The Futility of Commenting on Denialist Blogs
I never comment on denialists blogs. Why? There are many reasons.
1. Denialists can often edit comments in an intellectually dishonest way, making you appear in a bad light, giving them the opportunity to play the martyr card.
2. The regular readers of denialists blogs are probably denialists as well, so the probability of convincing them is minuscule. The fence sitters probably do not read comments to begin with.
3. Denialists tend to be very steadfast in their position and they usually do not listen or respond to counterarguments. It is a futile discussion, since very little actual intellectual exchange is taking place.
So, what to do if you come across a post on a denialist blog that you want to take to task? You can post on a forum you enjoy visiting to equip like-minded individuals with your refutation (and they can help you as well with other arguments), or make a refutation on your own blog. This will work as a more lasting impression on the blogosphere and more fully develop your arguments with links and references without getting caught in the spam filters.
7 thoughts on “The Futility of Commenting on Denialist Blogs”
Although I can appreciate your frustration with attempting to engage in actual discussion on denialist blogs, I disagree. Years ago, I became interested in skepticism preciously because of skeptics’ challenges posted on the forums of some now rather embarrassing websites I used to visit as a college student.
Specifically, I disagree with your second point. Many people fall into the trap of denialist websites while genuinely trying to gather information on a topic. You should not view your comments as targeted towards hardcore fringe supporters, but rather at those naive, curious individuals in danger of being grossly misinformed and manipulated by denialists.
It’s certainly an anecdote on my behalf, but you do not have any reliable evidence to support your view that fence sitters do not read comments. However, if you can support this claim, I’d be glad to reconsider my position.
Sure, maybe fence sitters do read comments.
How do you weigh the prospect of convincing fence sitters who happen to read your comment against the possibility of getting edited to appear foolish?
There certainly is no guarantee against your comments being edited. It would simply be wise to check if your comments have been edited. If they have been, then do not post there.
This is generally good practice, but especially with potentially intellectually dishonest websites: I would recommend making the comment, but also to copy your comment text *before* you post (generally, to prevent randomly losing it down the inter-tubes), and saving it locally on your computer, or even preemptively posting it on your own blog/website with a comment to the effect of: “Just in case such-and-such website deletes or modifies my comment, here it is for all to see.”
You can (and often should) also save a copy of their own comments/threads, especially the particularly outrageous ones, in order to be able to hold them accountable if they after-the-fact edit their own comments to remove or modify context.
It is actually quite a good counter-tactic to use for showing folks just how intellectually dishonest some sites/groups are: it shows that not only are they wrong, but they have some conscious awareness of their wrongness (even if they won’t admit it), and have gone to extra-ordinary lengths to cover it up. You might be surprised at how often their deceit blows up in their own faces if you just take a few steps to preserve the evidence, so to speak.
I know of one service that can be used for that called WebCite. Have you tried it, or something like it?
No, I haven’t. Is it worth the time investment?
I found it fairly good to create an external cache that can be linked to any time. Also, there is really no time investment if you use the Boomarklet (don’t have to register at all).
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