Troll-feeding

The other day, I got a comment notification for a post over at Randal Rauser's blog, which was strange because I hadn't visited his blog in a while per my exasperation with engaging Christian apologists. I mean shoot, there was even a whole series of debates between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig, and some drama that involved letters exchanged between Krauss, Craig, and Alexander Vilenkin. And even that induced a mere yawn from me, because it was just Craig's same old bullshit.

Anyway, the comment was just a troll. Against my better judgement, I replied anyway. I then dropped a few other belated replies on the post.

The next day, this same troll, named Joseph O Polanco, found my blog – presumably by way of Randal's site. Now, I have some rules for new visitors. These are common-sense rules that are posted in the "About - Comment Policy - FAQ" tab at the top of the page. But hey, who the fuck reads comment policies these days anyway am I right folks?

On that page I ask new visitors to do things like use the search button to avoid rehashing well-worn discussions, and to avoid posting monologues (get your own blog!). Joseph, of course, ignored these requests – even after I asked him.

In one last shot at reason (one too many), I asked him to narrow down the topics, to pick one instead of dangling countless threads all over my site. I have a life, ladies and gentleman, and I'm not going to spend every spare moment arguing with Bible thumpers especially since we know how those 'discussions' usually end up anyway. That was last night. Today I awoke to 32 comment notifications from Disqus. Some of you alert readers had jumped in too, which despite your eloquent and well-thought-out arguments (which you've made plenty of times before yourselves) clearly had no effect on Joseph's overpowering delusional narcissism.

He's a troll. And I fed him. You fed him. We all did. And when he refused to play by the rules, I blacklisted the motherfucker. To give you an idea of what a thick skull I was dealing with, he actually said, condescendingly, that it looked like I hadn't gotten around to reading Hawking's The Grand Design – I've done a whole fucking series on it! And after I blacklisted him, he squirmed back to Randal's blog to offer this tidbit of profundity that clearly shows the type of person I'm dealing with:


This is the second time this has happened recently, with an apologist by the name of Matt necro'ing some old threads from a few months ago, and petulant though he was he was small potatoes compared to Joseph.

So, I'm going to use Disqus settings to shut down comments after 30 days. No more necro'ing old threads. And if trolls can't abide by the comment policy and FAQ, I'm just going to delete all their comments and immediately ban them. I'm not going to issue warnings, because I think my 'rules' really just boil down to common courtesy and common sense.

There's no help for these people. They're less famous versions of William Lane Craig: pompous, arrogant, narcissistic, and thick-skulled. They are not interested in critical self-examination, and they do not deserve your time or attention.



I want to end on an upbeat note though. I loved a quip I heard yesterday from Tim Michin, which to me beautifully illuminates the impasse that believers and non-believers frequently find each other unwilling or unable to traverse: 
A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like assholes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this, but I would add that opinions differ significantly from assholes in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined. We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others; be hard on your beliefs. Be intellectually rigorous – identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges. Most of society's arguments are kept alive by a failure to understand nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies and then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.

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