Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fancy Talk and Arguments

I am not a philosopher. I am not intimately familiar with the structure of a valid or sound argument. I know of many fallicies and can recognize some of them when used, but I am not close to being an expert. But I have 5 senses still, for which I am grateful, and I have instinct. With these highly imperfect tools I can sniff out, see clearly, hear with perfection the most ridiculous arguments that are intended to either sway my opinion or prove my opinion false.

Pardon me for getting just a little bit political, but politicians are perfect examples. I will tie this into wow, trust me. For those of you outside the US, we have a television channel here in the States called CSPAN. On it we can watch our congress hold hearings, debates, congressional sessions and votes. It's a wonderful opportunity to watch our fearless leaders debate the most important subjects.

My favorite to watch are sessions where they question our head of the Federal Reserve Bank. Many of there questions are phrased like this:

"Thank you Mr. Bernanke for being here today. I am sure that you saw, as well as I did, that the DOW (Dow Jones Industrial Average) had an intraday loss just yesterday of over 900 points. Does this not prove that President Obama is not managing our economy well and we need to lower corporate tax rates equal to the lowest in the world? You're a sensible man, I see, can you please explain what the President is doing wrong in a way that everyone here can understand?"

Can you smell it? Some say it's horse, I say it's cow dung. First of all, the question wasn't really a question, was it? No, it was a statement of opinion formed in a way as to illicit a desired resonse at best, and a display of political positioning at worst. The senator/congressman has no intention of having the question answered, he's just taking the stage to make a point with no supporting evidence for purely political purposes.

Admittedly this is just a blog, which I believe means that the opinions expressed here are my own and there's a good chance that I use illogical and unsupported arguments to make my point, just like any good or bad politician does on a daily basis. But some arguments just stink more than others, meaning some are so unfounded and ridiculous and unsupported by any fact that you have the right to put on your gas mask and run for fresher air on another blog.

I am not about to get into a fight with any other bloggers out there, so you'll just have to trust me that my comments here today are as a result of something that I've read elsewhere, but I won't demean myself by attacking that blogger, I'm not popular enough to do that just yet.

While reading through a few friendly blogs this morning I stumbled accross two conflicting points of view. I found both to be extreme points and both stunk of disdain for the other. But the disdain was overshadowed by the lack of thought or evidence that was placed into either of their arguments. I concluded that either both truly believed what they were saying or were arguing varying point just because they dislike each other.

We see this often on the official forums and even in our own trade chat in game. People make comments about gear, dungeons, raids, social activity, class balance, gold making, PUGS, and each comment is biased based on both the experience and belief of that individual. Sometimes comments are simply malicious because that's what the person wants to be.

There is no reason to say to somebody else that they are a &$@*$&^% retartd, is there? Why would you? And why would you do it in public? I can only guess that you would want to show yourself superior, show that you're right at the expense of another.

There are simple issues of debate, such as what class and sub-spec are OP and which are broken. It's obviously subjective and equally predictable that your class clearly isn't optimized, while the other person emphatically declares that you are not broken but indeed OP because you keep beating him in duels. Who is right? Probably neither, but the relativity of the argument is what entertains the two. Perhaps that is why people make such offending comments on a blog, forum or chat - they wish to be entertained by colorful debate regardless to the logic instituded in such a debate.

I've heard some say that until you truly PvP in a hardcore way you will never know everything about your class. Others claim that those uninterested in making wow gold are idiots, not uninterested. Still others believe that heroics can only be tanked by toons decked out in full T9 gear. These common arguments beg the question, why? Why do people feel the need to make these claims? Are they true? I think both you and I have our gas masks at the ready when we hear them, why? It's not because we have imperical evidence to counter the arguments, it's because we have multiple working humans senses and an instinct to not step in cow dung.

I've made the argument on this blog that the real life persona is "IN PART" transfered into the games we play. In what way do I mean? Well obviously I am not so stupid as to believe that I am a participant like those in the 1980's movie Tron where humans were literally digitized into a video game. Nor do I mean that I do what my animated toon does (i.e. slay dragons with swords or axes), it's a ridiculous notion and an insult to my intelligence to inply that that is what I mean.

What I mean is that a part of our personality and our attitudes we project THROUGH our character. Mainly it is via the form of chat or vent, where our real life voice is heard (or read). We speak things that we would in real life, often we say things that we would only say in real life if there were no consequences. Our voice is very real (excepting Role Players, of course) and most of the time we mean what we say and we cannot hide the portion of our personality that comes out in those words.

Example. I used to play with a mentally handicap person (before he server and faction transferred). Dispite his mild mental handicap, there were a significant amount of people who were rude to him whenever he lost control of his faculties. Sometimes he would say rough and even offending things, but it was mainly due to his handicap, not his personality. But in response people would get enraged and return offense in kind. Even when they knew of his handicap, they would respond to his outbursts such.

Now put all of us in the same room together, and in comes a doctor to explain what mental handicap person X has. No matter what person X says or does, how many of you do you think will exclaim "SHUT UP YOU #$%@%@#$% RETARD!" How many of you would say that to his face? Hopefully none, probably none...for fear of public appearances and scorn for treating the mentally handicap in such a manner.

But people blogging, posting on forums or in chat have no fear of any consequence or retribution. There is no accountability for what you say or how you say it. I guess for a blogger the worst is that people stop reading. But given the type of entertainment news that exists in the world and the high ratings that such gossip media gets, we can probably assume (based on that empirical evidence) that there are a lot of people who like it when they read a blog who states the everyone who disagrees with him/her is an idiot.

I fully admit that any examples that I used here are anecdotal, and not based on years of scientific research. Heck, even if they were many would likely reject it stating that the science was "probably" bad to begin with.

I guess what I'm trying to say is to watch out for politicians wearing blogger hats. Be careful not to be deluded into believing something just because somebody says it in a way that makes you laugh or illicits some strong emotion in you that you can't quite describe but you succumb to their tenants out of lack of any viable opposition.

We all enjoy a good argument, I as much as anyone out there. But please, if you're going to make a statement on your blog about the factual nature of something, I would appreciate it if you didn't resort to politician-like arguments and facepalming. Insults are not arguments, they are insults no matter what kind of dress you put them in and what kind of makup you splatter over their face. When you insult somebody it's an affront to their character and personality.

For the record I think that Enhancement Shamans aren't as strong as they should be, we run into too many periods were everything is on cooldown. We need to be buffed big time! And nerf the Pali, for goodness sake...all specs! If Blizzard doesn't do this they are total idiots!


LarĂ­sa said...

I think the kind of writing you're describing is more common in the forums than in the blogs. Hey, that's one of the reasons why we keep doing this. We want to run an intelligent discussion and not some sort of mud wrestling. There are exceptions I guess. But it's quite rare.
Bare in mind also that some of the conflicts are made with a glimpse in the eye, just for fun. When my blog was pretty new me, Gnomeaggedon and Zupa had a fight over which mage spec was the best. I think Krizzlybear joined later as well. Anyway: it was all made in a good humoured mode and we had a ton of fun doing it. Some of those assumed blog fights aren't to be taken too seriously I believe.

Gronthe said...

@ Larisa: I agree, I see it more on forums and in game, blogs not so much. It never would have registered with me if it wasn't so blatant.

99% of all blogs I read are very intelligent (that 1% are not places I frequent anymore), and any disagreements between blogs are handled without actual disdain for the other but with good humored arguments. What I described is admittedly rare for blogs, but all too common in other places.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


Gronthe said...

@ Anonymous/Christian: Thanks, I appreciate every reader whether they choose to comment or not. I just write what I feel like and hope I'm not the only one who enjoys it. Always welcome here!