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psychoceramics: Riley M. Sinder - Usenet Robot

For a while last year, one "Riley M. Sinder" was tearing up the atheist and
evolutionist usenet newsgroups.  Then, come December, '96, we all find out
he's just a 'bot, a psychology project.  Boy, was I cheesed off, since
I'd argued with him.

Well, he's back.  A quick check in dejanews shows that he's been active
since about January 6th, although someone is mercifully cancelling all
'his' articles.

Here's one of the usenet articles that documented "Sinder's" being a 'bot.
If anyone can get me the original article, or a cite for the paper
resulting from the research, I'd be grateful.

Subject:      Re: Exposed: Riley Sinder is a graduate school project
From:         myers @ netaxs.com (Paul Z. Myers)
Message-Id:   <myers-y--@n--.netaxs.com>

In article <meredith.scsn.net-1--@c--.scsn.net>,
meredith.scsn.net (Kevin Meredith) wrote:

> I'm passing this on. I believe this answers the who and why of Riley Sinder.
> From the Nov. 27 issue of the "Frontman," the student newspaper of the
> University of Chicago:
> By Claira Duvensky
> Staff Writer
>      If the Usenet newsgroup you frequent seems a little more active
> lately, you can thank a team of six UofC psychology graduate students
> researching debating behavior on the Internet.
>      The students have created an Internet character, given him an
> unpopular cause, and even created a personality for him as they used him
> to spar with real people all over the world.
>      "The results have been fascinating," says team member Ehmed Mudjavi.
> "People have gone to a great deal of trouble to respond to our character,
> and have even gotten really angry at him on occasion."
>      The team has dubbed its creation "Riley Sinder," and an account was
> opened up under that name with Netcom, an Internet service provider
> (Riley's e-mail address, r--@n--.com, is based on the UofC lacrosse
> team's colors).
>      Since the start of the term, the students have been regularly posting
> under Riley's name to more than a dozen political, religious and
> philosophical newsgroups.
>      All the posts argue a single point: that creationism should be taught
> in public school science classes.
>      "We wanted to give him an unpopular viewpoint in order to generate
> more comments," explains group member Karen DuPres. "But we didn't want to
> make him outrageous."

Didn't they fail on this last point? I thought this Sinder nitwit (oops,
"persona") was a flaming nutcase!

Paul Myers                               Department of Biology
m--@n--.com                         Temple University
http://fishnet.bio.temple.edu/           Philadelphia, PA 19122