By Jamie Steer 27/03/2019 24


I’m recently reminded of why I’m not on Facebook. In a moment of weakness I took a look at the Sciblogs Facebook page. The first thing I came across was a commenter ruminating on a recent post of mine:

‘Oh FFS, Sciblogs! Not MORE straw-man pseudoscience from Steer?!?!?!?’

Charming. Another was more positive though, referring a friend to a post of mine with this comment:

‘If you’re feeling sciency today, read this; it’s very interesting’

Isn’t that nice? Alas, it was met with the following parry from another:

‘If you are feeling sciency, read something other than Jamie Steer. He’s just pushing a barrow’

Ouch! Another had this treat to offer about a post of mine:

‘Garhhgrr what is this?! Tinfoil hat soapbox platformism by someone who knows little about lizards. If you want to write an article about potential impacts of lizards, talk to a herpetologist! Don’t just selectively quote articles supporting your political worldview’

So much rage…and confusing too. What is my ‘political worldview’? But a kind soul jumps to my defense:

‘Why have you dived into an ad hominem attack? I read this without a position and what I need to see is a reasoned response or link to evidence that Jamie is selectively quoting’

Indeed. But, of course, on and on it goes.

Fractured conversations

What a mire Facebook is at the best of times. All the personal attacks could really get you down. Never mind, I tell myself, just pick yourself up, dust off your tinfoil hat, and get back to pushing that barrow…

Seriously though it’s a shame that so many of these conversations go on outside of the blog itself. The whole point of writing a post is to encourage a conversation. Instead, debates seem to often be transferred to other fora where I, and other interested readers, won’t see them.

Sure, I don’t long for the constant name-calling. But there are a lot of good things that get missed when people avoid talking to you. When stripped of all the emotive nonsense, for example, the above request – the one about asking a herpetologist – is a good one. What do herpetologists think of my conversation about rainbow skinks? I’d like to know – that’s one of the reasons why I asked…

Well, enter Lady Luck. As so often happens, a colleague informed me of a conversation a group of New Zealand herpetologists was in fact having on my recent rainbow skink post through the Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand’s public Facebook page.

Let’s check that out shall we.

Ask a herpetologist

Disappointingly I am initially met here with the same slurs. One immediately called me ‘disingenuous’, another ‘naïve’ – neither lowering themselves to providing any evidence (sound familiar?) or justification for their claims though. Not cool.

But things from there got more collegial (maybe they just needed time to let off some steam). The next commenter had this to say:

‘A fun article that made some useful observations but I’m of the opinion that natural patterns of diversity are worth protecting from invasive species even if their impacts are ambiguous’

Fair enough. The commenter then goes on to write that:

‘Surely none of us are ecologically naïve enough to think that adding species to ecosystems has no impact whatsoever?’

Again with the ‘naivety’, but it’s a straw man argument. No one, least of all myself, has argued that rainbow skinks have no impact on their receiving environment. My argument was around significance and balance (i.e., have the pros and cons been weighed?).

And then:

‘As for responding to invasive species I also prefer our precautionary policy over the American model of waiting until a negative impact can be demonstrated before spp. can be added to an unwanted organisms list’

This is an interesting comment. Do the Americans use a different interpretation of the precautionary approach from us? I’m genuinely not aware of it but would love to learn more.

Another commenter then takes a different tack:

‘It does make an interesting contrast with how other exotics are treated. Ranoidea aurea [green and golden bell frog] is known to consume some endangered herps [herpetofauna] and inverts [invertebrates], is spreading its range (several recent populations in southern South Island illustrate the potential), occupies a broad niche from gardens and pasture wetlands to forests, can reach absolutely huge densities too, but is freely shipped around the country by the pet trade with many inevitable releases of unwanted extras/adults. What’s the difference?’

A good point that builds on the question I asked in my post. Why are some introduced species selected as Unwanted Organisms and not others? After all, rainbow skinks are by no means the only introduced species that may impact on native biodiversity (or compromise other values).  

The commenter continues:

‘There is obviously much scope for study into direct and knock-on impacts such as delicata [rainbow skink] potentially boosting predator numbers (i.e. kingfishers, which in greater numbers then clean out the local Naultinus [green gecko]), but perhaps quite relevant too is the effect of vilifying a pest when it is entirely possible the only effect this vilification will ever have is to encourage cruelty to lizards, including many natives mistaken for the evil must-be-squashed invaders…Is that outcome – probably killing of native lizards – worthwhile when we don’t even know for sure if delicata is even a significant problem to start with?’

Great points here, especially the latter one around vilification. We know that people often struggle to distinguish between the ‘right’ wildlife and the ‘wrong’ wildlife. Inciting hatred of one kind can thus lead to perverse consequences for the other.

And what will it achieve anyway? Squashing rainbow skinks in ones and twos will likely have no effect on them on a population-level (but will cause the suffering of those affected). Worse, if people mistake ‘good’ for ‘evil’ they may cause population level declines in native lizards that are in low numbers.

Another commenter agrees that the name change seems off:

‘I think this has started an interesting discussion. I think the original blog makes a good point about the changing of the common name – it does seem strange that we have given L. delicata [rainbow skink] a particularly derogatory name which we don’t do for other introduced species that have ‘known’ negative effects on native species’

Then makes some further pertinent points:

‘I agree with [another commenter] that taking a precautionary approach to protect our indigenous lizard species is appropriate’

I also agree with a precautionary approach. I simply questioned the interpretation of ‘precautionary’. What are the limits of it? Or are there none? More on that to follow.

The commenter then agrees with the point about the frogs:

‘[Another commenter] raises the inconsistency of how we treat different exotic species. I would like to know – why has the L. delicata become an Unwanted Organism but the introduced frogs haven’t (potentially they can spread chytrid fungus to our native frogs)?’

I agree. And given all the mights and maybes around determining effects on valued biodiversity, surely vast further numbers of introduced species should be considered unwanted too? Perhaps the division between ‘introduced’ and ‘invasive’ even starts to break down?

Then another commenter weighs in:

‘I agree with the comments that the article is a naïve assessment of the situation. Yes, there has been a general lack of research into the potential impacts of delicata on native species to date. The initial work looking at behavioural interactions was very limited and focused on a native species that would arguably be less influenced by delicata given it has a completely different ecology’[1]

Again I’m ‘naïve’. Why? Well, because:

‘The few ‘studies’ attempting to describe population trends following the establishment of delicata simply have not been running long enough to draw solid conclusions. But this does not mean there are no effects…we just don’t know what the effects will be (positive, neutral or negative)’

Ah, so I’m naïve because I’ve assumed that rainbow skinks have no effects. Is that what I argued though? No, I simply suggested that there was no good evidence to date, which is what the research shows. I’m questioning whether, or to what degree, we should require evidence to justify management decisions on introduced wildlife. If that question is ‘naïve’ then I guess guilty as charged.

The commenter goes on:

‘Direct behavioural interactions between delicata and other heliothermic [gaining heat from the sun] species needs to be explored before we can attempt to draw conclusions about potential long-term impacts. We also need to consider the cumulative effects of multiple invasive species on native fauna. Hypothetically, the direct effects (eg opportunistic predation) on native lizards by exotic frogs may not be great enough to cause significant declines in native lizard populations and equally, potential indirect effects from delicata on native lizards such as prey competition or disease vectoring may have subtle impacts at a population level. But native populations subjected to the additive effects of exotic frogs AND delicata, could be tipped into measurable declines’

Fair point – another may to the add to the list of others. But what does it prove unless any of them are tested? With a little imagination you could probably come up with dozens of other mays. How many of them do we have to consider though? Again, are there any limits?

And more from the same commenter:

‘Thus, the conservative approach, prohibiting the movement of delicata throughout the country and attempting to eradicate new populations from valuable conservation areas (e.g. GBI), which are allowed for by listing this species as an unwanted organism is sensible in my opinion. If the results of robust research fail to show negative impacts, then a reassessment of status may be warranted. As for the frogs, I think there is precedent to list exotic frogs as Unwanted Organisms to prohibit domestic movements, currently facilitated by the pet trade. Again, we know little about their impacts (predominantly based on anecdotal evidence and inference) on natives thus we should be taking a precautionary approach. History tells us that “innocent until proven guilty” is not a sensible approach with respect to invasive species’

Once again we see the logic here. If you can prove the impacts of an introduced species on native biodiversity then you have an ‘invasive species’ on your hands – an Unwanted Organism. Got no evidence? No matter, so long as you can think of a may you can also consider it invasive. Evidence is thus little more than an aside – useful for informing management options perhaps, but little else.

What chance do Unwanted Organisms really then have of being delisted? The motivation to study their negative effects is surely weak as it will only reinforce the same. And if an effect is not shown you will still have to point to all the other mays anyway.

Meanwhile the motivation to look for positive effects is slight to non-existent. Who would fund such a study? No wonder lists of invasive species grow longer with every revision. To use a herpetological analogy, it’s like a pitfall trap, once you get in it’s extremely hard to climb out.

Final thoughts

It’s great to see this stuff being discussed, something that a few of the above commenters also expressed support for. But it’s tough raising topics and then essentially being shut out of the resultant debate. I think that’s a fair criticism of what’s going on here.

It’s doubly irritating when I see that there are some really good and valid points being made – it’s not all nasty name-calling out there in cyberspace! I want to have the option of engaging with those who have reasonable (and on-topic) points to make. Fair call?

Here’s a suggestion. Perhaps people who comment – or notice other peoples’ comments – in other public fora could make the same comments on the actual Sciblogs post? That way we can keep the various threads of the discussion together. Or they might just add a link to where that other discussion on it is happening.

I understand too. Some people want to keep their conversations to their own groups. That’s OK. But honestly if you’re commenting on publically accessible fora it’s out there anyway. Why not then just let me and other readers in?

Footnote

[1] Perhaps, but it’s worth noting that that study chose native copper skinks because the researcher thought it the most likely species to be directly influenced by rainbow skinks. This contention was supported by a detailed table laying out the rationale for that decision based on similar behavioural and ecological characteristics.

Posts written this year: 5

Featured image: Dinosaur (or a plague skink on acid?) © Pixabay


24 Responses to “Plague Skink II: Revenge of the mudslingers”

  • “it’s tough raising topics and then essentially being shut out of the resultant debate. I think that’s a fair criticism of what’s going on here.”

    There is absolutely nothing stopping you from engaging on the various social media forums. There’s no good reason to ignore the conversations taking place there. Yes, they can get a bit robust, but the sciblogs FB page is moderated reasonably well; it’s not like doing a dumpster dive into comments on the Stuff FB page, for example. I mostly comment on FB because that’s my medium of choice.

    tl;dr: you’re not being locked out.

    • I disagree. There are at least a dozen social media forums out there and thousands of groups within them. I don’t have the time, resourcing or inclination to trawl through them looking for comments on my blog posts.

      The Sciblogs Facebook page is only monitored cursorily. Comments on it frequently don’t hold to the standards of Sciblogs itself, especially with regards to personal attacks. That’s evident from the comments I referred to at the start of this post alone. But feel free to check with the editor about that. I did.

  • I’d have to second Alison’s points. You can wish people would comment on the blog—I do at times—but they’re going to comment and talk where it is that they comment and talk, including in private spaces you have no access to at all. That’s “creating conversation” too.

    As for being locked out, you aren’t – as you said yourself you choose not to be there.

    Perhaps compare with this: there’s a regular commenter on the Sciblog Facebook page who is an antivax campaigner, Fiona Lynch, who has blocked me for some reason, but turns up to rail about my posts on Facebook. I’m told her comments are there, but I can’t even read them, reply or defend myself. That’s being locked out.

    • I didn’t say I’d been locked out. That was Alison’s derogatory summation of the post.

      I agree creating conversation elsewhere is fine too. I’d just rather direct more of it to somewhere that I and other readers can see it, and contest it, and learn from it. I see a lot of echo chambering going on and it’s something I do my best to challenge.

      As I noted in my response to Alison, I’m not in a position to be fishing for conversations on my posts through the vastness of the net. I suggested that people knock themselves out on other platforms, just let us know if they have something substantive to say on the post so that readers can engage with it too. Others can send links to conversations they see on it elsewhere. I think that’s a pretty reasonable request actually. Call me old fashioned.

  • Hi Jamie,
    I was the one who commented re: soapbox platformism. Sorry if you read “Garrhhh” as anger or rage – certainly was not an ouce of rage in this comment, thats my frustration noise haha. (like, arghhhrr… **claws at own face**). Guess we need to be careful how we are construed online. As for the rest of my comment I really do stand by it – that article you posted was, in my opinion, ridiculously biased toward a point you wanted to make, quoting very selectively from documents that really did not support your point when you looked at them in their whole. As someone in the field I had a look at these, as some of the points kind of surprising – but when I dug a bit I didn’t necessarily agree with how you were using them (which I think I’m allowed to do?) I don’t think this is ‘nasty namecalling’ I really don’t think anyone is calling you any names at all.
    They give their opinions on your work – pseudoscience, barrow pushing, platformism, ecologically naive – these are all about the bit you wrote, not about you.

    I do think that this science blog about lizards really really really really really suffered from lack of input from someone who studies lizards!

    • Ha ha, yes I think you do need to think more carefully about how you express yourself. Would you say those comments to my face? I’ll bet you wouldn’t. That’s the easiest way to test for tone.

      I disagree with you on the name calling, which you’ve just doubled-down on. First, when directed at an individual it’s not conducive to productive conversation. That’s why it’s against Sciblogs comments policy. Second, the idea that, because you believe your slur to be true, it isn’t a slur. Really? So if I call someone a racist (because I reckon they are) without evidence or justification it’s just a fair point now? Of course it isn’t. It’s just character assasination. Calling a scientist a pseudoscientist is about the lowest it gets.

      If you think I’m selectively quoting then tell us how and where (as requested by the other commenter at the start of this post). If I’ve erred somehow I’m happy to be corrected. But I resent the implicit suggestion that I’m trying to misrepresent people or ideas. That’s an appalling and baseless allegation. The same could be said for your various other slurs. Either justify them or retract them.

      P.S. Still keen to know what my political worldview is too.

  • Ouch. I look at the state of the NZ environment with a level of dread from outside the country – this culture of NZ’s “ecological sophistication” supports intensive farming of cattle, severe pollution of waterways, and the dumping of agrochemicals in world heritage areas as if this behaviour is normal and acceptable. When someone within NZ stands up to say the way we treat introduced species needs a rethink, they are described as “pseudoscience, barrow pushing, platformism, ecologically naive”. The international community look on in bewilderment (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/22/big-kill). What Jamie is addressing in his article on the skink, is the social and cultural challenges facing marginalised species in NZ – where clearly there is insufficient research, funding or interest, to establish for certain what their negative and positive ecological impact is.

  • Actually Justine that article by Elizabeth Kolbert is strongly supportive of NZ’s approach to pest eradication:
    “Even taking the long view—the very long view—the threat posed to New Zealand’s fauna by invasive species is extraordinary. It may be unprecedented in the eighty million years that New Zealand has existed. But we live in an age of unprecedented crises. We’re all aware of them, and mostly we just feel paralyzed, incapable of responding. New Zealanders aren’t just wringing their hands, nor are they are telling themselves consolatory tales about the birth of “novel ecosystems.” They’re dividing their neighborhoods into grids and building better possum traps—ones that deliver CO2 directly to the brain.”

  • Jamie, your combative tone here really doesn’t help your case; it’s not likely to encourage others to engage.

    I too have talked with the editor of the Sciblogs FB page; I’m aware of how moderation works there (& the fact that there is moderation there at all is a step up from most pages).

    That page is one of only a few where I’m aware that posts on Sciblogs are discussed. I certainly don’t trawl through the web to find others. But I do comment there, relatively often, because often there’s more discussion there than here on the Sciblogs webpage – & because I don’t see why those who’ve chosen to engage there should be ignored.

    I apologised for using the words “locked out”. You said you felt “shut out”. I’ll just note that those commenting elsewhere are not intentionally shutting any doors; you are essentially doing this of your own volition.

    • There’s nothing wrong with robust conversation Alison. If people make wild, unjustified accusations (as another commenter has) I’m going to call them out.

      Sciblogs posts are discussed in many more online fora than just the Sciblogs Facebook page – as is just about any other content on the web. You’re really not aware of that?

      I don’t think that comments on the post elsewhere are engaging with the author. The material, yes. But not the author. Obviously I prefer both and have made suggestions for how to do so.

  • Carol, I would take that paragraph with some caution in context of the article. But you are right to stress that the NZ community is out there and mobilised. It is a common tactic when industry is really to blame, to make individuals feel responsible – the litter campaign for example has taken 40 years for the public to wake up to the fact that big industry producing one-use plastics has trashed large parts of the planet. So to here – introduced species in NZ do little damage when compared to the footprint of industry. Look at the loss of wetlands in Southland – https://newzealandecology.org/nzje/3355 That is a much bigger issue to grapple with. In Australia we put rings of plastic around trees to prevent possums from destroying too much foliage, you can do that when it is in your own neighbourhood as easy as you can lay a trap.

  • Justine, that paragraph captures the article’s main thrust pretty well. I think Kolbert was saying that if the international community is bewildered by Aotearoa’s hands-on approach to invasive species eradication, it’s because they don’t fully understand the ecological context – she took the time to visit NZ and find out for herself. And I respectfully disagree with your assertion that introduced species do little damage when compared to the footprint of industry.

  • Carol, it is a growing problem – stats here from NZERS, Dairy cattle numbers increased 539 percent (616,831) in Southland, 490 percent (1,041,501) in Canterbury, and 368 percent (302,806) in Otago between 1994 and 2015.

  • “introduced species in NZ do little damage ”
    Those fighting to save our ngahere would argue that species like possums, rats, mustelids & browsers do a huge amount of damage.
    That’s not to deny the impact of industry, but to note that species introductions also do harm.

  • but you took that out of context; I said “introduced species in NZ do little damage when compared to the footprint of industry.”

  • Justine – both cause harm and I doubt anyone wants an either/or, tackle only one or the other approach. Others can fill in but I’d strongly suspect they simply cause different types of harm, in different places.

  • Jamie,

    “I didn’t say I’d been locked out.”

    You wrote, “But it’s tough raising topics and then essentially being shut out of the resultant debate.”

    Most people would say that “shut out” and “locked out” are synonymous, and my computer’s dictionary (based on the OED I think) lists “locked someone out” and “shut out” as synonyms.

    “That was Alison’s derogatory summation of the post.”

    I think you’ve missed what she did. She quoted your “shut out” remarks at the start of her comment. Quotes at the top like that are usually to indicate what the person is replying about: she didn’t write about your whole post, she wrote about that claim. With that in mind, I stand by what I wrote earlier.

    I agree creating conversation elsewhere is fine too. I’d just rather direct more of it to somewhere that I and other readers can see it, and contest it, and learn from it. I see a lot of echo chambering going on and it’s something I do my best to challenge.

    Two points.

    You’ve indicated you want to be able to engage with other’s discussions of your writing. It might be frustrating but there’s no way for any of us to “direct” where readers are to discuss things. At most we can invite them. Saying something about how it’s hard it is for you to find those conversations or whatever shouldn’t be part of it – that’s you, not them.

    You look to be confusing disagreement and echo chambers. Or perhaps you’re confusing other’s agreeing with each other to be “echo chambering”?

    When you write “it’s something I do my best to challenge” you are not challenging “echo chambering”, you are arguing against views that differ to yours. That you are able to argue confirms where you are arguing is not an echo chamber. (And if you meant the latter as a poke at me for simply agreeing with Alison, good grief.)

    Merely expressing disagreement, even strongly or with loaded terms, does not make something an echo chamber. Also, in your post your refer to the Sciblogs Facebook forum; by definition that’s not an echo chamber.

    Perhaps an example would help. Many anti-vaccine groups run Facebook forums. Those forums remove opinions that those running the groups don’t want to hear. They even remove polite replies trying to help others. They even straight-out block people simply for having a different (better!) understanding. This leaves those group only ‘hearing’ the sounds the organisor wants them to hear. That is an echo chamber; the organisers have moulded the contents of the group so that they’re only hearing echoes of their own opinions.

    • “I didn’t say I’d been locked out.”
      You wrote, “But it’s tough raising topics and then essentially being shut out of the resultant debate.”
      Most people would say that “shut out” and “locked out” are synonymous, and my computer’s dictionary (based on the OED I think) lists “locked someone out” and “shut out” as synonyms.

      No, I used ‘shut out’ on purpose and because it is different to ‘locked out’. To use a door analogy, I didn’t use ‘locked out’ because that would imply that it was impossible for me to access the conversation. I used ‘shut out’ because it’s technically possible to open the limitless doors of cyberspace, though as I’ve already noted, also cumbersome and onerous. Easier just to ask people to open the door for you.

      “That was Alison’s derogatory summation of the post.”
      I think you’ve missed what she did. She quoted your “shut out” remarks at the start of her comment. Quotes at the top like that are usually to indicate what the person is replying about: she didn’t write about your whole post, she wrote about that claim. With that in mind, I stand by what I wrote earlier.

      This is torturous reasoning Grant. Better to just let that one slide, especially given that Alison has already apologised about this.

      I agree creating conversation elsewhere is fine too. I’d just rather direct more of it to somewhere that I and other readers can see it, and contest it, and learn from it. I see a lot of echo chambering going on and it’s something I do my best to challenge.
      Two points.
      You’ve indicated you want to be able to engage with other’s discussions of your writing. It might be frustrating but there’s no way for any of us to “direct” where readers are to discuss things. At most we can invite them. Saying something about how it’s hard it is for you to find those conversations or whatever shouldn’t be part of it – that’s you, not them.

      I disagree. I didn’t direct what readers are to do. I asked them, should they choose to comment elsewhere, if they could consider adding a link to the Sciblogs comments. I think that’s reasonable. Will everyone do it? Probably not. Be good give it a go though.

      You look to be confusing disagreement and echo chambers. Or perhaps you’re confusing other’s agreeing with each other to be “echo chambering”?

      No, I’m perfectly comfortable with disagreement (just look at us now). I’m interested in what people have to say on the topic I’ve raised, whether in agreement or otherwise.

      When you write “it’s something I do my best to challenge” you are not challenging “echo chambering”, you are arguing against views that differ to yours. That you are able to argue confirms where you are arguing is not an echo chamber. (And if you meant the latter as a poke at me for simply agreeing with Alison, good grief.)

      Sorry, I disagree again here. An echo chamber (and we’re still talking in the metaphorical sense) doesn’t have to be a closed system, and in fact it rarely is. It’s more about self-selection. If echo chambers were truly closed systems there would be no way to ever challenge them.

      Merely expressing disagreement, even strongly or with loaded terms, does not make something an echo chamber. Also, in your post your refer to the Sciblogs Facebook forum; by definition that’s not an echo chamber.

      I didn’t say that disagreement (with me?) was synonymous with echo chambers. Though essentially cutting out your critic might be. I didn’t say that the Sciblogs Facebook page was an echo chamber.

      Perhaps an example would help. Many anti-vaccine groups run Facebook forums. Those forums remove opinions that those running the groups don’t want to hear. They even remove polite replies trying to help others. They even straight-out block people simply for having a different (better!) understanding. This leaves those group only ‘hearing’ the sounds the organisor wants them to hear. That is an echo chamber; the organisers have moulded the contents of the group so that they’re only hearing echoes of their own opinions.

      No, you’re just describing a particularly bad manifestation of echo chambering. There’s always a bigger and badder fish.

      Once again, my request was straightforward: I’d appreciate comments within the blog. If you want to comment somewhere else instead, could you throw a dog a bone and flick me a link. You obviously disagree with that request. That’s OK.

  • I think you’ve missed what she did. She quoted your “shut out” remarks at the start of her comment. Quotes at the top like that are usually to indicate what the person is replying about: she didn’t write about your whole post, she wrote about that claim.
    thank you, Grant – that is exactly what I did, and meant.

  • TL;DR version: you’re being argumentative rather than take the points made 🙁 It’s not helpful IMHO, and it’s not discussion really either. I’m not being argumentative with you. I’m trying to get you to see that what you are suggesting isn’t the best idea.

    “No, I used ‘shut out’ on purpose and because it is different to ‘locked out’. To use a door analogy,…”

    I’m really sorry that’s argumentative and IMHO making excuses 🙁

    “This is torturous reasoning Grant. Better to just let that one slide, especially given that Alison has already apologised about this.”

    It’s straight-forward”, all I did was remind you that people often reply to a particular aspect by quoting the bit they’re replying to for clarity.

    You wrote “I didn’t say I’d been locked out. That was Alison’s derogatory summation of the post” – but it wasn’t a summary of your whole post, which she confirmed: “thank you, Grant – that is exactly what I did, and meant.”

    And it’s poor taste to tell me I should “just let that one slide”. (And she hasn’t “apologised” either.)

    “Though essentially cutting out your critic might be.”

    With respect, but this shows to me you’re not getting it. They’re not trying to “cut you out”. They’re just writing where they want to.

    “If you want to comment somewhere else instead, could you throw a dog a bone and flick me a link. You obviously disagree with that request.”

    Can you see that you’re having it that people “should” do this for you? There’s a line between just asking (the first sentence), and loading on that they “ought” to (the second sentence). They can just write wherever they want to, really, and they’re not obliged to help you when it comes to it.

    And I wasn’t wring about me. You’ve shifted this to be about me, when what I wrote about was the general issue of how you’re “asking” this.

    (You’ve also set me up with a straw man: first you “ask” me, but then “reply” to yourself saying “how I am”. I didn’t “disagree with that request”: I trying to point out that I think your request is poorly thought out.)

    FWIW, checking what echo chamber means fits the definition I thought it did, e.g.

    “an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.” (Dictionary, note “only”.)

    “In news media, echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system. By visiting an “echo chamber”, people are able to seek out information which reinforces their existing views, potentially as an unconscious exercise of confirmation bias. This may increase political and social polarization and extremism.[1] The term is a metaphor based on the acoustic echo chamber, where sounds reverberate in a hollow enclosure.” (Wikipedia)

    Note that *is* the “metaphorical definition”, as you put it.

    You replied, “I didn’t say that disagreement (with me?) was synonymous with echo chambers.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s exactly what you did. (Bear in mind that saw about saying what you mean.) You wrote “I see a lot of echo chambering”, but when I look at the posts you refer to it’s not an echo chamber, and the people there are just disagreeing with you. On top of that, you now say “I didn’t say that the Sciblogs Facebook page was an echo chamber”, which has you contradicting your earlier statement.

    I’ve leaving this at this point. Your main interest seems to be in being argumentative 🙁

    • No, Grant I simply disagree with you. In this case on quite a lot it seems. I do appreciate your various points and reflections though. I think they’re really interesting.