I’m sure you would, but others would prefer not to have to trawl through pages of petrol-head drivel in search of interesting things to talk about. Throughout the forums we see discussions of substance being drowned out in the general noise of chat.
This is being a bit unnecessarily harsh on those who are more enthusiastic than me about their motoring, or any other subject, and many of them are fine chaps and chappesses. I exaggerate purely for the sake of drama, but the point remains. Most people aren’t interested in science and thread about science tend to get dumbed-down very quickly. And sometimes they don’t, especially in the open forum, which suggests that there is interest in the issues at stake from people who are not participating in the specialised fora.
So, to explore the relationship between biofuels, emissions, the price of corn, the impact of the price of corn on the global economy, environmental destruction, transport policy, farm subsidies, etc. where would you propose that one goes? The various specialised fora are fine for single-issue topics, but tend to each appeal to people with specific interests. Those people don’t seem very keen to discuss the wider issues, just as people who are interested in the big picture may not spend a lot of time in fora that they only have a passing interest in.
Science is, by nature, about understanding everything rather than simply talking about how one particular aspect of it affects you.
Case in point: A recent attempt at discussion about an air “powered” car that allegedly produces no pollution. Attempts to introduce the wider questions, such as where the power to compress the air comes from and how it is produced, got nowhere because some of the people concerned believe that ‘electricity is free’ and sending pollution elsewhere is the same as not producing pollution. You want to limit the discussion to local emissions and things car-related, or accept that there are wider issues which are deserving of discussion and which are not, strictly speaking, about cars and motorcycles?
I’m not arguing that there is no room for technical discussion in any forum. In fact I think I said that the psychology-related stuff in Teaching is probably best left where it is. And there are plenty of issues relating to the above topic which the C&M guys would be hgappy to discuss. But there are times when the scope of the discussion takes it beyond the limitations of any one forum, and that is usually because of the complexity. And that turns off the people who are visiting that forum because it’s about something they’re interested in.
Almost everything becomes, at some point, about science so it’s good to try and keep the science in every forum. But if 90% of the people looking aren’t interested in anything more than a superficial understanding then where do the other 10% go? The answer is they can go nowhere because the mods want to hang on to their threads.
Yes, I was annoyed at the lack of understanding shown by certain people in a recent discussion and wish there was a place where it was appropriate to turn around and state that there was a whole lot more to the argument than they seemed able to recognise.