Skip to comments.Internet Forums and Social Dynamics: Part I: Everybody is someone else’s weirdo
Posted on 01/01/2012 5:02:18 PM PST by grey_whiskers
One of the things that is fun about forums such as Free Republic is the sheer volume and scale of topics discussed. Everything from discussions of GOP primary races (come BACK, Sarah!) to speculations on the Middle East, from Kim Jong-un to fitness resolutions for the New Year, from Naughty Teacher threads to black helicopter speculations. If the Internet is a microcosm of the real world, then Free Republic is a microcosm of the internet. And all helpfully sorted by keyword, date, and author in order to make drinking from the fire hose easier.
But of course, not is all fun and games. Free Republic bills itself as the worlds premier conservative internet forum. And as such, it is a welcome place to hang out and talk with like-minded people, away from the rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, sh*t-kickers and Methodists
found on the rest of the internet. Unfortunately, that means that all kinds of people, from Paultards to Mitt-bots, from DU infiltrators to atheist crusaders (a little ironic, that), *all* consider it their dishonor-bound duty to try to worm into FR unnoticed or at least post here, to set the record straight. Free Republic has developed its own defense against such, the famed Viking Kitties and their famous ZOT!
And why is there the necessity for the ZOT? Are we not broad-minded enough, intelligent enough, magnanimous enough, tolerant enough to allow the existence of contrary or dissenting viewpoints? Sure. But thats what the rest of the Internet is for. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, the purpose of an open mind, like that of an open mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. Or, as Rush Limbaugh likes to say, I am balance. Conservatives need a place to go to recharge without constantly being ridiculed, calumnied, mocked, and shouted down by main force.
So what happens? The voices of tolerance are so offended by the existence of an oasis for conservatives (and, whats worse, most of them are Christianists as well -- of all the nerve!) that they seek to plant a flag for reason (as they proclaim it) right here on FR. Which leads to noteworthy fireworks when they try to do so, as many of the ideas which they hold to be axiomatic, are marked as heresies here on this site. As Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) wrote, everybody is someone elses weirdo.
But how is that that people identify someone else as a weirdo? After all, with so many different subjects around, and different opinions available on each subject, conservatism is not nearly as monolithic as liberals and atheists assume (indeed, there are some conservative atheist, some of them even have remained unzotted on FR for years). May I suggest, for the purposes of insight, that we borrow a page from statistics, and in particular, from analytical chemistry? This is not meant to be a rigorous discussion, only a semi-humorous one to get the creative juices flowing. Say hello to my little friend, Students t-test.
Despite the name, and its use in classes, Students T-test was originally developed by W.S. Gosset, who went by the fictitious name Student and worked for the Guinness brewery. Come to think of it, maybe that had something to do with the name he chose :-) Students t-test is used when comparing two small sets of data, to decide whether differences in the data sets are due to chance, or are significant (that is, whether or not, the data sets really are different -- meaning, that is, 95% of the time, or 99% of the time, or whatever -- the differences in the data sets cannot have come about due to random differences). The idea is conceptually simple. Everyone has heard of a bell curve to describe data. The t-test is used to compare, not theoretical bell curves, but sets of experimental data, which have ranges of values instead of infinitely long tails. By looking at the mean of each data set, as well as the range of values of each data set, one can determine whether the two data sets are most likely measurements of the same thing or not.
Thats fine, you ask, and how exactly does this relate to websites or social interactions therein? Consider someones political views as a set of data points, with the extent of liberalness or conservativeness for each topic being spread along the X-axis, and the *count* of topics of which a person is liberal or conservative to that extent as the height above the axis. If you plot out a persons political views in this fashion, you will trace out a curve. It might be a symmetric bell curve, it might be somewhat asymmetric, it might even exhibit kurtosis. But in general, you will be able to get a feel for how a person stacks up, left or right, by talking to them.
And so it is on discussion groups, or in forums such as FR. Typically most of the posters in a self-identified, semi-autonomous site such as FR would, if their political bell curves were plotted, would be somewhat similar: a significant difference between two people could come about if either the overall shape of their bell curve were different, or if they had a particular outlier on a important topic, on which they differed *greatly* from someone otherwise similar. In either case, other people talking to the person would begin to feel that something is amiss here: something which bears an analogy to statistical sampling and comparison. And if the difference is significant enough, the person is outed as a TROLL.
Everybody is someone elses weirdo.
...oh, and Happy New Year.
I’m weirder than a lot of other people put together ;-).
Hope you had a good New Year's Eve. Watched "The Smoking Gun Presents The World's Dumbest..." with the Cubs, didn't even watch the ball drop in Times Square.
Weird does not always equate to bad - some weirdness is a pretty good thing! :-)
All of this, just to justify hate-porn against Ron Paul, instead of discussing his policy issue strengths and weaknesses as rationally as any other politician?
LOL, the country is being beat to death by Leftist fiscal destroyers, and the only guy who is nailing the economic self-destruct process to the wall is being slandered because he wants to point out the reduction - not elimination - in foreign military intervention a strong worldwide US dollar would enable.
Not to mention the reduction is lost military lives.
But hey, go ahead and enjoy ya’lls DU-level “tard” Paul-swarming. Oh - and enjoy RINO Romney too, because that’s who we’re going to get by shutting down the rational discussion of issues FR has been famous for, for so long. Because even if Paul isn’t elected, he could, would and is beating the crap out of Mittens on the economic front. But we can’t have that now, can we?
Happy New Year indeed.
The solution is simple. As I am supremely correct in my views on all things, thought, word and deed, people need only need ask me for the opinions they should hold. Being a generous man I will be happy to give them the correct one.
If y’all only knew...
We watched “Harry Potter and the Latest Compound Subject, Part I,” the one where they gripe in the woods a lot, and went to bed about 11:00. There were fireworks in the neighborhood, which upset some of the pets.
I'm glad to hear you've finally come around to seeing things MY way.
I was beginning to get worried.
I’ve been watching the twilight zone marathon on SyFy.
Mr Wordsworth (Burgess Meredeth) has just been declared Obsolete.
Very timely stuff in my opinion.
You “just to justify hate-porn against Ron Paul”...
(Snicker) Now there’s a parson in need of my guidance ;)
The “Time enough” library/last man/no glasses one is my fave by far.
I’m just glad you’re somebody else’s weirdo. ;’)
Are we supposed to swallow everything that’s on Paul’s plate including his theories of a CIA-plotted 9/11 and domestic coups? Paul, even if elected, would promptly quit the presidency when the CIA told him honest Injun, they didn’t engineer any of that stuff.
You watched that?
You might enjoy this.
Rod Sterling was a brilliant man and social commentator.
It's cute when you think you're weird.
I gotcher weird right here.
I wasn't even thinking of Paul, e'en though his name may have made a cameo appearance.
I had in mind the random one-shot wonder from DU or similar.
When I mentioned several other people, I wasn’t thinking of you at all! I was considering ... you know, regular people, the kind who don’t eat kudzu or communicate with aliens.
Happy New Year!
That was good. I’ll show it to Tom tomorrow. He’s watching some comic-book thing, on DVD from Netflix. X-Persons? It has Kevin Kline, Nazis, and blonde women in it.
It is my opinion that resorting to this kind of meaningless labeling
Hmmmm.... I think Paultard and Mitt-bott is pinpoint, PRECISE, accurate, fact based, fair labeling of those two weirdo groups. In other words, it sums them up.
I am reminded of the southern phrase “Hit dog howls”.
Can someone explain the difference between Democrats demanding respect for their liberal politics and politicians and so called conservatives demanding respect for their favored liberal politics and politicians?
Words mean things whether libs like it or not and as you pointed out, they are dead on. Mitt fans run around parroting liberal Romney talking points like they had a CD in their heads, never questioning the reality of his positions - quite robot like. Paul supporters show retarded (as in slow/held back/not up to speed) devotion, parroting his craziness and logicless positions on most issues.
Yup, shoe fits. People not liking the associations are free to alter their positions.
This is what I mean - are we supposed to swallow everything on any politician's plate? Are we supposed to conflate whackjob followers with the actual candidate? "We" never have before.
I don't give a DAMN whether Paul is elected. What I care about is saving the country from being destroyed - and the MAIN thing that's destroying us is economic sabotage at the government level by Leftist saboteurs. The only guy I see pointing out this MAIN destruction of our country is Paul - but shills swallow every damn thread by misrepresenting him in every possible way.
What nobody has stopped to consider is that economic destruction is the main way the Leftists SELL their crap to the people. It's WHY people vote democrat, to get the government support they think they need because they can't find work, or good enough work to live. Because it ain't just the "bums" out there - millions of educated, hardworking people have watched their jobs vanish overseas or be destroyed by regulations, and they're up against it now,
Fer cryin' out loud, isn't it obvious how deliberate this is?!
Without economic hell, with genuine free markets and low taxation and regulation and the historically enormous benefits and wealth it brings to the country, the Democrats don't have sh!t. THEY know it. That conservatives don't is a damn shame.
And a P.S. to the shills - if you win, and you really believe your employer is going to take care of you and your families once America is destroyed or turned into a concentration camp, then you win the stupid award of the millenium. Because if you win, your employers will then look at YOU as the next problem to be taken care of. Look up the hisotry of what happens to useful idiots after the revolution.
I hereby nominate you as the official "FR plotter" whose duty will be to calculate each FReepers curve so that we will not have to waste time with those whose "curve" is obviously divergent from conservatism. : )
Unfortunately there are many more, and not just the two that the simplistic libertarians claim.
What about the "this needs to be in the constitution" vs. "this needs to be handled by the states" axis? Some conservatives favor a stronger DOMA that would make gay marriage illegal throughout the country. Others want this handled on a state-by-state basis. Similar arguments go both ways on abortion, environmental regulations, business restrictions, etc.
The debates on if/when to use the military are often argued out on a "realist" vs. "idealist" axis.
Even if you stick to conservative vs. liberal, there are differing opinions within the conservative ranks regarding such things as Social Security. There are conservatives who feel that promises were made and need to be kept. Others who think those promises should never have been made and the program should be scrapped post-haste. Others believe it just needs to be "privatized", but every privatization scheme I've seen has had a large government component to it. What is the "real" conservative position on Social Security? Medicare? Private pensions (where promises were made and contracts signed for good or ill)?
“”...there are differing opinions within the conservative ranks regarding such things as Social Security.”
Does Part 2 apply the F test?
In order to do any sort of quality analysis we would need to specify some units. Even if we could come up with units (and for conservatives they would definitely be English units rather than the commie metric ones), how would you place different opinions along the axis? Is keeping Soc Sec the way it is because promises were made and need to be kept, more or less conservative than scrapping Soc Sec which is viewed by lots of conservatives as an unconstitutional expansion of federal power?
And that doesn't even take into consideration whether we would need to assume homoscedasticity.
...or join other sites.
Strictly speaking, yes, you'd not only have to handle heteroskedacity, but possibly multiple axis and different weightings -- so you'd be closer to ANOVA.
But all I was trying to do was point out an analogy (and in an odd way, your posting is a good segue into Part II, which is not at *all* what the posters here seem to be expecting); if you want to come up with a formal political placement methodology, go apply to a statistics or a Poly-Sci dept. somewhere and offer to make it your graduate thesis :-)
If you're not too busy with Hamlet, that is?
Whether 'tis nobler in the 'net to suffer the slings and arrows
of outrageous forum trolls,
and by opposing, end them? To ZOT! To FReep no more...
1) the newness of the poster
2) whether A, B, and C have already been discussed within the forum, and found by consensus to be completely outweighed by D, E, and F
3) if the arguments used by the n00b have already been hashed out and found wanting, or they are obvious boilerplate
4) candidate Smith has already been declared persona non grata by the Viking Kitties
Don’t know which was the most entertaining....The thread or the comments.....Hugh I tell you.
I enjoyed your analysis and I’m looking forward to Part 2 - F-bombs and all. Your take is always spot on - imo.
Happy New Year!
An insight, of course, perfectly consistent with Sartre's: Hell is the Other!
And that's the best result you can get from the premise of a fundamentally "morally relativistic" universe.
I actually heard on NPR radio last evening (which I almost never listen to) that Hinduism/Buddhism is "superior" to Christianity because it fundamentally acknowledges that the "universe", being purely "flux" in principle, never can settle on "law." (In so many words.)
The script reader did not give further (logical) particulars. But from that ["progressive???"] point of view, I gather that "whatever happens" is okay: If the Eastern philosophical view of the ultimate nature of Reality is truly the natural case, then nobody can ever again speak legitimately of "right or wrong," of "good or evil" in human society.
Worse, there is no foundation of Truth.
I'm sure it seems I digress. For you were (at least in part) regretting the practice of "zotting" at FR. It happens I share your feeling about this; BUT....
To get to a more practical point: There is no reason in the world why JR should have his resources consumed and depleted by people who hold him in contempt and animosity. Ultimately, FR is the private enterprise fruition of a single, passionate and patriotic imagination, who staked his all on the enterprise, and rises and falls with its fortunes. He is our host; and we are all his guests here.
Zotting wouldn't happen, if people just adhered to the basic rules of civility appertaining to this Forum.
Which to the Occupy Wall Street types is both senseless and tyrannical. But then, so are they.
Christians DO dispute with anarchists over basic principles, to be sure.
But I have very strong doubt that anarchists can possibly prevail, on the "merits" of their "non-argument": You just can't get any sense at all from a "senseless" person....
I'll stop such tiresome musings now, and point to the actual problem I have in "corresponding" with certain other members of the Forum.
Because I have felt so frustrated by the seeming sheer pointlessness of "engagements" with, e.g., materialists, atheists, "doctrinaire" Darwinists, et al I have tried to understand why such conversations never seem to lead anywhere.
I've been feeling this especially since I realized I couldn't even "get on the same page" with A_perfect_lady. Whatever the question posed, she and I will respectively be dealing with it, not only from "different standpoints," but "from different levels."
Anyhoot, I read both your recent, wonderful posts on this subject before responding to this, the first one. In which you seem to be proposing the absolutely fundamental need for a universal criterion by which the Truth of Reality can be reliably known. In the second, it seemed you presented a small sampling of effects which naturally proceed from any distortion of Reality.
It seems Reality can be distorted by minds in ways that actually afflict human beings personally and directly and, from there, into society at large.
The reason I say that (FWIW): Nowadays, since both truth and morality are "assumed" to be "relative" (relative to WHAT????), people no longer discern that there is any substantial difference between "rhetoric" and "reality."
I'll just leave the problem there for now.
Thank you ever so much for your wonderfully thought-provoking essay/posts, dear grey_whiskers!
I've noticed this many times: atheists and believers can't find a mutually-agreed upon starting point. Literally, we don't even agree on how to begin. I think this is why the phrase "leap of faith" is so important. One does not move logically into faith. If you did, it wouldn't be faith. I think believers would be much better off not trying to reason or argue atheists into anything. There's no path from logic to faith. It really is a leap.
English just has the one, French has savoir (book knowlege) and connaître (acquaintance, as in "knowing" someone, or a town).
Science is savoir, about data; it was originated in the West in the hope it would be an aide to connaître of the Maker.
Faith starts out trying for connaître.
What about change and growth. 10 years ago I was a conservative Reagan republican. Now I have left the world systems behind? I have found out it is much more profitable to seek God’s kingdom first.
But we don't want the Irish!
You're comparing apples to oranges.
Faith is not the opposite of logic, or the natural result of the absence of logic.
I have faith in my car that it will start and get me where I want to go simply because of logic. It was intelligently designed to function in a certain way for a certain purpose and experience has verified the claims made about it.
Likewise, I'm sure that you have faith that gravity will act in a certain way if you jump off the edge of a building. Is that a result of the lack of logic?
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