Home > AGW, Climate Change, Omniclimate, Skepticism > Twitter Bot Proves AGWers’ Mindless Attitude, Explains Their Vast Numbers Among The Educated Classes

Twitter Bot Proves AGWers’ Mindless Attitude, Explains Their Vast Numbers Among The Educated Classes

And somebody is naive enough to find the whole situation “hilarious”.

In truth, if a software developer can write an automated responding machine for Twitter ready to spit out standard AGW Truths, logic indicates that people that repeat those same Truths are just as mindless and devoid of critical thinking as any computer program. As I commented at Technology Review:

My impression of this whole affair is that the joke will ultimately be on the bot’s creator. If you can be replaced by a mindless machine, what does that tell people about your reasoning skills?

If a bot can sustain your argument despite being devoid of critical thinking, what should one conclude about your own critical thinking?

Yes, there is a vast literature in favor of AGW, and one can go around fishing for whatever pro-AGW statement one could ever wish for. There is even a website cataloging everything that is supposed to be linked to AGW, and that means literally everything, and its opposite. What has that _quantity_ got to do with proper science, I will never understand.

Remember Einstein…”wieso hundert Autoren?”…

This squares out nicely with Judith Curry’s statement about having in the past felt “obligated in substituting the IPCC for my own personal judgment“. It also explains perfectly why otherwise brainy people like the Bad Astronomer consistently and unremittingly fall for the shoddiest of climate-change “science” presentations.

Just like on Skeptical Science, it’s a matter of switching off all forms of independent thought, and from the comfort of residing in the mainstream, of repeating the usual mantras with a certitude that goes far beyond the scientific. Replace cerebral activity with quantity of citations, and you’ll be onboard to. Obligated to do so, just like the average chatbot.

ps Had myself a couple of encounters with @AI_AGW. What I remember noticing, was the absolute lack of interest in moving the discussion beyond the usual statements. Just like the average AGWer…are we sure it WAS a chatbot?😎

UPDATE: as if on cue, Phil Plait joins in, blissfully unaware that the age of the chatbots will pretty much force science writers to ask if you would like fries with that. This is my comment:

Phil is as wrong on this topic as an army of astrologers convinced of replacing vaccines with UFO-inspired homeopathy. The only thing the chatbot demonstrates is that it’s pretty easy to imitate an AGW believer, and that brains or critical thinking are not needed to believe in AGW. Actually, one does rather well without brains or critical thinking, if one wants to believe in AGW.

Suffice it to say that no moon hoax debunker, no astrology debunker, no creationism debunker ever dreamed of building anything like a chatbot…

So the end result is that from today onwards, every time I will discuss with a fervent AGW believer, one of those people that think that it is a scandal to ask any question about AGW, then I will have to wonder if I am talking to a human being or to a chatbot. And it will be very, very hard to tell. 8-)

  1. 2011/11/07 at 17:44

    Just for the record – I just started writing a bot to track this one and warn users they were talking to a bot (ironically being told by another bot….). However the AI_AGW account has been suspended by Twitter. Justice is served.

  2. dgandhi
    2011/03/27 at 14:11

    You realize that the chatbot only shows that the “conversation” is predictable. Clearly there are two possible reasons for that:

    1) pro-AGW folks have only a few predictable arguments.
    2) anti-AWG folks have only a few predictable arguments.

    It is rather clear that both of these reasons are true, but neither, in itself, provides any basis to take a side.

    The effectiveness of the chatbot only proves one thing, that the “discussion” of AGW on twitter (and very likely the net generally) is a useless exercise in partisanship, not an exercise in productive meaningful analysis of the data available.

    • 2011/03/27 at 15:14

      Very trued, dghandi. However, by giving up the game officially and for good, the AGWer that developed the bot simply proved he doesn’t believe in it, at least not in any rational way

      • dgandhi
        2011/03/27 at 15:53

        By “believe in it” I presume you mean believe in the utility of the discussion, but your article implies that this position undercuts his claims or belief in his position, which it does not.

        It is clear that he does not believe in either the capacity, or the honesty of the opposing position, and in this case his response, of simply saving humans many years of pointless repetition makes sense.

        Assuming, for the sake of simplicity that we agree that the earth is not flat, it would not hurt our position to set up a bot to interject in flat-earther tweets, because we don’t take their position seriously.

        I think your argument against botting politics might be better maid from a PR perspective. Arguing that “Acting as though you opponent should not be taken seriously does not help your argument” tends to resonate as reasonable, but I don’t see you making that argument.

        I’m inclined to consider ridicule, of the type the bot represents, a perfectly legitimate political tactic, the fact that it comes with built in publicity , and that it aimed against a position that already receives a decent amount of mainstream ridicule only makes it more effective.

        The bot creators narrative: “anti-AGWers are so dumb my bot regularly eviscerates them” is just as, if not more, compelling a narrative then the one you paint, and it appears to be the one that stuck.

      • 2011/03/27 at 17:57

        dghandi – in all these years of following the skeptics’ fight against pseudosciences such as astrology, or bach flowers, or homeopathy, or whatever else, not even once I have seen anybody even considering the opportunity of programming a mindless bot to counter those arguments. Why? Because if you believe your side is rational, then you are bound to make a point of being rational. And a bot can’t be rational.

        It is for this reason that I do not have to make the point about “not taking your opponents seriously”. I am stating that the bot’s author doesn’t taking his own arguments seriously, because by bot-ifying them it devoids them of rationality. In fact, the bot goes beyond ridicule (the guy actively follows the bot’s behaviour, as it misfires against AGW believers, who might not see the irony of it).

        There is only one established narrative, at the end of this story: it’s hard to tell a bot from a human, on Twitter. Twitter itself lists a bunch of humans are very similar to the AGW bot, and I am not sure I’d like to be one of them😎

  3. Ben
    2010/11/05 at 20:19

    I have to disagree with some of the statements. This no more disproves warming than Hollywood movies prove that we faked the moon landings. All it means is that there is a programmer skilled enough make a bot that can pass a Turning Test concerning a narrow subject matter. This is quite an amazing feat of programming, but it proves nothing.

    You could put up one in a museum to answer student questions concerning General Relativity, dinosaurs, or the Turing Test itself. As long as questions are limited to the topic at hand, then it could discuss anything. Does this mean that these topics rely on no reasoning. No. It means that the programmer has to provide the reasoning beforehand.

    Stop these stupid arguments that prove nothing. You are weakening our case against the warmists with this inanity.

    • 2010/11/05 at 22:41


      1. I am not in the business of disproving warming
      2. The bot, as you rightly say, can respond to questions. However, the bot cannot discuss, under any circumstance: it will only throw back sentences according to word patterns.
      3. The fact that somebody has programmed it, and many have positively commented on its regard, proves that their take on the subject involves no reasoning.
      4. The programmer doesn’t insert any reasoning in the bot. He can at most define a set of rules to follow. This is no more reasoning than having Excel draw a nice graph means Microsoft Office is capable of conducting an analysis.
      5. I do not belong to any group of people making any “case against the warmists”. As a matter of fact, I would see little point in abandoning the IPCC in order to follow some other organization. This is of course a personal choice and others are free to act otherwise.

      At the end of the day, that is my underlying point on The Unbearable Nakedness. It’s a matter of personal freedom, and of many too many people fighting hard to take it away from us.

  4. 2010/11/05 at 13:23

    With some irony, the thing is messing stuff up on the Ch4 twitter storm surrounding their latest (A)GW outing, and I’d say most casualties are friendly fire.

  5. 2010/11/04 at 22:47

    Blog updated with my comment to Plait’s blog on the bot…

  6. 2010/11/04 at 18:41

    I guess from now on we ought to demand proof that Agw bloggers and commenters are actual people rather than chatbots:-)

  7. 2010/11/04 at 15:50

    This is really sad. I can foresee a time when Twitter is inundated with bot-driven pseudo-conversations. Fabulous.


  8. 2010/11/04 at 10:43

    I was suckered once by this thing.

    But I agree the joke is one him/them, as the topic it picked up couldn’t have been more poorly served by this ‘technique’.

    I am only sorry a science writer, whose output I may not agree with all the time, but usually respect, went very teenage in his approval of this, perhaps because not so doing would be seen as not conforming.

    Pity. It only makes it harder to accord credibility to this ‘side’ of any debate.

  1. 2010/11/08 at 12:04

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