X-Message-Number: 16789
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 17:25:20 EDT
Subject: Trolling for Hate

In a message dated 7/1/01 2:01:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Fair4us writes 
that he is simply asking innocent questions about vitamin C. 

Innocent questions are most often, but not always, asked in an innocent way. 
They usually aren't posed as follows:

>  An interesting observation, in light of the Saul & Bill Vitamin Company's
>  position, which is provided at the following:
>  http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/may2000_vitamin_c_01.html
>  Ah, but Mike doesn't work for them anymore, right?

A good example (or any of the many imaginable variants) of this question 
without an attached agenda would be as follows:

"I don't understand Mike Darwin's position on vitamin C. In light of the 
papers and other analysis cited by the Life Extension foundation at this 


I'd be interested to know what Mike Darwin's response to this is? I am a 
layman without expertise in these areas and I find the apparent 
contradictions confusing. I'm sure other people in my position feel the same 

The problem with Fair4us' post comes with line:

>Ah, but Mike doesn't work for them anymore, right?

This is a setup line that by fairly blunt innuendo which calls into question 
the integrity of LEF, and Bill and Saul, and me. It also is the kind of thing 
that can escape the attention of the casual reader. It needs to be answered 
emphatically because it is has a high probability of being not what it seems 
to be, and of doing harm to the reputations of people who are, in the 
instance at hand, blameless.

A response is also necessary because if the poster has an agenda other than 
asking for clarification on a technical matter then that agenda will usually 
come out in subsequent exchanges. In this case the thought-print and the 
agenda are disclosed in the response Fair4us posted:

> OUCH!  The "old" Mike returns!  Take your Prozac!  (just kidding).  I will 
>  admit to being uninformed, which is why I asked the questions.  The other 
>  adjectives are apparent defensive projections from the way I worded some 
>  things; did not mean to confuse; just the inherent nature of "modem chat" 
>  at work.

This is a person with history and an agenda of some sort to prosecute. That's 
fine as long as we all know it.

Knowing the identity of someone is rarely irrelevant. It is acceptable to use 
anonymity in many situations. There can be many reasons for this desire but 
the most common are fear of reprisal, fear of loss of credibility, lack of 
willingness to take responsibility for what you write, an intent to misdirect 
or deceive, a simple desire for privacy, shyness... Fair4us asks:

>Does it matter who I am, and would/should you respond to my post any 
differently if 
>you knew? 

Yes, it does matter and it matters in many contexts. Does it matter if we 
know that the reviewer for movies released by Sony is a fictional person 
created by Sony Pictures, or that the couple touting a movie in a TV ad are 
employees of the studio that made the picture? Sure it does. Does it make a 
difference if we know a post is from Kennita Watson, John Grigg, or someone 
we've never heard from before? Of course it does, because the body of opinion 
and thought in those peoples' past posts will immediately figure in our 
evaluation of their current writing. 

In almost any area of life knowing who you are dealing with is of paramount 
importance. This why background checks, credit references, personal 
references, and other history tied to a person is valued so highly and so 
justifiably in a civilized society. 

When I toured the old Illinois circuit court building that Abraham Lincoln 
worked (which was moved and reconstructed in Dearborn Village by Henry Ford 
outside of Detroit) I was puzzled by the fact that the majority of litigation 
documented in the records was over a person's "good name" or reputation. I 
was lucky in that the docent there on that day was a woman who's area of 
expertise was the history of American jurisprudence during the 1800s. 

She explained to me that people often had little else in those days but their 
good name and reputation. Any damage to their reputation was a serious threat 
to their livelihood and could not be left unchallenged. Who would deal with a 
blacksmith or a tailor who was dishonest or did shoddy work? Personal and 
professional history were important then. 

They were important in Shakespeare's time as well and to paraphrase one of 
his characters: "You may steal my purse and you will have taken some of what 
I have, but when you sully my good name, you take some of who I am. 

My travels in the Middle East yielded similar results: a man's name and his 
history are important, even paramount. Most opinions are valued or discarded, 
most deals consummated or avoided, on the basis of who the parties are: not 
the reams of contractual paper that can never give a transaction integrity, 
but rather, can only define its terms and limits.

And there is nothing in the "new economy" or the future that is likely to 
change this even a little. Indeed, one of the most lucrative crimes today is 
"identity theft" wherein someone's good name and earned good reputation are 
stolen and corrupted.

This message is not for Fair4us. It is for the other readers of Cryonet. 
Caveat Emptor.

Mike Darwin

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