July 9, 2011

Munger - Muertos - Troll

Troll: (1) Someone who criticizes CTs, especially on the Internet. (2) Term used specifically by adherents of the Zeitgeist Movement to refer to persons who publicly oppose the cult. Trolls are often the scapegoats for whatever is wrong in the Zeitgeist Movement—essentially the Zeitgeist equivalent of Scientology’s “suppressive persons.”

This is Muertos' definition of the word "troll" and while his version is partially correct, adherents of the Zeitgeist Movement do call him a troll (with good reason I might add), it is largely lacking accuracy otherwise. In his definition is also the derogatory word "cult" which immediately should raise some concerns to the objective reader. In typical lawyer style, or should I say National Enquirer style, trolls are scapegoats in Muertos' book and last but not least one final association is made with the notorious Church of Scientology.

Alas, trying to make someone seem guilty by associating them with other negative elements in our society/culture is one of the hallmarks of a troll. Clearing yourself of any wrongdoing in the process is another one since Muertos seemingly takes no hard look at his own actions while it can be easily proven he is not as clean as he pretends here to be. But first lets take a look at the accurate definition of a troll. From Wikipedia;

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

The version of Wikipedia seems to differ quite a lot from Muertos'. The main motivation of a troll is to solicit for an emotional response from whoever is on the receiving end. Often this is done under a false identity yet this is not the case with Muertos whose real name is known. Provoking others into reacting is very much at the center of his game and as mentioned before it can be easily proven. I took the liberty of capturing some screenshots of internet venues where Muertos communicates with his ilk.

Here we have Muertos advising another forum participant to join Twitter just for the sake of [and I quote] "abusing and ridiculing Zeitgeist members." How does this fit in with Muertos' version of a troll? It doesn't, it does fit in with the Wikipedia version where readers are provoked into an emotional response. There can be little doubt that this is also the intent of Muertos' actions. Inflammatory messages by Muertos on the internet regarding the Zeitgeist Movement are simply there to create havoc .

Here we have Muertos on Twitter confirming the notion why Zeitgeist members refer to him as a troll. Apparently he likes Zeitgeist members getting upset over negative articles on the internet. Does this constitute as wanting/hoping to see an emotional reaction in other people? Does this fit Wikipedia's version of a troll? Personally, I already see enough justification for why Muertos is seen as a troll by members of the Zeitgeist Movement.

Here's some damning evidence. Here's Muertos giving advice to other forum contributors on "how to troll a dating site." When you give others advice on how to troll a website, aren't you one yourself? Isn't a bomb-maker who instructs terrorists how to make a weapon also regarded as a terrorist? Again this has nothing to do with Muertos' definition of a troll, it only confirms Wikipedia's version where other people on the internet are deliberately harassed by people who seemingly enjoy infusing others with negativity.

Clearly the labeling of Muertos as a troll is perfectly justified, it's in his words and for everyone to see. His version where it is used as some sort of scapegoat theory is disingenuous in every way. Seeing how Muertos lambasts Zeitgeist members for being conspiracy theorists while he shows no reservations theorizing about the Zeitgeist Movement, labeling it as a cult and using guilt by association tactics, we are fully entitled to call him a hypocrite and bigot as well. There's one last thing about trolls; they wont admit any wrongdoing, they can't because it disempowers them. Denial extents their game. There's one thing they hate though since trolls tend to hide out in the dark, and that is exposure to the (lime)light.


Vasper85 said...

Ed The Zeitgeist Movement has an image problem. When I spend most of my time arguing about how TZM is not communist/NWO/Conspiracy Central rather than talking about the merits of living differently there is a problem. TZM needs to get their house in order, trim the fat, focus the message, begin vetting who can speak about an RBE, raise the bar as to who can be a member and lastly kick it into high gear in the area of helping people.

Writing about trolls does not deal with the root problem of why TZM is trolled. Stop blaming Muertos, you can't control him. You can control what goes on in TZM and how it operates. So what are you waiting for? Change.

Ed V. said...

Vasper, I'm not so much in disagreement with you about the notion that TZM could improve its public perception but it's not a one-sided issue here. Take away the 'root problems' you mention and TZM would still be trolled.

Other factors such as patriotism, nationalism, the belief in an economic model and pure ego issues are also behind the trolling, which to me indicates that once the 'conspiracy theories' are completely withdrawn (if they are there at all these days) it's just business as usual for the critics.

I seem to recall you also wrote a piece about Muertos on your blog. The sentiments you displayed therein are similar to mine and that is that some of the critique that TZM receives is simply unfair. That is the reason why I write blogs like this one. Maybe TZM can change, but can the critics as well?

Vasper85 said...

I did do a piece on Muertos on my blog because of the frustration I was feeling on TZM being compared to Desteni and TZM being labeled a conspiracy cult.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, nor am I a member or have ever been a member of a cult. But the frustration I felt stemmed from that, although I do not believe that TZM is a cult, from the outside looking in, it shares certain dogmatic characteristics that can be perceived that way. In this I am not speaking about some of TZM’s more vocal members like Frederico or Doug Mallette, I am speaking of the rank and file. I am speaking about people who profess to be “members” but bring their own baggage, their own agenda to TZM.

This tars all members with the same brush. You may accuse me of “going native” because I have spent perhaps more time with our critics then I ever did with the movement, but regardless these people have identifiable issues with the movement if someone took the time to listen. Some of these problems are legitimate, some are not, but of those things that can be addressed I have not seen any real movement on them, just half-measures and obfuscation. The continued association with the first documentary is a prime example of this. The Zeitgeist name will always have these associations. Repudiate it and rebrand. Stop waffling on this and take concrete measures.

I get it, at first it made marketing sense with 50M hits on the first documentary, but where is the explosive growth now? How many people are signed up to receive the newsletter? Do you have any realistic way of understanding just how many you are and who counts as a member? The Zeitgeist name is more of a hindrance now than it is a boon and it is preventing you from making massive inroads into the mainstream.

The biggest change I’ve seen from TZM was predicated by the break-up of TZM and TVP. This only happened out of necessity. TZM needs to realize that it needs to adapt or die. This means addressing criticisms rather than ignoring them by labeling people “mind locked” or “trolls” and just not “doing the research”.

When some of the prominent members of TZM attend conferences not under the banner of TZM because of the “flags” such an association would raise, is it not time to look at what flags TZM is raising and why?

Lastly you are under the impression, like many TZM members, that your critics are being unfair and that TZM deserves some modicum of respect and civility. Your detractors are under no such obligation to behave as such. TZM is the new kid on the block with an untried and untested idea. Your ideas are strange and threaten the status quo. It is on the movement to demonstrate its fitness by “doing”, this is how great ideas survive and propagate, not by calling for civility. You will do far more in changing your critic’s behaviour by changing your conduct and demonstrating the effectiveness of your principles.

Change the environment and you change the behaviour.

Ed V. said...

You know Vasper, I don't see that many irreconcilable differences between us. There's certainly room for improvement with TZM and I personally regard it as a work in progress. The movement isn't there yet and I find it disappointing that you felt the need to associate yourself with the most vocal critics of Zeitgeist. On the other hand maybe you can talk some sense in them but I fear that soon enough you'll find out what these people are all about.

I agree with you that some ZM members have an agenda of sorts. One example is that I saw one person trying to recruit ZM members for the global socialist party in the U.K. Shoot, I even saw a neo-nazi on YouTube giving his own spin on the first Zeitgeist movie directing blame at Jewish bankers. People jumping on the Zeitgeist bandwagon for their own agenda? You betcha. But the thing is, no matter what you do as a movement there are going to be people who criticize your actions.

Decentralize the movement and you have all kinds of people inserting their own particular ideology. Critics are going to jump on that and claim 'we' have socialists or nazis in the movement. Centralize the movement and make it harder for people to take control and insert their ideology and critics are going to jump on that claiming we have leaders, or should I say "cult" leaders like Peter Joseph. Do you see what I'm getting at?

If a person wants to bitch and moan about something Zeitgeist related, they are going to find it no matter what and this is what you see practically on a daily basis over at the CS forums. I've observed the critics for a while now and basically most of them simply generate critique for the sake of generating critique. Plus that many issues they raise are simply side-issues. The core of their disagreement with Zeitgeist is something else entirely.

Conspiracy theories are simply a side-issue. People will always gossip, talk behind someones back or theorize about the motivations of other people. It doesn't make them right but I regard it simply as a fact of life and not something absolute that can be banished. It can be 'reasoned' away though. Besides, some of the critics who use the CT angle show no reservations themselves about making conspiracy theories involving TZM.

Which brings me to Muertos. (Other critics have been banned in the past from TZM's forums which is the main reason why they oppose it now but this isn't the case with Muertos.) On one level I find it fascinating that an educated man like Muertos who is a gifted writer and also an intelligent person, yet at the same time can be so polarized and ideological rigid that he almost reacts instinctively. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist I don't think CT's are at the core of his disagreement with TZM. But by all means correspond with him and maybe you'll arrive at a similar conclusion.

All in all there's plenty of room for improvement with everyone involved myself included. TZM needs to improve, no argument there. Maybe I need to find different ways in trying to change someones mind. I do like to think that I at least spend some time and energy on introspection because the thing is, you can't really change the world directly. You can only change yourself and thereby change the world. Maybe that's the real lesson for TZM members and its critics.

Vasper85 said...

Indeed there aren’t that many differences between us. I was you just a few short weeks ago. I still support an RBE, but I cannot reconcile the conspiracy, new age element with an idea that states “uses the scientific method for social concern”. These are two mutually exclusive ideas.

I am more interested in talking some sense into you, and the other members with pull in the movement.

It is one thing to advocate an idea that is strange and runs counter to the current accepted norm, it is another to let that idea get swamped by irrelevancies. TZM has always taken the middle road sitting on the fence between science and pseudo-science. This is making the movement schizophrenic. I agree there are always going to be detractors, but I would much rather people criticize TZM for the idea of an RBE, than for being a movement based on pseudo-science and conspiracy theory. This is in your movement’s control. Paddy Shannon (WSM) in a V-Radio interview said exactly that, you need to vet your members, and have proper PR to address these misappropriations. This might seem heavy handed to you, but if you want the idea not to be watered down, this is how you do it. Start at 1:08:50


So is that going to be the excuse, Ed? “The movement is decentralized, so we can’t take any responsibility?” Most of the criticisms leveled at TZM are fixable, if you have the will to do so. You do have leaders, multiple leaders. It is not the end of the world to have leaders, as long as you make it so anyone who speaks to the idea comfortably and intelligently with integrity can be recognized as such. But you need some way to vet the message and the messenger.

What do you think a person sees when they type in “Zeitgeist” into google? What do you think when someone types in “Greenpeace” or “Red Cross” into google sees? It is clear that TZM has an image problem. I expect some economic and political criticism, but you never see any of the latter-mentioned organizations being accused of being NWO or being a conspiracy movement. With Zeitgeist, PJ has gone out of his way to pick a fight with Christian’s, the US government, and the world’s leading financial institutions. The third one is perhaps justified, but the first two is just foolhardy.

This “side-issue” you refer to is why most professionals and mainstream organizations are hesitant to get involved with TZM. And as to why TZM would, as a movement that advocates the scientific method, keep that Zeitgeist association baffles me. Also you are painting all your critics with the same brush. I would like to know one resident of CS who accuses TZM of being a CT movement who themselves believe in CT’s. I submit they don’t exist. You have three main critics. CT’s that accuse TZM of being NWO, critics that accuse TZM of being too heavy handed with the moderation, and critics that accuse you of being a conspiracy movement, only the last one affects your credibility with the mainstream. It is this one you should be concerned with.

Muertos’ major objection? That TZM is founded on the backs of conspiracy theory. Hence the movement attracts more than its fair share of cranks, anit-vaxxers, denialists (HIV and Climate Change), new agers, etc. He also thinks that the RBE is a shit idea too, but I can accept that, because the system can be made falsifiable i.e. testable. It will either succeed or fail and the question will be settled. Muertos is not so rigid as to deny evidence if it happens to support that an RBE is a viable system. And I am not so rigid to deny evidence that it does not work.

I am glad you agree that TZM needs to improve. The best way to change someone’s mind is to demonstrate the principles you advocate. Seeing people “living differently” in action is powerful. Ultimately talk is just that, talk.

Slime Tron 5000 said...

But more importantly, the Skeptic Wizards are amusing.

The ‘conspiracy theory’ itself does not exist! It is believed as a religion and merely effects the said language interpretation of what is being stimulated.

The only validated points the detractors have made are concerning the administration and public relations effort of The Zeitgeist Movement.

I'm going to see what Beyond The Pale acknowledges next. Before anyone writes "same old stories", Don't rubber stamp textbook arguments with statement of authority. You wish to win an argument by a show of hands - democratic consensus on fact agreement rather than through logic.