A toxic troll called Paul Austin Murphy and Medium's knowing complicity with libel

May 2024 update: in a background search required for legal steps against him, we have uncovered that Paul A. Murphy is a man from Lancashire, UK, born in Lancashire in 1965. As we originally suspected, he has no scholarly affiliation and is indeed dependent on social safety nets, having lived in lowest-income council housing for at least the past 15 years. Instead of using the safety net provided to him by tax-payer money to become a productive member of society, he seems to spend his days spouting toxic vitriol from behind the perceived safety of his computer, particularly against Muslims, progressives, and the political left in general. I've been told that he has trolled, harassed and stalked several people he has become obsessed with online. If you are one of his victims and want to know more details of my experience with him, please feel free to get in touch privately via my contact link above, using the word 'Murphy' in the subject line (so your message doesn't get filtered out during moderation). I may also be able to share with you information you need to take legal steps against him; information we have legally collected from public sources and verified.

Let me start this by admitting upfront that I do not know who Paul Austin Murphy is, beyond a RationalWiki article on him and a libellous hit-piece he wrote about me last year. I never heard of him or his work as a philosopher, and don't even know whether he really is a philosopher at all, as I can't find any affiliation or credentials about his education, qualifications, experience, or peer-reviewed output anywhere online. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have bothered to read his hit-piece (the title is silly enough), let alone comment on it and drive traffic to his blog. So why am I giving it attention now?

Because Murphy's trolling tactics have worked; he is already getting the attention he craves and the traffic he monetizes. His hit-piece now appears on my Google Knowledge Panel sometimes as the very first hit (see screenshot below).

Here's how these things are done. Imagine that you are a frustrated, mediocre, small-time Internet blogger who doesn't really have anything significant to say; you don't get much attention, let alone recognition, but you'd really like to. How do you go about increasing your profile if you can't do it in legitimate ways?

Step one is to choose someone else as a target. This target must be a public intellectual who is getting increasing recognition, visibility, and attention, because of his good and honest work; someone whose name people are searching on Google more and more often. Step 2 is to write a hit-piece on your target, using his name in the title of the piece (this is a very important step). The title must also sound completely outrageous, so to function as clickbait. Step 3 is to wait for people to search for your target's name on Google and then see your hit-piece in the search results. Some of them will then click on it out of morbid curiosity about its outrageous title. Step 4 is to monetize your slandering of someone else's reputation by hiding the bulk of your libellous piece behind a paywall, requiring readers to pay in order to read the rest of the piece. Many will do it in the expectation of finding something that at least vaguely substantiates the outrageous title, giving you a profit. And the ones who don't pay will probably go away thinking that you may actually have had a point, hidden in the inaccessible part of the piece.

The rest is a wonderfully easy ride: you just sit back and watch as more and more people click on your click-baiting piece, so Google ranks it higher in search results of your target's name, so you get more clicks, so it gets ranked even higher, and so on. You can simply surf the wave of someone else's honest effort and substantive intellectual contributions to promote your own pseudo-intellectual vacuousness and earn money in the process. That's how it works. And make no mistake, it does work.

There are two or three thousand Google searches on my name every day, which makes me an interesting target for the trolling tactics described above:

Let us now consider the title of Murphy's hit-piece: "Bernardo Kastrup: The Idealist Cult-Leader Who Endlessly Abuses Others." This is troll-textbook-perfect. It starts with my name, so it gets ranked as very relevant to searches on my person, and then follows up with an outrageously false statement that works perfectly as clickbait. Let's be frank: if you were curious about me and saw an entry like that in your search results, wouldn't you click on it? I had to work hard for over 15 years, write 11 books, go through the scrutiny of peer-reviews and PhD defense committees (yes, in the plural), give endless interviews, engage in numerous debates, write countless essays and articles in reputable publications, to get the two or three thousand Google searches on my name every day. But a troll can just write a shamelessly vacuous, libellous, malicious, and deliberately misleading hit-piece to hitch a ride on all that for free. It's great business.

Content-wise, Murphy's hit-piece has nothing; it must have required very little effort to write. Murphy doesn't even try to argue against any of my positions, scientific, philosophical, political, or otherwise; none at all. A large proportion of the words in his hit-piece are quotes from me, taken entirely out of context and presented in atrociously misleading—though deliberate and malicious—manner. The work he did consisted mostly of copying-and-pasting my own material. It's trolling perfection, I must admit it.

The piece is entirely and avowedly dedicated to assassinating my character and deriding my readers. It contains only arbitrary, declarative, and demonstrably false statements. For instance, he claims that I avoid debates, which is overwhelmingly contradicted by any online search. Elsewhere he claims that my work is largely ignored in academia, which is equally overwhelmingly contradicted by known citations. He also claims that I demand absolute loyalty from members of my online forum; except that I don't have an online forum. The one he mentions wasn't created by me, and isn't run or moderated by me. As a matter of fact, I don't even participate in it. The piece is a long string of in-your-face falsehoods that don't even try to sound plausible, starting from the ridiculous clickbait title.

Murphy's writing oozes with perplexing frustration at the fact that people make positive comments about my work. It seems that, according to Murphy, if anyone expresses appreciation for my material or highlights the significance it has had in their lives, then they must be idiotic religious fanatics, with no critical thinking, who take me for a savior of some sort. Along with his overt frustration at the number of outlets interested in interviewing me, this betrays more than just a hint of petty, malignant envy: it is plain to me that Murphy, whoever he is, craves adulation; he just doesn't get it, so he's butthurt that others do get genuine interest and respect. The hardly contained frustration in his writing is very indicative of a projection: it suggests that what he accuses me of is precisely what he secretly craves to be himself: an adulated cult leader. This is betrayed by his otherwise incomprehensible anger at my readers and interviewers. 'How dare you pay attention to Kastrup?! You should instead adulate ME as your leader, otherwise you're a bloody idiot lacking critical thinking!' one can almost hear him say.

Murphy tries to portray me as someone who engages liberally in gratuitous ad hominem attacks on other intellectuals. He does this by lifting passages from my various writings out of context, and then presenting them in a manner that deliberately misleads. I'll mention one example to illustrate my point: the hit-piece quotes extensively from an essay of mine titled Ignorance: the surprising thing materialism has going for it. Murphy claims that, in this essay, I gratuitously attacked neuroscientist Michael Graziano. What he fails to mention, however, is that this essay followed a forthright exchange between me and Graziano, in which Graziano also attacked me and claimed that my views reflected “the wooly [sic] thinking of philosophy that’s lost its integrity.” I don't take exception to Graziano for that; vigorous and frank exchanges such as this are normal (and often desired) in academia, as long as they are based on substance, argument, and focused on the relevant points in contention. Indeed, during the exchange I even commended Graziano: "I appreciate Graziano’s willingness to engage; this is the only way that we will slowly inch our way towards clarity and—hopefully—some level of consensus regarding the nature of consciousness. It is also in the same spirit that I offer this rejoinder," I wrote. Murphy, of course, omitted this part.

The salient point here is that, unlike my exchange with Graziano, Murphy's hit-piece doesn't even try to discuss any philosophical, scientific, or political position. It makes no argument, probably because Murphy just isn't intellectually capable of making one. The distinction between a vigorous academic debate and throwing a temper tantrum seems to be wholly lost in him; for in claiming that he is giving me a taste of my own medicine, he—incredibly—conflates the two. I'd be very surprised if he had even an undergraduate degree, let alone significant output (if I am wrong about this, Murphy is welcome to list verifiable credentials in the comments below, just as I and basically all intellectuals of repute do; short of that, we can only assume that he is what he seems to be: a frustrated, economically-inviable nobody misusing social security money to spend his days spouting vitriol from the confines of council housing). His piece is petty, small-minded, and childish; it reads like something only an angry adolescent would write.

But enough about Murphy; his relevance is very limited. Let us just be clear that, whoever he is, his hit-piece is not the work of a philosopher or intellectual of any sort, and doesn't reflect any education.

What I'd like to do now is call out Medium, the platform that hosts Murphy's hit-piece, for their part in monetizing the slandering of someone's hard-earned reputation and good name. For Medium is directly profiting from Murphy's hit-piece. Readers need to pay Medium—which then presumably passes on a cut to Murphy—for reading the entire thing. And my staff have contacted Medium multiple times to protest this situation and make clear to them that Murphy is infringing Medium's own rules. Here is the relevant part of a letter my lawyers, Brett Wilson LLP, sent on 27 March 2024:

Insofar as material, the Rules [of Medium] provide that:
i) Medium does not tolerate harassment, including “Bullying, threatening, mocking or shaming someone, or posting things likely to encourage others to do so”.
ii) Medium does not permit the use of “derogatory language ... to disparage or attack someone”.
iii) Medium does not allow “the aggregation of publicly available information” to target or shame another person.
Medium also states that in deciding whether there has been a violation of the Rules, it will take into consideration things “like newsworthiness, the context and nature of the posted information, the likelihood and severity of actual or potential harms, account history, and applicable laws.”
Taking into account the relevant Rules and the factors that Medium will consider when assessing whether there has been a breach, we submit as follows:
1) The Article avowedly seeks to attack and abuse our client by aggregating publicly available information for the sole purpose of targeting or shaming our client.
2) The Article is replete with language that is derogatory of our client.
3) The Article serves no genuine public interest or other legitimate interest. Put bluntly, it is not even “newsworthy”.
4) The Article was first published online in May 2023, nearly a year ago. If, which is denied, the Article did serve some legitimate interest at the time it was originally published, such interest must have attenuated over the last year, to the point where it can no longer prevail over our client’s own rights (see further below).
5) Our client has never attacked or abused Mr Murphy.
6) The Article has caused our client substantial damage and distress (see further below).
7) The Article contravenes our client’s data protection rights.

In reply, Medium has chosen not to enforce their own rules and ignore the fact that they are offering a platform for trolls to abuse and defame others, leading to significant damage, moral and otherwise. None of this seems to matter to Medium. Their own reasonable terms of use seem to be just a facade—something to make Medium look like responsible net citizens—that is ignored if there is money to be made. Make no mistake: Medium is profiting on the back of the slandering of my reputation. Their income from this situation is directly proportional to the number of Google searches on my name every day, which they are hitching a ride on by knowingly platforming libel. I believe this is disgraceful for any platform that, like Medium, ostensibly aims to host respectable content that makes real contributions to society. Instead, they deliberately give a platform for trolling, with zero journalistic value. Shame on them for their overt hypocrisy.

This experience has led me to decide to never be a Medium customer or supporter. In my view, they have become the antithesis of a respectable platform now, and a hive for trolling, abuse, and libel. I shall no longer repost, comment on, or even visit any material hosted by medium. I think their evasion of responsibility in this regard is atrocious and morally reprehensible. They knowingly allow malicious trolls like Murphy to hide behind privacy laws to slander the hard-earned reputation of others, with little risk of being served with papers because their contact address is not published. And to add insult to injury, Medium benefits financially from it.


  1. Dear Bernardo, what a shame. let me reach out to someone at the editorial staff at Medium and see what can be done. You deserve better.

  2. This guy looks like a real fanatic. He cites your belief that conscious awareness continues after physical death as evidence you’re a “cult leader” - you’re “promising” your “disciples” eternal life.
    Incidentally, though you have to look for it, they do provide a way to read the article for free.

  3. Its a tactic used in every industry which involves the public eye and written or spoken words, he will likely fizzle into the backround again, having achieved nothing outside of some negligible egoic stroking.

  4. Yes, Paul Austin Murphy is notorious for being a toxic troll and attention whore. This article might also be enlightening. It's unfortunate that you're one of his targets.


  5. I want to tell Bernardo not to bother with this shit but I think that he cannot help it and probably this tenacity is the same trait that led him to write all those papers and books.

    1. a blessing and a curse. but kastrup is basically the only idealist today (not really (but i mean...de facto...)) who is not filled with this woo-woo-hippie-crap (which i have to say... i enjoy sometimes-- especially ram dass, krishnamurti and mckenna, etc.). which is why we have to react. i don't know... me saying this will prolly lead to kastrup deleting this comment but i'll say it anyways: sure, i've trolled paul after this post on medium, but the essence is true in my words towards him. he/she -- whatever. "murphy" has obviously a deep interest in philsophy and i would tbh guess that he got some degree at some uni. (philosofi/hum.) which leads to mcdonalds in many cases. kastrup understood this, which is -- i would guess -- why he got that phloosphy phd after selling his part of the company he mentions; and noticed the inherent biases with people in those fields (physics). i, too would love to study ontology, but ended up studying medicine. cause you actually have to actually plan your future.

      "we" have to react. is this "we" "cultish"? No. to be honest, all kastrup has done is repeat what vedic traditions has always said, but simply doing it from an actual fact-based, analytical sense in line with the science today. that is humility -- not the act of a cult leader. whatever, what kastrup is doing is much more important than kastrup himself, he knows this. a little drama is atleast publicity. my top 15 thinkers/scientists/poets/writers have in 8/10 cases began with dislike. until one actually researches the subject. let's hope for the best at least.

      To hold "paul" accountable is not cultish. it is an open discussion. if kastrup actually debated murphy... yeah... we know what would happen. "paul" is just gaining popularity on medium because of kastrup. but whatever, i think it serves anaytical idealism even if it hurts kastrup short-term, and benefits paul short-term.

      have a nice day, who ever is reading this <3

    2. Sebastian, there's no reason why I'd censor your comment. Why did you think I might?

    3. i would see it fully fair for you to do so, since i admitted to "trolling back" at murphy in an immature/incoherent way on Medium in the comment here -- since he uses the same tactics against you. I am my own stupid person, but if people make him insecure/annoyed he sees these comments (i know he reads them here) and deduce with flawed logic that you are using your readers as a proxy-troll-war against him, and i would not like you to be portrayed as such in more articles. Obviously this is dull-witted logic (especially since he started it and continues to do so in a manipulative way(and i have no problem answering with logic and reason if he eventually does)) but he seems to enjoy using every fallacious angle to portray you in a bad manner.

      You have people who actually understand your thoughts, and when people defend misstatements of your thoughts -- in whatever manner -- he names it cultish/stalking etc. Even if he had the manner to stop, his popularity largely consists of writing about you.