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Landrew
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44 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  12:14:02  Show Profile Send Landrew a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Decisiveness is a fine virtue when it's required, such as when a building is burning down or in the heat of battle. It's often regarded as one of the key strengths of a good leader.

But being too decisive (when the need is not pressing) often leads to colossal blunders, and is often a formula for much comedic drama. In the 50s sitcom, The Honeymooners, the main character, Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) could invariably be counted on to have jumped very quickly to a wrong conclusion, therefore leading to a full episode of a comedic cascade of errors which were the result of his oft-misplaced certitudes.

The real world is not much different. The media is fond of reporting blunders in politics, marketing, science and business. It's not necessarily true that all bad decisions were reached by considering all the best evidence available at the time. In some cases, a tiny bit more "fence-sitting" would have led to a far happier outcome.

When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded a few minutes after liftoff on January 28, 1986, it was revealed that previous testing had at least partly indicated a potential for failure of the solid rocket boosters in low temperatures. The program managers, mindful of deadlines and the virtue of decisiveness, made the decision to go ahead with the launch regardless. In this case a tiny bit more fence-sitting may have saved the lives of 7 astronauts.

It's not always a question of making the best decision in the interests of time. Some skeptics seem to take a default negative conclusion in lieu of evidence. This is a bit akin to the solipsistic notion that if no one hears a tree fall in the forest, it never occurred.

For some questions, a conclusion simply can't be reached with a significant level of certainty either way. X can't be solved to be either a zero or a one; it simply has to remain an X-factor. There is nothing wrong with this; the longer we postpone a conclusion by considering evidence, the more informed that conclusion is apt to be.

Conclusions are great, but its a fallacy to imagine that good ones can always be cooked up instantly and on the spot. There is something to be said for skeptical uncertainty.

God bless women, for without them there would be no cookies.

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  13:07:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What exactly are you trying to say here?


Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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Landrew
New Member

44 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  14:09:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Landrew a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

What exactly are you trying to say here?



Are you being obtuse, Mabuse? :-)

The posting is my support of the assertion in the topic.

God bless women, for without them there would be no cookies.
Edited by - Landrew on 07/04/2009 14:13:33
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  14:24:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seems to me that Landrew is saying that conclusions are always "cooked up instantly and on the spot." Because the truth values of most propositions can never be zero or one, Landrew is arguing that no conclusions should ever be reached, because there is always uncertainty. An attitude which, if held consistently, would result in a paralysis of inaction.

Good skepticism demands that all conclusions be held tentatively, but that doesn't mean that those conclusions cannot be acted upon. In life-or-death situations, there may not be time to gather more information to either confirm or deny a proposition (if a stranger enters my home with a weapon, I'm not going to be likely to ask questions before acting). In contrast, cosmological questions tend to have few ramifications to social policy, so we can sit and wait while gathering more clues to the start and evolution of our universe.

The Challenger disaster is a horrible example, since the launch occurred in spite of the evidence, not because managers came to a properly skeptical, if hasty conclusion. The tree-in-the-forest quip is also an example of denying evidence, and not an example of jumping to a conclusion.

Without any decent examples of what Landew is talking about, it's hard to make any specific suggestions, or take away any well-formed advice. Landrew appears to be saying that anyone who thinks he/she knows the truth about anything should think again, which is certainly true (even if ultimately solipsistic), but it doesn't help anything. How are we supposed to gauge whether we have spent enough time on an issue to reach a conclusion? Perhaps ironically, if you think about it for a bit, you'll find that we can't ever be sure of anything, no matter how much time we spend on it.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Landrew
New Member

44 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  14:35:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Landrew a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Seems to me that Landrew is saying that conclusions are always "cooked up instantly and on the spot." Because the truth values of most propositions can never be zero or one, Landrew is arguing that no conclusions should ever be reached, because there is always uncertainty. An attitude which, if held consistently, would result in a paralysis of inaction.

Can you not read? It seems to me, I said the same things, but now you are claiming authorship of them yourself. If you think I said "all conclusions are always cooked up on the spot" that's a straw man you should be ashamed of.

As for "paralysis by indecision" I made that distinction abundantly clear to anyone who bothers to read my entire post.

I'm merely challenging the assertion that all fence-sitting is a bad thing, which is the impression I have had from several postings in here.

God bless women, for without them there would be no cookies.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  14:53:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know anyone here who asserts that "all fence-sitting is a bad thing". Would you mind being more specific?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  15:20:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Landrew
I'm merely challenging the assertion that all fence-sitting is a bad thing, which is the impression I have had from several postings in here.

Without you pointing to those specific postings* there will be uncertainty about which postings you're referring to. Depending on where the fence is, sitting on it could be good or bad.
Sooner or later, you'll get to a point regarding an issue where you have to make a decision based on the information you have. Like Dave said, waiting too long is just another paralysis.




* use the "permalink" of any post to get the exact link to that post.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  16:07:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Landrew
I'm merely challenging the assertion that all fence-sitting is a bad thing, which is the impression I have had from several postings in here.
Fence straddling is ok, even good, as long as you don't carry it to extremes. At that point, you could end up in the stew.






"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  17:28:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Landrew

Can you not read?
Sure can!
It seems to me, I said the same things, but now you are claiming authorship of them yourself.
What the hell are you talking about?
If you think I said "all conclusions are always cooked up on the spot" that's a straw man you should be ashamed of.
Well, you said specifically, "its a fallacy to imagine that good [conclusions] can always be cooked up instantly and on the spot," which implies that somebody has been doing so, somewhere, but since you don't say who or how you have divined that anyone imagines what you suggest they do, what else could I think? Without specificity, all conclusions must be suspect as fallacious under your conditions.
As for "paralysis by indecision" I made that distinction abundantly clear to anyone who bothers to read my entire post.
Yes, yes you did, and then your non-specific generalizations ran away with you.
I'm merely challenging the assertion that all fence-sitting is a bad thing, which is the impression I have had from several postings in here.
If you're going to try to shame me for strawmen, you shouldn't use them yourself.

By the way, your notion of solipsism is bizarre. A true solipsist, after all, denies that there is any reliable evidence of any forest, so the idea that a tree could fall in one is nonsense.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Landrew
New Member

44 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  17:43:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Landrew a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know what anyone is talking about in this conversation exactly. Maybe I'll stick to subjects I'm more familiar with.

God bless women, for without them there would be no cookies.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  19:32:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Land-troll seems to be trying to defend his position on anthropogenic contribution to climate change.

Go familiarize yourself with the evidence and the large consensus of actual climate scientists. No need to make up a new thread for every attempt at trolling.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  20:59:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Landrew

I don't know what anyone is talking about in this conversation exactly. Maybe I'll stick to subjects I'm more familiar with.
An interesting strategy: make a bunch of accusations, then flee.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  21:45:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave:

Seems to me that Landrew is saying that conclusions are always "cooked up instantly and on the spot."


And then:

Well, you said specifically, "its a fallacy to imagine that good [conclusions] can always be cooked up instantly and on the spot," which implies that somebody has been doing so, somewhere, but since you don't say who or how you have divined that anyone imagines what you suggest they do, what else could I think? Without specificity, all conclusions must be suspect as fallacious under your conditions.


To the first quote, it is rather clear that Landrew said nothing of the sort. Indeed, his claim was that some are cooked up on the spot, which is perfectly reasonable.

In the second, it seems you are criticizing Landrew for not coming up with criteria for which conclusions should be suspected as coming up on the spot. But this is a non sequitur: Landrew was posting about the existence of such things and nothing more. To demand he also up with an applicable demarcation is unreasonable to his thesis on fence sitting. His only point was that it happens, how to detect this is an entirely different issue.

I'm merely challenging the assertion that all fence-sitting is a bad thing, which is the impression I have had from several postings in here.

If you're going to try to shame me for strawmen, you shouldn't use them yourself.


Getting the wrong impression from someone is hardly a strawman. But Landrew, being asked where you got these impressions from and not answering is entirely bad form if you wish to be listened to. Being wrong is perfectly fine, being annoying is not (which I'm not saying you are... yet).

Dude:

Land-troll seems to be trying to defend his position on anthropogenic contribution to climate change.


I think you've been hunting trolls for too long, now anything even questionable and you accuse of trolling. I've seen absolutely no trollish behavior here.

I'd really rather you didn't change the meaning of troll to "anyone who disagrees with me." I rather like it as it is.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  22:14:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ricky

To the first quote, it is rather clear that Landrew said nothing of the sort. Indeed, his claim was that some are cooked up on the spot, which is perfectly reasonable.

In the second, it seems you are criticizing Landrew for not coming up with criteria for which conclusions should be suspected as coming up on the spot. But this is a non sequitur: Landrew was posting about the existence of such things and nothing more. To demand he also up with an applicable demarcation is unreasonable to his thesis on fence sitting. His only point was that it happens, how to detect this is an entirely different issue.
Actually, because he says it happens must mean that he can detect it, but his examples were nothing of the sort. My first reply made both of those concerns clear, did it not?

Really, confidence in one's conclusions is necessarily a subjective thing. We can tell at which point we think we've got enough data to make a tentative conclusion (say, a 95% confidence), but since we can never get to 100%, where the line gets drawn to one person's satisfaction may disappoint someone else. The 2007 IPCC report on global warming had 90% confidence or better in the most-basic aspects of its conclusions, and the data have only gotten better since then, but clearly Landrew is unimpressed and (veiled generalities aside) is berating those of us who agree for not waiting long enough for more data to arrive. Of course he won't say how he knows that anybody has jumped to any conclusions about AGW, he just knows it (despite the evidence).
Getting the wrong impression from someone is hardly a strawman.
Acting upon a wrong impression is, ironically, what Landrew is saying is wrong with the unnamed skeptics around here. He took some data, failed to wait and collect more, and jumped to a conclusion that was entirely wrong, thus proving his Honeymooners thesis correct by demonstration. Properly embarrassed, he fled the scene.

To Dude you wrote:
I think you've been hunting trolls for too long, now anything even questionable and you accuse of trolling. I've seen absolutely no trollish behavior here.

I'd really rather you didn't change the meaning of troll to "anyone who disagrees with me." I rather like it as it is.
I believe that Dude is under the impression that Landrew comes from the crop of professional trolls who showed up recently from theybannedme.com, but since Landrew joined on May 2, it's a little difficult to establish causality.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2009 :  23:31:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ricky said:
I think you've been hunting trolls for too long, now anything even questionable and you accuse of trolling. I've seen absolutely no trollish behavior here.

I'd really rather you didn't change the meaning of troll to "anyone who disagrees with me." I rather like it as it is.

No trollish behavior? You aren't paying attention then Ricky.

http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7803&whichpage=6#165634

http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7803&whichpage=6#165703

http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7803&whichpage=7#165790

So, you don't think his fact-challenged statements, followed up with arrogance and a refusal to engage in debate, followed up by disparaging comments about other SFN participants, is trollish?

Just because he isn't verlch level psychotic, or a jerome level spammer/moron, doesn't mean he isn't a troll.

If he is one of the retards from theybannedme.com then he is just slowly going to increase his nonsense until it gets him banned. If he isn't with them, then he is doing a fine job of imitating a troll anyway.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/05/2009 :  00:22:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Those guys were just starting to be fun; where'd they go, anyway?

I don't think that Landrew is trolling. I think that some of his ideas are, let's say, a little odd, and he's not expressing himself quite as well as he could, but trolling? Nah. Evidence: he writes in complete sentences with pretty decent grammar, and uses more than one at a time. He doesn't jeer nor attempt to ridicule, and he hasn't actually attacked anybody, as yet.

Let us not become so hide-bound that we see spooks in every dissenting opinion, like UD or Rapture Ready. Let us be open to all and save our venom for real trolls.

We've all done a little fence-straddling at one time or another. One thing I've learned about it is: that top rail can get damned uncomfortable, after a while. This is not to say that we should jump to conclusions, but if the evidence is there, it is time to slide off to one side or the other. But unfortunately, it ain't always that easy. All too often both sides are incorrect and thus, squatting on the rail becomes a waste of time from the get-go. Fence-straddling, I think, should be used mainly as a point of observation.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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