posted on January 14, 2008 03:27
Spend enough time on this planet of ours and you'll have to learn to live with disappointment. This is one of those times.
There's a website out there called JunkScience. Its mission is something we Dead Hands can completely support, and the tagline expresses it perfectly: "All the Junk That's Fit to Debunk." I get their RSS feed... don't read it much, but occasionally something catches my eye, and I'm rarely offended by a healthy, skeptical viewpoint.
Of course, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Where skepticism is concerned, that's the point where skepticism slips into overt paranoia. You can see it coming easily enough: well-founded analysis gives way to name-calling and ad hominem attacks, and evidence of wrongdoing gives way to lists of accusations supported by avalanches of irrelevant data. And, of course, any dissenting opinion gets ruthlessly squashed.
Unfortunately, that's what appears to be happening at JunkScience.
The whole thing started with the flap over John Casey and his new Space and Science Research Center. It turned out that the folks at JunkScience had decided that Casey—who has a rather impressive resume, mostly involving large, government science projects—is actually a fraud of some unspecified variety. They went so far as to publish a PDF (which I will NOT link to) containing tons of completely irrelevant links "supporting" their argument, as well as some personal information that I'm sure Casey would have preferred remain private. It was a shameful display, not least because it really appears that JunkScience and SSRC are mainly in agreement on the relevant issues (climate change, mostly).
I submitted a comment to the relevant post at JunkScience, respectfully pointing out the flaws in their argument and suggesting that their readership might be interested in seeing them debate Casey's ideas instead of attacking the man. The comment function at JunkScience is moderated, and a few minutes ago I received notice that my comments had been rejected by the moderator.
Fair enough, I guess. Disappointing, but still a credible exercise of the freedom that my father and I collectively spent four decades defending. What really got my blood boiling, though, was the subject line of the message.
It read: "Comments for hire?"
Hmm. So it appears that, at Junk Science, it isn't enough to besmirch a man's reputation on the flimsiest of evidence, release his home address and private e-mail into the public domain, and squelch anybody who speaks in his defense. Nah. To complete the pattern, it appears necessary to attack the credibility of those people as well... all while never in any way addressing the IDEAS in question.
As we speak, I'm having an e-mail exchange with the editor of JunkScience, wherein he suggests that our comments—Robert posted one as well—were rejected by their spam filter. A remarkably bright machine, evidently, since it was also able to detect that we Dead Hands are on the take from a scam artist who is, as the author put it, "looking for ‘meaningful funding’ and he thinks the skeptic community might be eager enough to slay the catastrophic warming myth to fork over some cash."
Really, seriously pathetic, and a true disappointment from a website with a banner on its home page that shouts, "DEMAND DEBATE!"