Angus: Hide, you bastards, hide!

chickenForums and blogs on the internet provide a means for people to offer their opinions in one form or another. Some people have the balls to have a blog that speaks their mind, and for which they take responsibility. Others do it with a pseudonym (er…. yeah), some of which are transparent (you know who I am), and some are hidden behind a fake identity for some kind of protection. The excuses range from “I don’t want my boss/company/spouse to know” to “I don’t care”.

There are other people who hide behind a fake identity and have no balls to write their own blogs, but simply troll other blogs or articles and comment (a verb?) their opinion from behind that fake identity. These people tend to miss some interesting and obvious facts, but of course, it does not really matter, they are protected behind their chicken coop walls, sprouting their pseudo-opinions.

Take for example, the recent Maxed Out article about Japanese iVendors starting a push to market the i themselves. Up popped a pseudo-opinion that claimed “IBM’s i is dead”. The irony of a claim that ~x~ is dead on a forum/article that is geared towards ~x~ was not lost on me, and I responded. Of course, my response was ignored and further psuedo-opinions were offered later in the thread, with a bunch of ‘statistics’, none of which are verified or have sources. I guess if you are willing to hide your identity, then you can hide the truth by making some up.

I have recently been studying ‘Logical Fallacies’. The Skeptics Guide to the Universe says “A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid.” My favorite logical fallacy is ‘Ad hominem’: An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter anothers claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself. I may even be indulging in this blog entry!

While logical fallacy is used regularly on forums, blogs and comments, most people continue to indulge. Separating the debate from the fallacy can sometimes be difficult. It might be simpler if there were internet police! Of course, this would mean restriction of free speech, and while I sometimes find I want to edit or remove comments from forums I manage, it becomes very obvious very quickly as to who has something valuable to say. The most difficult part then, is weeding out the noise.

A discussion on a LinkedIn forum to which I belong is another example of noise generation. A commenter, who obviously has passion for the topic, posted strong opinion. My responses were as strong, but opposing theirs. And then they disappeared. In this instance, the reply was not pseudo-opinion, and the poster was not hiding their identity. There are many reasons for a lack of response from someone on a forum. I have sporadic access to the internet this week, and have not been able to be as active in some places as usual. Yet, it seems that most non-responders hide for other reasons.

In this particular case, I was disappointed at the lack of response. In the past, such strong opinion has offended, causing responders to lash out, hide, or both. Often the hastily produced opinion is full of emotion, and not well thought out, and cannot be supported any longer. Yet in debate, acknowledgement of an error or acknowledgement of an opposing point of view is straightforward, and can move the debate along. The wonderful world of forums and blogs provides us with a means to run, without completion of the discussion.

I pledge that I will continue to check myself for misuse of logical fallacy, will offer correction when I am wrong, and work towards a completion of an intelligent debate. Feel free to identify when I leave something unfin

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