1. A dumbass who makes idiotic posts in message boards/newsgroups for the sole purpose of pissing people off, often lacking in intelligence. Sometimes compared to people who pass you by on the sidewalk then grab you in inappropriate places.ii
2. One of many unsung internet heroes who is almost entirely misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, many trolls are actually quite intelligent. Their habitual attacks on forums is usually a result of their awareness of the pretentiousness and excessive self-importance of many forum enthusiasts. As much as people may hate trolls, they are highly effective – their actions bring much of the stupidity of other forum users out into the great wide open.
Which of these definitions you’re inclined to agree with depends largely on your ability to engage in logical argument.iii If you can’t debate worth a shit because you’re an emotional basket case who thinks that “being mean is bad,” you likely subscribe to #1. If you have even a modicum of global and historical perspective and can see through the curious conventions called “social norms” as products of time and place rather than everlasting truths, then you likely subscribe to #2. This philosophical split is no small matter, which is why it’s been documented elsewhere.
But what of it? How does this affect you?
Well, it effects you because this split reduces to a battle between feelings and individual freedom of expression. And it isn’t going anywhere. Not only has it been raging since forever, but it isn’t about to stop no matter how many poor people are oppressed by Internet censorship. If anything, the divide will only grow when MegaEvilGovCorp mandates a Feelingsnet for Redditards and their unfortunate offspring while those of us with a functioning cerebral cortex, those of us capable of being Individuals, step out of the way of the MegaEvilGovCorp trawler to enjoy our freedom of expression on the platform of champions. Feelingsnet will be safe and nice and fair and easy-to-use and completely fucking spoonfed. The Internet will remain the dominion of trolls and the similarly enlightened.
Articles like “Should Government Reduce Inequality in Life Spans?” by Dwight R. Lee, Professor of Global Markets and Freedom at the Cox School of Business, Southern Methodistiv University, will most definitely be confined to The Good Internet. Why? Because different opinions are “trolling” and “trolling is mean” and shit. So let’s memorialize this one because it also raises some other interesting topics for discussion:
The concern that so many people have over large inequality of income is puzzling for two reasons. First, some of those most adamantly in favor of reducing income inequality using government taxation and transfers also dismiss the importance of additional income for most people. They tell us that money doesn’t buy happiness once we have such basics as adequate housing, food, clothing and access to health care (which is different than having health insurance). Because the vast majority of Americans have these basics, the focus on income inequality does not make much sense.
This is an excellent point. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Having better rulers does. Not that you’re likely to convince those blinded by socialist democracy of this. Not a chance. Poor people in North America think that being wealthy is the same as being creditworthy,v making them as fucked in the head as girls who think they “have time to find a guy” and wait until their late 20’s,vi when the golden opportunities afforded by both youth and the larger social circles of Universities are but faded memories. Incidentally, these are the same people who derp that “income inequality is bad” and “if you look at the stats it’s rising to dangerous levels and someone should do something about it” and such and such.vii
But here begins what those subscribing to Troll Definition #1 absolutely hate: when people poke holes in their hairbrained arguments! Check it:
The second reason this focus is puzzling is that there is a far more important inequality: that is the inequality in life expectancy.
Aha! An adept attack on the “equality is bad always and everywhere” argument! You won’t see this on the Feelingsnet.
Precisely because income in excess of a fairly modest income (modest, at least, by U.S. standards) is not very important, what matters more for happiness is the amount of time we have on this earth to be happy. Few would deny that a few additional years of life would be more precious to most Americans than the extra money they might receive from government transfers. If inequality in things that matter is important, there is a basic inequality that the worriers about inequality should be paying attention to: the inequality in life expectancy between men and women.
In 2005, life expectancy at birth was almost seven percent higher for American women than for American men (80.4 years for women vs. 75.2 years for men). Governments could certainly reduce this life-expectancy inequality by redistributing medical research funding on women’s health to research on men’s health, and general medical care funding from women to men. Consider that men are more likely to die from prostate cancer than women are from breast cancer. Yet in 2005 federal expenditures for prostate cancer research were $390 million compared to $698 million for breast cancer research, and the American Cancer Society contributed almost three times as much for breast cancer research ($98 million) as for prostate cancer research ($36 million).
That’s right, equalitarians, if you really care about making the world fair and wonderful and special and lala, by logical extension you should also be in favour of reducing breast cancer research funding and transferring those dollars over to man-cancer research. “Huh?! What?!” Lol yup. Do the math.
When I talk to people, I find that they generally agree with, and rarely strongly oppose, forcible government transfers of income from the rich to the poor to reduce income inequality. But when I suggest that the government transfer medical expenditures from women to men to reduce life-expectancy inequality, I get a very different reaction. Often, the listener will simply give me a strange look and quickly depart. Those who do respond verbally, however, typically say that I couldn’t possibly be serious because my idea is outrageously silly. I agree. It is silly. But I am completely serious in suggesting it.
Dwight is completely serious. “Trolls,” that is, people with different and unconventional opinions, are completely fucking serious. They’re not pulling your leg, they’re not trying to get your goat, if you stopped being so “offended” for a goddam second, you’d see that they’re making a fucking point. Maybe it hurts your feelings, sure, it’s not nice and fair, whatever. Get over yourself. Fuck. If you’re going to maintain an opinion on something, see it through to its logical conclusion and maintain that as well. Alternatively, STFU and go have an opinion about sports and salads and leave economics and politics to the motherfucking adults.
When we seriously consider an attempt to use government power to reduce the gender inequality in life expectancy, the problems that we have always faced when government uses its power to reduce income inequality suddenly become crystal clear. Government transfers to reduce the gender gap in life expectancy would do little more than reduce improvements in both women’s and men’s life expectancies. For similar reasons, government transfers have done little more than reduce the income growth of both the rich and the poor. So government attempts to reduce life-expectancy inequality by transferring medical expenditures would be silly, but no sillier than its attempts to reduce income inequality by transferring money.
Now here’s a man who can think clearly. Refreshing, isn’t it? While I recommend reading the whole article, for the sake of brevity here, let’s skip ahead to the conclusion:
Gender inequality in life expectancy is something that government’s forced transfers can do little, if anything, to reduce. Fortunately, politicians have not yet seen an electoral benefit from attempting to reduce this inequality. Greater longevity for men is desirable independent of comparisons with the longevity of women, and it is best achieved when government is largely limited to enforcing the general rules of private property and voluntary exchange that promote freedom and prosperity. By contrast, politicians have found it politically advantageous to exaggerate income inequality and convince the public that it is a serious problem demanding more government transfers. The reality is that political attempts to reduce income inequality with transfers are frustrated by the same considerations that would frustrate an attempt to reduce gender inequality in life expectancy with transfers. Helping the poor by reducing poverty is desirable independent of comparisons with the wealth of the rich. And, as with greater longevity for men, improving the income of the poor is best achieved by the freedom and prosperity that result when government is restricted to enforcing the general rules of private property and voluntary exchange.
That’s pretty much it. Dwight draws an intelligent, sound, and productive conclusion based on logical premises, as apparently only “trolls” can. Isn’t it amazing that it’s only “trolls” who can keep going, who can push an idea further, who can ask the right questions, and who can fly in the face of the group’s irrational codswallop.
I’ve quoted MP on this before but it bears repeating:
Inasmuch as empathy is concerned with emotions, in has no place in any discussion of citizenship or society, as emotions are strictly private affairs whereas society and state are strictly public affairs specifically forbidden from touching on the private sphere in any way as a condition required for the allowing of their continued existence.
The Internet is IRL. There’s no more hiding. This is it and there’s no room here for your feelings.
Thank your lucky trolls for that.
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- The standard for online dictionaries and the only one embedded into the heart of #bitcoin-assets.↩
- Because verbal harassment is just like physical harassment! Because harassment is a thing!↩
- Yes! Your potential, your competency, your capacity…↩
- Methodism is like Mormonism in that it follows the life and teachings of a recently living man. Methodism follows Brit John Wesley (1703–1791) and Mormonism follows American Joseph Smith (1805–1844). Maybe you can start a branch of Christianity too!↩
- Whether people are poor financially or intellectually is of little consequence. The results are largely the same as the groups trend towards convergence.↩
- Much less their early 30’s. God help them!↩
- Income inequality, of course, isn’t rising, it’s just that fucking shills like Thomas Piketty fudge the fucking numbers to affirm the narratives of their socialist overlords. For a less technical discussion, see 155: The Pikettistas’ Reasoning Error by Nassim Taleb. For a more technical discussion of this point, see: On the Super-Additivity and Estimation Biases of Quantile Contributions by Taleb et al. (2014) ↩