” as in all of the sequestered carbon in fossil fuels, then the answer to “how much” is also all of it, as in all of the polar icecaps will melt, the temperature will rise by 6 degrees C or more, and the ocean’s pH will acidify by approximately 0.3 on the pH scale (last I heard), which is a catastrophic amount to much of marine life.

A famous photo circulated across news media of a certain wing. Is it photoshopped? You decide.

A famous photo circulated across news media of a certain wing. Is it photoshopped? You decide.

From SteveP on what the Earth and our nations’ leaders will do about it: “Well, I see that topic of infrared absorption and re-emission by carbon dioxide molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere has once again been livened up by the interjection of financially motivated mindlessness! Who is going to win this contest of wits, ladies and gentlemen? The Wall Street Journal Op Ed readers? The Limbaugh and Hannity listeners? The scientists who actually study this topic and understand it? Or the fearless live pigeon shooter and fossil fuel spokesmen from hell, Jim Inhofe? Stay tuned….”

Why don’t we just take a look at how the various models — historical and modern — work when compared to the data?

As you can see, the predictions by prominent climate contrarians Lindzen, Easterbrook and Atasofu fail to match the observations spectacularly. Mainstream work has been getting it right since Wallack Broecker’s work in the 1970s, or — if you go back to the paper I wrote the article about — 1967.

The Harvard Diamond, created by a team led by Mikhail Lukin, has so many nitrogen impurities that it turned black. This is one of two independent physical systems used to create a time crystal. Image credit: Georg Kucsko.

The Harvard Diamond, created by a team led by Mikhail Lukin, has so many nitrogen impurities that it turned black. This is one of two independent physical systems used to create a time crystal. Image credit: Georg Kucsko.

From Wow on time crystals: “Yeah, never really accepted that time crystals were a thing. Just a result of a way of modelling time in a theory. A bit like when they talk about slowing down the speed of light. Doesn’t really, it just impedes the time taken for the energy to reach the destination.”

Well, they are a thing, but they’re a thing like a perpetual motion machine is a thing. In other words, if you drive something externally, you can achieve perpetual motion. There are cool ways you can “barely” drive it, and there may even be, in principle, ways you can drive it that don’t add any external energy, but simply rearrange the internal energy, that achieve it. But what we call a “time crystal” is in no way a crystallized version of time, nor is it, as Wilczek envisioned, possible in a system in thermal equilibrium.

For my money, I think that if Wilczek’s name weren’t on this, nobody would’ve cared much about it.

Image credit: Screenshot from Attack of the Clones, via http://jedicole.blogspot.com/2011/09/jedi-justifications-2-lightsaber.html.

Image credit: Screenshot from Attack of the Clones, via http://jedicole.blogspot.com/2011/09/jedi-justifications-2-lightsaber.html.

From Sinisa Lazarek on where the CMB is: “It’s all around you, it penetrates you and binds the galaxy together 😀 .. well… not so much the last part, maybe that’s why we don’t have Jedis”

411 CMB photons per cubic centimeter. At an age of 13.8 billion years, this is true everywhere in the Universe that isn’t shielded from CMB photons. (I.e., anywhere that isn’t in a location opaque to microwave/radio radiation.)

Image credit: Ned Wright's cosmology tutorial.

Image credit: Ned Wright’s cosmology tutorial.

And finally, from Paul Dekous on how we know the CMB is primordial: “If you photograph a pot of boiling water with a regular camera you get a clear image of that pot, just like we can take a sharp image of the stars. Now if you photograph that same pot with a heat-camera you get a very different image with flows. The question now is how do you know that the light is old and from one specific point in time, and not some heat/light flowing around from more recent times even now. How are the two distinguishable from each other?”

The above data is how, taken by COBE in the 1990s. (In black.) If there were a late-time emission that was shifted to lower energies, it wouldn’t have the same blackbody spectrum that the CMB is seen to exhibit. This detail — as I go into in depth in chapter 6 of my first book, Beyond The Galaxy — is something that no cosmological alternative can reproduce.

I am looking forward to better behavior from all of you, but particularly from Wow and John. There’s no reason for it (and that is not an invitation to tell me your reason), and I know you can choose to behave if you choose it. Choose it. And I’ll see you all back here tomorrow!

Comments

  1. #1 John
    Baltimore
    March 19, 2017

    “In the case of a singularity at a black hole, it’s not that “infinity” itself is the problem, but rather than distances below a certain scale (or times below a certain scale, thanks to their interconversion by the speed of light) run into inherent quantum limits.”

    Yes! That’s where I was trying to go with that part of my observation, for quantum mechanics does not, as far as I’m aware, permit particles to inhabit a space smaller than their wavelengths. Extremely cool!

  2. #2 Wow
    March 19, 2017

    “There’s no reason for it ”

    I know there’s no goddamned reason for it. Revenge. Ain’t a reason, but it’s why I do it.

  3. #3 Wow
    March 19, 2017

    And, John, no, that wasn’t your reason since you kept not goddamned reading what I’d posted in your haste to spam the shit out of the thread to teach me a lesson about how you’re to be right.

    There was no infinity, and even now ethan has said to your face that it isn’t PHYSICS that has the problem with infinity, it’s maths, but it frequently also just knows that it’s not an actual one and merely a construct of the mathematics, and ALSO that there’s no infinity in a black hole.

    Which your link and quote ALSO SAID.

    But you would NOT listen.

    And you’re still not. ret-conning your way into being not wrong still.

  4. #4 Staple723
    Brisbane
    March 19, 2017

    In response to your statement about interactions and bating etc we are all simple reflections vibrating our way down the river of time, along that river we encounter elements that are bound to rub us the wrong way creating friction, all energy has to go some where, we can allow the situations to become static and cause explosions and burn us out slowly or allow the situation to flow through us like water. Water is the means by witch all life grows it is with the introduction of electricity that our muscles fire and our movements/actions make their impressions on the external we are all reflection and refractions with hydrogen thrown in we are all apart of the same whole a thing of infinite beauty and wonder.

  5. #5 Wow
    March 19, 2017

    Well that was a load of bollocks.

    Try reading what people say and not lying about it. Should be simple.

  6. #6 Wow
    March 19, 2017

    “The difficulty comes in trying to interact. For example, you might try and put a relativistic train that’s 200 feet long into a 100 foot long barn that’s at rest. Could you, if the train were moving fast enough? The answer is “no,” ”

    If only because from the POV of the train, the barn looks 50ft long.

    Which is why (or one of many reasons why) there’s no possible “real world” frame of reference. Every frame of reference has equal claim to being “real”.

  7. #7 Wow
    March 19, 2017

    And, when it comes to economics vs climate, the experts there think it’s a damn sight cheaper and more effective to do something about climate now rather than “adapt” by doing sweet FA now. I’ve posted this before, but denier probably succeeds quite easily forgetting this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review

  8. #8 John
    Baltimore
    March 19, 2017

    @ #4 Staple723,

    Yes. We each get along better with some people than we do with others.

  9. #9 John
    Baltimore
    March 19, 2017

    @ #3 wow,

    “… ethan has said to your face that it isn’t PHYSICS that has the problem with infinity …”

    That’s not how I interpret what he posted.

    What Ethan posted was, “In the case of a singularity at a black hole, it’s not that “infinity” itself is the problem, but rather than distances below a certain scale (or times below a certain scale, thanks to their interconversion by the speed of light) run into inherent quantum limits.”

    Those quantum limits are physics.

    Why not – just as a suggestion – simply not reply to what I have to say? If you do not engage in what I consider to be an attack, I’ll feel no motivation to reply.

    You are as entitled to your opinion as I am, which is another way of saying that I am as entitled to my opinion as you are. If you can accept that as an operating assumption, and if you dislike as intensely as you appear to dislike what I have to say about almost anything I say, then just pretend that my posts are not here. I can extend the same to you, and neither you nor I will be at risk of raising Ethan’s ire.

    This approach seems reasonable to me. Is that something you can live with?

  10. #10 John edwin
    Australia
    March 19, 2017

    Better get up to speed… yes i know you have heard all the words but there is a real crisis. See my page John Edwin, careful to find the correct one… i am on about marine oil pollution, ice age and AGW.
    Also see fbook blog Ice Age NOW, John Caley

  11. #11 Chris Dawson
    Nashville
    March 19, 2017

    Love this stuff. It is hard for the average person to wrap their heads around these concepts. The concept of external objects appearing to contract to a person on a vessel nearIng the speed of light….is it reasonable to sight how small the 8 foot center stripes appear the faster one drives?

  12. #12 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    March 19, 2017

    Goodbye Mando. You are once again a part of the universe unfettered by humanity’s foibles.

  13. #13 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “That’s not how I interpret what he posted.”

    Of course you haven’t, teabaggie.

    But then again, we only have your words for it, we don’t know whether or not even you don’t believe that shite you spout. But, based solely on the words you prattle out, you believe whatever nonsense retains your asinine claims as “not wrong” at the very least.

    You don’t read.

    You just proclaim.

    Because you’re a fucking retard, trolling actual people on the internet.

  14. #14 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “That’s not how I interpret what he posted.”

    Yet what he SAID was: it’s not that “infinity” itself is the problem

    What YOU SAID was: infinity is considered a problem in Physics

    But you demand 100% identical language and no interpretation when you are on the fuckwitted warpath of those by far your superior, but are 100% lax about it when it comes to your own actions.

    Because you’re a fucking pointless troll on the internet and a toxic idiot on any forum.

  15. #15 eric
    March 20, 2017

    RIP Mando, and best wishes to his surviving family.

  16. #16 Sinisa Lazarek
    March 20, 2017

    If you were that which you are made off, then you are never really dead, because that which was you will now assemble into something new.

    If you were that which you thought off, then again you are never really dead, because the EM waves that made your thoughts are now forever traveling and will travel the vast expanses of Universe, until the end of time.

    R.I.P MandoZink

  17. #17 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 20, 2017

    “Information is not energy, and energy cannot accurately be described as informational.”
    There are countless highly accurate computer physics simulations today based on QM, Newtonian Mechanics, Relativity. Aren’t all of them conserve energy? But is there really such thing as energy in those simulations or what is really conserved is just information?

  18. #18 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “There are countless highly accurate computer physics simulations today”

    And they’re all invalid for your claim, frank. None of them are actual universes. Therefore them showing the information that energy is conserved does not prove that information and energy are the same thing.

    Moreover, energy conservation (like conservation of momentum) is the result of a symmetry. I think this one is time symmetry, but it could be rotational symmetry. I’d have to get up to find out and frankly (no pun intended) you’re not going to listen well enough to make the effort worthwhile.

  19. #19 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 20, 2017

    Are we saying it is theoretically impossible to make a realistic simulation of the Universe(, even if we find TOE someday)?
    If we can, would not be everything in that simulation be information, including energy and its conservation?
    Many physicists already think Universe could be a computer simulation. But regardless, Universe is completely mathematical. Or we think some things in the Universe cannot be completely described by math? Isn’t everything in math is just information? Isn’t that clearly says conservation of energy must be conservation of information?
    (Wow, don’t jump into deep stuff you don’t really understand well 🙂

  20. #20 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    I’m not. Nobody, not even you, know what you’re saying.

    All I’m saying is that you’re taking a computer simulation of a thing that must therefore substitute information for reality and then insisting that since information is there, it must be reality too.

    It is impossible to write a computer simulation that becomes anything other than a computer simulation. But it can simulate anything you can program into a computer.

  21. #21 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 20, 2017

    Then you are actually claiming it is impossible for Universe to be a simulation since energy cannot be accurately/completely described mathematically. (Proof?)
    And also claiming it is impossible to make a realistic computer simulation of the Universe?
    You are like a teenager who “discredits” me by pointing out “Hey look that “3D computer game” is nothing to do with real world!” And I say there is no point in arguing this with you. Let Ethan answer if he likes to do whenever.

  22. #22 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “Then you are actually claiming it is impossible for Universe to be a simulation since energy cannot be accurately/completely described mathematically”

    No.

    It’s hideously unlikely that the universe is a simulation, but I’ve never made any claims until this one about it. Care to provide proof if your assertion I have?

    It is impossible to write a computer simulation that is not a computer simulation.

    Quite why this fact, tautologically true, if anything, is why frankly, you’re an uninformed idiot blowing chunks of BS on the internet.

  23. #23 Frank
    Omaha.NE
    March 20, 2017

    No. You are a troll who attacks everyone on this website.
    I think you need to be banned permanently for the good of this website.

  24. #24 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 20, 2017

    I invite everyone to comment on whether Wow should be banned permanently or not?

  25. #25 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “No”

    So no, you don’t have any evidence of your claim of my assertion about the universe being a simulation.

    So if you don’t have evidence for it and know you don’t, do not make that claim. It’s so simple even a retard like yourself can manage it.

    If you try.

  26. #26 jonathan
    March 20, 2017

    Since Ethan has made the discussion of comments topical this week, let me chime in. This is one of the very best sites of the English-speaking internet for coverage of cosmology and other fields of science. It’s updated often, with great original content, responding quickly to items in the news as well as providing constant background posts, it’s well written, it’s reliable and authoritative, there’s a real voice to the articles and one senses a principled author behind it. So why is the comment section worse than the randomly selected youtube video? Why does it so quickly degenerate into the worst kind of childish, foul-mouthed lashing out? I participate in comment sections in several other blogs, but will not here anymore, because to do so is to sign up for hateful and toxic abuse from Wow–and who has time to deal with that. Even in this thread, commenting on a post where Ethan is explicit about courtesy being expected of commentators in the comments, Wow has escalated immediately to calling people fucking retards. I’m no prudish granny but such unchecked unpleasantness can never lead to any good results. I think, Ethan, if the behaviour exhibited here doesn’t trigger the ban you mentioned, I don’t know what possibly could, and for the life of me I can’t understand why you have continued to allow your comment section to be so polluted for so long. Your content could lead to an interesting discussion-driven community, and I’m sure it still could, as I’m positive I’m not the only one who has retreated from participating, in the face of such unnecessary toxicity.

  27. #27 Michael Richmond
    March 20, 2017

    Like Jonathan, I have pretty much stopped reading (and writing) the comments here. I’ll second his suggestion that Ethan clean things up, if he has the time.

  28. #28 Alan L.
    March 20, 2017

    @Frank, Jonathan, Michael Richmond

    Oh, come on now folks. Lighten up.

    A punchbowl wouldn’t be complete without a turd in it.

  29. #29 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    So you’re the floater, Al?

  30. #30 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “foul-mouthed ”

    Tone argument again.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tone_argument

    The fallacy relies on style over substance. It is an ad hominem attack, and thus an informal fallacy.

  31. #31 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    If you have non-fallacious argument I was wrong, then I’m wrong. If all you have to complain about is the tone, then you’ve not changed a damned thing.

  32. #32 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “I’m no prudish granny”

    So a prudish middle aged fogey?

  33. #33 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    March 20, 2017

    All children test the boundaries of their environment, whether distance from home, or tolerance of behaviour within the home. If there is no feedback regarding those boundaries, then the behaviour escalates until that limit is met. The offenders have been warned a couple of times already, but perhaps more needs to be done to prevent this site from becoming totally toxic.
    Let’s hope sensibility prevails to preserve this great educational place.

  34. #34 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    All children? Sure. But that presumes it’s a test of the boundaries being done.

    It could just be not giving a flying fuck for the whining of people about form over function. None of these complained when teabaggie was spamming repeats.

    None of them chipped in against the sealioning.

    Because teabaggie doesn’t ruffle their feathers. He doesn’t point out that religions are cesspools of idiocy and misanthropy and that good people are good DESPITE their religion, not because of it.

    And because “Oh, you may be talking complete bollocks, but you said it so nicely” is premium grade bullshit as a reason to accept speech.

    Testing the boundaries or not giving a monkeys about arbitrary complaints irrelevant to the argument?

  35. #35 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    March 20, 2017

    Sometimes no response is more valuable than sprouting retorrts. The fire triangle comes to mind. The three things required for a fire to exist are heat, fuel and oxygen. If you remove any one of these, the fire becomes extinct. Liken that to argument on line (flaming).
    A fair few of us have indeed made our stance known to Ethan, some not necessarily within these threads.

  36. #36 Jonathan
    March 20, 2017

    Wow, saying “you are foul-mouthed” is not an example of the tone fallacy. The tone fallacy would apply if I were saying “you are wrong, because you express yourself so foully”. But I’m not trying to use a statement about your tone to belittle some other argument you’re making–the whole point is to say that your tone is sufficiently unpleasant so as to make people not want to converse here, and this point can hardly be made without pointing out that your tone is unpleasant.

    Even when I agree with the substance of your criticism towards another poster, your posturing and attempts tp demean and bully are so tedious I end up closing the tab and going elsewhere. Not that you should care, but I submit it as a data point about the atmosphere in the comments section.

  37. #37 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    Correct. But that was a retort, as was this one. Without it we are left with merely our assumptions about others and no point to any discussion.

    To what extent could you not have posted that and made fuel to blame me for making? You did not admit your own complicity with that post even as a tentative possibility.

    Does that make me more aware than you?

    And does this asking come from me wanting to lord it over you or to explain the thoughts I see you need to manage?

  38. #38 Wow
    March 20, 2017

    “Wow, saying “you are foul-mouthed” is not an example of the tone fallacy.”

    It is when your argument against a claim is the presentation. And if you have no argument against the claim, then your assertion is pointless.

  39. #39 eric
    March 20, 2017

    Frank:

    I invite everyone to comment on whether Wow should be banned permanently or not?

    I’d say no. But I do agree with Jonathan that multiple posts in a day that contain little or no content (insults not counting as ‘content’) would reasonably fit Ethan’s 1-week ban criteria of “filling up the comments here with garbage.”

    For Ethan, I would suggest a browse of The Nasty Effect, a study of comment section impact on reader’s understanding of science blog articles. The short answer is: nasty comments tends to polarize reader understanding quickly and reinforce their preconceptions instead of engaging them. IOW your comment section is not just a form of extra content, it changes how your readers understand your articles. When the comment content is bad, then instead of trying to understand the science in a neutral or academic way, they’ll default back to their preconceptions and the nasty comment section will just reinforce those preconceptions.

    This is probably less of a problem for you than most science bloggers, as your full articles are at Forbes and Medium while your comments are here. Also that study is now 3 years old and I don’t know if the results have ever been reproduced. Nevertheless, it should at least interest you and possibly concern you that comment incivility may actually reduce the understanding your lurkers gain from your articles.

  40. #40 Wow
    March 21, 2017

    Here’s an idea. Why not post anyway instead of hiding and just chewing old bones and hating and brewing up your vitriol in silence?

    Post when you have a question about science.

    Post when you have an answer to a question about science.

    What if, with all these lurkers and their presumed legion of silent partners posting that my voice becomes one of a hundred, the tail end of the distribution?

    What if because YOU answered someone’s question I found there was nothing left for me to add? Becuase if someone asks a question and you all are too busy hating and chewing your stale vomit in the sidelines waiting to see more stuff for you to hate to answer and I’m the only one here, then sure as hell it’ll be dominated by me.

    What if instead of me trying to get teabaggie to proffer an actual argument for his position YOU got out of your hateraid drinking chair and posted demanding that he shit or get off the pot? With many people pointing out his idiocy and duplicity he may change (if it were innocently done) or fuck of (if he was trolling).

    What if instead of mostly me here trying to kick the shit out of trolls godbotherers and woomancer idiots to get them to stay the fuck away of a science discussion forum so that science can be actually fucking discussed, you scores of cave trolls get out of your rage-funk and do what you think will work against it meaning I don’t have to amp it up to 11 to make the dissuasion effective?

    Have you actually wondered if you’re not actually the fucking problem?

    Lastly, by not posting and by making foul language (when it’s from me, nobody bothered Al when he said the word “shit”, for which you’ll say something like “But it’s only the once” to which I point out it’s 100% of his posting history for the last year-ish, so either a double standard or your REAL problem is my monopoly – again your refusal to post causes it, not my posting) such a big deal, all you are doing is giving me power over you, you are doing my bidding (whether this is my bidding or not: the pertinent point is you are making my actions dictate YOUR actions) and possibly worst of all, you leave only trolls and lunatics to turn up, the former because they WANT the shit posted, the latter because they’re fucking loons and don’t make connections well.

    TRY GODDAMNED POSTING. At the very least you all will see posts other than mine here and “domination” will be impossible because of all the other posters.

    The only reason for you not to is if you have a half thought out idea you’re so unsure about even you think it’s pretty BS and indefensible therefore see no point trying to float it out there just for it to be shot down. And in that case it’s probably better in a science forum not to post it anyway, isn’t it.

  41. #41 Wow
    March 21, 2017

    “Nevertheless, it should at least interest you and possibly concern you that comment incivility may actually reduce the understanding your lurkers gain from your articles.”

    It is quite possibly true.

    HOWEVER

    a) it requires more policing and effort

    b) look at AGW deniers. Or your recent spate of posts with mooney. Was he closed minded all along or was your civil conversation the cause of it?

    c) swear words isn’t synonymous with incivil. Accusations against an individual can be countered because there’s actual meat to the accusation. Accusations against an amorphous group is not actionable or defensible since there’s nothing there, those goalposts are whiffed around so that the rebuttal is negated by being at the “wrong target”. Incivility is far FAR more nuanced than “did they say ‘fuck’?”.

    d) godbothering, denial, spamming, lies and all other actions also produce just the same problem. Police them too?

    e) “the silent majority” always seems to be on the side of everyone. But the silence of that majority inflates their number and allows them to be used in “defence” of any and all claimants to their support. Their silence enables entrenchment.

    f) skipping posts because of who it is from is antithetical to what you are arguing to be protected. Yet you do that. And, strangely, this merely cements your preconception because all you remember is the activities that caused you to decide to skip all further content from that poster.

    Remember, your crusade there is NOT to turn the conversation civil, since civil or not DOES NOT change the validity of the argument (again, it’s the ur-example of ad hom), it’s to get learning about science done. You don’t want to get so concerned with the “problem” that you ignore the reason for the action.

  42. #42 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 21, 2017

    Here some Wow quotes just from this thread:

    “Of course you haven’t, teabaggie.
    But then again, we only have your words for it, we don’t know whether or not even you don’t believe that shite you spout.
    Because you’re a fucking retard, trolling actual people on the internet.
    Because you’re a fucking pointless troll on the internet and a toxic idiot on any forum.
    you’re an uninformed idiot blowing chunks of BS on the internet.
    It’s so simple even a retard like yourself can manage it.
    And because “Oh, you may be talking complete bollocks, but you said it so nicely” is premium grade bullshit as a reason to accept speech.
    chewing your stale vomit
    With many people pointing out his idiocy and duplicity he may change (if it were innocently done) or fuck of (if he was trolling)
    trying to kick the shit out of trolls godbotherers and woomancer idiots to get them to stay the fuck away of a science discussion forum so that science can be actually fucking discussed
    Have you actually wondered if you’re not actually the fucking problem?
    they WANT the shit posted, the latter because they’re fucking loons”

  43. #43 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 21, 2017

    Ethan,
    Clearly what needs to be done here is to give Wow a simple choice: No more swearing, profanity, disrespectful language or permanent ban!

  44. #44 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    March 21, 2017

    For how many years Wow was abusing people here to feed his superiority complex and how many years he should be allowed to continue?
    Is this how scientific discussions should be done?
    How many people turns away from this website because of him?

  45. #45 Ethan
    March 21, 2017

    So, here’s the thing. (Hi everyone!)

    If you have a point to make, you can make it without being insulting. It’s not a fallacy in and of itself to be insulting; it’s simply unwarranted, distracting and cruel. And even though some of you may feel the need for it, it really brings out the worst in people, which I don’t want to do.

    So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll give everyone the rest of the week to demonstrate that they can have a discussion and be civil and not bait one another and not take the bait from one another. By all means, call someone wrong when they’re wrong, but do it without adding the unnecessary, unwanted and unwarranted abuse. (If you think it’s warranted, think again.)

    And at the end of the week, when Sunday rolls around, we’ll see if anyone needs a one-week time out.

    Wow, it was you who asked me to evaluate the comment thread for unacceptable behavior on the part of commenters. I found one who was posting religious linkspam and banned that one; I found another who misstated my position and then dug in to defend that misstatement — not worthy of a ban — and I had to take a look at you as well.

    Can you honestly say that the name-calling, the derision, the insults and disrespect you give to others (no matter how justified you feel it to be) makes the world — and my blog — a better place?

    If the answer you come up with is yes, there’s going to be a temporary (or, if you can’t help yourself, a permanent) ban coming your way. After 10,000+ comments and many years on this site, I’d hate to have to do that, but I will.

  46. #46 AC
    USA
    March 21, 2017

    Ethan – Why!? Why do you continue to allow this nonsense to happen, week after week, month after month? Wow does nothing but insult everyone that posts on your articles and you continue to allow it to happen. Frankly, it’s the main reason I don’t even bother reading the articles anymore. It’s amazing to me that you allow this to go on after it has been a problem for well over a year.

    I’m sure you’ve lost many readers and contributors to this, but somehow it seems not to faze you. How many more do you need to lose until you take *real* action?

  47. #47 Zippytaz
    Ames, Iowa
    March 21, 2017

    Thanks to all of you who strive to learn and grow, and even for those whose lives are so gracious and giving, that most of us feel the loss for them who, like most of us that read these sites, are simply seeking the best in ourselves and helping others with the same. I will now go back to my anonymous reading and searching…and hoping that one day we might actually get smart enough to figure out how to get along with others in our species…

  48. #48 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    March 21, 2017

    The gauntlet is down; time to move on & improve ……

  49. #49 CFT
    March 22, 2017

    When a host has organized a party or gathering, he/she is responsible for keeping the guests civil, or asking them to leave. If the host fails in this duty, it reflects poorly on their own judgment and character.

  50. #50 Denier
    United States
    March 22, 2017

    @Ethan wrote:

    Well if you’re more concerned with economics and politics than climate change, and the future of your four-year-old son, perhaps you would care to share what you believe the quantified economic and political costs of ignoring climate change are?

    The economic costs of ignoring climate change? Paltry. Even if the climate alarmists are on the nose with their numbers it pales in comparison their proposed changes could inflict on the economy. The most costly natural disaster in US History was Hurricane Katrina at ~$100 Billion dollars in damage. In the Great Depression, even after all the New Deal fixes, we were 27% below the GDP trend. There was a much larger initial GDP drop but for ease of math we’ll ignore that. Our GDP now is ~$17 Trillion. That would come to a loss of $4.6 Trillion dollars in yearly damage. We could get hit by 45 Katrina level disasters every year and the storm disasters would be cheaper. Not even Al Gore thinks we’re going to get hit with 45 Katrina storms next year. The cost comparison isn’t even close.

    The political costs of ignoring climate change are hard to predict. My biggest concern is that a candidate will use a natural disaster to push through 9/11-style legislation that attacks capitalism in response for perceived wrongs. Secondary is the radicalization of individuals who feel disenfranchised by a system that won’t listen to them and use the abstract threat of climate change to justify preemptively hurting or killing people of differing political views.

    @Ethan wrote:

    There are people who study those things professionally … It sounds like yours is far, far lower than what they attest.

    I’m curious as to what your reasoning is, and as to why you think you’re more qualified to make those assessments than the professionals in the field?

    I do have my bona fides with regards to risk identification and mitigation but as I’m not trying to convince anyone with an argument of authority there is no point in getting into them. What is noteworthy is that the professionals in the field of which you speak, they agree with me. They do NOT agree with you.

    Even if Earth’s climate and human effect on that system were totally understood it is still just one piece of a big puzzle. The people whose opinion you enjoy don’t seem to understand the context of how the piece best fits. Moreover they don’t want to understand the context and so their screechings don’t become policy. However there are experts who do understand the bigger picture. There are advisors who have a rough grasp on how all 10,000 pieces of the puzzle fit together. That is how Candidate Barrack Obama goes from “under my plan of a cap and trade system…electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” to doing nothing disruptive as President. Advisors who understand consequences are good to have at hand and Presidents usually do.

    Being that Obama was so gung-ho at the outset on climate change with Democrat majorities in both houses, and the Supreme Court required the EPA to take regulatory authority over CO2 emissions in 2007, I’m curious as to your reasoning as to why you think no Cap and Trade system was implemented. Why did Obama drag his feet until 2014 to roll out the Climate Action Plan, and with enough delays built in the subsequent President could dismantle it before it did anything. I’m also curious as to why you think you’re more qualified to make those assessments than the professionals in the field.

  51. #51 dean
    United States
    March 22, 2017

    “The economic costs of ignoring climate change? Paltry. ”

    Only to the people who refuse to make any attempt to understand the subject – like you.

    “I do have my bona fides with regards to risk identification and mitigation ”

    Given your repeated lies about numerous other issues, including lies about Ethan’s own words, there is no reason in the world to believe this.

    Your comments again show you are no different than the people who repeatedly claim vaccines are dangerous, or that HIV is not linked to AIDS — indeed, your objections are no different than those of any of the other people who reject the results some other area of science. You don’t like the results, you don’t understand the subject or the risks, so (in your opinion) all the scientists are wrong.

    Science denialism as you practice it was annoying at first. Now it is simply tedious.

  52. #52 Denier
    United States
    March 22, 2017

    @dean

    I’ve never said vaccines are dangerous.
    I’ve never said HIV is not linked to AIDS.
    I’ve never said all the scientists are wrong.

    I don’t hold any of those beliefs. How about you try to address things I actually wrote rather than just tarring me with some stereotype you constructed?

  53. #53 John
    Baltimore
    March 22, 2017

    Participants in social activities have shared behavior conventions. These standards of behavior are usually suited to the activity. Behavior that is acceptable in one social situation may be unacceptable in another. An example is how one dresses. Very few people would consider wearing clothing suitable for a day at the beach to an evening dinner at a restaurant. Should someone decide to ignore the social conventions, many restaurants enforce dress codes or standards, and will not admit people who dress inappropriately.

    Science is a social activity, as is boxing. Forcing everyone else at a boxing match to accept the behaviors commonly practiced at the AAAS Annual Meeting would do violence to the boxing match, which includes the spectators as well as the participants. The reverse is also true.

  54. #54 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 23, 2017

    @Denier #50:

    The economic costs of ignoring climate change? Paltry.

    Keep telling yourself that.
    Our GDP now is ~$17 Trillion. That would come to a loss of $4.6 Trillion dollars in yearly damage.
    Citation needed. How are you calculating that amount? Are you forgetting that renewable energy results in job opportunities?

    I do have my bona fides with regards to risk identification and mitigation but as I’m not trying to convince anyone with an argument of authority there is no point in getting into them.

    Sure Jan.
    Anybody can claim expertise they don’t have. Bring the proof or STFU.

    The people whose opinion you enjoy don’t seem to understand the context of how the piece best fits. Moreover they don’t want to understand the context and so their screechings don’t become policy. However there are experts who do understand the bigger picture.

    Just because you share the opinion of the “experts” who “question” the damage that will result from climate change doesn’t mean that you or they are right.
    You don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about.

  55. #55 eric
    March 23, 2017

    Denier:

    The economic costs of ignoring climate change? Paltry.

    What dollar cost do you put on one in six species going extinct?

    But I think we can make a deal here. How about this: governments agree not to tax corporations on their carbon emissions, and in return corporations agree that they will spend whatever money it takes (a) on restoring lost ecosystems, and (b) on biochemical research to bring any lost species back from extinction.

    According to you, since the costs are paltry, corporations should still make a hefty profit, right?

  56. #56 Wow
    March 23, 2017

    Ethan, I’d not responded deliberately to give others time to post either on the subject or on something do to do with this actual site, especially since your post the only responses were not indicative that lurkers and the “silent majority” were in any way engaging , preferring just complaining about others.

    But that had been insufficient time to give the USA and Aus time to wake up and apply themselves, so I waited a couple of days.

    it’s simply unwarranted, distracting and cruel

    The last two, yes. The first, only conditionally. I’ll stick by that too. Mooney showed and only SL compllained,that posters come here with deception at the outset, making claims about their reasons to ask that were false.

    Nobody else complained. But there were several complaining about my use of insults and swearing. They invalidate their own claimed reasoning by that inaction.

    But, yes, cruel. Remember what I said earlier agreeing that there was no reason for it except revenge. That is possibly why you left off banning me, because there was provovation and justification for it, even if you did not want to see it.

    Wow, it was you who asked me to evaluate the comment thread for unacceptable behavior on the part of commenters

    Yes. And I include myself in that. Don’t pass me by. What can then happen is someone gets disruptive or cantankerous against what they see as my ruining of the conversation, getting the same justification for similar reasons and an equivalent moral correctness.

    I found one who was posting religious linkspam…; I found another who misstated my position

    Good. Because removal of that removes the benefit of trying to derail and any justification I or another see for returning the disfavour disappears. I don’t know ban, though this is your call, but if they’re not looking to be honest about reality or the “mission” of the site, then it’s merely simpler to remove the work immediately and stop it.

    …makes the world — and my blog — a better place?

    I’ll ignore the world bit,neither relevant nor my opinion opaque based on what I’ve already imparted, but on the subject of the blog, HELL NO. Then again, neglect and abandonment had allowed infestation of malice and malcontents to make the blog crappy, so adding to the crap was irrelevant. Doesn’t matter if there’s a speck of dog turd in your glass of water or a full floater. You still won’t drink it.

    I do not believe that there is any need for just appearing here and making judgement calls on who gets in or out or making warnings IF you turn up and participate below the line. By engaging in conversation down here you set the tone you have and therefore presumably want.

    If around 150 you’d told “john” to make a claim or counter or stop being an impediment to discussion, it might have ended soon after eric gave up trying. Based on that being whereabout I was saying “End it”, probably, because that was my reasoning for that. If you’d corrected “john”‘s misrepresentation of your words, hundreds or even thousands of posts from “john” could have been avoided, and therefore a similar number from me too. If you’d closed the thread down when “john” started the blank repeats of the same debunked (whether he thought they’d been debunked, they were countered and undefended thereafter), again a thousand posts would have been dropped and never made.

    But if, as happened years ago, you’d been posting below the line, the issue may never have started.

    Hell, if the work reading everything even just skimming takes too much time you have to spend elsewhere, why not let someone you know and trust to do it too? If it’s someone interested in teaching or a lecturer position who you’re mentor for at University, just seeing what “ordinary people” (in quotes because this is, after all, the internet, not real life) think or say or believe will be a useful and educational experience for them.

    As to the lurkers and complainers. You can’t shame me with yelling at me “You’re a potty mouth”. I can entirely dismiss your complaints because of the hipocrisy of not being equally outraged at engagements of the same disruption by others. Not merely me and “john”, but look at Mooney. Any of you complain like SL did about his dishonesty at his presentation of his knowledge and purpose of asking?

    Hell no.

    And because you did not, I can dismiss your complaints as partisanship.

    Moreover, mooney displays the other reason to ignore trying not to “insult”. When a link he read from and presented in support of his position was called “a crank site”, he immediately dogwhistled/complained “Oh, we’re back to personal insults again”. Not one of you cared to correct him on his misperception or why he claimed such a thing in obvious error. But he also displayed the fact that if someone finds something insulting, they will find it an insult no matter what.

    And again, such as with denier, they’ll insult an entire domain of eminent people and not one of you will complain and the number correcting him or asking for specifics and proof is very close to zero. You do not appear to care about insults, so any complaints you make are motivated by something else.

    You CAN NOT shame me with “You’re a potty mouth”, I’ll even go “Yup. So what?”. I don’t know or care about you. That’s absolutey NOT that I don’t care deeply for humans or their dignity or feelings. Mando facing death is saddening, but I have and had far too much respect for the seriousness of his case to proffer some shallow anodyne, and it would HAVE to be shallow for the bare fact I have no way to find a similarity of situation to empathise with that terrible time. Someone on death row could, I cannot. So I didn’t say anything because he deserved far more respect than I can support in any comment I could give.

    And now he’s gone, those who did know him and could feel the loss and sympathy his plight deserved, I still cannot comment with some stock phrase platitude like “I am sorry for your loss”, because that sort of loss requires comfort, not words, because it’s just too damn big for a blog post. doubly so from someone who only knew Mando as a name on a blog posting on some random blog. I don’t sympathise with a comment not because I don’t have sympathy for the loss or the situation but because I hold too much respect for the loss or the situation to cheapen it with something that can only be shallow platitude.

    You can’t shame me with “you’re a potty mouth” because I see it as justifiable ammunition not to be held only for the nefarious posters’ use.

    But you CAN shame me with doing what I am attempting to do better, or at least without the swearing and insults, by making it work without the abuse. By proving my use of that ammunition unnecessary and thereby removing my ability to justify using it.

    THAT is ow you can shame me. Because it shows that my actions are not “tough love” for other people who actually deserve it, but unnecessary and that continuing it is showing I’m not the person I thought I was.

    I stated my feelings on MandoZink to indicate to you that I think I’m a person who cares deeply about others who deserve it. You can’t complain me into thinking otherwise. You can demonstrate I’m deceiving myself.

  57. #57 eric
    March 23, 2017

    But, yes, cruel.

    That, right there, should be sufficient reason for you to stop your behavior.

    adding to the crap was irrelevant.

    Again, if you recognize that some of your insult-only posts count as ‘crap’, that should be sufficient reason to stop doing them. Second, yes quantity matters. Surely you get that someone could think that a few bad posts are tolerable, while an exchange of several hundred back-and-forth insults is a reason to look elsewhere for science discussion?

    If around 150 you’d told “john” to make a claim or counter or stop being an impediment to discussion, it might have ended

    Do not try and blame your 1,000+ exchange with John on Ethan. It takes two to tango and you were one of the two. You could’ve ended it any time by simply not replying to John. And that option is still open, going forward, for folk like John or others; if someone posts something here that you think is them simply trolling you for a response, it is within your power to DNFTT. It’s not like your fingers must type a response and only Ethan can keep them from moving – you can stop of your own volition any time. Exercise that volition. Pass the Bene Gesserit test of whether you’re human by not giving in to instinct. Leave your hand in the box…instead of putting your fingers on the keyboard. 🙂

    You can’t shame me with “you’re a potty mouth” because I see it as justifiable ammunition not to be held only for the nefarious posters’ use.

    “I see it as justifiable ammunition” is a perfectly legitimate argument and defense of why Wow would allow profanity on Wow’s blog. But you do understand the concept of ‘his house, his rules’, right?

  58. #58 Wow
    March 23, 2017

    That, right there, should be sufficient reason for you to stop your behavior.

    “It is not. Any more than it is cruel to incarcerate someone for committing a crime. But you do understand the concept of ‘his house, his rules’, right?”

    Do you understand what neglect means? Do you understand what not having rules means? THERE WERE NO RULES.

    But just because YOU WANTED THOSE RULES you retcon them in place and mix tenses to pretend that I’m bad.

    Again, you fail utterly because you’re trying to shame me when your actions are 100% unsupported by consistent application, indicating there is another reason, remaining hidden and dishonestly so, for your ire. And I can therefore completely reject your standing to be judge.

    Again, as you said “his house, his rules”. And you ain’t him, eric.

  59. #59 Wow
    March 23, 2017

    That, right there, should be sufficient reason for you to stop your behavior.

    It is not. Any more than it is cruel to incarcerate someone for committing a crime.

    But you do understand the concept of ‘his house, his rules’, right?

    Do you understand what neglect means? Do you understand what not having rules means? THERE WERE NO RULES.

    But just because YOU WANTED THOSE RULES you retcon them in place and mix tenses to pretend that I’m bad.

    Again, you fail utterly because you’re trying to shame me when your actions are 100% unsupported by consistent application, indicating there is another reason, remaining hidden and dishonestly so, for your ire. And I can therefore completely reject your standing to be judge.

    Again, as you said “his house, his rules”. And you ain’t him, eric.

  60. #60 Denier
    United States
    March 23, 2017

    @Wow

    such as with denier, they’ll insult an entire domain of eminent people and not one of you will complain and the number correcting him or asking for specifics and proof is very close to zero

    Many if not most boards have a ‘no personal attack’ policy for commenters. I do drop f-bombs. I do insult domains of eminent people. What I write even insults the ideas expressed by other individuals here. I’ve also insulted the actions of others here. Even though this board has not had such a policy I try my very best to NEVER personally attack anyone. It is indecorous and it shuts down conversations.

    I know you have some shit going on in real life and I recognize that you are the most loyal poster Ethan has ever had, but you are hurting his work product. As the founder, editor, and administrator, everything here reflects on him. Your comments reflect on him.

    Lurkers who see comment after comment of personal insults aren’t going to want to engage. If they see that other people who have questions or misconceptions getting called ‘dumbass’, they aren’t going to want to ask themselves. Eventually they will go elsewhere to ask questions where they can get answers without being made to feel small. What you are doing is directly hurting Ethan’s effort to make Starts With A Bang his life.

    Ultimately you get to decide how you are going to handle yourself and Ethan gets to decide what he’ll allow on his board but you should understand that it is the personal attacks that are causing the rub.

  61. #61 Narad
    March 23, 2017

    From eric on out-of-control comments: “As an aside, does anyone know if there is a way you can not-see posts from specific posters?

    I missed this originally, because I’ve pretty much checked out from here, but if your browser supports Greasemonkey or a suitable replacement, the answer is yes. You might have to fiddle around with the @include stuff (there’s plenty of room for improvement overall), but it works.

  62. #62 Wow
    March 23, 2017

    That was the script I was thinking. But eric would not have been reading the post saying there was a script to do that. And I couldn’t remember the name, so limited help. But he could have been inspired to look for it. then knowing it existed.

  63. #63 eric
    March 23, 2017

    But just because YOU WANTED THOSE RULES you retcon them in place and mix tenses to pretend that I’m bad.

    Hmmm, I don’t think I ever demanded your banning based on behavior from weeks or months ago. I explicitly rejected Frank’s position that you should be banned permanently, and only stated that filling up boards with additional (i.e. new) insult posts would seem to me to qualify for Ethan’s 1-weeker. But I apologize if I wasn’t clear in that; for the record, I’m discussing current and future conduct. If you recognize your behavior as cruel, stop being cruel as of now. If you recognize you’re writing some posts that fit the definition of crap, stop writing such posts as of now. If you’ve had problems resisting the urge to reply to trollish posts directed at you in the past, c’est la vie, but cultivate such resistance going forward. And so on.

    Again, you fail utterly because you’re trying to shame me when your actions are 100% unsupported by consistent application,

    Well I do hope that 100% consistency doesn’t become the requirement for contributing LOL, as nobody is perfect. But as I said before, quantity matters. Throwing 100 insults per month is an improvement over throwing 1,000. Throwing only 10 is even better. Throwing one is better still. Throwing none should be the goal, and it should frankly be a relatively easy goal on any given day or week (so long as you post after coffee, not before :)). However, I do disagree with your tu quoque defense. Again, quantity matters, and I don’t think my relatively limited and insult-free replies to John disqualifies me from opining on yours. Tell you what; I will try not to use curse words at all in the future. How about you?

    Again, as you said “his house, his rules”. And you ain’t him,

    Sure. That’s probably a good note to end on, and to say that I’ll try not to fill the board with any more ‘posts on posting.’ While these conversations may have some merit between regular posters like you and I, they probably detract from the science for the ~90% of site visitors who lurk. So feel free to comment on this as you will, but I’ll try not to add more comments on the subject unless you explicitly ask me to answer a question you may have about my statements or opinion. If you do that, I’ll reply. Otherwise, probably not.

  64. #64 Denier
    United States
    March 23, 2017

    @eric wrote:

    But I think we can make a deal here. How about this: governments agree not to tax corporations on their carbon emissions, and in return corporations agree that they will spend whatever money it takes (a) on restoring lost ecosystems, and (b) on biochemical research to bring any lost species back from extinction.

    How would you decide how much each corporation owes to the fund collection authority? Would it be by determining their relative impact on the climate via some metric……like say… carbon emissions?

    There is no global tax authority. Whatever taxes we pass here do not automatically happen everywhere. There exists a currently phenomenon of multinational corporations ‘offshoring’ earnings to countries with lower tax rates because US tax rates are simply too high. Currently an estimated $2.5 Trillion dollars is being offshored by America-based multinationals. Our GDP is only $17 Trillion so $2.5 Trillion is a lot.

    However, that is just money. A lot of the employees and production is here in the US. Sure a lot of it is overseas too but a lot of it is here. If the US passes a carbon tax, the carbon intense processes will flee to carbon tax havens. The process will still exist. It will still spew the same amount of CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere, but the workers involved in that process will be elsewhere. The workers who used to do that job here will be unemployed.

    Worse yet, you’re created a barrier to entry for new businesses. Multi-nationals who can offshore carbon-intense processes will have a cost advantage over start-ups who don’t have the resources to operate on different continents. We’ve got a lot of that now with the offshoring of profits. It hurts social mobility. The products of huge multinationals get cheaper while the ingenious upstarts see their companies unfairly weighed under the heavier local tax burden.

    So President Eric, your carbon tax proposal will do almost nothing to global carbon production, will raise the unemployment rate while lower the US GDP, will increase social stagnation turning the underprivileged into a permanent underclass, and the downturn in the economy almost guarantees you’ll lose the next election to another candidate who promises to undo everything you just did. Shall we go ahead with your plan Mr. President?

  65. #65 Wow
    March 23, 2017

    Easy. They pay and keep paying until the problem is resolved. It’s up to them, not government, to work out how each should pay and how to collect it.

    Small government, remember.

    Just they keep paying until it’s fixed.

    If they’re that much more efficient than “wasteful and corrupt” government, they should be able to solve that probem in the most efficient manner. All we need to see is CO2 levels back to about 280ppm. Make it so.

  66. #66 Michael Mooney
    April 3, 2017

    For the record, I missed Ethan’s reply to my challenge above… reminded by his recent weekly replies. (I’m not good at navigating here.):
    ” From Michael Mooney on special relativity and length contraction: “So the distance between stars depends on the speed of the traveler (no objective cosmos independent of frame of reference), but spherical bodies in space don’t flatten out (contract in diameter) depending on speed of the observing point of view. (“We don’t think so” anyway.) So what is the difference here? Please explain.”
    Ethan’s reply:
    “There is a big difference between what different observers see; that’s the key point of special relativity, and one of the biggest sources of confusion for those trying to learn it and wrap their minds around it.”

    I have never challenged the “big difference between what people see” in SR. I (and many other SR critics) only challenge the claim that those differences reflect actual physical variations in objects and distances. Yet no SR theorist will admit, “Yes, the differences are only apparent.”
    That is my whole point.
    I’d best post this in the current weekly comments.