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Anatomy of a Troll

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Most people understand that you don’t go in to someone else’s forum or blog and start posting vast quantities of tripe. You don’t do this and expect not to be banned. Freedom of speech is a concept that allows people to express themselves. But it also has limits. You don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and you don’t expect to be allowed to go into someone else’s home (or blog) and carry on an unrestrained monologue. The entire concept of free-speech is based on utilization of proper forums. The concept of debate involves conceding points where points are made, and providing evidence for unsupported statements when asked.

It had to happen at Black Sun Journal eventually.

Commenter Steven S. Showers ignored all these rules, and in response to my short post on Pride and Allegiance, posted over 4000 words in a total of 9 separate comments, using the word “god” 36 times. Mr. Showers’ views are well known. He has been a vociferous critic of Church Universal and Triumphant for many years. He maintains a site called Homeward Bound Journal. Unlike this forum, the Homeward Bound Journal makes no attempt at critical thought or reasoned dialog. Mr. Showers instead is judge, jury, and executioner of all knowledge. His points of view are narrow, and completely subjective. He presupposes the existence of god, and while thrashing CUT at every opportunity, has sought to replace the teachings of CUT with his own brand of (CUT inspired) theism. I think he views himself as a the new messenger of the ‘true’ teachings of the ascended masters. His moniker “your little brother” belies his megalomaniacal self-image.

[UPDATE 06.06.06: In response to Mr. Showers email protestations that he is “NOT” a vociferous critic of CUT, I reproduce his statement here:

Since 2003, when the leadership shattered the unity of the Russian Congregation by dismissing all members of the Moscow study group board of directors, and when Church Manager Linda Worobec Performed a Beatles tune on Altar of the Holy Grail in King Arthur’s Court, I have challenged what I believe to be wrongdoing in these two areas, and I have since argued for the resignation of all who were involved in these offenses. There are a few other things, like the mountain top light house, putting that onto the Chart of the Presence, and the ape face in the chart of the presence, and the issue about the naked statue of David being used as an object of meditation, and perhaps a couple of other things that don’t come to mind now, that I have challenged.None of this has been criticism of Church Universal and Triumphant. All of this has been an effort to hold the leaders accountable to the standards for which Church Universal and Triumphant stands.

In other words, Mr. Showers thinks he should be the one setting the “standards for which Church Universal and Triumphant stands.” ergo, he thinks he would do a better job leading the church than its current leaders, ergo, he is a persistent and vociferous critic of said church.]Over the years, Mr. Showers has also been one of my most persistent critics. He accuses me of having forsaken my ‘true misson,’ and for that he has appointed himself my personal ‘savior.’ So recently, I attempted to establish a dialog with him. I had hoped that getting to know me personally might disabuse him of these ridiculous notions, and that we might speak reasonably. So I met with him at a coffee shop for several hours. I attempted to establish even the smallest point of commonality, and acceptance of reason. We agreed on some points of politics, but on the point of the existence of god, he was completely unresponsive. I asked him if there was any way he could allow for even the possibility that the universe had evolved naturally. He said no. I pointed out that I was willing to accept the existence of god if he could provide evidence. I asked Mr. Showers if he should not extend me the same courtesy in the debate. He said no. There was no way that the universe was not wholly created by god, and that he ‘knew’ it from personal experience.

Over the next several weeks, I exchanged numerous emails with Mr. Showers, totalling perhaps 15,000 words on his part. I tried to get him to read even the first 3 chapters of “The Blind Watchmaker,” which he steadfastly refused to do. He just kept avoiding my points, and sending me ever more twisted and meandering emails. These included voluminous theistic rantings, as well as arcane science-fiction and fantasy stories that rival L. Ron Hubbard’s writings in their complexity. (LOL!) But to Mr. Showers, these stories are not stories.

Then came the 4,000 word posting (which doesn’t even include the additional article on John Muir which he copied from the Sierra Club site and PASTED in it’s ENTIRETY into the comments field). Last night, I telephoned Mr. Showers and asked him if he would please refrain from posting in this way, and also asked him to refrain from claiming divine authority and citing spiritual opinions without evidence. I thought we had agreed on some guidelines.

But this morning, he sent me an email accusing me of censorship, and comparing my techniques to those of Communist China:

And of course, this is what Atheists do, when they get into power, as I have noted. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and so forth. They close down all debate. Your response below could have come out of the mouth of any communist functionary in the Soviet Union in its 70 year history, or in Communist China today, indeed, they will not allow the discussion of democracy anywhere on the Internet. And your stated desire to “banish all religion from the public square” goes in that direction of course.

This is utter nonsense. I don’t care if anyone wants to practice their religion anywhere. Freedom of conscience is vital for human society. My problem has always been when theists attempt to legislate their brand of morality onto others, through passage of laws. Or when theists rely on government support or tax-exemptions to spread their opinions. This is how theism begins to approach theocracy. Religion should have to compete on a level playing field with all other forms of advertising. That was the intent of the establishment clause. Schooling children to do violence to non-believers should also be banned as a form of hate speech.

Controlling the debate of a moderated forum such as this one is the right of any publisher, internet or otherwise. Mr. Showers is living in a dream world, if he thinks he can move in and take over any given blog by sheer volume of prose. With this approach, he would be banned anywhere. And with typical hypocrisy, Mr. Showers’ own blog does not even allow comments.

Just to give the ‘devil his due’ (I know, I know, poor choice of metaphor, but I had to) I have posted Mr. Showers’ entire comment stream on his very own page. And I’ve linked to his blog, which is probably giving him way more attention than he deserves. As to his accusations of ‘censorship,’–how can I censor something that is so predictable? His future comments (and everything I’ve heard from him for the past 5 years) would be doubtless along the same lines. Enough already–we get it.

So good-bye Steven Showers, it’s been nice knowin’ ya. I know it’s not likely, but hope springs eternal: May you live long and prosper in reason.


Comments (19 comments)

Roerick / May 30th, 2006, 7:48 pm / #1

Well, I think you’ve treated him with plenty of respect, Sean, and I commend you for that.

Sad to see you have to do what you did, but I dont see any other option.

So just to be clear, this guy was head of one of the 8 splinter CUT groups, right?

adron / May 31st, 2006, 8:43 am / #2

You know. These people can really be problems sometime. They want to debate but don’t even know what it means to, they want to debate but have no idea how to apply real logic to an argument.

They just banter on personal experience, and condemn their adversaries. :|

…and atheists are sad? :( What a silly idea.

Aaron Kinney / May 31st, 2006, 10:32 am / #3

Wow. Totally insane. I think you conducted yourself admirably in the face of such annoyance. I mean come on! Posting an entire article from another website (and another’s work) in the comments field? Composing 4000 word posts?

Mr. Showers China analogy fails at every level. This is a private blog, not a public square. The INTERNET is a public square, and individual websites are PRIVATE places were people can control their own content and express their own views. Only if Mr. Prophet had an iron grip on the entire internet, and didnt let Mr. Showers post his thoughts on his OWN website, would the China analogy even begin to fit.

In a nutshell, Sean Prophet’s regulation of the content of his own blog is entirely consistent with the concept of free speech.

Mr. Showers has shown that he cannot meet the requirements of mature conduct and rational thought necessary to hold Mr. Prophet’s attention and consideration. The loss is entirely Mr. Shower’s, I’m sure.

Jose Luis Giles / May 31st, 2006, 4:51 pm / #4

I think Mr. Showers blog reflects the mind of a political-religious fanatic of the XVIth century. I’ve tried to read some of his testament-like posts, but I just can’t help falling asleep halfway through them.

His extremely reiterative rantings show us that he is talking more to himself than to a public. The troll is a CUT-obsessed narcissist, and his blog the therapy.

BlackSun / May 31st, 2006, 10:19 pm / #5

“So just to be clear, this guy was head of one of the 8 splinter CUT groups, right?”

Roerick, no, I don’t think so. Maybe he should be. He’s definitely a true believer. I think he could probably convince some people he was some sort of messenger. I don’t think CUT or any of its offshoots are any more rational than Mr. Showers, though.

Adron, I know. He actually said to me on the phone that John Muir’s subjective experience of god in nature was equivalent to ‘scientific evidence.’ Really, the joke’s on me for carrying on the dialog with him as long as I did.

Aaron and Jose, couldn’t agree more. Thanks.

Francois Tremblay / June 1st, 2006, 12:50 pm / #6

We don’t usually see eye to eye, but this is a topic on which we can agree with – crackpots are funny. ;)

Peggy Napier / June 16th, 2006, 4:35 pm / #7

Personally, I think that the way you have written this article Sean, shows your true colors. You are missing heart in my opinion. The fact that Steven and others who are still connected to CUT, uses his own ideological arguments to try to sway opinion, and I might add, he is very good at it, shows that he definitely knows how to debate an issue very well. Just because you don’t agree with his opinions does not make him a troll. Perhaps you should take a look in the mirror. Also, you should be ashamed of yourself for the betrayal of the Masters and your parents that you exhibit on your website. You could have left quietly and with dignity but instead you choose to try to destroy in many minds and hearts what your parents spent nearly their whole lives building up. Steven, in my humble opinion is a person with a very big heart, a kind person who actually cares about you Sean. Perhaps that is a bit difficult for you to understand since you seem to be lacking in the love department.

Peggy

BlackSun / June 16th, 2006, 9:25 pm / #8

“Steven and others who are still connected to CUT, uses his own ideological arguments to try to sway opinion, and I might add, he is very good at it”

Right. That’s why he doesn’t allow comments on his blog.

Peggy, you’re obviously a believer, and don’t care about evidence. So with respect to intellectual arguments, how do you expect anyone to take you seriously? Does ‘heart’ make up for total ignorance of the facts?

“you choose to try to destroy in many minds and hearts what your parents spent nearly their whole lives building up”

I am interested in the reality of what happened–that’s why I write. If it’s inconvenient for some people, as ‘El Morya’ was often quoted: “Let the chips fall where they may!”

Peggy Napier / June 17th, 2006, 1:10 pm / #9

Sean,

Right. I don’t care about your so called evidence. I have evidence in my own life on many levels about the reality of the ascended Masters, including El Morya, whom you quoted from above. I don’t need my “evidence” validated and I don’t care what others think of what I believe. What I do care about are people, souls, children of God. And oh yes Sean, there is a God and I too have evidence. It is not the evidence of your impirical reason or what ever it is you call it, but it is evidence none the less. You can say that I don’t care about evidence if you want to Sean. That doesn’t make it the truth.

Peggy

BlackSun / June 17th, 2006, 1:39 pm / #10

“there is a God and I too have evidence. It is not the evidence of your impirical reason or what ever it is you call it”

So, Peggy, you’re basically admitting that your entire belief system is subjective. That is: it only exists in your own mind. I don’t have a problem with what you believe. Just don’t try to pretend it’s real for others.

It is no different from so-called “belief” in any other form of myth. You could insist on the reality of Thor, or Zeus, or Neptune, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

http://www.venganza.org/

One what grounds would you base your insistence that your god or ‘El Morya’ is any more real than these other mythical personalities?

What you have done here (and I thank you) is to provide an excellent object lesson in the perils of belief. When pressed, all you can do is throw up your hands, and insist that you just “know.” It’s the same thing Steven Showers did when we sat across the table and had coffee. He had nothing to offer except the sheer desperate force of his own desire to believe. It’s the ultimate narcissistic wish-fulfillment fantasy i.e. “the universe will conform to my desires.”

This is really living in the throes of ignorance. Until you accept some standards of evidence into your life, you can go no further than blind insistence on the universal truth of your own subjective feelings.

Your feelings are completely valid to YOU–but when extended to me or others–become a form of emotional tyranny. I hope you can come to your senses about this, and I’m sorry to hear that I have upset you.

Peggy Napier / June 17th, 2006, 2:43 pm / #11

Sean,

How is it emotional Tyranny to say what I believe? And at what point are you saying that I used emotional tyranny to try force my beliefs upon you? I said “impirical reason” to describe your idea of what is real because that is what you use to state your views. My belief and my experience is based on fact as much as yours is.

Peggy Napier / June 17th, 2006, 2:48 pm / #12

P.S. Sean

At what point did you upset me? I am not upset. I just know that your ideas of reality are wrong. Maybe it is you who is upset. And by the way, it is clear to me that you are the one who is angry. You consider my beliefs as “living in the throes of ignorance.” So I guess you think that anyone who does not believe as you do is ignorant. You are exhibiting here the very behavior you are accusing religious people of exhibiting. This is very hypocritical of you.

Peggy

BlackSun / June 17th, 2006, 3:37 pm / #13

Wheeee, got a live one here. Peggy, please look up the following words:

“Subjective”
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/subjective

“Objective”
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/objective

The point of this blog is to establish the distinction between the two. The emotional tyranny I referred to is not your proclamation of what YOU believe. That’s free speech.

Let me explain what I’m talking about: It is your statement that BECAUSE you BELIEVE something, it is objectively true for others. And that BECAUSE you BELIEVE it, you have the moral high ground to DEMAND that others RESPECT your belief by accepting it and affirming that it is true. Anything less than TOTAL ACCEPTANCE is subject to your emotional tyranny. You’re not alone, all subjective believers throw these types of tantrums from time to time.

If you will admit to me that these are YOUR subjective beliefs, and not neccessarily objectively true, then I retract everything I just said. But then you will have to re-examine your life and assumptions about the universe, won’t you?

I really do care about people. The highest goal of human endeavor is the quest for truth i.e. the search for an internally consistent and externally verifiable ontology.

There is really only one truth–that is what IS. Don’t take my word for it. I’m not looking to be right. I’d actually rather be proven WRONG, so that I could learn something. If there is any kind of god, it would be in the form of a universal mind that understood and grasped the totality of what IS. I don’t think that any such thing exists. (But I could be wrong.) I think it’s much more likely that the universe itself has it’s own consciousness, arising from the interactions of matter. That’s my theory. But I’m perfectly willing to accept that I might be wrong.

What I’m not wrong about is holding a high standard of evidence before accepting anything absolute one way or the other.

I don’t care what you believe. For your own sake, if you care about truth at all, you should at least know the difference between your internal perceptions, and the external world. It’s a place to start. Peace.

Peggy Napier / June 17th, 2006, 5:46 pm / #14

Sean,

Well you believe your own version of the truth as much as I do. In reality, truth is truth, no matter who believes what. There is what people believe and then there is what IS, as you put it. That is not emotional tyranny. It is reason. So this does not make me a tyrant, nor does it confirm you argument that I am standing on some sort of moral high ground preaching to those who are ignorant. You are the one who said that I was ignorant. I did not say that to you. It seems to me that you are interpreting my words to your own convenience, so that you can make some kind of argument that proves I have no evidence for my beliefs and that therefore I am unreasonable. The subjective nature of my personal experience does not necessarily preclude the objective oberservation that what is true for me can also be true for others. Based on my subjective experience, in other words, what I have found through my own path, there is definitely a God. You have chosen not to believe in God based on your own subjective experience in the Church Universal and Triumphant. Because you had some very negative experiences, you have decided that this path of so called reason is the best path for you. This is also subjective and not objective. How is what you believe more objective than what I believe? You have admitted as much, that it is only your opinion based on what you believe to be impirical evidence. The evidence that I have that God is real is not based upon something that can be proven in the way you are expecting it to be proven. At least not at this time Sean. That does not mean that it is not true.

Peggy

BlackSun / June 17th, 2006, 6:48 pm / #15

You are playing fast and loose with words. And BTW, I’ve addressed all of these arguments many times over elsewhere.

We need to define some terms:

Evidence: Incontrovertible empirical observservations which can be independently confirmed by multiple observers.

Faith: Belief WITHOUT evidence. Held to be even more virtuous in the face of contradicting evidence.

Reason: Logical application of evidence to argument and discussion, without engaging in logical fallacy. Also includes concession of points when made. Usually cannot apply when a person is strongly attached to their beliefs.

Like I said in my first response, it’s pretty clear you are not interested in evidence or reason. So let’s just let it go at that.

My position has little to do with CUT. Although that’s a whole other can of worms. There is just no evidence to support theism, it rests wholly on faith. Also, Peggy, when you say when you believe in ‘god,’ exactly what do you mean?

I’m not really sure you’re interested in any kind of open minded debate. Just like Mr. Showers, you seem to be arguing from result. Unless you can address or concede some of the points I made earlier, we really don’t have much more to talk about.

ClintJCL / December 11th, 2007, 7:24 am / #16

Damn that looks frustrating. Peggy just doesn’t seem to get it at all; she’s like some mystic shaking a voodoo doll. And she should learn to spell empirical :)

Anyway, this Steven S. Showers just emailed me, so I googled him to see who he was, and wound up here. Thanks for the, ahem, warning. :)

-Clint

lobug / November 11th, 2008, 12:28 pm / #17

Loons that carry on like Stephen Showers and Peggy Napier remind me of the teachers at Thomas Moore School in Glastonbury and my dad. They can’t listen, they can’t consider, and they can’t hold a conversation. They all rehash the same trash over and over again until they no longer use different words to describe the same things (i.e. light or violet flame or god) and just ramble on using the same words to describe the same things (i.e. light, light, light). Things are all about “feelings” and “heart” and yet they despise anything that the church labels as “physic”. Who made CUT arbitrators of their feelings? Of their moral ruler?

THEY DID!

I feel a great amount of sympathy and sorrow for the people who can’t wake up and refuse to wake up because they’re afraid of what they’d find: that they were wrong all along to sacrifice their will at the altar of blind religious “faith”.

AmenASH&F / November 11th, 2008, 3:30 pm / #18

Lobug,
Thks for commenting on this particular post. I needed to read it !
What I find alot with these types is they can’t bring themselves to say “I don’t have the evidence. And/or It doesn’t matter to me to have any. That all that matters is my faith, belief, trust in the unkown & impossible”. Evidence for these minds sets tend to be what is compatible for them, acceptable to thier rules of logic. I speak from experience. I was too raised in “the teachings” from the age of 5. One usually doesn’t consider athiesm untill some experience brings them to this option of belief & outlook.
I learned alot from athiests during my time as a devout Theist. As a God believer I accepted Darwin, the Big Bang, Evolution. Now I know, believing in God is not important or fear for my soul.
Love, humanity, community, all the good stuff theist’s give believing in God credit to & for, is what’s important.
Letting go of any & all fear of my/a soul going to hell/astral plane for us exmembers, was my ticket to freedom from theism. Also the Devil exists for these individuals & God is the only safety net for it. Though I have come accross many people who believe in a God, so to speak, as they put it, but not the devil, just evil or badness in human nature.
Mr.showers has the idea, it looks to me, he has a mission to uphold the true SLH ideology & he knows better how that is to be done. Yeah, he lives in his own world & only “mother” nature is going to be the one to pop his “bubble” of thinking.
Sean did you ask Lobug to comment? ; )
I got a “spanking” from Sean this time, I’m on probation. I sure hope I don’t screw up again! Hope you approve? So sorry for being a glutonous little piggy with my commenting, Oink, oink = (
Was suppose to cut bk but with these Peter Arnone posting’s I had alot to add to them. And yes, I understand it was that harsh respose I wrote to J, that did it.
Thks!

Lance Winslow / March 6th, 2010, 9:11 pm / #19

This entire bitter exchange serves no purpose, and although controversy will surely drive additional traffic and unite one side, against a chosen belief system it is somewhat unhealthy to write so many negative comments about an individual. Outing a member of a group happens from time to time, granted, but trashing on the individual after they are gone, and character assasinating them is quite another. It is good to have met and attempted to create an agreement to disagree, yet, this post bothers me, and is in poor taste in my personal opinon.

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