Sunday, December 30, 2012

The New Sport of Reading Crazy Internet Comments

[Revised 12/31/2012 to add details about the comments]

There is a new sport in town, a new dance craze if you will, everybody can enjoy it. The sport is reading the comments of the biped mammals to a topical news article. For every rational response, there is at least one irrational one, or so it seems.  Topics that set them off include Radiation and Nuclear Power, 911, Obama, Climate Change and Global Warming, and the Economy.

The irrational comments fall into a number of categories, they represent a broad diversity of insanity. It would not be fair to characterize it all as right wing ranting because there is, depending on the topic, a certain amount of left wing insanity as well. It depends on the topic.

In this case, the topic is a lawsuit filed by crewmen of the USS Reagan who participated in the humanitarian efforts during the nuclear meltdown in Japan. They are claiming that the Tokyo Power company deliberately lied about the level of radiation exposure and caused the plaintiffs unnecessary harm.

Go to the bottom of the article, there will be a few comments, and click on "load more comments". Keep clicking until you have had enough.

Here is a summary of some of the comments:

    -- first someone makes a joke about how nuclear power is really safe
    -- then, out of the blue, someone says that in fact there was coup d'etat and Obama had not
       won the election and that therefore all news that you read must be faked and furthermore 
       that they are doing it with our tax dollars !  (To add insult to injury, I guess).
    -- then someone says that we have to be careful because we have all been exposed to the
      Japanese radiation and we are all going to die
    -- then someone tries to explain that the radiation out here in n. america from the meltdown in 
       Japan was minor
    -- but then someone says that no artificial radiation (e.g. nuclear reactor) is minor, its different
        from other types of radiation that occurs in nature
    -- then while these people are fighting, we get another topic about how it serves those sailors right 
        because we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima, and its exactly the same thing, and besides we 
        were guilty of a war crime because the Japanese were going to surrender and Americans 
        just wanted to kill people
    -- then people try to explain what happened in WW2 and why it was not the same thing at all, but
       but the other conversations are all ongoing, except for the Obama "coup d'etat" one that 
       was SO CRAZY and off topic that no one even replies to it.
    -- And so forth.

I have not yet read a convincing explanation of this phenomenon (the phenomenon of crazy comments, not the question of why blogger can not write a text editor). Are we simply noticing this more because the Internet and the format of comments to news articles exposes us to the types of beliefs that were always there, just not so easily seen? Or are we seeing an explosion of new forms of irrational beliefs because of the times we live in, or other causes?

I am pretty sure that this phenomena is one of the characteristics of the age we live in.  For better or worse, people will look back to our period and note this about us.

My intuition tells me that while a certain amount of these crazy opinions always exists (or has existed), that we are a very polarized society and that there is an unpleasant amount of irrational thinking as a result of decades of deliberate lies of political groups. Not unlike what we find in Pakistan, by the way, although the details of what they are being irrational about are different.

I will post links to other comment repositories of nuttyness as I come across them.  I have already lost track of some great Global Warming exchanges though lack of diligence.

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