The few, the loud and the factually challenged

18 06 2011

© The Guardian

Here’s a little paraphrased response I received from a colleague who works for a particular agency concerned about the ridiculous politicking and misinformation associated with marine parks proposed for South Australia.

I’ve posted several times before why marine parks are a win for all involved, from the biodiversity it is meant to protect, to the fishers who benefit from the free, public-good resource that they assist in maintaining (see here, here and here). The evidence is clear world-wide: marine parks benefit pretty much everything and everyone.

However, just like the climate change denalists who use every psychological tactic in the book to try to convince people that climate change is a belief when in fact, it is a soundly evidenced phenomenon, there are those Luddites who think that any change in the marine setting fundamentally threatens their way of life.

Here’s what my colleague had to say about some recent ill-informed comments on this blog:

I wondered when they would find your blog. In my experience, do not engage. A game of intimidation has started.

No matter what you say, no matter how many scientists say it, no matter how strong the evidence, they will not listen. They will just keep on going at you and anyone else who wants to try and defend the evidence in favour of marine conservation.

They will accuse scientists, professors – whomever – who have extensive work experience in reserve design or marine conservation, as being dodgy, even corrupt, but a veterinarian, who has no experience in such matters, is taken as the one truthful scientist? [addendum: I don't know how many times I've come across the god complex in veterinarians - apparently a few years sticking a finger up cat & dog bottoms makes you omniscient].

You can’t respond to that shit. You will just spend a lot of time feeding their anger.

You might have noticed that the number of people actually saying anything negative about marine parks is irrelevantly small. On the anti-marine park Facebook page set up to ‘white-ant’ the marine protected area process in South Australia, the number of true active members is four (yes, that’s right, four).

However, they are a very active four, and become extremely aggressive when you question their commentary. As you know, the climate scientists have been copping it, death threats included, and that sort of intimidatory behaviour probably isn’t far off (unless it has already started) for those working in the field of marine conservation, reserve design and the like.

A certain pro-MPA group [name withheld] had to open a police file in South Australia because of the aggression targeted at their staff. The people on these forums engage in classic art of war – they target individuals to try and undermine the overall strength of a collective. By targeting your blog, this is what they are wanting to do.

We have unfortunately had to block a number of the individuals from commenting on our Facebook page because of the viciousness of the attacks. This decision was taken because the overwhelming majority think these people are mad but it does put the majority off – it frightens them so they disengage and go somewhere else that fits their frame of mind. Classic bully-boy tactics that unfortunately work on the majority.

My advice, do not give them anymore oxygen than is required. If it gets nasty, aggressive or plainly mad, block them.

You are warned.

CJA Bradshaw


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5 responses

22 06 2011
octopus

@deadplanet2009 – the trolls HAVE been challenged in public fora, several of them over the last 3 years, but it doesn’t matter partly because ignorance is a form of fear that is as hard as steel, but mainly because of the tactics mentioned in the guardian article (see link in early part of blog).

22 06 2011
deadplanet2009

I have recently discovered your excellent blog, and have begun following it regularly. I’m dismayed (but not surprised) to see that the anti-science/anti-conservationists have found it too. I have mixed feelings about how to deal with these people. On the one hand, your colleague is right in that you’re NEVER going to reason with them, but on the other hand, I often feel the misinformed rantings of these ultra-conservative trolls should be challenged in a public forum.

21 06 2011
octopus

“a game of intimidation has started”
No, it hasn’t just started now – the intimidation started at least 12 months ago, probably longer with violence witnessed at at least 2 Local Advisory Group meetings, death threats, police files and so on.
I still don’t understand why MPAs are so threatening despite having been inside the ‘war’ for quite a while. You can’t believe the things we hear and read everyday. It gets so insane you want to throw your hands up in despair.

20 06 2011
dipika

Good post! In these situations,I don’t know whether to block, mock or just quietly have an aneurysm and walk away.
But my feelings are a little hurt :(

– a vet

19 06 2011
Tom Keen

The modern internet saying “do not feed the troll(s)” seems fit here. I’ve fallen into this trap too many times, on various topics. But no matter how many times you think to yourself “I’m just not going to respond to this anymore”, it’s just too difficult to completely ignore BS sometimes – even though you know you should. Some sound advice in that last line.

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