You Can't Legislate Stupidity Away... But Can You Automate It Away?

from the someone's-trying dept

For years, we've pointed out that, as much as politicians try, you simply cannot legislate stupidity away. However, could you automate it away? Apparently that's what some programmers are working on, trying to come up with a spam filter-like system to automatically detect and quarantine "stupid" comments in forums and blog comments. As someone who spends way too much time reading the comments around here, there is some appeal in the concept of such a thing. But, the reality is that it's unlikely to work. Stupidity will no doubt route around any such filters pretty quickly. Besides, it sounds like it would really only catch the blindingly obvious stupid comments anyway, rather than the more frustrating and more common variety: which are comments from people who read what they want something to say, rather than what it actually says. What we really need is not a stupidity filter, but a comment troll filter -- or perhaps just a great big lesson in reading comprehension.


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  1.  
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    nedu, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 8:09pm

    Auto-stupid

    Forget blog comments, what we need is a filter to automatically detect and quarantine stupid legislation!

     

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  2.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Nov 9th, 2007 @ 8:15pm

    Stupid comment post filter test in 3...2..1...

    I love TV wrestling!

    Especially the guys who wear masks!

     

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  3.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 8:23pm

    Wrong.

    Mike,

    I actually like all the comments, even the dumb ones. Without the dumb ones, I probably wouldn't visit here at all.

    I laughed for an hour straight about this recent one-
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071108/134959.shtml#c60

    Your audience comes for comments, Mike. Quit worrying so much. After all, does art mimic life or life mimic art, and don't you provide the canvas to paint upon?

    If you take the canvas away, because you don't like the previous art, how can you regain trust of the artist?

    Doesn't happen.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael Long, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:07pm

    Misunderstood

    "...perhaps just a great big lesson in reading comprehension."

    Of course. It's obviously the readers who are at fault and who need lessons in reading more clearly. Even though good communication is a two-way street, in this case it can't possibly be anything else. No sir-ree Bob.

    (grin)

     

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  5.  
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    angry dude, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:23pm

    He-He-He

    Comments here aren't any more stupid than Mike's blog articles

     

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  6.  
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    Nick, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:24pm

    Triggers


    +

     

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  7.  
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    Not Bob, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 10:18pm

    Remember

    "As soon as you make something idiot proof, somebody comes up with a new and improved idiot."

    Can't remember where I first heard that; seems to fit here, though.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 10:43pm

    Can it play doom ?

     

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  9.  
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    tehpwnmstr, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 11:17pm

    Re:

    Will it blend?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 11:49pm

    As long as it also filters out stupid articles, I'm game.

     

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  11.  
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    pudro, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 12:04am

    Smarter than humans?

    Reasonably intelligent readers can have trouble detecting sarcasm on the internet. How good could this thing do?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 12:27am

    gay

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    stupid as stupid does! momma always said life is like a box of chocolate

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    stupid is"

     

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  15.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 1:28am

    Totally ranting here...

    So tonight, I was originally looking for "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith, but another book caught my eye called "IQ and the Wealth of Nations".

    Being part Finn and my Mom and Dad went to school with the guy who is now the equivalent of economic policy for Finland. (Think Ben Bernanke) It's always fun when you know and appreciate your past.

    Anyways, in the book "IQ and the Wealth Of Nations", several folks at U of Helsinki have found correlations between IQs and longitude location of people. Weird mashup, huh?

    I was always curious why people in "Great places to visit" like Orlando were always so dumb... They have the highest cost of insurance (read: aim for pedestrians), lower income in comparison to the US, cheap housing, and the economy is typically service/tourism oriented. It's also interesting when you consider that the further north you go, the higher the income (especially Alaska!)... One exception exists- California.

    This baffled me. Why wouldn't a great place to live like Orlando attract smarter people..? Do they just become dumb because of the weather? Is it upbringing?

    So anyways, I'm totally ranting here, but maybe this is what I decide to write my MBA thesis on. I also expect to prove a theory that people in Denver are the best mix because the further north you go, the more they think and have attendancy to over analyze, and over engineer. Consider Germany. Denver is a good mix, and John Hickenlooper has done well in leading the efforts. I just wish he would put a picture up on his Wikipedia entry.


    So... anyways, if we decide to legislate stupidity, maybe we need to include geolocation of posts.


    Ref:
    http://monsters.wtks.com/main.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songs_of_the_Mons ters_In_The_Morning

     

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  16.  

    Never will work

    It could never differentiate between stupid and sarcastic as some comments are hard to tell the difference, including mine sometimes.

    No comments on this post please unless they are funny.

     

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  17.  
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    John, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 3:50am

    It Worked

    I just hit my stupid button and your whole editorial vanished!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 4:49am

    I have never seen a computerized spam filter that works so lets just end all freedom of speech or any allusion to such a thing that does not really exist anyway. let the censors have there way march in lockstep tword the end of humanity while wrapping ourselves in the flag.
    EOR

     

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  19.  
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    Spadefinger, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 5:25am

    Um,

    No?

     

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  20.  
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    Dave, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 6:51am

    Should we expect intelligence?

    How can we expect intelligence when we legislate that everything should cater to the lowest common denominator?

    The intelligent are bored to tears and the average aren't challenged enough to reach a fraction of their potential.

    We are left with a society that is largely dominated by the uneducated.

    Yet, we seem surprised when the vast majority of blog content is drivel.

     

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  21.  
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    Monty Python, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 7:00am

    My Hovercraft

    is full of ells

     

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  22.  
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    Drkshdw, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    Stupid

    Perhaps it's not the stupid comments we need to remove, it's the stupid people themselves. I watched a lady at the supermarket the other day trying to take a cart of the front of the line (you know where they have the gate set up and you'd have to push 50 carts back to have the room to take one off the front). She struggled with it because she wasn't strong enough to push the line back so after about a minute of watching her I finally just grabbed her a cart off the correct end and handed it to her. I think people like this are a danger to themselves to say the least. Makes me wonder, if she can't handle getting a shopping cart, what else can't she handle?..... hope she didn't drive here geez

     

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  23.  
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    Captain Code, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 7:59am

    Ah the wonders of the stupid

    I think Bertrand Russell phrased it well when he said:

    "A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

    It all comes down, in my opinion, to the stupid persons in-ability to admit they are stupid. Thus they try (in their own minds) not to appear stupid, and thus make the situation worse.

     

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  24.  
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    Overcast, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 9:02am

    Would it eliminate entire political campaign pages? Yikes!!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    dont taze me, bro

     

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  26.  
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    blargh, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    Re: Ah the wonders of the stupid

    Your post sums up Government in a way I never could.

     

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  27.  
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    toivo, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Let's think in other way. Just substract all verbs and adverbs, make some mathematical rank based on these.

    I guess this should (strike)eliminate(strike) highlight trolls and stupid people?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 1:55pm

    trolls?

    Mike has reached the conconclusion that those he can't convince are trolls, who just aren't able to "get" his points.

    However, when the written word is the medium, it's the writer's responsiblity to be clear, thorough and unambiguous.

    Even then, disagreement can be honest and not just to raise hell.

    If you put your thoughts out for public comment, a thin skin is not an asset.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Ah the wonders of the stupid

    It all comes down, in my opinion, to the stupid persons in-ability to admit they are stupid. Thus they try (in their own minds) not to appear stupid, and thus make the situation worse.

    Thats when the lawyers step in and say "Your a Victim"! We need reform. We need you to protect!

    Then we get things like No Child Left Behind.

    It all starts with that "victim" mentality.

     

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  30.  
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    Survival of the fittest, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 5:16pm

    Darwinism

    Appearently low IQ may even allow you to get away with murder...http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/17/national/17death.html

    We only give the death sentance to smart folk, too bad for the police informant he kidnapped and killed.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 10th, 2007 @ 5:23pm

    Re: trolls?

    Mike has reached the conconclusion that those he can't convince are trolls, who just aren't able to "get" his points.

    Heh. It was a joke... I've said quite clearly in the past that the whole reason I spend so much time responding to the comments is it shows me I haven't done a very good job getting my point across. So, yes, I do take the blame. And in this case, it was my fault for assuming that the sarcasm would get through... when, clearly, it did not.

     

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  32.  
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    Barrenwaste, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Stupid People

    It's very simple. People can read and comprehend a word so badly mispelled that only the first and last letters are correct. They can read and comprehend sentences where nouns, verbs, and adverbs are all badly or incorectley placed. That being the case, any reader who consistantly fails to comprehend the meaning of a piece of literature as simply worded as most written pieces these days can only be called stupid. If you find that you can't keep up here maybe you should try a simpler site, I hear there is still a reader rabbit site operating online. As for the stupid blocker, why bother? Not only would we lose a good source of entertainment, but the thing would be terminally overloaded and end up using all available resources. Which, of course, would make using the internet the next best thing to impossible.

     

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  33.  
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    Dwight Wilbanks, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    Stupid is opinion

    Slashdot (and digg) use a rating system, which works perfectly, if the reader has the same opinions of the previous raters.

    Take for instance, "Windoze sux", or "linux sux". I would concider either of those statements to add zero value to a converstaion, howerver the fanboys on either camp would rate their position higher, Also, since there are more fanboys out there with opionions (and time to express it) than normals with oposing positions a straight vote won't work.


    An automated system might see this post and see 133t speak and kill it automatically.

    I want to see how people like me rate a posting. I don't care what the opinion of "stupid" people is. I know that some concider me "stupid" because I don't agree with them.

    BTW, I discount any post that includes gramatical or spelling corrections.

     

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  34.  
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    GrumpyOldMan, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 8:32am

    Stupid People

    Any one who has failed to comprehend that a judgement of "stupidity" is often (usually?) a matter of personal interpretation and bias, combined with the presence or absence of shared experience, is probably too stupid to be involved in determining what is or is not stupid. Such people are described as having their "heads where the sun doesen't shine." The rest of us know who you are. Get over yourselves.

     

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  35.  
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    EpicHiroDJ, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    o/

    just think of how stupid the average person is, then realize half of them r even stupider than that ......... : /

     

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  36.  
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    Alice, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 3:11pm

    Another dumb idea

    Who defines "dumb?" The community is probably the best way to combat dumb comments. In other words, build a smart community, and they will educate the ignorant posters and call out the trolls. Definitely something that is better done by people than by systems (at least until AI is a reality).

     

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  37.  
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    ACLU junkie, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 4:03pm

    Eww, kewel

    It's still censorship, even if you think it's catching the jerks who write "first!" Yes, they are stupid and taking up space, but let's love them for their simple pleasures and not automatically edit them.

    If you don't have stupids, how will they know you're smart?

     

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  38.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 4:38pm

    Long Commentary. Definitely Disregard.

    The thing is that you can't judge how stupid someone is online because it's so low-bandwidth in nature. It's susceptible to multiple factors such as the receiving party's own knowledge, research, or otherwise. Incredibly smart people out there show their brilliance in different ways- execution being one of them. This is somewhat different than the general person can understand.

    Personally, I find Galvatron to be one of the best posters online. He's over at Boy Genius Report, Howard Forums and CellPhoneSignal.

    Anyways, at first I was skeptical, but I read something from a left-brained point of view that really summed it up for me:

    And out of the ashes GALVATRON RISES!!!

    Galvatron: A robot sent from the future to warn us about evils! His goal is to save our future from the apocalyptic products that will one day turn against mankind.
    His typing controls have been damaged on his travel to our present…thus he has trouble with communicating and spelling…

    PEOPLE heed the wisdom of GALVATRON he is only trying to save us!


    I laughed for a second and realized that people, who are incredibly creative, generally have difficulty meeting the "Strong A's" point of view and lack the ability to meet them half way.

    So I decided to put myself through a particular exercise of comprehension, trying to make sense of the world I live in.

    In the end of my excursive, I realized that Steve Jobs is one of the greatest leaders since the Pharos, possibly even better than Jack Welsh. He has this unique ability to create an environment which nurtures the right-brained creative folks, and meet the needs of the left-brained folks. He's a winner.

    When you consider his successes at Next Step, and Pixar along with Apple, you come to realize that Jobs isn't a CEO. It's a translator, and incredibly gifted and that regard. He remains positive in everything, and is able to share things that people from all walks of life, and most importantly they get the message. Someday, I'd love to report to him.

    I have also learned that there are very few people out there that can play that "translator" role.

    What an incredible revelation.

     

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  39.  
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    Le Blue dude, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Long Commentary. Definitely Disregard.

    Yeah, I noticed something similar but in different. I'm... sporadicly brained myself, from your terms. I seem to spend half my time making sense, and half my time not making sense, and which half is which depends on who you ask.

    Go fig.

     

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  40.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 7:53pm

    Problems

    First off, replace "In the end of my excusive" with "In the end of my excersize".

    Secondly, "It's a translator" should be replaced with "He's a translator."

    I'm sure there are more, but blame Microsoft Word for all the issues.

     

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  41.  
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    anonymous, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    Stupidity filter is easy

    Implementing a stupidity filter is easy, just block all posts from Dorpus.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 8:43pm

    At least dorpus adds to the conversation which is more than you do...

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 9:43pm

    Re: Stupid is opinion

    Take for instance, "Windoze sux", or "linux sux". I would concider either of those statements to add zero value to a converstaion, howerver the fanboys on either camp would rate their position higher, Also, since there are more fanboys out there with opionions (and time to express it) than normals with oposing positions a straight vote won't work.
    And I would kill any post containing the words "fanboy" or "fanboi".

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 9:46pm

    Re: o/

    just think of how stupid the average person is, then realize half of them r even stupider than that ......... : /

    That's not how averages work. That would be a median. Stupid.

     

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  45.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 10:06pm

    I'm totally trying to get someone to flame me here...

    Am I too smart for you to get my sarcasm? Don't make me break the Wharton references out next....

     

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  46.  
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    Iron Chef, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 10:16pm

    Sorry, I didn't give you anything substantial that is not true, yet.

    Hey I am looking for a mentor. Anyone willing to step up?

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Long Commentary. Definitely Disregard.

    I've long been amazed by how one dimensional people in general tend to be in their thinking. They like to think of only two possibilities, such as left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, republican vs. democrat, etc.. These are the same people who will often comment that "there are two sides to every issue" as if there could be no more than that (when there usually are). Are people generally incapable of simultaneously considering more than two different possibilities? I don't know. Maybe it's because by nature humans tend to have "two" of things. Two hands, two eyes and so on. A common phrase in deliberations is "on the other hand". So maybe that's all our brains are wired to naturally consider.

    The preceding commentary's assumption that people are either left-brained or right-brained just reminded me of this phenomenon. It isn't an either/or situation. People can also be gifted or deficient on both sides.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 10:39pm

    Re: Re: Long Commentary. Definitely Disregard.

    I've long been amazed by how one dimensional people in general tend to be in their thinking. They like to think of only two possibilities, such as left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, republican vs. democrat, etc.. These are the same people who will often comment that "there are two sides to every issue" as if there could be no more than that (when there usually are). Are people generally incapable of simultaneously considering more than two different possibilities? I don't know. Maybe it's because by nature humans tend to have "two" of things. Two hands, two eyes and so on. A common phrase in deliberations is "on the other hand". So maybe that's all our brains are wired to naturally consider.

    The preceding commentary's assumption that people are either left-brained or right-brained just reminded me of this phenomenon. It isn't an either/or situation. People can also be gifted or deficient on both sides.




    I agree. it's weird when we can't find win situations for everyone.

    The best situations are those where there are no winners, and no specific losers.

    Unfortunately, most people think one-dimensionally as you said. Take NBC or Viacom.

    You can't have our content... They bang.

    No one wants to budge. We own the content... We own the content... We own the content... they continually bang.


    Unfortunately at that point it's progressed to the lawyers
    and they say they are owed $250,000 for each infringed piece of art, which is what the law says.

    No one wants to budge, and no one wants to license.

    And the original goal of Patents and Copyright from Thomas Jefferson's time becomes thrown out the window.

    No one gets it.

    It baffles me.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 11:15pm

    my only comment...

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NO MATCH FOR NATURAL STUPIDITY.
    Nuff said.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 11:22pm

    Re: my only comment...

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NO MATCH FOR NATURAL STUPIDITY.
    Maybe there's hope for me yet.

     

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  51.  
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    Ferin, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    So what you're really saying is...

    ...Stupidity is too smart to get rid of?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 7:59am

    Sarcasam is lost on Americans.

    One of the great traps in social discourse is
    deciding that a person who doesn't agree with
    you is stupid. When they could be mis-informed.

    Each person considering a range of factors will
    assign different weighting to each of them in
    reaching a decision. Weighting based on personal
    experience, education, indoctrination and hat-size.

    It's very difficult, sometimes, to understand why a
    person reaches a certain decision. Sometimes it's
    impossible. But to jump to the conclusion that
    they're stupid is intellectually lazy...

    Although they could be crazy.


    PS. To all you vets out there, thanks.
    Thinking of you on this Veterans Day.

     

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  53.  
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    Randy, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 9:35am

    The dumb comments even the ones that I write are what make the thread/blogs worth reading...otherwise why would I care about the writers opinion? I can think for myself!!

     

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  54.  
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    JS Beckerist (profile), Nov 12th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    Re: Stupid comment post filter test in 3...2..1...

    Test #2:

    First post! (in the reply to the second post...)

     

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  55.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Stupid?

    This is such a symptom of how modern society thinks. "There is no stupid" they say "Quit being prejudice", followed shortly by "my god, that's so gay."

    There are more views then just two. This is true, it's nothing new. But there is such thing as right and wrong. Rule of weak or rule of strong. It is bad to kill some one and take their cash. That's kinda being an ass. And if right and wrong can be, then why not smarts and stupidity? It is stupid to say that the earth is flat. Imagine that. 2+2 is four, and a person lies if they say it's less or more.

    We live in a society of meritocracy. can't you see? We can't tell someone that they are wrong. No mater how hard we try to tell them that they do not belong. People attach their names to science, we can't cut them free. Let science be!

    No longer is it about right or wrong. String theory's stalled, and gone on too long. Instead it's about being PC. It doesn't make much sense to me. When someone's dump best point out their error. Other wise superstition rules us in a grip of terror. From ID to hydrogenity.

    So there really are morons out there. Their brains I swear are made of hair. With no reason or rhyme, why let them take time? Those fools who mock science beware.

    Mental note to self: Don't post when insane. It turns out rather lame.

     

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  56.  
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    barrenwaste, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 12:19pm

    Missing the Point

    It's not a matter of right or wrong. Intelligent people can be wrong, stupid people can be right. It's not a matter of opinions. It's a matter of well reasoned thoughts backed by sound logic, and yes, even intuition. Just because you are wrong sometimes doesn't lower your IQ. However, those who can't talk without cussing every second word, have little or no knowledge of the subject, and blame thier misunderstandings on everyone but themselves are, to be blunt, idiots. A good sight will have clashing opinions and unending verbal battles. A really good sight will have them without the infantismal blatherings that only state the posters opinion of the opositions sexual habits, ancestry, and bank account. An occasional jibe is fine, even confrontations of sarcastic wit. Of course, there does have to be wit involved.

     

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  57.  
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    Shun, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    #47: On the Other Hand...

    Your comment just triggered a flashback (non-drug-induced) in my mind. It reminds me of "A Mote in God's Eye" and "The Gripping Hand" from Larry Niven. Anyway, the premise of the book(s) is that humans discover an alien race with 3 hands. Yeah, it's a little weird and it goes off the rails, at some points, but I particularly like the way they explain things. They use:

    On the one hand...
    On the other hand...
    But in the Gripping Hand...

    You see...the third hand, is the hand that synthesizes the experience of the other 2 hands. How Kantian. The Dialectic...Oooh! OK, stop staring at the television, Jimmy. You'll ruin your eyes.

    Yeah, I think the problem with the "2 sides to every story" probably stems from the bilateral symmetry of most human beings. Then again, we're generally more comfortable with on/off light/dark, and 0/1. We don't deal well with shades of gray, which the majority of life is.

    Note: I am aware that I should not end my sentence with "is", but like the former President, I fail to understand the meaning of "is".

     

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  58.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

    Heh

    But opinions don't even nessessarily lie on a yes/no spectrum.


    Mind, body, soul. Three parts. Emotion, Logic, and Spirituality

     

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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Erm

    Emotion, logic, and material :-p

    I suck at my own trialectics.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 8:41pm

    Re: #47: On the Other Hand...

    Then again, we're generally more comfortable with on/off light/dark, and 0/1. We don't deal well with shades of gray, which the majority of life is.
    That statement is good example of how easy it is to be caught up in one dimensional thinking and not even know it. Shades of gray are just a mix of the two extremes of black and white. But by analogy they still just represent one dimensional thinking. In other words, just because you are not extremest and can see shades of gray still does not in any way mean that you are considering more than two different possibilities. To do that you need to think in terms of color.

     

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  61.  
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    azghail, Nov 14th, 2007 @ 9:26pm

    artificial stupidity

    can we design it?

     

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  62.  
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    Alec, Jun 30th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Another dumb idea

    Who said this..George...somebody...what was his last name...he was a comedian....gone bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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