Sunday, May 11, 2014

Yes, and you won’t find anyone stranger than Gordon. No, but seriously he is a certified, he is a certified psychopath.
Don’t you mean osteopath?
We know Gordon better than you do

It was tempting to make fun of this article when it came out earlier this year, amid much bloggosphere ballyhoo about "science confirming what everyone already knows", but there was so little substance to mock. Is it just me, or does "ballyhoo" sound like a knock-knock joke?
The take-home message was that "Internet trolls and flamers are sadistic psychopaths". Alas, reading the paper, it is soon clear that:
(a) the authors realised half-way through that their research was irredeemable dogwash... so rather than try to fix the study, they focussed their efforts on sensationalising and dumbing-down their title and press-release enough for churnalists to reprint the latter without breaking a sweat; and
(b) no actual subjects were tested for trollish, sadistic, or psychopathic behaviour. The results of some simplistic on-line questionnaires showed that from a cross-section of random anonymous strangers, the ones who claimed to enjoy trolling on the internet, also enjoyed winding up researchers by ticking the more outrageous boxes on on-line questionnaires. Shocking!

Finding the same correlation between self-rated trollishness and all the negative self-ratings should have been a warning:
Elsewhere in social science this is known as the "random arsehole" problem of on-line research, and much effort goes into removing the artefacts, but Buckels, Trapnell & Paulhus found it easier to turn them into a paper. Which they were reduced to publishing in a journal devoted to legitimizing racism and evo-psych bafflegab. Where one day I will publish my manuscript on "Lawful Good vs. Chaotic Evil: Personality Assessment based on Choices of D&D Personae".
What brings that paper to mind now? Why, on-going investigations here at Riddled Research Laboratory! We reveal the hitherto-unsuspected fact that when the Interlattice provides the opportunity to "comment" on a "blog" in what appears to be anonymity, some people do not handle themselves well.
Prototypal name-switching troll
One specific data point has been haunting science and skeptic blogs for the last few years, littering comment threads with nonce identities adopted and then callously trampled underfoot in the manner of Baldanders [not to be confused with Bald Anders, five times champion in the Phylogenetic Software Trivia and Shuffleboard monthly play-off at the Old Entomologist, so-nicknamed to avoid confusion with Hairy Anders who is crap at pretty much everything];
... or in the manner of a face-moulting character from a Sandman episode.
We know about this because busy-beaver Narad -- a friend of Riddled -- spent some time over at Respectful Insolence cataloguing many of the avatars and incarnations of this nym-switching individual. This did not require NSA-level access to servers and meta-data because the troll in question has a limited repertoire, perseverating within a small circle of obsessions and talking-points, and is easily Googled. The results enter All.One.Guy territory. His appearances included 'Ernstymate' and 'Humpty', 'Consultant', 'Paediatrician', 'Mythbuster', 'Spiniker', 'ukeidding' and 'pebbles', 'Buckthetrend', 'Johnny labile', 'the craic' and 'sarah007'; and many more but tl;dw. He is especially prolific when he encounters female bloggers, where it is clear from the louche tone of his comments that he is handling himself quite well IYKWIM&ITYD.

Despite this catalogue, we must conclude that Mr [redacted], Essex-based Osteopath and Rotarian, does not (in the final analysis) wish to preserve his anonymity after all. For why else would he compose a post for his FaceBukakke homepage, packing in the identical tropes and and made-up quotations and distinctive misspellings previously spouted through sockpuppets? Why would he embellish the FB page of the Rotary "End Polio" vaccination campaign -- a cause which he nominally supports -- with links to anti-vaccine screeds ("polio vaccine is the real cause of polio!")? It must be one of these 'cries for help' that the young people talk about.

Before he metastatised to the Scienceblogs network, Mr [redacted] confined his activities to UK science / skeptic blogs as a one-man Ready-Response crew for any criticism of osteopaths or chiropractors. As might be expected, his obsessions are generally vaccine- and Big-Pharma-related... Vioxx and a 160,000 death count from "catastrophic heart rupture"; polio vaccine and the Gates Foundation; Roche "losing all the Tamiflu data"; the 96 season Cochraine [sic] review on the flu jab; weasel words, smokescreen, fake placebos; and septic science [sic] as a church with an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope Edzard Ernst.

But then there's this unexpected fixation with a garage metaphor for non-osteopathic treatment of arthritis:
the first line of ‘treatment’ is [...] like taking your car to a garage with a knocking noise and being given ear plugs
If my car was making an awful noise and I took it to your kind of garage would I get ear plugs?
Ah, the guy owns a Jaguar. All is clear.
UPDATED with Bonus Alternative Title:

Yes I know the secrets of the circuitry mind; It's a flaming wonder osteopath


Emma said...

One time I trolled some Cumberbetches who were voting in one of those embarrassing MOST HANDSOMEST ACTORS OF ALL TIME polls, and it was kind of fun, because no matter how obviously satirical your insults they treated you like you had come into a pet store and asked what kind of puppy a person should buy if they just wanted something little and furry to stomp on. I expect I should just go report myself to the police, then? I mean, look at that comparison I made! Clearly I am unhinged.

I wonder if pregnancy, sports injury, and colic all stem from the same base cause, which would make them natural specialties for a single practitioner. Interesting.

M. Bouffant said...

Bally Shoes, that's who.

And (no shit here) I resemble those remarks: My maternal grandfather was an osteopath (& a Republican) & my parental units didn't allow me to take the Sabin polio vaccine in '62 when it was being shoved down everyone's throat. Literally!!

I was bummed because I didn't get the sugar cube it was administered in.

Ah ha, research tells me why some might be suspicious. "Live-attenuated." See? It says live, right there!! No wonder Gordon's nervous.

Smut Clyde said...

One time I trolled some Cumberbetches

That's just mean. Be ashamed.

mikey said...

It's pronounced 'Gor-DONN'....

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

"Lawful Good vs. Chaotic Evil: Personality Assessment based on Choices of D&D Personae"

Where does this leave someone who's Neutral Good with slight Chaotic tendencies except while driving, when he's strictly Lawful Neutral?


Smut Clyde said...

As any fule kno, Gordon the Osteopath appears in the "Body Bona" skit in "Around the Horne". Not available on the interducts (TTDOMOTL).

M. Bouffant said...

Google sez "showing results for Round the Horne". Not even in a torrent?


Sirius Lunacy said...

I saw title and thought how do these people all the way around the other side of the globe know my brother so well?

OBS said...

Where does this leave someone who's Neutral Good with slight Chaotic tendencies except while driving, when he's strictly Lawful Neutral?

If you're Neutral Good or strictly Lawful Neutral when you're in your car, how the hell do you ever get it to move?

Yastreblyansky said...

Baby's With Colic is such a great name for an indy band. Some like Classical Osteopathy but I like the punk stuff.

Yastreblyansky said...

But seriously, Smut, are you suggesting you don't trust measures of self-reported narcissism? Isn't the validity of the approach virtually proven by the way the lurkers were the most likely to deny vicarious sadism?

Narad said...

"and many more but tl;dw"

We find him here as both "nobby" and "the idiot." Included are the obsessions with "the Ashfar ruling" and the Catholic Church.

Smut Clyde said...

are you suggesting you don't trust measures of self-reported narcissism?

I am distrustful of any research which begins by selecting those participants who describe themselves as on-line liars, and relies on all other statements from these individuals as gospel truth.

Smut Clyde said...

Included are the obsessions with "the Ashfar ruling" and the Catholic Church.

And the invented statement, attributed to the Pasteur Institute, that "acquired immunity only represents 2% of any immune reaction to any disease".

That thread is indeed a Greatest Hits collection of Mr [redacted]'s concerns, although he doesn't mention Vioxx. And he had been previously warned to dial down on the misogyny so he has to content himself with calling Skepticat "Pussy".

Smut Clyde said...

We find him here as both "nobby" and "the idiot."
I suspect that the nym "the idiot" was inserted into that thread by an increasingly exasperated blogger, since a couple of responses to the troll's comments call him 'ds' or 'doublestandards', a nym he was using elsewhere at the time.

For further corroboration of identity, the Hope Clinic FB page (again):
Cochraine found that as only 10% of winter deaths were caused by flu like illness, not even confirmed flu, if the jab was to halve winter death it would have to have an impact on road traffic accidents!

Cf. 'Pebbles' at Epilogue, just before the banhammer came down:
The top claim for flu jab by the NHS and proper doctors is that it halves winter deaths. Cochraine found from stats that flu like illnesses, and that is not lab confirmed even, only account for about 10% winter deaths. Cochraine conclude that for the NHS claim that flu jab halves winter deaths to be true the jab would have to have an impact on road traffic accidents!