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Theodore A. Hoppe

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What are we to do with "Comment Trolls" here at TED?

Stephen Downs writes on his blog that I subscribe to, "OLDWeekly. He recently wrote on the subject of " comment trolls."
"We'll use the word 'science' a little loosely here, but meanwhile there's an interesting survey on the consequences of comment trolls: "it appeared that pushing people's emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs." The author offers an explanation, "the psychological theory of motivated reasoning," akin to Hume's dictum, but I think the interplay between thoughts and feelings (if they are even distinct things) is a lot more complex than that. That said, I can attest first-hand to the way comment trolls can drain the life out of a discussion, out of a website, out of living itself. Which, of course, if their intent."
The author Downes is referring to is Chris Mooney. His article in Mother Jones observes:
"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."

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/you-idiot-course-trolls-comments-make-you-believe-science-less

Have a look at the article and share your thoughts.

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    Jan 20 2013: Great article! The resulting conversation is awesome, too. The manner in which people have discussed how to react (or ignore) to trolls rather than "fix" the trolls is delightful.

    I think my favorite line from the articles is: "In other words, it appeared that pushing people's emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs." It seems the troll method of attempting to bully others to believe similarly simply because the troll believes is counter-productive.

    One of my favorite professors said "Beware the ipse dixit." Now there is research that reinforces the quote!!

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