Happy (Belated) 30th, Star Wars

It was a busy weekend, but at last I'm able to make the note.

Here's to 30 more.


Fact and Consensus: Argumentum ad Populum

The notion of consensus has been appearing a fair bit recently in attempts to prove things or persuade people. As an example, global warming advocates like Al Gore have been claiming consensus among climate scientists that current Earth climate change is human-caused and destructive, hence requiring immediate action.

I've been quite familiar with that type of argument form for some time. Opponents of mine have frequently claimed "everyone believes X" when I'm saying something contrary to X. "Everyone" in that case, of course, refers to the small active population of web boards such as SDN.

It's a neat trick, really, since when stated to an uninformed audience such a thing can sound convincing.

It is obvious that the SDN treatment of dissent is no coincidence, when viewed in that light. Dissenting opinions are shuffled off into private forums, invisible to non-members. Dissenters themselves have been banned, spammed, harrassed, and even threatened. The very climate of well-poisoning vitriol and personal attacks also serves to keep potential dissenters away. And opposition elsewhere on the internet is sought out and attacked via board invasions, wiki-wars, 'sock puppets', and even occasional legal threats. Interested parties even moderate other boards on similar topics, with members of both holding the party line elsewhere. And let's not forget, of course, that even SW authors are attacked and maligned across the internet if they fail to subscribe to SDN views.

And this, so we're told, is consensus of opinion.

I think not. Even if one thinks consensus is important, one does not build it by such action. Ancient kings might've built a consensus that divine right existed, but they did so by slaughtering those who disagreed. That's not consensus at all, except in an ironic sense.

But even if we grant the claim of consensus, let's not kid ourselves that consensus is a determinant in matters of fact.

Truth is not determined by the number of adherents. That includes the collective opinion of a consensus. If everyone on Earth believed that 1+1=3, there would be consensus. However, the consensus opinion would be wrong.

Consensus is what is sought when there is ignorance. In jurisprudence, we could not know the facts with certainty, so consensus of peers was employed. Creating the appearance of consensus is also useful for swinging uninformed public opinion, which is why spin doctors try to claim that everyone believes such-and-such.

This, of course, is nothing new. Hence the fallacy of argumentum ad populam, or the appeal to the belief of the masses.

(Of course, one might argue that for this to be labelled a fallacy, it has been recognized as such by a group of logicians and thinkers through time, and as such could be wrong since that determination has been made by consensus. However, in doing so, one acknowledges that it's a fallacy anyway.)

Most of the above is not new to my readers, but the following is. A very nice and much more interesting take on the matter, the following link refers to a Parliament of Clocks. Much as a stopped clock is falsely said to be right twice a day when in reality it's just lucky, so too is a Parliament of Clocks misunderstood by laypeople:


(Incidentally, it's worth noting something tangentially relevant here. One SDN member quotes a statement of mine wherein I note that one does not determine fact by use of persuasive essays, but instead by reason. This quotation of me is apparently used to suggest that I'm a silly person, which is of course true. However, it's not true because I made that statement.

Persuasion occurs via many channels, and many forms of appeal. Appeals to authority, mass belief, emotion, and all manner of other things are valid when one seeks only to persuade. However, matters of fact are not determined with those. Reason is the only arbiter of fact. Write as many persuasive essays as you like, turn as many ears to your message as you can, but don't think for an instant that having people agree on that basis means that your position is factually accurate.)


Détente, Of Sorts

A continuation of the last post . . . Wayne's posted something interesting on SD.Net:

"After yesterday's fun and games, I was all set to update the Darkstar Database, complete with a whole new chapter. I made space on my desktop, moving the G2K bridge damage textures for "The Last Bastion" part 5, the voice overs, and other things off to the side, so I could amass all the info I needed for the update. But then I began thinking. (Shut it, Dalton.) Darkstar is unruffled by these updates [ ... snip bluster ... ]
So last night, I didn't update the Darkstar Database. Today, after thinking about it for quite a while, I erased it. I did a quick purge of any mention of Darkstar on my website. [...] I'll let "The Last Bastion" [parody video] stand as my ultimate criticism against this idiot."

I've often said that their incessant aggressive bluster is used to cover up other things (weakness in arguments and so on). And so I generally just read past the bluster.

In this case, that leads me to a notion for which I have no direct evidence, but would like to believe. It's possible that after seeing my umpteenth railing against their poisoning the well of discourse . . . the umpteenth description of how I have little interest in and don't want to be involved in their ad hominem battles but will clearly go to the mat when needed . . . he saw through the fog of the other side's spin and realized that maybe what I was saying was true.

In other words, he's declared victory but still taken a step I outlined in my last post for détente.

I can live with the former to get the latter. Thus I shall also begin removing references to Poe from ST-v-SW.Net. And incidentally, the same old offer naturally remains open for Wong as well.


A Monkey Wrench in the Spin Machine

Recently, an old Vs. foe and I were on the verge of what could've been a détente. There was even talk on a board which I frequent and he occasions regarding an absurd little alliance regarding my doing voice-work in a video of his featuring a character which Woe intended to have as a parody of me.

But after entertaining the notion for quite some time, I finally decided to let the idea quietly die. If there was to be a true détente I would've wanted rapid mutual disarmament. Not just an easing of tension, in other words, but a sort of mutually-executed establishment of a DMZ . . . a moratorium on mentioning one another on sites and so on, similar to what I once offered to Wong. (This would primarily serve my goal of trying to get various personal and/or slanderous material about me off their websites peacefully, but would also serve their goal of having their embarrassingly ill-considered claims and behaviors de-publicized on mine.)

But of course, peaceful coexistence is achieved in steps, just as the modern de-evolution of polite dialog (both in regards to the Vs. Debate and, sadly, elsewhere in American discourse) occurred in steps. By letting the idea die instead of pushing the olive branch down his throat, I hoped such a step would exist.

As I've noted elsewhere, this notion of making peace with those who have behaved so poorly toward myself and others is undoubtedly some foolishly optimistic notion, probably brain sludge lodged in my neurons after watching too much Trek. I am, of course, well aware that in some cases peace simply cannot be made, especially when one or both sides are too intransigent and too unreasonable.

This brings us to the main reason for letting the idea die . . . see, though he'd been behaving a bit better of late, toning down his rhetoric, the fact remained that Wayne was an individual whose philosophy and ethics I found utterly repugnant. He's a militant liberal, I am neither . . . he tries to get attention by being shocking and disgusting, whereas I have no such needs . . . and of course there's the pattern of he and SD.Net regarding the use of illogic, harassment tactics, and generally nefarious behavior against adversaries.

But like I said, he seemed to be toning down in that regard, so I decided to let the one small step happen.

But then the day came when I saw that Wayne had picked a new fight, even calling the new target racist for making fun of militant Islamic jihadists and a homophobe for using terms that might suggest an accusation of homosexuality on the part of adversaries.

While I recall no particular instance of a racist statement on Poe's part, the irony of his calling someone a homophobe was simply too great to ignore. Many of SD.Net's opponents have been accused of sucking on my naughtybits, and Poe himself has implied homosexuality on my part as an attempted insult on multiple occasions.

The fight had begun with the new chap when Poe tried to make fun of another YouTube vid-maker, a move which backfired for a bit since Poe had made use of the guy's video in his own without permission. The other fellow took it through official channels, resulting in yet another banning of Poe from one of his favorite places.

Thus began the war, and both sides were buttholes. The entertaining thing was that Poe's opponent employed the same sort of tactics that Woe and company have made such extensive use of at SD.Net . . . posting of personal info such as Wayne's address and a Google map satellite view of his residence, legal threats, and so on, basically spamming him with these maneuvers with a quickness. Wayne and the gang tried to respond in kind, but mostly they just bitched because all their good material was already taken.

Thus a leading member of the most poorly-behaved coterie in the Vs. Debate found himself rapidly outmaneuvered by the classic arch-nemesis of a butthole . . . that, of course, being a bigger butthole.

I could claim I was not amused, but then you'd be able to see my inability to keep a straight face even via this text.

But more importantly, it told me that Wayne had not changed a bit.

So, I decided to play a bit of tit for tat. You see, it was back in the day after I mentioned a dangerous psycho of my indirect acquaintance who had designs against me that Wayne and company put together a webpage with various personal information about me, advertising it as a one-stop shop for dirt should anyone wish to use it. Given the personal danger represented by the psycho in question and their attempts to help him, I withdrew from the debate for awhile in disgust, until the threat was neutralized.

(Of course nowadays they don't wait for someone to suggest a clear and present danger in their life for them to capitalize on . . . they trade Google map satellite views and publicly ponder approach vectors, suggesting a danger directly.)

Since Wayne and company had been and continue to be so helpful in regards to those who might wish to do or threaten ill, I felt it only appropriate to give Wayne's arch-nemesis a bit of history on who he was dealing with, as his gang and Wayne's SD.Net gang started tangling.

Thus, while condemning his tactics, I couldn't help but applaud the arch-nemesis on his overall campaign, and provide a few pointers on dealing with Wayne Poe and friends. I also provided some background info (though nothing like what the arch-nemesis had already done), and a picture as well. After all, given Wayne's old violent fantasies regarding me and the habit of his fellows to try to harass me it's always seemed apropos to maintain my own little sort of Homeland Security, in case there's chatter regarding what they might want to call a "personal encounter".

I hardly consider this inappropriate. While I've always considered the danger from such nuts minimal, hate-filled leftist moonbats like the SD.Net crowd do sometimes get so consumed by their illogic that they just snap. While I would be an unlikely target, logically speaking, the fact is that snapping moonbats aren't exactly predictable.

The world's getting uglier, after all, especially (and paradoxically) among the hate-filled leftist moonbats that are supposed to be for everyone to get along peacefully. Hell, the guys who outed Al Gore's mansion-sized carbon footprint got plenty of hate mail and death threats, and of course there's the anti-war nut who waved a gun in the face of a GOP officer in Nevada recently.

Like I said, American discourse as a whole is in decline.

But anyway, I also mentioned a few details about the group as a whole based on information that was known at the time, such as the guilty verdict for an SD.Net member charged with murder and another incarcerated for inappropriate behavior with a very minor minor.

And now that advisory e-mail to the arch-nemesis is public, which is fine. It's nothing I haven't said here or to them directly before.

But that part about other members there is new, and has really pissed them off. Wong's even tried to defend it with his usual inaccuracies, comparing their whole userlist to a town and determining that the crime rate of SD.Net is A-Okay, ignoring the fact that their genuinely active posters (of which both mentioned persons were a part) are a small percentage of the whole list.

But I digress.

Since the news came out, and since initially making mention of it to the arch-nemesis of Wayne, I have in fact kept up with the thread regarding the fellow said to be guilty of murder. I'd also mentioned that once before when talking about SD.Net, though that was just when it was an untried charge. Though the information in the support thread is all filtered through the SD.Net spin machine, there does appear to be no direct evidence linking that guy with the murder, or even the murder weapon, suggesting the possibility of his innocence. I almost decided to believe he was innocent, too, and had a little apology post regarding my past comment on the charge started here (more of that détente stuff). But, given the spin machine's usual inaccuracies, I decided to refrain from further comment, except here to say that I don't know for sure whether SD.Net had a murderer in its ranks or not. However, given the ridiculous fact of death threats over a frickin' sci-fi debate, I wouldn't necessarily put it past some of the members there out of hand.

That's as close to an apology as I'll come at this time, pending the fellow's appeal. If he's innocent of the crime then I wish him the best of luck.

However, I can make no apology to Wayne. While I might've upset proverbial karma a bit by taking my own paltry action, the fact remains that the quagmire he's now in was easily avoidable, and I can't help but feel it karmically perfect that Wayne's own vitriolic tactics would be employed against him so expertly by his arch-nemesis.

Ideally this would end up being a lesson on interpersonal ethics and etiquette, and how poisoning the well of discourse is a fallacy not only against the target but the speaker too, but I rather doubt they'll take it that way. Wayne's YouTube account has been reinstated, and the battle seems to be moving more in SD.Net's favor once they recovered from the shock and mobilized en masse.

Thus they'll probably record this in their annals as a great victory if it turns out that way, instead of the sad affair for all involved that it truly is.

Oh yeah, and they'll bitch and moan about me a lot. But then what else is new?