21 Sep 2007

Trolls - Turning anonymous flakes into constructive 'tools'

Every once in a while I get an interesting psych-case or two who apparently seem to think that they're succeeding in their own anarchistic cause by cursing at people who contribute on the net... even though I have "comment moderation" enabled. If I don't like your negative monologue, I simply chuckle as I delete it. I gather these people must be the bottom of the barrel. They think like some six year-olds: "I want you to pay attention to my antics, but you never do... so I'm going to break this window!" I have every confidence in Darwin however, and I simply turn their idiotic suggestions into constructive and intelligent linguistic topics. Turn black into light.

Etruscan is related to Dravidian...
Translation: I don't understand what mass comparison is.

There was a person a few weeks ago who was bold enough to expose his identity after pestering me with what he thought was clever humour at my expense. Not the best way to win friends, I'm afraid. Sufficed to say, he had abandoned his own blog that was failing miserably, no doubt because its premise was built entirely on a shallow sense of humour (i.e. consisting of sophomoric mockery of professors for the sake of diminishing those smarter than him to ail his self-worth). They were very pedantic jokes yet detached from intellectuality or even reality. His blog entries were hard to appreciate on any level. Whether in jest or in all seriousness, he asserted to me that Etruscan was related to Dravidian and that I should blog about it. Of course, there are just too many nutball theories like this on the net. There's even the case of Zacharie Mayani who published his book The Etruscans Begin to Speak, a truly useless waste of paper that seeks to convince the slowest of readers that Etruscan is related to Albanian without a respectable methodology in sight. There's no need to go into more detail about these pseudo-theories because they are all committing the same error: mass comparison.

Mass comparison is the practice of taking words and comparing them to other words in another language based on your own, lonely conviction that the words look alike. Of course, if your IQ is even a shade over 100, the natural question should arise: How "close" do words have to be before they "look alike"? What does "close similarity" even mean? What if I don't agree that your words look alike? Does my subjective opinion count as much as the theorist, or does the theorist just want to live in his own bubble? There are no rational answers to these questions because this is all about self-centeredness and attention-seeking more than rational thought. If the theorist is insane, the results will be just as insane. The method is random and only used by people who are too lazy or incompetent to find stricter, more empirical methodologies. Read Mark Rosenfelder's How likely are chance resemblances between languages? which explains all of this with mocking examples comparing Quechua to every language on earth.

Theories could be wrong, so all theories are hearsay...
Translation: I'm a dogmatic relativist and I have a mental illness.

I see this time and time again in various incarnations. A recent spammer named himself after a plague-causing bacteria, exposing a wealth of psychological background about his fragile self-esteem. While using delightful expletives to shock me, he proceeded to inform me that I allegedly "believe that 'hammers' ham". I assume the angry loon was sheepishly refuting with ad hominem attacks the method of using morphological analysis to determine the likeliest word origins in a given language. Sufficed to say, I've never seen this person create his own Etruscan Dictionary Project and proof is in the pudding. Critics are far too often the same people who convieniently produce nothing of their own to critique because they couldn't handle being served their own cold dish.

It's no secret: I proudly use morphology to break down Etruscan words to deduce etymologies to these words and to help triangulate more precise translations. I'm certainly not going to opt for no analysis at all in place of morphological analysis. Relativism is rampant on the net and seeks to deconstruct reasoning into a game of "anything can be correct." Well, no, that's not the case and I encourage relativists to walk out in front of a car to prove that they won't just pass through the car without a scratch.

The general masses are eternally confused about the difference between "all", "some" and "none". Some words don't fit this ideal situation, such as when the word "hammer" doesn't come from a verb "ham". An almost-correct solution is better than no answer but some people are so out of sorts that they are easily discouraged by the impossibility of attaining an absolutely perfect solution. So they decide that it's not worth pursuing answers at all. Fortunately, depression is treatable with medication and therapy.

In most cases morphological analysis is productive. If this wasn't used in some form, no linguist would be able to speak of "grammar" since inflections can only be deduced by internal comparison of one word form with another in the same language. Etruscologists have uncovered case suffixes this way by comparing, for example, ati "mother" with atial "of the mother". Since the pattern of the genitive case is so extensive there's no reason to doubt the effectiveness of morphological analysis in determining word origins. We can't let the minority of cases where such an analysis is faulty dictate what works for the majority of cases. Any etymological errors are eventually uncovered when someone provides a more optimal solution, instead of wasting their precious time in their underwear nagging at random bloggers with a moderated commentbox.

You speak of loons in general, so maybe you're a loon...
Translation: I mistake criticism for its own sake as "Critical Thinking".

This is my most favourite one of all. Apparently in this increasingly politically-correct world, if you now even dare suggest for a moment that anyone's theories could be nonsense, you're vollied back with a childish "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" barb. It's an easy way out since it's less difficult than assessing the validity of a person's words more deeply. I've figured out quickly that while Lulu.com is a great place to share pdfs and books, whether free or for pay, the site itself is not effectively moderated by its administrators who think à la Ayn Rand that direct ad hominems are just "freedom of speech" and "democracy". Of course, democracy can only exist in an educated and intelligent society of constructiveness, otherwise its citizens drown in a sea of uninformed gossip and in their confusion, they begin to be brainwashed into believing that dictatorship or maoism is a better solution than democracy to maintain order. Goddess help us all.

When I advertised my free project to everyone on Lulu, I inadvertantly committed the supposed faux-pas of mentioning in general how some people in the field of Etruscology produce such horrible work that they can be considered "loons" and that this is why I'm inspired to do my project. I never named names but, sure as rain, a digimaoist by the name of Kenneth Griefer stepped up to the plate to attack my generalized, experience-based opinions by suggesting that maybe I was loony too (see my entry on Lulu: New Etruscan Dictionary Project - Draft 001 is uploaded).

Of course we could equally question this about any person or book under the sun, including Kenneth Griefer's own Lulu book entitled Messianic Mistakes: Possible Mistakes in the Messianic Proof Quotes. Unlike my general statement, his is a pointless criticism and person-directed attack. It's neither here nor there in the end and, failing the responsibility of providing facts to back up a charge against me, it's implicitly understood that intelligent readers will take up the responsibility to logically assess what they're reading on their own anyway. The wikitrend that expects us all to turn every statement into feelgood hyperpositivism is the latest, disturbing dance with the devil. Adopting an Orwellian-like language that signifies nothing at all is not going to save our species. What I had merely intended to be a quick, general statement about my deep dissatisfaction with this particular field was successfully distorted into an ad hominem in a way that would almost appear intentful but he later apologized after stating the word "loon" an innumerable amount of times. Go figure. You be the judge.

I'm a troll, screw you...
Translation: I hate my meaningless existence as others push forward without me.

In the end, my project continues on, so it begs the question why there are so many loons in this world. Oh no, did I mention the word "loon" again? Dear me, how dare I keep it real, hehe. Yep, loons exist alright. It's the truth Wikipedia doesn't want you to know. Loons are among us so if we care about the future and the world that we live in, we need to speak up and make a cause to thwart their stupidity.

I continue to have informed, fact-based opinions and I continue to express my opinions with the facts that support them. This is true democracy. Take away facts and you have an asylum. The naysaying, faux-positivist critics with shiney teeth and jagged tongues however continue to roll around in their own constructiveless dung as I write this. So why sweat it? The only way to stop negativity is to continue being shamelessly constructive and as we do, the stupidity of nihilism becomes increasingly clearer.


  1. You are simply nothing more than an arrogant ape.

  2. "You are simply nothing more than an arrogant ape."

    Hahaha. Yes! That's what I'm talking about. Translation: "I'm an arrogant ape too and I can't handle two apes in the same monkey tree. I'm a troll. Hear me roar." And as you can see, many trolls hide their identity because they are cowards and have no sense of identity in their real lives :)