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Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate

Post: #1
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I have noticed a trend that is quite frankly beginning to annoy me. On several occasions people have put words and ideas in my mouth and then passionately disagreed with them.

As I have said, I am not a fan of conflict, and I honestly see little to no value in engaging in a "no I didn't/yes you did" argument, so I generally ignore the comments and move on. But I have finally decided that I needed to say something, before I get really mad.

I believe that reasonable, civilized debate is a good thing. Propping up strawmen, just to take them down, however, is a cheap tactic that (too me) merely indicates that the writer in unable or unwilling to debate a topic on its merits.

Maybe I am not clear enough; perhaps people skim posts and think they know what is being said. I'm not sure. The irritated part of me wants to believe that winning is the primary goal, and that if the best way to win is to invent easy to defeat positions, people will do that.

Whatever the case, I would ask that people address what is actually being said, vice some invention of their own.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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Post: #2
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That one post was my fault, I apologize.
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Post: #3
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For anyone who doesn't know:
The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument:
Person 1 has position X.
Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y. The position Y is a distorted version of X and can be set up in several ways, including:
Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent's position.
Quoting an opponent's words out of context—i.e., choosing quotations that misrepresent the opponent's actual intentions (see fallacy of quoting out of context).[4]
Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then denying that person's arguments—thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated.[3]
Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs which are then criticized, implying that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.
Oversimplifying an opponent's argument, then attacking this oversimplified version.
Person 2 attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man
And yes, this does happen here quite a bit. Especially over things that some members happen to have some sort of attachment to, like Banbury Cross, Big Bad Wolf, Loch Ness Monster, etc. It harms the site and discourages new members from joining in debate. Undecided
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01/17/14 at 06:39pm in Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate (Latest Edit: 01/17/14 at 06:40pm by Planeteer.)
Post: #4
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Very nice post! Nail, head, bullseye!
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Post: #5
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For more examples of the Straw Man and many other fallacies, see this film.

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02/11/14 at 02:59pm in Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate (Latest Edit: 07/22/14 at 08:25pm by Nicole.)
Post: #6
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Once again I find myself needing to address the nature of debate on this forum. This time I want to discuss the use of heuristics.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with relying on established patterns and previous experience to shorten the analytical process. When these shortcuts have a meaningful and negative effect on your conclusions, however, they become a problem.

I understand that there is a (partially emotional) perception that there are two ways of thinking about the park, and that those two groups have been distilled down to:
(1) People who care about quality and details; and
(2) People who care about the holistic experience.

This categorization is an easy (but far too high-level) way to think about a lot of the disagreements we see here every day. As long as everyone remembers that they are generalizations that are there for convenience, it is probably fine.

When, however, they are used as part of specific debates to attack specific people, they become a problem.

It is simply absurd to assume that you will find an entire subset of people who think the same thing about everything. More importantly, it is irrational to generalize from these categories to how an individual feels about a specific topic.

I know that I personally do not fit in either category, and I am getting very tired of people assuming they know what I think about every issue, simply because of opinions I have expressed about unrelated topics in the past. I am a more complex person than that, and I would hope that everyone else here is as well.

Please give me the courtesy of allowing me to express my opinions for myself.  I am happy to explain why and how I have come to each and every conclusion that I share. Please do not presume to tell me what I am thinking and why.

Similarly, do not assume that I agree with anyone, based on perceived alliances.  I am not here to be part of some team.  I think what I think, regardless of who agrees with me, and I am perfectly willing to disagree with anyone, whom I consider incorrect or out of line

In short, please stop jamming people into preconceived categories.  Once again it looks just a cheap tactic to start a fight or win an argument.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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07/22/14 at 06:56pm in Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate (Latest Edit: 07/22/14 at 08:38pm by Nicole.)
Post: #7
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So, it seems that when I start feeling irritated, I pull this thread back out. Today's topic: reading comprehension.

Bottom Line: Before responding to someone's post, you really should be sure that you understand completely what that person actually said, especially if you disagree.

It seems that far too often people respond to what they believe someone probably said or what they think that person is likely to have said. In fact, it appears that people have not always actually read the post they are commenting on. You simply cannot grasp nuance by skimming.

I say this as someone who reads every post in every thread every day. I also say this as someone who has suffered as a result of this problem several times in the past.

It is possible that I am very unclear in my posts. I tend to think, however, that when I have reiterated my same point using different words two or three times, the fault is really not in my ability to express myself.

Regardless, countless times I have expressed an opinion and then found myself in an argument with someone who disagrees with something I simply never said. While it is, no doubt, an excellent exercise in creative writing to find three to four different ways to describe the same thought, it is also extremely annoying. I feel very strongly that I shouldn't be required to explain over and over again what I meant in my initial post.

So, please, do not reply to anything, before ensuring that you really read and understood the person's point. It will reduce the number of pointless arguments on the forum, and dramatically reduce my personal stress level.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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Post: #8
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May I just say that in you venting your frustrations you have shown yourself to be a highly educated, respectable person who can hold a conversation?

Most trees are blue
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Post: #9
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Thank you.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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Post: #10
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for the record she is all of those things. Debate is a survival skill in our family.

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate! - William of Occam
I'm serious now, who here wants my job? - NASA Director James Webb
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Post: #11
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It has been quite some time since I was frustrated enough to post anything in this thread. In fact, if recent comments from newer members are true, this forum has become significantly less combative than it was just a few years ago.

Recently, however, I have noticed a trend that I feel I should address. Several members have demonstrated a habit of asserting their opinions as if they were facts. As an active member of the Forum and as an Admin, I am concerned for a few reasons:

1. It promotes misinformation. Many people, particularly those who end up reading one of our debates from a Google search, lack the expertise to parse fact from opinion. Speculation, especially in a rumor thread, is always encouraged. It needs, however, always to be identified clearly as such. Everyday I see pages of "Guests" reading random threads (sometimes dating back years). I do not want those people leaving our site with bad data.

2. It harms the credibility of the site. Everything posted to PFN reflects on the Forum as a whole. Poorly sourced and factually incorrect data reduces the overall credibility of the site. The more often people find bad information, the less likely they are to come here with their questions, insights, and thoughts.

3. It hinders useful discussion. On-line discussions are difficult enough, because there is no way to judge body language and tone of voice. The lack of precision in posts only makes this problem worse. People need to know the bases for each other's comments to be able to assess and respond logically.

4. It stems the flow of discussion. When someone throws out a thought with no evidence or logical "so what," it tends either to illicit a pointless am not/are too fight or to stop discussion cold. There is no way to respond to the assertion of an unsubstantiated opinion, unless the discussion, itself, is already about how people view a specific topic. People are left ignoring the post completely, which can kill the flow of debate. Any, yes, thus is a discussion forum, so the purpose is to share ideas with the community, not to post what amounts to verbal selfies.

5. It can lead to very ugly fights. While most people will ignore useless posts, it only takes one or two frustrated or aggressive members to create really nasty, personal battles. If you don't believe me, go look at some older threads, or ask those who have been active for several years.

I did not choose to raise this, because I want to control or quash debate. I am a strong advocate of free speech and try to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable saying almost anything. I do, however, have concerns about the impact of irresponsible posts on the reputation of PFN.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, the solution is simple:

1. Always explain why anyone should believe you. Do you have expertise? Do you have a source with expertise? If so, include that in your post. We have some members with relevant backgrounds and access, and when they say something, we tend to believe them, because we know they have specific insights.

2. As yourself how/if your comments contributes to the discussion. We are all here to share our thoughts and opinions, but we are also here to participate in discussions. If no one but you and your mother will probably benefit from or care about your post, it probably isn't worth sharing with the entire internet. Those comments are probably better saved for your personal social media accounts.

3. Clearly annontate you opinions. I make a point of say "I believe" or "in my opinion" when I am saying something that not a supportable fact. "Mantis should have been blown up and sold for scrap" is just my personal view. Presenting it as anything else is inciting and probably rude. As I explained above, failing to clarify the difference between facts and opinions has a variety of unfortunate consequences.

As before in this thread, I am not trying to be judgemental or pedantic, and I appologize if any of this comes off this way. I am only trying to lay out patterns that I have observed that can and have had very negative outcomes.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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Post: #12
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is there a way to thank a post more than once... a way that does not break the rules???

Seriously I could not say, "AMEN!" "I concur," "Preach!" "What She Said!!" and so forth enough. This is a constant frustration of mine not just here, but on Facebook, and really anywhere I choose to put in my 2 cents. For whatever reasons, schools, parents, sister, choice, pure stubbornness, or something else this is how my brain chooses to present data. (when my better angels are preset anyway)

If you do read my missives you have noticed that I am fond of Mr. Colbert's term, "truthiness." He may have made the word up, and it may have been a joke when Oxford chose to add it to the OED but it does serve a purpose. In humor it points out the trend on the internet to state gut feeling as facts instead of looking for data. However it also does give us a clever and fun way to say, "I have absolutely no idea what the hell I am talking about but the following I REALLY want to be true!" I am not suggesting that all of the English speaking world take this on as some sort of verbal solution. Far from it, if they did one of my favorite turns of phrase would be rendered all but toothless, just that there are ways to to say things that are more... precise.

Of course... that is just my opinion.

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate! - William of Occam
I'm serious now, who here wants my job? - NASA Director James Webb
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10/02/17 at 06:19pm in Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate (Latest Edit: 10/05/17 at 05:37pm by Shane.)
Post: #13
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I am overly frustrated with the way certain people on this forum have been presenting "information" over the past couple of months. In an effort to not derail the Project Madrid thread any further, I've decided to speak my mind here. I initially had written the majority of these thoughts in a post back on 9/15 after the last situation in which the member referenced in the quote below decided to spread falsies on the forum. At the time, upon further reading in the thread, it became apparent that both Nicole and Zachary had effectively resolved the the situation, so it appear that it was unnecessary for me to publish these thoughts; and for just over half a month that appeared to be true. But just yesterday that all changed untruths began being spread on the forum again and though I believe Zachary has effectively shut the situation down (again) and Nicole has made the vast majority of my thoughts clear in her post above, I can't keep my mouth shut on this subject any longer.

So here goes, think of it as constructive criticism for everyone to learn form this situation so that we can all be better citizens of this community that we share.

(09/13/17 10:42pm)MadridBot Wrote:  I will now restrict my postings in this forum, and validate any information I get. My posts will be much less reckless, and less condradictions and conflicts will start. Expect me to post very rarely, and when I do post, I'll make sure the information is as close to 100% true. I realize that this forum is supposed to be as reliable as possible, and I'll try to deliver as much validated information as possible.

When I was much more active on the forum and involved in the day-to-day operations of the site, I was not always privy to source information or even if we had any information at all; which was not a problem it was the way things were supposed to work for the safety and security of the source and the community's reputation. It is my interpretation of recent posts from certain members really just desire to have other people recognize the them for their "contributions." An "oooh look at me, I know something you don't know" scenario for more or less. I find this characteristic in a person distasteful and immature.

There are users on this forum, some that post often and some that never post at all, that provide valuable information to the community and you would never know that they were a source or anything more than an everyday regular user because they go about releasing information the right way and through the proper channels.

As an example, I was told personally by a "source of a source" that BGW was getting a GCI coaster and that it would reuse Gwazi's trains many months before any staff at PFN had. I had even heard rumors about it shortly after Gwazi's closure and I presented this information to Zach, but I had no proof to back it up. I didn't half believe my source either because of the history of the park. AS you may know we've always been of the mindset that Busch Gardens Williamsburg would never get a wood coaster due to Kingsmill and the park's fear of noise complaints from Kingsmill. So I think it came as a shock to us all when a trusted source provided proof months later that the information regarding a GCI wood coaster at BGW was indeed accurate. And not only was it accurate, but the ride ending up being built in probably the closest plot of land in the park to Kingsmill possible. When had originally learned of this information I didn't immediately run out to the forum and broadcast it as fact because it seemed absurd and the source provided it to my source in confidence, plus BGWFans/PFN would ever cite third or fourth hand information. In fact, I believe this is the first time I've even mentioned on the forum at all that I knew anything about Invadr before the announcement.

I'm also disturbed that the quoted member above claims that they won't post anything again until they "make sure the information is as close to 100% true" when they've made similar statements before on more than one other occasion; which to me is just another indicator that the only reason they want to "release information" at all is for their own personal reputation gain.

And now just half a month later it happens again. The poster has made claims of fact with no citation or basis in fact out in the open, on a public forum.

I don't appreciate how time and time again claims that legacy members have disputed are continually repeated. These claims are made again and again even after they've been effectively proven wrong. For instance how is using a permit from 1991 for work in 2017 even possible? There is no logic in a permit being open for over 26 years. It's not a problem if someone doesn't know how the permitting process works. It becomes a problem when someone claims to know how the  permitting process works when they are wrong.

As far as project Madrid is concerned, it very well may be an Intamin Accelerator (despite the long documented history we have observed which from my prospective indicates Busch Gardens Williamsburg will never get a ride built by Intamin again), but I don't know. I don't think anyone outside of the SEAS Design and Engineering team knows that yet and it is reckless and irresponsible to say otherwise without verifiable proof or an already stainless reputation for accuracy.

Yes, there are a handful of instances in which other forum members have claimed things as fact, but that is because they have earned the right to make those claims. (And if they have not earned that right they've been called out for it) But when these types of claims are made, the person making those claims has provided evidence or their prior claims have proven to be true.

A person can't go through life claiming things are indeed fact when they aren't (unless you are the President of the United States and even then you are going to be called out for it) and if you are going to make false or uninformed claims you need to know how the process works. You can't make claims about construction having been started if you haven't even bothered to look up a permit. In James City County the permit filings are public record and can not be sealed at BGW's request (unlike York County so make all the false claims you want about WCUSA Tongue). So even if Zachary hears from a source that piles are being driven in Festa Field, he's going to check for a permit for that. Trust and Verify.

To all the new members out there, rumors can be fun, especially about your favorite amusement park, but don't claim rumor as fact. I was fed the rumor that SEAS told BGW that they were going to build a GCI coaster because the company wanted to use Gwazi's trains and parts since they were basically brand new, is it true? I think the majority of it is true, and it doesn't seem outside of the realm of belief, but all I have is second hand information, from someone I've gotten reliable information from in the past. I'm not going to claim it as fact, not until I've heard it come out directly from someone of power at either SEAS or BGW.

All of us need to be stewards of fact especially in this day and age where our leaders try to disseminate falsehoods as fact and make claims that facts are "alternative facts."

I'll just end with this:
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Waking up fresh every mornin'; Openin' up for you; Waitin' for your laughter; With so much new to do! Busch—Gardens! Busch—Gardens! Come to Busch Gardens and come to life! Come to Busch Gardens and come—to life!
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Post: #14
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10/02/17 at 07:09pm in Unsolicited Thoughts on Reasonable Debate (Latest Edit: 10/02/17 at 07:09pm by Nicole.)
Post: #15
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TL;DR (for Thomas):

- Cite evidence, expertise, or sources; and
- Be clear when you express an opinion.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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