So I’ve been putting some thought to it, and analyzing what we’ve seen from the R’s since I’ve been hanging out on sites like The Daily Beast. Here are my conclusions, for what they are worth (R’s…you’ll probably find these worthless…everybody else, you might get something useful out of them).

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Conservative Posting Styles:
There are a few more than these three, but these three seem to encapsulate the overwhelming majority of conservative posters:

1)Attention Hounds:

These are the folks who provide the greater bulk of the post volume for conservatives. Their posts seldom have any actual content, are usually less than fifteen words per post, and are mostly designed to bury cogent discussion beneath an avalanche of tripe. The folks who engage in this kind of posting will usually deny that they’re doing it for the attention and cite some (always cryptic, unnamed) “other reason” for doing what they do, but…whatever. If it makes them sleep better at night to pretend they’re NOT attention seeking, that’s fine.

How to combat/neutralize them:

Don’t bother trying to rationally debate them. They’ll tie you down endlessly. Just treat them as comic relief, and if you reply at all, shoot back at them with pithy one liners of your own, using reducto ad absurdum to turn it into a joke (ie, tell them you can’t wait till Obama gets his 100% marginal tax rates so you can get more free stuff, etc).

2)Faux Economic “Deep Thinkerers” - these guys get mad when you don’t take them seriously. They’re big on Austrian economics and will usually cite at least some references for you (invariably libertarian sites like or a handful of others, but hey…they’re a rarity in the conservaverse…they actually have links to articles and supporting references to back up their kooky beliefs. Granted, their beliefs are pretty much math and fact free, but they DO have sources to draw from, and that’s not nothing!

How to combat /neutralize them:

Get them to reference a conspiracy theory (and most will in short order) and you’ve got them by the short and curlies. In addition to buying the math-free economic theories the right likes to hawk, they actually believe all that New World Order garbage, and the moment you can get them to spout off about one or more of the conspiracies out to get the noble conservative movement, that’s pretty much when they fall apart. Don’t waste your time using source data here…for these guys, all the source data is a lie, and they won’t have thing one to do with it. On the other hand, it might be a good opener to get them to tell you all about one of the vast leftist conspiracies that have duped the world into relying on empirical data.

3)The know it all: These are the second most common type of conservative debater, after the Attention Hound. These are the guys who claim that the libtards are all stoopid, conservatives have all the answers (never mind the dismal track record for accuracy of their “unskewed news” sources), but oddly, they never actually getting around to backing up anything they say with supporting material. Everything they type will be bald assertion, backed up by nothing. If pressed, a very small minority might (MIGHT) provide a source link, but most will flatly refuse.

How to combat/neutralize them:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Use factual information, but hit them hard and fast with it, only providing source links if asked specifically. If you adopt the same tone and bearing, most will be paralyzed and uncertain how to beat you, as most have never practiced combating their own style.

All of these have a few things in common, and the significance of this should not be overlooked. All are at the core, conservative, and they all tend to go with the conservative herd. That means epistemic closure (pulling data and talking points only from a few “approved” sources. It means if and where data is used, it will either be cherry picked source data (look at this tiny slice in this particular way and you’ll see I’m right!), or data scrubbed (“unskewed data”) by right wing think tanks to remove all the supposed liberal bias. All of them treat anyone to their right with disdain (best case) or as outright enemies of Real America (typically), and will quickly resort to sniping and name calling if their myths are challenged in any way.

The best way to beat them is to practice message discipline. Pick a point. A fairly narrow, specific point, and stick with it.

Don’t allow them to change the subject or distract you (you’ll note here that all three major archetypes will almost immediately fall into ad hom attacks the moment you corner them…it seems to be a reflex action).

If you begin with “tax cuts do not increase revenues.” then don’t let them lead you down blind alleys to some other topic (like health care, or defense spending, or whatever), cos when you get them backed into a corner, they will do ANYTHING to keep from admitting that they’re wrong. That the myth is a myth and they have been duped. If that means dodging and weaving and changing the subject, they’ll try it.

Don’t let them.

Happy New Year, and Happy Hunting!


PS: I recommend listening to “Highway to Hell” or “Blue on Black” (Kenny Wayne!) while “debating” with conservatives, but that’s just me…*G*

Update 1: Other references you may find useful (thanks Sazach!)

  • sazach

    Hey Vel, Happy New Year – almost!
    Great article, but one thing missing. Someone posted a link on TDB the other day which I wish like hell I had saved and can’t find in my History. It was a tutorial for trolls and it was fascinating. Lisa/Suz/Holly is a master and you have fallen for her tricks. Notice next time you post one of your more eloquent pieces like the one above. She immediately starts flame-throwing and you guys respond in force until, poof! -your amazing piece of articulate observation bounces right off the page, and poof! again, she disappears.
    I, as a rule never respond to her shite because it makes my blood boil. If I were you, I’d do the same. PS: It’s more fun to watch!

    I’m going to do a little more digging for that article.


  • Velociryx

    Hey Sazach! Yes, I’ve actually seen the “Troll Handbook” and will see if I can dig it up again. I was (obliquely, and not as eloquently) referring to the same type of thing you mentioned when I went into how posters like Lisa (who was one of the ones I had in my mind when I was writing that piece!) will bury serious posts under an avalanche of tripe, and you’re right…I do/have fallen for it and need to get better about dodging it – or, respond as I outlined above, but also regularly re-post the serious stuff to keep it afloat (more work, but might be the way to go!)

    Soon as I find that link, I’ll reference it at the bottom of this piece, and Happy New Year! :)