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Amen Michael! Amen! - AOD

P.S. Though I couldn't include all the known cognitive distortions in my list, I should have found room for "mind reading,", because this one is so prevalent online.

As the name implies, mind reading consists of assuming that you know what the other person is "really" thinking. For instance, any online criticism of Barack Obama, no matter how specific and substantive, will inevitably be met with the riposte, "You're a racist." On the other side of the aisle, if you criticize conservative ideas on a right-wing blog, you will quickly be called "a Soros-paid troll." (I've been stigmatized by this appellation myself. It reflects the far-right-wing conviction that leftist billionaire financier George Soros personally employs a small army of Internet commenters to leave pro-Obama and anti-Republican messages online.)

Mind reading is especially pernicious because it implicitly degrades the other person. In effect, the mind-reader is saying, "Your stated views are merely camouflage for some other, far less acceptable position, and the more you deny it, the more you prove it's true."

How can you say all these terrible things about me, Michael? You're evil—I can feel it in my heart.

Posts like this just prove what I've been saying all along: the world is headed for destruction.

I'd say more, but I have several other online arguments to attend to.

I think much of always needing to be right comes from our education system putting a huge emphasis on scoring well in tests and associating being wrong with failure, and making failure seem like the worst thing in the world. This creates environments where people have to save face as much as possible and do whatever they can to avoid looking wrong.

High schools should have a mandatory critical-thinking class.

Also, I think the Internet also fosters the rise of non-credible people as "authorities." For instance, there's that actress (forget her name) who advocates for no vaccines. Conversely, people who've spent years studying and researching a particular discipline are dismissed. People who couldn't locate a particular country in the Middle East on a map are foreign-policy "experts." Etc.

Well done Michael!

Indeed, same old mob mentality is alive and well - now at DSL speed.

There's also the Golden Mean Fallacy. Just because a position is in the middle doesn't mean it's right. Sometimes the extreme position IS correct. In the early United States, for example, believers in full abolition of slavery and women's suffrage were considered radicals but today their positions are universally accepted. What ideas which are radical/crazy today will, with retrospect, be acknowledged by later generations as self-evident?

Internet trolls: the Flamer Personality Disorder
amasci.com/weird/flamer.html‎

But there's a good side to the interaction of the mentally ill and the Internet, one which is generally overlooked: the sickoes get pushback, and sometimes they modify their behavior as a result. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, wrote words to that effect. He said that Internet comments may provide the first time a narcissist has received sharp and on-target criticism in his life; the first time he hasn't been able to win by storm.

Roger said:

"But there's a good side to the interaction of the mentally ill and the Internet . . . "

What follows is an interesting point Roger, and it got me rethinking this:

". . . the Internet allows people to hang out in isolated echo chambers and groupthink ghettos where their own biases are constantly reinforced."

While I think this is true, Michael, couldn't exactly the opposite argument also be made? That the internet allows people access to ideas and ways of thinking that their (pick one) family, nation, religion, or social milieu wouldn't otherwise expose them to?

In that respect, I think it might be hard to determine whether the internet is more of a positive or negative force.

My guess is that it's meaningless to ask whether the internet, like other forms of communication—writing, books, radio, the telephone, TV, etc—is, bottom line, a good or bad influence. (Not that your post was attempting to do this.)

I see this as analogous to how the spirit world experiments with various physical forms—plants, animals, humans—for the purpose of exploring many ways of being.

Or how painters have evolved different styles over the centuries. Is impressionism better than classical realism? Hardly. And for those who like it, neither is it worse. It's just different. And variation is what the universe seems to crave.

Great post Michael. I've been surprised how many times materialist fundies will point out why people believe things in spite of evidence and argument but then bristle when it's pointed out how they are under the grip of the very delusions they criticize.

I find the trigger warning concept stemming from the more legitimate concern of minority depiction - which was terrible - but having gone overboard. Just as the religiously deluded Right tried to censor artistic expression and discussion the Left has fallen to a similar disease. Most unfortunate.

The problem with the internet is that it acts like a filter: with the lure of anonymity and lack of consequences, people can reveal their true selves, and that brings forth heartwarming generosity and kindness, and terrifying hate and vitriol. I think the internet is a second life where we go to escape from the pressures, worries, and responsibilities of daily life to seek out our own interests by forming little clubhouses, so to speak, where people of similar interests gather and share ideas. Anyone who threatens those clubhouses is seen as a nuisance that needs to be chased away. After all, if you find something that uplifts you and makes you happy (like a heartwarming story of a monkey saving a dog from a fire, or a particularly inspiring NDE), the last thing you want to hear is, "No, that's wrong, and here's why." You aren't likely to think, "Oh, he has a point. I'd better consider his opinion and the evidence presented to make an informed conclusion." You're more likely to think, "Shut the hell up and go away, you fun-Nazi!"

Still, this polarization does offer one advantage: It offers the perfect training ground to practice critical thinking, to not taking everything at face value, and to consider the agendas and bias of the authors you're reading.

SPatel: Agreed on trigger warnings. The road to hell is paved with good intentions...

"a second life where we go to escape from the pressures, worries, and responsibilities of daily life to seek out our own interests by forming little clubhouses, so to speak, where people of similar interests gather and share ideas. Anyone who threatens those clubhouses is seen as a nuisance that needs to be chased away."

I wonder if the afterlife could be like this in part, so some souls build beautiful art projects out of space-time while less imaginative souls congregate in little enclosures dressed up (perhaps self consciously) to resemble the after life of a particular religion.

Might explain the NDEs that, in fact, end up contradicting each other on specifics but manage to involve very mundane economics of spirit -> "worship the right way or be damned forever".

Though it's entirely possible certain religions where God commands genocide/slavery/war were inspired or raised up by mind parasites or some other demonic entity....or it could all just made up by evil humans who fooled others...

MP: "And then there are financial sites that see every market correction as the first step toward total economic, social, and political collapse, . . ."

Their stopped-clock's time is coming--this year.

Bruce and Ian covered two key points I was going to make:

Bruce:

||While I think this is true, Michael, couldn't exactly the opposite argument also be made? That the internet allows people access to ideas and ways of thinking that their (pick one) family, nation, religion, or social milieu wouldn't otherwise expose them to?||

I think this is absolutely true, *plus* it also plays into Michael's point about echo chambers. People get exposed to different view online, and some will "get it" and embrace a more varied and cosmopolitan view of things, and some will *not* get it, perhaps react with extreme fear to our big, multipolar world, and retreat ever more firmly into the waiting echo chamber. In effect, the Internet forces everyone to make a choice between being a more modern and yes "evolved" person or less so.

Compare to the old days, when Walter Conkrite delivered a version of things that did respect the facts but also was a kind of middle-of-the-road view. Not a sharp, daring, or really critical perspective. There could be more cohesion in such a society but also more stagnation, since people's true opinions on things never got flushed out. (That's an oversimplification. There were also politically extreme publications and organizations, but people had to put more effort into getting into them.)

On the whole, I think the Internet is a big net positive, but it does make the ugly side of society and individuals much more apparent.

Oh, and I laughed at Bruce's first post. Nicely done!

Ian:

||The problem with the internet is that it acts like a filter: with the lure of anonymity and lack of consequences, people can reveal their true selves, and that brings forth heartwarming generosity and kindness, and terrifying hate and vitriol.||

Yes. There is one large, popular message board where I participate anonymously (for practical reasons, not to misbehave), but elsewhere I write under my real name and "own" my words and behavior online.

||I think the internet is a second life where we go to escape from the pressures, worries, and responsibilities of daily life to seek out our own interests by forming little clubhouses, so to speak, where people of similar interests gather and share ideas. Anyone who threatens those clubhouses is seen as a nuisance that needs to be chased away.||

Right, we want to create our own realities where we feel comfortable. I think this blog does a good job of avoiding that, or at least of striking a fair balance between having enough variance of opinion within a core of shared beliefs.

Oh, forgot to say to Michael: Great post! I think it's an apt breakdown of many psychological factors at work.

Matt said:

"Compare to the old days, when Walter Conkrite delivered a version of things that did respect the facts but also was a kind of middle-of-the-road view. Not a sharp, daring, or really critical perspective. There could be more cohesion in such a society but also more stagnation, since people's true opinions on things never got flushed out."

Yep—that was the 50's for you! I'm sill getting over it.

"Oh, and I laughed at Bruce's first post."

Thanks. It's fun playing the troll!

The most concise lucid description of the dynamics of the internet "angry poster pathology" nice job Michal

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