Jan 17 2013

Sandy Hook and Online Harassment

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19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Sandy Hook and Online Harassment”

  1. SARAon 17 Jan 2013 at 11:29 am

    I find it interesting that Rosen, a non-parent, is the biggest target. If you actually believe that the entire thing is big fake, than you don’t show any deference to the parents who just lost someone. They should be getting a great deal more harassment than Rosen.

    This whole thing feels like troll behavior. It makes me wonder what percentage of the people who are doing the harassing are real “believers” of the conspiracy and what proportion are just trolls looking for something to stir up.

  2. SARAon 17 Jan 2013 at 11:30 am

    You know what? That last idea of mine seems sort of conspiracy-ish.
    “It makes me wonder what percentage of the people who are doing the harassing are real “believers” of the conspiracy and what proportion are just trolls looking for something to stir up.”


  3. RickKon 17 Jan 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Ironic coming from an anonymously named poster, but is anonymous communication a net positive for society? I’ve been wondering this for a while. There’s no “right” to anonymity, and it clearly contributes to social divisiveness, and it allows people to take positions just for the fun of being extreme (trolling) without taking the responsibility for their actions.

    Our society really should be able to confront people who choose to harass the grieving relatives of Sandy Hook victims.

  4. Markon 17 Jan 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Being a former conspiracy nut, I knew immediately that Sandy Hook would be fingered as a government conspiracy to take our guns away.

  5. Paul Parnellon 17 Jan 2013 at 12:47 pm


    Thats Poe’s paradox or a generalization of it:

    “In any fundamentalist group, a paradox exists where any new person (or idea) sufficiently fundamentalist to be accepted by the group is likely to be so ridiculous that they risk being rejected as a parodist (or parody).”

  6. Marshallon 17 Jan 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Steve–

    Great post as always. Would you consider doing a blog post on your “Lie to Me” comment? In other words–how well can we detect whether someone is lying? This includes not only body language, but things like polygraphs. I’ll post this in the suggestions.


  7. jreon 17 Jan 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Your point regarding the value to society of conspiracy theorists is very much on point. Matt Taibbi said much the same thing about 9/11 truthers: “[I]nstead of entertaining dozens of theories simultaneously, what real investigators do is follow the evidence and try to actually come up with a single theory of the crime.”

    If conspiracy buffs applied a little discipline to their practice, they could add value by discovering and correcting weaknesses in reporting and investigation. Instead, they mostly just contribute to the cloud of smoke.

  8. Technogeekon 17 Jan 2013 at 3:07 pm

    RickK, the fundamental flaw in your assumption is that mandating the use of real names will cause people to behave better. Judging from 99 percent of Facebook, that strikes me as a questionable assumption at best.

  9. SARAon 17 Jan 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I agree. I think it’s the perceived distance of internet communication that gives people the willingness to be cruel or to state things that would never come out of their mouths in a face to face encounter.

    The other factor is no “real world” knowledge of the people who will read their words. Again, that puts them at a distance from the people who react to their words.

    I do think being anonymous is also a factor though. It allows people to do things they might otherwise have to face some legal action for.

  10. Steven Novellaon 17 Jan 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I once got a scathing e-mail from a true believer. I responded in my usual professional manner. The e-mailer then responded, embarrassed, something like, “Oh, I didn’t realize there would be a real person at the other end of my e-mail. I thought I was sending it out to the ether.”

  11. Karl Withakayon 17 Jan 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Steven, the emailer obviously didn’t realize that you’re just a very well programmed computer (Orac’s cousin, perhaps?) that is capable of passing the Turning Test (and responding to emails) that was built to help spread government misinformation as well as occasionally buying concert tickets via Captcha. :)

  12. wendy0962on 17 Jan 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I have family in Bethel, CT and now because of a pendant that I designed I have many customers in other surrounding towns. These people are devastated. The massacre itself is bad enough but then these idiots with their conspiracy theories is just unfathomable.

    I designed a unique pendant to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre. After wracking my brain trying to come up with a way to show my support I created this design to remember the victims and to help the families. All proceeds (100%) are being donated to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund through the Western CT United Way.

    So instead of supporting the conspiracy theorists support the community. It is not just about gun control. It is about caring about fellow human beings. If you are interested in the pendant you can learn more here: http://www.simplyremembered.com/index.php/jewelry/spirit-tree-pendant-detail

  13. HHCon 17 Jan 2013 at 7:47 pm

    We have in our society a lack of compassion to empathize with others, as shown by this evidence. No one can make a hater, or person who enjoys baiting to care about anything but their fantasy world. Guns linked to insane violence entertain these individuals. Gratefully, the FBI has been asked to look into these matters to maintain the civil rights we have in this country. We have not lost our ability to feel, to grieve in our own way and express our cultural identity.

  14. ConspicuousCarlon 17 Jan 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I know someone who buys the JFK and 9/11 conspiracies, but then this nutty idea came along and suddenly it’s “how can anyone believe something so crazy?”


  15. rezistnzisfutlon 17 Jan 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Perhaps the reason why this conspiracy theory has gained more traction in the general public than, say, 9/11, is that it deals directly with gun control, which is anathema to much of the population. With 9/11, we already went to war and it didn’t directly affect most of the public. This, on the other hand, has the potential to directly affect the public. Combine that with the misinformation going around about what is being proposed in congress by pundits like Fox News and Alex Jones, and you’ll get more people who’ll accept it.

    I also think there are a lot of people who just can’t handle the utter tragedy of this event. It’s too ugly and it involves subjects that are so taboo and heinous, that perhaps it’s easier for them to gravitate toward a more pleasant fiction (perhaps not dissimilar to the human impulse to think that a deceased loved one lives on in a supernatural paradise and they’ll reunite with them someday rather than accept a cold hard reality of the end being the end, forever).

    It goes back to what Dr. Novella was saying about conspiracy theorists in general in a previous blog article, that the world is ugly, senseless, messy, and chaotic, and it’s comforting to think that there are actually reasons for these things occur (imagined or not), that they see the real truth, and if they can just get enough people to believe them they can do something about it and have control over the big, scary world.

  16. Sawyeron 17 Jan 2013 at 10:59 pm

    “In fact, if anything, if there were a real conspiracy out there, the rank and file internet conspiracy theorist would be completely incompetent to detect and expose it, and their clumsy conspiracy mongering would provide cover for the real conspiracy.”

    Absolutely agree. This is the thing that utterly infuriates me about conspiracy theorists. Sometime in the next 100 years there will be a REAL conspiracy that’s worth getting pissed off about, and no one will notice thanks to their minefield of nonsense and noise.

  17. Bronze Dogon 17 Jan 2013 at 11:02 pm

    One of the biggest problems I see in conspiracy theorists JAQing off: They think reality is unrealistic. In this case, they think grief makes people behave exactly like academy award winners performing a tragic scene instead of being aware of the diversity of human emotional responses.

  18. BillyJoe7on 18 Jan 2013 at 6:29 am

    In Australia, Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murdering her child essentially as a result of her blunted emotional response when talking in public about her daughter’s death. Everyone you talked to seemed to be convinced she was quilty and cited her lack of emotion as the reason they thought so. Nobody seemed interested in the lack of actual evidence. Lindy Chamberlain claimed a dingo took her baby. Many years later, her daughter’s matinee jacket was found by a tourist. This confirmed her story and eventually led to her conviction being overturned.

  19. Christopher_NWon 05 Feb 2013 at 9:14 am

    It made me sick reading about the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, but even worse was the disgusting “memes” idiots put up.

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