Making Sciforums more Successful.!!!

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by cluelusshusbund, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I think it matters a LOT. One of the purposes of Sciforums (in my opinion) is education. A lot of people come to this forum with some odd (i.e. incorrect) views of how science works, and post those ideas. Many of them learn a lot from getting feedback on their ideas. I've learned a lot here in that way from mistakes I've made.

    That, to me, is very different when someone comes in and says "relativity is false!" to intentionally stir up a fight. As an educator I want to help the first guy and shut down the second.

    Because a misinformed person (even one you consider "spectacularly stupid") may well learn and become a more valuable poster. Such events make the forum a success. A troll does not learn, other than perhaps learn how to better infuriate people. They make the forum a poorer place.

    So to me there is a very big difference.
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  3. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    If it were easy to tell who is trying to learn and who isnt, all that would be fine. But as several posters pointed out, there really is no way to be absolutely sure whether a person is unwilling to learn or unable to learn. If it impossible to distinguish the two, then that difference only exists in theory. So that's why I asked: how much effort should be spent before giving up on someone?

    I spent five weeks and dozens of hours across two forums trying to teach humbleteleskop how Olbers' paradox works. I failed and quit. One forum shut him down in a few days and the rest was here. I don't know whether he would have eventually learned but what you (and others) are saying suggests I should be willing to spend an infinite amount of time with him because I couldn't be absolutely certain he was trolling me (actually since he took contradicting positions across different forums I'm pretty sure, but I didn't let that prejudice it).
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Hmm. While sometimes it is difficult to tell, quite often it isn't. Easy case is Motordaddy, who admitted he was doing his schtick just to wind people up. That case of the guy a while back who said "I did drugs and can now see ultraviolet!" is a case of someone who _did_ learn something, even though at first he seemed like a troll.

    I'd say "as much effort as you want to." Best case is that if everyone thinks someone is trolling, everyone ignores him and he goes away (since trolls hate to be ignored.) Or if you think he's not a troll, you might try for 3 or 10 or 20 posts to point out his errors, and if that doesn't work, give up.
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  7. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    And worst case? Members get tired of being trolled and leave the forum. That's why this thread exists, isn't it?
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Gee, the above makes a lot of sense to me...especially the last paragraph.
    I believe all non scientific alternative claims need to be refuted.
    And that does create a problem. Because we do have a handful of trollish alternative people, that will continue to argue no matter what they are shown.
    Point in question: rivers and Beaconator in the "possibility of star formation around black holes" threads.
    leopold in the "for alternative theorists thread and his ranting against Evolution and Abiogenesis is another even worse case scenario, as it is being discussed in a legit science thread.
    Then we have chinglu and his efforts to show SR is false.
    These fanatical creationists/Alternative pushers, will never give up, in trying to legitimise their nonsense.
    Therein lies the problem.

    I have mentioned this twice before. Another forum I was on also had an Alternative theory section.
    Any proposer that put some alternative Idea, had a month to validate it, and answer all questions put to it.
    If it failed to show any grounds for legitimacy or any evidence supporting it, then the thread was closed after a month.
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    To avoid that I suggest two simple solutions:

    1) Move all potential trolls (i.e the latest "Einstein was wrong!" post) to the Fringe area
    2) Ignore the Fringe area if you are a member tired of being trolled.
  10. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    So while it seems nice to say "just ignore it", you're kinda arguing against reality here. The reality is that people can't ignore it. In addition, even if what you suggest "worked", the result may be similar to what we have now, but with essentially no traffic in the science forums and all the traffic in the Fringe area. Then SF isn't a science forum, it is a Fringe forum, populated only by crackpots who fill it with garbage that goes unchallenged.
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Well, of course they can. No one who reads here is under any legal, contractual or financial compulsion to read anything (with the possible exception of the moderators, who volunteered to do that.) What you mean is they don't want to ignore it, which is fine. Their choice.

    Then no one reads the Fringe forum and they concentrate on the main boards, which accomplishes the objective.
    Or everyone decides that they prefer the Fringe section and go there instead, which indicates that that's what people want - and then there are plenty of people to challenge them.

    I would prefer to have basic rules of conduct (no personal attacks, no pornography, no ads, no spam, post in correct forums etc) than a rule that says "don't post anything stupid or controversial."
  12. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Well this is going nowhere fast...
  13. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Hell this thread had been doing that for that last 12 pages....:shrug:
  14. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Too true...

    I miss the days when I would come to this site and find twenty or thirty different threads with dozens of new posts, all of which were intellectually stimulating...

    Now, I come here, see the sub-forums lit up are the pseudoscience and/or complaint ones, and just want to smack my head off a wall... especially with the complaint threads - I've noticed a pattern... tends to be the same half dozen or so people saying the same things over and over...

    *shrugs* I legitimately don't know what to make of this situation anymore
  15. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Unfortunately, I must agree with you on that.

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  16. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Yes. And the trolls could decide to stop trolling and the crackpots could decide to become scientific, but they wont either. So how is that helpful to point it out? How does that help us? What I'm suggesting is changing rules to make SF better instead of just throwing up our hands and bemoaning the fact that it isn't doing well without doing anything to fix it.
    Fair enough. I would suggest that your preference matches the current policy and has proven not to work.
  17. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    I have no idea. Didn't read too much of him, to be honest. I remember tackling Zarathustra once, but I haven't read much beyond that. Camus sits more comfortably with me.
    Besides which, I have absolutely no idea how anyone could sit down and read that other tripe you mentioned. I don't really care if it was the ultimate source, I have no time for it.

    ... is that it?
  18. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    ... shut up.

    At the very least, I can make an honest claim I'm only here when drunk and looking for an argument. Sometimes, I like being angry. It reminds me I'm still alive.
    Being aware of this particular quote, though, does go a long toward fighting off that very result. With varying degrees of success.

    I say this in the belief that "stares back into you" rather than "at you" has far more impact and consequence, regardless of what the original quote was. Which is a prevarication in itself, another way of saying "I have no idea. I'll choose the one I prefer".
  19. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes, when you were drunk you used to talk to me about cricket.
    We sheared a sheep, drank a glass or two of rot-gut Shiraz, and smoked a pipe together.
    Different ones of course, being in different countries.

    Remember Warnie?
    Best ever Australian team.
    It was a pleasure to be beaten.
    Ah, Golden Days.

    I wonder what happened to good old Spud Emperor?
    He was a great pal of mine.

    Isn't he the one who used to keep on saying "Thus"?
    Ferkin poser.
  20. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Bang on.
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's trollish in the sense that it accuses the purported 'liar' of a moral fault. Accusing somebody of being a liar is almost guaranteed to move a conversation from the intellectual level to an emotional level (which is what trolls are always trying to do).

    And what conceivable damage is taking place when people argue about the existence of ghosts in an appropriate alternative forum? That could develop into a fascinating discussion, if both sides argue well.

    I'm not convinced that a statement can always be dismissed as 'spectacularly stupid' just because it happens to contradict somebody's own personal philosophy or worldview.

    The 'spectacularly stupid' conclusion only seems to follow if we already possess the faith that our own philosophy and worldview is true, sound and complete. Inviolable, in other words.

    And that's where discussions of things like ghosts can get interesting. The critic can ask the ghost-proponent about how he/she supposedly knows that ghosts exist, what he/she thinks ghosts are, and how the evidence justifies that conclusion. And the proponent can in turn inquire into what justifies the critic's own denials, revealing whatever faith-commitments that might conceivably lurk there.

    I think that the moderators should be prepared to move threads from the regular science fora to the alternative fora. But once a thread arguing for whatever heresy is in an appropriate alternative forum, I see no reason to further moderate its content. Any moderation at that point should be for inappropriate behavior (including false accusations of lying).

    Of course, distinguishing which threads need to be moved isn't going to be as easy as it might initially sound. If somebody is actually arguing to the existence of ghosts or spirit-beings, then the discussion probably should be moved. But what if the discussion is really about the history or philosophy of science, and the hypothetical existence of ghosts or spirit-beings is serving as an example that raises important issues? What if somebody starts out arguing for ghosts, but the subsequent discussion raises valuable philosophical issues?

    In real life, arguing about the distinction between science and pseudo-science, about what is and isn't real, and about what science actually knows and how it knows it, can produce some of the most interesting and educational discussions possible on a board like this.

    As for me personally, I'm something of a Fortean, I guess.

    I see science as currently our best human attempt to understand the universe around us. I think that most of what science tells us is substantially true. But that doesn't mean that science is complete. Nor does it mean that everything that science says today will still be accepted by science in 500 years. In the future we are inevitably going to know a lot more, and perhaps a few of the cherished theories of today will have been dramatically revised in much the way that Aristotelian mechanics was replaced by Galilean. I think that's almost inevitable.

    In other words, our scientific picture of the world is an approximation. It's a conceptual model that embodies our best current understanding of what the universe is and how it behaves. But it's almost certainly an over-simplification. It's very much a work in progress.

    And that in turn suggests that our scientific worldview shouldn't be simply equated with reality itself. Reality is bigger than our current picture of it, it overflows our current understanding.

    Acknowledging that, I don't think that it's unrealistic to expect to expect occasional anomalies, 'wild' or 'maverick' events that don't seem to fit into our current scientific understanding. I'm inclined to think that such events do exist. That being said, I also think that it's very important to maintain a skeptical as opposed to a credulous attitude towards such things.

    Maybe that's why you and Magical Realist don't get along, Russ. Magical Realist is all about trying to preserve the idea that wonders and mysteries are still possible. (Except regarding 'religion', but that's another story with him.) He can be way too credulous at times in embracing any anomalous report that he hears, but I can understand where he's coming from, since I kind of share the same underlying attitude.

    Others around here seem to have set themselves up as Sciforums' grand-inquisitors, rooting out heresy wherever they find it, flaming the sinners responsible and doing all they can to defend the scientistic catechism. Reality is whatever scientific orthodoxy currently pictures it as being and that most emphatically is that.

    That collision isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fascinating discussions about the history and philosophy of science and about science's position in broader intellectual life, tend to naturally arise from considering it. But that won't happen when rhetoric on both sides descends to the lowest level of insults and denunciations.
  22. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    The Marquis, are you perhaps referring to Albert Camus?
    From what I understand of Albert Camus, he evidently could sit down and read that other tripe, I.E. :
    - the ^^above quoted^^ from :

    However, owing to your own admission, quoted below, I see no good reason to engage in any further discourse with you.
    Hence, this is it.
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Because some people who present as trolls are simply uninformed, and IMO it would be contrary to the spirit of this forum to ignore such people. Other posters are certainly free to ignore them if they are troubled by them (no harm done) while others are free to make a few attempts at education (also no harm done, and potentially some good done.)

    What would the specific rule change be?

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