The Ancient Art of Troll

 

Do I own my own possessions and raise my own children, or are they somehow re-assignable for The Greater Good? A society cannot, for long, believe both of these things without tearing itself apart. In America today, mall riots and schools promoting gender surgery are showing just how incompatible these different belief systems are.

Those who hold that private property is sacrosanct are appalled by the “You Didn’t Build That” attitude of progressive liberals. We cannot accept anything they have to say on the subject.

Reason offers no resolution to this problem, because Reason offers no fundamental truth; it is only a tool, harnessed for the advancement of the underlying assumptions that a person has.

We have learned to understand that when people do not share enough assumptions or presuppositions (Reagan/Ben Shapiro might call them “facts”), no progress can be made. You simply cannot reason with someone who does not share enough of an underlying world view.

This problem is at the heart of every cultural misunderstanding. For example, Westerners may believe that Palestinians want  peace – because we want peace, and assume everyone must. Similarly, people who are motivated by money do not understand those who are motivated by honor – which one reason why Gaza did not become the Singapore of the Middle East starting when Israel withdrew in 2005.

Cultures that are driven by shame are incompatible with those who are driven by honor (and vice-versa). The perspectives are so different that they can only be bridged with great difficulty, if at all.

Jews and Christians generally believe that every person should be treated with respect on the basis that each person has a divinely-gifted soul. But if the Other Guy does not share that belief, then they have no problem dehumanizing other people, calling them “animals.” If you believe that either Jews or Palestinians are properly described as “animals,” then I cannot have a productive conversation with you on this topic.

At least all of the above examples are of people who are making an effort, trying to find a way to reach common ground.

But what of the person who has no such intention? A person whose sole purpose is to create and foster the differences, to amplify small differences in order to break down civil conversation entirely?

I speak, of course, of The Troll.

Trolls are willfully obstructive. Trolls refuse to agree on anything important, throwing a wrench into any conversation that is trying to make forward progress. By obstreperously disagreeing on even the simplest factual matters, your common internet troll actively divides himself from others by openly rejecting every single statement that could otherwise be used to find common ground and to build relationships.  Trolls could try to perceive things your way, for the sake of building a relationship. But they instead choose the opposite.

As the central commandment of the Torah is “love your neighbor as yourself,” trolling represents its antithesis. The troll refuses to see things through the eyes of someone else. They refuse all commonality of every kind.

Which might explain why the greatest troll in the Torah, Lavan, is also the leading symptom (“lavan” means “white”) of a spiritual ailment that is linked to antisocial behavior – from gossip all the way on the spectrum through to and including murder.

Lavan was the archetypal troll. We first meet him when he agrees to let his sister go and marry Isaac:

Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master’s son, as G-d has spoken.”

Followed soon after with:

But her brother [Lavan] and her mother said, “Let the maiden remain with us some ten days; then you may go.”

Which is it?

That was just Lavan’s warmup. Lavan finds ways to keep stealing Jacob’s labor for free. He then swaps Leah for Rachel (pretending that there was some kind of misunderstanding), and engages in machinations to keep Jacob around for the labor value.

Then Lavan goes full troll: foreshadowing the true progressive liberal, Lavan simply denies that Jacob owns anything at all!

Then Laban spoke up and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks; all that you see is mine.

Claiming that the things that belong to others is actually yours, because of your unique victimhood… it all sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Lavan willfully and obnoxiously acts just like an internet troll: he denies the evidence that is crystal clear to everyone else. More importantly, he acts in such a way that he actively destroys the relationships between family members. He is working to destroy relationships, not build them, and do it on the basis of nothing more than selfishness. Which is why, when he and Jacob part ways for good, they do not even agree on the name of the place! Proper trolling means stubbornly refusing to embrace any shared knowledge at all.

It is no wonder that the disease for anti-social behavior described in Leviticus (tzaraas) is shown by white, lavan, spots. Trolling not only existed in the ancient world, but it was identified as a leading scourge of a healthy society. When we fail to even try to understand things from the perspectives of others, then we shred any wisp of a possibility of bridging the divisions that keep us apart from others.

 

 

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  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Human nature never changes.   I think Thomas Sowell does the best job describing the worldview issue in A Conflict of Visions. 

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    When I saw the title of this post, I thought that it was going to be on my favorite Biblical troll: Elijah, busting the chops of the prophets of Baal.

    “Shout louder. Maybe he’s asleep, or distracted, or something.”

    An example of tactical trolling. Elijah was trying to subvert the “relationship” that the people of Israel had with the prophets of Baal in order to bring back their faith in G-d. 

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    When I saw the title of this post, I thought that it was going to be on my favorite Biblical troll: Elijah, busting the chops of the prophets of Baal.

    “Shout louder. Maybe he’s asleep, or distracted, or something.”

    An example of tactical trolling. Elijah was trying to subvert the “relationship” that the people of Israel had with the prophets of Baal in order to bring back their faith in G-d.

    I love that story!

    • #3
  4. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Proverbs tells us the best way to deal with “scoffers” and “mockers”.

    They should be driven out and left to their own ungodly passions because they are an abomination to mankind.

    • #4
  5. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    iWe:

    Those who hold that private property is sacrosanct are appalled by the “You Didn’t Build That” attitude of progressive liberals. We cannot accept anything they have to say on the subject.

    Why is inflation good? Why can’t you get at least one percent over inflation in a savings account? Why is inflation obviously measured poorly, in favor of the government and the people that already own assets?

    Reason offers no resolution to this problem, because Reason offers no fundamental truth; it is only a tool, harnessed for the advancement of the underlying assumptions that a person has.

    I think I’m making an obviously reasonable point.

    We have learned to understand that when people do not share enough assumptions or presuppositions (Reagan/Ben Shapiro might call them “facts”), no progress can be made. You simply cannot reason with someone who does not share enough of an underlying world view.

    My brother-in-law thinks he’s a rabid Democrat. He likes government force, but he can’t win a single political argument with me. lol

    • #5
  6. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    iWe: Reason offers no resolution to this problem, because Reason offers no fundamental truth; it is only a tool, harnessed for the advancement of the underlying assumptions that a person has.

    That’s simply not true.

    The problem you describe here is stupidity, of which trolling is one common expression. Cipolla analyzed the problem of stupidity from its expression in behavior. Bonhoeffer was more concerned with its root in the human psyche. Musil is too dense to summarize here. All were explicit that arguing with the stupid on the basis of reason is futile.

    But reason is the only tool the intelligent have to address stupidity. That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason. 

    Fundamental truth is not required. If it were, then even we smarties would be hapless, because no one knows fundamental truth.

    • #6
  7. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Barfly (View Comment):
    That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason. 

    Proverbs says exactly this.

    Well done.

    • #7
  8. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):
    That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason. 

    Democrats: Do anything to acquire political and government force. Do anything with it. Now, the problem is they also have to placate the psycho progressives or they can’t acquire political and government force. 

    I swear that’s the exact system we are up against and it’s why people go RINO or anti-libertarian. 

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason.

    Democrats: Do anything to acquire political and government force. Do anything with it. Now, the problem is they also have to placate the psycho progressives or they can’t acquire political and government force.

    I swear that’s the exact system we are up against and it’s why people go RINO or anti-libertarian.

    Cipolla argues that the proportion of stupid people is largely constant, no matter what filters one puts on the sample. He reasons that the simple presence of the stupid can’t be the determining factor in societal success or decline, since the proportion of the stupid is the same in all societies. He concludes by asserting that the fate of the society is determined by 1) the ratio of people in the two stupid-adjacent categories, the helpless vs. the stupid bandits and 2) the diligence of the intelligent in suppressing the bandits. We are in decline because we permit the stupid-adjacent bandits to pillage while we abandon the helpless.

    • #9
  10. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    problem is they also have to placate the psycho progressives or they can’t acquire political and government force

    Suppose so they do, but they have acquired and held political power in the past without doing so. Truman, JFK, B. Clinton for example.

    Re the present Israel-Hamas war, they could embrace the former closely without losing political power in sum so long as they retreated elsewhere, e.g. on domestic border enforcement, to woo the sane center. Many more take-away votes there than what would be lost by not pandering to their collectivists. It’s their leadership which has a soft spot in its heart for the activist Left. Maybe they’re afraid of invalidating memories of their own foolish youth.

    ***

    Back to the main subject usage of “troll”…  (had to pause, look up on Merriam-Webster … )

    2 (a) to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content

    On a sports website’s “off-topic” message board, I was once accused of being a troll for posting a non-inflammatory, on point rebuttal. It was “offensive” or “disruptive” only for being in polite disagreement with the conventional wisdom of the Far Left often seen it that off-topic board.

    I think in our times, on media such as the internet, tolerance for measured, well-reasoned disagreement needs more space than it’s often given. Otherwise, the trolls win. 

    • #10
  11. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason.

    Democrats: Do anything to acquire political and government force. Do anything with it. Now, the problem is they also have to placate the psycho progressives or they can’t acquire political and government force.

    I swear that’s the exact system we are up against and it’s why people go RINO or anti-libertarian.

    Cipolla argues that the proportion of stupid people is largely constant, no matter what filters one puts on the sample. He reasons that the simple presence of the stupid can’t be the determining factor in societal success or decline, since the proportion of the stupid is the same in all societies. He concludes by asserting that the fate of the society is determined by 1) the ratio of people in the two stupid-adjacent categories, the helpless vs. the stupid bandits and 2) the diligence of the intelligent in suppressing the bandits. We are in decline because we permit the stupid-adjacent bandits to pillage while we abandon the helpless.

    This is really good analysis, and it comports with my experience with my rabid Democrat brother-in-law. He is way smarter than me and he doesn’t know any facts. I mean he couldn’t put less effort into it. He just gets all emotional effectively hoping that he throws you off, because it doesn’t make any sense otherwise. One time he made the mistake of blurting out “assault weapon.” lol It didn’t go well. lol

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Barfly (View Comment):
    That’s simply not true.

    Sure it’s true. I don’t see how the rest of what you wrote is relevant to that specific issue.

    • #12
  13. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):
    Member Jim Kearney @JimKearney 3 Minutes Ago

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    problem is they also have to placate the psycho progressives or they can’t acquire political and government force

    Suppose so they do, but they have acquired and held political power in the past without doing so. Truman, JFK, B. Clinton for example.

    Re the present Israel-Hamas war, they could embrace the former closely without losing political power in sum so long as they retreated elsewhere, e.g. on domestic border enforcement, to woo the sane center. Many more take-away votes there than what would be lost by not pandering to their collectivists. It’s their leadership which has a soft spot in its heart for the activist Left. Maybe they’re afraid of invalidating memories of their own foolish youth.

    Very good analysis and I say you are right. 

    They just want to do stuff. It’s idiotic.

    • #13
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):
    I think in our times, on media such as the internet, tolerance for measured, well-reasoned disagreement needs more space than it’s often given. Otherwise, the trolls win. 

    Yep. 

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Barfly (View Comment):

    iWe: Reason offers no resolution to this problem, because Reason offers no fundamental truth; it is only a tool, harnessed for the advancement of the underlying assumptions that a person has.

    That’s simply not true.

    But reason is the only tool the intelligent have to address stupidity. That we can’t reason with the stupid directly does not mean we discard reason.

    Any argument comes with assumptions and presuppositions. If you start a conversation with incompatible presuppositions from the other guy, Reason has nothing to offer.

    Example: I believe that people have souls on loan from G-d. Reason tells ME that humans should have rights.

    My opponent believes that people are animals. Reason tells HIM that humans can be treated (and culled) like animals.

    Reason itself offers nothing more than a logical toolkit, to be applied to our beliefs accordingly.

     

     

    • #15
  16. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    iWe (View Comment):
    Reason itself offers nothing more than a logical toolkit, to be applied to our beliefs accordingly.

    The last time I heard that argument was from a Muslim.

    • #16
  17. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    The opposition of Islam to the West is due to the conflict over the nature of God. In the West, the nature of God is reason.

    • #17
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    iWe (View Comment):
    Any argument comes with assumptions and presuppositions. If you start a conversation with incompatible presuppositions from the other guy, Reason has nothing to offer.

    i.e. arguing with my rabid Democrat brother-in-law about politics and government. lol 

    Effectively zero studying of facts. 

    • #18
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Also, you guys are way smarter than me. lol

    • #19
  20. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Also, you guys are way smarter than me. lol

    This too is false.

    • #20
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Also, you guys are way smarter than me. lol

    This too is false.

    I don’t know. It depends on the topic.  I try to be careful about not “reaching”, unlike some, here. 

    • #21
  22. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Also, you guys are way smarter than me. lol

    This too is false.

    I don’t know. It depends on the topic. I try to be careful about not “reaching”, unlike some, here.

    My sense is that you’re closer to the sweet spot on Cipolla’s graph than I or iWe. But that’s a quibble.

    • #22
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):
    Cipolla’s graph

    I’ve googled it. 

    • #23
  24. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    Cipolla’s graph

    I’ve googled it.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0385546475?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

    Obtain this book.

    • #24
  25. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Just FYI.

    My life got considerably simpler when I finally quit being a closet anti-inflationist and I figured out that the only thing the government needs to produce is actual “public goods”, which nobody knows what I’m talking about. Society is better off if you put a gun to their head and take FICA taxes from them if you run it right. Of course we don’t. 

    The government does not come close to measuring inflation, right. It’s a scam. very few people are better off because they do this. The federal reserve is ridiculous, central planning, pushing the economy around. Central banks are great if they only do one thing: back up banks at a penalty rate. We don’t do this for geopolitical reasons, but we are too stupid and corrupt to manage the side effects. 

    • #25
  26. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    Cipolla’s graph

    I’ve googled it.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0385546475?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

    Obtain this book.

    I like that it’s endorsed by Nassim Taleb. His last five-ish interviews on Econ Talk were just epic. 

    Nassim Taleb and the homosexual cross-dressing economist from Chicago that I can’t think of the name of right now, don’t get near enough attention. Taleb is sort of narcissistic or something, but you just have to get past that.

    • #26
  27. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    homosexual cross-dressing economist from Chicago

    Deirdre McCloskey.

     

     

    • #27
  28. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    Cipolla’s graph

    I’ve googled it.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0385546475?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

    Obtain this book.

    I like that it’s endorsed by Nassim Taleb. His last five-ish interviews on Econ Talk were just epic.

    Nassim Taleb and the homosexual cross-dressing economist from Chicago that I can’t think of the name of right now, don’t get near enough attention. Taleb is sort of narcissistic or something, but you just have to get past that.

    Taleb is not stupid. He’d probably be aghast at my lifestyle too. But the publication of this edition of Cipolla is a good sign.

    • #28
  29. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Barfly (View Comment):
    Taleb is not stupid.

    I don’t remember the details very well, but he really laid out what everybody complains about  on the Econ Talk interviews. 

    Deirdre McCloskey’s point was, it’s something about the spreading of what was upper-class values in the early 1800s and how that coincided with a lot of progress. The other thing that “she” says is the family system is communist, but you have to get your kid ready to not be a communist when they get out of the family.

    • #29
  30. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    cross-dressing economist from Chicago

    Deirdre McCloskey.

    Yes, Dr. McCloskey, a distinguished economist now in her early 80’s indeed deserves more attention. Saw her on C-SPAN coverage of a past FreedomFest and was very impressed. Had no idea until now about the whole ex-guy aspect.

    Perhaps she’d rethink her idea about a 10-year limit on copywright if a producer optioned her books and she got a “written by” credit on a hit show.

    No quotes around her from me. Deirdre’s update on the matter of her gender identity switcheroo many years ago is pretty compelling. Ricochet does have its surprises. 

    • #30
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