Tuesday, 4 November 2008

What's up with blogging?

One of my favourite blogs, WattsUpWithThat?, turned to politics on the eve of the Presidential vote. For those of you who do not know it, WUWT is one of the leading blogs for global warming realists. The host, Anthony Watts, is a meteorologist and is conducting an interesting and informative study of weather stations in the USA (the results of which can be found here).

As I understand it he started WUWT as a means of airing observations on a host of topics, but over time it has become dedicated to discussing numerous aspects of the science relating to the climate. Although Mr Watts is a realist, he welcomes polite comments from global warming hysterics and many of the threads spawn hundreds of comments, sometimes going wildly off-topic but always entertaining the masses who read them.

His foray into the lunacy of Senator Obama's plan to send fuel prices "sky-rocketing" (Obama's terminology, not mine) was distinctly political, which is unusual for Mr Watts. Some of the comments under that thread caught my eye because they seemed to misunderstand fundamentally what a blog is all about. There were people saying that they go to the site to learn about science not to be lectured about politics, that Mr Watts has lost credibility as a serious commentator on science by dipping his toe into the fetid waters of Washington, that he should remain impartial and all sorts of similar guff.

What they failed so hopelessly to understand is that WUWT is Mr Watts' blog. He can do whatever he wants with it. He is not obliged to argue a particular cause or to steer away from controversy. He may change his mind on things if he wishes, accept or reject comments on a whim (not that he does) or simply close it down. He started it, he runs it, it is his and he can do with it anything the law allows. If people find it useful, informative or entertaining, all the better but the reaction of others imposes no obligation on him.

It is an interesting illustration of what sometimes happens when people are given something for nothing. Instead of having to trawl through numerous technical papers on how land temperatures are measured, how carbon dioxide is measured, what the sun does, how the oceans behave and the dozens of other things his site deals with, they can just visit WUWT and read concise summaries with copious explanations from genuine experts in the comments section. Having become accustomed to this free service people then consider its uninterrupted continuance to be their right. I would have thought the correct approach is to be grateful that someone takes so much time and trouble to provide a free service and just keep your trap shut if, on a rare occasion, he strays into a field which makes you uncomfortable.

You see, that's the thing about blogging. It is an opportunity for people to say what they think. No one is obliged to read what is written, no one is obliged to agree with what is written and only the author has the right to treat it as his.

1 comment:

Alex Cull said...

Yep, I'd agree with all that. WUWT is one of my favourite blogs - thankfully most commenters are considerate, whatever their orientation re AGW or politics, but he does get the occasional one.
Also personally I don't mind it if Mr Watts does touch on a political subject - given the near-inseparable intertwining of AGW and politics.