If I was to send you a tweet saying, “Paul Myers is a complete t**t”, what would you think? If you were an innocent and descent human being, you might think that I meant “twit”. If you were UK Prime Minister David Cameron you might be thinking something slightly less polite.
Ambiguity is an excellent instrument in a troller’s armour, especially when used through equivocation. For instance, one might say, “Paul Myers is a terrible male. Nothing is more terrible than academic incompetence. Therefore Paul Myers must be an incompetent male academic.” Whether or not this is true is not important, as it is flawed logic, and can start a flame war. People might say that you are calling Paul Myers academically incompetent, which they’d argue is “defamation”. This might be want you want, if you had access to a service like Publish or Perish that rates academics.
You might question why if he is such a hot academic why over 37 years he has only 46 papers over that time. You can put this in perspective when you see that I have only been publishing for 8 years and have over 20 papers and over 145 citations in that time. At the same stage in his career as me, Myers had only 4 papers with only 12 citations among them. This won’t be what they want to hear, which is perfect ‘evidence’ that your illogical hypothesis was in fact true!
If you take a look at the image above you can see in the last item Paul Myers quoting me saying to him “I can’t argue with that – @pzmyers is an expert on the nature and origin of being a c**t! :o)”
You can see I placed “:o)” at the end to let people know I was trolling, but still this managed to provoke ‘Violet Stamper’ into assuming ‘c**t’ meant something offensive about women. Because the middle two letters were asterixed out most people will assume it is a swear word, when it could quite easily be a ‘fill in the blank’, which is what you need to allude to. If you read the article Paul Myers wrote that led me to post this, you can see he launches an attack on intelligent designers. This is a group of scientists who have agreed to use the King James Bible to try to refute evolution theory – one could call them a ‘cult’ which if you astrix out the two middle letters is ‘c**t’.
So when Violet Stamper flamed me saying I was attacking women’s anatomy, I was easily able to rebuke them for assuming that women’s anatomy is the same as a “cult”. I therefore ‘pwned’ them as they fell right into the trap of misinterpreting an ambiguous tweet to mean something which to an innocent mind it wouldn’t.
You can try this yourself. Familiarise yourself with double-entendres and other double-meaning humour. Then when someone says something you can use one of these, which could be ‘taken either way’ and when you are attacked for the offensive meaning, you can attack them for the same reason they attacked you by saying you meant the innocent meaning and they took it the wrong way.