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6 Idiotic Right-Wing Moments This Week: War on Science and Knowledge Rages On

October 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Because who needs science when you can have hysteria instead?

1. Elisabeth Hasselbeck demands that doctor panic about ebola because Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a parent.

Fox & Friends invited an actual doctor on this week to discuss the alarming news about the first case of ebola in America and then didn't listen to her expert opinion at all, and instead lectured her about what should be done. Infectious disease specialist Dalilah Restrepo was the lucky guest who got to be ignored and hectored into admitting that panic is the only reasonable response. The doctor held her ground admirably.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked: “How contagious is [ebola] in your mind?”

(The construction of the question is telling, because the only view that matters to Hasselbeck is the view that is already in her mind.)

Dr. Restrepo patiently explained that ebola is not contagious through the air like the flu or TB, but rather infectious, and only infectious through the bodily fluids of a person who is already symptomatic. Clearly, this distinction zoomed over everyone's head.

Steve Doocy and Eric Bolling talked about how everyone on the airplane should be quarantined, even though the doctor had just said the patient was not symptomatic on the airplane and therefore neither infectious nor contagious.

After not listening at all for a while, Hasselbeck insisted that she and everyone else has to panic irrationally because she’s a parent, and it’s important that parents panic irrationally. Also, all Americans have to panic and not be informed because, “It’s here!”

“You have a very calm tone,” Hasselbeck instructed. “It must come by nature with what you do professionally, doctor. The rest of us are saying, wait a minute, there’s a lot of panic when it comes to the flu, to lice. As a parent, I’m thinking, well, there should be a little bit of a justification for worry here.”

Restrepo again tried to explain the difference between contagious diseases like the flu and ebola, but was interrrupted by suggestions that we ban people from West Africa from coming here. And people should be checked before they board and after they get off planes, shouldn't they? 

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Chilling: Police Lieutenant Suspended Over Ku Klux Klan Video

October 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Luke Brinker,

After racially insensitive video emerges, West Virginia police lieutenant placed on leave.

A Charleston, West Virginia police lieutenant has been placed on paid administrative leave amid an investigation into a racially insensitive video he is said to have made.

The Charleston Gazette reports that Lt. Shawn Williams was suspended last week after police found the video on Williams’ computer. The video allegedly shows Williams’ young daughter donning a police uniform as a Ku Klux Klan song plays in the background and a man — apparently Williams — asks his daughter questions. According to the report “[d]erogatory racial language can be heard” in the video.

In the video, the song’s refrain repeats, “Stand up and be counted, show the world that you’re a man. Stand up and be counted, go with the Ku Klux Klan.”

Williams is blaming the firestorm on his divorce, according to the Gazette.

“My wife and I are in the middle of a difficult and painful divorce,” Williams said. “Neither of us can or should disclose or comment on deeply personal matters involving our children, who are my first concern. These matters involve a sealed court proceeding.”

Williams is a 16-year veteran of the police force. In file footage featured in a report by local station WOWK-TV, he spoke in terms that sound particularly chilling in light of the new allegations.

“We like to think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping the riff-raff out of here,” Williams told the station.


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Sick Sadists Patrol the Web Anonymously

October 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Joanna Rothkopf,

New research shows that trolls are clinically awful people.

As an Internet writer, I have seen no end to the cruelty that stems from the promise of anonymity. For seemingly benign articles, I have attracted the foulest vitriol from hundreds of commenters, calling me ignorant, stupid, unqualified and more profane nicknames than I care to recall. Message boards like Reddit and 4chan attract the truly evil, where entire message threads exist to belittle and berate, or to raise opinions that are intentionally unpopular for their bigotry and violence (such as the subreddit that seriously addresses the benefits of rape).

Why do trolls behave the way they do? Two studies published in the September 2014 issue of Personality and Individual Differences seek to answer that question. The studies examined personality traits and commenting styles of 1,215 people and found that the trolls had personality traits that exactly lined up with what is known as the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a psychological term used to describe those who manipulate and trick others for personal gain.

Live Science reports:

To conduct the first study, the researchers recruited 418 people, with an average age of 29, to complete survey questions online. One of the measures of sadistic personality used in the study was the so-called Short Sadistic Impulse Scale, which includes 10 items that assess a person’s tendency to enjoy hurting others…

In the second study, the researchers constructed another trolling measure that they called the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling (GAIT) scale. They used this tool to assess people’s trolling behavior and levels of enjoyment. They also asked people in the study how much time they typically spent online.

The investigators found a link between online commenting frequency and the enjoyment of trolling, which is consistent with previous research that has established an association between excessive use of technology and antisocial behavior.

“Of all personality measures,” the study reads, “sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism.”

Still, the study did …read more