08 April 2008

Party of the jerks

There's a new talk by Al Gore on TED today. I found it very interesting, particularly the analyses of where climate change sits on the food chain of the media.

Then my eyes strayed down to the comments.


You hear about terms like "culture war" bandied about, and sometimes you wonder, "How bad is it really?" And then you see the absolute opposition, catcalling, insults, and appeals to conspiracy and cultism in something like this. Which, I have to point out, is about a topic that isn't scientifically controversial.

I think maybe Jimmy Wales got it right. The real culture war isn't over politics: "It's between the party of the thoughtful and the party of the jerks."

In this age of comments, reviews, and all of that which is supposed to be part of Web 2.0, the maddening thing is how easy it is to be a jerk. To hop onto a site and give a one start review with a one line dismissal to a book you've never read. And it creates such a caustic environment. Who wants to stand in the middle of a yelling contest?

And as much as I want to be one of the people reaching out to talk about science and education and my profession, seeing the jerks in action make me worry of getting burned.

Additional: And this is why comments here are moderated, incidentally.

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