Saturday, September 19, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club
"To the manner born"

There are two issues that this thread brings to mind. Both are occasioned by the return of the trolls on the last thread.

The first topic is the distinction between internal conflict and external intervention. Externally injected manipulation in a domestic competition for resources within the political market can exaggerate tensions geometrically. This becomes a positive feedback loop in which restrictions on discourse are pealed away among the internal players. We have two forms of external overt manipulation to consider. First are the SVR trolls who inject memes or false data into the conversation here or at KOS which is eventually picked up at a cocktail party attended by a NY Times stringer. The second is the injection of financial resources from overseas, whether by Soros or by the Gaza phone banks that sent possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to Obama for the election.

The second topic concerns blog management. How do we deal with trolls? The two models are that of Charles Johnson on Little Green Footballs and that evidenced here on the Belmont Club. When CJ detects someone he determines is a troll he blocks or bans them. The difference is I believe that a ban means that your record of postings are erased from the data base, a fate similar to being "expunged" from Harvard. Here commentators who spread false or malicious information are generally tolerated except in the most extreme circumstances. Now to be clear I am assuming for the sake of argument, despite the fact that I was blocked, that CJ might be correct in his basic principles and accurate in his judgements as to the intents of those he does not want commenting in his house.

The benefits of our hosts more tolerant approach are twofold. First the limitation of external information even false information limits your knowledge of what the other side is saying. There is an Intelligence function that benefits from being aware of what the SVR or other Other's talking points are. That is only true when the exterior agent is crude and easily identified. When they are sophisticated it can get harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.

A second benefit of the more tolerant approach is that restrictions become by their nature progressive. As dissenting voices are removed the ones that remain practice self censorship. These devolves into a positive feedback loop and reduces the conversation to an echo chamber which can be of little use to the one guiding the conversation.

Personally I would probably be less tolerant than our genial host but I see the benefits in his approach.

Stupidity is an intellectual condition and is a product of either a neurological or heuristic deficit. Idiocy is a moral condition.

Sep 19, 2009 - 5:20 pm

“Th’ Sinnit has no rhules. ‘Tis governed by courtesy, like th’ Longshoremen’s Union.”
- Mr. Dooley (Peter Finley Dunne)

But do you mean “to the manor/manner born” or “to the manor/manner borne”?
That is like asking a veteran if he is “battle scarred” or “bottle scared” or vice a versa.

There was a Britcom called “To the Manor Born.”

Sep 19, 2009 - 7:02 pm

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