Monday, May 14, 2007

Doggerel #83: "You're Just Driving Up My Site Traffic!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

Often, woos enjoy the fact that they're receiving attention, even if it's negative attention, and will boast about a traffic spike if a skeptic dissects their nonsense while leaving a link. Of course, site traffic is not an indicator of validity, since all kinds of nonsense can be popular. It's also true that among the traffic spike might be a handful of woos amendable to the site owner's nonsense. Chances are, however, the skeptic has chosen to reveal an unflattering part of the doggerel user's website and provided commentary for it, which may de-convert followers. Until they come up with a way to measure changes of opinion, we can't easily know.

One of the favorite tactics of concern trolls is to claim that skeptics are giving too much attention to woos, and that they'll just go away if we ignore them. Last time I checked, ignoring a problem is usually an ineffective way of dealing with it. Many woos like the Discovery Institute have large public relations departments, and will press the issue. If we're silent, they'll claim their "discoveries" are being quietly ignored by the "establishment" and our silence is an indication of our inability to deal with their pseudoscience. If we're loud, they'll cry persecution, and claim that our resistance is an indication of our inability to deal with their pseudoscience. Give those choices, I favor getting our opinions and facts out there, no matter how rude it is to stand up for what we believe and know. Woo hurts people, and I won't stand idly by.

Whenever you expose a falsehood, you have to take the risk that people will believe that falsehood. I'd rather deal with an environment of heavy discussion, rather than stay insulated, elitist, and silent.


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