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[UPDATED]Kowboy's Kicked Out of College
Graduate_Student
That makes sense. I don't think I need to waste time proving Kowboy wrong anymore. That is unless it is amusing for me to do that. What he is doing is trolling though, and providing feedback is exactly what trolls want the readers to do. It doesn't matter if it is positive attention or negative attention. One might observe that they seem to like the negative attention, that they like to see people angry with them. I am not sure that this is not actually always the case.

Think about a child throwing a tantrum at a table in a restaurant because the adults have ignored him, and he is throwing his food on the floor. Now he may appear angry and perhaps he is, the thing driving that anger is because he wants attention. He doesn't really want to throw away his food or have the adults angry at him. He wants attention and acknowledgement, and because he can't get them he demands attention and acknowledgement even if it is in a negative form. By reacting to the child, the adults show that they acknowledge him even if they don't necessarily accept the behavior, and he certainly gets some attention albeit negative attention. The adult focus is on him, and that is what he wanted.

The adults in the restaurant who aren't part of that child's family, don't give him the attention he seeks. They recognize what the manipulative behavior for what it is, and they don't care about the child or his needs. They only want to be able to eat dinner and have their own adult conversations in peace. They can decide to ignore the child and family, leave the restaurant, or ask that the child be silenced by the restaurant removing the family with the child.

What we see here is still basic human behaviors attempting to get their needs met. You can see that trolls, while usually being adults, are essentially operating on the level of children attempting to get their needs met. They just choose a more sophisticated approach to meeting those needs than throwing their food. I can take it further, but that should be enough unless someone wants a more in depth analysis of troll behavior as it applies to bullying.

Now back to what we are talking about. Cynic, you do write really well. Seeker, you write well also, and have excellent deconstructive analysis skills. I am enjoying reading all of your thoughts. This is the first MB I have visited in some time where there is such intelligent conversation and analysis.
Edited by Graduate_Student on 03/09/2012 11:22
 
Graduate_Student
What I run into is a kind of conflation between human nature and impulse control. We have impulses which lead us to consider particular acts but perhaps it is more precise to say that part of our nature is impulse control.


Interesting thought on the role of impulse control in human nature. It is one of the survival mechanisms that when working correctly helps keep us out of trouble. This is true in nature itself, or in a societal setting, for example:

If you were in school taking a class from a competent and physically attractive teacher that brought out your own feelings of inadequacy and self loathing, impulse control would stop you from harassing the teacher to reduce your own uncomfortable feelings.

With an impulse control that failed to work correctly in that circumstance, a person might harass the teacher to gain the instant reward of feeling better in the short term, despite realizing that the risk of that harassment might prevent them from continuing on and obtaining those skills and that degree that they actually really wanted.
Edited by Graduate_Student on 03/07/2012 13:11
 
seeker
GS - Thank you.

One of the great things this particular forum has enjoyed is the presence of some very intelligent people. Most of us have communicated through various iterations of this site (the original site was atheists.com, now sadly long gone) for several years.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Graduate_Student
I added this explanation to my short explanation off ad homenim attacks. It may prove useful at some later point if Kowboy pulls that one out of his bag of logical fallacies. Of course you could just ignore him, but if the urge to respond does overcome your better judgement, you can always remind him of this:

This is an ad hominem attack: a) Kowboy does not understand formal logic because clearly he is a moron.
This is not an ad hominem attack: b) Kowboy does not understand formal logic because he took an introductory logic class and clearly failed to grasp several key concepts.

Now run the ad hominem proofs against them to check the statements.
Proof for "a": Kowboy being a moron has nothing to do with him not understanding formal logic (no direct linkage)
Proof for "b": Kowboy failing to grasp key logic class concepts has everything to do with his not understanding logic (direct linkage)


Now if it is actually an ad hominem attack, congratulate him on learning something and inform him this is not a logic class. Those classes are given at universities if he is interested. He should be able to remember that even if he isn't actually able to attend one for some time.
 
seeker
Graduate_Student wrote:
Interesting thought on the role of impulse control in human nature. It is one of the survival mechanisms that when working correctly helps keep us out of trouble. This is true in nature itself, or in a societal setting, for example:

If you were in school taking a class from a competent and physically attractive teacher that brought out your own feelings of inadequacy and self loathing, impulse control would stop you from harassing the teacher to reduce your own uncomfortable feelings.

With an impulse control that failed to work correctly in that circumstance, a person might harass the teacher to gain the instant reward of feeling better in the short term, despite realizing that the risk of that harassment might prevent them from continuing on and obtaining those skills and that degree that they actually really wanted.


You almost end up with competing survival mechanisms here. An intelligent person rationalizes their lack of impulse control as simply giving in to 'human nature'. That rationalization continues by seeing the victim as obstructing his pursuit of that nature, essentially labeling the victim as an actual aggressor. Naturally anyone else who might try to help her becomes an aggressor as well.

Look at, for example, Kowboy's declarations that he was the one whose rights were abused. They are classic examples of blaming the victim. You tend to see this a lot in abuse and rape cases, usually in the form of "she was asking for it".
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Graduate_Student
Kowboy could be an interesting case study in a number of social science classes, and perhaps even a law school class or two. I am sure the case is already a warning to other schools to be aware of the risks of contra-power harassment. The policies of how to deal with it are probably being written on it as I write this now.

As much as I hate what happened, I hope there is not a huge overreaction to it. When I say overreaction, I look at the response of the TSA to religious extremists with box cutters on some planes 10 years ago. The element of surprise is what enabled those tragedies to happen. People with box cutters could not overpower an airliner these days. It simply would not happen. I think it is likely that the element of surprise is what enabled Kowboy's crap to happen to this teacher and the school. I am sure the same teacher would have a different reaction this time if it happened again. Kowboy would have even less legs than he has right now to stand on.

I think it unlikely people like Kowboy are common, although based on the research from that link I posted, it is more common than one would think. I also think tackling the problem early as soon as suspect behavior is noted is the best approach. Behavior like that is shocking, and one of the things I have heard quoted on stress is that the average IQ goes down 30% during times of stress. Having a plan in place and referring to the plan for action steps is one way to compensate for that. Hopefully schools and universities will take steps to better inform and protect their employees in the future.
Edited by Graduate_Student on 03/08/2012 16:42
 
seeker
GS - To be fair symptoms are not necessarily proof of a disease, they are just guidelines for further study. I'm sure that a lot of the reaction had to do with Kowboy's unwillingness to cooperate with the very process that could have assured everyone involved that there was really nothing to worry about - counseling. The only way anyone could really know whether Kowboy is potentially dangerous or not is by spending time with him in a controlled setting. That is why OU made that a requirement for his return.

As was noted before (by Cynic, I think) this kind of behavior is not common. That is precisely why it was not an over-reaction to have a hearing on the matter. I have no doubt that Kowboy's contentious nature along with his other history forced their decision.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Graduate_Student
What I meant by "overreaction" was mostly around how assignments are given not about the way the school handled Joe's suspension. I could have been a bit more clear on that.

Joe has claimed over and over that the assignment did not have specific guidelines about what he could not do. Syllabi in school these days are already getting ridiculously detailed about what can and can't be done. Now sometimes they need to be for some people, but other times it can kill the fun in the learning process as everything is so spelled out. They don't deviate from the syllabi one bit and a class becomes something of an extended PowerPoint presentation. After sitting through some of those classes I can tell you honestly, there is not much learning that goes on. There is parroting of information for the most part, and the class and the professor don't interact other than to receive new assignments and turn in completed ones. I think adequately preparing teachers for people like Joe, will stop the damage much sooner than spelling out exactly what you can and cannot write about, or controlling every detail about the class experience.

Now I don't think the school overacted at all having the conference when they did. I think the requirement of counseling for returning was a minimum requirement for him to accomplish considering what happened. That controlled assessment you mentioned is part of sensible risk assessment in light of the circumstances both prior to the suspension and now. I am glad that the school is taking it seriously enough to require that as a precondition of return.

It would be a pity if the quality of learning was compromised by their need to insure safety for students and faculty. I think you can have an open and vibrant learning experience and still protect everybody. When deviant behavior is identified it needs to be investigated and handled. As I said I am doing more reading and research into contra-power harassment and specifically the ways to tackle it. I will let you all know when I have more on it.
Edited by Graduate_Student on 03/08/2012 16:44
 
Kowboy
Dang, this thing just won't die:

http://pogled.ba/studentske-zanimljivosti/21192-student-izbaen-s-engelskog-zbog-eseja-hot-for-teacher
 
Cynic
Wow -- Google's "translate from Croation to English" function could really use some work!
 
seeker
GS - We live in a country where people need to be warned that contents of coffee cups can be hot.

The fact that this particular case was more about his behaviors on campus rather than purely his classwork should minimize it affecting class assignments.

Overall groups like FIRE exist partly to create that sort of over-reaction. They can use the misapplied notion of free speech to essentially stifle intellectual discourse.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
seeker
Another troll post. Allow me to translate

Kowboy wrote:

Nobody within a couple of thousand miles believes me anymore. Maybe I can find some people who aren't on to me in Croatia. Then its on to Afghanistan.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Graduate_Student
After how ever long it has been, I can finally say I don
Edited by Graduate_Student on 03/08/2012 16:20
 
seeker
Pretty much everybody else is over it too.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
I was thinking about human nature and crazy people and such today while the building I was in was in lockdown today:

[url]http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/08/justice/pennsylvania-shooting/index.html[/url]

[url]http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12068/1215395-100.stm[/url]


(Not that building, but one very close to it. My wife walked right in front of the entrance to that building not ten minutes before he started shooting.)

Anyway, sorry I've been busy. Not with that. Lockdown didn't actually even disrupt my schedule because I was "locked" into doing what I'd already started (can't stop once started or you waste time and materials).

So, more later. I will say, however, that special cases like crisis situations and mobs, etc, make for interesting views into human nature. I'd caution against reading into it very much, however, because while it does tell you something because many of the drivers of behavior are somewhat "compartmentalized' and do not generalize well. Birds are well known for their occasional fixed action patterns (pecking on red dots, feeding gaping mouths whether or not it makes sense to, etc) and interesting -- and conditional -- social behaviors, like mobbing.

It would be interesting to consider how many of our own behaviors are similar and how many are sort of sort of remaining but no longer adaptive because we've managed to engineer our environment such that they no longer have a purpose.
 
seeker
Wow, that is closer than I'd want to have been. I tend to measure safe distances from a shooting in miles.

I've been thinking about that subject for a while now, the notion that a lot of our 'intelligent' behavior is sophisticated instinct.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
I have never heard of 'sophisticated instinct' before. I thought instinct was neither sophisticated nor unsophisticated, but just instinct.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Cynic
I generally don't like the word "instinct" because it makes it seem as if there is a clear delineation between conscious and unconscious or voluntary and involuntary actions. There's a vast degree of subtlety though. If we view animals as biological machines whose behavior is dictated mostly by how their specific biological structures and development interface with the world around them, then nearly everything is driven by "instinct" but the response you get can be sophisticated indeed.

One difficulty lies in differentiating a simple instinct from a reflex. It's "easy" to see in extremely simple creatures. A grasshopper evading a bat doesn't have an instinct to avoid the sounds of a bat's sonar screeches. Instead, it has evolved a set of circuits that make certain changes in how the wings move and where the legs are positioned in response to specific sounds coming from certain directions at certain distances. No thought is occurring (as we like to think of thought, anyway). The stimulus and response is so specific because those are the ones that affect it. Many animals, including grasshoppers, not only don't respond in such stereotyped ways to different sounds, which aren't related to survival or mating, but they literally can't hear them.

A second difficulty is demonstrating that this basic premise doesn't apply generally, regardless of the complexity of the organism. But the sophistication of the behavior can increase dramatically. On the day my wife went into labor (day before, technically) with my first child, she went on a whirl-wind cleaning tour of the apartment we were staying at. This was uncommon for her (or me, to be perfectly fair), but is not uncommon in women who are nearing labor.

Undoubtedly this a side effect of some hormone/transmitter cascade associated with the ramp-up to labor and birth, but consider the awesome complexity of that! "Cleaning" is a pretty generic activity -- what it means to clean varies by person, environment, culture, materials, etc. No chemical or neural circuit could possibly be flipped on that would directly equal "dust the ceiling fan." There's an awful lot between hormone and end behavior there and whatever it is, it's pretty damned sophisticated. When interpreting less concrete stimuli, like anything that might provoke fear, just appreciating that there's something to respond to at all is pretty damned sophisticated.

Another good example is the mobbing behavior exhibited by some bird species that live in territories that are vulnerable to predators. If a fox is seen sneaking in near the nests, most of the birds will harass it until it goes away. We rational people think this makes total sense, right? But what are the birds thinking? It might be easy to dismiss it as simple instinct -- see a predator, harass it.

But this behavior changes depending on where you are in the breeding season, proximity of the predator to the center of the colony, the nature of the predator (snake versus lemur) etc. So dismiss it as a hormone-driven parental instinct? You could do that, but the trair also fades in populations (over evolutionary time) that aren't often subjected to predators, such as populations that tend to live on steep cliffsides: they don't mob, even if their ancestors did. What's more, these same birds aren't particularly inclined to actually take care of chicks that aren't their own. So, dismiss it as a generic defense response based on their own status anyway?

Interesting thing about mobbing birds: if a bird fails to join the mob, threats to that particular bird's eggs and offspring are more often ignored by the entire group. Now that's sophistication! Sure, that's birds, but the question again comes back to showing how these things don't apply to humans.

Do we ostracize people who violate social mores because we choose to, or because "that's what humans do" -- generic condition X leads to generic response Y (like cleaning before labor). These are the sorts of impulses we can maybe learn to push down, maybe. But on the flip side, how many of our "better" impulses are we already culturally indoctrinated to suppress in favor of something else? Like the formerly mobbing species that now lives on cliffsides, has our capacity to engineer the circumstances in which we live caused us to lose traits, or is it still happening? What new traits might we be developing because of this, and how often to so switch around?

Cliffside birds are much better at landing on narrow ledges than other birds, of course, but if you tossed a mongoose up there with them they might not care as much as their field-dwelling cousins, even though their eggs are in as much danger. I'm curious what once-useful sophisticated abilities are now liabilities in humanity and what new traits we might be acquiring. Because evolution is directed by fitness (which is not capacity to survive per se but the capacity to pass more of our traits down to new generations than our competitors) and fitness is contrary to many of our "better natures" like recognizing the need to limit our population growth. In this sense, the opposite of eugenics is not "good" necessarily.
Edited by Cynic on 03/10/2012 03:25
 
seeker
Catman - Perhaps a better phrasing might be, 'a sophisticated set of instincts', of which Cynic gave a couple of pretty good examples.

Cynic - You said:

...Sure, that's birds, but the question again comes back to showing how these things don't apply to humans.

Do we ostracize people who violate social mores because we choose to, or because "that's what humans do" -- generic condition X leads to generic response Y (like cleaning before labor). These are the sorts of impulses we can maybe learn to push down, maybe. But on the flip side, how many of our "better" impulses are we already culturally indoctrinated to suppress in favor of something else? Like the formerly mobbing species that now lives on cliffsides, has our capacity to engineer the circumstances in which we live caused us to lose traits, or is it still happening? What new traits might we be developing because of this, and how often to so switch around?...


That is what I think we are seeing play out politically right now IMO. We have two competing instincts, acquisition and cooperation, that drive civilization.

The acquisition side pushes us to amass at least as much as we think we may need to be comfortable. The big variable, of course, is that we all have different comfort levels. Some are happy with having just enough, others simply have to have reserves and then still others have to have so much that they feel in control of every situation that might arise.

Meanwhile the cooperative side says we survive best as a group. People that feel they have enough for themselves start looking to shore up the overall strength of the group they belong to as a buffer between themselves and hardship. Once again though the variable is comfort level, some feel they never have enough for themselves.

The result is that you see a pattern in history of cooperation to build civilizations culminating in a rise of selfishness and the fall of that civilization. Rome is a great example, beginning with more or less benign rulers like Julius and Augustus then morphing into a country ruled by a series of despots whose infighting so weakens them that they become unable to effectively defend themselves.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
Would it be dramatic of me to suggest that the following article could relate topically with the original post?

[url]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_785922.html[/url]


I think it's instructive to consider that cases like the one that just happened in my city can weigh on the minds of people and this ought to be considered when people like those of Koyboy's school are accused of being over-reactive. And as far as I know, this Shick guy never mentioned guns. It's impossible (as yet) to say what was on this man's mind on Thursday, but I think it's fair to say that if he were still at Duquesne and if it were going to happen anyway, there might have been a "change of venue" for it.

There's related information from those he lived near:

[url]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_785871.html
[/url]


I'm talking out my ass here, but it sounds like an onset or withdrawal side-effect of anti-psychotics, not that his history will be (legally) released.

BTW: that photo released on the second article is post-mortem and one of the shots that felled him was a headshot. While they did a remarkable job with it (which was prepared so they could verify his identify with neighbors and such), I'm sure he probably looked a bit more normal earlier that day.
Edited by Cynic on 03/10/2012 18:22
 
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