How much pure democracy can science stand? PopularScience.com has closed its comments section for most articles because:
…even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests
They cite a U of Wisconsin-Madison study that showed:
Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself… Those exposed to rude comments…ended up with a much more polarized understanding.
And then PopSci gets more polemical:
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again.
So a civil non-fractious majority must be protected from an uncivil fractious minority? This because the non-fracts are so easily swayed by non-facts from the fracts. Which injects the paternalism question into the civility debate. .(Cf. this David Brooks piece in which he makes the case for “social paternalism”).
At any rate the question of whether the internet has been bad for democracy continues…