One Response to The Pope Clement Dichotomy

  1. stevegrand says:

    Fear of expressing oneself online is a strange thing. The real irony of it is that those who are most confident of their opinions are generally the ones with the least to say. The diatribists and trolls don’t appear to notice what simple-minded jerks they are proclaiming themselves so loudly to be. Luckily, trolls are easily scared off by citing Pope Clement and using foreign words, so I doubt you’ll see any of them around here. There’s just us nice folks who are interested in what you have to say. We’re harmless. Talk to us.

    In more general terms, open science DOES have to deal with trolls and they can arrive in such hordes that they make discourse impossible. The interweb seems to be getting worse by the day, as all the normal checks on propriety are lost and people can rant gibberish under cover of anonymity. This can be a difficult environment into which to pour one’s speculations and tentative ideas. Even worse than trolls, to my mind, are the arrogant ones who immediately assume they have the answer to your problem, after thirty seconds’ thought, because they assume you’re stupid. Or the ones who think that what you’re missing in life is the opportunity to collaborate with them (by which they usually mean they want some reflected glory while you do all the work). The more clear and plain-speaking we are about our work, the more people tend to assume it’s as simple as we’ve painted it, so there’s a tension between engaging people and rendering that engagement useless. It’s a problem that never existed before, because the barrier to entry was too high for books and pamphlets. In the physical world there are barriers of another kind – nobody strolls into a lab or a church in the way they’d stroll into a shopping mall. Open science is about breaking down barriers like these, but although elitism is a bad thing, so is mob rule. I wonder what the psychological factors are that reward a more meritocratic interchange? How do you keep the barriers low while keeping the quality of discourse high? Someone should get a grant to look into this… 😉

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