Some trolling actually works

The FtBCon discussion of the psychology of trolls was interesting, but one thing I think it could have used is some appreciation of effective trolling strategies. Look at what they’ve accomplished with wikipedia; they have driven some people off the internet, and the ongoing online harassment is at least a distraction to many of us. This is the real threat: that trolls are working to dominate the discussion, and sometimes they succeed.

Greg Laden is talking about one way trolls work: the Serengeti Strategy. He cites Michael Mann on this topic.

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Death to Dollo’s Law!

Hint for science journalists: if the hook to get readers to pay attention to your story is to warn them to sit down because a 19th century “law” of evolution has been shown to be wrong, you’re going to irritate scientists, who will then write rude blog posts sneering at your writing. That’s the case with this story titled The Wrists of Birds Reveal Evolution Undoing Itself, which is also subtitled Contrary to earlier claims, a new study shows that evolution may be reversible.

It’s describing a paper on the re-emergence of a wrist bone in birds, and it touts Dollo’s Law.

The 19th-century biologist Louis Dollo taught that evolution is irreversible; once a structure is lost, that pathway is closed forever. It’s a principle now known as Dollo’s law.

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