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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Columnist Dennis Prager: Make combox morons reveal their identity

Anyone who blogs on a controversial subject is familiar with downloading a flock of anonymous posts in the morning mail, post with all the wit and charm of a cancer-ridden dumpster rat.

Regular readers of my blogs, The Post-Darwinist and The Mindful Hack will realize that, ever since moderation was enabled, such stuff became pretty rare.

Meanwhile, columnist Dennis Prager has some useful reflections on putting a lid on anonymous Internet hate:
Sexual images and prose for the purpose of sexual titillation are not new. But the ability of anyone in society to debase public discourse is new. Until the Internet, in the public's best known venue for self-expression -- letters to the editor published in newspapers and magazines -- people either expressed themselves in a civilized manner or they were not published. And overwhelmingly, even those letters that were not published were written in a respectful manner because the letter-writers had to reveal their real names and their addresses (though only names and cities were published).

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

He goes on to make a critically important point:
The Internet practice of giving everyone the ability to express himself anonymously for millions to read has debased public discourse. Cursing, ad hominem attacks and/or the utter absence of logic characterize a large percentage of many websites' "comments" sections. And because people tend to do what society says it is OK to do, many people, especially younger people, are coming to view such primitive forms of self-expression as acceptable.

Some might argue that anonymity enables people to more freely express their thoughts. But this is not true. Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.

I like to imagine that the you-cockroach posts are written by some dear litle lad who is taking a break from photoshopping his ID so he can get bombed in Toronto. If the true author turns out to be an emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology ... well, it’s better to know now, I suppose ...

By the way, on November 8, 11:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, Mario Beauregard and I, as the authors of The Spiritual Brain, will be on Dennis Prager’s radio show.

From The Mindful Hack:

The crucial difference between materialist and non-materialist neuroscience

Great review of The Spiritual Brain in Quill & Quire

Atheist indoctrination requires discrediting free will

Is free won’t one of the keys to free will?

Mindful meditation catches on in workplace - beaded hippies nowhere in sight

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