Podcast - Adam Savage Project

On Churros and Being Nice – 10/22/2013

This week, the gang enjoys a churro, then discusses civility in the comments and on the Internet in general. Enjoy what is bound to be a controversial episode of Still Untitled!

Comments (68)

68 thoughts on “On Churros and Being Nice – 10/22/2013

  1. The revolving meat blob thing that adam is talking about in the beginning (oil painting) is a “Doner Kebab”.

  2. Excellent discussion as always. Recently re-visiting Ted Nelson’s ideas on Hypermedia, and how he intended for links to be bidirectional. This would have eliminated the need for a “comments section” as referencing someone else’s content would not be the responsibility of the author/publisher. Is it possible that much of the awkward crud of the internet exists because we completely bought into an alpha prototype before a much better system emerged?

  3. Great podcast guys. Thanks for the conversation about ‘being nice’. The only thing I would add is that it would be great if we extended that off the internet as well. Our society has a lot of problems, but I think most of them would be softened if we just realized the person sitting across from us who disagrees with us is also a human being, and that we solve problems with real discussion.

  4. Hot damn, that is a wild stereo mix after the censorship.

    It is a little creepy hearing every lip smack, but it’s a cool change from the usual mono mixdown.

  5. Good podcast. I feel like you guys touched on most of the important notes, but this discussion is definitely a deep and worthy rabbit hole.

    I’ve got to say that Tested’s interaction with fans is one of the features that keeps me coming back. On a couple occasions I’ve asked questions via Twitter and gotten an answer; that’s great when that happens. The time it takes to be so engaged is nontrivial, but I think it’s super valuable and part of what can give a smaller site the edge against larger ones.

  6. Yes i agree with you guys about being nice and having some intelligent conversations on the web that would be ideal. However i think the biggest problem is with the content creators having too many places to comment on. You mention that you have so little time to read comments (which i understand your busy creating content) . To me sometimes i get confused on this topic and think “ok well where should i post to get heard?”. You list so many options reddit, youtube, facebook, this site, itunes not everyone is willing to use all these sites and repost their same comment on each site. there is also the fact that some sites cant stem these conversations because for example a character limit (youtube is 500 character limit) and i cant repost this there. This is just from a readers point of view i could be missing something else completely like you guys want to include everyone which is fine too. I know for me most times when wanting to post a comment i think well this isnt gonna go anywhere so i wont bother posting. This is just a theory but this could be where the “First” and other horrible comments come from because those get recognized more easily and are easier to attack. Just as an experiment you should shut down comments on all other places for a video and say “the only way to comment is to go to tested” (for example) and see what happens and what kind of comments you get.

  7. Perhaps some of the people at PopSci or whatever it is saw a comment bellow the study, and had their perceptions of the study warped by it and…


  8. You guys touched briefly on how the streets tend to be a social cesspool in a similar way a forum can be when it’s overrun by trolls.

    I think you’re partially right that it’s because people feel anonymous the same way they are on the internet, but I think it’s also because the main communication channel in a car is the horn, which, by our present conventions, is only capable of expressing various levels of “you’re a jerk”, ranging from “out of my way” to “YOU F***ING A**HOLE!”

    I heard of an experiment – I think it was in Japan – where they equipped cars with the ability to toot different notes, and it seems to me that this could make the streets a much nicer place. Just imagine if we developed conventions for saying things like “sorry” or “thanks” with your car horn.

  9. It might be my speakers but its really cool and a little confusing. ‘s voice is coming out of the right speaker and he is sitting in the video on the left side. Norm and Adam’s voices are coming out of the left speakers and are sitting the the right of Will, unless we are thinking in terms of theater in Stage left and right and then everything is switched. It’s a new way to listen to podcasts.

  10. I believe he busted a knuckle, at least I think it’s a knuckle, on Mythbusters while moving one of those big blast shields.

  11. Sorry about the digital stuttering – each time I tried to post, I got an error message and when I refreshed the page I discovered it had posted multiple times. 🙁

  12. I’ve always been impressed with slashdot’s mod point system. I have been reading slashdot since the beginning. Working help desk gave me hours to keep up with tech, and I found that the comments to be the most illuminating on the finer details on a post. Also this discussion has been on going since News Groups.

  13. Very good conversation. Although I think you left out another major part of being treated the nicest on the web. You are male and straight. Gay, trans, bi and pan men get treated pretty crappy, especially if they are taking a stand on an issue. Oh and the stereo mix was kinda bad. Please go back to mono, I listen at work and usually am only using one ear.

  14. Yeah, if I was forced to use my real name, I’d immediately cease posting comments and participating in discussions. I’m not a public figure. I enjoy the anonymity that the internet grants us, but unfortunately too many people abuse it.

  15. Hey guys I enjoyed your discussion on comments so thought I would. I don’t understand the deluded numptys out there but I dislike the bullies even more. However every so often they mess with the wrong person. Check the link below to a story from my home the uk where a Troll went after a professional boxer and the boxer then went after them:) enjoy. Love the site btw

  16. It’s too bad if people opt not to post if a real name is required, but I suspect most content creators would rather have less discussion than a discussion full of vitriol and trolling that they have to spend time cleaning up. I’m not hugely in favor of commenting under my real name, but I completely understand why it is necessary on certain content and wouldn’t say its bad, or good, just a fact at the moment. And if one really wants to comment, it is hardly difficult to setup an alias.

  17. Will, you’re such a snob for “protecting” your local food place from a miniscule amount of free publicity on the internet. It was a funny to say you were going to bleep it, but then to actually do it… sheesh!

  18. I think that comments can be an exceptional way to interact on a topic and have debate. I also think that anonymity and the tendency to objectify people causes a huge amount of problems. I am not just talking about the trolls trying to de-rail a thread, blaming a national political figure for a local event happening, etc.

    What I am talking about is something that even happened in this episode. We tend to divide people into sides. There is “our side” and “those other guys who we must defeat”. While I may or may not agree with the Still Untitled crew about Climate Change and other such things, isn’t automatically lumping anyone who disagrees with something into a category of “weirdo” or “nut job” exactly what tends to polarize people? It doesn’t have to be Global Warming per se, however, that was the example I picked up on.

    I am not saying there aren’t completely crazy people out there who will believe and promote anything. What I am saying is that the problem is that because we as a human race tend to de-humanize people when we don’t have to face them in person would appear to me to be the biggest source of hostility in comments. If we treated people as people, even when they had a legitimate opposing viewpoint instead of seeing them as a person to defeat in battle or a complete and utter whacko, then perhaps that would lead to better discourse. Again, notice the emphasis on LEGITIMATE opinion, not just someone spouting off because they can.

  19. Kind of sad that PopSci closed it’s comment section, feels like the anti-science nobbers have won something.

    Hope that the research on comments affecting the understanding of the article is dis-proven.

    As for the cowardly little f***ers posting death and rape threats they do need to be named and shamed at the very least.

  20. What I’ve taken away being involved with the Whiskey Media suite of sites is that a strong and dedicated community tend to moderate themselves.

    Sites like Youtube or Reddit are often too large to moderate unless the sites were born with moderation in mind.

    It’s so rare to see horrible comments on these sites because the staff, mods, and users all wanted a civil place to exist on the web. A safe place to enjoy those things they love. Which is probably why these sites are still, mostly, doing very well.

  21. Not a huge deal but for something like this I prefer mono. I usually only have one ear covered when listening to stuff at work. It’s a tad hard to hear will.

  22. Ninefingers Totally. The whole thing reeked of hipster snobbery. “I don’t want the Chuds to visit this great food place and start ruining it. They can eat Target burritos for all I care, and probably would too. *scoffs*”

  23. The whole thing reeked of hipster snobbery. “I don’t want the Chuds to visit this great food place and start ruining it. They can eat Target burritos for all I care, and probably would too. *scoffs*”

    Boy, you just got baited and switched on. They snuck in the uncensored line at the very end after the wrap-up. You probably feel like a sucker, especially considering the topic. I bet you would edit that comment if the button was working.

  24. I know that Adam won’t see this, but I was rather surprised when he said that evolution and AGW were “decided” and the ongoing characterization of people as wackjobs because they may not believe some declared orthodoxy or not. I’m surprised because Adam has spent a great deal of his time telling people to ask questions and then turns around and says you can’t asks questions about certain topics or you are a “wackjob.” Look I am going to be honest here and say I am what you call a climate “denier.” On what the evangelists bunch together and call evolution, I think that there’s to many different disciplines involved and too much evidence to say that evolution isn’t happening. But for the claims of the AGW people, frankly I don’t think they have a case.

    Now you could say “you don’t know anything about it.” Actually I know a great deal about. Too start with, I went to high school in Greenwich CT(Adam will know where and why this matters) and we had a computer, in 1975. One of the classes I took for my sophomore year was something called engineering sciences or something like that, where among other things we could play wit the computer and we would run a version of the Limits to Growth computer model. This experience sort of gave me a feeling for how computer models work, how different assumptions can change the result and how a computer model may not be tied to reality. After high school I studied mechanical engineering and since then I’ve done a bunch of different things. But I’ve always been interested in computers if not the day to day workings of being a programmer. So I’ve used computers in my work and used things like computer models fairly frequently. I’ve also seen some of them fail to live up to expectations and screwed up more than one model myself. So when I see that a prediction based on a computer model I treat it with a grain of salt, especially when the models do things like have a runaway spike, which usually means that a coefficient is being treated as dependent rather than independent variable and the spike is an artifact of programming or model errors and not a reflection of reality.

    On the data side there are issues as well. I would recommend gong to the “Watts with that” website or “climate audit” site for explanations and information about that in great detail, but the thing you really need to know is that the people involved are going to great lengths to prevent access to that data. That should tell anybody that is reasonably skeptical all they need to know. Those people are trying to hide something and real scientist don’t do that. By behaving they way have the people who run climate science are putting AGW on the same level as Lysenkoism and Piltdown.

    You know, there’s more to moderation than shutting up views that the moderator doesn’t want to be seen. Frankly, you shouldn’t have to agree with “the consensus” to not be labeled a “crank” or a “denier.” Especially in science. Science is the result of data collection, research, hypothesis, more data collection, testing, evolving a theory and testing the theory by collecting more data. Frankly, crackpots and people who think outside the box are more likely to advance science because they think outside the consensus and force the consensus to be tested.

    Ok, Adam, here’s a challenge. I believe I have good reason to not believe in the AGW hypothesis. Prove me wrong. And stop just calling people names because they disagree with you.

  25. Good podcast. Can I (nicely) make a suggestion? When you bleep out the name of the burrito place, the sound level of the horn felt like it was twice the level of the conversation. Could you guys just blank out the audio on this sort of thing?

    On the upside, I’m sure the people at the gym were amused by me reacting to the sudden, loud sound coming through my headphones. 🙂

  26. By the way forcing people out of anonymity is a bad thing if you ask me.

    It may stop some of the trolls but you would be silencing a ton of good people as well. I don’t want my real name to be used on sites. Hardly anyone i know knows that i frequent tested, I’d hate for a future employer to know that i watched 2 guys build lego for i don’t know how many hours. *

    Force me to use my real name on any site and i would simply stop talking there, i’m sure it is the same for a lot of people.

    As silly as it sounds, the internet is one of the rare places where you can truly be yourself, and that is thanks to anonymity.

    I am in complete and total agreement on this.

    Without the ability to anonymous, I wouldn’t post on half the places that I do. And I’m not talking about commenting on the usual places that have heated political debate (slash shouting, slash mud-slinging) at one another..

  27. By the way forcing people out of anonymity is a bad thing if you ask me.

    It may stop some of the trolls but you would be silencing a ton of good people as well. I don’t want my real name to be used on sites. Hardly anyone i know knows that i frequent tested, I’d hate for a future employer to know that i watched 2 guys build lego for i don’t know how many hours. *

    Force me to use my real name on any site and i would simply stop talking there, i’m sure it is the same for a lot of people.

    As silly as it sounds, the internet is one of the rare places where you can truly be yourself, and that is thanks to anonymity.

    Yeah, considering that there’s more and more cases of organizations keeping an eye on the social media of their workers, and that any employer can pull up most of your history on the internet with a modernized private investigator, it’s just not worth it to give up all anonymity.

    Also, Google aggregates quite a bit of information to your username already (like, a scary amount), so keeping my name out of YouTube and out of any videos I put on YouTube is perfectly fine with me.

  28. After having watched the full video, I’d like to chime in with an addendum to the gender discussion. I usually have my first name in my handles on relatively civil forums, and I am fairly certain it has made it easier for me to be accepted by a number of messageboards and online communities.

    Specifically, my first name is Kim, and I’m a guy (a fairly common Scandinavian name). On several forums that I frequent, I noticed that the assumption that I was female made the “newbie”-mocking less intense than for other members, and that debates were less heated and less likely to go ad hominem than the average.

    A forum where people have long-term accounts is obviously a case where people are generally less inclined to be assholes and a completely different scenario than comments on an article or other content where the female author is using her full name. But I suspect there are quite a few male dominated places on the internet that are afraid of driving away female members.

  29. Ugh Adam come on on! Reality those not lean into a liberal premise, there are plenty of liberal ideas that have been debunked over the years ( yes the religious dogmatic right is most likely to be wrong on most science related issues) but the advocates of small government, free trade, and market liberalism (dose not mean liberal as in progressive) that fall in the sidelines of fiscal conservativeism have pretty strong arguments against the liberal ideas based on government control.

  30. I was going to post a comment very similar to this.

    I’m glad that YouTube is finally addressing the absolute debacle that is the comment section. It’s long overdue, and I know many content creators who face a perpetual wall of harassment, abuse, stalking, hate, threats, unrelenting objectification, and more, who all feel this is long overdue.

    On the other hand, I created a separate G+ account for my youtube handle because I don’t want my name associated with it. For me it’s a safety issue. Once you have someone’s face and their full name it’s not hard to track them down online (and given that G+ and facebook have both removed a lot of privacy settings recently it makes it even worse).

    I am more than willing to stand by what I say online, but I am not willing to make it easier for people with whatever sorts of intentions to find my location.

  31. So, I’m kind of infuriated. Somewhere between Adam
    marginalizing other people’s views by calling them “nut jobs” is insulting. But
    hey, I’m just a uneducated commenter who has a minor in atmospheric science. So,
    I guess I’m a nut job.

    I believe most comments and voting on comments are based on
    our worldview and education. So when you say something that I agree or disagree
    with I want to share my knowledge of the subject. Comments allow us to voice our
    ideas and thoughts, while they may be in contrast to yours, and allows for the
    free sharing of ideas and conversations from a diverse group of people. It
    allows everyone to see things in a different light. For example, when Gary said
    that the proof of alien life would destroy all of the world’s religions, I
    could have pointed out that the Koran actually talks about aliens, the Bible
    and the Hebrew Scriptures really do not say either way about the existence of extraterritorial

    The other option is that my comment is showing support for
    the article. If I really enjoyed your work, wouldn’t you want to know?

    I would not trust upvotes for accurate information.
    Confirmation bias and one-sided fallacies plague the internet. Go to Reddit’s
    gaming page and say something accurate but negative about the PlayStation 4 and
    see what happens. Alternatively, try Reddit’s Politics, make a conservative
    comment, and see what happens. A study
    of what is upvoted would be a great sociological study.

    On the global warming, there is evidence both for and
    against our contribution to global warming. Both sides ignore and manipulate the
    evidence to support their claims. The problem is the funding of scientific research,
    it is entrepeneurial . The results of the research often favor those who fund
    the research.

  32. I know there are a couple of people here who are also part of the Giant Bomb community and I’m a bit surprised this hasn’t been brought up yet. This discussion seems rather timely considering Patrick Klepek had given a Ted X talk this last weekend. It’s about nineteen minutes long and I think deserves a listen.

  33. Wow, it sounds like you guys need to add a disclaimer to the front page of Tested: “Not for conservative Christians.”

    I don’t think man-made global warming is as big of a problem as many scientists do. I don’t think abortion is ethical unless to save the life of the mother. I don’t think gay marriage is a right that’s guaranteed in the Constitution. Oh and I’m a Creationist.

    Sorry for being a bigoted, science-denying, moron. I’ll try not to let my stupidity negatively affect your site too much, but I guess I screwed that up for posting this. Time to check my list of websites/articles talking bad about conservatives so I can go post hate messages on there too.

  34. if it was a Greek Kebab (or Souvlaki) it would not be called a Donner, usually in Greece it is called a Gyro referring to the fact that it spins round.

  35. I totally agree with your post. We can’t draw up lines and “de-humanize” other commentors(made up word).

    *CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM* When our trio kept mentioning the “good people” vs the “nut-jobs” it seemed a little harsh and a tiny bit arrogant. I think if one of these “us vs them” issues comes up in the future it could be helpful if one of the trio played devil’s advocate–like the Israelis in WWZ.

  36. I don’t think gay marriage is a right that’s guaranteed in the Constitution.

    Alright you lost me, joke post or are we listening to different podcasts?

  37. Complaining about opinions in content you are free to listen or not listen to is very similar to the “I’m unfollowing you”-message on Twitter. This site doesn’t have an anti-religious tone at all, and if you feel offended that a site with Tested’s focus sometimes includes off-the-cuff references to anti-science views, specifically ones that are presented in a negative way, you may need to reconsider your browsing habits.

  38. I dont think Adam was right to call people who dont accept evolution “crazy nutcases”. Not all who accept other theories, other than evolution, are “crazy nutcases”.

  39. I wish more sites had this type of conversation. Most of what is found on the internet, in my experience, is that of an individual voicing a single opinion. Which is great, I encourage people to voice their full opinion, even when they’re of the opposite opinion. What I don’t see as often is getting a number of people into a room who can discuss facets of a subject, possibly disagree with each other, and have a civil and productive conversation. So many of the attempts at this type of media turn into unintelligent yelling or unproductive arguing. Then again, I’m a college student who has daily encounters with people unwilling to progress a discussion. Which is sad. So, maybe I’m jaded.

    Either way, I love what you guys do! You keep doing it, I’ll keep watching it!

  40. I’m going to have to disagree about the idea of encouraging or forcing people to use their real names in posting in any form of discussion thread. Like your Moderator Rallier said it would silence far to many of your moderate to good posters and really wouldn’t deter the truly nasty ones. Far to many of the people who utter death and rape threats and all manner of truly despicable things are not in the least afraid to do it under their real names.

    I know I don’t post in any forum that forces me to use my real name. I have fairly severe problems with anxiety that render me for the most part a social shut in. The anonymity of wonderful places like here at Tested gives me enough of a comfort level that I can actually have some kind of meaningful discourse. Taking away anonymity just hurts people like myself without doing much if anything to stem the tide of trolls.

  41. While I respect your right to moderate comments, I have a hard time trusting a heavily moderated community. I love the content you guys have been churning out, but ever since you guys joined the BermanBraun network I feel as if you have lost your personalities. It seems that you even moderate yourselves and its ironic that the addition of two giant personalities makes the whole lot less relatable.

    Whatever happened to having a big red phone and having one on one conversations with your community? The new ability for you guys to travel more and do more in general feels due to your increase in funding reminds me greatly of George Lucas going back to his old movies with his new CGI abilities and changing them to “what he really wanted all along”.

    While a lot of your opinions make my blood boil from time to time, I always come back for more and recommend Tested to my friends. Keep on making new great content, just remember your roots.

  42. I’m a Christian conservative with a huge interest in science and I think it is unbelievably hypocritical of you to talk about being nice while you call those who disagree with you nut jobs. I’ve had about all the liberal bias I can take on this site so this will be the last time I visit. This was a daily site for me for over a year, but I refuse to voluntarily let someone with nothing to his credit except a tv show and model making tell me I’m crazy. Good luck with the site and I hope some of these comments help you to change your views on us crazy christian conservatives. and btw just because you use big words to talk about your point doesn’t make it right, especially when you have to ask if you are saying the correct big word.

  43. Thanks for bringing up the topic of the way Adam characterised anyone who believes in “Intelligent Design”, not that I necessarily like that designation, as a “nut job” in a constructive way. I too had the same irritation this morning when listening to the podcast on the way to work. I’m conservative in my outlook, and disagree with several of the viewpoints of the guys here at Tested. However, I’ve always really liked the site, having followed over here from Maximum PC, and I’m disappointed now that there would be such a slandering of people’s opinions by someone who I know has said that he has friends on both sides of the political spectrum. Just because I believe that God is behind the way we get from there being no Earth and no universe to where we are today doesn’t mean I’m a “nut job”. I just believe that, however it worked, God guided it – and that could well have been through evolution!

    I very much understand, as Will said, that there is a liberal bias on the Internet, but I think that both sides of the political spectrum are just as guilty of organising campaigns against specific web sites or online articles – and I don’t agree with either. It’s just as wrong for a conservative to attack and slander a site just because they’re presenting a piece on something like climate change as it is for a liberal group to organise an attack something about a group who happen to believe in the sanctity of marriage between two people of the opposite sex. Both sorts of coordinated attack are wrong. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion respected, even if we disagree. We can try and convince those who disagree with us in a respectful manner, but at the end of the day there will be some people who will never change their mind – and we have to live with that, not ridicule them no matter how stupid or backward thinking we may perceive them to be.

    What happened on the podcast won’t stop me from really enjoying what you guys do here at Tested. The information you provide is always very interesting to me, whether it’s about a piece of technology or something happening in science. I also love what Adam does with Mythbusters. That said, I would like to see Adam apologise for not showing the respect which you guys said was the most important thing about comments and interaction, else to me at least I will have to unfortunately treat what was said as somewhat hypocritical.

    Thanks guys, and always be testing.

  44. I think that it is fair to comment on what constitutes being nice on a podcast about being nice. Frankly, I don’t worry too much about anonymity because I always try to be myself and not hide behind some false handle. I also don’t try judge people by the group they belong to. Every group has their trolls and people who may seem to you to be nutjobs. That doesn’t mean that everybody in the group is an nutjob or their opinions are entirely wrong. Especially in science where strange stuff happens all the time. If you don’t think that, I suggest that you visit one of the National labs where seemingly crazy stuff goes on all the time:


    That’s an attempt to shoot light through a wall using the world’s largest Free Electron Laser(the FEL) is in the building basement, in fact it is the building basement.)

  45. Another Metafilter person coming in here to speak about the site (and, maybe, change the subject from the whole evolution debate above….)

    I actually think that another very wise thing that Metafilter does is have a section (called “Metatalk”) which is devoted to discussing the site itself. If you’re someone with a beef about the community standards, you can raise discussion about it – you’re a bit bothered by the tone most discussions about religion take, or how threads on topic [foo] tend to devolve, or how a discussion on topic [baz] gets derailed too easily, or how topic [schmeh] gets monopolized by one demographic and maybe people could sit on their hands a bit.

    I think this kind of corrects the balance Adam was pointing out, that being on the Internet kind of keeps you in a bubble – your words are on a site, but no one really knows it’s you, you’re just some random drive-by. But Metatalk gives you the opportunity to kind of speak up about HOW the things people say are getting said, and the rules of the community get hammered out – and it is that act, that allowing people to have a hand in INFLUENCING the community, that actually MAKES Metafilter a community, and that in turn removes some OF that insular bubble the Internet can put us in.

    And even better, Metatalk isn’t just for complaints – I’ve also seen it used for positive callouts (I did one myself when another user actually helped me repair my computer’s hard drive, and did so over the phone from Kentucky, for free; I was so grateful I posted a notice declaring him “a golden god”); and also I’ve seen it used as a water-cooler kind of thing about the community (where you see questions like “did someone say something really cool once and you don’t think enough people noticed? Tell us about it”).

    Comment threads in most webzines, or on Youtube or in newspapers or what-not, are just like drive-bys – you’re just a passerby commenting on the action. But Metatalk makes Metafilter more of a community – the vast majority of MeFites have never met me in person, and don’t know my face, but they know my Metafilter persona, and Metatalk has fostered the kind of community where I feel like I’ve developed a persona – one that people notice, will remember, and can react to, which makes it a persona I have to be responsible for and have a stake in. And I think that really helps with how comments and discussions go on Metafilter vs. other sites.

  46. I don’t think that anyone here was talking about evolution or AGW specifically. They were talking about how some people were putting people in boxes and acting those definitions rather than trying to find out what they are really about. I don’t hide behind a tag like many do. Frankly I don’t fell the need to hide. I try not to treat people poorly and hope that they will not try to abuse that by treating ME poorly.

    Now metafile may be nice for the people who generally agree, but how do they treat the people who don’t. Or worse how do they prevent the real trolls from trying to take over. Especially if the trolls are sysadmins who abuse that power. I am on aboard where we inherited recently, a troll from we think, the popcsi comment section. Here’s how he made his entrance, talking about what happened at the popular science comment section. :

    This is due to climate deniers, physics cranks, and creationists polluting the comments to such an extent it was no longer possible to hold a conversation. All the people who knew anything got chased off by the cranks invading the volunteer staff, and when you logged on to Popular Science to get an answer to a scientific question you were more likely to get a wrong answer than a right one.

    Last I checked (many many months ago) you were still allowing climate deniers here. (That’s why I haven’t checked in a long time.)

    Can we discuss polywell fusion now? Are the physics cranks and climate cranks gone, or are you going to start harshly and heavily moderating them? Or should I come back in a couple years to see if you’re sane yet? Because I have no intention of patronizing any climate crank sites.


    Now talk polywell is a small board of enthusiasts discussing the Bussard polywell fusion reactor that the Navy is keeping under wraps, much to our chagrin. So having somebody like this drop into our midst was rather shocking. Even if you agree with his positions this guy is poison. Google his handle, schneibster if you don’t believe me. You know it’s bad when he brags that he has been banned from ten boards that he admits to. To say nothing that the first thing that turns up on google after his blog is “schneibster falling off the deep end.” I keep asking myself if this his real persona or does he put on different, more ugly face on the internet. Putting people in categories and censoring them because of you might disagree with them creates the atmosphere that produces this kind of troll. Look, I’m not saying that conservatives don’t do the things that you accuse them of, though somehow I hear more accusations than follow-ups with actual examples. It’s easy to make an accusation, but where are the links. Somehow they never seem to materialize. Yet I keep running into trolls like this all over the internet and realspace. So please if you are going to accuse a group of doing something, point out where and when it happened so that we who are members of that group can look at it an judge for ourselves. Making unfair judgments doesn’t help anybody.

  47. So, I am a big fan of this podcast and Adam Savage in general, and I always knew he was an atheist, and I don’t really care. But, I happen to believe in intelligent design AND I also deny anthropogenic warming.

    I would just like to say that I do have what I, a reasonably scientific person, think are valid reasons to think the things I do, and I am a pretty big skeptic. Just, hear me out.

    I really was sort of put off by Adam, Will, and Norm calling people “nutjobs” and “weirdos” simply for disagreeing with what they define as “obviously true.” Well, you can prove me wrong at your convenience. It is all consensus. All that makes something true, apparently, is enough scientists agreeing upon something, and I would argue that many scientists out there are more interested in proving their hypothesis right than finding the true answer. I feel like the climate change thing is part of an agenda. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. Furthermore, if the earth is warming, which I don’t have any problem with admitting, it isn’t due to mankind, not nearly mankind alone. Okay, that’s my opinion, I am not a weirdo or a nutjob.

    I realize that there a a LOT of people out there who think roughly the same things as me, and they can be some pretty bug nutjobs. But there are even more of us who simply disagree, and we aren’t crazy, we don’t go to church every week, and we don’t drink kool-aid. There are more of us than them, you just don’t hear about us because we never open our mouths because the second we do, everyone will lose their minds and attack US for being ignorant or closed minded, while they, the people who consider themselves objective and open-minded don’t realize that they are making a massive generalization about a massive group of people, but they are just knee-jerking whenever they hear “intelligent design” or “I don’t think Al Gore got it right.”

    I realize not all of them do this, but it seems like every time I calmly and logically voice my opinion, I get closed-minded, biased people barking at me rabidly about how I am closed-minded and biased, while insinuating that whoever doesn’t blindly follow consensus is crazy or stupid or something.

    That is what it is, beratement for not thinking what they want you to think. You think differently, you are religious, you are not so quick to jump on the bandwagon, just like that your opinion is no longer credible.

    Sorry for the wall of text, I just had to say that. I didn’t mean to insult anyone, and I am sure that Will, Adam, and Norm didn’t intend to insult anyone either.

  48. And here I thought I would show myself as the biggest lunatic for responding to myself. Thanks for infinitely tempering my expectations, Internet. Am I using the right word there?

  49. @ 22:11; It’s funny you mention that because that’s precisely what I hope to study as a doctoral researcher and professor in Sociology within the next 10 years. It’s a shame my ambitions are so much earlier than when I will be getting said degree (ca. 2020), but my area of study will focus on the sociology of media and internet cultures, among other things, and I can tell you this area is ripe for the picking. In fact, it’s one of my back of mind topics to research the social and structural elements to do with comments and forum threads and how they work. It’s something I’ve gleaned from professors and articles which is that this area of social research is nascent and will likely grow very fast soon.

  50. I greatly enjoyed the discussion. However, I think anonymity still has a place in many of these discussions. I had personal experience with a person discovering my identity and then attempting to use that information to bully me…going so far as attempting to call my place of work.

    Simply over a discussion on abiogenesis.

  51. Love it as usual! Wish I lived on the West coast so I could get one of those burritos you were talking about! I completely agree with the comments said by Adam and Will on evolution and climate change. We need more intelligent people speaking up for the scientific community which (I think) by nature is generally not publicly assertive.

  52. If you had any info on that study about the car horns I would greatly appreciate it. I can’t find it anywhere. It seems like a brilliant idea.

  53. I’ve long since lost track of it, so your searches are about as good as mine at this point. I would guess that it came up on reddit about a year or two ago. I know, great help. Sorry!

  54. I just found this site and love it. I’ve long been a Mythbusters fan and particularly love some of the videos I’ve seen of Adam holding forth on the importance of reason. I’d like to shed just a bit of light on one aspect of the discussion, if I may.

    Firstly, I agree that the characterization of people with certain ideas as “nut jobs” was probably an unfortunate choice of words. However, I think it pays to consider the overall environment in which these ideas are expressed. It can become VERY tiresome over the years to hear the same illogical arguments made over and over. It is even worse when the attitudes of those expressing the ideas are openly hostile. I’m not advocating attacking the persons, per se, but I hope to point out that there is at least an understandable reason for a person feeling the way they do. Personally, I feel somewhat hostile toward the roving gangs of assassins who haunt places like the reviews of books on Amazon and attack any book that is not in line with the politically correct ideas dictated by the Christian Right. I go there to hear what other readers think, not what professional assassins have to say. Good grief, all an author has to do is mention the word Darwin, and the word goes out in the sermons next Sunday then hundreds of people attack the book on Amazon, hoping to drive the average rating down and discourage sales. That is a clear abuse of the system.

    My other point, and one I think that is not made often enough, is that not all opinions are created equal. There seems to be a feeling on the part of some that they have a right to hold irrational ideas simply because some kinds of ideas have a sort of protected status. You see this with the arguments for creationism. The idea of creationism is not of the same sort as the argument about the best book of all time, or the best action film, or the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Creationism relies on various premises which can be shown to be absurd … literally being self-contradictory and therefore having no intellectual content at all. There is no protected status for theories of religion simply because … well, because they are ideas about religion and therefore must be taken to be true … or at least unassailable. Ideas are ideas and ALL of them are subject to scrutiny and tests of rationality.

    To test this idea one only need to put forth, as undisputed fact, the belief system of some religious system that is alien to the currently accepted one. (Perhaps the colorful pantheon of Hindu gods might be a good choice.) Those of the Christian persuasion would not allow the assumption that the Hindu system could not be criticized simply because it is a cherished belief of millions of people! To them it is obviously wrong and those who hold it are “nut jobs”.

    My point here is that the logical status of the existence of a god has long been settled … it is an absurd idea which flies in the face of reason and should be rejected, out of hand, by any reasonable person. If someone wants to believe in a god, or any theory which follows from that position, they can no longer claim that they be given deference because of any REASON. And while perhaps “nut job” is a bit harsh, spending any time at all debating such ideas is a colossal waste of time. After all, how much time can be justified taking seriously the point of view of someone who claims that pigs fly?

    That said, I think the whole climate change debate is NOT of that kind. It is a debate that is subject to reason and given enough evidence, I think most people will come to the same conclusion. I personally take offense at the term “climate change denier” because it places my request for scientific evidence in the same category as the request for a proof that god does NOT exist. I have no particular belief about climate change, except that it seems to have become something of a religious debate on BOTH sides of the question. Climate has been changing since the earth was formed and will continue to change until it is destroyed. More than that, requires much more science than we have at hand. I’m particularly cautious of scientific pronouncements by scientists who receive funding from the U.S. government which has a political agenda concerning climate change.

    I agree with that great philosopher, the late George Carlin, who said that the earth is not in any danger from mankind. It has always done just fine and always will. The only reason that mankind exists at all is that the universe needed Styrofoam for something or other and so man evolved to produce it. Now that the universe has enough, we are no longer needed. I think he may have been on to something.

    Thanks again for the rare experience of 30 minutes of well considered ideas.

  55. I am offendedthat we global warming sceptics are compared to abortion and evolution nutjobs.
    Otherwise entertaning podcast, as usual.

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