And Then There’s Free Speech

There’s this from Matt Ridley concerning the effect of Internet anonymity on speaking freely.

It is now well known that people are generally accurate and (sometimes embarrassingly) honest about their personalities when profiling themselves on social-networking sites. Patients are willing to be more open about psychiatric symptoms to an automated online doctor than a real one. Pollsters find that people give more honest answers to an online survey than to one conducted by phone.

Ridley traces a path back to our (very distant) forebears.

In many monkeys and apes, face-to-face contact is essentially antagonistic. Staring is a threat.


For many primates, face-to-face contact carries a threat. When we’re online, we’re essentially faceless.

It would seem that we’re not bad, we’re just evolved that way.

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