A Failure To Engage

November 2, 2007 at 1:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Just a quick rant. I’m getting sick of organisations and individuals who express their viewpoint and then do the equivalent of running away with their fingers in their ears shouting ‘lalala’. I find this incredibly frustrating and I’m not sure what (if anything) it achieves. This failure to engage can be seen on many websites from anti-vaccine forums through online newspaper columns and even MP’s blogs.

Shutting down comment pages, deleting (inoffensive) forum posts or ‘moderating’ comments to ensure that only those posters agreeing with your viewpoint are seen seems pretty pathetic to me. Here are just a few examples that have caught my attention recently: The Bella Blissett article on everyone’s favourite media nutritionist at http://living.scotsman.com/health.cfm?id=1727272007, was reported by the rather wonderful Holford Watch, http://holfordwatch.info/2007/11/01/the-scotsman-reproduces-a-standard-article-correcting-its-dr-holford-error-but-still-with-lots-of-dubious-claims/. Commenting on the Scotsman site was swiftly closed, which is a shame given the excellence of some of the comments posted – my favourite was from pv, who can be found at http://pvandck.wordpress.com/. MP Nadine Dorries has banned comments on her blog because she ‘doesn’t have time’ for them. Back in the good old days, when Nadine did have time for comments, only the most fawning posts were allowed through, so I’m not sure that Nadine banning comments is really such a huge loss. You can find Nadine at Dorries {dot} org {dot} uk. However, a site far more deserving of visitors is this one – http://nadine-dorries.blogspot.com/2007/11/welcome-to-nadine-dorries-feedback.html. Forums run by homeopathists or anti-vaccine lobbyists are prone to deleting or editing your posts. Jabs {dot} org {dot} uk is one example of this. Hpathy {dot} com is another. At least I have proof of this censorship, as I tend to use JumpKnowledge to freeze pages of particular interest. JumpKnowledge is here: http://info.jkn.com/ and it rocks. You can also annotate the pages you freeze, if necessary.

Of course, the Bad Science website had to get a mention at some point. Here, http://www.badscience.net/2007/10/oooooh-im-in-the-minority-report/#comment-17881, we see a comment from ‘bloggerheads’ (who set up the Dorries feedback page) followed by a comment from Ben Goldacre himself that links to this site: http://commentrejected.com/. I think that’s a brilliant idea. As will anyone who has ever tried to get a rational comment published on a Daily Mail online article.

[Edited to change “fora” to “forums” and remove broken link to picture]



  1. PoorPothecary said,

    Just so. Lack of openness to public critical appraisal is a bad sign, whether in scientific or any other media format. The DM are utter prats in this respect: nothing can be allowed to question their permanent whinge (e.g. guess how far I got in commenting in what ways 1900 Britain was a s**t-hole – though I didn’t phrase it that way – in response to the Good Old Days agenda of the captions to this photo article.

  2. valueaddedwater said,

    I found you can get the odd comment published in the Daily Mail, you just have to angle it so that it sounds like one thing, but says something completely different, OR, you have to be completely rhubarb rhubarb biscuit barrel. The Mods like that.
    An example of that is when the DM reported on the BMW executive who tried palming his speeding ticket off onto his son. The comment of I blame the Parents got published.

    Lets have a competition. Select an article, and see who gets published first. Winner gets blogosphere bragging rights

  3. jdc325 said,

  4. LeeT said,

    Be pleased about rather than sick of people who run off without engaging with you. It show that you are winning. If such people had anything interesting to say they would engage in debate.

  5. Idetrorce said,

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  6. LeeT said,

    Ha, ha. I think they must have tightened things up. I posted the following a comment about my family remedy for dry skin passed down from my grandmother. You take 250ml of olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of lime juice and mix it all together.

    Idetrorce – haven’t we met somewhere before? Is there anything you do agree with?

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