The Troll – From the Internet to the Real World

A friend wrote the following about a politically left person whom I would characterize as a troll: “I love the way you always ignore the crux of my argument and go after some little tidbit that you can try to paint as extreme…”
 
That’s the way those who are logically fallacious “argue.” It’s certainly not logical discourse. They’re beyond any sort of intellectually redeeming conversation. I can’t tell you how many drive-by-shooters (trolls) like him I’ve booted off message forums over the years. They have zero interest in the truth, much less reality as a whole. They only want one of two things: A) to be heard, find some thread of their insanity validated, or B) to irritate, annoy, bait or anger others who believe differently than themselves.
 
Either way, they’re booted because they contribute next to nothing to the conversation while wasting a lot of people’s time.
 
The only reason I dive into the fray on forums like Facebook where I can’t infract or boot them is as a way to highlight their fallacies to others. People who aren’t used to spending a lot of time engaged in logical discourse are often easily sucked into the mindless void of trolls.
 
I’m working with various entities who hold sway over educational curricula to encourage them to reintroduce logical discourse into the classroom. If we can’ bring the Bible back into schools, then at least we should be teaching kids how to logically, properly separate the chaff from the wheat so that they’re not so prone to allow their ears to be tickled by sweet-sounding but logically void political platforms.
In the meantime, 15 Free Internet Troll Images by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D., is an outstanding resource, not only for the images, but also for understanding the psychotic range of trolls from merely dysfunctional to predatory and even downright murderous.  As he points out, while not all tolls are “personality disordered,” most of them do exhibit one or more traits ranging from machiavellian, sadistic, psychopathic and narcissistic.
Then there’s this YouTube video, which I highly recommend…

Now that we’ve learned about Internet Trolls and their psychotic baggage, let’s please take a moment to realize that many of the people you see engaging in disruptive and sometimes violent behavior against others live hidden lives as Internet trolls, where they’d engaged in the same disruptive behavior online for years, even decades.  Having been a message forum administrator for many years off and on since the 1980s, I have encountered, engaged with, wrestled with, been frustrated by, and occasionally had to give Internet trolls the boot.

I’d always hoped, and still do, that someone who presents as a troll is salvageable, and many of them are, usually through the art of civil discourse, as best exemplified in recent times by Ben Shapiro’s appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher:

I mean, Wow!  These two, clearly opposites in political belief, and both clearly masters, nevertheless respect one another and the arts of both logical discourse, political discourse, and civil discourse enough to carry on a largely unscripted conversation in front of not only a live audience carrying heavy antipathy towards Shapiro, but in front of the entire world via YouTube…  My “wow” factor involves what I see as Shapiro having both more accurate information, a greater sense of objectivity with his “If…  then impeachment should be on the table,” and a greater capacity to avoid Maher’s downfall, which was dodging Shapiro’s clean and clear points by raising another conundrum.

So…  Who’s the troll, here?  Shapiro or Maher?

While the audience, who clearly sides with Maher would say Shapiro is the troll…

“Yes, Bill, you do have to “pick one.” No human being with Trump’s history and current position can be both an “evil genius” and a “dufus (doofus).”

If he was a dufus, he’d never have managed to leverage his father’s wealth into significantly more wealth nor corral the votes of We the People of the greatest nation on Earth (to date – what we do from here on out remains to be seen).

But if he was an evil genius, why would he have forfeited earning billions more in his limelight in service to his nation?

Hey, gee! Logical discourse 101, here: Perhaps he’s NEITHER. Here’s WHY:

Options:

1. He’s an evil genius, but not a dufus: As per my above answer, “why would he have forfeited earning billions more in his limelight in service to his nation?” So… NO.

2. He’s a dufus, but not an evil genius: His many competitors in high-stakes corporate New York real estate and financial industries would have stripped him of his wealth long ago. Again… NO.

3. He’s both: Uh… Duh… Only an idealistic dufus like Maher would ever imagine the two could ever coexist, so… NO.

4: He’s neither. Genius, yes. Evil, no. Genius, hence not a dufus. You know, this pretty much describes many modern businessmen. Not the evil ones. But certainly the genius ones.

So, Bill – I WAS WRONG. Answer #4 is correct. But you’re wrong, as he’s certainly not both. That’s an oxymoron. Trump is merely neither an “evil” genius nor a dufus.

BUT… He may very well be both a genius and a bit of a buffoon with respect to his incessant tweets.

Thanks for reading/watching/listening and have a nice day.

Lesser of Two Evils Fallacy

This morning I came across yet another shining example of the Lesser of Two Evils Fallacy.  This fallacy’s premise is simple:  “When you vote for the Lesser of Two Evils Fallacylesser of two evils, evil always wins.”  On the face of it, that has a ring of truth, doesn’t it?  Yet only very shallow thinkers stop there and run with it, or spend all day coming up with cool-looking graphics like this one from Freedom Info.  Those who bother to think just a bit deeper might say, “Well, no.  If people vote for the lesser of two evils, then the lesser evil wins.”  And now, we’re finally getting somewhere.  But the truth is actually a good deal more profound, as we shall soon see!

I call this a fallacy because it’s based on a faulty premise and employs faulty logic.  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fallacy is “a false or mistaken idea.”  More accurately, it’s “an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference.  Furthermore, the term plausible only means that it is “appearing worthy of belief.”  Something that’s plausible may look good on the surface, but such superficial appearance can be deceptive, and conveys absolutely no warranty whatsoever about the actual state of affairs under the hood.  Things might be good, they might be bad, or in the case of the Lesser of Two Evils Fallacy, we find they’re dead wrong.

As Dr. Jeremy E. Sherman notes in Psychology Today, the Lesser of Two Evils fallacy is “actually the lesser of two disappointing choices.”  He notes how we apply the lesser of two evils rule in many areas of our lives, yet reject it completely when we head to the poles.  The problem comes down to consumerism.  When it comes to products and services, we have a cornucopia from which to choose, but in elections, it often comes down to just two people, neither of whom floats out boat.  As a result, we’re so disappointed in the the choices that we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater, meaning we see the entire process as evil because it fails to produce more palatable choices.  I have a sneaking suspicion this phenomenon is great exacerbated by the media constantly poisoning the well against one candidate, the other, or in some cases, both candidates in their money-grubbing clawing for ratings and advertising revenue taking precedence over objective journalism.

In his rather insightful article, “Fallacy Detective: Three Assumptions Made by ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ Voters,” Tobin Duby correctly identifies errant assumptions and the logical fallacies committed by those making the assumptions:

The “Lesser of Two Evils” reasoning fails to differentiate the person from his policies.  Fallacy: Red Herring, Ad Hominem.  Most people vote for politicians based on how they perceive their personal character, and not based on their actual policies or voting record.  As Duby notes, moral character is important, but competence is just as important.  A good man can bankrupt the nation just as fast as a bad man if neither one does the right things.

The “Lesser of Two Evils” reasoning restricts the argument to the current presidential term.  Fallacy: Framing the Debate.  Put simply, this falsely assumes both candidates will be on the ballot four years from now.  As Duby notes, “By framing the debate, [voters] are accepting a lesser good now and rejecting a greater good later.”

The “Lesser of Two Evils” reasoning assumes that there are only two options.  Fallacy: Exigency, Either/Or.  Again, put simply, voting requires both moral and practical decisions, yet the Lesser of Two Evils fallacy only considers the moral aspects.  From a practical standpoint, if there are only two candidates, then there are only two candidates!  Pick one.  You can either pick the candidate you think would do more good for the nation or you can pick the candidate you think would do less harm to the nation.

The problem with most people who buy into the “Evil Always Wins” fallacy is they view both candidates as poor choices, yet refuse to accept responsibility for minimizing damage.  That’s like a homeowner, seeing his house on fire opting to do nothing because the greater evil is that his home burns to the ground but the lesser evil is that his home winds up half-burned and neither option is acceptable to him so he does nothing.  It’s irrational, and to the extreme.

Interestingly enough, I just presented two different arguments.  Did you catch the difference?

The first says “when you vote for the lesser of two evils, evil always wins” is a logical fallacy.

The second says, “voting for the lesser of two evils” is a logical fallacy.

Well…  Which is it?

To answer that question, we really need to examine reality itself, namely, the three situations where we see this meme appear in federal elections.

First, here’s a situation we are very unlikely to see:  When we have multiple candidates favored by many people in both parties.  If Tom, Dick, and Harry ran, and all three were independents of good moral character and promising platforms, and they appealed roughly equally to both conservatives and liberals, we would never see the “…Evil Always Wins” meme.  That meme is only pushed forward by those who see both candidates as evil, and then, only by those who do not understand the nature of their logical fallacy.  Even so, the meme will still surface, as some people will see only two plausible options, both evil, or they may see all three as evil.

Second Situation:  Two candidates, one from each major political party.  The meme will surface.

Third Situation:  Three candidates, one from each major political party, and one who is either independent or running on a third party ticket.  The meme will surface.

So you see, regardless of whether we have just one candidate, two candidates, or even three or more candidates, we will always see this logically fallacious meme, for the simple reason that some people, ignorant of reality and the way things actually work, will see the one, two, or three or more candidates as being evil, and will employ this meme as their way of avoiding responsibility to minimize the damage by actually selecting the best (or least worst) candidate.

If there were more people who thought deeply, instead of people who avoid responsibility, we would undoubtedly have a better selection of candidates!