Parasites are driving the ant

Nature be crazy. Case in point: The lancet river fluke, AKA Dicrocoelium dendriticum

This parasite is found all over the world and its life cycle is so crazy and so Rube Goldberg-esque that, after first hearing about them, one would be forgiven for assuming Dicrocoelium was not an actual living thing but rather the product of a science fiction novel. Here’s how this little bastard works:

Step one: Dicrocoelium eggs are eaten by snails. OK, not such a big deal. Parasites need hosts, after all. A snail is as good as any other. But it doesn’t stop there. Not by a long shot.

Step two: Once inside the snail, the eggs hatch producing larvae that punch out of the snail’s guts and take up residence in its digestive track. The snail, for obvious reasons, wants these things gone and its body bundles them up in cysts and poops them out as the snail slimes along.

Step three: Here’s where it gets kinda nuts. The Dicrocoelium larvae, left behind in the snail track, wait until an ant comes along for a drink. Turns out, ants derive moisture from snail slime. Hey, an ant’s life, man. It’s not easy. So the ant can end up with hundreds of these things inside it. One little ant from one little snail cyst.

From there, the Dicrocoelium end up all over inside the ant’s body. Not to grow up and lay eggs so the whole thing can happen again. No. They can only do that in the guts of a ruminant (like a cow). While the rest of the Dicrocoelium hang out in whatever part of the ant they want, just one of them takes up the job of bus driver. This guy settles in a part of the ant’s nervous system and, from there, takes control of the ant. He’s now an undercover zombie. By day, a normal looking ant hanging out with the others. By night, river fluke pansy.

As I said, the Dicrocoelium can only fulfill their biological imperative of reproduction inside a ruminant. Once the sun sets, the bus driver instructs the ant to head to the nearest blade of grass and crawl all the way out to the end, grab hold of it with his mandibles, and wait. All night long. If nothing happens, when the sun comes up, the ant goes back to the colony. Why? Because it’s cool there and the Dicrocoelium will die if the ant’s body is warmed too much by the sun. Once night returns, it’s back to the grass blade.

Step four: Eventually, if the Dicrocoelium get lucky, an unsuspecting cow or sheep or llama comes along partaking in a midnight snack and eats the zombie ant along with the grass it’s clinging to. Once inside the cow or llama or whatever, they reach adulthood, get married and settle down and make their eggs. The llama or cow craps them out where some snail crawls along and finds them and the whole crazy thing starts all over again.

True story.

I tell you this story for two reasons. First is to illustrate how totally nuts nature is that such a complicated, illogical, implausible, and, if I’m honest, absolutely creepy form of life would evolve on planet Earth. Two is to tell you that the Bigfoot Forums is like that zombie ant.

What? No, really.

See, there are a subspecies of humans that thrive on sociopathic behavior. It’s a form of psychic sustenance for them much as llama blood is for Dicrocoelium. They revel in poking others with metaphorical sticks and seeing how they squirm and run around. They’ve always been among us, but the internet and the web in particular has given them the ability to multiply by the millions and achieve unprecedented efficiencies of success. We call them trolls.

troll n.
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

Recently, I’ve decided to stop participating with the Bigfoot Forums due to it’s having been taken over by Dicrocoelium-esque invaders from beyond. “Beyond” in this case being the James Randi Educational Foundation Forums (JREF). There, you will find many people (hundreds?) who just love to sit around making fun of people who believe things the JREFers think are silly. Truth be told, many things many people think are silly, but I, like most normal non-troll people, don’t feel compelled to go find all the places these people hang out and tell them how silly they are. JREFers do.

And several of the worst, most disruptive Dicrocoeliumon the BFF are straight imports from the JREF. They go back to the mothership at night and slap each other on the back and yuck it up over the ants they’re able to rile up over on the BFF then fly off to do it again when the sun rises. These are not reasonable people. These are people who derive pleasure at the discomfort of others. Discomfort they inflict is best.

For those of you keeping score, you’ll know that I founded the original Bigfoot Forums back in 2002. I was always interested in having skeptical voices as part of that community but I never intended scofftical denialists to be welcome. If a person’s point of view is that bigfoot cannot be real and anyone who thinks it is cannot tell fact from fancy, they have no place in a community of bigfoot enthusiasts. That’s logic. On the other hand, if you have those who are interested in the subject, allow that the animal’s existence is at least possible (if not plausible), and are willing to entertain new evidence, then yeah. That’s healthy.

JREF members who post on the Bigfoot Forums are a disease to that community.

Those who administer and moderate the forum are no better than the zombie ant doing the Dicrocoelium’s evil bidding. They allow these trolls to live among them, derailing every conversation and thread, sending them all to the end of a blade of grass. The administrators act as though there is a universal right of participation there and fail to weigh the cost/benefit of allowing the troll’s disruptions to continue as some sort of feigned service to fairness and balance. They’ve allowed the forum to become an irrelevant shadow of what it once was.

But, to be fair, the Bigfoot Forums was destined to a certain irrelevancy. The web is an incredibly different place than it was in 2002. We have social networks now like Twitter and Facebook. We have podcasts and blogs. We have so many other places interested parties can congregate and have discussions. The world is spinning away from sites like the Bigfoot Forums. Unfortunately, those who run it are allowing others to spin it faster and further away from being a useful resource for enthusiasts. Now it’s just a catty clutch of nattering nabobs. The cream can never rise above the rest because it’s covered in bullshit.

At the end of the day, we’re left with an existential question for the Bigfoot Forums. What is its purpose? Is it to be a place for enthusiasts and other genuinely interested parties to gather and discuss the topic of bigfoot? Or is it to be a tool for sociopaths? A component in the pleasure delivery system for a subset of humanity that thrives on the misery of others.

I’m not part of answering that question anymore. I wonder if anyone over there is even asking it.

Continue reading: Points of clarification re: zombie ants

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Posted in Miscellaneous sasquatchery
38 comments on “Parasites are driving the ant
  1. See says:

    Hello, your friendly parasite here. I don’t expect this response to stand, or to even be published, but I’ll give it a go.

    I’m sorry that you’ve decided to diss the forum you founded. However, I make no apologies for allowing others to question claims made in your topic. You see, claims without evidence aren’t healthy for the Bigfoot world in general. As great a storyteller as you are, that’s all it is, really, because your evidence is lacking.

    I’m all for great stories and spellbinding tales, but at some point the rubber has to meet the road. Unfortunately, your “tree break” claim was the tale that broke the camel’s back. It didn’t have to be that way, but you chose to hit the road like a kid taking his football and going home after admitting that you’d not even read the debate and discussion of the topic.

    I don’t like hardline skeptics, myself. I always hope that those that claim to be on the cutting edge of Bigfoot research will substantiate not only the existence of the creature, but provide evidence that will shut the “scoftics” up. I want so bad for the “experts” to squish the JREF crowd into the ground. I wait, and wait, and wait some more, yet no evidence ever comes forward… just continuous unsubstantiated claims of supposed activity that was witnessed at “X.”

    You see, the problem isn’t the BFF. The problem is a complete lack of evidence. While I understand that accounts of observations can be valuable, they cannot replace evidence, especially if the goal of those making claims is to have the creature recognized by science. Science won’t be impressed with good stories, nor will they crumble when being called parasites when they don’t buy the claims without evidence. The BFF won’t crumble, either. In fact, we’ll take the stand of offering our members an alternative from what’s been the norm for years and years – Providing an avenue to massage the fragile egos of Bigfoot researchers at the expense of evidence.

    BFF 1.0 was a clickish enterprise, which led to its eventual demise.

    You don’t need the BFF to publish your observations, as you’ve well stated. You’ve done your best to slam the forum for allowing others – admittedly, even hard line skeptics – to question your claims and ask for evidence. If this makes them parasites, then so be it. However, a parasite cannot exist without a host. It’s the responsibility of the host to rid themselves of parasites… simply avoiding them after you’ve determined them to be present just won’t do. Action is required, in this case a little evidence would be a great start, IMO.

    You had your very own thread. This allowed you to present you claims freely and openly. Yet when asked to explain your claims, you run off in a huff, slamming the forum that gave you the opportunity to present your findings. This did nothing to add to your credibility, nor did it do much to substantiate your claims.

    I know you have this and other avenues. I wonder if others following this format and the others tire of unsubstantiated claims if they’ll be deemed parasites, too?

    Having said all of this, we don’t hold a grudge. If you ever decide you want to return, you’re welcome. We value all opinions on the BFF, even those that aren’t as flattering as we’d like. It’s my hope that you’ll do the same in the future regarding this and your other outlets.

    Good luck to you and the NAWAC. I truly hope that you’re successful, and that you’ll enlighten the world with the evidence you might eventually acquire. I’m rooting for you.

    • Brian Brown says:

      “I make no apologies for allowing others to question claims made in your topic. ”

      You say potato, I say…potato. OK, you really have to say that out loud to get the affect.

      In any event, my criticism stands. There is no there there anymore. No reason for it to be. It’s a dead site walking.

    • Brian Brown says:

      I would also wonder if you’ve actually groked the meaning of my post if you think this is really about being questioned. That’s ludicrous. You’re buying their line.

  2. See says:

    No, I’m not buying into anything. You had – and still have – an avenue to discuss your accounts with the members there… to shut up the scoftics. Why you had to slam the forum is perplexing. We can’t insulate you from criticism or questioning, nor will we.

    Where I take issue with your post is your need to slam the BFF because others are skeptical of your claims. I suppose you’ll slam Facebook or the hosting domain of this site if you’re criticized.

    Having said this, I’ll bow out of the conversation, as it’s obvious that we don’t – and probably won’t – agree. It’s not my intention to “win” any debate concerning this matter, nor do I want to appear to be trying to slam your site by arguing about the matter. And as I’ve said, you’re always welcome on our forum, which will thrive in spite of your exit and detrimental comments.

    Good luck, much success, and live a long and wonderful life.

    See

  3. Brian Brown says:

    Think I’ll let all the criticisms of this post mount. See how many ignore the central thesis and instead make it out as some kind of disgruntled vendetta on my part.

  4. See says:

    No, I read your words just fine, but I disagree. Skeptics keep things honest, IMO. While I may actually agree with you to an extent, they are allowed to question anyone on the forum, even you.

    Now, in spite of the condescending comment about my reading ability, I still welcome you to obliterate these clowns on the BFF any time you’re able. Imagine the satisfaction of doing so. Even if it’s not on our forum, it will end up there eventually, and you’ll be vindicated.

    Seriously, I am rooting for you.

    • Brian Brown says:

      Thanks for the rooting, but you’re not seeing what I’m saying: They’re not skeptics. Why would I bother spending *any* time debating a brick wall? Especially when the brick wall enjoys it?

      I like to talk about this subject and I like to answer questions people have and hear what they think regarding the experiences I’ve been party to. That’s not even half of what happens on the BFF. It’s the same cast of characters who do not and will never think what I’m saying is real. If there’s a better definition of pointless, I can’t think of it.

      It doesn’t have to be that way. There is no reason for the BFF to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the JREF.

    • Brian Brown says:

      I already said all this:

      “I was always interested in having skeptical voices as part of that community but I never intended scofftical denialists to be welcome. If a person’s point of view is that bigfoot cannot be real and anyone who thinks it is cannot tell fact from fancy, they have no place in a community of bigfoot enthusiasts. That’s logic. On the other hand, if you have those who are interested in the subject, allow that the animal’s existence is at least possible (if not plausible), and are willing to entertain new evidence, then yeah. That’s healthy.”

  5. Michele says:

    Brian, you say that this post is not to slam the BFF? I’m sorry but that is exactly how it reads to me!

    There are 2, maybe 3 people who have an immovable opinion regarding Area X on the BFF. Yet you call the whole BFF parasites. Even some who consider you a friend. There are many on the forum that wait on pins and needles for the next update from you about the happenings of Area X.

    You say you don’t mind answering questions… I have a few:
    Why did you not put those who you feel had an agenda, the JREFers, on ignore and continue to answer questions from those who asked them for the right reasons? Why do you lump all of us into the same bucket of parasites?

    You said: “Those who administer and moderate the forum are no better than the zombie ant doing the Dicrocoelium’s evil bidding.”
    Why slam the staff, who volunteer their time enforcing rules that they did not make (the Steering Committee- voted in my the membership do the rule making)? Are the rules that much different from when you were running things? Have you never been involved with making the rules that exist today? If not, if you felt the rules needed amended, did you ever approach the Steering Committee with your concerns?

    You may feel you are completely justified. You have a right to your opinion regarding the BFF, but I think the way you have dealt with this situation stinks.

    I will continue to root for the NAWAC as well, but I’ll be honest with you – I have lost a lot of respect for you for how you’ve dealt with a situation that you caused in the first place by putting out misinformation and then walking away, rather than admitting it and correcting it.

    • Brian Brown says:

      “you say that this post is not to slam the BFF?”

      I think this is pretty clearly criticism of how the BFF is being run. Where did I say it wasn’t?

      “Yet you call the whole BFF parasites.”

      No, I didn’t.

      “Why did you not put those who you feel had an agenda, the JREFers, on ignore and continue to answer questions from those who asked them for the right reasons?”

      I did, but they were allowed to control the conversation and it wasn’t possible to ignore them. When nearly every post is from them or in response to them, what’s the point?

      “Why do you lump all of us into the same bucket of parasites?”

      *sigh* Read what I said. I didn’t call everyone on the BFF parasites.

      “Why slam the staff, who volunteer their time enforcing rules that they did not make (the Steering Committee- voted in my the membership do the rule making)?”

      Because I think they could do their jobs better. Trust me, I know the world they live in. The Steering Committee can take my criticisms to heart just as much as the admins and mods.

      “You may feel you are completely justified. You have a right to your opinion regarding the BFF, but I think the way you have dealt with this situation stinks.”

      You’re entitled to your opinion.

      “I have lost a lot of respect for you for how you’ve dealt with a situation that you caused in the first place by putting out misinformation and then walking away, rather than admitting it and correcting it.”

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. Where have I misinformed? I passed along what i thought was interesting information as I was receiving it. If anything was corrected, it was as a result of investigation and further learning. If you think that’s misinforming, that’s more your problem than mine.

      • Michele says:

        The size and type of tree for one thing.

      • Brian Brown says:

        I related what was reported. Who’s at fault? Me for sharing the info I had or others for taking it and blowing it out of proportion? Also, to the best of my knowledge, some of the information assumed to be from me was manufactured along the way as it was chewed and regurgitated by the trolls.

        Do you think I was intentionally misleading? That’s the tone the forum was *allowed* to take in my absence.

      • Brian Brown says:

        Also, allow me to point out, the 2,700-ish words I wrote and posted about what got us to this point as been totally ignored. Not one comment. No clarifications asked. No suggestions or observations by anyone. Yet this post, critical of the BFF, has about 30. Priorities?

    • Brian Brown says:

      Let me spell the analogy out:

      BFF members genuinely interested in discussing bigfoot (skeptical or otherwise): Not parasites
      BFF admins and mods: Not parasites
      Scofftic denialists only interested in derailing and otherwise disrupting the site and who are allowed to do so by the admins and mods: Parasites

      • Michele says:

        “Those who administer and moderate the forum are no better than the zombie ant doing the Dicrocoelium’s evil bidding.”

      • Brian Brown says:

        Right…so…that’s the most damning quote you can find? “No better than?” I will assume you’re intentionally missing the point of the piece since comparing the staff to parasitically controlled ants *IS* the point of the piece. Not parasites. CONTROLLED by them.

  6. Bede Alcuin says:

    Amazing. All one has to do is listen to Brian and read his writings to know that he NEVER equates the provision of experiential observations to definitive evidence. NEVER. To suggest otherwise, as “See” has done (and others), well, means “See” doesn’t have very good vision, reading or listening comprehension, or some combination thereof. All Brian has done is pass along experiential observations in full acknowledgement that nothing he reports, short of a specimen, will provide the documentation that is required. What is so difficult to understand about that?

  7. Michele says:

    And that has always been fine with me. I was one of those who eagerly waited for a report from Brian! I was happy to just read the observations – and I still am. So why have I been called a parasite?

    • Brian Brown says:

      I think you’re misunderstanding who’s who in the post.

      • Michele says:

        The title reads: Parasites are driving the ant.
        And this: Those who administer and moderate the forum are no better than the zombie ant doing the Dicrocoelium’s evil bidding.

        How is that not slamming me. You don’t know me, Brian. I was a fan of yours. I couldn’t believe that you would say those things about me.

      • Brian Brown says:

        Like I said above, I never claimed *not* to be “slamming” how the forum is being run.

  8. Michele says:

    I continue wish you guys good luck. I hope that this will pass and Brian will return to the BFF and put all the naysayers in their place one day.

  9. Michele says:

    Brian. Why didn’t you post my original post?

  10. Michele says:

    Thank you Brian. Do you think you dealt with this appropriately? (then I will leave you alone)

    • Brian Brown says:

      I don’t thing writing a public post critical of a public site is inappropriate. If you were personally hurt by my criticism, I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention and it shouldn’t have been read that way. My issues are with the way the forum is being run and are not personal with those who are running it. My personal issues are with the denialist trolls who are, IMO, intentionally destroying something I once cared a great deal about.

      • Michele says:

        Then I wish you would have approached the Steering Committee and proposed something along the lines of : Anyone who gets more than one warning for trolling shall be banned. And please don’t say that staff never warned the “trolls” in that thread. It was done numerous times. They would wait their time to pass where the points are decreased (per our rules) and go back at it.

        I think that proposal might have passed.

      • Brian Brown says:

        My point is not that trolls were warned or not. My point is control the forum because they’re allowed to exist at all.

  11. Michele says:

    “Do you think I was intentionally misleading? That’s the tone the forum was *allowed* to take in my absence.”

    I thought you said you didn’t read the posts that were made in your absence.

    How can we get rid of the trolls if we don’t allow them post until we identify them as trolls? We have tossed out many trolls. Again, I wish you would have stated your concerns. Your opinions are valued on the forum (at least by me and I know by many others). Maybe something more to your satisfaction could have happened. But you chose to leave. And leave those of us who looked forward to your posts with nothing but a less than good taste in our mouths about the whole situation.

    I honestly hope you reconsider, come back and straighten the mess out and continue to provide the information that many are upset to have lost – including myself.

    • Brian Brown says:

      “I thought you said you didn’t read the posts that were made in your absence.”

      I haven’t. I didn’t need to. What I said I’ve done, I’ve done.

      I won’t go back to the Bigfoot Forums until it remembers what it’s purpose is and rids itself of scoftical denialists. But really, that’s not what this is about. It’s not about me, it’s about the BFF.

  12. I see this all the time, seems to be human nature. False equivalents like both sides are wrong then treating them equaly. Never mind one person’s crime is shop lifting and the other is a murderer. As a admin on a page with 3,000 members I do not tolerate trolls. If someone is not there to learn or share ideas they do not need to be heard. On the page I moderate it’s about UFOs and real hard science. We are constantly invaded by people that want to say they are all demons not craft for example. If all they are going to do is religious conversions I kick them out. Same with people that claim no craft is possible from another planet, time or dimension. Honest skeptics and fanatics are not the same thing. Another reason I don’t let them hang around is that some people on the page are in a fragile state of mind do to seeing something they never thought possible. It can screw with your head and last thing these people need is someone only posting to tell them they are delusional.

    • Brian Brown says:

      “If someone is not there to learn or share ideas they do not need to be heard.”

      Yes. Also, if they’re there to show everyone the error of their ways for thinking or daring to think about something they believe to be ridiculous, they should be chucked out.

  13. donn says:

    Agreed with the post. On every particular jot and tittle. ‘Rubber meeting road’ equals proof. It’s nothing short of an idiotic waste to keep yelling ‘no proof no proof no proof’ and contribute zero of importance to the discussion. The intelligent approach would be to say: you have nothing for me until proof…and leave.

    It’s a true shame that Cryptomundo doesn’t get its former participation. It remains as well moderated a site as is on the net. Scoftics get ripped up and shut down. This is as it should be. Questioning without purpose or information backing one’s opinions simply is not an intelligent approach. The scoftics on BFF show themselves badly under informed about how the world works and give no one disagreeing with them a single thing to think about. Why perpetuate that noise?

  14. donn says:

    I should note here that the silly uninformed scoftical canard ‘no evidence’ is reiterated once again here. The evidence has fascinated every intelligent individual who has truly engaged it. The BFF scoftics go there expecting an education that no one is obliged to provide them.

  15. donn says:

    Bede Alcuin: right on the head, my friend.

    Michele, the problem with waiting for troll warnings from mods is that trolling is constant. And nothing is happening.

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