Skeptical Science housekeeping: Contradictions, URLs and getting hacked

Probably the most significant thing to happen to Skeptical Science over the last few weeks was the website got hacked! The first time it happened, content was changed in the skeptic arguments and one comment was overwritten (sorry, Peter Hogarth, you were the unlucky victim). A week later, they managed to remove most of the blog posts off the homepage. I am deeply indebted to Doug Bostrom who was able to figure out how the hacker got in, where they came from and offer a mountain of very wise and helpful advice on how to secure the website. Doug also advised there is a possibility the hacker got hold of users' login details. So I strongly recommend to all Skeptical Science users that you update your login password.

To sweeten the deal (as if your account security wasn't incentive enough), I've added another feature to the Update Profile form. You can now add a URL to your profile. Then whenever you post a comment, your username will link back to your website. This is a good way to get a bit of traffic to your website (and sate other users' curiosity about you). Note - if you ever want to update your profile in the future, you don't have to come back to this blog post. Just click on your username in the left margin (look for "You are logged in as Username").

Lastly, to prove once and for all that I'm a tragic data junkie (as if the resources taxonomy page wasn't enough evidence), I've added a new page called Global Warming Skeptic Contradictions. The idea for this page originated when I was discussing with a few other bloggers the notion that many global warming skeptic arguments flatly contradict each other. Someone pointed out a few webpages that already list arguments that contradict each other. For example, Climate WTF, Frank O'Dwyer and Mind of Dan have all posted on the subject.

Then it dawned on me that as Skeptical Science has possibly the largest database of skeptic arguments (feel free to submit any new arguments if they're not listed yet), it would be a simple matter to create a database of "contradiction pairs" - pairs of skeptic arguments that contradict each other. So I set up a List of Contradicting Arguments and added a few examples. But it's set up so anyone can add new contradiction pairs. You can also include a comment if you feel the contradiction needs explaining (but please keep it brief).

Of course, I know what some are going to say in objection to the whole concept of a contradiction page. Not all skeptics think exactly the same - they're not all one homogenous, identically thinking block. This is a fair comment and the fact that some skeptic arguments contradict each other doesn't necessarily invalidate global warming skepticism (there's plenty of empirical evidence to do that). That's not the ultimate point of the contradictions page. The ultimate point is coming later - I have a few other bells and whistles to add to this page once the list of contradiction pairs gets long enough. So please do add some contradiction pairs (browse those other blogs listed above for ideas). The more others contribute, the more it frees me up for other work such as a "Preview Comment" feature that many have been hankering for.

Posted by John Cook on Friday, 19 March, 2010

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