Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back!

Postby torbjon » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:06 pm

Chorlton wrote:
Not a single "WOW" if any intelligence was transmitting anything it wouldnt be a single signal, it would be a repeated signal


It's stuff like this that I have to take exception with... Basically what I'm hearing here Chorlton is that you are willing to state with absolute certainty how another living creature, be it human or non human, is going to react to a given situation... I have a hard time accepting that as 'scientific'.

"it would be a repeated signal"

Really? Interesting... I have the distinct impression that that statement is filtered through Human emotions and not detached logic.

When pondering the "little green men from Mars" scenario something to perhaps look into is terrestrial animal psychology and behavioral sciences... An octopus is an incredibly 'alien' type creature, yet very similar to us... (large brain, stereo vision, versatile limbs)

There's a wealth of 'alien' type life forms on this planet which are availible for study and Need to be studied in order to better understand possible actions / reactions of other 'alien' type life forms, don't you think?
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back!

Postby Chorlton » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:26 am

torbjon wrote:
Chorlton wrote:
Not a single "WOW" if any intelligence was transmitting anything it wouldnt be a single signal, it would be a repeated signal


It's stuff like this that I have to take exception with... Basically what I'm hearing here Chorlton is that you are willing to state with absolute certainty how another living creature, be it human or non human, is going to react to a given situation... I have a hard time accepting that as 'scientific'.
"it would be a repeated signal"
Really? Interesting... I have the distinct impression that that statement is filtered through Human emotions and not detached logic.


No not really. Any intelligent life form able to build any means of communications would be intelligent enough to realise that communications depend on more than one syllable, word etc.. Granted it might have been a microburst that hasnt been decoded yet but I doubt it.
Just take earth bound lifeforms. Name me one that makes a single sound in its lifetime then goes quiet?
All lifeforms make constant sounds, for communications, for warnings, for food, for mating. Even some plants make noises.
So I think its pretty fairto say that and non earth bound life form trying to communicate outside of its own world would make more than just one noise in a millenia, then stop. I suspect it was probably something natural occuring somewhere out there, same as we get noises and vague radio signals from earthqualkes and volcano's

When pondering the "little green men from Mars" scenario something to perhaps look into is terrestrial animal psychology and behavioral sciences... An octopus is an incredibly 'alien' type creature, yet very similar to us... (large brain, stereo vision, versatile limbs)
There's a wealth of 'alien' type life forms on this planet which are availible for study and Need to be studied in order to better understand possible actions / reactions of other 'alien' type life forms, don't you think?
[/quote]

Yes I agree wholeheartedly, but see above, none of those are, in my and other peoples opinions trying to contact us.
OK so beings on another planet might not be trying to contact us, but as stated even some inanimate objects make random noise, rather than just a single signal, and even this planet with the movement of the earths plates creates radio signals, so I would be more inclined to think that what was heard in the "wow" signal was just another planet going about its business.
Now given two "WOWS" I suspect others would have paid a little more attention.

But its nice to think that a Daffodil on Ursa Major could have learned to speak ? (sarcasm there)
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back!

Postby torbjon » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:09 pm

Actually, it's not so much the WOW signal (I too have my doubts about that one) but rather just the prevailing and generic concept of "this is how another living thing will react" that so many people seem comfortable with that I take issue with. That and the concept of 'intelligence'... many people seem to be under the impression that 'intelligence' equates to the ability to make Napalm and then use it to burn women, children, houses and villages to the ground, ergo that big brained creature with the sophisticated linguistic system that does Nothing but muck about in the water all day eating fish and having a good time is Not Intelligent... I have a problem with this.

Not slamming you comrade but something I've seen a lot in my life is the concept that "an intelligence trying to contact us would do this, and we, being intelligent ourselves, would recognize that as an attempt to communicate" and my experiences with other creatures on this planet (which I perceive to be 'intelligent') leads me to believe that that is simply not the case.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back!

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:20 pm

torbjon wrote:Not slamming you comrade but something I've seen a lot in my life is the concept that "an intelligence trying to contact us would do this, and we, being intelligent ourselves, would recognize that as an attempt to communicate" and my experiences with other creatures on this planet (which I perceive to be 'intelligent') leads me to believe that that is simply not the case.

Does that make sense?


I agree, and wish to add: Intelligence is a spectrum, just like all other continuous phenomenon in the universe. It is NOT a discrete function, nor even a step function (one thing is not intelligent, while the next highest thing is). In fact, it is because of the very fact that intelligence is a continuum that we have such a hard time pinpointing a test for intelligence. While the Turing Test may be the best we have for now, it is certainly woefully inadequate because it excludes organisms that do not possess "our type" of language and dexterity skills. By the Turing Test we would conclude my dog is not intelligent. But Golden Retrievers are one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs there are.

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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Access Denied » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:49 am

Good point Ray.

Chorlton wrote:I see no point in SETI. whilst I understand that we have to start looking for another planet for Homo Sapiens to move to in the future, it hurts me to see people living in developed countries in squalor.

That’s certainly understandable… and you’re not alone, NASA cancelled the program as some felt NASA had more important things to do with their measly 1% of the total federal budget.

Seems to me we need to have a balance of both… and aren’t doing the best we could at either.

Chorlton wrote:So I think its pretty fair to say that and non earth bound life form trying to communicate outside of its own world would make more than just one noise in a millenia, then stop.

I have to agree but what if it was part of a systematic targeting of stars one by one which is more efficient for a given power output capability? What if they retransmitted when we weren’t looking? I mean hell, maybe their NASA cancelled the program before they had a chance to target us again because somebody decided it was a waste of money…

Torbjon and Ray have a point… we really don’t know what to expect… but again that’s the whole point of the experiment… to confirm or eliminate the possibility.

Chorlton wrote:I suspect it was probably something natural occuring somewhere out there, same as we get noises and vague radio signals from earthqualkes and volcano's.

Yep, could have been anything but an alien signal. We must be careful not to be so open minded that a) our brains fall out and b) we don’t waste precious time and resources.

Like you say, we’ve got enough problems in the world at is…

torbjon wrote:…many people seem to be under the impression that 'intelligence' equates to the ability to make Napalm and then use it to burn women, children, houses and villages to the ground…

Obviously we’re not that intelligent. I think the most intelligent weapon we could possibly hope to create would be the one we never had to use... unfortunately without weapons we have no way of defending ourselves from those who have no problem imposing their will upon others.

torbjon wrote:…ergo that big brained creature with the sophisticated linguistic system that does Nothing but muck about in the water all day eating fish and having a good time is Not Intelligent... I have a problem with this.

I’m glad you brought this up, perhaps a subject for another thread but I remember reading a fairly well written (from a scientific standpoint) article (wish I could find it again) about the possibility that our particular form of intelligence may be a mutation that may eventually be naturally “deselected” as unfit… in fact there may be signs we’re devolving already which might explain certain things.

Everybody (OK not everybody) just assumes technology will save ourselves from overpopulation and a host of other potential showstoppers, including ourselves, but maybe that’s why we appear to be alone…

Then again, I have to wonder why we seem so compelled to reach for the stars… certainly we’ve been driven to explore and expand ever since we left Africa.

[sigh]

These any many other questions Man has pondered through the centuries…


P.S. I changed the title of this thread to more accurately reflect the resulting discussion.
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Zep Tepi » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:17 pm

I have a half-finished article (from last year!) on the Wow signal. I've been meaning to finish it but I never seem to get around to it. There's always so many different things to do these days lol

The Olympics being on certainly doesn't help, neither does the start of the new footy season this past weekend either! I'll dig it out and see how much work needs doing. I did an email interview with the guy who discovered the signal, I can't believe I let that one drop! I'll let you guys know if it will make an appearance any time soon.

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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Access Denied » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:13 am

Cool Steve, it would be interesting to hear what Dr. Ehman had to say. Was your interview before or after his “30th Anniversary Report” around this time last year?

http://www.bigear.org/Wow30th/wow30th.htm

He’s changed his position somewhat in the last 30 years…

Thus, since all of the possibilities of a terrestrial origin have been either ruled out or seem improbable, and since the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin has not been able to be ruled out, I must conclude that an ETI (ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) might have sent the signal that we received as the Wow! source. The fact that we saw the signal in only one beam could be due to an ETI sending a beacon signal in our direction and then sending it in another direction that we couldn't detect. Of course, being a scientist, I await the reception of additional signals like the Wow! source that are able to be received and analyzed by many observatories. Thus, I must state that the origin of the Wow! signal is still an open question for me. There is simply too little data to draw many conclusions. In other words, as I stated above, I choose not to "draw vast conclusions from 'half-vast' data".

Frustrating no doubt…
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Chorlton » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:43 am

Pretty much as I see it. The jury is out or awaiting more evidence.

What's always worried me is that we go many light years to find life, then find a planet covered in Turnips ! :?
Worse ! it could be peopled by Geordies and then we'd never understand what they were saying ! :lol:
"Wi coom in piss fre aal mankynd, ya knoos "

(For people outside the UK. a Geordie translator http://www.geordie.org.uk/ )
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby JayKew » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:44 pm

Mr Tepi wrote ......

I have a half-finished article (from last year!) on the Wow signal. I've been meaning to finish it but I never seem to get around to it. There's always so many different things to do these days lol

The Olympics being on certainly doesn't help, neither does the start of the new footy season this past weekend either! I'll dig it out and see how much work needs doing. I did an email interview with the guy who discovered the signal, I can't believe I let that one drop! I'll let you guys know if it will make an appearance any time soon.

Cheers,
Steve



C`mon Steve get your arse in gear mate and get this "Wow" article on the forum.

The football season !!! yippee !! Whats your team ?? Any ideas of my team ??? :cry:
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Zep Tepi » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:28 pm

Haha, I will, I will...

As for your team, I would say Everton based on the fact that the player in your avatar looks suspiciously like Bob Latchford and the stadium looks like Goodison Park in the late seventies. Hmm, come to think of it, that goalie looks like Bonetti of Chelsea way back when. Why an avatar of Bob Latchford in the late seventies... Aha! Is that the game he won a newspaper prize for reaching 30 goals in a season? I bet it is :)

Why the tears though? 2-3 at home ain't that bad! Against our next opponents no less :shock:

As for my team, a cursory look in the chit-chat forum should reveal all. Hint, we beat Fulham 2-1 at home in our first ever game in the Premiership at the weekend ;)

COME ON YOU 'UUUUUULL!

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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Access Denied » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:58 am

While gathering my thoughts in response to the Weirdo Aliens thread started by Mojo, I was reminded of the
Life As We Do Not Know It thread I started on ATS nearly two years ago in my incarnation as “Saviour Of the Real”.

[SOTR was a nod to the killer track of the same name by Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) on his solo album “Fused” but I digress] :twisted:

:rockerdude:

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is thanks to Mojo I found the article I mentioned earlier in this thread…

Access Denied wrote:
torbjon wrote:…ergo that big brained creature with the sophisticated linguistic system that does Nothing but muck about in the water all day eating fish and having a good time is Not Intelligent... I have a problem with this.

I’m glad you brought this up, perhaps a subject for another thread but I remember reading a fairly well written (from a scientific standpoint) article (wish I could find it again) about the possibility that our particular form of intelligence may be a mutation that may eventually be naturally “deselected” as unfit… in fact there may be signs we’re devolving already which might explain certain things.

Turns out I had linked to it in my thread on ATS…

Planet of the brainy apes
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/ ... 22756.aspx

[emphasis mine]

Science-fiction tales often fast-forward the pace of evolution to create the big-brained humans of the future - or, for that matter, the big-brained chimps of "The Planet of the Apes." Research published this week in the journal PLoS Biology, however, argues that the more complex your brain gets, the harder it is to evolve further. The subject could have implications for speculation into the future of intelligence.

[snip]

The argument against accelerated brain evolution laid out in PLOS Biology has more to do with genetics than mechanics: Researchers compared the pace of evolutionary change in humans and chimpanzees as well as macaque monkeys and mice - and they found that the brainier species exhibited a significantly slower rate of change in genes expressed exclusively in the brain.

"The more complex the brain, it seems, the more difficult it becomes for brain genes to change," the University of Chicago's Chung-I Wu said in a university news release. Why is that? The researchers speculate that with a system as complex as the human brain (or, for that matter, the chimp brain), a mutation is more likely to screw something up than to make it better.

The article continues…

Does that mean that we're pretty much stuck with the brains we have? Well, we can always use them more efficiently - and perhaps even augment them electronically. (Imagine a Bluetooth-enabled Google/Babelfish brain implant, for example.) Come to think of it, the same situation might hold for chimpanzees.

Over the years, scientists have gone back and forth on the genetic similarities between chimps and humans. Last year, geneticists determined that the two species' genomes were 96 percent identical - while last month, another research group said the earlier study overestimated the similarities somewhat.

Could the intelligence of other species be enhanced? Should humans help?

Kind of makes me wonder why more species aren’t as “smart” as us… are we too “smart” (dependant on technology) for our own good?

I continued…

Access Denied wrote:Everybody (OK not everybody) just assumes technology will save ourselves from overpopulation and a host of other potential showstoppers, including ourselves, but maybe that’s why we appear to be alone…

There is some evidence to suggest we may have barely survived the last extinction level event…

Toba catastrophe theory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory

According to the Toba catastrophe theory, 70,000 to 75,000 years ago a supervolcanic event at Lake Toba, on Sumatra, reduced the world's human population to 10,000 or even a mere 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a bottleneck in human evolution.

Also, while I’m at it, I’d like to qualify something else I said earlier in this thread in case anybody got the impression I was totally out in left field…

[key word “totally” lol]

Access Denied wrote:You are correct, there is no evidence we arrived here from elsewhere and there’s ample evidence to show mankind evolved here. That said, until we understand exactly how life began here, there remains a (slim) possibility that the seeds (or “sparks’) of life (or alternatively the cause of evolutionary “leaps”) arrived here from elsewhere…

The evolutionary “leaps” I refer to is not to be confused with the “missing link” which we know doesn’t exist except as gaps in the fossil record. The debate surrounding the “Great Leap Forward” is the one that interests me…

Behavioral modernity

[emphasis mine]

Behavioural modernity is a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a list of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on abstract thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language[citation needed].

There are two main theories regarding when modern human behavior emerged. One theory holds that behavioral modernity occurred as a sudden event some 50kya, possibly as a result of a major genetic mutation or as a result of a biological reorganization of the brain. Proponents of this theory refer to this event as the Great Leap Forward or the Upper Paleolithic Revolution.

The second theory holds that there was never any single technological or cognitive revolution. Proponents of this view argue that modern human behavior is basically the result of the gradual accumulation of knowledge, skills and culture occurring over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution.

If the second theory is the case, why haven’t any other species crossed this threshold?

When I refereed to the possibility of the cause of evolutionary leaps possibly being “seeded” from elsewhere, a review of the known causes for genetic mutations may indicate some possible candidates…

Mutation

Mutations can be caused by copying errors in the genetic material during cell division, by exposure to ultraviolet or ionizing radiation, chemical mutagens, or viruses, or can occur deliberately under cellular control during processes such as hypermutation.

For example, could viruses have arrived from elsewhere?

Virus

Opinions differ on whether viruses are a form of life, or organic structures which interact with living organisms. They have been described as "organisms at the edge of life", and they resemble organisms in that they possess genes and evolve by natural selection. They reproduce by creating multiple copies of themselves through self-assembly. The United States Code classifies them as microorganisms in the sense of biological weaponry and malicious use.

However, although they have genes, they do not have a cell structure, which is commonly held as the basic unit of life. Additionally, they do not self-metabolize, requiring a host cell to synthesize new products. They do not reproduce outside a host cell (though bacterial species such as Rickettsia and Chlamydia are considered living organisms despite the same limitation). Accepted forms of life use cell division to reproduce, whereas viruses spontaneously assemble within cells, which is analogous to the autonomous growth of non-living crystals. Virus self-assembly within host cells has implications for the study of the origin of life, as it lends credence to the hypothesis that life could have started as self-assembling organic molecules.

Sounds kind of alien to me…

Could we be an evolutionary “accident” and perhaps not a very good one thus explaining why we appear to be alone?

That would suck. 8)
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby lost_shaman » Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:14 am

Access Denied wrote:Behavioral modernity

[emphasis mine]

Behavioural modernity is a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a list of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on abstract thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language[citation needed].

There are two main theories regarding when modern human behavior emerged. One theory holds that behavioral modernity occurred as a sudden event some 50kya, possibly as a result of a major genetic mutation or as a result of a biological reorganization of the brain. Proponents of this theory refer to this event as the Great Leap Forward or the Upper Paleolithic Revolution.

The second theory holds that there was never any single technological or cognitive revolution. Proponents of this view argue that modern human behavior is basically the result of the gradual accumulation of knowledge, skills and culture occurring over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution.

If the second theory is the case, why haven’t any other species crossed this threshold?


Wiki is probably not the best source for reference. Possibly a bit misleading in that there seems to be somewhat of a consensus now that Neandertals were also basically capable of all these abilities that H. Sapenins began to exhibit ~ 50kya.

It seems to me the current view would tend to characterize the Upper Paleolithic revolution as being a cultural trend H. Sapiens followed rather than a biological or cognitive evolutionary change.


Tech-savvy Neanderthals couldn't blame their tools
Link

A slew of recent studies have argued that the not-quite modern humans hunted, painted and communicated like their Homo sapiens cousins. Now new research suggests that Neanderthal technology was at least as good as that of early humans.

For most of the Stone Age, Homo sapiens and neanderthalensis both made disc-shaped stone tools called "flakes," says Metin Eren, an experimental archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. But around 40,000 years ago humans in Europe began exclusively producing rectangular blades.

Some researchers have argued that this technological leap gave modern humans a decided advantage over Neanderthals, who went extinct in Europe around 28,000 years ago. They claimed that humans produced and wielded blade tools more efficiently than disc flakes.

"I put this to the test, I created thousands of tools," Eren says. He and his colleagues focused on the process of creating the tools, not just the final product.

Tough tools

Disc flakes, Eren's team discovered, waste less rock, suffer fewer breaks and have more cutting edge for their mass compared with straight blades.

"We found that with every respect the Neanderthal technology was just as efficient, if not slightly more efficient, than modern Homo sapiens blade technology," he says. "This was a very strong indication that Neanderthals did not go extinct because of any cognitive inferiority."


AD, that reminds me of what you quoted in your post ... "a mutation is more likely to screw something up than to make it better." It could very well be true that our ancestors were the "screw-ups" that H. neanderthalensis left behind in Africa as they themselves went on hundreds of thousands of years ago to populate Eurasia and the Middle East. If the above article is correct then it suggests that H. Sapeins may have simply preferred local cultural traditions over efficiency in design and production of tools rather than experiencing an Evolutionary or Biological change for the better.

This also seems to answer your question... " are we too “smart”?"

Kind of makes me wonder why more species aren’t as “smart” as us… are we too “smart” (dependant on technology) for our own good?


The answer could very well be "No" we are not "too smart" but just 'Dumb enough' to accept and adopt new and more complicated ideas.
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Access Denied » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:51 pm

lost_shaman wrote:Wiki is probably not the best source for reference.

No, it probably isn’t, but it is convenient. :) Did you check any of the citations?

lost_shaman wrote:Tech-savvy Neanderthals couldn't blame their tools

My point exactly. :D

Here’s some articles you can read to familiarize yourself with the debate…

When Did "Modern" Behavior Emerge in Humans?
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... gins2.html

No Last Word on Language Origins
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/f ... 455?ck=nck
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby lost_shaman » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:17 am

Access Denied wrote: Did you check any of the citations?


Did you check any of them? One of the four relevant to what you copy/pasted from Wiki on this thread supports the position of my post above.

Access Denied wrote:
lost_shaman wrote:Tech-savvy Neanderthals couldn't blame their tools

My point exactly. :D


How is that AD? How does that make your "point exactly"?

If it is the Tools that "Revolution" proponents point to as a major slice of the "Revolution" Pie, the article I quoted said that the Neanderthal lithic Tools generated less waste and were just as efficient if not slightly more efficient and durable than the new Tools H. Sapiens introduced into the European landscape roughly 50 ka.

What I find important is NOT that Neanderthals can't "blame" their Tools for their own extinction, but that H. Sapiens can't claim that the Neanderthal extinction was due to our "superior" lithic technology! The latter idea seems to be a falsehood in that there is no clear advantage that's obvious for an individual to spend several minutes or even hours to knapp a long, brittle, knife blade when a simple knife blade that's just as good can be knocked off a core at will as needed.

The point being we can simply blame cultural, social or even population densities to explain the rise of H. Sapiens rather than some unexplained miracle of Biological or Cognitive evolution.



Access Denied wrote:Here’s some articles you can read to familiarize yourself with the debate…


As if I'm not familiar with the debate. :roll:

Maybe you're right AD. I should just cease and desist discussing this subject until I'm familiar with the Wikipedia reference you posted because Wiki is "convenient"! #-o =P~

BTW, have you ever thought about just dictating your opinions to others AD? It would save you Time and Effort. (Think how "convenient" that would be!) Who knows you might make a great Obergruppenfuhrer!
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Re: Seth Shostak Bites Back! (a SETI discussion)

Postby Access Denied » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:21 am

Straw man
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

1. Person A has position X.

2. Person B ignores X and instead presents position Y.

Y is a distorted version of X and can be set up in several ways, including:

1. Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent's position and then refuting it, thus giving the appearance that the opponent's actual position has been refuted.

2. Quoting an opponent's words out of context — i.e., choosing quotations that are not representative of the opponent's actual intentions (see contextomy and quote mining).

3. Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender and then refuting that person's arguments, thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.

4. Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, such that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.

5. Oversimplifying an opponent's argument, then attacking the simplified version.

3. Person B attacks position Y.

4. Person B draws a conclusion that X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself.

FFF

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