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Thread: Have we become more childish in our discussions?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Ah. Childlike versus childish. Childlike has connotations of approval or at least some sort of affection; childish is always pejorative.
    Not necessarily so Grant. In 'The Emperors new clothes' the Emperors advisors are childish, the Emperor is childlike and the Child is neither.

    That also reminds me of 2 'childish nonsense' poems from my childhood (with my interpretation in brackets).

    The boy stood on the burning deck (all True, boys tend to do high risk things like that)
    his feet were full of blisters, (all True, they would be)
    the fire burnt his trousers off, (all True, it would)
    he should have worn his sisters. (all True, if he did 'his' trousers would not have been burnt off)

    One fine day in the middle of the night, (starts True and ends False)
    two dead men got up to fight, (starts True and ends False)
    back to back they faced each other, (starts True and ends False)
    drew their swords and shot each other. (starts True and ends False)

    It seems that, logic wise, one of the above poems is both childish and nonsense while the other is neither.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Not necessarily so Grant. In 'The Emperors new clothes' the Emperors advisors are childish, the Emperor is childlike and the Child is neither.
    I would certainly take issue with 2 out of 3 of those statements, with an option on the third, according to how you read the story. But we're already a l-o-o-ng way from the thread topic.

    Grant Hutchison

  3. #33
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    Yeah, "childish" is always perjorative in the US also-- even when it is said about a child! It's very much the same word as "infantile." Whereas "childlike" is almost always congratulatory, an ironic situation since the latter term carries the clear connotation that it is not being applied to a child! Getting back to the thread in question, I remain unconvinced that there was any childish posts, or even out-of-control tempers, anywhere in the thread. No ad hominem either, the thread was more an example of remarkable restraint by all parties. So the narrative in the closing statement was at best, in my opinion, a kind of rhetorical flourish, but I look at rhetorical flourishes as being like the jalapenos in the salsa. The real issue was, the discussion had stalled, and did contain personal elements (if you call "you still don't understand and it is leading you to make the following errors" personal.)
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-02 at 02:41 PM.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    <snip>
    The real issue was, the discussion had stalled, and did contain personal elements (if you call "you still don't understand and it is leading you to make the following errors" personal.)
    I would call such a statement, such as you quoted, personal and borderline on appropriate for CQ.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    <snip>
    Come on, you don't really know anything about gases, now do you? All you can do is insert contextually isolated verbiage from sources you don't really understand, and it's not lending any insight into this discussion, since you're not open to learning anything, and it appears all the others already have.
    I would say that is definitely personal and a violation of our rules.
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  5. #35
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    I'm reminded of the line John Lithgow delivered with such gusto in Terms of Endearment:
    You're a very rude young woman. I know Douglas from the rotary, and I can't believe he'd want you treating customers so badly.

    Cashier
    : I don't think I was treating her badly.

    Then you must be from New York.
    Even though a speaker or writer may not think something is offensive, or intend it to be offensive, doesn't mean that it isn't offensive.
    Ken, I've been on the receiving end of your "you just don't understand" riffs more than once, and I did take them personally. Rather than get in a lather about it, though, I've tended to just point out to you how remarks of that nature are annoying and offensive. And we've had a conciliatory exchange and all has been well, until the next time.

    I'm not without fault in this regard. I recently got whacked with a summary infraction point, for asking a question on which I had carefully reflected, and had deliberately chosen in order to avoid giving offence. Apparently I failed in my deliberations, and I think the mismatch is as much cultural as anything else, but nevertheless I have to accept that I wrote something which was received as being not just rude, but so much against the rules that it merited an instant infraction and a telling-off. I think no matter how blameless we feel, we have to accept responsibility and respond to feedback.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-02 at 04:30 PM. Reason: Fix quote

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I would say that is definitely personal and a violation of our rules.
    Yes, and that was the most offending remark in a 4 page thread that contains the potential for many people to increase their understanding of gases and gas pressure, and also included at least three factually incorrect claims by the person it was aimed at. My statement was the kind of statement you'll find on almost every page of almost every ATM thread that goes several pages, for example. I'm not saying the gas-pressure thread is better with that remark than without it, nor objecting to its closure (the mods do a good job), I just don't see that the thread was particularly childish, or as it was characterized by someone else, that it exhibited flaring tempers. If either of those are true, they are also true for every single longish ATM thread I've ever seen! And one certainly cannot argue that just because someone is espousing ATM, and everyone knows they aren't right, it means childishness and flaring tempers suddenly become fine, so it must mean that telling someone they are all wet is not regarded as childish or angry. As in those ATM threads, my remark was an attempt to establish a fact, albeit a personal one, that's true.

    It's best to leave the people out of it, I can see that, but the misconceptions I was correcting in that thread aren't much different from what you find in ATM threads all the time, claims like that gases aren't fluids, that if you have two expressions that start pressure equals something, one must hold for gases and the other for fluids, that buoyancy forces don't come from gas pressure gradients, and that you need a container to have a notion of volume... it's all stuff I'd expect to find in ATM, where it often meets responses like I made. Here's a sampling from a randomly chosen recent ATM thread that went two pages:
    "Judging by the hodgepodge of conjectures I have seen so far I would not have any false hopes of making a favorable impression on them."
    "Two posts ignoring the errors in your actual ATM idea, Nikolay Sukhorukov."
    "Nikolay Sukhorukov, you are saying that your source is abysmally ignorant or deluded."

    Needless to say, none of these remarks met with any objections, they are quite normal tones in any situation on this forum where everyone knows they are aimed at someone who is wrong. My remarks that you quoted were aimed at someone that I knew, as did many others on the thread, was also wrong. That doesn't make them OK, but unless you are saying the ATM portion of the forum has a different standard of politeness versus offensiveness, you will have to admit that people on this forum who are making demonstrably incorrect statements should expect to be told that they are making demonstrably incorrect statements in ways that border on being personal.

    That said, I'm kind of making the wrong argument here, because as Grant points out, no one likes to be told they are wrong about something (I can't imagine what context I might have said that to him, possibly several debates on literature outside of physics), and there's a thin line between being clear and being stridently clear. So it's best not to be too strident about it because it's not always clear which one is wrong anyway (even though, on that gas pressure thread, it was abundantly clear, as you can see from reading it and noting the comments of the other posters). The fact is, we tend to think the only hope of getting someone to see their error is to point it out with something of a rhetorical flourish (a fact that motivated this thread), but we've all found in practice that such flourishes only guarantee that our point will not be taken on board. So instead of arguing that we should all be strident in pointing out the errors of our peers, I should be arguing that we should all redouble our efforts to not do that. It is easy to see where I can begin that quest!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-02 at 08:03 PM.

  7. #37
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    Sorry, just to add my two yen to this, but I also felt that the "come on children" was slightly irritating as my feeling was there there were two posters in particular that were writing things that were ad hominem or at least borderline so, and that it would have been better to address the moderator's frustration at them specifically (and I will be clear that I totall understand the frustration). But I think the moderator basically recognized this and modified the post, so I think that the thread has essentially served its purpose.
    As above, so below

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    Let us be completely clear that nothing even borderline "ad hominem" appeared anywhere in that thread. It is simply a false claim to use the definition of that word on a statement like "you clearly don't understand gases" put to someone who has just made at least three clear and elementary errors about gases. Not at all ad hominem, ad hominem means replacing evidence with insults. I never make any physics arguments on this forum based on anything except physics, so you can object to the tone, but ad hominem is about the basis of an argument. Tone is the objection, and I do have to own that much, but let us be clear on the meanings of our words.

    Here is my issue. I spent several hours on painstakingly detailed physics explanations, in some clarity and detail, in that thread. I didn't just do it as a service to others, it helps me cystallize my thinking on the topic as well, and above all it is love of physics that motivates all of it. At least half a dozen posters clearly benefited from those efforts. All statements were backed in great detail with physics arguments that I challenge anyone to find the least flaw in. When someone makes it very clear they don't understand, I may tell them they don't understand, but it isn't an ad hominem aspect of the argument-- it is merely a futile attempt to communicate. But it isn't pleasant for the person to hear, and it is generally futile, so the mods are right to discourage it strongly, and other readers are fully justified in saying they don't like to see it either, I do hear that part. But can we at least realize what that the objectionable elements of that thread actually were-- the attempts of someone who does understand, trying to share that understanding with someone who did not, and experiencing frustration of miconception piled on misconception. If you think that situation isn't tricky, simply consult any random ATM thread.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-03 at 12:43 AM.

  9. #39
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    An argument doesn't need to be untrue to be ad hominem - as the name suggests, it just needs to address the person rather than the argument. Because even someone who understands nothing about the gas laws may, by chance alone, make a true statement about the gas laws.
    So asserting "you clearly don't understand" instead of engaging with the argument does nothing to advance the counterargument. That's the position in terms of logic.
    Sociologically, asserting "you clearly don't understand" can be interpreted as an effort to bully, belittle and harass the opposition into silence. That may often not be the case, but then again it often really is the case. So, again, best avoided.

    Grant Hutchison

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    An argument doesn't need to be untrue to be ad hominem - as the name suggests, it just needs to address the person rather than the argument. Because even someone who understands nothing about the gas laws may, by chance alone, make a true statement about the gas laws.
    True, but in this case, we are talking about repeated incorrect assertions about gases, including an incorrect statement that the ideal gas law cannot be applied to fluids. If someone said that in the ATM section, they better be prepared to duck.
    So asserting "you clearly don't understand" instead of engaging with the argument does nothing to advance the counterargument.
    That ends up being true because it tends to turn off the brain of the other person, but in principle, it is an essential part to make someone understand that they do not understand-- you tell them.
    Sociologically, asserting "you clearly don't understand" can be interpreted as an effort to bully, belittle and harass the opposition into silence.
    Yes, so it doesn't belong-- now look at ATM threads.
    So, again, best avoided.
    Agreed. All I ask for is consistency across the forum, otherwise it seems hypocritical.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    True, but in this case, we are talking about repeated incorrect assertions about gases, including an incorrect statement that the ideal gas law cannot be applied to fluids.
    You know that. I know that. So as far as we're concerned, the argument has not advanced.
    Your interlocuter and some of your audience probably don't know that. So the assertion "you don't understand" doesn't move their understanding forward. And so as far as they're concerned, the argument has not advanced.
    Therefore, the argument has not advanced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yes, so it doesn't belong-- now look at ATM threads.
    See, that's the tu quoque fallacy. People use crap arguments all the time, and doubly so in ATM. That doesn't make crap arguments any less crap.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Agreed. All I ask for is consistency across the forum, otherwise it seems hypocritical.
    So that's about whether the moderation of crap arguments is equable, which has been around the houses many times in Feedback, and I suspect will go around again many times. But in the meantime, shouldn't we all just try to avoid using crap arguments, all the time?

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    See, that's the tu quoque fallacy. People use crap arguments all the time, and doubly so in ATM. That doesn't make crap arguments any less crap.
    But if there are crap arguments in the ATM section, why aren't they discouraged by mods? I maintain that everything I said in that thread could have appeared defeating some ATM position, and no would bat an eye. That's what I'm saying, not that the argument is a good way to go.
    So that's about whether the moderation of crap arguments is equable, which has been around the houses many times in Feedback, and I suspect will go around again many times. But in the meantime, shouldn't we all just try to avoid using crap arguments, all the time?
    Yes, on that we have already agreed. Probably the word "you" should be used only with care.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-03 at 02:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    But if there are crap arguments in the ATM section, why aren't they discouraged by mods?
    You should start a Feedback thread.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    Come on, you don't really know anything about gases, now do you? All you can do is insert contextually isolated verbiage from sources you don't really understand, and it's not lending any insight into this discussion, since you're not open to learning anything, and it appears all the others already have.
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I would say that is definitely personal and a violation of our rules.
    Perhaps a better choice of words would have been something like, "Your continued incorrect arguments about gases, along with inserting contextually isolated verbiage from questionable sources, makes it appear that you really do not understand gases. If that is the case, that's okay for starters, as we all need to start somewhere. This is a good place to come for explanations. Just strive to pay attention and keep an open mind."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    Perhaps a better choice of words would have been something like, "Your continued incorrect arguments about gases, along with inserting contextually isolated verbiage from questionable sources, makes it appear that you really do not understand gases. If that is the case, that's okay for starters, as we all need to start somewhere. This is a good place to come for explanations. Just strive to pay attention and keep an open mind."
    "Verbiage" is bad (there's never a positive usage of "verbiage"). "Okay for starters" is bad. "We all need to start somewhere" is bad. "Strive to pay attention" is bad. "Keep an open mind" is bad.
    I'm already wanting to punch someone, because all of these are belittling. (Or was that your point?)

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-03 at 02:48 AM.

  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    You should start a Feedback thread.
    It was my sole objection to the closure we are talking about in this thread, that it's only regarded as OK to tell someone their understanding is flawed if you are ganging up on them, which is my impression of how the rule is generally applied on this forum.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    Perhaps a better choice of words would have been something like, "Your continued incorrect arguments about gases, along with inserting contextually isolated verbiage from questionable sources, makes it appear that you really do not understand gases. If that is the case, that's okay for starters, as we all need to start somewhere. This is a good place to come for explanations. Just strive to pay attention and keep an open mind."
    That would have been better, yes, with even further softening as Grant mentions. Interestingly, the sources weren't questionable, they were seemingly authoritative, which is what makes that thread so interesting. But that's another issue-- what to do when seemingly authoritative sources are wrong, it tends to cause apoplexia and it is always dicey.

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    Perhaps a better choice of words would have been something like, "Your continued incorrect arguments about gases, along with inserting contextually isolated verbiage from questionable sources, makes it appear that you really do not understand gases. If that is the case, that's okay for starters, as we all need to start somewhere. This is a good place to come for explanations. Just strive to pay attention and keep an open mind."
    Or perhaps even better - "I have made my case as well as I can and I believe my reasoning is clear. Because this is discussion is mostly rehashing what we have already discussed I'm going to leave it there."

    If the goal is to educate then your aims are best served by providing the best explanation you can, answering questions as best you can and leaving it there. If your goal is to 'win the internet' then you are on the wrong forum. The thread in question, to me (and my judgement is as flawed as any other human being out there), was a classic example of an argument people felt they needed to 'win'. My personal opinion was that the tone, from very early on, was negative - I read the first few posts and decided that I would not be contributing to the thread. I actually do that quite often now, including in ATM threads, when I believe that a discussion is more likely than not to end up being unproductive and risk getting me a warning or infraction if I get sucked into the negative behaviours it will likely spawn.

    As I say, these are just my opinions. I make no claim that the are 'right' or 'good'. I'm actually nervous about even putting them up here as there seems to be an effort to justify or excuse bad behaviour developing. Motives and correctness are not good justifications for poor behaviour. If you are getting frustrated then disengage. I think every warning I have had has come from a situation where I should have done that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaula View Post
    Or perhaps even better - "I have made my case as well as I can and I believe my reasoning is clear. Because this is discussion is mostly rehashing what we have already discussed I'm going to leave it there."
    Yes, you really can't do better than that.

    My personal opinion was that the tone, from very early on, was negative - I read the first few posts and decided that I would not be contributing to the thread.
    And that's a fine personal choice, yet my point has been, that thread was extremely productive all the same, "negative tone" notwithstanding. Remarkable, actually, because you will rarely find an example where common sources get something so misleading to so many people, as was clearly demonstrated in that thread. You just have to read the posts of the ones who did get something out of it to see that, the facts are quite clear there.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-03 at 10:01 AM.

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    I learned a lot from that thread even starting as one who thought he knew about gases. There were two reasons, one was the elucidation given by one expert and the other was the confusion of another which forced me to clarify my own views. For me it ended too soon because there are further details that i would like to pursue, namely spin and boundary layers, so perhaps there will be more gassing in the future.
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    I was profoundly and utterly confused when I delved into the thread, and I felt the long and contentious back and forths just obscured the issue for me. I'll also note that above, Ken is comparing the reaction and closing of the thread to how ATM is moderated. I think that's key (or a key) here: the thread was NOT in ATM, and in fact was brushing on running afoul of ATM out-of-bounds rules for the forum. Maybe the responses weren't ad hominem, but the sure seemed to be 2 people bickering and getting a little "het up" at one another - regardless of what might have meant or how one meant to say it. I completely understand why the thread was closed, and the sarcastic (and not deleted) mod comment was actually quite nicely done and captured exactly what I was thinking and feeling about the exchange. I thought it was done tongue-in-cheek and served to highlight how the posters seemed to acting.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    I'm not comparing how they are moderated, I'm comparing how the standard of politeness is applied. That's quite a different matter-- nowhere in the ATM rules does it say there is a different standard for that in ATM. Whether one wishes to say there was "bickering" or "hetting up", I suppose that depends on how one defines those words. There was certainly a debate, and the statements being made were so contradictory that you really couldn't have two people who both understood gases, so it was logically necessary that at least one had to be quite confused. But where does it say bickering and hetting up have different rules in ATM? (And as for whether or not the thread was running into any ATM elements, that requires that you understand the physics in it. Sources can be wrong, and can disagree with each other-- I thought everyone knew that by now. If someone is going to say a source is wrong, and doesn't want to do it in ATM, they had better have a good argument their point is not ATM. I did.)
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-03 at 01:51 PM.

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    I think the mods on this site do a very good job considering that mainstream science covers such a wide variety of disciplines. The mod post mentioned here rates at most 1 on a scale out of 100 in my experience with science forums and mod dummy spits. If you have ever seen a ballistic mod dummy spit you will know what I mean.

    I also understand that many of the greatest historic achievements of mainstream science were made by building bridges between one or more of these disciplines.

    I suppose the best advantage of building a good bridge is that it allows traffic, from both sides, to get over it.

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I'm not comparing how they are moderated, I'm comparing how the standard of politeness is applied. That's quite a different matter-- nowhere in the ATM rules does it say there is a different standard for that in ATM.
    Then report bad behaviour, don't emulate it.

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    Actually, I don't mind the behavior, because all I care about is getting to the truth-- so I never report anything. My only point is that I've noticed it is common on this forum for people to feel justified in poor behavior when they know they are right and the other person is misguided, confused, and stubborn, and they only report when the shoe is on the other foot. I suppose that's just human nature, and I fall into it as well. So what is emerging is, the need to have good behavior, even when we know we are right and the other person is holding to the same disproven arguments.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Jan-03 at 03:18 PM.

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    Often those that demonstrate an incorrigible ATM scientific view will, appropriately, bring a mod's post to telling them to take it to the ATM forum. It didn't happen in the gas thread and I can kinda see why given the complexity of the gas laws (at least for me, initially) but it eventually became fairly clear that one poster was far less willing to engage in discourse that would advance their viewpoint, a viewpoint that apparently is ATM. So, I'm curious, why this warning didn't happen? I ask because this (gas press. thread) might be one of those gray areas where some sort of, say, 5-post per person limit be established and imposed to allow the poster to demonstrate that they don't have an ATM position, thus avoiding rising ad hominem levels and also allowing mods to not have to be on the level of Einstein.
    Last edited by George; 2019-Jan-03 at 03:26 PM.
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    What was tricky in that thread was that there really weren't any ATM ideas posted, there was quoting of sources that were misleading, coupled with just plain errors in interpretation. It's not really ATM to be wrong. But avoiding repetition is probably the best approach, where you just say, the argument being espoused is wrong and it has been explained why it's wrong, so there's no point in repeating. In fact, that's basically what happened in that thread, but there were other people with legitimate questions, so the debate was rekindled. Actually, rather than seeing that thread as some kind of forum failure, I think it was actually a resounding forum success. How many forums contain a thread that clearly demonstrate a common misconception espoused by many elementary sources that seem authoritative? It doesn't happen every day, and many forums simply don't permit the latitude to explore such a situation. The offending tone elements have been addressed, but they were still only a tiny fraction of what's in that thread. It's an opportunity to correct a misconception about gas pressure that most people would fall under if they simply follow the natural course of consulting sources. I think that's worth quite a lot.

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    There has been no formal moderator discussion about the content of the thread. There has been no report that I remember concerning the thread alerting us to possible ATM content.

    There has been discussion, more than once, about the behavior of some members in the thread, and there have been reports about the behavior of some members in the thread.

    My personal view glancing over the contents of the thread was not that there was an obvious ATM position to defend (or to report for discussion), but a rather clumsy mess of comparing different views based on different assumptions, apparently no easily resolvable situation to make everyone happy. Instead of letting it get completely out of hand, a likely outcome considering the previously ignored moderator interventions, a decision to close seemed prudent, and IMHO, preferable to handing out several infraction points to more than one member.

    I'll let you make up your own minds whether it is more important to correct or stop unwanted behavior, or to "punish" it (with infractions), and whether or not anyone "got away" with something. I'm not very interested in that kind of discussion in this situation, with only usually good behaving long time members, versus fly-by ATM proponents with several chips on shoulders and axes to grind.
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    The question was actually quite simple: is gas pressure better thought of as a property of a gas, or a property of an interaction between a gas and a wall? The question has a very simple answer, clearly elucidated in the thread. But not everyone sees it that way, it would seem. Sometimes a clear answer is not the same as one easily arrived at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The question was actually quite simple: is gas pressure better thought of as a property of a gas, or a property of an interaction between a gas and a wall? The question has a very simple answer, clearly elucidated in the thread. But not everyone sees it that way, it would seem. Sometimes a clear answer is not the same as one easily arrived at.
    I found it interesting since it seemed to me to that it initially was about the comparison between a more engineering approach (gas efficacy) and the broader definition by physics. But it became more of one versus another, warranting a mod's intervention given the likely growing level of ad hominems.

    Perhaps the suggestion of a 3, 4 or 5-post limit at some point to summarize before thread ending is still a possibility of a procedure to consider. If so, normal payment will be fine (an ice cream sundae).
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