I rarely get email via the contact form, but when I do I like responding to them in the mailbag series. This time, a troll by the curious name of You are a moron (I will henceforth refer to this individual as “Moron” for short) sent me an angry email. I previously declined to publish a comment written by Moron on How Skepchick Rebecca Watson Misuses Statistics that containing anti-psychiatry nonsense and I suspect that Moron is one of the resident anti-psychiatry trolls that has been posting comments for many months through many different proxies to evade bans. Moron tends to use emails such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” and similar.
For those who wonder if Moron has anything intellectually productive to say, I must be upfront and say that you will be greatly disappointed. The general aim of this post is to (1) demonstrate the breathtaking inanity of some trolls and (2) to expose the specific fallacies and errors in the assertions made by this particular troll.
Kamil, I have been following very intermittently your blog.
Apparently not often enough to get my name right. This is a common tactic used by trolls in order to depersonalize the individual.
You are the prime example of why self proclaimed “skeptics” are perceived as jackasses -whose most likely problem in fact might be a lack of an interesting sexual life.
Notice how Moron decides not to engage any arguments I have made against anti-psychiatry but rather make the assertion that self-proclaimed skeptics are jackasses. However, it does not logically follow that an argument is wrong just because it is presented by a person who is perceived as a jackass. This is the genetic fallacy, where an argument is dismissed because of its origin and not its intellectual merits.
It is also interesting that this troll attempts to condescendingly dismiss scientific skepticism by attempting to associate it with “lack of an interesting sexual life”. This is based on the stereotype of skeptics as humorless and boring men who cannot get laid. In addition, it is a pathetic attempt by Moron to introduce an irrelevant personal aspect (sex life) as a way to rationalize why Moron’s nonsensical ravings are not being taken seriously. Finally, Moron does not present any scientific evidence for the notion that a “lack of interesting sex life” (how should “interesting” be operationalized in this context?) is associated with being perceived as a jackass.
At any rate, I do not care if some critics perceive me as a jackass. I am not all that interested in discussing people, I am more interested in discussing events and ideas. In fact, I rejoice the moment a critic starts using personal attacks because it means that they do not have any rational arguments left.
Time after time, you seem to run into the same problems with your commenters, – You make some outrageous claim in a domain that you know little about (now is philosophy). – Commenters try to politely point out your ignorance. – You counter back with a “holier than you” type of response that only serves to dissipate any doubts people might have that you regularly spew nonsense in your blog. – Your commenters insist that you are saying nonsense. – You get “angry” that your “wisdom” is not fully recognized and you end up banning your dialectical opposition. This has not happened once or twice but many times. It’s clear that there is somebody who has a problem here and it’s not your commenters. What a pathetic existence to be ridiculed so frequently and to react to childishly by banning those who are making you a favor by pointing to your nonsense.
Moron asserts that this has happened “time after time” and “many times”, but the long list of putative examples reduce to one: my previous post about academic philosophy. This goes to show that Moron is merely using my latest post as an excuse to vent unproductively.
The chief claims that I made in my previous post about academic philosophy were not particularly outrageous: a sizable proportion of philosophers reject the neuroscience consensus position, consensus in philosophy regard trivial truths, there is very little progress in academic philosophy etc. Sure, some people got outraged, but not because of anything I wrote specifically. Rather, they became outraged at the implication they saw, namely that I did not place academic philosophy on an intellectual pedestal.
I did not get angry that commenter did not accept my position. I replied to every single comment with arguments. I banned a single individual after he, after having his arguments refuted again and again, started to become verbally abusive (here). I have no problem with people expressing different opinions in the comment section and I am usually very patient (see for instance here and here). However, in the end, it is my blog and if I do not want people who are verbally abusive to comment on it, I have every right to decline publication or ban them.
Let us look at the number of people that I have banned. I have listed them all on the Comment Guidelines page. Besides Jack Cunningham, I have banned five identities in 2.5 years and it is likely that some of them are actually the same individual using different sock-puppet identities. This hardly qualifies as “many times”.
In the end, Moron does not bring any relevant arguments to the table and I am forced to conclude that Morin is an anti-psychiatry troll who got upset because I would not publish his off-topic anti-psychiatry drivel.