Saturday, January 31, 2009

Your Typical Internet Debate Thread

The Chinese government is essentially a bunch of plutocrats.

No. They're totalitarians.

Plutocrats that own people are totalitarians. The party rules the country the same way a CEO rules a business.

Yep, CEOs routinely torture, imprison, and kill their opponents.

They would if they could.

They would if they could? What kind of an answer is that?

The correct one.

No. It's an assumption about what lies in someone else's heart and soul.

CEOs have no soul. Until you become better informed about such basic facts, I don't see how we can continue this conversation.

But "They would if they could" is not a fact. It's a hypothetical that might or might not be true.

Under the standard definition of "fact" --

Please don't pick up that dictionary.

-- a "fact" is the quality of being actual --

Here we go...

-- or is a piece of information being presented as having objective reality.

But simply presenting something as an objective reality doesn't make it an objective reality.

You're not following my reasoning; otherwise, you would agree with me. As the Observer Effect in quantum mechanics tells us, if I observe CEOs to have no soul, then the probability function collapses and that specific reality, in fact, comes into being.

That's not quite what the Observer Effect says.

I checked it on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is open source. Anyone can post incorrect information on it.

Look, I've got Wikipedia backing me up. What have you got?

I work in the field of theoretical phys --

Don't make me start quoting Lawrence Lessig.

Touche. But if I might, under your standard definitions --


I'm sorry?

You said definitions. I gave one definition.

Two parts of the same definition, you're right. I'm sorry.

You realize you just discredited your entire argument, of course.

I'm sorry?

If you can't get a simple thing like that straight, how can anyone trust your work in the field of theoretical whatever?

I misspoke. I owned up to it. I apologized. Can we move on?

Really, if you can't keep up with me, I don't see how we can continue this conversation.

Would it help if I apologized again?

Definition, definitions. Don't try and parse my words. That's my thing.

Well, I've also worked professionally as a editor for more than fifteen years --

And you still don't understand "context." Sheesh!

Can we please get back to the original point?

Why not? I'll argue anything.

Thank you. Now --

"Context" --

Oh, for crying out loud...

-- the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.

I understand "context," I promise you.

But not which parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage apply.

You mean cherry-picking.

Are you pissing on me?

Believe me, if I were pissing on you, you'd be wet. That's called objective reali --

Seriously, are you pissing on me?

Just make your damn point.

You realize your use of "damn" just discredited your entire argument.

Your point?

My "damn" point. Can't you even keep track of your own words?

I'm opening my zipper.

Just like a conservative, always marking his damn territory.

I'm pro-gay marriage and pro-choice. What kind of "conservative" is that?

A bad one.

*sigh* You had a point about context?

Right. My point is that you don't understand the context of the context. The "meta-context," if you will.

The meta-context?

The meta-context.

Is that like the Muffin Man?

Seriously, are you pissing on me?

You're right. I'm sorry.

And I apologize for any misunderstanding on your part of anything that I've said.

Then clarify this for me. You seem to be saying that all plutocrats that own people are totalitarians.

Taken out of context, you might try and make that case.

And that plutocrats are by definition wealthy.

Under the standard definition, yes.

Okay, but totalitarians like the Taliban basically owned everyone in Afghanistan, yet they were essentially dirt poor. You don't have to be rich to be a dictator. Are those totalitarians also plutocrats?

They would have been wealthy if they could have been. Meta-context! Meta-context!

Look, all I'm saying --

Why do you people keep forcing me to prove how smart I am?!

All I'm saying is that not all totalitarians are plutocrats, and not all plutocrats are totalitarians.

*deep sigh* Under the meta-context --

And that we really have to be careful making blanket statements about a large group, whether we're talking about CEOs or minorities or members of a given religion.

Seriously, are you pissing on me? Because I want to agree with that, so I must have lost track of the meta-context. Or something.

Let me put it this way, are all liberals the same?

Of course not.

Do they all march in lockstep, or believe the same thing, or agree on every single tactic and issue?

Don't pick nits. I really hate that about you.

So if we can't make blanket statements about liberals as a group, how can we make it about CEOs?

Haven't you been listening? They're CEOs!

What, there are no liberal CEOs?


I think you're cherry-picking your sample here.

No, you're just not understanding my statistical method; otherwise, you would agree with me.

Oh, I understand your statistical method, and your study design. I edit this stuff, remember?

Then why do you continue to claim there is more uncertainty about the cause of global warming than just five guys in the pay of Big Oil?

Because it's true. I see it all the time in the studies I edit.

Then why do I keep saying it's only five guys in the pay of Big Oil?

I'm not following you.

Oh, that's been clear from the start.

Is this some meta-context, observer effect thing again?

Look, didn't you edit two studies about the clean-up efforts for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska?

I did, yes.

And didn't Exxon fund a percentage of those two studies?

Exxon spilled the oil. Of course they helped pay for the studies judging the effectiveness of their clean-up efforts.

So you indirectly took money from Big Oil, which discredits you completely on the subject of global warming.

But the Exxon Valdez oil spill has nothing to do with global warming.


And both studies were critical of Exxon.

Irrelevant. It's the --

-- meta-context. Right.

Like I'm always saying, science is just too big for us to teach people to actually judge the science. Therefore, we have to basically give up teaching people how to understand the scientific method and, really, science itself and instead teach them how to judge the messenger rather than the science.

Well, that does make things easier, I suppose.

Exactly. You took money from Big Oil, so I don't have to take seriously anything you have to say about science.

What about Einstein?

What about him?

Einstein was a patent clerk. What the hell does a patent clerk know about physics and relativity?

My point exactly.

So under your method, wouldn't relativity be a fraud, because the messenger had that whole patent clerk thing going on?

Don't pick nits. I really hate that about you.

All I'm saying is --

I'm going to make you apologize again, you know, just to keep the peace in the forum.


And Einstein never took money from Big Oil.

He would have if he could have, I'm sure.

Don't be absurd. That's a blanket generalization, and you can't make those.

You mean like all CEOs wanting to imprison and torture people, if they could?

What did I just say about picking nits?

*sigh* There really is no room in your world for honest, intelligent people to come to different conclusions about politics, or policy, or whatever, is there?

Of course not. If they were honest and intelligent, they would agree me.

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: This thread is now closed.]