Monday, February 25, 2013

Putting Trolling in Perspective.

( or, .. What do you do when you perceive science to be failing? ..)
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The question of trolling has arisen again on Rationalskeptics Discussion Forum.
[  Quoting Theropod:- 
" ... Jesus fucking Christ on a stick, can't you read? What part of "if they haven't published" can't you grasp? Now, having made that really fucking clear, how the hell is anyone supposed to know of these "authorities" unless they have published in reputable journals?

"I know for a fact there are several professional scientists that participate on a regular basis here on ratskep. [ .. I have enough professional qualifications in earth sciences to see through this EE smoke and mirrors.. ] That professional training allows me to adjudicate these citations as sorely lacking in direct support of an EE.

"My opinion is based on the historical facts of this thread. I've been here since day one.  The topic was started to specifically troll this forum.
"In case you haven't noticed I have no desire, or intent, to be helpful in regards to this topic on any level. It's ALL bullshit, and the whole intent of this thread was, and is, to troll this forum. I've already listed my concerns with your "facts". I really don't give a rats ass if the EE folks have their feeling hurt, or if I piss them all off. This EE crap isn't about the science. It's about what folks will believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence telling them they're notion is totally fucking nuts. Exactly like creationism in that regard isn't it? I am not a humanitarian, or even a very nice man. As far as I'm concerned these folks came into my house and shit right in the middle of my living room floor. I'm really supposed to now be helpful to any aspect of this insanity? I don't think so. Even defending this tripe in a passing manner deserves scorn AFAIC." ]

This point, about the forum being assailed by "nuts" obsessing about Earth expansion, has been raised from the beginning.  Under no circumstances could S.Athearn, the subject of the above abusive attack be accused of trolling, and neither could the original poster of the thread.  Below is the original post by 'Brainman',  a cognitive scientist interested in the emotional response of people to views that contradict their own beliefs, and how consensus ('Groupthink') therefore arises - the Groupthink in this case being the monolithic belief of Plate tectonics. :

['Brainman' :-   Expanding earth. Do the continents wind back to a sphere
#1  Post by Brain man » Jun 14, 2010 12:27 pm

"Most people are familiar with neal adams interesting animations.
My interest is actually psychological regarding this. I am training in neuropsychology and am interested in the mechanism behind the reaction of disbelief itself. I am presuming there will be not be many here in favour of expanding earth hypothesis.

The point is, can this thread force readers to answer the primary question of the thread first. i.e. Can the poll question itself actually be answered with a yes or no ? EDIT. The question is "Do the continents "look" as if they wind back to a sphere ?"

So this thread is primarily about psychology. You can post on how the video itself made you feel. Conflicted, angry etc.

I would also like to make these following points to introduce that the topic has an educated, reasoning and respectable proponent. The point of this thread is not to debate the geology though. These points are just stated to offset the damage having an artist proposing the subject has done. It should be remembered though that in spite of his background Neal Adams claims that the plates were not shrunk or altered in the 3d modeller. The ins-and-outs of geology is a different subject from this and should be started on the earth sciences section.]

...from which it is quite clear that the intention of the post is exactly as it says -  nothing to do with the for-or-against geological  arguments of Earth expansion but simply to test emotional reaction to that video.  It's difficult to see how it can be read otherwise.

Neverthless apart from the few respondents who did answer within the guidelines but noted that a response would obviously be tempered by initial belief and the scientific merit of the video, by far the majority appeared to consider their intelligence confronted and scientific acumen abused, and Brainman was shortly banned for being a "troll" for exactly the reason Brainman specifically stated, and what Theropod says in somewhat more colourful vernacular :- "This EE crap isn't about the science. It's about what folks will believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence telling them they're notion is totally fucking nuts".

Evidently the fine point of Mr Adam's video (and Brainman's intention in posting the question) escapes the Theropod - that the italicised "nuts" in question are in fact those believing in Plate Tectonics - and how might it feel to be labelled a nut, even just on the basis of a space/time-traveller's cursory glimpse of an enlarging, rotating Earth such as that video illustrates.

Today Plate Tectonics is standard teaching in schools colleges, universites, and even kindergartens. as well as used in top-level media presentations to the public.  And there is even the view that it is deserving of a Nobel prize.

But what do you do when you perceive it to be simply wrong in critical aspects and think it appropriate to say so?  Do you present your hopeful case to what you see as the arbiters of scientific respectability in the expectation they have a duty to listen?  .. maybe even too in the expectation (if reason and logic is applied) that there might possibly be some capitulation to your illuminated insight?  Well, .. if you're naive you might, but you certainly won't get any marks for pointing out to the scientific community at large that the Earth is round and rotating, and that the consequences of this is something everybody's been missing all along.  Theropod has a point.  It *is* something like dumping right in the middle of the living-room.  No matter how much you might try to persuade and say, "No, .. but look, .. seriously, .. it's all good, and it goes so much better with your furniture than the junk you have strewn around."  You could even add that every living room should have a pile of it right up to the ceiling, ... and (getting really bolshie) add further  .. "So what's wrong with *you* then?" 

Even on a sliding scale from wheedling to belligerent, somehow I don't think that cuts it.  Some other strategem is called for.  But what?  What do you do when even  'peaceful proselytising' elicits the antagonistic odium and abuse that has been the history of Rationalskeptic's response since day 1 - and some other forums as well, and (though somewhat better dressed) the scientific literature too.   Everybody likes to arrange their living room the way that suits them - because there are friends that turn up from time to time who like a cozy corner to relax in where they don't have to consider their place in the world.  Living is a social enterprise after all, and it helps if everybody is like me.

Well, there are two things you can do.  The first is simply putting it out there for whoever is inclined to look at it - passive proselytising /gentle persuasion for those who may be persuaded, but in the full knowledge that there will be hecklers at the rear who will take every opportunity they can to shout you down and try to make a fool of you.

And the other thing you can do is recognise therefore what it is you're up against and 'fight fire with fire', .. stir-'em-up and dump some reflective 'troll-shit' in the living room and leave them to the consequences when it hits the fan, and the public, seeing finally that their tax dollars are being consumed on a gravytrain ("in the dining car of free lunch"), insists on a better deal.

(Mirror mirror on the wall..)
"Many people here are home-schooling because our education system has them come out dumber than they went in."  J.T - USA.

"Children have this habit of thinking for themselves, and the point of education is to cure them of this habit." ~ Bertrand Russell.

[ See also - Debunking Plate Tectonics - at :- ]