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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reader Mail #23 - What is a Troll?

I liked this post on Overcoming Bias about Ayn Rand.

I read "Atlas Shrugged" when I was in grad school. I went to an Ayn Rand discussion group. They were a bunch of fruitcakes. They were discussing something completely unrelated to what I had read.

I read that Ayn Rand had an attitude similar to mine, which is "I'm not wasting my time on trolls and fools!" This causes an "evaporative cooling" effect. The people with views most similar to Ayn Rand stick around, but those who might disagree leave.

I'm actively looking to cause an "evaporative cooling" effect here. I want the most brainwashed people to get disgusted and not contact me via my blog. (I get more than enough brainwashed reading material from reading other blogs or mainstream media sources. I've decided that I can't stand the Ron Paul forum anymore, because it's overrun by trolls and fools. I can't help keep visiting, because there's so few good information sources!)

I would like to create a group of people that think in the true anarchist/agorist style. In that case, I *NEED* the evaporative cooling effect. For example, Francois Tremblay and David_Z are far ahead of where the average person is thinking, but I'm put off by their inability to understand the Labor Theory of Value. Is it beneficial or harmful for me to read their blogs? It is, as long as there isn't anything better out there.

The difference is that Ayn Rand was recognized by many people as an expert. I'm just some random blogger that only a handful of people read, although some regular readers seem to be treating me as an "expert" now.



I liked this article about failure cascades. The article is about cascade failure in online communities as people abandon them. It was specifically talking in the context of an alliance breaking apart in a MMORPG. This MMORPG allowed PvP combat everywhere, so being a member of a crumbling alliance is like walking around wearing a huge bullseye.

As the alliance crumbles, people start identifying themselves as individuals or members of a local group, instead of members of the large alliance.

My reaction when reading the article was "That's what's going to happen to government when an agorist revolution gets started!" As the smartest and most productive people start working in the underground economy, support for the red market will crumble rapidly. It's another form of "evaporative cooling".



I read that there was outrage over the EU Constitution being amended, without putting it to the population in the member countries for a vote.

I never got a chance to ratify the US Constitution! I don't consider a Constitution to be valid, even if a majority of people living in the USA would ratify the current version.



I liked this article on the Liberty Papers. Government funding of science stifles scientific progress.



I liked this article on the Onion. Third Amendment rights activists celebrate another year of victory.



I liked this pdf on the Cato Institute website. The right of trial by jury has been repealed by overzealous prosecutors. They say "plea bargain", or "we'll convict you of additional offenses". So many things are crimes that it pays for someone to accept the plea bargain rather than face an actual trial and risk more prison time. In many ways, the outcome of an actual trial is extremely unfair. The procedural rules are biased in favor of the government. Therefore, even if not guilty, it's in your best interests to accept a plea bargain.

Essentially, the red market punishes people who refuse to plea bargain by giving them harsher sentences. This effectively repeals trial by jury.

Because so few crimes are actually tried by a jury, there's no way to tell if the government is being overzealous. There's no way of knowing if 20% or 80% of those people would have received an acquittal at a trial.

The government threatens people with additional prison time if they refuse to plea bargain. That means that a plea agreement is not really a valid agreement. It was entered under duress, and therefore is an invalid adhesion contract.

Mandatory sentencing guidelines make the situation worse. Someone who plea bargains gets a 4 year prison term, whereas someone who goes to trial and loses gets a 20 year prison term. These odds coerce people into accepting a plea bargain.



According to Google Analytics, people occasionally search my blog looking for porn. Some people might classify my blog's content as obscene.



I liked this post about someone being banned from using a new worm-based septic system. The reason the red market worker gave was that "The worms were unhappy".



There's a story circulating about how some student at Princeton faked a report that he was assaulted over his political views. Or maybe he really was assaulted. Why should I care? It is amusing to see several different blogs reporting different versions of the same story.



I thought this article on Techdirt was pretty funny. A corporation sent a takedown letter to a blogger based on comments written in their blog. Naturally, the blogger then posted the takedown letter in his blog. The corporation claims the takedown letter was *COPYRIGHTED*. Therefore, the blogger was violating the copyright by posting the takedown letter in his blog.

On the one hand, this is really funny. On the other hand, the blogger now needs to spend a fortune in legal fees defending himself against a frivolous copyright infringement lawsuit.

The problem is that this can cause bloggers to be reluctant to criticize corporations and their management in their blogs. I usually direct my criticism at the fundamental unjust nature of the economic and political system. Individual specific abuses are "small" compared to the big picture.

I don't recognize monopolistic government courts as being legitimate.



I liked this article on Techdirt, which linked to this article on Wired. In that wired article, the audio interviews linked are worth listening to. The article was about how the Internet is changing the music industry.

If an artist self-publishes, they can keep a MUCH LARGER percentage of their sales than going through the music industry. The main benefit an artist gets from being affiliated with a record company is that their marketing engine will promote that artist. Relying on the Internet for organic growth is slow and steady.

One of my favorite bits was in the audio clip "The people who know how to do this are the ones you fired ..." The music industry fired all the creative types who understand music and replaced them with MBAs, lawyers, and bankers. This means that the small independents self-publishing on the Internet can run circles around the music industry.

The Internet means that it can be practical to make a recording even if you're only going to sell 1000 copies. Going through the music industry, the overhead is so high that you need a mega-hit in order to get a decent profit.



I liked this page on Joel Skousen's website. It is about reading behind the lines when watching the news. Basically, every major news source, even the "independent" ones, are in the Supreme Leader of Humanity's pocket.

I liked this quote:

I don’t accept anything in the news at face value without comparing it to what I already know is true. The greater the body of true knowledge that you possess, the easier it is to see fallacies and falsehoods. The more shallow your store of "facts" and true experiences, the harder it is to scrutinize new information, especially when it falls outside your limited area of expertise or experience.

I've found this to be very useful. For example, I'm sure about:
  1. The Federal Reserve is evil.
  2. The Income Tax is evil.
  3. The Compound Interest Paradox
  4. Voting is Pointless.
  5. The Labor Theory of Value holds in a free market.
  6. The USA is a Communist country.
When I say "The Labor Theory of Value is true in a free market", people exhibit a very typical and common troll response.

When I say "It might possible to build a zero point energy generator", I get *THE EXACT SAME TROLL RESPONSE*. My reaction to this is: "OMFG!! IT'S POSSIBLE TO BUILD A ZERO POINT ENERGY GENERATOR! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!" The fact that I get SUCH A STRONG TROLL RESPONSE convinces me that it's true or at least seriously worth investigating.

This is a very useful trick. Suppose you say something controversial and get a certain type of troll response. That means that the thing you just said is true or seriously worth investigating.

That is how I have concluded that it's a good idea to point out when someone is "trolling" or posting a comment without thinking. The outpouring of hate over Reader Mail #22 has convinced me that's a good policy.



I liked this article on Techdirt. Why should Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have to pay a fine for advertising online gambling? Why should they be forced to micromanage all their advertisements, making sure they filter out those that the government disapproves?

In a free market, gambling is not a crime anywhere.

A gambling contract is a private contract between two individuals. Gambling is none of the government's business.

The problem is that casinos and state lotteries want to protect their turf. They have successfully lobbied for all other private gambling to be declared illegal.



I liked this article about the psiphon project. It's a technique for circumventing Internet censorship in countries like China.

There's a host in a non-censored country and a user in the censored country. If the user is discreet, and doesn't access the host too often, he'll pass under the radar of the censors. If a user is trustworthy for an extended period of time, he's allowed to invite other users to join. The program's design assumes that some users will be spies trying to frustrate the network.

Overall, it's an interesting plan. I think the agorist economy needs to follow a similar approach when recruiting new members. Let new members only participate a little, and give them more access as they prove themselves to be trustworthy and not be undercover red market workers.



I liked this article on BradSpangler.com. The Lakota have seceded from the United States. They have unilaterally withdrawn from all treaties with the USA.

Technically, if you live in their territory, you don't have to pay US income taxes or obey any of Congress' stupid laws. If you're willing to renounce your US citizenship, that article said that the Lakota would recognize you as a citizen of their tribe. Is anyone planning on trying this?

I wonder if any of the Lakota know how to manufacture light bulbs!

Is it time to move to Lakota territory and support them? That isn't a practical option for me, but it would be nice to see other people try.

The problem with the Lakota's plan is that it won't withstand the first raid by the FBI or military. I don't think the Lakota could hold off a military assault. Public opinion is easily manipulated. I can't wait to start hearing about the stories of all the evil things the Lakota do!

For example, if I were a Lakota, I would start hemp and marijuana farming. That's a lucrative cash crop.

Whether the Lakota are technically legally right or not is irrelevant. The problem is that, unless they can withstand an invasion, they aren't really an independent country. I hope the Lakota require everyone to carry a gun! If the Lakota arm all their citizens, they MIGHT be able to successfully repel an invasion, or make the cost of invasion sufficiently high.

I read that the story about the Lakota seceding from the USA may have been misreported. A handful of people have stated their intention to secede, but they aren't the official leaders of any tribe. According to this article, the Lakota secession movement is led by Russell Means.

That's actually kind of disappointing. I guess the native Americans are slaves just like everyone else.

If you want to secede from the USA, it's actually quite easy! Just form your own local agorist trading community! Making a formal declaration of war with the government is actually quite stupid. It's better to do productive work and trade in secret.



I liked this article on lewrockwell.com. The author spent a day in court contesting a traffic ticket and observed all the stupid and coercive decisions the judge made. The author spent two full days in court, and didn't even get his case heard!

on my appointed date, the judge wasn't there. Why? They wouldn't say. Is he sleeping in? No, was the answer. Taking a family vacation? Outrageous that I should even ask! Okay, then, how about I see the substitute judge? There is no such thing. But if I hadn't shown up I would go to jail for "failure to appear." How is it that he can fail to show up and everyone acts like this is normal.

The writer used a vacation day to show up for the trial. The judge wasn't even there! There was no alternate plans. The person had no recourse but to come back another day! If the writer failed to show up, he would have been sent to jail!

The writer came back a second day. The judge heard all the "defendant pleads guilty" cases before the contested cases. At the end, there wasn't any time leftover to handle the contested cases. At this point the writer decided to plead guilty and pay the fine so he didn't have to come back a third day.

The policeman, who had to show up to testify in the traffic dispute, got paid as if it were a normal day of work!



I liked this post in the Bell Tower about contracts.

The first interesting point is that a written contract is not the final definitive thing. In an over-lawyered society like the USA, contracts try to define every possible situation that could occur. The basic lawyer-generated contract in the USA is written under the assumption that the counter-party is going to screw you over, and you're looking to screw back as much as possible.

A sincere working relationship should be based on mutual trust. Both parties should have a desire to "do what's right", even it it wasn't precisely written down.

One problem (not stated in the article) is that most contracts in the present tend to be for a high value. Making a written contract always involves a lawyer. This means you're only going to have a written contract when the value at stake is high. If people made a lot of small contracts, they wouldn't feel as much hardship if one was not honored.

The second interesting part is about free-market contract enforcement. In a free market, contracts disputes can be resolved by courts that don't have the power to coerce the participants. If you form lots of little contracts, then if someone cheats you, they would get a "black mark" on their public record. Then, future people who deal with the contract breaker can be more careful. If someone was a habitual contract breaker, then at some point nobody would be willing to do business with them at all.

In other words, social pressure might be enough to guarantee that contracts are enforced.



I like this post on Stumbling and Mumbling. It talks about the principal-agent problem.

The example given is that you call the cable company to set up your cable. You wait all day and the cable guy doesn't show up. He reschedules for tomorrow. This is the principal-agent problem. The cable company didn't have to pay the cost of forcing you to wait at home all day. If you want cable service, you have no choice but to get it from the cable company.

The principal-agent problem occurs whenever someone is able to impose a cost on someone else without paying the consequences directly themselves.

As another example, the board of directors of a corporation has a principal-agent problem when representing their shareholders. If the grant themselves high salaries and bonuses, the costs are diluted among many shareholders. The typical small shareholder can't do anything about management largesse.

The ultimate example of the principal-agent problem is government itself! Why do economists always give government inefficiency a free pass?

Without government, most other abuses would not be possible at all.



It's interesting watching the news on Christmas Eve. They say "NORAD is tracking Santa Claus!" and present it as an actual news story. That's so cute! (The previous sentence was sarcastic.)

The joke is that actual "news" stories are presented with the SAME level of honesty as the "Santa Claus is real!" story. The newscaster himself is unaware that the story is the joke! When they say "The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to stimulate the economy!", that's serious journalism on par with "NORAD is tracking Santa Claus!"

After much research, I've decided that's the *REAL* meaning of the "Santa Claus" story. In other words, don't trust what newscasters or most adults say.



A coworker once presented me with this "proof" that Santa Claus is real. Make two letters, with a stamp and your return address. Address one letter to Santa Claus. Address the other letter to a fictional person at a nonexistent address. Mail them.

The second letter will be returned as undeliverable. The letter addressed to Santa Claus will not be returned as undeliverable.

This is a proof that Santa Claus is real.

The alternative is that the people who work for the post office are participating in a massive conspiracy to provide the illusion that Santa Claus is real. Of course, such a massive highly organized conspiracy does not exist.



Sometimes, I notice that I'm writing some long bits in these "Reader Mail" collections. If it's a really good bit, I'm also saving it and making it as a later post. I noticed that some of these mini-subjects are interesting enough to be worth an entire post.



gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?":

What qualifies as a troll point? I was asking your thoughts on something. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a troll is:

"An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who intentionally posts controversial messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting other users into an argumentative response."

If you perceived my question as trying to bait you, then I apologize. That was not my intent. I was inquisitive as to how you would respond to that argument, from an agorist's perspective, being that I am new to that thought stream.

I would caution you not to use what is generally perceived as a derogatory term when someone asks you a question. It turns people away if they have their hand bitten when they seek other people's thoughts.

I'm not sure what to do. If you post a comment that indicates you haven't really read or understood my blog, that annoys me. If I say "By FSK standards, your comment is trolling", maybe you should reexamine your thinking.

You also should be able to understand the distinction between me saying "Parts of that comment were troll-like" and "All the things you ever wrote to me about were troll-like". If I say the former, I'm trying to be helpful. If I'm saying the latter, I probably would just start completely ignoring you.

In your case, parts of that single comment were troll-like. It seemed like you were making a pro-State argument. I consider pro-State comments to be trolling.

When you say things like "Big government is needed to prevent people from hurting themselves.", that's one of the things that I've already discovered to be obviously false. That is a common mass media brainwashing talking point. Such a viewpoint would be considered trolling on the Ron Paul Forum, much less here.

When you say "People can't be trusted to individually make correct decisions.", you're making a pro-State or pro-Communist argument. It is only in the context of a corrupt economic and political system that individuals can make "bad decisions".

For example, is someone who throws a mercury-filled fluorescent bulb in the trash doing something irrational? In the context of a corrupt economic system, other people are doing it, so why not do it also yourself? The cost of cleaning up the mercury spill is externalized from the individual to the state. If you had free market garbage collection, the garbage collector SHOULD get angry if you include mercury with your regular trash.

It is tough, because so many people are so brainwashed. It's hard telling the difference between a brainwashed fool trying to improve and someone who's trying to get me to waste my time.

If you're asking "Should the government do XXX to solve problem YYY?", you're thinking in the wrong direction. A more sensible question is "How would problem YYY be solved without government, in a true free market?" Any question that assumes government has any legitimacy at all, is trolling by my standards.

That's a common brainwashing technique. Most policy debates are "Should the government do A or B?" Even worse, option B is presented as logically equivalent to "not A" even when it is not. Part of the policy debate is NEVER "Is this issue any of the government's business at all?"

The offensive part to me was that your question included as a hidden assumption "There should be a government." Let's review your question that I classified as a troll.

Should the government ever legislate policy to prevent people from making choices that hurt the environment?

Translating your question (as I read it):

I assume that the government has legitimacy. Most environmental problems are caused by the government. What should the government do to solve environmental problems?

I added those extra bits subconsciously. As I interpreted your comment, it is a troll!

If you post a comment that includes as a hidden assumption "I assume the government has legitimacy", you're trolling by my standards.

A better phrasing of your question is:

How are environmental problems handled if there is no government?

I gave the correct answer. The answer is that common law tort claims suffice.

Why is it considered inappropriate to say to someone "It looks like you aren't thinking."? I haven't really found a valid reason.

In a work situation, it is DANGEROUS to tell your boss "It looks like you aren't thinking." In a work situation, your boss is more concerned about looking like a fool than getting work done efficiently. However, you aren't my "boss". You can't "fire" me by ceasing to read my blog. Of course, I prefer to see my readership statistics increase rather than decrease. The trend is increasing, so whatever I'm doing is acceptable.

When you're dealing with someone who's exploiting a principal-agent inefficiency, it's dangerous to point out to them that they're behaving foolishly. The person exploiting the principal-agent inefficiency is usually someone in a position of power and influence!

I don't earn any income from my blog, so it doesn't directly injure me if you get offended and stop reading. I'm looking for "quality of readership" in addition to "quantity of readership".

I think I'm onto a really important point here. Why is it that, in the USA, it is considered inappropriate to point out when someone is acting like a fool?

On Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?, an Anonymous reader says:

I agree with the above comment. To simply insult people is not going to win you any favors. It is difficult when you constantly have to deal with fools online...you can get into the habit of assuming most people are trolls. I know I have been there.

insulting genuine people will just drive them away. Just cool it is my advice.

This is a very difficult decision. Should I tell someone when they are thinking like a fool, or should I not?

I am under no obligation to post or respond to reader comments. My philosophy is to publish and respond to all non-spam comments. However, if you waste my time by writing something foolish, I'm going to point out that your comment was foolish. If that leads to an increase in the quality of reader comments, that is a good thing.

If we disagree over what comments are considered to be foolish, that is also something worth discussing. For example, asking me "What environmental laws should Congress pass?" is a stupid question, because it assumes that Congress has any legitimacy at all in the first place. A more intelligent way to phrase the same question is "How would environmental problems be handled in an anarchist/agorist society?"

You're free to comment anonymously, or just lurk. If you're going to make me spend time composing a response, it should be a useful comment.

Let's review what I learned recently. I made a post that said The Labor Theory of Value is true in a free market. I received a lot of troll mail and hate mail saying that the Labor Theory of Value is false and I'm a fool for suggesting otherwise. I have carefully checked my analysis, and I am over 99% sure the Labor Theory of Value holds in a free market. From this, I draw the conclusion that whenever I do something that draws a similar response, I know that the thing I did was a good idea.

Similarly, I recently said that some people are trolling or posting stupid comments. I've received a lot of troll mail and hate mail saying that is a bad idea. When I said "The Labor Theory of Value is true.", I received a certain specific pattern of troll mail and hate mail. When I say "Those commenters are trolling or not thinking", I'm receiving the *EXACT* same pattern of troll mail and hate mail. Therefore, I conclude that pointing out when someone is trolling or not thinking is a good idea.

OK, convince me that it's a bad idea to point out when someone makes a comment that shows they aren't thinking. If you say "You will lose readers", then I'm wondering if those readers are worth having in the first place?

Also, I'm not losing readers. According to Google Analytics, my "regular reader" statistics are increasing.

I'm still open to debating these two points:
  1. Does the Labor Theory of Value hold in a free market? In other words, in a truly free market, is a worker's salary proportional to the actual economic value of his work? I say yes. I have yet to hear a counter-argument that doesn't sound like gibberish.
  2. Is it a good idea to point out when someone who posts a comment on my blog is trolling or not thinking?
For now, I consider these two questions to be settled. Yes, the Labor Theory of Value really holds in a free market. Yes, it is a good idea to point out when someone is trolling or not thinking.

Is "posting a comment without thinking" equivalent to trolling? From my point of view, how can I tell the difference?

On Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?, Francois Tremblay says:

FSK, you have really made me not want to associate with you any more. If you have any substance to these very public accusations, then provide them. I am through with you.

Regarding the Labor Theory of Value, I already gave more than enough discussion of that. I've yet to see any counter-arguments that convince me.

I consider the Labor Theory of Value to be obvious. I consider anyone who disagrees to not understand economics. If you don't understand the Labor Theory of Value, then we are literally speaking different languages. From my point of view, it's like you're posting a comment describing the many virtues of the Federal Reserve and big government.

Regarding the Market Anarchist Blog Carnival, I was overall REALLY DISAPPOINTED with the submissions. I was expecting them to be insightful and brilliant when they were pretty lame overall. The interesting content from the blogs I regularly read is more interesting than the carnival submissions.

I never forced you to post comments here. You did so voluntarily. You're free to lurk or post anonymously. I make fun of mainstream media sources sometimes, but I consider them to be "fair game". For posts on other blogs, I tend to ignore the garbage.

For example, is it wrong for me to say "Edward Flaherty is responsible for spreading a lot of disinformation about the Federal Reserve on the Internet?"

Why do you get offended when I say "If you disagree with the Labor Theory of Value, you aren't thinking clearly"?

Why is it wrong to point out when I observe that someone is not thinking clearly? I think this concept is REALLY IMPORTANT. It probably is more important than the Labor Theory of Value. This outpouring of hate is convincing me that I've stumbled upon something important.

Also remember that the people who choose to post comments do not speak for the people who choose to lurk. So far, 4 people have said "It's a bad idea to point out someone who isn't thinking." Out of over 50 regular readers, you aren't even 10%. That isn't enough, even if my blog were a democracy. Democracy doesn't work. I'm not running my blog as a democracy anyway.

On Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?, David_Z says:

"Like David_Z, you can't imagine what true stateless free-market justice would look like."

I can't?

You haven't convinced me that you understand how a stateless justice system might operate. I'm not sure how a stateless justice system would operate, but I can guess. The best way to try is to conduct an experiment.

I'm pretty convinced that the concept of "adversarial justice" is flawed and defective. A non-adversarial legal system would eliminate a lot of the demand for lawyers. Why should you need to hire a professional advocate in order to ensure a fair verdict at a trial?

Don't post your vision of stateless justice here. Just post it in your own blog and provide a link.

According to your Blogger profile, you are enrolled at a university receiving brainwashing as a professional economist. Unfortunately, you aren't going to learn True Economics at a University. Even Austrian economics has its limits, because Austrian economics is still a pro-State theory of economics.

When it comes to a discussion of economics, the most stubborn people are those who received brainwashing as a professional economist. They aren't able to overcome that handicap. I'm concerned that your economics brainwashing may have permanently damaged your ability to think about economics clearly. That's your problem and not my problem.

Personally, I am lucky because I learned to think before I started studying economics. I correctly sensed that there was something rotten with mainstream economics, and I avoided it. I didn't start investigating economics until a few years ago, when I was working as a quantitative programmer.

On Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?, David_Z says:

also, i agree with gilligan regarding the use of the word "troll."

Of course, it's your blog, FSK. Do with it what you will. But I think that the people who read this are generally very open minded and receptive to your/our ideas. It seems you have a hard time distinguishing between honest questioning and baiting.

It is very hard to distinguish between someone who is asking a sincere and stupid question, and someone who is trolling. Both are an equal waste of my time, so they're both trolling.

Regarding one specific question that I classified as a troll, it was "Should the government ever pass laws to prevent people from hurting themselves?" From my point of view, that question is a troll. It contains as a hidden assumption that government has any legitimacy at all. When people are injured, most of the responsibility lies ultimately with the government. The details are carefully hidden and abstracted.

How can I tell the difference between someone asking an honest, sincere, and stupid question, and someone who is actively trolling?

Why is it inappropriate for me to point out that someone has asked a question that indicates they aren't thinking?

On Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?, David_Z says:

RSS feed: http://nothirdsolution.com/feed/

But it's not super-awesome.

Anyways - it seems that this semantic debate once again centers around your redefinition of words which already have commonly accepted and understood definitions. Perhaps I am being to loose with my definitions, I'll concede that your definition of lawyer is certainly more precise than the one I was using, but my point remains the same: whether you call them lawyers, arbitrators, mediators, advocates or zoops, there is a service that they can conceivably provide even in the absence of government monopoly and licensure privilege.

As you've pointed out, and as I've reiterated, they earn a large amount of economic rent at the present, which portion of their income would be eliminated without the government. WE AGREE ON THIS.

I'd rather not make any more mountains out of molehills...

If you really want me to follow your blog, ENABLE FULL FEEDS! There's nothing that annoys me more than a partial feed. I really appreciate Google Reader now! If you have partial feeds, that's extra mouse-clicks that I need to read your blog. The title and first paragraph are usually not enough for me to tell if the post is worth reading. I read enough blogs that I'm getting good at skimming a post and deciding "This is worth reading" or "This is garbage". According to my Google Reader, your blog has had 5 posts that have been worth "sharing". (My "scoring" system for blogs is that I count the # of times I decided to "share" one of your posts. I also give a -1 demerit every time there's a post that makes me say "This is complete garbage!". If you're one of the leaders, you get promoted to my favorites. If you get a decent #, you get promoted to my "honorable mention" category.)

Three comments on one post? It sounds like you're reacting emotionally rather than logically.

In my vision of stateless justice, people would not need to hire an advocate to ensure a fair trial and verdict. That would be the judge's responsibility. If a judge got a reputation for being unfair, he would lose customers. Of course, you can hire an advocate if you want. If your advocate exhibited any of the behaviors normally associated with a lawyer, a good judge would kick him out of the court.

I'm looking for an answer to the following question: "Why is it a bad idea for me to point out when someone makes a comment that indicates they aren't thinking?" Also, "How can I tell the difference between someone who's merely being clueless, and someone who's being intentionally disruptive?"

This outpouring of hate has convinced me. It's a good idea to tell someone when I think they're trolling or making stupid comments.

Also, Reader Mail #22 has been one of my more popular recent posts! The evidence so far indicates that it's a good idea to point out when people are "trolling". From my point of view, I can't tell the difference between a sincere and stupid question, and a troll.

3 comments:

David_Z said...

Full feeds, have been enabled.

Apparently there is a glitch in wordpress that automatically inserts a 'more' tag into syndication feeds, even when "full text" is selected from the dashboard. Not previously a google-reader user, I had no idea. It has been amended with the applicable widget/plug-in.

Francois Tremblay said...

If you're dissapointed by the submissions so far (there are still three days left), then make an entry about it, asking people to submit their own entries. Only by making the Carnival known to the right people will we improve its quality.

gilliganscorner said...

Hello FSK,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to what is a troll.

Let me get something out of the way first. I like and respect your blog. In fact, you can count me as a regular reader. Why?

We share a number of postulations that you put forth in your blog:

* The Fed is Evil - I came to the same conclusion about the Bank of Canada, where their ability to monetize debt instruments I found frightening at first.
* The Compound Interest Paradox - I never had a good term for this, but I know exactly what it was prior to reading your article.
* Income Tax is evil. - Absolutely a universal axiom to me.
* The US is a communist society - Years ago, I had read the "Communist Manifesto" and the 10 planks ... and was startled when I read that Canada scored somewhere between 9 and 9.5 on those 10 plank definitions.

In addition to the truths above, it flowed that the media corporations and the provincial education systems were duplicite and/or accomplices to ensure that you never learn about the truths stated above. The school system teaches you squat about finance, economics and monetary theory, right when you are prime to learn about such things. If they teach you calculus, finite math, and algebra, surely your mind can handle the "Compound Interest Paradox" - but of course you are not meant to learn that.

Since I understand these things very clearly, I find that they have served me well in understanding what is going on in the world today. However, upon reading your blog, I realized the evolution of my thought process with respect to taking it to the next level had stalled.

Your blog entries crystallized a pathway into the next level. Years ago, in university, I too read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead", followed by "Atlas Shrugged". These books inspired my understanding as well. I remember particularly resonating with Hank Reardon's speech in the courtroom where he refuses to recognize the right of the court to try him and Rand's "Hymn to Money" in AS.

I would like to respond to some of the comments you made about trolling here:

"If I say "By FSK standards, your comment is trolling", maybe you should reexamine your thinking."

That would have been fine, provided that the phrase, "FSK standards, your comment is trolling" was hyperlinked to point to said standards. However, there is a widely held understanding of what trolling is - don't try to redefine it local to your blog without giving the commenter a heads-up.

For example, if you left a comment on my blog and I said:

"Your comment is retarded" or "Parts of your comment are retarded", would that initially not bother you? You might write back to me saying that you were bothered by it. If I responded to you, "Oh, by retarded, I mean pro-State thinking.", does that make sense, FSK?

Even better, come up with your own term. Something like "SETing" = State Embedded Thinking. For example:

"Your comment is SETing" or "Parts of your comment are SETing" - with a hyperlink that links back to a blog entry explaining what that is...your readers will appreciate it and say, if they are intelligent, "Hey, FSK is right. I gotta work on that".

Isn't that the greatest compliment you can be paid on your writings is it not? That you actually are enlightening, educating, and informing your readers? That is why you write your blog, is it not? To share your thoughts and develop a distilled reader base?

W.r.t your comment: You attributed to me that I said (paraphrased) "Big government is needed to prevent people from hurting themselves."

I never said that in my previous comment. What I said was:
"Should the government ever legislate policy to prevent people from making choices that hurt the environment?".

People usually act their own self-interest. They can prevent themselves, in general, from hurting themselves just fine. Well, except for people who smoke, but they do it as they don't perceive it is a health problem, until it their doctor tells them they have cancer. Then they quit.

Certainly no government is needed to uselessly legislate anything to keep people from hurting themselves. And certainly, the government is a failure at enacting and enforcing legislation that prevents people from hurting the environment. What I should have said was, "How would conflict be resolved and punishment enforced in a stateless free market? Would an arbitrating body need to be instated? If so, how would that mechanism work?"

W.r.t your comment about CFLs being tossed in the garbage. I agree with you about the costs of people doing that being externalized to the state. You responded that, in a stateless free market, the garbage collector should get angry with you for doing so.

If the private garbage collector isn't held accountable for what he dumps in his privately owned land, will he care? If the garbage collector picks up 100s of tons of garbage a week, how does he process it to know who put what in what garbage bag? When he takes the garbage to his privately owned land and dumps toxic garbage on that land that might take years to seep into the water table and flow into his neighbors land, what forces mitigate that risk? In other words, in a stateless free market, how do you set up mechanisms to ensure that it becomes the private garbage collectors self-interest not to accept or dump toxic waste?

Next, When you say "People can't be trusted to individually make correct decisions." - I stand by that statement. However, that does not mean that I support the notion that there should be a government that enforces it. Essentially, what I know about most (not all) people is that (a) they will generally act in their own self interest and (b) in the absence of a strong moral and ethical value system, if they can get away with something that causes harm, without being held accountable for it, they will do it, driven by hedonistic tendencies.

Let me illustrate. Most of us would not kill a polar bear for laughs. That is a direct causal relationship most of us internalize and see as reality. However, most people (not me) would fly to Disney and mindlessly consume the entertainment there. Let's assume that doing so it creates a huge carbon footprint that causes polar icecaps to melt. Polar bears need ice to catch seals to survive. If the ice is gone, they starve and die. All of us, acting in concert, made a decision that caused the polar bears to die. However, since the cause/effect is so remote, no one takes responsibility for what they do, unless one has been (a) taught a strong moral and ethical sense with respect to their actions and (b) as a result, doesn't disregard that value system to indulge in the hedonistic urge to partake of the Disney experience.

Common tort law implies that (a) there is a body that will maintain the law book and continue it's evolution, and (b) a body that will enforce punishment.

How is this addressed in a stateless free market? The government certainly isn't doing it and should be abolished (for many reasons besides this one) so I don't look to that as a solution at all.

You ask: "This is a very difficult decision. Should I tell someone when they are thinking like a fool, or should I not?"

Define fool. Most people, even intelligencia, do not define fool as a "pro-State thinker". Common convention dictates fool is a derogatory term without any real specifics. This goes back to my troll suggestion. Invent your own terminology and post a glossary of terms on your blog.

My point is, if I comment on your posts and call you a fool without stating why, what are you to do with that other than be annoyed?

If you show your readership respect, they will return that a hundredfold to you. This comes from first hand experience.

I have taken "fools" that initially started out with inflammatory posts to my articles. I was patient with them and finally got them to concede to my points and state that they needed to review their thinking. As a result of treating that "troll" with respect and winning him over, a number of silent readers were impressed with that, said so, and were encouraged to ask me additional questions.

Guess what? I built a readership that way.

By the way, as I said, great blog!

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