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Warding Of Trolls

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I had an idea on a way to possibly reduce the amount of trolls comming in, while still allowing those new to Objectivism (even to philosophy in general) to feel comfortable to ask questions and learn and not be in fear of wasting our time, or of being rejected etc.

Those new to Ayn Rand and just for the first time trying to sort through the massive amount of information and missinformation about her and her ideas are sure to run into a massive amount of "Rand slandered." The reasons behind this are painfully familiar to us, but to a newbie, I think it could reasonably be baffeling.

My theory is that most criticisms of Ayn Rand can be reduced to a few simple and relatively consistent principles. The thought occurred to me that if those of us who are interested were to compose a few simple, non emotionally-charged essays outlining those principles, their philisophical roots, and allude to the myriad of ways they're often used as an attempt to discredit Rand-- then we might be able to give them a place on the website, to which we can direct newcommers or those who seem like they're not sure whether to be hostile or not.. or who seem like they're not sure they know the difference. Basically.. like a kind of detox room for those who've been sabatoged by Kantian society, and want to escape quickly but don't know how to get started. I think it can be done without giving too much "sanction by acknowledgement" to the antics of our enemies.

What do you think? If anybody's interested, I'll tell you some of my ideas on how to approach it. But those of you with a lot more experience than I have with Objectivism and _Anti-Objectivism_ might be able to see if I'm headed towards a dead end that I'm not able to grasp.. Or maybe the idea's ultimately a waste of time.. Anyway, I thought I'd bounce it off of you, since there seems to be some aggitation with trolls lately.

-DRM

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I'm talking about philisophical attacks against Objectivism-- which, being a difficult thing to acheive, are usually reduced to personal attacks against Rand, Peikoff, ARI, or whatever proponant of Objectivism happens to be closest.

Another technique is for someone to take a false dichotomy that's been defined by Objectivism, and use the Objectivist arguments against one half of the dichotomy.. against Objectivism! The unstated premise being that the dichotomy is true, and an argument _against_ one half of the dichotomy is an argument _for_ the other.

Probably all the ideas I have are defined in that link to common logical fallacies.. what I'm proposing is to outline in concretes how those fallacies are often put to use against Objectivism.

Just for those who wonder.. "If Objectivism is true, why doesn't everyone believe it?" It's true to say that 200 years of philosophy can't be overturned over night.. but what might not be clear is _why_ is that true.. what is it in the psychology of the worlds most famous philosophers that allows them to ignore and defame Objectivism?

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Those new to Ayn Rand and just for the first time trying to sort through the massive amount of information and missinformation about her and her ideas are sure to run into a massive amount of "Rand slandered."  The reasons behind this are painfully familiar to us, but to a newbie, I think it could reasonably be baffeling.

It's funny how your statement is contextually true, relative to the past 10+ years. The internet is to be blamed, esp. the fact that through it any jerkweasel with a modem (old style) could disseminate ignorant lies for mere pennies. Well, that's life. In the old days (old-man mode kicking in....) the way you learned about Ayn Rand was to read what she wrote. That's no longer necessary. Sigh.

My theory is that most criticisms of Ayn Rand can be reduced to a few simple and relatively consistent principles.

Do you mean the quasi-rational criticisms, or the whining?

As a recent emigrant from the sewer (HPO), I have to say that this place is Galt's Gulch. There really is no troll problem. Not worth mentioning. Okay, annoyances crop up, and they are dealt with very swiftly, effectively and justly. In my opinion, the following is an accurate description of this discussion board's purpose:

"This board exists for the purpose of furthering discussion by Objectivists and those who admire Ayn Rand's ideas. Those who disagree with these ideas may of course also post for the purposes of civilized debate and discussion of Objectivism. Any posters who persistently abuse their posting privileges are subject to revocation of these privileges at the discretion of the moderator".

These words are not entirely (or even mostly) my own.

I understand how it might seem useful to put together a series of statements rebutting various smears of Rand's philosophy, but first, the number of such smears is immense. There is no catalog of anti-Objectivist lies and distortions, and compiling such a list would be of marginal use, IMO. Second, the distortions and misrepresentations do not deserve any attention. I think it would be more persuasive to those who are not fully familiar with Objectivism to simply observe and contrast rational discussion of Objectivism, vs. irrational smears. Rather than investing energy in pre-combatting trolling, it's best to apply the ultimate antidote, namely reason.

This board is not a particularly rich resource for irrational smears, but it is very good for rational discussion. So perhaps when a newcomer gains a basic foundation in Objectivism, it might be a good idea to visit smearsville as a tourist.

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The more I think about this, the more it seems like a bad idea. If you want to deleat this thread, I won't be offended. :D

Now that I've thought it over, I think my plan could only pan out to be a *parody* of those who attack Objectivism. But it's like Rand said about Kant.. it's IMPOSSIBLE to make a caricature of him, because he already did it himself.

But it's so frustrating seeing the same weak criticisms of Objectivism over and over.. and each time the critic seems to sinceerly believe he's the first person ever to try it.

Injustice fatigues me!..

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I understand how it might seem useful to put together a series of statements rebutting various smears of Rand's philosophy, but first, the number of such smears is immense. There is no catalog of anti-Objectivist lies and distortions, and compiling such a list would be of marginal use, IMO.

Oh, okay.. This is interesting. See, this is where I think I might have something new to add.

The number and variety of smears is immense. But I think an Objectivist is in a better position to identify what are the fundamental premises of this kind of smearing qua smearing... EDIT [i think that includes the whining too, that can all be lumped into one catagory.. maybe Envy, Hatred of the good for being the good...] another edit-- [so what I'm saying is I don't think you'd have to compile a list of slanders. You could just say "Why do people attack Ayn Rand? Here's why:" etc. Cause it's always the same reasons! That's what I think anyway.]

And, Ayn Rand *did* devote several brilliant essays to this topic, each one coming at the issue from a different angle. I haven't seen many Objectivists since Ayn Rand attempt this, and I'm not sure why. I guess that's the bottom line to my posting this. Rand identified Argument by Intimidation, and many other basic premises of smearing in general.

I think smearing fallacies belong in a different catagory or subgenre from plain logical fallacies. Maybe a special compilation of smearing fallacies would be helpfull.

Edit: [but you can still delete this if you want.]

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My theory is that most criticisms of Ayn Rand can be reduced to a few simple and relatively consistent principles.  The thought occurred to me that if those of us who are interested were to compose a few simple, non emotionally-charged essays outlining those principles, their philisophical roots, and allude to the myriad of ways they're often used as an attempt to discredit Rand-- then we might be able to give them a place on the website, to which we can direct newcommers or those who seem like they're not sure whether to be hostile or not.. or who seem like they're not sure they know the difference.

An interesting idea, but I don't think it will work. Although there are a limited number of "right answers," there are an infinite number of wrong ones. I don't think "one size fits all" answers are the answer.

Instead, I suggest one-on-one answers to the questions raised by newcomers answered by whoever is interested. That way the specific issues raised by the specific person will be addressed and, in the process, we will be able to see how the new person thinks and what he really wants.

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Bold Standard wrote:

But it's so frustrating seeing the same weak criticisms of Objectivism over and over.. and each time the critic seems to sinceerly believe he's the first person ever to try it.

I have been lurking on this forum for about six months now, and I have not seen much duplication of trollage, except maybe the argument by trolls that we are violating their free speech. I think our hosts do a good job at keeping off trolls.

I would also be careful about differentiating from the newbies, and the trolls. I don't think an honest newbie would have any interest in reading about fallacies. If they are new to the philosophy and cannot understand it, there is no common area of confusion. That is exactly why an entry quiz would fail as and attempt to weed-out undesireables.

I am much more concerned about Objectivists and their personal feuds, and the damage that might cause to the spread of ideas. I usually post on the Capmag forum and have seen a lot of personal conflicts between the moderators and other Objectivists. I've also been around Objectivism long enough to know that some people develop a weird thing about their position in the Objectivist movement. .

I guess you could say that the power goes to their heads. I speak from personal experience because I have a friend that helped me better understand the philosophy, before he started to get weird about it. I'm still hoping he will snap out of it and go back to being a good person to know again.

Anyway, I may start posting here more, if I find this forum more to my liking.

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I've also been around Objectivism long enough to know that some people develop a weird thing about their position in the Objectivist movement. . 

I guess you could say that the power goes to their heads.

This sounds fascinating. Could you tell us more specifically what you mean?

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To the extent that someone new to Objectivism may have legitimate questions and/or objections to Objectivism, I would love to see someone write a FAQ at the Wiki.  I will do this myself eventually, but I would appreciate your help.

If I get some help coming up with the questions, I will be happy to write the answers.

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If we all accept the fact that trolls probably will not go away any time soon, then it might be a good idea to have a visible warning to trolls on the forum somewhere. The warning could clearly define what a troll is and why we don't want them, and make it clear that true newbies who are genuinely interested in learning the philosophy are warmly welcome. Taking action against trolls might even be of promotional use. If I were a newbie, I would want to visit forums where trolls don't clutter up threads with crap.

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If I get some help coming up with the questions, I will be happy to write the answers.

A survey of the "Basic Questions" forum might be a good start. You may want to ask posters who write good replies to allow you to add their answers to the Wiki.

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