The Internet Judgement Machine

Remember this Reddit news item, wherein a bunch of people pushed their morality on someone?

At one point Mori asked “do you think the Internet should perch like an angel of conscience on your shoulder?” My response is — sure, why not? The internet is just other people…

Noah Berlatsky

To which I noted,

in no way want to get comfortable with the suggestion that listening to what other people claim to think is “the right thing” on an Internet forum necessarily bears the slightest resemblance to the best course of action.


Well, now we have a real crime for Reddit to react to, and the “mainstream press” like The Atlantic are gleefully skewering it for its reaction:

The amateur investigators from the site — having served as a kind of unofficial proving ground for theories that made their way to the mainstream media, jumping on the clear photo, despite the Post story that had also spread on Reddit — were tying the FBI photos to a 22-year-old Brown student and this ABC News report about his having gone missing last month. There was pushback, even on Reddit — “Leave the missing guy alone” — but it was too late; the trolls on Reddit had fed an army of all-nighter trolls in the media.

Indeed the Internet is just other people – and this is what other people do. They are undisciplined, they jump on a quick solution to a complex social problem, and they find it easy to blame those who stick out – those not like them – because it feels right.  By and large, people do not serve the truth because it is hard to serve the truth.  They would much rather believe that the truth exists to serve them.

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. – Anatole France

For those who were not misled by the hoopla, I applaud you.

And for those of you affected by the bombing, particularly those who lost friends and loved ones, you have my deepest sympathies.

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM  Comments (1)  
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Wield your Klout

Apparently my Klout score is higher than Craig Venter’s.  That’s hilarious.

Fear my arbitrarily high numbers!

Fear my arbitrarily high numbers!

On a more serious note, this is always the problem society faces: how do we rank people? We’ve moved past concepts of inherited nobility and so forth, but this just means we’ve adopted new metrics.  GPA, college admissions test scores, GREs, and everything all boil down to the excuse of having a numerical reason people can point to to justify their decisions to accept or reject.
You are not your bank account. You are not the clothes you wear. You are not the contents of your wallet.”  And no, neither are you your test performance or Klout score.
But for 90% of your daily interactions, you might as well be.
Published in: on April 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM  Comments (3)  
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James Lee: A Missing Discovery

“Okay, he clearly does not understand the limits of the media.”

blackandbluesocks on Discovery Channel hostage-taker James Lee

It isn’t just the media he doesn’t get. More fundamentally, he doesn’t understand humanity. There is no centralized location where you can flip a switch and all of a sudden people behave differently. We are people, not robots.

by 'Edward Elric'

I have to view James Lee as a crying soul in the wilderness. He is a dangerous, rabid, hostage-taking soul who may have to be put down to ensure the safety of other people, but still, I would depict him as a crying soul. Fundamentally, he sees a certain problem all too clearly (the environmental impact of humanity) but without the context that leads others to not take such drastic measures. His manifesto has been written against war, against false values, and in favor of awareness of Malthusian biology. Certainly, war is bad, and overpopulation is bad, and triggering certain Malthusian conditions is bad. That is established science.

But why is it bad?

Fiction Supreme

I read a very sad story today. A young man died following an accident, because he refused the blood he needed to survive . . .

I hardly know what to say about this. One’s initial reaction is to seek a remedy, to prevent lives being wasted like this ever again. But we can’t police everyone, or everything. Perhaps we should congratulate ourselves for having a society that allows us to die, so long as we claim it’s what our god wants.

But this boy, Joshua McAuley, was just 15. He could not vote, or drink, or smoke or have sex. But he could die for a fiction. Should we allow children – no doubt infected with the lies of their parents – to die in this manner?


When it comes down to it, most of the concepts we are familiar with are fictions. This in no way diminishes our willingness to kill or be killed for them.


Miscegenation theories alive and well

Their South Asian and white genetic backgrounds … put their children in potential harm’s way.

Sounds almost like something you’d expect to see on a white supremacist site, but it’s actually from the LA Times.  Nor is this alone: it comes mere months after an image was posted to the Republican party Facebook page with the caption, “Miscegenation is a crime against American values,” and after a Louisiana judge refused to issue a marriage license for an interracial couple, citing increased difficulty for such relationships.


Raid on DancingQueen’s Base Reveals Army

Socal, California – In what police are describing as “a raid of epic proportions,” long-standing anime blogger DancingQueen has been revealed to be secretly building a private army.

In retrospect, the signs have been up for some time now. DancingQueen first posted a link to a sale at DannyChoo, wherein she claimed to have simply amassed too many figurines over the years.  Bloggers responded sympathetically, as the rapidly declining global economy had forced many of them to curtail their own hobbies and recreational activities.  Now, though, her actions stand revealed in a far more sinister light.

“The evidence is clear,” said Detective Morino Ibiki.  “Rather than simply concentrate her power base in one location, DancingQueen hit upon the idea of spreading her figurines to other locations across the world.  By selling them, she could even make a profit in the process!  Upon activation of a certain signal, these puppets would then rise up against their supposed masters, causing havoc and confusing the civil authorities while she makes her bid to take over the world.  She is obviously a kugutsujutsu user of some proficiency, though we have not figured out how she intended to activate the figurines from such extreme distances.”

The raid, though swift, did not manage to capture DancingQueen herself.  Police dispatched to the scene were alarmed to find that what they had arrested was really a dakimakura with a print of Kamina on it.  This reporter was unable to verify rumors that Kamina was displeased at being mistaken for the female DancingQueen, repeatedly shouting, “Who the hell do you think I am?!”

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 8:21 AM  Comments (7)  
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