trollspotting

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The personality of most Trolls is hindered not only by their meanness and stubbornness but also in that they are slow thinking. They are apt to be noisy and quarrelsome and at dinner they untidily throw the bones over their shoulders so that their floors are always a bit cluttered. (The Trolls of Scandinavia on trollmother.com)

I love the word ‘troll’. It’s one of the more exciting mythical beasts of folklore and legend, and I love that it’s being kept in the limelight in our age of internet trolls. Internet trolls intrigue me because I know I would seriously enjoy doing it, but I can’t imagine having the consistency to keep it up and I suspect I would feel guilty if anyone got unnecessarily upset in the midst of my experimental play. Which is surely the object of the game.

There are two potential trolls I’ve come across of late who I feel deserve further examination. Silenceofmind (SOM to his friends) has been blogging for some time now and his work, such as ‘How Science Disproves Atheist Arguments Against God‘, may be familiar to some of you. He seems to be a man. He seems to be of advancing years. He has a lot of time on his hands and he likes to stay up late making controversial statements that sound like the genuine opinion of an irate conservative Christian, but with enough random nonsense to indicate he’s having fun. As far as I’m aware, no-one can tell if he’s religious or atheist, and there are screeds of nonsense to examine, so he’s at least being consistent.

Here are some typical comments from SOM – disgusting, offensive and randomly odd:

God proclaims that men are responsible for the consequences of their lust. That is infinitely better than today’s feminism which gives men unlimited and free access to the female vagina.

I attended an all boys Catholic school. One time our class went off to a church sponsored retreated located out of town. The retreat was so disturbing that my Argentine brother and I pulled off the Great Escape and went home where we spent the weekend attending meetings of various political parties. Yes, we caused a scandal.

Civil society is not possible without religion. That is because religion teaches virtue which brings out the best in men. Atheism does nothing except unleash man’s baser nature upon a world that then suffers from pure evil.

The second potential troll is even weirder. Meet Keithnoback, if you haven’t already. He’s only commented on a couple of my posts, but it took me a few exchanges to realise it wasn’t someone with an unusual take on the post, but a convincing brand of random nonsense:

I’m working on my own excavation. This is hard stuff, harder than epistemology, I think. Any subject in which emotivism – in this case, the idea that the speech at the Rotary dinner proclaiming, “John Smith is a humanitarian with exemplary moral character,” is the equivalent of the statement, “Og like!” – is fraught with confusion. Nihilism is nihilism, and the dark side is anti-realism. Nobody likes us and we don’t like anybody. Reason enough to subscribe, but beyond that it is a better account of what people actually do. Deontologists give some people a break and others they don’t in similar circumstances. Utilitarians fail to push the fat man onto the track. Etc.

Now this stuff really intrigues me. His latest post, Tabula Rasa, might well mean something and it’s beautifully, even poetically written. He receives praise and goes on to engage with comments. I think anyone reading it could find something they relate to in it, or be impressed with something that seems to be thoughtfully expressed.

I like the feeling of skating because of my background, the kinds of activities I’ve learned to appreciate and the position which skating occupies in that pantheon of activity. I couldn’t explain to anyone else what I feel when I’m gliding uphill. I couldn’t make them feel what it’s like for me and therefore what it’s like to like it. I couldn’t accomplish a transfer of appreciation for skating anymore than I could explain a dream of red things to a blind man. It is something personal, mine to have.

Is it possible to glide uphill?

Maybe this line of thought seems bizarre, but I am not to blame for it. I have been influenced to pursue it by reading philosophy. I’ll admit, most of the reading was voluntary. The preoccupation with the nature of subjectivity however, comes from the philosophers and their corrupting thought experiments, in this case one called “spectrum inversion”. Spectrum inversion proposes a flip in qualitative experience of color. Imagine that, when I see green things, I have a red experience.

What part of philosophical reading would be forced?

When it comes down to it, I have to wonder if I’m having a spectrum inversion with both SOM and Keith. Perhaps they are talking sense in their worlds, and I’m just having a red experience. Whatever the case, their interaction patterns add colour to blogging in the form of oddity and humour, although I may never know if this is deliberate. The invitation for clarification is extended to both.

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