Is SciFo a science forum?

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by DaveC426913, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    It's one thing to spontaneously complain that 'things are bad and won't change'; it's another when they actually ask (even if hypothetically) what one might like changed.

    That might be the time to keep one's pessimism to oneself. Otherwise, one remains part of the problem, rather than seeking to be part of a possible solution.

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  3. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Well you keep pilin you'r optimism in one hand an Sht in the other an see which one fills up fastest...

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  5. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    That seems backwards. You need a certain amount of pessimism to see that there is a problem.
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    You ignored the first sentence in my post, where I expressed that same sentiment:

    Yup. There's a time for pessimism. That is when the pleas fall on deaf ears.

    Then were was a But...

    when it is apparent someone is asking for input, then saying "No, never mind" means you remain part of the problem. It also means the asker might (rightfully) conclude that it isn't much of a problem for you after all, and drop it.
  8. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    No dout Tiassa hangs on my ever word... but aparently i hold Tiassa in higher reguard than Dave cause i suspect that Tiassa has enuff of a mind of his own not to be unduly influenced by my notion of the past bein a good indicator of the future an will manage to do what he thanks best for Sicforums... an as soon as Daves dream of Zero tolerance for insults becomes Sciforums law... people who are part of the prollem will no longer be a part of Sciforums... ie... anuther of Daves prollems solved an i call that a win Win situaton... eh

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  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Now set about defining ad homs and insults, and what you mean by argument, or what it means to be more constructive.

    Don't get me wrong; the staff thought of that one a long time ago. The thing is we could never settle on the details.

    (A side question, though: How quickly does that result in potentially catastrophic action, or are people smart enough to leave it alone when they don't like certain outcomes?)​

    Part of me is really confused; I seem to have taken the thread wrongly. When you asked about a science forum, I thought your concern was ... uh ... anti-woo and pro-science. When I asked what you wanted, I admit I was thinking in terms of just how scientific you wanted to be. I hadn't yet realized that wasn't what we were talking about.

    Sorry 'bout that.

    So, yeah, I got nothin'.
  10. river Valued Senior Member

    Science forums is a science website , it has always been so .

    The difficulty comes when this site , and the moderators become the be all and end all of thought , regardless of the thread . They end up pressureing themselves , needlessly .

    Frankly speaking , I have never expected the moderators of this site to be more or less intelligent than , More or less knowledgeable than anyone .

    To be a moderator of any site assumes a sort of superiority over those that are not . This then puts pressure on them to have an answer of which they may not have. Naturally . To be a moderator of this site is clearly not easy . But is needed , for the respect of people and there thinking .

    That is what moderators have missed , it is not the ideas , theories , so much , and there are times when they are over the top , I know .

    But moderators to my mind anyway , should be about , reminding members to having civil discussions between members of this site . That should be the priority .

    With of course any moderators input . Through knowledge , insight .

    Anyway I hope I have helped .
  11. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    I obviously don't wish to speak for others out of turn, but I know for myself that this has never been the intent. I don't want to regulate anyone's thoughts or ideas, limit their creativity, anything like that. However, there is a huge difference between saying "I think this and this should be this" and saying "It is simple fact that this and this is this", especially when one doesn't have any tangible evidence to back the claim up. This seems to be the stumbling block most often run into - and admittedly, for some subjects, there is an easy demand of evidence, and in others it is less simple.

    At one time, we had (a pair of I think?) moderators that were experts in Physics. Sub-forums used to be assigned to those with particular expertise. Thing is... we're all volunteers. We aren't paid, of even reimbursed in any way, for doing this... and over time, a lot of those highly knowledgeable moderators left to pursue bigger and better things.

    I'll use myself again in the physics sub-forum - I don't presume to be an expert on everything physics... in fact, my knowledge in the area is almost entirely self-taught and based on what has caught my attention over the years. I was never able to take a formal physics class (my high school only had one, and unfortunately its time slot coincided with one of my other required classes each of the three years I was eligible to take it). In college, I just didn't have the money or time to add a physics class into an already packed, abbreviated schedule. So, I read what I could, and attempted to work through stumbling blocks myself.

    All that is to say - my primary method there is to sift through the arguments and look for any fallacious reasoning being used. Most debate in the physics forums over the last year came down to one of three things:
    A) Someone honestly, earnestly did not understand something, and when corrected, they recognized their error, and things proceeded from there. If they had a "new theory", they attempted to proof it out and accepted the (understandable) scrutiny that would entail.
    B) Someone thought they were God's gift to the world in the realm of physics and that everyone else was beneath them and of sub-human IQ, even when their own attempts at proving their "latest and greatest ideas" were pitiable at best. These people often ran afoul of the "rank and file" physics members, who would take the time to gather evidence and present the argument as to why the persons "great idea" wasn't so great, then become rather irate when the individual in question summarily dismissed their reasoning and evidence without so much as a constructive counter-argument
    C) Someone that has no bleeding clue about physics (or, sometimes, science in general) and yet thinks they have had an epiphany that will "change the world", and is either unable, or unwilling, to understand presented evidence about their idea one way or another. This tends to rub the "rank and file" physics members the wrong way after a few rounds, because attempting to build someone from point zero to physics via an internet forum is a daunting, if not insurmountable, task... trying to do so when the student in question believes they have somehow found a "fatal flaw" that proves the current model of physics is flawed (when said flaw has already been found, acknowledged, and reconciled into the accepted model)... well, yeah.

    Aye - my goal is to hold everyone to the same simple standard of evidence and civility. Discussions can, and will, become heated - that's fine. When circular reasoning, strawmen, ad hom, and other fallacies start becoming the norm, however... well, that isn't acceptable. The problem is addressing and correcting that issue without causing a bunch of hurt feelings can be difficult, especially when the interested parties are so utterly convinced they are right, regardless of what the available data says.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Except for the fact that it is and has been.

    I'm much more sanguine, now; even the sense of alarm that appears to drive this discussion at the outset simply isn't.

    Sciforums is what people make it, and very few of our members, it seems, actually want any notion of "science site"; River's point—

    —is as close as anyone has gotten, and as much as I would like to agree with that statement, I simply cannot because it turns out to be untrue.

    But when it comes to what people want, better posting doesn't seem to be on the list; instead, the preferred advice seems to be the constraint of other people.

    Nor am I surprised, I suppose. That, too, has been apparent if unstated for years.
  13. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    In the words of Jean Luc Picard:

    I cannot accept that as a reason to simply allow such behavior, unless there is a direct change to the rules that govern such behavior. And yes, I understand the irony of the statement, as I have been prone to it myself in fits of frustration and irritation at its continued spread, which I see as all the more reason why it needs to be held in check.
  14. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Bravo... an i thank you'r statement applies to most of the complainers about Sciforums... but as for me... i suport any way Administration wants to run Sciforums... from very strict (Dave style)... to wishy washy (like it is now)... to anythang thats legal goes (like it used to be) as long as moderators abide by the rules the same as they expect the regular posters to.!!!
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Indeed, but it's not like either of us can force it. The problem with the advice to eliminate ad hom isn't that we really want people flaming the fuck out of each other, but, rather, that the constant outcome of such notions over the years at Sciforums is a very literalist thing; it's why I recall a particular dispute with a fellow moderator from some years ago, that one should be able to post functionally racist material, but nobody should call out the racism because that's ad hom.

    That's as archetypal example as I could ask, and in a way I'm not at all surprised and probably never should have, except for the fact that once upon a time it would have been really rude to speculate such behavior about my colleague.

    Right and wrong at Sciforums has, for over a decade, been a political question, and not at all related to questions of accuracy, truth, or function. This is what we've cultivated.

    And any one of us could have tried to end that aspect over time, and then we would likely have been dismissed for not attending the proper procedures by which people with vested interest avoided moderation so that other moderators with the opposite vested interest could choose to fulfill Burke's aphorism about doing nothing. It took a few years for the trend to really make its point, but we're nigh on eight years past the most glaring threshold, which we can skip for the moment since very little good comes from recalling it explicitly.

    And remember, the ban cycle itself is fifty-five days long, which for us means fifty-five days of people complaining if that's really how anyone wants to do it. The staff had a big public dispute about this some years ago, and promoting the complaint required believing that one moderator running a troll through a fifty-five day ban cycle was some act of intrinsic evil, as if nobody could possibly stop another moderator from permabanning someone unfairly. There is very limited authority to wrongly permaban someone, and it certainly wasn't invested in the question at the time. That is to say, we had a massive blowout that cost us the resignation of a moderator for precisely no reason; it comes back to that question of vested interest. The one might withhold moderation for appearance of vested interest, as has been the expectation throughout this period, but others aren't moderating, either, and at some point that means they're okay with the fallacies and trolling and even bigotry.

    Apparently, this is what it means to be fair.

    I prefer to respect such boundaries as the appearance of vested interest, but eventually the point is clear; the expectation is in place in order to foment and protect bad behavior with which authority sympathizes.

    See, the thing about the one I wasn't going to mention explicitly, the original complaint that started the problem had to do with Americanistic hatred of Muslims and Islam; the sympathetic willingness to go after the object of that dishonest and hateful complaint under a pretense of being fair was invested in atheistic hostility toward theists.

    There are so many astounding ironies along the way; one of the great values I have received from Sciforums over the years is the crystallization of certain foggy notions. I can't quite explain the transition from once upon a time when we actually said to ourselves, as a staff and community, that these ill-behavied, poorly-studied, alleged Christians at least served as useful examples of what it all gets a person, to the modern day in which it is apparently supposed to seem really unfair to hurt a stupid bigot's feelings.

    I can't quite explain those years in the present context, but it was early in the internet experience, and the empowerment felt incredible. The thing is, we never really did anything with it. And there came a point whereby it was clear what we were on was not really connected in any substantial way to good faith, and it did take a while. But this actually all starts with a very well-intended prejudice toward atheism in particular. And in that context, everything was largely just fine until, first, 9/11, but more directly, the invasion of Iraq. I can still remember this wannabe alpha-type going on about killing all the ragsomethingorother except maybe a few of the women who might be hot enough to ... uh ... right, y'know? When I told him to have another banana, nobody blinked because everybody was smart enough to get that it was a hit against his alpha routine. Fast forward a few years and people aren't smart enough to understand the historical reasons why you don't go after a black man who isn't on an alpha trip that way. The difference is actually what our weird context of being fair means. That is what it was for.

    Yet, even still, look at some of these outcomes. I'm not nearly so worried about the two-bit ghost and goblin crackpottery as I am the quite literally dangerous wingnuttery. It's a functional thing. Don't get me wrong, yeah, a bunch of it is annoying, but I can afford to generally leave that priority to other people. Neither, however, is it particularly easy to miss the detail when it occurs that focus on constraint of fantasy crackpottery is the actual priority. When you look around, how many who are crashing on the crackpottery are going to be there to help you crash on the dangerous wingnuttery? I know that's vague, but neither is actually about those who will or won't in particular.

    There is a bit I do sometimes about the difference between sinister or stupid, but we must also temper that with the acknowledgment that I hold people generally are not actively evil insofar as we tend to justify ourselves unto ourselves in some way; there is a possibility that it might appear this is changing, but it appears a psychological or psychiatric dysfunction driving some to celebrate their evil. Most still blame other people, and it's true, in that context, people are still pursuing some abstract notion of right and wrong.

    What comes next is the hard part: There is an abstract threshold at which a presupposition of naïveté requires such magnitude as to itself seem inappropriate for denigration of another. It's almost like presuming this bizarre stupidity by which one accidentally hits every mark, except they're all precisely the wrong marks. And so for things like the prejudice and bigotry that have just roared to full-throated political power, we need to presume that instead of wilfully choosing harm, at every decision object on the flow chart they manage to accidentally choose harm. There is a point at which instead of calling them evil, we are functionally doubting their competency, and neither is that polite, is it?

    I can't quite explain, but once upon a time in my American society we showed a contempt toward more communal considerations, including notions like bullying, or even literacy; it was essentially society as a competition or a cooperative endeavor, and Americans have some problems with the latter. And the idea was that liberal arts and liberalistic pseudosciences tending toward secular humanism and moral relativism were just make-believe. It's like the person who denounces "psychology", but raises their children by reverse psychology. I actually know someone like that; to this day he thinks he's smarter than everyone else, and no, you don't want to know the rest of the story about why it's not his fault that his only child is a heroin addict that he won't help.

    But that is essentially what is going on; people have started behaving according to the complaint and projection. In the U.S., at least, we cannot afford to overlook this massive, transgenerational fallacy; we all get to live with what it has brought us.

    Well, you know. As long as we live through it.

    ―End Part I―
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Part the Second

    I guess I need a second post; I should have stopped at the first semicolon.

    Sometime along the way, people finally fell through the looking glass and believed what they made. Why fertilization-assigned personhood? Because they say so. Why supremacism as equality? Because they say so. American society might be emblematic in that manner; just like "fair and balanced", the whole point was to foster an alternative myth in order to justify one's own deviation. No, really; forty years ago the grumpy old men going on about the thin edge of the wedge and the fabric of society and moral degradation and lack of reverence, and all that, were the intellectual or ideological forebears to twenty-first century supremacism throughout conservative quarters. It's actually a fairly straightforward ego defense: They projected onto others an impropriety they wanted for themselves until they believed it, then claimed it for themselves because that is the only fair thing to do.

    An important historical note is that part of this has to do with the flagging influence of a descending empowerment majority. There is a reason why this is the in thing to do, these days; it's part of a retiring statistical majority struggling to reassert itself. Seriously, though, just to use Sarah Palin as an example: After decades of hearing about how rock music or written fiction poisons people's minds, conservatives took a look at the Tuscon shooting, you know, after a bunch of Second Amendment rhetoric that included on some websites crosshairs on opposition offices, we are supposed to believe that such behavior and message promotion has absolutely no effect on anyone at all ever, especially the psychiatrically unstable.

    And then think for a moment about the idea that the fair thing to do is take that last seriously. After all the burning of books and records, and suing musicians, and passing laws to prevent children from listening to King Diamond or Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest or 2 Live Crew—they threw people in jail over that one, because, you know, you can't successfully sue the white musician but you can throw a black record store owner in jail for selling an album recorded by black men—now we are supposed to believe that none of it has any effect on anyone ever. You know, especially the psychiatrically unmoored.

    And the idea that we have to take it seriously? All that equivocation and the seeming instant forty-percent support for pretty much anything that was simply a pretense of opposition?

    I don't have any great solutions as of the moment, but there are reasons fallacy is in such heavy demand, these days. A lot of people feel need to keep a couple of these devices around. It makes a difference. Or makes differences. One of which is that it just gets harder figuring out what to do if the point has anything to do with science, intelligent discussion, or good faith.

  17. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Well Tiassa... my queston to you is:::

    If you had the final say in how Sciforums is to be run... do you thank you'r leadership woud make Sciforums better than it is now... an at least as successful (adequate post count to please the owners).???

    If so i vote for you as head Administrator.!!!
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    But does it need to be defined better than any other trigger for mod intervention?
    ie. moderation actions are frequently judgment calls.

    It would be a shame if ZT4AH suffered from the Nirvana fallacy (throwing it out because it's not perfect).

    I don't think you interpreted it wrong. I started this thread because I wanted to understand if "that's not scientifically defensible" is a valid argument. 'cuz I kinda say that a lot, and I'd hate to get caught out by some woo saying 'tough toenails, egghead' having the backing of moderation.

    But, since you actually asked what I'd like to see changed, I went for the low-hanging fruit of civil discourse. That's really gotta come first.

    I can ride the line of non-science (double-checks spelling there), as long as it's civil. (I've been engaging in a lot of Devil's Advocate discussion about God - granting his existence for the sake of discussion, so as to explore Biblical content.)
  19. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    I suspect that at least 3 moderators like thangs the way they are here at Sciforums... whare 2 of 'em can still enjoy whats left of the once free rein to take out ther daily-life frustrations on the "rule brakers"... an one whos in love wit the never endin work of perfectin a theory of forum moderation.!!!
  20. sweetpea Registered Senior Member

    I miss rpenner.

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