How Trolls Ruin Your Ability to Reason

Troll_Face_-_Internet_Meme,_May_2013Next time you want to call someone on the Internet an idiot or child, remember that you’re strengthening their opinion.  Chris Mooney writes at Mother Jones:

In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science. Participants were asked to read a blog post containing a balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology (which is already all around us and supports a $91 billion US industry). The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were “civil”—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you’re an idiot.”

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn’t a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.

In the context of the psychological theory of motivated reasoning, this makes a great deal of sense. Based on pretty indisputable observations about how the brain works, the theory notes that people feel first, and think second. The emotions come faster than the “rational” thoughts—and also shape the retrieval of those thoughts from memory. Therefore, if reading insults activates one’s emotions, the “thinking” process may be more likely to be defensive in nature, and focused on preserving one’s identity and preexisting beliefs.

Read more here.  And chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self.

103 Comments on "How Trolls Ruin Your Ability to Reason"

  1. Rudeness is cause for getting flustered, which can affect the fight or flight mechanism. This can lead towards a literal lowering of IQ.

    • Simon Valentine | May 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

      not the sole case 🙂
      excuse me
      not in the troll case :}
      “yes, yes i WILL keep sticking furks in the socket!”

      • A BolE fur braking fASSt… Om N0m n0M!

        • Simon Valentine | May 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm |

          game on ;o

          • Simon Valentine | May 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm |

            there’s also that purple 2ish frame gif dude that i can’t find who’s been in meme channels … durn …

          • Seizure

          • Simon Valentine | May 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

            before Psych 101 class i used to sit in the bench across the doors in the hallway and you know people walk in the middle and not by the walls right? so the carpet gets mucked in the middle? it was darker and trodden but i could stare at it and abstract my peripheral vision or whatever and make it all look the same ‘clean’ pattern 😉 i can also hold all these still but they are then out of focus. haven’t practiced keeping them both in focus and not moving. focus probably has to do with the illusion. try each eye on its own!

          • You just thwarted the illuminati and saved the planet. Will you now go to Disney World?

          • Calypso_1 | May 17, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

            Can you mentally control stroboscopic temporal aliasing while staring at a ceiling fan?

          • I can, but only if the fan is off.

          • Calypso_1 | May 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

            Wow, you have some very interesting trans-saccadic processing abilities.

          • Simon Valentine | May 18, 2013 at 10:31 am |

            i’ve messed with it a little bit, i got pretty good at “spin left” “spin right” or “flip flop” with the infamous spinning lady silhouette, for awhile. so having played strategy games and having that nodule of control i don’t consider it so much to the control side of things in fan cases. fun stuff though. oh. something about natural neural bypass modules that compensate for latency and other artifactual effects? if necessary, cuz really, if it’s all aether and math, crumpled around nothing, it could be A LOT simpler than neural network neurons or chemistry.

            this reminds me of the curious “speed up effect” or “sudden ultra perfect graphic ‘syndrome’ (fun)”. some motion pictures that seem to arbitrary ‘run very fast’, but it feels strange. and sometimes video game graphics seem to drastically ‘be perfect’ or ‘be ugly as a 2 sided polygon’. and i’m not talking on drugs here, i’ve gone without any since this caffeine, heh, so, 4 months or whatnot. marijuana and time lapse effects wereare of huge interest to me.

          • That’s possibly the best comment ever posted on Disinfo.

        • Anarchy Pony | May 18, 2013 at 12:26 am |

          HA! Troll Hunter was awesome.

          • I’ve yet to watch it, but my Scandinavian friend said I must. I found a English dubbed version. I may want to get the original with subs.

            I have heard good things about Rare Export as well.

          • Anarchy Pony | May 18, 2013 at 1:13 am |

            If you’ve got the netflix, I do believe they’re both up on the instant stream.

          • Anarchy Pony | May 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

            Holy shit, where’d all those downvotes come from? It must have been a troll raid or something.

          • It happened around the witching hour.

    • David Duke-Astin | May 19, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      why the downvotes? seems very reasonable to me. Being confronted with rudeness (as designed) indeed causes things to happen in the brain.

  2. So instead of arguing with your opponents, you should troll your allies, thereby strengthening their positions.

  3. What a buncha assholes.

      • The Well Dressed Man | May 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

        I am the arm!

        • Calypso_1 | May 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

          I am the Dweller on the Threshold.

          • The Well Dressed Man | May 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm |

            I’d forgotten the Dweller was mentioned toward the end of the second season. Was our man from Missoula referencing HPL and HPB?

          • Calypso_1 | May 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

            Hobgoblins, giving rise to patterns, vulnerability to attack, wounds – each to the other.
            Knights will skirmish
            Lanes of Power & Influence will open to
            Bishops and Rooks
            Pawns will naturally be forfeit.
            Prepare to sacrifice the Queen.
            The Goal, Will be attained at any cost.
            The King Must Die.

            Clearly a man of no small spiritual advancement attempts to contact some entity.
            Keep your eyes peeled.
            Sharpened stones work well in other worlds as well.
            As begins the passage of utter annihilation.

            hmmm. I’ve never really placed much on the idea that there is a significant Lovecraft influence on his work. The nihilism just isn’t there for me.
            Lynch & Lovecraft are both so much about mood and I get a very different one from each.

            Most of the Dweller concepts I’ve read came from Steiner – so I guess that would be more Theosophical, but I don’t think you can lay the concept solely at the feet of HPB.
            The great thing about Lynch (and I’ve always assumed he wanted it this way) is how you can graft on your own interpretations. If there had been a 3rd TP season there was supposed to be much more on the Dweller/Doppelganger.
            I never saw the Lodge as pure Good/Evil.
            More of a Chapel Perilous.
            BOB is EVIL but he is out of the Black Lodge’s control. The idea that Mike was once part of the Black Lodge (or still is) but is in the service of the White Lodge shows how the pieces can change position. (The arm a pawn sacrificed? There are so many aspects of multiple personalities in this work. The Dwarf [so very Rumpelstiltskin – rattle ghost – indian war cry, wrinkled foreskin, circumcision, lost arm – all the elements of incest w/Leland) attendant to ascended Laura, pawn -> queen.)
            The Giant as well is supposed to be Black Lodge but is obviously not portrayed as evil.
            So you get into Steiner’s ideas of the Sons of Fire, which is connected to pretty standard Gnostic fare – bestowal of gifts onto humanity. In this case actually ‘riding/inhabiting’ primitive man’s bodies in order to prepare him for higher consciousness etc. “Fire Walk with Me”
            Given the access to the Lodge through planetary alignment I always took the ‘many rooms’ of the Lodge to be an astrological reference.

            That Cooper was not destroyed by his confrontation with the Dweller but is instead held within the Lodge I always felt that He was ‘recruited’ into the Lodge as part of some cosmic balancing act.

          • The Well Dressed Man | May 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

            🙂 Nice work Calypso! I’m usually kind of fatigued by the time I get to the last few episodes, and so much narrative was truncated/compressed by the abrupt ending.

            True story: once I was walking up a very dim, twisty staircase in an Italian restaurant, with red carpeting, red wallpaper and neoclassical statues in alcoves. Around a corner, I encountered the dwarf on his way downstairs. He was either actor Michael Anderson, or someone else with the same Osteogenesis Imperfecta symptoms. I seriously thought I was hallucinating, and stopped and stared like an ass.

          • Calypso_1 | May 20, 2013 at 11:51 am |

            Heh, probably was Anderson. I’ll bet he hangs around just for the Lulz.

            I have to admit I actually have notes on TP…so it wasn’t too hard to grab some dialog.
            On a slight sequitur – Anderson, Americana mythoscapes, et al: Did you enjoy Carnivàl? WTF is it that we are continuously denied the full epic sweep of American weirdness?!

          • The Well Dressed Man | May 21, 2013 at 1:05 am |

            He appeared to be dancing down the stairs due to asymmetrical limbs. I even thought I heard the clarinets and finger snaps.

            Didn’t see Carnival. I’m years and years behind in video media. Worth checking out?

          • Calypso_1 | May 22, 2013 at 10:00 am |

            Yes check it out, at the very least for Anderson in a lead role. But it is incredible in its own right. If you like Lynch you will appreciate.

      • You know, many of the people I interpret for have only one word in their own language, (Spanish) for the appendage that starts at the shoulder and ends at the fingertips. That word is “hand/mano.” I swear to you, they will point to their elbow, shoulder, forearm or bicep and say “hand/mano.” Same with the leg, to many of them, it is all “foot/pie.” My jaw hit the floor the first time I encountered this. I am used to it now. It is something I encounter pretty regularly, at least once a week.
        My sister did not believe me until she encountered the very same thing in her practice. She refers to them as “people with few body parts.”
        Not PC, I know, but still true.

        • Simon Valentine | May 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

          the feeling of wholesome is pervasive
          modulation i encounter with automobiles
          to many people, intricacies it seems are not well for their function
          i encounter many reactions to it but also have many variables that are part of myself that affect the moments
          some people are offendedtwerkedfurledangered by ‘introduction of intricate data’ (submodulation) while others are intriguedswoonfascinatedinterested or even left baffled or confused like something had gave them a concussion. i try to keep my notions with it because it tends to a cross environment currently and i’m trying to help change that. thank you for sharing 🙂

          • I had to learn to deal with what was and not be overtly nonplussed. Hiding my reactions to things is not one of my strong suits. Hopefully, I’ve gotten better at it over the years.

        • Calypso_1 | May 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

          I came across this little challenge teaching CQC to indigs.

          • CQC?

          • Calypso_1 | May 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

            Close Quarter Combatives

          • As in hand to hand combat, or dealing with agro mental patients?

          • Calypso_1 | May 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

            The former which has on occasions been a good skill set for the latter. Different ‘plan of care’ but body intelligence adapts to those parameters.

          • Indeed:)

          • Matt Staggs | May 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

            One of my buddies teaches techniques to manage aggressive behavior to psychiatric workers. He’s recently started training in Sambo and Jiu-Jitsu on the side.

          • Calypso_1 | May 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

            Is he working in one of those ‘approved’ methods the insurance companies & lawyers like?

            Teach 3 ‘idiot proof’ holds & call a code for show of force : )

            Edit PS:
            Sambo is awesome

        • The Well Dressed Man | May 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

          era como si por un brazo oculto…

        • BuzzCoastin | May 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

          Croatian only has one word for all insects

          we are limited by our language
          most can only think about and describe their world with words
          (word = world)
          without enough words
          our imagination and intellect are stifled
          our options are limited

          In the beginning was The Word
          and The Word was made flesh.

          • Spanish obviously has words for shoulder, elbow, forearm, and wrist, these people just do not know them.

          • BuzzCoastin | May 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

            Entiendo gracias
            that’s my point

            what is the next form of government, if any
            beyond republican democracy to be called?
            what is the word that describes self-sufficiency?
            it’s autarky
            who knew that?

            wee lack for a lack of words
            the fuel of imagination

            You must borrow me Gargantua’s mouth first: ’tis a
            word too great for any mouth of this age’s size. To
            say ay and no to these particulars is more than to
            answer in a catechism.

          • Rabelais is rambling Gargauntuan blasphemies at passersby, all the while Bakhtin beckons, to the Carnival, to the Carnival . . .

          • BuzzCoastin | May 19, 2013 at 4:56 am |

            Sobre un claro oscuro, entre vida y muerte,
            Un aroma a rosas llega desde el mar.
            La gente está preocupada porque están sintiendo
            Al revés, y aunque la radio no diga nada todos
            Saben por qué. cangrejos plateados la luna han
            Robado y no la quieren devolver.
            El pueblo espera en silencio que al regreso de la
            Marea el olor a rosas vuelva, como ayer.

            Entre un claro oscuro, entre vida y muerte,
            Un olor a rosas llega desde el mar.

            Un olor a rosas llega desde el mar.
            Ruben Blades – Claro Oscuro

    • Simon Valentine | May 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

      Googling assholes and elbows isn’t entirely necessarily possibly even maybe recommended.

  4. BuzzCoastin | May 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm |

    if you take internet discuss boards seriously
    you might need a troll or two to help you snap out of it

  5. David Duke-Astin | May 18, 2013 at 9:32 am |

    understanding of science is certainly damaged by some of the commenters around here. the capacity to fail basic science is astounding. did people not go to high school?

    • Simon Valentine | May 18, 2013 at 10:08 am |

      in soviet russia, high school…
      is too german

      pi = 4 and evidence is (a) fallacy of extension
      ..which is (a) fallacy of extension for a nondistinct, undisclosed parameter
      they said “science”
      i said “fallacy of practicality”
      then they wrote “i am an alchemist” 1000 times on the chalkboard until we were all happy and not offended and actually talking with each other about useful stuff and spies

    • Anarchy Pony | May 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

      Amusing that some one calling themselves instafaggot would wear a cloak of superiority. Obvious troll is obvious.

      • You mean “Ironic Troll is ironic.”

      • David Duke-Astin | May 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |

        personal attacks are very trolly

      • Matt Staggs | May 22, 2013 at 9:22 am |

        It’s a hard call to make regarding that name. Is it a reappropriation of a hurtful term by a gay guy? At what point do you draw the line? *Instafaggot* has contributed his or her share of insightful comments, and I think is a net gain to the community, but the name is definitely problematic.

        • Anarchy Pony | May 22, 2013 at 11:34 am |

          Well that was the first time I ever saw the name before, so I jumped to conclusions. I’m sorry, teacher.

          • Matt Staggs | May 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

            Don’t get touchy, My Good Pony. I’m just sharing my thought process and agreeing with your indirect observation that the name is definitely problematic and maybe a bit trollish.

  6. kowalityjesus | May 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |

    “The emotions come faster than the “rational” thoughts”

    Yeah, if this site were a matter of instant wit, I would have been shown a fool of many many times over. Fortunately, I can take full advantage of my well-developed espirit de l’escalier and make thoroughly composed responses well in succession to my flustered and juvenile emotional state. God hath endowed me with the faculties to appear unusually intelligent on the internet, yay for not living in a different era.

  7. Noah_Nine | May 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

    I am a member of several private facebook groups that encourage trolling… the idea is to be as rude and nasty (and witty) as possible… i find it to be very therapeutic… I can get the trollish urges out of my system which makes it easier be civil with the square population.

  8. howiebledsoe | May 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

    You are all idiots. OK, off to chuch….

  9. Bummer that the link to the .pdf file is 404.

  10. I got this when I clicked the link to the study.
    404 | Page Not Found!

  11. Calypso_1 | May 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

    So you actually have a page devoted to Matt Staggs stalking you…..

    The stalking behavior is painfully obvious & you project it on to your victims.

    You Need Help. You are on a crash course with a bitter outcome of your own creation.

    I will reply to you no further on this board, or any other form of communication. Let this be an actual & final declaration that any further contact or use of previous communications in published format to declare self-persecution will be viewed as harassment on your part.

  12. Jonas Planck | May 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

    Ah, they’ve discovered my secret. Time to change tactics again… Wait a second… What’s with all these downvotes on seemingly innocuous comments below? Is this some strange unfamiliar ritual, or do they represent all the trolls who tried to post, but had their comments scrubbed? Hmmm… there appears to be 23 of them.

  13. Eric Smith | Jun 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

    Calling people names like deniers is classic intel tactics. It
    was the oil companies who came with the ‘denier’ insult.

    Opposing Views on Global Warming: The Corporate Climate Coup

    by Prof. David F. Noble – York University, Toronto, Canada

    The second -“positive”- campaign, which emerged a decade
    later, in the wake of Kyoto and at the height of the
    anti-globalization movement, sought to get out ahead of the
    environmental issue by affirming it only to hijack it and turn it
    to corporate advantage. Modelled on a century of corporate
    liberal cooptation of popular reform movements and regulatory
    regimes, it aimed to appropriate the issue in order to moderate
    its political implications, thereby rendering it compatible with
    corporate economic, geopolitical, and ideological interests. The
    corporate climate campaign thus emphasized the primacy of “market-based”
    solutions while insisting upon uniformity and predictability in
    mandated rules and regulations.

    At the same time it hyped the global climate issue into an
    obsession, a totalistic preoccupation with which to divert
    attention from the radical challenges of the global-justice
    movement. In the wake of this campaign, any and all opponents of
    the “deniers” have been identified – and, most importantly,
    have wittingly or unwittingly identified themselves – with the
    corporate climate crusaders.

  14. Presqu Ile | Aug 9, 2013 at 10:07 am |

    ‘Nanotechnology’ isn’t ‘science’ it’s profitable technology. Real science is rigourous and would have necessitated studying them extensively before they became a 91billion$ industry that will potentially pollute everything known irretrievably. It never ceases to amaze me how ‘hi-tech crapitalism’ is being mistaken for ‘science’.

  15. NicolasBourbaki | Oct 1, 2013 at 2:26 am |

    “Next time you want to call someone on the Internet an idiot or child, remember that you’re strengthening their opinion.”

    Actually, that is not what the study found as Mother Jones reported it. From what the article said, the study showed that non participating readers of the comments “doubled down” on their beliefs, not the people who engaged in writing the comments (engage din the online debate).

  16. Kathryn Baker | Nov 14, 2013 at 5:29 am |

    I love calling an idiot an idiot….don’t care about this theory. I like calling a spade a spade as the old saying goes.

  17. Simon Valentine | Jan 16, 2014 at 9:28 am |

    if your emotions are faster than your thoughts, you’re an idiot.

Comments are closed.