Anonymity at Cosmic Variance

Over at Cosmic Variance, anonymous comments personally attacking me have been posted recently by someone who identifies themselves only as “string theorist”. I’ve complained to Sean Carroll and his colleagues about their policy of allowing the comment section of their blog to be used for anonymous ad hominem attacks by physicists who are unhappy with Lee Smolin and me because of our criticism of string theory. If someone wants to argue not about science, but to complain about my behavior, I’m perfectly willing to engage in such a discussion, as long as it’s with someone who is willing to take responsibility for their own behavior.

Here’s the response I received from Sean:

Personally, I could not care less whether a comment is anonymous or signed. It just makes no difference to me. I understand that you feel otherwise, as you have said so over and over and over again. I will delete comments if they are vulgar or overly obnoxious, but anonymity is completely beside the point. If my co-bloggers feel differently, they are welcome to overrule me.

So, I guess if you want to anonymously attack, insult or slander people you disagree with about a scientific issue, Cosmic Variance is open for business.

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55 Responses to Anonymity at Cosmic Variance

  1. Amos says:

    If you don’t want people making anyonmous derogatory comments about you and your work than you should not have published a book or started a blog. It comes with the territory.

    I guess I think this whole issue is odd. Its like when Lubos banned all links from this blog to his. What’s the point?

    Considering the two issues, it reminds me of what Kissinger said: Academic disputes are so bitter because the stakes are so small.

  2. anonymous says:

    I think anonymous is a scoundrel!



  3. That S.O.B., Peter Orland would probably tell you to just ignore anonymous insults at other blogs, because they are beyond your control, and you can’t be liked by everybody. But hey, he’sjust a stupid jerk.

    P.S. He’s ugly too.

  4. Jack Lothian says:

    I think that people who throw insults & hide behind “anonymous” are persons of low ethics and morality but trying to enforce this morality on the web is a challenge. Creating fake identities is not hard and the sheer volume of this nonsense can be overwhelming sometimes. If I ran CV and had the time, I would delete such responses but I do not know their circumstances so I say it is their call. My recommendation is enforce this policy on your blog if you have the time & ignore these gadflies on other blogs. Everyone who counts will ignore them so why not join the crowd.

  5. Juan R. says:

    Peter, anonymous attacks on the Internet are the rule. I recommend you to follow guidelines when dealing with internet critics. I recommend you specially the guideline: do not respond to obvious flame bait and red-herring arguments

    It is a pointless waste of time, energy, bandwidth, and disk space to respond to these insults. Flames and red-herring are intended to confuse the reader or divert attention away from the subject.

    Some people are masters of changing the subject. This even includes the subject title. Flames often are attempts to hide the poster’s ignorance on some topic by inciting a series of angry responses. Ignore this nonsense.

    I personally attach guidelines

    guidelines for online scientific discussion

    to my postings on several online services, including Usenet sci.physics.research and sci.physics.foundations.


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