March 15, 2017
New laws make incitement to harass online illegal, this is called virtual mobbing. Offensive language, threats and gross distortion of facts are all illegal, they are felonies, criminal offences. Ignorance is not a defence, and anonymity is not defence either. The police have means of identifying trolls, and sometimes it is easy to see who they are, like seeing through Clouseau’s one legged Swedish fisherman with inflatable parrot disguise. ”
It is also easy for physicists to spot pseudoscientists. The latter always sport the same
parrots symptoms. For instance, (1) they are always rabidly anti-Einstein. This is a sure crowd-pleaser among the anti-science members of society. After all, what would be the point of attacking real scientists of whom the public has never heard? (2) they promote perpetual-motion of all kinds, starting from centuries-old scams like the ever-overbalancing wheel (e.g. Bessler*) through energy-from-magnet scams (e.g. Bedini**) all the way up to current scams like cold-fusion and ‘low-energy-nuclear reactions’. (3) they promote anti-gravity scams and deceptions (e.g. Laithwaite) (4) they promote quack cures (especially of cancer) such as Priore’s ‘black box’*** (5) they promote any other sort of nonsense, such as telepathy and ‘Bacon wrote the Shakespeare plays’. In short, they ‘always go where money and fame might be had’. How unlike real scientists: Feynman spent his last years wondering why exactly lawn-sprinklers do not work in reverse.
“The problem is, trolling is not funny. Legislation is planned to oblige carriers to reveal the names and addresses of trolls, so the police can investigate them. Revealing home addresses without permission is now a criminal offence, and the same may also be true of e mail addresses in the near future. ”
Did you have permission to post your former neighbor’s new address online on the 6th of this month?**** Why don’t you ‘phone your favorite policeman right now and turn yourself in? You also repeatedly post the contents of e-mails online even though the e-mail contains an express warning not to do so. Pseudoscience is not funny. It has always been difficult to master a science, rather than going for the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of the arts, law, history, politics, etc. Imagine how much more difficult it is nowadays when, from pre-school age, children are exposed (via YouTube etc.) to hundreds of visual ‘proofs’ of perpetual-motion, antigravity, etc. This sort of thing probably does more harm than non-violent pornography. When the child becomes more worldly-wise, he will know to check for the symbols of authority (journals, research institutes, academic degrees). Too late: the pseudoscientists are already way ahead of him. There are now hundreds of apparently respectable journals which deal in nothing but pseudoscience. There are impressive ‘research institutes’ which exist only in electronic form (and cottages). There are degree-mills, churning out fake graduates (Valone, Bearden). Worst of all, there are those who possess genuine degrees, but who prostitute themselves daily in the promotion of pseudoscience.
“The Crown Prosecution Service plans to go after and prosecute trolls. I would like to see legislation to make it a criminal offence to mention a troll site by word of mouth. Political and scientific trolling is a growing problem. Trolls threaten to reduce the internet to a cesspit, and they are seen in Britain as a national security threat, in other words they are seen as terrorists. ”
So a good start would be to control more carefully the setting-up of fake journals, fake universities (the Welsh assembly has already slapped down one such attempt by a notorious pseudoscientist*****) and the selling of fake degrees. One would not want to stifle new ideas in science, but a list of approved journals should be established and only properly refereed papers should be published within them. All other papers should be electronically tagged to show that they are not suitable for human consumption; just as tainted meat is routinely dyed green. Authors should also be blocked from manipulating their own scientometrics.
“Recently, a teenage girl committed suicide after being trolled, and the then Prime Minister David Cameron intervened. After a New Zealand reporter was driven to suicide recently, the NZ Prime Minister intervened. I have discussed the problem with two former First Ministers, Rhodri Morgan (who took personal action against the physics department at UCW Aberystwyth) and Alun Michael, currently the Police Commissioner for South Wales. Alun Michael has all the evidence concerning various troll attacks on my colleagues and myself, including death threats. Anyone involved in that is automatically committing a criminal offence under various laws and could be charged if the police decide to act. I know the likely identity of a few local trolls and will press for them to be charged on the trail of de facto evidence they are stupid enough to write down. After the very low standard of “debate” in the US general election recently, political trolling has become a problem. Scientific trolling is a growing problem and action can be also be taken against that. Like Alun Michael, a hard liner on trolling, I have campaigned against it for years.”
We would be very interested in knowing the details of these events. Politicians do not fare very well when they get involved with science. Politics, like journalism, is the very antithesis of truth-seeking. We have a photograph of Rhodri Morgan, standing right next to a gentleman who is known to consort with a notorious pseudoscientist******. Politicos, from Stalin via Peron to Cherie Blair, are always drawn to pseudoscience. We also like to campaign. Suck it up!