Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Saddest Thing

Ming's gotten so saddened and upset by the negativity and hostility in the comments on his blog that he had a friend, a psychologist, write this up: The pathology of ‘fanboyism’. Poor Ming, working so hard to provide us with his wisdom, and yet, so attacked and brutalized.

There are only two little problems.

Where are these supposedly negative comments? His commenters are a uniform sea of dopey fans, shills, and sock puppets.

The second one is that it is obvious to anyone who is not a dunce that this piece was not written by a psychologist. There are lots of tells, but let's pick out a couple:

‘Fanboys’ and ‘trolls’, on the other hand, are typically lacking in self confidence or conviction in their work, and in the majority of cases, are actually unable to produce any work that they are actually proud of. They can never muster the humility to admit this publicly, but it does affect their private mental state.

This is wrong. This is very specific diagnosis at a distance, a great distance, of a large and heterogeneous mass of people. It is manifestly a non-psychologist simply slamming some category of people he doesn't like.

Onwards. Again with regard to trolls (in this case people the author doesn't like on forums):

In some cases, there is evidence of borderline schizophrenic or bipolar disorder requiring treatment. This is also one of the most fascinating behavioral changes provoked by the internet: the layer of anonymity and disconnection consistently forces individuals to do or say things they would never consider in personal face-to-face interaction; I cannot help but feel this is not a good thing for society as a whole.

Again we have the baseless diagnosis at a distance, followed immediately by the suggestion that the internet is somehow converting normal people into people with a clinical condition? Or something. Again, it's clearly just a slam written by a layperson. A real psychologist, or even a dumb layperson like me who pays attention, knows perfectly well that negative behaviors on the internet are not driven by pathology, or by lack of confidence, or any of those things. Perfectly normal, well-adjusted, people will do terrible things to one another if the circumstances are right. Google Stanford Experiment to get started, if you're interested in what real psychologists have to say about this sort of thing.

Frankly, the only thing that's missing here is a thick German accent and a thick German beard. This is ludicrous. So who did write it? No idea. I note that the author uses the word "whilst", however, and chooses to remain anonymous.

The hell of it is Ming doesn't have to do this sort of shit. His commenters cannot all be sock puppets, he is widely read, so the inevitable conclusion is that he is genuinely well loved. His comments are uniformly fawning, although I have already observed that he simply moderates out anything resembling dissent. Maybe there IS a lot of negativity, but he's editing it out? In which case, how does his psychologist friend know about it?

And despite my complaining, he's genuinely out there giving it the college try. I think he's an aggressively dunderheaded lad with an enormous ego, but he's actually thinking about stuff and writing about stuff that's interesting. His ego renders him impervious to new knowledge, so he's sort of stuck with a profound ignorance on a lot of points, but he's trying.

He stands up on his hind legs and he talks about interesting stuff, and we need more people doing that.


  1. The author "Dr. P.L." alludes to being a student at the MT Email School of Photography. I am still mystified that people will send MT $500-$900 to be his email friend for a year... It would seem that the most significant exchange between the two is about fanboyism and trolls?

    I clearly understand that not all great teachers are great photographers and that not all great photographers are even good teachers but having had some good teachers I know that it could never have happened over an email exchange, even a year long one.

    1. It is not at all clear what the actual enrollment in Ming's email school is. There's evidence that he misstates the actual enrollment.

      There's also internal evidence that "Dr. P.L." is in fact Ming, trying to write a trifle "smarter" than he normally writes. That's based on some very quick and dirty textual analysis. I'd say "evidence that is consistent with identical authorship" but by no means conclusive.

      What's clear is that Dr. P.L. is not a psychologist. Perhaps it's a friend of Ming's with a "Master's degree in psychology from Oxford"

  2. So, aren't all those obsequious commentators themselves "fanboys" of Ming?

    1. I have never quite worked out by who Ming is talking about when he says "fanboy". I think he might mean people who are brand loyalists? It's not clear who "P.L." means, since he or she seems to more or less lump them in with "troll" which, as we know, means "someone who disagrees with me"