Why Gore Should Not Endorse

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Speculation mounts as to whether Gore will endorse either Obama or Clinton in the Democratic Primary race. My suggestion would be that he stay out of election politics in 2008, except to try to raise the profile of climate change in a non-partisan way.

As I describe in this column and in several public radio interviews, public opinion is little changed today from the time of the release of Inconvenient Truth, despite the massive publicity success of the film and the sharp increase in news coverage of climate change. The reason is that Gore's success has been a double edged sword. Attention to the film was driven by his partisan celebrity, a great marketing campaign, and his terrific ability to explain the science. But the readily available partisan heuristic of a former Democratic presidential candidate reborn to take up the issue of climate change also ended up being a liability in reaching the roughly half of Americans who do not have a favorable opinion of Gore, including the great majority of Republicans.

As a result, as I describe in the column, over the past three years, across polls, Democrats have grown slightly more accepting of the science, more concerned about the problem, and more willing to make the issue a political priority. Republicans, in contrast, basically remain unchanged, with the great majority rejecting the science, and when asked, rating climate change dead last among 22 issues as a political priority.

So if Gore's goal is to try to reach the broad American public on climate change, and that includes Republicans, he needs to move into a post-partisan stage of his career. He needs to avoid actions or messages that only serve to remind the public of his once strong Democrat label. So far he has done a great job of staying under the radar with the Democratic nomination process, and in my mind, this is the right course of action.

Gore should wait until the nomination is settled, and then work during the general election in a bi-partisan way to raise the profile of climate change as a campaign issue that all Americans should be equally concerned about.

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Yet another recommendation from you telling someone he should just "sit down and shut up". I suspect Gore would tell you much the same thing PZ did, if he knew about your advice, albeit more politely.

Perhaps Gore has political concerns in addition to climate change. Perhaps Gore is not just a one-issue individual, but believes that helping to get a Democrat into the White House would be better for the country, the climate, and science overall than just pushing one issue, especially since he personally has dropped from the limelight significantly since the release of An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps he thinks that if he can help elect a strong Democratic president and assist in increasing the Democratic majority in both Houses to make Republican opinions less relevant, there is a chance for real legislative action on climate change, regardless what Republicans may think. Perhaps he is still actually a partisan, someone who believes that, in general, Democrats are right on a variety of issues, including climate change.

Do you know whether these possibilities are true or not? If you don't, why the insistent, unqualified advice?

Am I misunderstanding? It seems that many of your suggestions are of the "Let's not say anything, and be quiet and polite little mice". When is the appropriate time to stand up and state strong opinions? Who do you think should be emphatic?

My focus is what makes for effective communication strategy. Whether its politics or a PR campaign, sometimes that means stepping aside from the spotlight or avoiding certain types of messages. And yes science controversies are not unique from other types of debates. Often the same rules and the same strategies apply as in political campaigns. See the article we wrote at The Scientist magazine for more.

If Gore has made the decision to focus the rest of his career on effectively communicating about climate change, then the obvious choice is to try to distance himself from the partisan label.

In that case, one clear strategy is to refrain from endorsing a candidate in 2008 and to work with a bi-partisan coalition of leaders to raise attention to climate change and energy policy during the general election.

Just like in the Dawkins and PZ case, this has nothing to do with "shutting up," "censoring etc." It's a serious minded discussion about what makes for effective communication strategy, assuming the goal is engaging the public on science rather than something else, such as atheism or electoral politics.

Right, so you've now outlined the proper times to shut up. What are the proper times (and who are the proper people) to vociferously engage in the debate? Who should be standing up and endorsing Clinton or Obama? Who should be standing up and saying that the crew of Expelled are liars and hypocrites?

Or is speaking with conviction something to be avoided in and of itself?

If Gore has made the decision to focus the rest of his career on communicating about climate change rather than about electorial politics, then the obvious choice is to try to distance himself from the partisan label.

If Gore has made the decision to help fight climate change, rather than just communicate about it, then as I suggested above it might be extremely effective for him to work for a large Democratic win in the presidency, and a larger Democratic majority in both Houses. This seems especially reasonable given that, you yourself point out, his message to this point has had practically no impact on Republicans. I'm not clear why you think that the former vice-president of the Democratic Administration that Republicans viscerally hate most can somehow be turned for those Republicans into a non-partisan statesman. I would argue that, to the contrary, for real action on climate change, Gore should work to strengthen the party that actually believes it's an issue, rather than chase the party that rates it dead last. Perhaps my argument is wrong, but it certainly seems as reasonable to me as suggesting somehow Gore will begin to magically appeal to Republicans.

In any case, if he really wants to be a non-partisan honest broker on this issue, he should resign from the Democratic party. At the very least, he should publicly renounce his membership as a superdelegate to the Democratic convention, where he will effectively endorse a Democratic candidate with his vote. Unless he does those things, I don't how he can ever been seen as "non-partisan" in the fashion you suggest.

There's nothing wrong with speaking with conviction, but it's also important to be informed by strategy. It depends on your goals and the context.

If for Gore, if he believes he is done with electoral politics and will spend his career communicating about climate change, with the goal of engaging a broad cross-section of Americans, then it make sense for him not to endorse a candidate. Such an endorsement would hinder his larger goal.

Tulse,
There's little doubt it will be difficult for Gore to shake off the partisan label, but there's also no sense in constantly reinforcing it if his goal is to devote his career to climate change.

As for pursuing a wedge strategy on issue... Sorry it's not going to work. Dems are not even united on a course of action. Nor is meaningful climate and energy policy going to be forged by waging a partisan campaign, it will only occur through building a broad based coalition of support.

There's a clear choice both on atheism and on climate change. We can engage in a forever war between extreme tail end views on the issue, or we can try to bring broad coalitions of people together around common shared values, and accomplish real change.

Speaking on this unity theme, EO Wilson said it best on Bill Moyers when he argued that scientists and religious leaders should "come together on common ground where we can exercise the extraordinary power we have jointly. And I argue and few people disagreed with me that science and religion are the two most powerful social forces in the world. Having them at odds at each other all the way up to the highest levels of government and-- the popular media all the time is not productive."

"Roughly half of Americans do not have a favorable opinion of Gore"

Got a cite for that?

A majority of Americans voted for Gore in 2000, and I'm sure an even larger majority now wishes he had won.

As for pursuing a wedge strategy on issue... Sorry it's not going to work. Dems are not even united on a course of action.

Right, so why not try to unite the Democrats, who will likely be the party in control of both Houses and the presidency, rather than make an extraordinary effort to recruit Republicans who, as you indicate, have no interest in this issue? That does not mean that Gore should publicly attack Republicans, or engage in the down-and-dirty of campaign trench warfare. But I just don't see any evidence that Gore sitting out the Democratic campaign will do more for the issue than helping the Democrats get into a position to push real legislative change. If you have hard numbers suggesting otherwise, I'd be happy to consider them, but at this point, the only hard numbers I see are those you provided that say Republicans have absolutely no interest in this issue.

Nor is meaningful climate and energy policy going to be forged by waging a partisan campaign, it will only occur through building a broad based coalition of support.

One can build a broad-bases coalition all you want, but it will take the leadership of the party in power to make that happen, and the more power that party has, the more likely the issue will be addressed. In any case, I disagree that bipartisan coalitions are necessary to enact real political change, as evidenced during both the Reagan and GWBush administrations. If the Democrats are sufficiently united, and sufficiently powerful, they can get through needed change without relying on the Republicans (especially those who have been fighting the "War on Science" as your counterpart, Chris Mooney, wrote of so convincingly).

You seem optimistic that Republican politicians can somehow be convinced by a former Democratic vice-president that their strongly-held beliefs on climate change are wrong, beliefs that, in large part, appear to be based not on science, but on economic self-interest. I find that argument profoundly unconvincing.

Looking at the last two debates in response to Matt's postings, I can't helping thinking that a lot of you believe the key goal in public debate is winning an argument. It's not. This isn't debating club.

Unless you want a country where the only rule is majority rule (you don't), then we need to encourage pragmatism around insoluable wedges such as religious conviction. The question for a pragmatist isn't -- am I right -- but is instead -- is this helpful.

Gore re-entering the partisan fray may be politically helpful in the short term, but maybe not in the longer term (it depends on what he wants to achieve). Baiting and insulting the bulk of religious people doesn't seem helpful at all. Suggesting someone think about the consequences of their speech before they speak isn't censorship, it's what good communication is all about.

By Ilikepragmatism (not verified) on 25 Mar 2008 #permalink

As a considerable n00b to the "framing" debates here on Sb I wonder if perhaps you might outline whether or not you understand you are making empirical predictions. Testable predictions. I see a bit of reference to sociological data in some of your stuff, and a LOT of analogy making.

The trouble with political punditry (which, after all is what you are doing by insisting that your frame is the right frame) is that it is essentially unfalsifiable.

As the PhysioProf is want to note, the wackaloon right pushed through their three-decade agenda with framing all right but it sure wasn't through your preferred nicey-nice appeasement frame. So the evidence, such as it is, suggests that the way to build political consensus is not to be "right" or to appeal to voters' better natures or aspire to a higher plane of discourse. It is to hammer them, again, and again and again with spin and PR.

PZ Myers seems to rely on this empirical evidence in his approach.

My question is (again, I'm a n00b to this debate so if you've covered it, that's what I'm looking for) where is the evidence for your appeasement frame?

Unless you want a country where the only rule is majority rule (you don't), then we need to encourage pragmatism around insoluable wedges such as religious conviction. The question for a pragmatist isn't -- am I right -- but is instead -- is this helpful.

That is precisely the question I asked. I argued that Gore's prominence and respect are more likely to have a pragmatic result if he's trying to build a power base for the Democratic legislative program that could include a climate change agenda, rather than spending all his political capital trying to woo implacable Republicans (a groups whose implacability Matt himself has documented). You may disagree with that analysis, but the analysis is based on pragmatism, not idealism. Personally I'd much rather have the Republicans joining hands with Democrats and singing kumbaya together on this issue -- I just don't think that's going to happen, for reasons that I outlined above. If you don't agree, attack the argument, don't give platitudes about pragmatism.

Gore re-entering the partisan fray may be politically helpful in the short term, but maybe not in the longer term

Oddly enough, those who argue that scientists shouldn't be dissembling about about religion's incompatibility with science use the same logic -- getting cozy with religious folks may be politically helpful for science in the short term, but maybe not in the long term.

In any case, my argument is that Gore's explicitly exiting the partisan fray (keeping in mind that's he's a frickin' superdelegate, so he's currently "in the fray") would cause more damage in the long term than building a strong Democratic administration and legislature, if by "long term" we mean the next presidential term or two.

As far as I know, PZ has no data to support his view that conflict and confrontation works. Just his opinion and anecdotes.

My point on this score is that the US political scene from the successful Reagan campaign onward provides the most relevant testbed. The themes and memes and positions that have been ascendant have used "frames" that are more similar to PZ's "frame" than to what I can glean about your preferred "frame". The left wing, on the other hand, has in fact used appeals to better nature, consensus, appeals to the "right" thing to do based on data, etc, to little avail.

(I fully acknowledge here that this analysis posits that the political "frame" actually has some effect but I suspect you would stipulate that)

thanks for the other link, i'll try to get up to speed.

By DrugMonkey (not verified) on 25 Mar 2008 #permalink

I agree with this post whole-heartedly. It's been nice to rub it in the face of the global warming naysayers about Gore's political agenda with the documentary, Nobel, and his leadership on this issue. So far, Gore has not used his newfound success to forward a political agenda, thus defusing conservative anxiety regarding his command of global warming awareness. While other personalities might benefit from taking a political stance on this topic, Gore is aware as is Nisbet that he could easily pull the debate back into a left vs. right battle. This would negate much of the public awareness progress that could be owed to him.

Let me give you a conservative's reaction. If Gore suddenly announced he was non-partisan, I'd believe him about the time hell freezes over and pigs flew. You can't wipe out a 30 year history with a declaration.

In general, conservatives are suspicious of 'non-partisan' and 'bipartisan', because they've so often in the past been sheep's clothing not very artfully draped around a large, hungry wolf. In Gore's case, the sheep's clothing would be diaphanous.

As to evidence in support of the so-called appeasement strategy, check out the findings focus groups and survey research by the National Academies.

You've said this a few times, but I don't see any findings in the report, or the survey it references, that provides clear support for an "appeasement strategy". First off, regarding the "focus groups, there are no results or raw data provided (what questions were asked, what answers were received, even how large they were or who they were composed of), so I don't know how to even begin to evaluate their contribution.

As for the survey results that are published, I suppose you could argue that the finding "Within this sample, 63% of respondents ranked developing medicines and curing diseases as the most important contributions of science to society" offers some support for the notion of framing evolution in terms of pragmatic results. Note, however, that also found was

Teaching evolutionary science may also enhance science pedagogy, as it offers educators a
superb opportunity to illuminate the nature of science and to differentiate science from other forms of human endeavor and understanding

What "other forms of human endeavor and understanding" are being referenced in this context? Wouldn't religion count as a different form of understanding, especially in the context of the report?

Likewise:

The tools and techniques that scientists employ to study evolution - gathering evidence from various sources, making logical inferences, establishing and testing competing hypotheses - are the hallmarks of science and necessary for everyday decision-making. Data from this survey suggest that the public values these learning opportunities: a majority of respondents rated learning to draw conclusions from evidence (80%), to think critically (78%), and how science is conducted (63%) as very important purposes of public school science education. Communicating the value of learning science, including evolution, for developing analytical skills that are widely applicable beyond the classroom may strengthen public support for all types of science.

I think it is arguable that evidence and critical thinking are precisely the linchpins of the arguments that folks like Dawkins makes. I don't see framing advocates arguing for science in terms of critical thinking or appreciation of evidence -- indeed, I usually see the implicit suggestion that science issues are just too complicated for the public to understand critically, and so they must be "framed" for them. I honestly don't see how, as an example, you could count this set of findings as support for "appeasement".

And this last finding is especially interesting:

Among respondents presented with a list of people who might explain science to the public, 88% expressed interest in hearing from a scientist, and almost as many were interested in hearing from a science teacher (85%) or a doctor or nurse (84%).

I'll grant that neither "communications professor" nor "journalist" were in the survey question, but I think the results nevertheless suggest that the public wants to get its science from practicing scientists and teachers, and not from PR spinners, no matter how well-intentioned.

That's my analysis of the study. You clearly have a different view of it -- I'm honestly happy to consider arguments for how it supports your position. But I'm afraid you'll have to offer explicit arguments, because the data certainly aren't leaping out at me.

Tulse: Knowing that the public abstractly values critical thinking means that we don't need to push forward Atheism (especially not 'Religion is Fucking Stupid And So Are You If You Believe In It' Atheism) to promote critical thinking/defeat ID, and isn't that what Dawkins/PZ ostensably want in part? Except that when PZ/Dawkins talk about ID/science, every other 'Science is awesome' is attached to 'Religion is stupid and you're stupid for believing it'. Lots and lots of people are interested in the core concepts of science. Promote them better, teach them better, and people will be equipped to better deal with shysters of any sort, whether they be ID sorts or other types of denialists or what have you. This isn't exactly revolutionary, or a complex reading of the topic here, you know?

Furthermore, your attempts to boil it down into 'PR spinners' vs 'Scientists' is flawed. Nisbet's proposals to have people talk about things involves having scientists. Many of whom also happen to not be actively engaged in flipping the bird at anyone with a religion.

One doesn't need to 'appease' people. One needs to stop hitting the ones who want to listen to you in the face for a few moments while trying to show them what's good about things, sometimes.

-Mecha

Knowing that the public abstractly values critical thinking means that we don't need to push forward Atheism (especially not 'Religion is Fucking Stupid And So Are You If You Believe In It' Atheism) to promote critical thinking/defeat ID, and isn't that what Dawkins/PZ ostensably want in part?

I'd argue the reverse, that it is critical thinking that is promoting atheism. That is what both PZ and Dawkins said in the Expelled clip that Matt complained about. What they argue (and you can debate the truth of the claim, but it is not an unreasonable suggestion) is that if one really is thinking critically and using evidence, then one will see that many religious claims about the physical world are simply false. You may not think it is politic to say that (this seems to be Matt's position), but it is arguably the truth (I'm not clear where Matt stands on this claim). And it is really bizarre to me to try to promote critical thinking and using evidence while at the same time explicitly avoiding where that thinking and evidence lead.

Matt, would you agree with Laelaps that by your reasoning, Gore shouldn't have endorsed gay marriage?

http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/03/the_new_face_of_framing.php

I give you credit for saying something like "if Gore's sole goal in life is to fight climate change, then..." but it seems clear that's not his sole goal in life. Ditto for Myers and Dawkins - they support evolution AND they support atheism.

Your initial assumption is flawed, as far as I can tell.

Tulse: Critical thinking does not necessarily lead to atheism. It may promote it. Maybe. Sorta. It certainly feels good to say that for you, I imagine.

But you know who wants the american public to believe that? Creationists. Because it drives them away from science. Score one for them, thanks PZ/Dawkins.

For Pete's sake, some of the people who established critical thought as, you know, a concept, a discipline? Not atheists. Lots of scientists? Not atheists. To say that 'critical thinking necessarily leads to atheism' is to also imply that if you are not atheist, you are likely to not be capable of critical thinking. And when you tie that together with 'science involves critical thinking', your conclusion is the ugly truth of PZ's position that I keep pointing out: PZ's position, by his own words, actions, and logic, is that religious people are, by and large, not capable of being scientists, because they have a critical flaw in their reasoning units. And THAT leaves them ripe pickings for the Creationists, because you've turned them away, driven them off into the arms of liars and crooks because you demand atheism from them at the BEGINNING.

So it is not only wrong, it sends the wrong message, and achieves the wrong affect. Given that, is it really odd that someone might want PZ/Dawkins to... stop doing it?

The key for the purposes of science and good is that critical thought will allow you to get away from _Creationist_ claims, because they are false on their face. Too much more than that is asking more of science/critical thinking than it can currently deliver. So the question is, do you want to promote science/critical thinking? If you do, then how about not making unsubstantiated claims (that the creationists support!) that science and critical thinking are the antithesis of religion? How about not doing their work for them?

-Mecha

To say that 'critical thinking necessarily leads to atheism' is to also imply that if you are not atheist, you are likely to not be capable of critical thinking.

Mecha, if you are going to use quotes, please ensure that the contents accurately reflects the referenced material -- I did not say "critical thinking necessarily leads to atheism". I said (and I quote), "it is critical thinking that is promoting atheism". The sentiments are not identical, as you can no doubt see.

The key for the purposes of science and good is that critical thought will allow you to get away from _Creationist_ claims, because they are false on their face. Too much more than that is asking more of science/critical thinking than it can currently deliver.

Just as false on their face are other religious claims, such as virgin birth of males offspring in mammals, transmutation of H20 into fermented grape juice, creation of edible matter out of nothing, etc. etc. etc. There is nothing about the claims of creationism that are special in their scientific falsity -- the same principles that falsify them would falsify those other beliefs as well (since they all rely on the notion of supernatural intervention in the physical world).

You may be right that it is a good short-term political strategy to focus on creationism, and to downplay, or even intentionally obfuscate, the implications of science for a large panoply of religious beliefs. And if your only goal is short-term political outcomes, that's fine. But PZ and Dawkins appear to have longer-term goals in mind, namely, the general reduction in society of superstition and irrationality about the physical world. And that long-term goal may sometime conflict with the short-term ones. But that's the way things go in a pluralistic, free-speech loving society. There is no one Pope for science, no Official Head to oversee Big Science's PR strategy. There are just a lot of folks who have varied interests. And having some of those folks tell others of those folks to shut up is not terribly productive.

I'm inclined to think people are resistant to accepting global warming for economic reasons rather than lack of understanding of the data. This is not to suggest they do understand, but that they don't care about it. If Gore argues the need for government involvement, he is back on Democratic side; if he just talks about science, he is irrelevant because he is ignoring the objections people actually have (expressed or not) to global warming. Thus, being non-partisan is not possible or no good.

By Josh Spinks (not verified) on 26 Mar 2008 #permalink

There's nothing wrong with speaking with conviction, but it's also important to be informed by strategy. It depends on your goals and the context.

Hmmm... maybe you should get on that, then? Instead of telling folks like PZ and Al Gore (Al? Are you out there reading this, buddy?) that they should keep quiet, you could, you know, say something with conviction that is informed by your strategy.

I agree that it's important that Republicans be convinced of the reality and importance of anthropogenic global warming. Not only will policy be easier to enact, individual Republican supporters are responsible in their own lives for CO2 emissions that it's in all our interests they reduce, and no conceivable policy (D or R) is going to force them to for much of that potential reduction. What's more, you don't want a GW denying GOP roaring back into the White House and Congress in 2012 or 2016: this has to be for the long term, and the Repubs will be back.

However, I don't see Gore as being able to achieve this: I think he is well and truly framed as Clinton's VP as well as Mr Inconvenient Truth and he isn't going to get away from that. That may mean that if he can help prevent the fracturing of the Democratic Party by swinging in behind one of the candidates (though it's not obvious that that would be the effect), that may be the greater service.

Much as it pains me to say it, I think it's the likes of Schwarzeneggar who are likely to make inroads on the right.

Gore is a lifelong Democrat and eight years a Democratic vice-president. I'm floored at the thought that it's even remotely plausible that Gore would refuse to endorse the Democratic candidate for president in 2008 in the general election.

And even if he did refuse to endorse the Democratic candidate, would that really, somehow, induce swarms of science "rejecting" Republicans to warm to Gore's environmental message? I'm dubious.

And while I certainly agree that finding "common ground" on environmental or religious or other issues is a worthy goal, I can't fathom why, as you seem to argue, "effective communication strategy" mandates that everyone speak with one voice in the contest to define that common ground. Strong, even shrill voices from far from the middling crowd points of view can greatly impact -- and not necessarily negatively -- the more middling opinions, and on where and when consensus, if any, is reached.

By Daniel Murphy (not verified) on 27 Mar 2008 #permalink

"Mecha, if you are going to use quotes, please ensure that the contents accurately reflects the referenced material -- I did not say "critical thinking necessarily leads to atheism". I said (and I quote), "it is critical thinking that is promoting atheism". The sentiments are not identical, as you can no doubt see."

What you missed was what I was actually referring to, which was your greater outlook, expressed in statements such as "if one really is thinking critically and using evidence, then one will see that many religious claims about the physical world are simply false." Your argument is that a REAL critical thinker will disavow most/all religion. That then requires that REAL scientists (who should be REAL critical thinkers) should disvow most/all religion (and therefore be left with nothing but atheism/agnosticism.) Or else they're not critical thinkers/scientists. I think I nailed that pretty much clearly, and you made it fairly clear that is what you believe with the phrase I actually quoted right there.As I said. What you are expressing is exactly what people are seeing in PZ and others, and objecting to, and pointing out how divisive it is. And that means that the rest of my argument (which I assume you ignored because you don't think my fundamentals were valid, and I had to reply to above) stands as whole, and if you're still reading, deserves an actual response. Promoting critical thinking is its own good. It has never had to lead to (or even implied) atheism in most peoples' views before. The idea that critical thinking means that you have to become atheist is an atheist first, science second, viewpoint, and that is not what Nisbet is here to promote.

"There is nothing about the claims of creationism that are special in their scientific falsity."

Actually, there are, at least with the ID crowd. You forget that ID claims also include explicit attempts to slander and misrepresent the scientists ('Darwinists', oy), as well as represent non-science as science. ID claims exist both in the raw science realm and the political realm, and attempt to confuse non-science with science. Those things can all be directly countered and refuted. Saying things like 'There's such a thing as irreducable complexity and it makes evolution impossible' can be countered. Thinking that Jesus turned water into wine, while neither currently verifiable nor particularly realistic, is not the same, nor does it actually mean that every Christian's logic/denialism is as warped as an avid ID proponent or Creationist, because it does not have any actual provability or unprovability (to be blunt, you can't provide any evidence it didn't happen. Just that it doesn't make any damn sense, which is good for analysis, but doesn't falsify the claim. It doesn't truthify it either, from a science PoV, but that's not the issue unless you're trying to force people into atheism.)

As to your last paragraph, which is too long to reasonably quote.

1) Pointing out that PZ and Dawkins have a different goal does not help your argument. In fact, it bolsters mine. Their goals are not necessarily science's goals, unless you have an argument you've been holding in reserve (and it'd have to be really good.)

2) In our pluralistic, free-speech loving society, it is perfectly valid to call for someone else to be quiet if you think they are doing damage to a cause. That's free speech as well. However, in response, when people shout you down with hundreds of posts and say that you aren't good enough to be allowed to be on Scienceblogs anymore... well, gee. That's called obstruction, silencing, and is generally considered anti-free speech, unless the speech being used initially is particularly heinous (and as much as it could have been better, we're not even talking hate speech here, let alone censorship. Nisbet isn't in charge either, right?) So who's been involved in the silencing here? Yeah.

3) The fact that you call it nonproductive for Nisbet to do it, but you don't seem to mind the hundreds of defamatory, ugly, and discussion-suppressing posts that have been spread around on Scienceblogs about Chris, Sheril, and Matt, basically gives away your bias, and PZ has done the same. It's only 'nonproductive' when they disagree with me.

4) There is nothing short-term about encouraging science and critical thinking on its own. It's the kind of thing that takes years, and money, and education, and all sorts of real effort which Nisbet and others (including PZ and Dawkins, sometimes) do. Trying to call it 'short-term' to denigrate it, while implying that PZ and Dawkins are playing the (better) long game of leading the world to atheism is pure rhetorical trickery, and also smacks of implying that given a choice, an atheist is better than a religious any day of the week. I can't imagine why that might piss people off.

-Mecha