Thursday, 19 May 2011

Gadfly, Not "Troll"

There are individuals who appear on blogs from time to time who post gratuituously irrelevant and/or nonsensical comments. Such people used to be commonly identified as "trolls" (luckily I have never had any here on my blog). What has happened at these sorts of places however is that the use of the term "troll" has been generalized to encompass those posters whose comments are substantially relevant to the discussion but which explicitly challenge either the premises, arguments, claims or conclusions of those hosting that discussion. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of the right to property and its' application in prohibiting people from posting, but what I despise is the basic dishonesty of deliberately conflating a relevant, substantive, rationally argued challenge, which naturally evokes some emotional discomfort, with the gratuitous and irrelevant nonsense actually intended to inflame for no other reason than entertainment. That conflation is an evasion of intellectual responsibility, an evasion of the imperatives demanded by the virtues of accuracy, sincerity and integrity to Socratic dialectic.

Call them on it every single time.

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