Wednesday, May 15, 2002
There is another theme I want to introduce briefly and expand upon in later posts. That theme is the rise of the Internet Gadfly. This theme is related to my interest in the proliferation of Junk Science ( don't miss Steve Milloy's website in the links ) in our media, culture and politics. These gadflies are not merely advocates of whatever demented cause - be it Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Gulf War Syndrome, Alternative Medicine or what have you - they are completely obsessed. Peter Bowditch has an excellant website which has a section called Quintessence of the Loon[tm] where he lists websites of ... well ... loons. A hilarious collection of ravings. One problem in browsing his collection for entertainment is that in time the sheer magnitude of the raving irrationality starts to stun one like a long day at the rifle range. Full Canvas Jacket is another collection of Peter's, this time of loons appearing on Usenet.
And that brings me to my theme. I've been a part of various Internet forums and communities since Usenet was sent around the world on overnight dialup links - at least two decades - and the 'Net has always had its collection of strange people. And so with the global reach of the Internet, we have a truly global assortment of irrationals splashing in the pond. Peter links to the ravings of a couple of Internet Gadflys, and there are a couple he omits, who reach the status of Internet Thug. One-Man Bands of advocacy, Miniature Cultists, and actual Internet stalkers - one of Peter's Full Canvas Jacket recipients actually brags on Usenet of telephoning family and employers of Usenet posters she's deemed an enemy. Another evidently conducts mailbomb campaigns. All in the name of their obsession for their pet "cause". The Usenet news groups sci.environment, alt.support.breast-implant and misc.health.alternative are the main haunts of these vermin. Its difficult to extract from the long threads of Usenet discussions cogent examples of the Internet Gadfly and Internet Thug in operation, but I'll endeavor to do so in future episodes of this barrage.
Robin 5:11 PM