They Have To Be Monsters


Assigning blame to someone for a situation or accident where no one is at fault is a cognitive bias known as the “just-world hypothesis”. ( ). It’s scary the countless ways this can manifest, such as blaming an abuse victim for being abused or subconsciously assuming an obese person has no self-control or thinking you are personally a bad person (because why else would misfortune fall upon you?) Generally speaking, we as a species are uncomfortable to the point of terror at things happening for no reason.


“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” Apparently, it is the air we breathe.

I liked the Existential Dread thing. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But I think that there is freedom and empowerment in facing the idea that the universe just might actually be a random place. Then you are your own arbiter of right and wrong. Isn’t this what we all secretly want? Choose it and let go of the superstition.


My own experience and observations tell me that there are situations where women can receive more abuse but this is something that varies. The exact specifics don’t make for polite conversation.

Sometimes people are going to be too sensitive when people say what they think which is sometimes what is happening. People are merely being honest. Except in more special cases a line tends to be drawn when attacking a real identity rather than a handle. Attacking a handle doesn’t usually stick. This is an unwritten rule. There are contextual situations with different thresholds on the internet that are not well considered. The internet has in many ways gotten potentially worse as it has grown. When the internet started using your real name was often considered madness. It was rare to know someone else nearby with internet or to know who they were online except in one or two endeavours together. Today with people using things like facebook and tying in their online identities much more strongly into their offline identities a new context is created where things like harsh criticism can really strike close to home. The newspapers are such a special case as all authors have their real names linked to their jobs included with content. When it comes to context I’ve found this failure to adjust works both ways. As well as people producing excessive content in one setting in other settings you have excessively draconian moderation or criticism of content in others.

That’s my summary of it with a few key points but you wont get any easy answers because it is a complicated subject. This might sound strange but I believe that children should be trained and all given classes to strengthen them in this regard as this is important for emotional stability and fortitude in the future. Unfortunately it’s not really something that most people would consider. I often have to train youngsters not to use their real name online, to always use a handle, not to accept spam emails when registering and so on. It is quite worrying that we have a generation of youths going online with little to no guidance or training. In roughly a decade many people will be grateful for the EU’s right to be forgotten at the current rate.

I also examined the Guardian research as presented along with the article and I found the conclusions to be flawed. It was a thought provoking article but on investigation of what the Guardian actually had to show for it then it wasn’t possible to make a conclusion on what data they presented this way or that. Unless I am reading the graph wrong for example, it doesn’t support that abuse is being “heaped” on women, relative to men. It looks like around 20% more and it isn’t really possible to rule out several other factors. It is the kind of original research that the Guardian might not truly be equipped to carry out properly. For example, is there any real content analysis? There was also clearly bias in how the Guardian interprets the offensiveness of comments. It is a problem worthy of discussion but I suspect that the Guardian went too far in pushing their agenda with this one.


The reason these people are saying the bad things. They’re Judging. They’re showing their Anger and expressing all the negativity that is inside of them.

All of this is actually just a symptom. Everyone has their demons inside of them - emotional traumas, fears, regrets that when not faced, treated and eventually released lead to addictions of some sort. The abuses and negative talking in internet is actually a kind of addiction of the mind - a mind that’s very much controlled by it’s demons. Addiction - something destructive that gives a sick mind a short term satisfaction. It gives the mind a way to say - “Look he’s a junkie and he ruined his family’s life and I’m better than him”. No you’re not. You’re just addicted to something else and ruining some stranger’s life while pretending you’re perfect in front of your loved ones.

The proper way to deal with this kind of thing is actually to begin with yourself. Begin examining yourself and heal your mind of your blocked emotions, regrets and fears. Release them. Feel the love that is inside of you. And through that love try to see the reason behind the other people’s reactions, abuses and negativity. Try to help them see their fears, understand them and through understanding become free of them.

Remember - you cannot fight abuse and anger with more abuse and anger. Fight it with love and understanding.


The problem is that there are plenty of things the justify anger. People take it over the top but for one example, look at what MicroSoft is doing to push Windows 10 on people with total impunity while Belgian police are in a hysterical panic over Facebook, like buttons and cookies completely ignoring what’s happening to one of the very platform they’re using to accessing those with.

Often as you put forward people are lashing out, venting having a laugh and so on. The problem is that you can’t so easily condemn all negativity. There are plenty of grey areas. The negative is as important as the positive. You can’t live you’re entirely life on a happy pill and expect to have any meaning in life because nothing really matters.


Jeff, with the brock rape case and the Cincinnati zoo case, rereading your story is interesting. More to the zoo one. Lots of folks blame the mom by saying “I would never lose my kid” … they have to be monsters.


Uh, I’ve never read this blog before and I feel like i am missing an inside joke. Why is everyone in the comments such dicks to the guy and this blog? And weirdly persnickety dicks. Like quibbling over his exact language choices. There’s such a vibe of “people don’t like this guy” that I started thinking it must be a thing?

Like the time I took my cousin to a Primus show and after about ten minutes of hearing “Primus sucks!” he turned to me and said, “Why did they come to the show if they hate Primus so much?” Is that this?

The entry I read before this one was on P=NP and holy moley people lost their minds over mostly quibbles. What am I missing here?


See this:

Compare this to the three most viewed category of post. Politics is self-explanatory. Race and gender are a type of politics even more controversial and outrage-inducing than regular politics. And that “regret” all the way on the right is my “things i will regret writing” tag, for posts that I know are going to start huge fights and probably get me in lots of trouble. They’re usually race and gender as well, but digging deep into the really really controversial race and gender related issues.

Certain topics are fundamentally more controversial.


Sorry Jeff, you lost me at “White Male Privilege”. I’m coming from a country where this kind of speech has broken our society into hate groups on the last 13 years, and turned us from a socially peaceful and tolerant to intolerant and racists. There are real victims out there, people who really suffered from real stalking, real racism and real crimes. To these people, society has created over time the Justice System. We, the humanity, have methods, governments, judges and policemen to deal with the real stuff. If you’re so open to the world about your most intimate feelings, whenever they are sorrow or happiness, you’re opening yourself to both good and bad experiences, as there are both nice and bad people in the world. That’s emotionally mature in my opinion, but who am I to say that ? I’m no psychologist nor a scholar on the matter.


The discussion has gotten a bit away from the main topic but I would like to say that one of the fundamentals of this is the idea of “I don’t know them, they don’t know me” so this is just a one time thing with no consequences. That is obviously not true, of course, but I feel it is a calculation made by the troller. The idea that there is a fundamental and permanent disconnection between them and that it will persist. The dichotomy of “getting personal” along with a firm belief that it will never actually get personal between the abuser and the victim, because “Its not real life” even though these days it kind of is. Dehumanization plays its part too, as the medium abstracts and downplays the humanity, into a series of short, dark vignettes in the mind of the one being ugly.

The amusement factor is an addiction for online trolls. They are not trying (mostly) to actually hurt people they are just addicted to getting a reaction, even a “haha thats gross” juvenile one. Actually getting a fear response is like a shot of adrenaline to them and they think they are “winning the game” or something when really all they are doing is spreading misery.

Richt now the whole world is trying to thread the needle between what is just that stuff and what turns people in to rapists and terrorists and the answer is not at all clear, nor is any potential remedy. Perhaps an educational approach can help immunize the next generation coming up about how seriously to take such rantings on personal feeds, or you know maybe it will happen organically as control of incoming content becomes easier to do for consumers.

Real hate does exist; don’t let anyone tell you its just in their own minds and in their own responses to such vitriol. But also it is imperative to give people some intellectual at least and particular for this blog some technological tools to combat these trolls and to spot them before they do damage to the vulnerable people in our lives.

It’s always a conflict between self-policing of environments vs authoritarian control, but now that people are dying and living in fear as a matter of ordinary online life, it has come to a crux and must be dealt with.


Despite that role of cognition, the core of Us/Them-ing is emotional and automatic, as summarized by when we say, “I can’t put my finger on why, but it’s just wrong when They do that.” Jonathan Haidt of New York University has shown that often, cognitions are post-hoc justifications for feelings and intuitions, to convince ourselves that we have indeed rationally put our finger on why.

This can be shown with neuroimaging studies. As noted, when fleetingly seeing the face of a Them, the amygdala activates. Critically, this comes long before (on the time scale of brain processing) more cognitive, cortical regions are processing the Them. The emotions come first.