OK, it’s fun, so digest with a pinch of salt, and yet at the same time is also a tad scary because these are people that are quite sincere and passionate. What is of course fascinating about it all is not simply the obsessiveness, but also the associated immunity to rational discussion. So thinking back here are a couple of my favourite ‘characters’:
- alzheimer’s – Chap who posts a consistent stream of anti-evolution rhetoric starts a thread with a picture of an eye and seeds it with the rather infamous quote-mined phrase where Darwin references the idea of the evolution of the eye as absurd. I replied (fool that I am) and pointed out that in the full context of all the words around it, Darwin was saying the complete opposite. It was of course possible that this chap had been fooled and had simply repeated this after having read it elsewhere … but no, the next day he starts a new thread with the exact same quote as if nothing had happened, and perhaps hopes that we all have alzheimers.
- Just one name – Dennis Markuze – If you do not know that name, then just go and thank you favourite deity for begin merciful. To those that are familiar with him, the words “deranged”, “obsessive” and “death threats” will quite naturally spring to mind, and yes the police were involved, he did go to trial, he did get a psychological evaluation, and was officially diagnosed, and is out and at it again.
- evolution – it really is a bit of a red flag for some people. One character I know of pops up almost every single day with an argument that can be distilled down to “I have no idea how X could have happened naturally, therefore god”. What is astonishing is that day after day it is the exact same argument, end each time it gets robustly debunked, and yet up he pops again the next day declaring that nobody has ever refuted his argument and repeats it once again.
- the religion of peace – one specific individual I have in mind tends to trawl through the press for stories about bad things happening, then posts these up as examples of how evil the western world is and claims that Islam is far better. Now what makes this more than a bit odd is that this same individual also has a regular stream of posts about how evil Shia Muslims are (yes, he is a Sunni), and how all these Shia’s need to be wiped out because these butchers are not “true” Muslims. For fun somebody created a FB profile called “Shia defender”, and started posting in his various threads – no really, not cool, it truly is best to not feed the trolls … and yet it was ever so entertaining.
- conspiracies – for every shade of conspiracy going, there will also be a flag carrier ready to leap in and defend it … climate change denial, 9/11, illuminate, zionist, etc… In fact recently one chap popped up and declared that anybody who disagreed with him was obviously a paid zionist shill – the group response was a fabulous bit of satire. We all confessed that this was indeed correct, the going rate was 10 cents per comment and asked if he would like to also sign up. When he popped up the next day again with more crazy ideas, we congratulated him for joining, commended him for doing a fabulous job by discrediting the anti-zionists with stupid claims and advised that the cheque would be in the post.
Now that is all just a small sample. In the end, what can one really say except to perhaps observe that everybody is “normal” until you get to know them.
None of this is really new, such eccentricity has always been out there. What has in fact changed and been disrupted, is that the eccentrics have been given a platform over the past decade, the Internet acts as both an amplifier and yet also as an equaliser for all ideas, none get censored, and all get a chance to make their case, there is no media censorship, and the internet itself has no agenda.
So what will happen over time is that the good ideas will prevail and get naturally selected, and the bad ideas that can’t be defended will wither and die, and that in itself will perhaps be a good thing. It will perhaps also lead to a greatly accelerated pace of change.