Trolling on the Internet: Sockpuppet Accounts Disrupt Conversation Online

Ever been in the comments section under a YouTube video and thought: WTF are these lunatics talking about? Chances are you’ve seen, or even taken part of, a comment thread that’s been created and curated by an Internet troll.

This blog post will focus on the impact that “sockpuppet accounts” can have on online discourse between members of the public and niche audiences led by individuals with vested interests. This is going to be an introduction to the darker side of the Internet and how sockpuppet accounts are used for trolling.

In the New Scientist article, “Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post,” Edd Gent reports on what researcher Srijan Kumar, of the University of Maryland, said, “In the era of fake news, detecting sock puppets is important…Whenever multiple accounts are used by the same party it is harmful and it skews the discussion and fake news can be propagated very confidently” (Gent 2017).

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Climate Change Denial and Motivated Reasoning: Science Journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) vs. YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers)

This blog post is going to examine just one example of Ben Davidson’s (Suspicious0bservers) use of “motivated reasoning” during his “Live Debate” that turned into a private Skype “discussion” with the science journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54).

It’s going to take some time to breakdown and go through the entirety of the scientific Gish Gallop that Ben Davidson uses throughout the video, “Discussion with Suspicious Observers.” For now, I feel it’s important to point out Ben Davidson’s use of motivated reasoning to reduce the unpleasant effects he experiences from the cognitive dissonance that arises whenever an expert disagrees with him.

Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?

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Potholer54’s ‘Live Debate’ Turned ‘Private Discussion’ with YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) on Climate Change – A Partial Transcript

The science journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) just released a new video on YouTube that reveals the first part of his “live debate” that turned into a “private Skype discussion” with the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers).

Be sure to check out the series of four YouTube videos that led up to this whole exchange, which include: Ben’s original video, “Yale’s Two Climate Bombs,” Peter’s first debunking video, “Correction of ‘Yale’s two climate bombs’ by suspiciousobservers,” Ben’s response of “How Someone Tried To Debunk A Video,” and Peter’s “Second response to Suspiciousobservers” video.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read my previous blog article, “The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: What Constitutes Evidence for Claims (Prequel to ‘Potholer54’ vs. ‘Suspicious0bservers),” for a little more background on the two involved in this “discussion.”

I find it’s helpful to read the things that people say in order to read between the lines and discern the real meaning behind the words they’re using, because some people sure do say a whole lot! It’s important to note that not everything that someone says is true, even when they say that it is; this is especially true when the person making the claims has no relevant education or expertise to back up the assertions/interpretations they’re making.

Scripted “Discussion” & Tangential Responses (Ranting)

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The Dark Side of the New Age “Love and Light”

To my knowledge, the guys over at The Spirit Science never addressed the death of rapper Courtney Jamal Dewar (aka Capital Steez) who was a big fan of their videos. This is most likely because this young man took his own life when he leapt off a building in New York City in the late hours of December 23rd, 2012. Capital Steez was often vocal about his “new age” belief system and his music, art reflected his troubled view of reality.

The song “Like Water,” sounds good until Steez drops a reference to the pineal gland or “third eye” in only the third line, Common Intro: They say signs of the end is near. 1st Verse: And I quote, we came like them niggas in boats. Still think it’s a joke? Your third eye vision is broke” (Pro Era 2012).

The common intro, “They say signs of the end is near,” is a lyric that the reader of this blog post should keep in mind going forward. Because, not only did Capital Steez believe in the new age nonsense surrounding the “December 21st, 2012” doomsday phenomenon, but he was living proof of the negative impact that the paranoid hell of conspiracy theories can have on your life, relationships and work opportunities.

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The Conspiracy Film “Kymatica” – Transcribed Portions

As promised, here is the follow-up blog post to, “Sovereign Citizens: The Rise of Pseudolegal Extremist Movements,” which contains the transcript of relevant portions from the conspiracy film “Kymatica.”

Falling for conspiracy theories on the internet can destroy your life by taking a drastic toll on relationships with family and friends, leaving you isolated and vulnerable to duplicitous “online communities.” The study, “Changing Conspiracy Beliefs through Rationality and Ridiculing,” also noted that, “Conspiracy theory (CT) beliefs can be harmful” (Orosz 2016).

Researchers of this study found that both “rationality speech” and “ridiculing speech” were effective in reducing belief in conspiracy theories among a small sampling of Hungarians (Dolan 2016).

The least effective method of communication, persuasion is “empathetic speech,” emotional appeals have very little influence when it comes to changing the beliefs of a conspiracist: “Rational and ridiculing arguments were effective in reducing CT, whereas empathizing with the targets of CTs had no effect” (Orosz 2016).

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The Spirit Science: Facebook Deletes Clickbait and Misleading Content

At this time, “The Spirit Science” isn’t quite organized enough to be classified as a cult, but their recent fundraising threatens their status as being just a “New Age movement.” Spirit Science’s YouTube videos feature cartoon characters who talk about drugs, peddle conspiracy theories and target anyone who’s gullible enough to overpay for their tawdry merchandise.

The creator of Spirit Science is a Winnipeg native who goes by the names: “Jordan Duchnycz” or “Jordan David Pearce.” As per usual, RationalWiki catalogues it all:

“The Spirit Science promotes a wide range of New Age woo including but not limited to astral projection, chakras, crystal woo, orgone energy, quantum woo and sacred geometry…Spirit Science endorses many ‘classicpseudoscientific and pseudohistorical themes, which are in turn based on claims from cranks, willful ignorance or completely made-up ideas. It would likely be easier to list the crank beliefs the Spirit Science does not perpetuate” (RationalWiki 2017).

The Spirit Science is just a bunch of guys who are stuck in a state of arrested development and who make shit up on the internet for money so they can cover the costs of their living expenses. Take a look at their Patreon fundraising goals:

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