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Friday, 13 April 2012

How to Spot an ASH Stooge

Generally, it is pointless to get into a debate with anyone on an on-line newspaper website.  Sometimes, however, it can be fun.  But you need to know who you're up against.  If you see someone commenting on every other comment arguing against for or against something, you can almost be assured they that are being paid to do so.  Take for example, this guy.  (Click on "Activity.")  I'm not going to link to his web site, because he's a twat.  If you want to visit, feel free by doing so through Disqus.  But suffice to say that he's now "freelance."  He describes himself on his site as an "apathetic activist."  Translation:  "Pay me and I'll and support your cause."  His CV reads like someone who believes he should be regarded as important, but the truth is he doesn't play well with others, and I suspect he's not very well liked.  So he's a gun for hire, a stooge for tobacco control or anyone. Go back and read all of his comments if you want to.  You'll see.

One of the benefits of Disqus is being able to go back and see their entire commenting history as well as which posts they "liked."  But do note, when you see that roughly the same people are liking their comments in a variety of unrelated topics, then you pretty much know it's the same guy logging on with different accounts. It's what they do. 

You might be surprised that groups like ASH, Fresh and CRUK actually spend money to hire people to espouse their views of intolerance.  You might be surprised, but you shouldn't be.  It's easier and cheaper to give someone a few hundred quid than to do it yourself.

So, how to spot an ASH (or tobacco control) stooge.  First trick, deviate from the tobacco control script.  Look, they know what most people are going to say long before we know what we're going to say.  It's their job to have an answer at the ready.  But when you get them off-guard, anything can happen, and the ASH stooge will feel obligated to reply with meaningless statistics, because that's all they have at their disposal.

If they answer with the standard statistics, then it's an ASH stooge  Copy and paste the text of their message into a search engine and you'll see. Sure, some people will take the time to Google something, but most people will only type what they think.  Statistics = stooge. Every time.  If they suddenly disappear or fail to answer, mostly likely a stooge.  Obviously, not everyone is hanging on every word they've ever posted as a comment somewhere.  But these guys are on the clock.  They work for a few hours, and that's it. They're only being be paid to do a few hours work, and once those hours have expired, they move on to the next job.  That's how it works. 

(Coming up this weekend, our Simon Chapman special. Man, is this guy a supreme wanker or what? Stay tuned.)