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Found 23 results

  1. I have studied Kopaka in depth and decided to post a topic on the most controversial and talked about things about him, including personality, old vs. new, weapons, looks... New vs. Old Armour: 2001 white w/ Ltgrey 2002 white grey silver 2008 white grey silver titanium 2015 white gold blue silver Mask: 2001 standard Akaku 2002 Akaku Nuva 2008 Adaptive armour Akaku Nuva 2015 Mask of Ice Weapons: 2001 sword and buckler 2002 sword/spear/ski combo and shield 2008 midak skyblaster w/ ice bayonet 2015 spear and shield/ski/sword combo Personality: Old Kopaka is cold, aloof, and anti-social. He prefers to work alone, and only agrees to team up with others when needed, and simply leaves company when his presence is no longer required. While he does see the importance of teamwork, he still feels uncomfortable by it. Kopaka and Tahu often clashed and disagreed on personal view-points and decisions, though both have begun building a respect for each other over time. After continuously working together with his team, Kopaka has matured, developing a sense of appreciating unity. He has a peculiar friendship with Pohatu despite their opposing personalities, and is closely connected to his other teammates as well. As such, any of them coming to great harm is one of the few things that can set Kopaka off; his usually cold temper, when unleashed, can drive him to take on his enemies regardless of any personal harm he may suffer. An intellectual by nature, Kopaka has an excellent understanding of how things work, as well as very good analytical skills. He was known to spend time pondering mysteries in the Ko-Koro Sanctum. Kopaka has control over the element of Ice. He can freeze water, stop snow falling, whip up immense blizzards, cause avalanches, make the temperature drop, freeze his enemy into a solid chunk of ice, or unleash blasts of ice. After becoming a Toa Nuva, these abilities were greatly enhanced, and also allowed him to use Kanohi Nuva. quoted from Bioniclesector01's abilities and traits section New Kopaka is noble and reserved. Upholding his own strict moral code he strives to be perfect and always "do the right thing". A fact that often makes him appear formal and even cold in the eyes of others. Luckily Kopaka's clumsiness and his not too solid direction sense help the other heroes remember that, after all, Kopaka is just a Toa like them. quoted from Lego.com's Kopaka profile Kopaka is calm and reserved, due to his own strict moral code, and this outwardly austere attitude often makes him appear cold to his teammates. He is also a perfectionist, and the pressure he puts on himself often makes him seem cold to others. However, he is clumsy and has a poor sense of direction. quoted from Bioniclesector01's abilities and traits section MBTI type: INTJ NOW YOU COMMENT
  2. I have seen in many of the Kanohi canonization topics arguments for and against the Mask of Rahi Control to be included in the list for potential Kanohi. As suggested by bonesiii here, in this topic we will discuss and come up with an argument that we can present to Greg Farshtey on LMB. I also want to include some quick-links from BS01 for people that want to be a part of this debate: Kanohi DragonMask of Rahi ControlDwellers In DarknessKualus I personally think it would be fine that one of them has the mask, since it's described to work better on insects and that some Rahi have the willpower to resist control, evidence of this seems to be shown in Dwellers In Darkness, since there's no mention of Kualus using the mask during the Godzilla Kanohi Dragon & Tahtorak situation. Happy debating!
  3. Kakaru

    O BZPower

    Basically, BZPower is like a big gasoline engine. It runs smoothly, makes a lot of noise, but does what it's supposed to. Inside that engine are a whole lot of different components doing different things in unison to keep it all together. Oh, and it runs on flammable liquid, which is great when kept contained. Some people like to open up the gas tank fueling the engine to analyze the gas inside in a civil manner, then some other people like to run in, dump the gas all over themselves, and set themselves on fire, all while screaming misnomers at the rest of the engine.
  4. So a few "Bionicle will/won't return" debates have popped up, I want to know what you think of these debates? Please don't discuss whether or not you think Bionicle will return, just discuss what you think when you see these debates.
  5. I know, I know, this is one of those boomerang topics that come back again and again and again. ._.But is it just me, or is everything going even slower now that the forums are back? I can hardly find a topic where there's really anything to discuss, and there very few ones that do seem interesting maybe get a post or two within a week. Okaay, I probably exaggerated a bit.Maybe it's a lack of diversity. If I am not really interested in memes, I won't engage in a conversation revolving around them.Or maybe it's too much of "Post it here".I remember GD being a place where you could come and, well, discuss something. (And raise your post count, but that doesn't matter that much to me.)... or is it just me and everything's all fine the way it is?
  6. How to Disagree Well: Rule 1: Listen Fairly Recently I posted a short blog entry summing up four rules for how best to share opinions and disagree with other opinions in a positive, constructive way. I said that I didn't in that entry want to get wordy (one of the rules is about brevity, after all), but I do want to back up my views on these rules. So over the coming weeks or months () I will be doing four entries specifically expanding on the reasons for each of the rules. The four rules are: How to Disagree Well 1 Listen fairly 2 Avoid negative labels 3 Be concise 4 Speak your mind Today I'll look at Rule 1. Important points are bolded for optional skimming. Listening fairly seems like such an obvious thing -- but I see so often in debates/discussions that people don't really, truly make sure they're understanding the other person's words for what they meant. They often waste a lot of time and words arguing about it, but in the end it turns out they both already agree anyways, they simply weren't paying enough attention to understand that. We also tend to enter discussions with the idea that we want to communicate our point of view so everybody else understands it, because we feel it's very important -- because it is, after all, our view. But we often tend to forget the importance of understanding where the other person is coming from too, giving them the same honor we expect of others. Different people aren't naturally identical in their talents, focuses, tastes, experiences, etc. So often I see people assuming everybody else has the same starting point of them, smacking their heads against a wall when if they put themselves in the other person's shoes, they would have no trouble communicating. A worse mistake is to realize the other person is different, but sound judgemental, or even consciously believe they're "worse" than you because they're not the same. It's the age old mistake of discriminating against the different -- but it can apply to more than just the few things society tells us about like race or gender. It can apply even to specific opinions. That's not to say that different opinions are necessarily right -- yes, opinions CAN be wrong -- but I find it's much more likely that you'll convince someone to change their mind if they don't feel you're insulting them for having their own opinion. And maybe you'll discover it's more of a taste thing, so they're actually right to look at the world their way, for themselves. Judgementalism is also often wrong because we simply don't know everything. We may think we know that someone is "worse" than us because they don't have something we have, like knowledge of something, etc. And in some cases, maybe that's true. But I've seen countless situations where the judgemental person is actually the ignorant one, and by being judgemental, they cut themselves off from finding out what the other person knows. Also often we assume they are doing something wrong just because it isn't what we would do, without realizing that other people with their own talents, actually have a duty to use their own talents in their own best ways, not to try to mimic someone else whose talents they don't have. Have you ever heard the figure of speech, "I don't understand" used while condemning someone? It's pretty common in today's society, and you've probably used it yourself. I would submit that it's more than just a figure of speech, though, and it may indicate a very bad mindset. That if you don't understand someone, you have the right to condemn them. Think about it -- shouldn't it be the other way around? If you really don't understand, then how can you dare to use a judgemental tone? (And again, you can never be totally certain you understand, and judgementalism is IMO always wrong, but that's another debate.) I think that figure of speech started out with good intentions -- "I disagree with you but I don't understand your opinion fully so I can't be confident of this." In that tone, it can be conciliatory, but so often people don't at all mean it in kindness. Again, this is not to say others can't be wrong, or be failing to listen fairly to you. Certainly we can all make mistakes. But before we can really "judge", we need to be careful about making sure we understand the other person. In the vast majority of cases, I find there to be no serious disagreement in the end when this is done. And when there is, both sides understand the other far better, and walk away with the experience being much more pleasant, thus more likely for both to change their minds to the truth, whatever it is. Another thing is that, if you're not a good listener, people are going to pick up on that, and avoid telling you things, even things you might need to know or that might make you happier or whatever. I know a lot of people like that, and they simply go through life completely unaware of a sort of sub-realm to reality, full of beneficial things, serious things, sad things, happy things, interesting things, etc. all because they are really bad at listening. It's often like watching Muggles from Harry Potter -- and yes, it's often laughable at their expense. Not that making fun of people is good or anything, but sometimes it's just impossible not to laugh lol. (It's also often very sad...) If you don't listen well, you may find that's you. But if you simply listen, people tell you all kinds of things naturally, usually with no hesitation, and you'll find a whole 'nother vivid world underneath the blurry fog of the bland one the "bad listeners" see. Now what do I mean by fairly? Well, it's hard to pin that down. I think a big part of it is, if you have even the slightest doubt as to whether you actually understood what they meant, don't get huffy, don't go all "are you saying I'm evil??!?" or the like. Simply remain calm and friendly and ask them if they could explain more clearly what they meant. If they don't respond, think objectively about what they probably really did mean -- continue to avoid the temptation just to assume the worst (or the best for that matter; be realistic). Reacting to uncertainty with paranoia, in most situations of conversation (especially in person where anger can lead to fists, or on websites like this where flaming gets you banned ), usually just knocks the whole debate off-balance, so you can never recover the atmosphere of calm and friendly discussion you had earlier. And it's usually based on nothing substantial, but the other person then gets miffed that you dared to accuse them of saying such a thing, and now both of you are riled and not in a mood to work together anymore. Is it a fair concern that they MIGHT have meant to insult you? Sure, but it's best to keep it to yourself. Because if it isn't true, reacting with paranoia kinda makes the accusation true later to some extent. (More about this under Rule 2 later.) Fairly also means you extend to them the same rights you claim for yourself. Most novices at conversation enter with the intent of convincing others of their own point of view, for example, yet they contradict themselves by also going in with the stubborn idea of refusing to be convinced of others' points of view, even if the others show that they should be convinced. Well, if you aren't going to listen, don't expect anyone else to either. That doesn't mean you flipflip like a leaf everytime somebody seems to show proof that they're right. Often in debates we don't know the right things to say to defend our point of view, so we might seem like the "loser", but later we'll realize what we should have said. So don't just go "oh I was wrong" at every opportunity. Still, consider their reasoning. Don't ignore it. Think it through. If you're truly doing that fairly, you'll probably know it. Perhaps the coolest benefit to listening fairly is that often you will subconsciously motivate the other person to actually make your argument for you! I have had the awesome experience of this many times, especially recently as I've tried harder to listen. I will be trying to convince someone of a point they originally seemed to miss, but I do it in just the right way so that I don't make the actual point -- I lead them to make it for me. It's hard to explain how to do it exactly, it's more of an intuitive thing, but I have noticed what method never works. You might assume that the fastest way to get someone to see your point of view is to simply state it outright, give the reasons why, and just in general "speech at them." (Let's call this "Approach A".) With some people, sure, that works great. And in situations like writing an in-depth blog entry like this, an article, even posts to some extent, that's valid. But what I've often found lately is that with personalities who tend to be more confrontational by nature, that is actually the slowest method. When they understand right away clearly what your opinion is, they tend to play the role of Mr. Contrarian and take the opposite view -- they might not actually believe what they're saying, but they just can't help it. The urge to debate and disagree is in some personalities very strong (I know because that is how I naturally am; I've always been the one to want to go against the crowd, never with, and I recognize it in many online and in real life too... I think you of whom this is true know who you are ). But when you focus more on listening to them, asking them to explain what they believe, you basically force them to go on record saying things that you agree with, more times than not. So the approach of listening first provides more common ground from which you can then extrapolate the truth in the matters that they do go on record disagreeing with. (Whether that truth is on their side or yours is another matter, though, and of course two people can agree about something and both can be wrong.) More than once I have tried debating the same issue with the very same person, separated over time, but in two different ways. When I try it as "explain myself clearly first and then listen", they side against Opinion X, but when I try it as "listen to them first and then speak", the very same person will say they believe in and defend Opinion X. Often they seem unaware that they've moved around to saying just what I was arguing for; they do it with that same controntational attitude, so they seemingly think they're disagreeing with me. But then, once they're on record saying it, I can move in with agreement and explain clearly why they were right to say that. After that, they can't backtrack without clearly contradicting themselves, and most won't. Unfortunately, the method required to make this work is exactly the wrong method for the vast majority of others, who may misunderstand your initial questioning as actually supporting exactly what you don't agree with. This is especially difficult in a forum debate like the many that go on here on BZPower -- if Person A sees you using Approach A, it works for them, but if Person B sees it, it "taints the argument" so that you can't try Approach B on them either, and you've basically lost Person B. You'll still win the majority and win overall, but you will fail to convince everybody. This should not happen -- everybody should at all times be willing to fairly consider the truth regardless of the approach to get there, but that is, I guess, simply human nature. So personally I greatly prefer one-on-one conversations if it's possible. In real life, I rarely speak up in groups of three or more, for this and other reasons. This is especially true on more controversial (read: emotionally charged) discussions, of course. Maybe it can be done, but I haven't yet learned how so yeah. I should also note that forums (or larger groups in real life) have another great advantage. When you do get the other person to go on record saying something you believe is true, and you can move in with agreement, the social pressure of knowing everybody is watching helps prevent them from trying to wiggle out of it. So in some situations overall I think a public conversation can be best, but not universally. Often once I do this, I am met with mysterious silence by the 'contrarian' for a while. This seems to be a good indication they've either consciously or subconsciously realized they contradicted themselves and made your argument for you, meaning you've won that debate, but don't expect them to acknowledge it. Pride can be hard to swallow for any of us, unfortunately; few people seem to have learned the powerful skill of being able to admit they're wrong. If they do, that's a great honor rarely earned, so be sure to let them know you appreciate it! And don't go assuming you're right just because they fell silent either; it's possible something in Dreaded Real Life came up or whatnot. Absence of an opposing argument being given doesn't prove the original argument true, per se. Another downside is simply that there seems to be NO quick way to convince people with this mindset. I've always sorta hoped there was a way to rapidly convince anyone if a truth is well-established enough, and in some areas of life that does seem to hold true. Maybe it is true and I'm just still ignorant of that too, I dunno. But with the more contrarian point of view, convincing them of the truth you know seems like a time-consuming, lengthy process. So for them, the fastest way to convince them seems to be to begin strongly with listening fairly, and hope for this neato switcharound effect. The upside to this downside, though, is that it seems that over time, it doesn't matter much if a contrarian person has seen you use Approach A (fully explaining) in the distant past. Whether through forgetfulness, subconscious planting or frog-in-the-pan repetition effect, or just the time it may take to get over prideful stubbornness when proven wrong, I've found that people I worried were lost because they went on record as a contrarian against Approach A seem just as likely to side with Approach B. All it took was time. This is a lot slower than going out of your way to listen and ask them to elaborate, but at least it's good news in the end. (Even I have caught myself taking a long time to come around on things, heh, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me since I am contrarian by nature. On the other hand, after objective analysis the crowd really does seem to be wrong most of the time. XD So a certain healthy amount of reluctance to "flipflop" may actually be wise. *shrugs*) And keep in mind Rule 4: Speak your mind. I'll have a lot more to say on this when I do that entry, but for now it's enough to point out that even if it will take time for them to admit you're right, if you don't tell them your opinion, you'll just be wasting all that time. Best to start early, basically. So don't misunderstand -- I'm NOT saying you should keep any part of your opinion secret or anything, and obviously don't misrepresent yourself. (At least I hope that's obvious. ) What I am saying is that we should try to understand the other person and personalize how we speak to them in ways that are best for them, respecting their individuality. Now, all of these approaches have the potential to be abused to support opinions that aren't actually the truth. I like to think that the truth usually wins in the end, but it's a concern worth noting. I think the "fairly" part comes in there. Any abuse of tactics -- supporting a knowingly false opinion -- is not, by defination, fair, so would break this rule. Finally, the temptation might be to condemn those who require more listening to than others, but I ask instead that we be patient with it and try to understand why it's best to start with listening. After all, as much as I think it unwise and even a bit silly to pretend you believe something you don't just to be contrary, I myself am prone to that temptation. For me, due to basically luck in encountering the right information, it helped me realize we should be focused on finding the truth. But the opposite way of thinking can lead to that too or can also lead to naivete, and we shouldn't condemn each other for being different. Instead, we should encourage truth-seeking in debate, regardless of personality, and kindness. And who is to say that there isn't a contrarian in everybody? I don't know yet, but my running theory is that listening first is the wise course of action with everybody. Again, it's not always possible (someone has to speak first, or nothing is spoken; see Rule #4), but it should be our goal. So it is for that reason that I place listening fairly as Rule #1 -- and I do mean it as Step #1. Listen... then speak. Next up I'll look at Rule 2: Avoid negative labels. Comment/question/disagree/etc. here.
  7. How to Disagree Well: Rule 3: Be Concise Continuing my explanation of how to disagree well, today I'll look at rule 3. I know, it might seem so obvious there's no point in elaborating -- but there's a very important point here that might not seem obvious from a first glance that I think many BZPers need to hear. To restate, the four rules are: How to Disagree Well 1 Listen fairly 2 Avoid negative labels 3 Be concise 4 Speak your mind Important points are bolded for optional skimming. Let's jump right into the less obvious point first. And that is the issue of semantics. Many times I have encountered people who try to argue their perspective by picking out a key word in an opponent's argument, and nitpicking it to death, trying to argue to redefine it unnaturally, etc. But at the end of the day, they miss that the opponent was simply using the obvious, plain-English definition of the word. They spend a ton of words to really, in the end, just restate the exact same concept but with tons more words, and to try to enforce an awkward ban on using plain English. Bad idear. Instead, we should try to relax and read people's posts for how they probably obviously mean them, and almost take it on ourselves as a moral that we try to use and appreciate Plain English with a Capital P and E. If you're unsure how they meant it, ask, etc. That said, there IS such a thing as a poor word choice. But just to use two examples from recent topics (names shall not be included here), someone seemed to try to argue how to define down the exact details of the words "MOCability" and someone else did the same for the word "poseability". They came across as trying to arbitrarily ban some concepts from counting, so that others couldn't use those words to describe those concepts, based on their own personally preferred emphasis on other concepts. Neither are exactly normal English words. But if you relax and just ask "what do they mean by that?" you can intuitively understand what they meant by them. And word definitions are determined by usage anyways -- any dictionary will usually list multiple meanings for any given word, for example, and new develop all the time. What these members really meant was to simply say "I don't care personally as much about those aspects of MOCability or poseability; I focus more on these other aspects" and then list them. That could concisely get the point across without appearing to be argumentative. I don't blame those members for missing this. Instead I try to explain in this entry what the better way would have been. =D And the point is, in the end they spent many more words to say what could have been said with a few. Making walls of text. The elaborations were interesting -- don't get me wrong. There's nothing super wrong with this as long as everybody is civil and in the end they all realize what I just said up there. At the very least it can generate more posts, lol. But in practice, most people don't end up realizing that in the discussion and this is a good way for things to get antagonistic fast. People really don't like it when someone not only disagrees (which is their right), but appears to be trying to take even their own words away from them. It feels unfair to them, and for good reason, and many people don't know how to react to it. So they get angry. So avoid it yeah? Now -- you're probably shouting at the screen right now, "but bones, but bones, professors hate plain English? Should I be super concise and use only Plain English words in my term paper due tomorrow?" Well... yes and no. Frankly, a lot of teachers/professors have an attitude about the English language that isn't logical. They have an emotional desire to preserve "Standard Proper [read fancy-schancy ] English." And they loathe casual tones in papers. That said, it's their class. Let's just say I didn't get on the Dean's List at my college and get almost all As by putting this philosophy of mine into practice in school. That matters, so if you want the grade, do it their way. Also, there's something understandable and easy to sympathize with about someone wanting to preserve the variation of English they personally love. I put it in terms of dying languages. It's sad that knowledge of these languages is dying out and there's something admirable in someone who wants to preserve knowledge of it. That could be important for many reasons besides just cultural enrichment (okay, not really much enrichment in Professorspeak... but that's my bias maybe). At the very least, knowledge of past languages, dialects, or Standard Proper versions can help go back and understand things written in history, etc. Plus even I agree with Profersorspeak folks about certain rules of grammar which when violated make for harder-to-understand communication or just silly looking mistakes. (Like "there" versus "their" or using the apostrophe s when you mean plural.) There's something to be said for professionalism even while using Plain English. All that said, I do hope that one day Plain English will be embraced as Standard Proper English, along with a well-educated understanding of the benefit of immediately embracing the ongoing crafting of newer and better words and uses of words. While simultaneously documenting past incarnations of all speech and people learning old words just for variety, etc. The internet and computers are making that closer to a reality even as I type, heh. Beyond focusing on using Plain English (where currently appropriate, like on BZP posts where it's just casual discussion ), you can also be concise by being careful not to just repeat the same idea over and over. (Unless, possibly, you see that in discussion people missed that point, for example; it can be useful to repeat just that idea again, taking it out of all the other distracting points you'd previously raised.) I for example have a really bad habit (yeah, I know you know ) of saying the same idea three different ways throughout a post. Usually 'cuz I'm just typing on the fly and I kinda forgot I'd said it lol. And in my mind I DO think of many different ways to word it -- and that's good. But at the end of the day, often it's better to pick the most effective one and cut the rest, versus showing people multiple facets of it (though that has its uses ) and losing them due to Wallotextitis. Another very helpful idea is to watch your paragraph lengths and the "meter" of them. Paragraphs beyond four lines get very hard for human eyes to read. Break them up. Also, the occasional one-liner paragraph or nearly so makes posts much easier to read. And feel concise. Often what I do is I write a post, then I first go back and ask "does this paragraph have Wallotextitis? Yes, cut it up." Then I'll notice "hey, now the whole post seems long." And since it's now split up, it's easier for ME to see where I've repeated myself, and which wording I like best. Then I cut. Reorganize to improve the logicoemotive flow of it, and cut it so both the paragraphs AND the overall length are short. Ish. For spoken equivalent, it's basically something you gotta learn as you gain experience, how to do a mental equivalent of this before you speak. Develop an intuitive sense of the most concise ways to say things -- that'll help ALL your communication. And if you're still saying "But you've said HOW to be concise, now WHY?" at this point... that's basically it. Wallotextitis. It's a Plain English made-up word that describes the reason. Get it? 'Cuz I'm not gonna bother using it to explain it further. ------------THIS ENTRY BROUGHT TO YOU BY------------
  8. How to Disagree Well: Rule 2: Avoid negative labels Continuing the elaboration on my simple four-rule theory on effective disagreement, today I'll look at Rule 2. This is one that I think a lot of people could really use a better understanding of and to seriously experiment with putting it into practice. It's probably the most radically unusual concept in these four rules, and since I've tried using it almost universally about a year ago the results have been profoundly positive so I really hope people read this, if nothing else. To restate, the four rules are: How to Disagree Well 1 Listen fairly 2 Avoid negative labels 3 Be concise 4 Speak your mind Important points are bolded for optional skimming. Okay, so what do I mean by "negative labels"? Obviously, direct flaming would count under that. Flaming is essentially extremely negative labelling of someone or their actions without merit. A synonym is insulting. The problem is, different people, even experts on the concept of insulting, have different ideas about exactly where the line is drawn -- so everybody arbitrarily draws the line in different places. This causes all kinds of trouble beyond the problems with the insults themselves; this disagreement about where the line is. One thing most people agree on (which this rule actually challenges to some extent) is the idea that you can negatively label someone or an action without it being a clear insult. However, in my experience, true as that might be, when I strive to always try to find more positive ways to word things (i.e. a mistake instead of an evil action, or dislike / disagree with instead of hate), the results are almost always better. More on why I think this is in a moment, but first a caution. Notice that I said "avoid". Avoid does not mean "never label anything as a negative." There is a serious danger to just going around pretending everything's okay when it isn't. The stock example is, if you see a kid about to eat poison, it isn't harmful to label that action as bad (and try to stop the kid from eating it). If the kid really eats the poison, something bad really will happen even if people were to oddly try to label it positively. The loving person would of course want to stop that. There thus has to be some line where something really is a negative. But... that said, what if we usually misjudge where that line is? Most examples are murkier than the kid with poison case. One negative we should all be able to agree on is that all humans are capable of making mistakes and misjudgements. And we all have, at least if we've lived long enough to be reading this. So my advice is for all of us to increasingly challenge our own thinking, asking ourselves, "is this negative label I'm using here really judging the line in the best way?" Don't let pride force you into a rut where you have to continue on as you did before, or always defend whatever you've said before just because you've said it or you fear you might look bad if you admit you did something right (I've said a lot more about this in the past; it's what I call "The Confidence Trap"). Another important concept to remember is the difference between the realms of objective facts and morals -- and the subjective realms of personal taste. Something subjective can honestly feel "very bad" to someone. But we often make an understandable slip-up by wrongly assuming that means (per se ) that it's also morally or objectively wrong. (I.e. "LEGO should change this because I personally dislike it" which ignores that other people have their own tastes too. Honestly right now I think BZP mostly has this lesson learned well, though -- but from time to time newer members and the like can use a reminder. ) This rule would argue strongly against using such harsh negative labels, even for things we personally dislike. This can have benefits to the self -- it causes you to dwell less on negativity and have a more open mind. You might even find that the thing you thought about "hating" but now merely "dislike" is actually growing on you! But more to the point, you might actually 'hate' it, but people reading your posts (hearing you speak, etc.) might misunderstand and think you are hating anyone who has that personal taste. So it's best to use more sensitive words like "dislike." I know. I know. That feels so wrong to many people for various reasons. So many times I've run into people who basically look at this as downright silly, saying (for example) "I just dislike that toy" when you feel like you hate it. And it can be hard to change from being very negative to being very positive overnight. People I consider close friends just detest having to be polite. And I respect that attitude. I get it. I've been there. So I cannot in good conscience tell everybody you absolutely must do this "right now" or even ever per se. I don't know everything; maybe there's a time or a place (or a speaker ) for it. I just know that for me, when I don't follow this rule well I have concluded that I myself suffer, and I spread suffering to others... who are then much more likely to feel negatively and not friendly towards me, thus I end up suffering twice over. I am ashamed how often I have pushed people away on here who I admire, just by using so many negative labels in disagreeing with them. I sometimes almost wish I had gone around trying to agree with everyone just so I wouldn't lose them as friends (tried that too though and it usually just lets the bad ideas and emotions fester and worsen; more on that for Rule #4 with scientific backup ). It still torments me, because I see scars of my past failures still around despite my trying hard to reform my actions. So think about it, yeah? In any event, this rule is vague for a reason -- "avoid", but avoid however much you feel comfortable with, for now. About drawing the line somewhere, I've concluded from experience that the line (of what is negative that should be avoided, not what to call flaming per se, to be clear) is basically twofold: 1) Things your taste cause you to dislike, using gentle words in describing your dislike, and 2) Things you think are harmful to someone else as a moral mistake, using wordings that make that important distinction clear; that it's a mistake, unwise, etc. rather than evil or whatnot. Yes, there are things that are evil. That line's easy to draw in fiction, for example; there's no harm in saying "Makuta was evil; Greg confirmed it". But in real life... basically we're not telepathic and in most cases I now believe it's better to avoid calling it evil. The reason is, using a negative label like that on someone who's too far gone to come back makes sense... but it's so hard to know who can come back from evil and who cannot, yeah? You might be unwittingly making evil more likely to get worse or at least continue by appearing to imply someone can't reform from it. (Obviously, if you're in a life or death situation, that is generally different... although caution is often important there too. But a soldier deciding whether an enemy will shoot first if the soldier doesn't is different from the vast majority of other human experiences, where there's really no reason you MUST leap to the negative judgements.) Also, there is a very real, but little known psychological phenomenon in which by labelling something negative (usually with the intent of saying "hey, you're doing something wrong, fix it"), you can actaully MAKE it true, even if it wasn't, or at least solidify its truth. In other words, the person you're talking to often reacts -- even if subconsciously -- "So I'm [insert negative label here], am I? Okay. I'm fine with what I am, so I'm [insert label again]. And I'll stubbornly stick to it without even considering that I MIGHT be wrong." I like to call this "painting." It's called that often in common parlance, but people usually miss what it implies. Just like if you took a paintbrush and slapped paint on someone -- the paint would stick -- by applying that label, you can very easily do the opposite of trying to remove the label. You don't remove paint by adding more of the same paint. Just two more major points left. I have noticed soooo many times that someone who goes around using negative labels to try to at least make others see why they have their perspective -- if not convince others to agree with them -- fail miserably at convincing anyone. I've often wondered why this is -- and I've suffered it myself of course -- and I think I finally get it. It basically has two causes. One emotional, one logical. Point number one -- when people see you behaving so negatively (sometimes even while trying to argue for positive things!), subconsciously they think "this guy is miserable. I don't want to be like that. So I will disagree." Now that's not logical. That's not necessarily good "truthseeking." BUT it's a real psychological phenomenon, and fighting it is like fighting nature, yanno? But in this case, it actually has a logical grounding. Point two: The logical fallacy of Ad Hominem. Logic actually teaches that negatively labeling something does not logically argue for the labeler's conclusion. Now, caution: this doesn't necessarily mean the conclusion is wrong, merely that the reasoning used to reach it is wrong. There could be other reasoning all the people involved are missing that would prove the same conclusion. But when people see a logically invalid argument -- even when they aren't well educated in logic; these principles are built into the human psyche -- they're a lot less likely to agree with your conclusion even if their concern is logic rather than emotion. So here's where I end up with this. I do NOT tell you that this is necessarily the best way or say "do this." Instead I'd like yall to think of it like a challenge or an experiment. Try it! See if it works for you! And try it ever increasingly so, over a long time. Don't give up on it if it doesn't seem to be working right away -- it could be you're just not being quite positive enough. I betcha it can work for anybody. Comment thoughts (FTR, no mentioning of specific people involved in examples of such mistakes, okay?), questions, concerns, etc. Next entry on being concise probably will be up next week. Already have it written. ------------THIS ENTRY BROUGHT TO YOU BY------------
  9. Yo yo yall. Longtime readers of my blog might recall I have admitted that I have a problem with being condescending when disagreeing, and that I'm trying to improve. Well, I have something to report. I'm still struggling to find the right words to describe it, but I think at last I know what "it" is. I've tried to put it into a very concise list of "rules." I'll list them by themselves first. How to Disagree Well 1 Listen fairly 2 Avoid negative labels 3 Be concise 4 Speak your mind (If you like acronyms to help remember, "LABS".) I don't want to do a giant blog entry today, but I do have more to say about these, so instead I'm going to expand on each of the four rules in seperate blog entries to come. Obviously, when dealing with people, nothing is simple. These might not work in all situations, and there's a lot more I could add (much of it I've already repeated often though). But I've come to believe that if we all embrace and truly live out these four simple rules, the rest will flow naturally and we'll all be able to have a better community experience. And if you're wondering, yes, this is somewhat sparked by recent BZP events over the last year or so; these are four very important principles I have seen barely anyone saying much, and I feel it's time for a reminder. On the other hand, I've found them to work well in all walks of life whereever I have a disagreement, so, try it out regardless! At this point, I'm really in the "trying this" stage, but so far it seems to be working enough that I felt it was time to speak up. Perhaps more importantly, I've collected scientific research, psychological principles, and sound logic to back these things up. Stay tuned for more in-depth looks at these things.
  10. A while back, I posted an entry entitled "Friends Can Disagree." Inspired by something Dokuma said (with whom I have disagreed often ), it challenges the foolish and all too common feeling many people have that a friend is someone who agrees totally (or even mostly) with you (and so they turn cold... or worse... towards anyone who dares express a disagreement). Today I wanna take it a step farther. It has occured to me recently that only with a friend can you truly disagree. "But bones," you say, "there's this person I know, and we hate each other -- we disagree all the time! Are you saying we agree with enemies? Is that skull of yours empty?!" Of course, by a certain definition of "disagree", enemies can disagree. But I'm not here to argue about words -- what I wanna do here is give you my perspective on why you disagree, and what value you can take from talking to people with the right attitude. It comes down to a subtle difference between "disagree", as I'm defining it, and "oppose". Lemme quote Dictionary.com. And let's go right to the first definition in each case. Most other synonyms of these words don't show the contrast so clearly. In plain English, disagreement is a word that simply means two people have two different opinions. It doesn't mean they are enemies. Oppose implies, on the other hand, a war or struggle. And ironically, when it comes to opinions, wars do very little to convince the other side. Worse, when you get emotionally worked up, your body is flooded with chemical drugs that literally impair your judgement, similar to alchohol. Often people form or nuance their opinions right in the midst of debate about things they haven't thought about before. When we have an antagonistic attitude towards the other person in discussions, often we aren't even really sure what we believe, but we pick a side, or act more resolute in the side we're on, getting defensive. Think about it. Is this truly disagreement? I submit to you that it isn't. To anyone who has their eyes open, it's clear that the worked-up debater's judgement is not trustworthy, and they probably don't actually believe half of what they're saying. And even to people who don't consciously observe that, trust me, subconsciously they do. This is why people get defensive; they aren't so much disagreeing with your opinion when they argue with you, they are rejecting your opinion outright. And you may be tempted to do the same to them. Ironically the person that emotionally rejects the opinion like this actually feeds their own defensive emotions, impairing their own emotions. But if you have the attitude of "I'm going to treat this person as a friend, even if they don't return the favor, and honestly listen to their opinion, think about it," THEN you can judge opinions clearly (both theirs and yours), and if you end up still disagreeing, you can say so in a calm and friendly way. Think back. How many times have you had truly enjoyable discussions with someone who disagreed with you? Who are those people? They are your friends! Whether on BZPower or real life or wherever, there have been a few times where I've had discussions with people who firmly disagree with me -- not people I know very well, per se -- sometimes it's somebody on BZPower I never even noticed before, but some topic comes up that we're both interested in... There's just SOMETHING about them that makes the discussion very fun, even thrilling. Until recently I never realized what it was. I and they both had an attitude of sincere friendliness towards each other. Of the people I know in real life, my brother is my best friend. And I know now why that is. It's not that we agree on everything. By no means. Certainly not that we have the same personal tastes, or talents, or even weaknesses. No. It's that when I talk to him, I know that he is willing to truly listen, and I am willing to truly listen to him. If we disagree, we never get emotionally worked up, and as such it's easier to be free with our opinions to each other. Often there are other people who have "disagreement issues", if you will -- they get more emotionally worked up at the slightest disagreement. With some people, it depends on the mood they're in. Sometimes, they honestly don't know what to think about something, so that gets them into a listening mood, and they may actually ask my opinion on something, knowing I'm a thoughtful and sharply aware person. But other times, if they've made up their mind about something even a little, they will act like a totally different person, vehemently hating on the slightest disagreement. There's a natural, subconscious reaction to that. When I'm around people like that... as much as I pride myself on forming my opinions accurately, I simply cannot help it -- I think twice before I speak disagreements. I will not actually pretend to agree with anyone because of their attitudes. I fear nobody. But nor do I desire conflict, and sometimes saying nothing is disagrement enough. But with Ojhilom (my bro's screenname here), I don't need to do that. And it need not be limited to somebody you know well. I know Ojhilom well, but as I said, there are plenty of BZPers who I've had enjoyable discussions with -- including disagreeing -- that I barely know. Sometimes I've never even met them. And this is part of maturity too, BTW. One of my big areas of interest as I observe others is maturity... and opinions about just what the heck "maturity" is anyways. Being able to disagree in a friendly manner with ANYONE is a vital aspect of maturity, but sadly many people go through life with no clue about this. They may be mature physically, be into "adult things" (the most immature kind of opinion about "maturity" and sadly the most common besides the obvious physical meaning), or even be psychologically mature in many ways -- but this is one area that most people miss. Deep down, we ALL know it. There are psychological environments in which we know we are expected to behave this way, and almost everybody can perform reasonably in them. Classroom discussions. Board meetings. Forum topics that are presented in certain ways. But for some reason, a lot of people instinctually react horribly in other situations -- situations that do NOT justifiably call for a combat attitude. A wartime battle is a good place for combativeness. A forum topic is not. Neither, for that matter, are the vast majority of other real life situations you're likely to find yourself in. Especially not discussions with family, or with anyone about mere opinions. (And of course, ESPECIALLY not about personal tastes -- as I've proven in other blog entries, personal tastes actually are subjective truths that depend on the person, although most other kinds of opinions are not.) I would bet everything I own that this alone would save the vast majority of troubled marriages, other broken relationships and friendships, prevent all forum flamewars, solve most topics in which people have hostile attitudes towards each other... and it would probably also end up resulting in a lot less ultimate disagreement, as "truthseeking debate" is much easier this way. If only all people involved would be truly friendly -- not with a smug smile to hide frustration, but confidently -- on the inside. And I must make one frank aside here about my own dominion on BZPower -- I've noticed a lot of S&Ters seem to enter question and theory topics with a "opposition" attitude -- as silly and wrong as many of those topic starters' opinions were, yall just make it worse when you treat them in your tone as Enemy instead of Friend. I suspect most S&Ters aren't consciously aware of this, but it's a disturbing trend I've noticed in recent years. (Nobody name names. ) S&T used to be known as the place peopled by a ton of helpful story geeks who could answer your question and with whom you could have fun discussing theories, but lately that reputation has sadly been replaced with one of a forum with "canon hammerers" that others are intimidated by (often unfairly, but increasingly fairly), and frankly the forum activity has suffered from that IMO. If any of you S&Ters think your forum leader approves, think again. I've just found myself unable to effectively combat it by the occasional reminder (I've even considered a pinned topic about it... but for now, let's just see if this blog entry makes any dent ). Often in S&T topics, lately, I'll see a topic starter ask a question, or post a theory, and then get a wave of replies that are antagonistic -- they don't cross the line into flaming, but antagonism has no place in S&T on any level! The topic starter WAS wrong about something, but the attitude-posts don't help them see it usually; they just get more defensive, and fail to see the repliers' points. And then I come in and in one post -- and it doesn't have to be anywhere near the long posts I am famous for! -- I can do what twenty people and/or twenty posts failed to do -- clear up the misconceptions and get the topic starter to recognize it. Whether I close the topic or not (and I know in many cases when I closed them because topic starters PM me to thank me). It's not just just my position of authority or the detail I often include -- it's mainly the attitude I have towards the topic starter, which is friendly. I ignore all the drama, and just cut to the chase in a polite way. Really not that hard (in fact, it's far easier ). In other words, just because someone is wrong (whether just in your opinion or in fact), doesn't give you the right to have a bad attitude towards them. And even if they themselves had a bad attitude to begin with, you be the one to set a better example. (But I've seen it plenty of times when the topic starter was plenty cheerful, but hopelessly noobish. ) And by no means is it limited to a particular forum division, so I don't want S&Ters to feel singled out or others to look haughtily at them. Nobody is innocent totally of this (and haughtiness is perhaps a worse crime, incidently ). And I wanna be clear -- I wasn't even thinking of S&Ters when I started this blog entry, so there weren't any particularly bad incidents of late that sparked this or anything. This is just something I finally realized recently that I am thrilled to finally understand and wanna pass it on. If you thought of somebody else on BZP -- or in real life -- when you read this, stop. Look at yourself. (Always good advice, I've found, in anything.) Anyone who fails to treat the other person as a friend ironically does their very own opinion an injustice, by failing to stand up for it in a way that gives it true credit -- and more importantly (because even that opinion you have COULD be wrong ), you do yourself an injustice. So, in summary, in discussions always treat others as your friends. Even if they treat you as the enemy. Whether on forums or in real life. Talk =/= war, and it never should (except perhaps taunting in battle. ). When you start out with the right attitude towards others, it will open up a wondeful world in which disagreements are not just pleasant, but are only in this world truly even possible.
  11. Okay, so a lot of people wanna talk about my posting style, and VB polls and Hero Factory topics are not the place to do it. I already have a blog entry where yall could post comments like that, but then that's a blog entry that dwarfs most of the posts in question, so yeah. XD Whine here. (I mean... comment here. No whining. ) In my defense, usually all I'm doing in terms of length compared to others is responding with about the same amount of content that others use. But they tend to spread it out over lots of posts in real-time, generating several pages rapidly, and I just don't have the time, due to weekend job, moderating, etc. to follow topics in real time. So I'm usually responding in much the same way as others, but just in one post (since we can't (normally ) double post). Of course, I do try to focus on saying what needs to be said that isn't being said, so I'm not saying the same things, per se, as others. But whatever. And I don't always use the full context-included long style either, and usually not more than twice in the same thread of discussion; switching instead to a much more concise style after the initial post. Also, for the record, I'm fine with people skimming the parts that don't interest them or aren't directed at them, etc. It's yall's choice how to use your time. In other news, we'll probably do a Multiverse news article soon, but I'd like to hold off till we can get the Multiverse Guide Art winning pics into the PDF file, and post the results blog entry. Also, some more wiki content first would be nice. We have a good number of editors right now, and some content has been added. I've been trying to put up at least something every day myself too (not counting the weekend). I had more I wanted to say, but then forgot, and figured this blog entry is better short anyways.
  12. From time to time, BZPower gets an influx of so many new members, and older members who are aware of major goings on move on to other things. Turnover, it's called. People in general also tend to make some common mistakes before they learn better -- but we can help them avoid such mistakes by telling them the lessons we and others have already learned. We can also do it with humor. Which brings me to the first point of this entry: to give a big shout-out to Turakii's very wise entry here. Everybody should read it and take it to heart, IMO. I've been meaning to do another blog entry about personal taste and respecting others, for a while, but haven't found the time or energy to get around to it. And then Turakii went and said much of what I would have said, complete with hilarous metaphor! And now I've found the energy to say something else -- how to avoid needless frustration... but first, you should read that link. *waits* Okay, now I assume you've read it. If not, return to start and lose all your points. Now, I've got a big wall of text coming. If you don't like them, get out now. But please like them. lol It's something that has helped me immensely, and maybe it can help you. And sorry, no Turakii-style humor here. I wanted to explain my comment in there about people disagreeing with their own opinions. I've noticed over the years that many people, myself included, have a strange habit of disagreeing with ourselves. By that I mean, we believe certain things with passion, and yet at other times, for whatever strange reasons, we act the exact opposite way, criticise others for doing the very things we do and claim to believe in, or even passionately believe something else that, if we had thought it through, blatantly contradicts another opinion we have. In my fanfics, I describe this as people actually erecting walls in their mind. Parts of their mind might believe one thing, even fully, while others might believe another. I have come to suspect that virtually all forms of frustration stem from this phenomenon. It's true that we have desires, and things outside of us obviously can get in the way, sometimes on things that matter a lot more than entertainment. Like if someone's life is in danger, and you try to save them, but nothing you try works. Someone I know who works in the medical field had to go through that recently with a patient who died. But why do we let frustration, misery, etc. take us over to such extremes as to do it with entertainment? Or even in more serious matters, frustration can boil over in us, tensing us up and ironically making us less able to accomplish what little is left for us to do towards our desired goal. I've often pointed out to complainers that entertainment is about... being entertained () -- and so there's really no need to get so worked up over things. When I first started trying to combat complaint topic flame-closures back in the day by providing an objective voice, I met a lot of initial success as people more often than not saw that fact, and easily gave up their frustration, and were able to become happier people, despite still continuing to dislike what they do. The topics stopped getting closed all the time, flamewars were averted, and the deepening animosity between "sides" was healed, at least partly. That has been my greatest joy on here, the ability to actually help people become happier, joyful people who were previously miserable, even if it's through a vehicle as trivial in the long run as toys. But then I started to meet people who held to a curious belief, one that has continued to puzzle me to this day. Some people didn't seem to want to be content. I know, if you've never encountered it, it's hard to believe, but it happens. (And just to make this clear, there shall be no naming of names here, and if you think I'm talking about you or you think you know who... Maybe, but believe me, it's not just one or two people. It's many, many. Please do not ask; such comments will be deleted or edited.) But my best efforts to explain to them the things that had helped others move past their needless frustrations had the opposite effect on this type of people. It got them riled up, even more defensive than before I let loose my admittedly wordy posts (what can I say, I'm still who I am, and wordiness is part of who I am -- never mind that it's the very thing that helped turn around BZP's tendency for debates to always erupt into flamewars. This was a new problem, and the same solution doesn't seem to work). Being by nature obsessively curious about people, this fascinates me. It was and is totally incomprehensible to me. But more importantly, I empathize with it. I've been in that position myself -- and yes, failed to understand it even when I was the one doing it. It's been a long time since I've caught myself doing it, but I must be honest and admit that I used to do that all the time. And still more to the point, I want to try to help them, too, somehow, to be more content. I'm still not sure I get it, but my running theory has been that it's not that they actually WANT to be frustrated, per se, but that they haven't yet realized they're acting like they do. Various religions and other beliefs that we can't get into, including my own, warn me that some people simply fall too far into some kinds of evil to be helped, but I generally assume that they're very rare, and they're the types that get banned right away... if we ever meet them on a site about a toy in the first place. They seem genuinely upset that they are not being pleased, which strikes me as a cry for help, on some level even if it's only subconscious, for some way to break free of their misery or just frustration. And yet, they object to someone who (claims to, from their perspective) wants to politely suggest a way they might wanna consider to help them. They want to get free of their misery enough to post on a discussion forum, yet seem to have an objection to any discussion that might help them attain their desire, almost as if it was a moral, an absolute rule. Usually, their responses to my attempts to help, I've noticed, have one thing in common if nothing else. As unneeded as it seems given that my standard approach includes reminding them that everybody has the right to their own different opinions (or tastes), they tend to act as if I had said they shouldn't have posted their opinion, and they say things along the lines of "it's my opinion, I have the right to it" etc. So, my theory has been that it's not that they don't want to be free of frustration, but simply that my style of talking, even when I directly and clearly state state that that's my goal, distracts them from that part. They see a big wall of text criticizing them -- it doesn't matter how or about what parts; they simply have a visceral reaction to the fact that someone is disagreeing with them. They don't like people disagreeing with them, so they reiterate their right to their opinion. Clearly, my standard approach, the one I've practiced and learned well (yes, I'm using it here -- it's my blog ), does not work on them. Well, it still stems off flame usually, even from them, and I've noticed that though they're being defensive about it and misunderstanding, at least they usually come at me trumpeting the very ideas I was promoting, so it's better than if they disagreed with me. Often this alone is enough to eventually use shorter posts in addition to the initial method to help them see why they should avoid their more trollish comments (and, of course, if nothing else works, there's always the proto drop), but it's a long struggle full of misunderstandings, going around and around until finally they see the light. And this does not always work, and frankly, I don't have the time for it usually. But every attempt I've made to try to figure out what methods do help them see how they can improve, and how to tell beforehand, and even honest attempts by them to try to explain where they're coming from, meets with tons of apparent contradictions from them that leaves just leaves me scratching my head even more than I was before. For example, a typical Bionicle complaint, applicable to Hero Factory now, is that buildable figures like those lines have moved more towards simplicity. The tastes of such complainers often makes them like complex builds, so they're naturally displeased by the recent changes. Yet, when I use a complex post, including all the important points that answered issues they raised, using my point-by-point quote reply style, they complain about my style of approach for the very same reason typical fans like simple sets -- for being long and complex! I've caught several complainers over the years actively arguing that complex builds should be done even though most fans don't like them, because it challenges them to learn. Without going into specifics of why I disagree with that, what puzzles me is that the very same individuals are often the ones complaining vehemently about my posts, accusing me of forcing them to read complex things. A self-contradiction. Others don't actively argue for it, but still say that they're fans of complexity, and yet object to complexity. The biggest example is the common objection they raise that they have the right to post their opinions. Never mind that it comes in face of me telling them that, yes, they have that right (that contradiction always makes me laugh a bit, I must admit ) -- they also typically seem to be oblivious to the fact that their objection to me posting my opinion is a violation of the very principle they champion and claim for themselves. Now, occasionally, I meet a complainer who's at least a little consistent on this point, and thinks everybody should ONLY post their own opinions on their own, never respond to anyone else's opinion and disagree with them. (To which the obvious answer is, what if someone disagrees with that rule as one of their opinions, and believes it's good to have discussion on a discussion forum? I think that paints a sad picture of humans as hopelessly unable to get along and disagree at the same time, going around in living terror of any human interaction... No thanks.) The vast majority of them, though, were already quoting or citing others' points and explaining why they disagree before I even enter the picture, doing the same thing I did. I've noticed I'm almost always the scapegoat for their objection to someone quoting others, and other people who they disagree with seem to escape their condemnation simply due to using short posts. This is definately important -- but how to tell beforehand? The short posts also usually do nothing to stop developing flamewars, so it seems important to get the thorough posts out early. But more to the point, my methods or not, it's still a contradiction. Please note, I'm not trying to say "I'm perfect so stop criticzing me." Obviously, that too would be a contradiction. I welcome constructive criticism always, at least when it's on-topic and is respectful, and I would hope that everybody would learn to do the same. One big criticism they've leveled at me that I actually agree with is that I can slip into a condescending tone sometimes, often without realizing it. I don't believe I intend to be condenscending, because I now believe for religious/worldview reasons that condescension is wrong (it is basically a contradiction of our very existence, IMO, but I can't explain why here, although this part of my beliefs stems from pure causality logic more so than my religion), and could if such topics were allowed here, logically prove it. But I used to be condescending to people a lot. Some of that poison is still in me, sadly. This is one case where I am still guilty from time to time of contradicting myself. (And of course I can just say "no offense" or whatnot... but then sometimes I get flak for that because anybody can just say that, doesn't mean they mean it! Oy!) However, I tend to get this complaint, even when I go out of my way prove that I do not intend condescension, and admit off the bat that I used to have a big problem with that. Even when I do nothing condescending, and focus totally on helping them see things they may have missed, and explain something along the above lines why I believe condescension is wrong, or something like I mentioned in my comment on Turakii's blog entry, about how varying personal tastes and talents are proven to be a good thing for society as a whole, so condescension is nonsensical anyways.... even when I do that, most of these types of complainers predictably still don't believe me. They appear to simply believe, for example, that all humans are doomed to seeing everybody else's tastes as inferior to their own, despite complete, sound logic that proves that to be false, simply because it's how people tend to start out, and they don't apparently think they can change. I've even had someone directly state that to me recently (again, no names). Someone has also even admitted, even as they accused me of being condescending, that they believed that of me before they even met me, because they believe everybody is, so essentially admitted they were only assuming it. Oy oy, yanno? What effect does all this have on me? It frustrates me. But waaaaaaaaiiiiiiit a second, you're saying. "Bones, I thought you said you knew how to avoid frustration?! Talk about contradictions man!" Well... you're absolutely right. I could say a lot that might sound like an excuse, about the science behind why this occurs, how strong emotions have a psychologically contagious aspect to them. And I will indulge that line of reasoning briefly. If you know me much, you know the "Dog Whisperer" (Cesar Millan, Nat Geo... watch it, even if you aren't a dog person ) is a big influence on my personal philosophy. He talks in one of his books about recent scientific findings that emotional cues projected by one person, especially when they are "assertive"; strongly rooted and unyielding, are picked up by functions in others' brains, whether animal or human. Cesar calls this "energy", and it's been scientifically proven that in nature, including with humans, it's as real a part of emotions as the physical chemicals and the brain patterns themselves -- thus emotions themselves can be communicated, not just by words, tone of voice, and facial expression, but also by almost imperceptable body language and actions, almost like how a computer can send a code for color over the 'net to another computer which then runs that code. Some people, like some dogs or any other kind of mammal, have negative emotions that are much more strongly rooted than in others. (He also says it's much, MUCH, harder for people to change than for dogs to.) People like this are much less likely to respond quickly to new information that, if they applied intellectually and "programmed their subconscious", or "took it to heart" would give them a happier life. Even when they consciously try to learn these things, it can still be hard to change. These types, Cesar says, can project a very real aura around themselves that physically changes reality around them wherever other living things are concerned -- can make the lights seem dimmer, little things that wouldn't normally annoy others suddenly seem like big problems, others' behaviors in everything change almost beyond their control, etc. Even Cesar himself, who is the calmest, most joyful person I've ever heard of alive today, is affected by these especially strong cases. He describes this downer as being similar to a drug-induced low (the opposite of a high) in that it takes a long time to recharge from it, a long time to come down from the "high" in terms of the powerful effect on your behavior, though patterns, etc. (or come up from the low). This is because the emotional cues or energy of the sender cause the recipient to literally produce the chemicals of those emotions (hence the physical reality altering), so it can take a while for those chemicals to be filtered out of the bloodstream. This process is partly influenced by choices we can make, and beliefs we hold, but it's also largely autonomic, meaning it's subconscious, a body function more than what we typically think of as thought, although it does occur in the brain. These things have many beneficial uses in biology, society, etc. (Ex: A pack of dogs or wolves can be silently alerted to a danger that one dog sees just by reading body language, and the whole pack instantly switches into the right emotional state to meet the threat.) but in this case they are misused, causing more harm than good. I'm not surprised that even I can get frustrated by such deep-rooted negativity sometimes. Incidently, this is also why flamewars and the like erupt when we get such posts. Novices at these sorts of things (including very wise elderly people, so don't think this inexperience is age-related or a crime or anything; translation: no offense if this is or was you ) don't know how to handle such cases, and the emotion-cues from a combative, upset, defensive person make them, too, defensive, upset, and combative. However, it doesn't have to be that way. While sometimes it's impossible not to be infected a little by the negative cues, that doesn't mean we have to channel that negative energy back at the person. I have to admit that, while I haven't intended to be condescending to anyone in a looong time, I do often post my honest reactions about some of the more outlandish things these types of complainers say, that no clear-thinking person would have said. This is clearly channelling that absorbed negative energy back at them, and while this might be fair, it does not usually solve problems or make things better even for me, much less them. All it does is reinforce their belief that everybody is stuck in the same rut they are anyways, which doesn't lend credibility, of course. Now, my biggest dream in life can be summed up by a 'vision' I had as a kid, of me as a very old man, who everybody saw as someone who spread peace wherever they go. People have often described Cesar as a person that can do that -- biggest reason I admire him. I ain't there yet, yanno? So what's he got I ain't, I must ask myself? (Aside from graying hair lol.) Well, what is frustration? I've said often that people give themselves frustration by setting up unrealistic expectations. For example, being disappointed when Bionicle's new years again and again don't fulfill the personal hopes they set up for what each new will be; so I don't do that. As such, I have never been frustrated by new things in Bionicle, not even the end of the sets, because I always assume it could end at any time. So, then, why on earth do I keep being surprised by this type of complainer? Obviously, I must have unrealistic expectations. I should expect that, statistically, I'm going to run into the occasional person who's emotionally stubborn (or call it what you will ). I've known this for longer than I've been a member -- not that these are hopeless cases but that they're harder cases, people for whom it's going to be hard to choose to improve because the part of them they need to change is something that's become very deeply programmed into their subconscious by their choices over and over, or the like. Yet another part of me, the one that wants to give people the benefit of the doubt, has been acting like that means I should assume I'll never meet them. Nonsense. So once again, I've found a mental wall in my brain -- and now that I've found it, I have broken it down. (Another thing, BTW... the people I know who get that praise of spreading peace don't react in amazement at such things. Ever. I dunno why the condescension label doesn't get applied to other BZPers who give such honest reactions and does to me, but I do know that the wisest people I know -- Ninjo comes to mind -- NEVER did that. Maybe I should learn from them... Cesar laughs sometimes at the most nonsensical beliefs he encounters, he reacts honestly, but he isn't surprised often.) Maybe this is a big step towards being able to better respond to these types of complainers. Time will tell of course, but at least, I've found another flaw in myself, so that's one more improvement. And maybe one more way I can help others. Many frustrations are caused by those walls inside us. Perhaps this is the very thing that those with the most deeply rooted negative emotions need to hear -- that those internal contradictions are what we can watch for, and when we find them and eliminate them, that's one of the best ways we can avoid needless frustration. Is it a coincidence that the most stubbornly frustrated people I meet are also the most contradictory? Perhaps not! Maybe that in and of itself is the explanation -- the contradictions are the cause of the frustration. The typical Bionicle complainer (and you can apply this to just about any entertainment, including HF or other LEGO lines) makes mistakes that I've summed up in other blog entries, such as assuming everybody shares their tastes, or of assuming their tastes are better, or of making "LEGO should" arguments based on just their tastes, etc. While the complainers I'm talking about do sometimes do those things too, usually the only clear formal error they make is to fail to make it clear they don't intend any of those things -- and yet they are still just as upset if not more so. So maybe the real error is, in fact, an internal contradiction. I have been well aware of the benefit of looking for contradictions, in our own and others' opinions, for a long time. When it comes to worldviews (which, again, we can't get into here), one of the most effective ways to figure out which worldview is the truth is by looking (logically, BTW, this is done wrong often) at the various parts of it and comparing them to each other, seeing if they contradict or mesh. The truth is whatever is free of any internal contradiction. This can apply to many things, more than just issues such as worldviews. If you think about it, it seems obvious that the best ways of living must also be free of internal contradictions. So maybe a more effective approach here is simply to point those contradictions out. For now, BTW, my theory is that the typical, root contradiction that such complainers need to see, is between their desire to be happy, and their desire to stick to all approaches they are already using. Call it pride, call it stubbornness, call it legitimately standing up for the right to have your opinion, call it sheer confusion -- or call it a misplaced assumption that sticking to all opinions no matter what will somehow be what makes them happy -- though even they know it isn't working... Call it what you will, the desire to change nothing in the self is contradicting with the demand of LEGO that they change something -- or at least the strong desire for it even if it's not a "demand". But not everything in the self is personal taste -- some of it is learned, and it's possible to learn bad advice. Those opinions or approached CAN change, if we simply choose to. How do I know it's bad advice? Simple -- it creates a contradiction, a wall between a part of the complainer's mind and another. Conflicting desires. Same as the mistake I made. Conflicting desires are not a crime. They are not a sign that you're inhuman or evil -- and for someone to point them out does not mean they're insulting you either, especially if they're trying to help. Everybody does it. And no matter how many walls you break down, there are so many you'll find more, pretty much throughout your life, period. Yes. However, the more you break down, the less frustrated you'll get, the more confident and happy you'll be, and the more of your desires will find satisfaction. So, my conclusion is that sometimes the real-world things that are denying the fulfillment of our desires -- the most frustrating things -- are not outside us at all, but are inside us. And if you disagree at all, please keep in mind, no matter how logical my opinion might be (), it's still just my opinion. Feel free to disagree -- although I'd request you try to explain why, if so. A loooot more I'd love to say, but it would distract from the point I wanted to make here, so some other time, perhaps. Also ooone more note: Of course, those outside frustrations are still real. But sometimes we also treat them as a scapegoat for some more contradictions, which make our response to those very real, solid walls of reality, worse than they need to be sometimes. (Especially when it comes to plastic toys. ) Thanks for indulging this ramble, and have a nice day.
  13. The Brain Inequality Theory (The BIT ) "I'm not very smart. Smart people. He was a genius. 'I'm pretty sure my IQ is higher than yours!' He has a low IQ. You're stupid." Our culture is permeated with such statements. We have a basic theory that many people are much smarter than others. Some are smart, some are dumb, and this can be measured. And that's it. It's thaaaat simple. To quote Threepio -- "We're doomed." That's the theory, if you're part of "the less-than-smart". Worse, many people attach extreme emotional ideas to this theory. It varies a lot -- I've seen one person on BZP say he was offended that I brought out the truth of a particular debate (which even he said I had done), because "people don't want to be reminded others are smarter than them" (close paraphrase). He essentially thought only incorrect ideas should be allowed, so we don't offend dumb people. (Laugh, but he appeared to be serious. :-P) On the flip side, people who think they're dumb feel miserable about it, or people act arrogant because they think they're smart, etc.. Perhaps even worse than this, though, many people feel not that much emotion about it at all -- they just accept that they're dumb, nothin' they can do about it, so they think they aren't capable of accomplishing much in life. So they don't try. And tons more stuff. I've only scratched the surface here of the consequences of this common theory of intelligence. I think it's incorrect. There might be some truth to it, but the vast majority of people, in my opinion, have the same brain capacity. When it comes to genetic definitions of intelligence, if a TRULY objective measure of intelligence could be formulated, I think everybody would measure roughly equally. It's just that we're wired to use our intelligence in different ways. The Brain Allocation Theory (The BAT :-P) I've had this theory for a while, and it's based on a lot of different things. Note that I DO have an above average IQ, and people generally think of me as "smart" -- so I can "get away with" saying this. (But then, I can't for the life of me remember what my IQ is, so maybe I'm in the dumb category after all! ) Essentially, people are forgetting about a key, Key, KEY aspect of existence. That is allocation. Allocation essentially means that different amounts of a resource are channeled into different areas. I first learned of this term from a (demo of a) Star Trek videogame about Klingons (yes, you correctly conclude I'm a geek :-P), and I think the example is one of the best so I'll use it here. (The demo was so fun I never bothered to buy the whole thing lol.) Your spaceship has a certain level of energy. Roughly the same as other ships. You go through various scenarios, and one of your main jobs (aside from firing weapons and steering and such) is to allocate that energy into different major aspects of your ships. If you're in battle, you allocate more energy to weapons and shields. If shields are down, you allocate your energy to weapons, but if you're seriously damaged, allocate it to the engines and flee. If you're traveling in relative safety, allocate more energy to engines. If you're traveling through a thick atmosphere, like that of a gas giant, allocate for shields. If your ship is damaged and you've either won the battle or fled to avoid destruction, allocate towards repairs. Certain circumstances are more common than others. So this game also had "macros." These were specific preset arrangements of energy allocation that you could select from a list, and the various levels of everything would automatically adjust for the ideal for that situation. Another example is money. When you make budget decisions, you allocate your money into different areas. Yet another example is time. You allocoate your time into different areas, but most people have roughly the same lifespans, wake-sleep cycles, etc. so roughly the same amount of time. Intelligence defined objectively, then, is IMO this: Intelligence: All-inclusive capacity of the brain to process, to think, generally equal for each member of a species. How smart you are in different areas by this theory is a matter of allocating the amount of intelligence you have as a human being into different areas. Each of us has our own "macro." And to a degree we can even choose to reallocate (we can take classes, practice, etc. new skills to become "smart" in new areas; the limit is basically our own personal taste that is more genetic). How do we allocate our brains? Personal taste drives most of the differences in how we use our intelligence. I am into "heady" things (as people call them, though just about everything involves the head :-P), like logic and observation and physics and suchnot, and into art and storytelling and stuff like this. Someone else might be more into mechanics -- as often comes up in Bionicle debates, heh and not be into fiction at all. Someone might be into cooking, another into psychology, etc. Whatever. IQ tests tend to be biased towards a particular type of this intelligence, especially spatial/mathematical/geometric/linguistic. They are written by people who think of themselves as smart, and are into written stuff and tests and whatnot. Other people who aren't into that sort of thing, naturally, aren't usually motivated to make up such tests. If they ever thought of making a test, it would come out quite differently. Doesn't make one actually smarter or the other not. It's simply allocation. Another factor that's often misunderstood is brain size. People think that big brain = smart. They think you can measure skulls and report on intelligence objectively (barring brain damage). Wrong. Big brain does generally equal more memory capacity (though I have a large brain and my memory sucks, so go figure). But it also equals slower processing speed (that's me man!). A smaller brain means you can come up with smart decisions way faster. This is why rats are smarter than donkeys. For example. Again, it's an allocation thing. Smaller means smarter in one way, larger means smarter in another. "WHAH? This Theory is BATty!" "But bones, but bones," you might be thinking, "What if some people ARE smarter than others, in addition to allocating their intelligence?" I realize that if we take the Klingon Warship analogy, it's possible that one ship will have more total energy to allocate around. If we take money, some have more, some have less. If we take time, some die early. Could it be this way with human intelligence? Well, that very well might be true. But my observation, as a "smart guy" (:-P) and an Observer of People Because I'm A Writer (an OPBIAW....) has been that it's generally not true. How to accurately measure this? No idea -- measurements are devised by people, and people have biases. Perhaps an IQ test that more accurately represented different types of intelligence could do this. I have heard countless news reports about other people noting the fallacies with IQ tests -- maybe reform in this area will happen soon. Maybe it's already happening and I've missed the news. :-P My sense is that all human beings tend to have about the same, nonetheless. Just look around, and more importantly look at yourself, when you've been told you're smart or when you've thought "I am dumb." At least for me, people tell me I'm smarter than average all the time, and yet there are lots of very average typical things that most people are capable of that I'm simply not. Mainly, I look at how fast people around me can react to things and it's amazing to me -- I am slow. Plus with an abysmal memory. People talk about the ways they forget things as they approach/reach their elderly years, and my reaction is, "Dude, that's been me since First Grade!" Yet other things for me are so easy it's like preschool to me that tons of grown adults can't even hope to do. Art, for instance. I just naturally know what to do when it comes to art -- barely even had any education in this area, though I must give cred to a particular genius (:-P) who used to work for Disney that wrote a book that helped me and whose name and book title I forget lol -- whereas other people say things like "I can't even draw a straight line." I remember (vaguely :-P) one time I drew a perfect circle when I was very young. A grown adult thought it was amazing. I thought that was amazing. I also remember one time at a fair or some such event (I forget lol) there was some challenge where you look in a mirror and move your finger across a five-point star backwards. I just did it instantly and thought nothing of it, but the person running the event was astounded, though it was later in the day and apparently many people had tried it. I was the first, she said, to do it right the first time, and easily at that. I didn't even need to hesitate, which is apparently unusual. And everybody around was similarly amazed, including my family. I was frankly astounded that everybody couldn't do it. If we're all honest with each other, we are all at various times amazed at what others' brains allow them to do compared to us, and also at times amazed that they can't do things we consider easy. Access your memory banks (it's probably easy for you :-P) and you'll see it's true. :-) Mental Handicaps What about mental illness or "handicaps"? Well, it might depend. Certainly many mental handicaps make normal living difficult. Many such people are way more dependant on normal people to survive than others. But many are also happier people. Us "smart" people tend to have a lot worse emotional outlooks and friendliness issues, or at least that's my understanding. Yet the so-called "handicapped" often seem to naturally grasp what we cannot -- that happiness is important. In this area, IMO many "mentally ill" people are healthier mentally than the so-called normal. It's a generalization, though, and maybe not even accurate overalll -- it's not like I've met every such person on the planet. Certainly brain damage does seem to make sense as something that would reduce overall intelligence. But I suspect it has more to do with the type of mental illness. For example, many result in a smaller percentage of the brain being used, yet that can also result in incredible skill in a particular area. Which makes sense given allocation -- their brain becomes less able to do anything, so it specializes in something. In that smaller area, brain signals have less ground to cover, which means faster thinking. So at least with that skill, they are thus smarter than most people. So on this issue, my conclusion is, I'm really not sure. But at the very least, us 'smart people' exaggerate how much smarter we are than the mentally handicapped. Mental Laziness There is also the matter of mental laziness. I DO think we can do a wrong by choosing NOT to think. Your genetic intelligence might just be fine, but you choose instead not even to use that brain you've got. Mental excercise, vitamins, and various such things also, of course, matter. These are choices that each individual makes -- something they have control over. Ultimately, our goals in terms of opinions and thought and such should always be to try to find the truth. If a person actually isn't wired to understand how to find a particular truth, fine -- but there's no excuse in my view for those who act offended that someone else has done a better job at finding the truth because they don't want to be reminded other people are "smarter." Trying to find the truth is something anyone can do, even if they ARE "dumb", and being willing to appreciate the mental work others have done and learn from them is important too. That's a pride issue, not an intelligence issue. On the other hand, there's also education to consider. If someone is never TOLD that they can think, they often actually believe it. And of course, if they are not given at least a basic logical education they're gonna have a harder time at life *ahem, folks who are in charge of education, ahem*. So in other words, even mental laziness might not be entirely the fault of the person. In general I advise a respectful, helpful attitude towards people you think aren't thinking as much as they should (and you might not know all their circumstances or time issues either). Condescension, I have concluded, almost never works anyways. I think this is a big part of why. (And I can say that from personal experience -- I've had a condescension problem for a long time and still something I struggle with. I can't think of a single time when it actually helped rather than hurt. Could be my memory.) Making Fun of the Dumb Alright, we all do it. Let's just get that admission out of the way. Hard not to sometimes. XD Personally, my rule of thumb is, if it's a true mental handicap, or even what I believe to be an allocation issue, it's really NOT funny. If it's mental laziness... well, on some levels it's sad, and maybe not their fault. On another level, sometimes you just have to laugh to keep your sanity, though. :-P But mean-spirited approaches to intelligence... against either dumb OR smart... even if we assume the BIT theory is right and my BAT theory is wrong for the most part... What's the point? I've always wondered this, you know, you see the typical teen of my generation make fun of someone they think is [insert intelligence-related insult here] in terms of genetic intelligence, insult them. Seriously, what the heck is the point of that? If it's genetic, why is smarter necessarily better and dumb necessarily worse? At least in any sense that it makes sense to make fun of them? I think that has more to do with maturity than intelligence -- frankly, it's stupid. :-P If the BIT theory is right, everybody's intelligence is different anyways, so the chances are, you're not all that bright yourself brainy. (Is my general reaction, heh.) AND! If human beings in general are concerned with finding the truth -- the ways of living that lead to peace and pleasurably lives for as many people as possible if not everyone -- then isn't the DUTY of the "smart" to use their intelligence to help the "less smart"? At least in my way of thinking, that is the case. For a "smart" person to make fun of the dumb is to proclaim "I don't want the help of others smart than ME, and I accept that they're allowed to make fun of me." For example, Einstein is credited with so much in science that has improved our understanding of the world -- his brilliance helped the rest of us. (Note that he's another key evidence of BAT -- he actually had a rare mental illness that made him strangely deficient in many normal areas. He had weaknesses that made even him equal to the rest of us (IMO), it's just that he allocated a lot into the areas of thinking that led to his original discoveries in science.) Genius inventors HELP the rest of us. Making Fun of the Allocated Different If my BAT theory is right, making fun of or looking down on others for being what we deem "dumb" makes even less sense. Our own allocation of our intelligence is basically arbitrary and beyond our control -- ruled by our genes for the most part and also often by our life situation, culture, etc. So if we are smart in a particular area, who are we to say that's the "right" area? What about the areas we're dumb in? Are we to be chided for being dumb in those areas? We usually reject those areas simply because they're "not me" -- but that's just how you happened to come out. What's more, society as a whole is most likely benefitted by variety, not hurt. Think about it -- if we were all clones of each other whose brains were all allocated into the same areas, then we would all have the exact same strengths and weaknesses. Strengths? Fine and dandy, we'd all have to compete for the same sorts of jobs (:-P) but as a society we'd be unshakable.... In those areas. But if a society's weaknesses are not balanced by variety -- if everybody in a society cannot meet a particular challenge -- then that makes each member of that society extremely vulnerable. For example, if everybody was a farmer only, great, we'd have plenty of food. But what about times of draught? What about war? Where are your planners that stockpile food in case of shortage? Where are your strategists, those who can defend the farmers? We could propose that all humans would be farmers. So no wars -- at least not wars of any noticeable success. :-P Okay, wunderbar. But farming in ancient times before modern equipment was challenging, and the slightest weather or pest challenge could risk your very livelihood. In some areas farming is nigh-impossible. Engineers, inventors, chemists, traders, etc. all make life better for different people the globe over, taking food to those who cannot farm it, making equipment, pesticides, and crop additives that increase yield and thus improve security against disaster, and all manner of things. Farmers get intellectual and imaginative stiumulation from producers of art, fiction, TV, whatnot. We could even propose that everybody being farmers would NOT mean less war, but more -- when nature-caused disaster strikes, many might raid other farms. No food-allocation planners exist to provide food for those stricken with such luck, so the temptation to do that might be higher. With no philosophers to figure out that war is generally harmful to both sides more than helpful, with nobody to stem the need for war in the first place, with no variety, war just might be more rampant, more painful, thus deadlier, and to add insult to injury, with no historians or teachers to tell the farmers that such wars don't often have success, constant even when they fail all the time. In the real world, nobody's tastes are that narrowly defined, and overlaps occur often. In the areas of self-expression, you might think we wouldn't tolerate other people's tastes at all, but the human brain also tends to get bored with the same old, same old. We often WANT to see expressions of tastes totally different from our own, at least when we are honest about it, and we don't want to have to make it ourselves usually. It's more fun when you don't see it coming, when its source is beyond you. In other words, different people make the world a safer and more interesting place. I suggest gratitude towards those who are different from you. Benefits of BAT IF I'm right (and the truth matters, certainly), then the benefits are multifold. I doubt I'm thinking of all of them. :-P For one, we can get off this ridiculous "you stupid person hahaha!" train. At least for genetic intelligence. And even in the other cases, it's really hard to instantly know whether someone actually is dumber than you objectively. You might think so at first, but what if YOU'RE the one allocated poorly for the subject in question -- what if the other person is the wise and you the fool? Does making fun of the 'dumb' really make sense, given this? As a result, we could have a much more peaceful world where we see a simple and very important reason to respect others. Most of us claim we want peace -- this is a HUGE way we could make it. (If we all believe it and practice it. Which, I know *sigh* is unlikely. But each of us can take up this standard for ourselves, and set an example for others. :-)) Self-esteem makes a heck of a lot more sense under the BAT theory. You might not seem as smart as other people... but you ARE! You just might not have yet found out in which way you are. Don't let people tell you you're dumb. Don't believe it. Don't tell yourself you're dumb. You are smart. :-) It becomes easier to not just tolerate but respect and appreciate different people's preferences and tastes. You see something you don't like, and instead of writing it off as dumb and whining about how miserable you are, it can actually be interesting to you on some level. You can learn to appreciate and even be fascinated by other people's differences. It becomes easier to have an open mind. When someone says something you disagree with, it's harder to justify writing it off as "dumb." It gives you pause. Forces you to think. "What if they're right? What are the reasons they are this way? Is this just a taste difference and it's subjective? Or are they better able to understand something objective that I'm missing? Can I learn from them?" Debate becomes a lot more respectful and useful. Debate is no longer about showing off who's smart and who's dumb for pride reasons. It's just about who's correct and who's not. (And IMO even that isn't right -- it's about WHAT is true and WHAT is false, not about the "who" at all -- but that's another issue.) Summary Most people think there are "smart" people, "dumb" people, and a range in between. They believe in "I have a higher IQ so I'm smarter" kinds of thinking. Methinks that's false. I think everybody has roughly the same amount of intelligence, but we allocate it into different areas. We channel it in different ways. Some are artists, some are engineers, some are tacticians, others are one thing, still others another, and everybody has so many different tastes and strengths and weaknesses in so many different combinations... But objectively, all are (roughly) the same level of intelligence. And IQ tests are biased. End summary. 'Sthat short enough?
  14. bonesiii

    Criticizing Me

    Enter the Powerpoint Face Contest by May 15! This won't be my main entry this week if I can help it -- I wanna launch the next interview in a few days here. But in response to a topic in GD the other day, I wanna make something clear. Not going to link to it, just quote from it, and I'll not pretend to speak for Greg or anyone else -- just me. The topic starter had this to say: Now, I can understand his sentiments. Sometimes I am attacked, and of course that is wrong. But some people have also pointed out that it's possible to read my posts and come away with the wrong impression -- and I think that's a fair charge too, so lemme explain my view of criticism. It's basically really simple. As long as you're not flaming me, I welcome criticism. Why? Because as right as I often think I am, I know from past experience that I can be 100% convinced I am right about something and still be dead wrong. For example, I remember when I was in about 4th grade, someone wasn't sure whether penguins lived at the north or south pole. I honestly thought I knew the answer -- I knew that polar bears were large, and that the north pole was simply ice, very little land beneath it, so I assumed they would live in Antarctica, where the ice rests atop land. The other person was sure I was wrong, that penguins = south and polar bears = north, but I was sure I was right. So I argued emphatically and assured them I knew I was right -- I honestly believed I had heard somewhere that it was the case. So then they looked it up. And voila, I was wrong. I felt rather silly about that, and at the time, I hadn't yet formed my views about "truth-seeking debate." It then led me to feeling embarrased, and for a short time, I felt like not admitting that I was wrong and stubbornly holding onto the idea anyways. But through many other life experiences, I realized how foolish that was, and that there was a better approach -- to always be accurate and say clearly when I'm not sure of something,. Today I am eager to find the truth in all things. So if I saying "Not sure about this, but I think it's this way", or even if I slip and just say "it's this way" and you see evidence that I'm wrong, please, please, please tell me! I want to know if I'm wrong. Why? Well, with LEGO and Bionicle, maybe it doesn't matter. It's a small thing. But there's a saying, "if you can't be trusted with the little things, you can't be trusted with the big things." I have opinions about big things too, such as the fate of my soul, that are huge concerns. I think I've found the truth about origins and thus what worldview is correct, and what I needed to do in religous terms that we can't discuss here (I'm actually considering starting a blog somewhere out there about this, though I wouldn't be able to link there from here). I had to drop a lot of pride to own up to that, but even now, I know that it's possible I'm dead wrong even on the big things, and maybe I'm in big trouble right now. All this Bionicle debate, though mildly important to me since I enjoy Bionicle and thus want it to do well, is merely mental exercise for the big things, when you boil it down -- and believe me, it has helped me understand tons of things about human nature that I could not have learned any other way, that I have been able to apply to debates about anything. So I extend that open-mindedness to absolutely everything in my life. That's the most important moral I have, that I must in all things be honest and open-minded. So not only am I okay with being criticized, I want it. Because all I want is the truth -- the real truth. Remember that I am a logician -- I know how to analyze the criticisms myself, so I do not fear them. I can sort out the illogical ones myself. I do not need protecting. So, while I appreciate the sentiment that member was expressing, I do not want people to "lay off" me at all. That said, obviously insulting me is wrong and against the rules -- and also the logical fallacy of Ad Hominem, so it wouldn't work on me anyways. Exactly. Open debate, in other words. Flame-free, but flame =/= criticism. Not by a long shot. I would submit to you that flame is the opposite of criticism, in fact. Doesn't mean criticism is necessarily right either -- but the whole point is that all sides must be allowed to discuss it openly, or how can we find the truth? ------------------------------This Entry Brought To You By:------------------------------
  15. *finally gets around to this* What follows is a very short story that I wrote as a "Velika Mode" analogy in a recent debate topic, intended to help explain a mistake a lot of people make in how to look at what Bionicle should do. Someone PMed me and said they actually enjoyed the story, so I figure I might as well put it here, lol. Whether you wanna read this for its meaning, or just as a short story, enjoy! --------------------------------------------------------- There was once a man who came upon a pond in the middle of a magical forest. He liked the pond, as it reflected his image, as well as the images of the trees around it. As he looked at his image, he realized that the pond allowed him to understand what he looked like better than he normally could. He could see his face, for example, or the top of his head. This pleased him greatly, and he eagerly looked at the images of the trees, hoping he could see them more clearly now as well. But what he saw instead was distorted, wavy trees in the gentle waves of the pond. They didn't seem exactly the same as when he simply looked at them--but he liked the wavy reflections enough, and he was so excited about the pond that he decided to always look at the trees through the pond's reflection. The day wore on, and something changed. In the ripples, he saw specks of strange colors interrupting the wavy images of trees. Try as he might, he could not get a clear image of the strange colors. So he grumbled that the forest had changed for the worst--he just wanted to watch the wavy images of green leafy trees, since it was what he was used to by now. This dissapointed him, for he liked the forest too, and wanted it to be the best it could be. Finally, a wizened old man walked up to him. The old man stood somewhat behind him, and the man could not see him through the pond, so he had to glance back at him. He quickly returned his eyes to the pond, and ignored the old man. Until the old man suddenly said, "Ah, the forest is lovely this evening, isn't it?" The man didn't answer at first, for he was puzzled. He could not agree, because in the pond, the forest looked worse, and he could not understand why. So he said, "Well, it was... but it's gone downhill since this morning." "Really?" the old man said. "What makes you say that?" The man explained. "Ah, the old man said, smiling gently. "Your mistake is that you are trying to understand the forest through your pond, rather than looking directly at it." The man's eyes widened. Slowly, he lifted his eyes. He beheld that each and every tree was filled with colorful flowers that had opened during the midday sun. He had to admit the flowers looked better than he'd thought, but he still would have preferred if they were gone. But then he noticed that energy was flowing into them from the sunlight. He asked the old man about this. "You see," said the old man, "the light-flowers absorb energy that strengthens the bark of the trees. This same energy flows up to the leaves that you like so much, and it is in fact because of the flowers that the trees are here! The tree will not look the same for the rest of the day, but it will be healthy." "I see," said the man, with a smile. --------------------------------------------------------- The meaning: » Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «The pond represents personal tastes, the forest represents Bionicle. The mistake a lot of people make is that they look to their likes and dislikes to decide what they think Bionicle actually should do--this obviously does not work because Bionicle doesn't revolve around just one person. The point is that, hopefully, even if there's been some change to Bionicle that we don't like, we can still be satisfied that it's OK when the change helps Bionicle's health as a franchise.
  16. Today the Bones Blog brings you an aspect of opinions and discussion brought up in the past entry Friends Can Disagree ("How to Disagree Intelligently" section) -- the benefit of having a "possibilities attitude." This is a key principle I've found that I think can help a lot of people. Important points bold. Conflicting Goals When it comes to opinions and discussion -- indeed, life itself -- people have goals. Goal #1, hopefully, is to be right. To have the opinion that is actually true. To know the truth. (We're talking about thought-opinion here, not personal taste; see "Can Opinions Be Wrong" blog entry, Important Entries content block to the right -- so the kind I define as "theories about reality") I have previously described the three pillars of fiding the truth as logic, all-inclusive research, and an open mind. But there's a competing goal that often gets in the way. Satisfying the ego. Pride. The goal is "I want to appear confident and I want to feel confident". This second goal is not evil. Self-confidence is a key part of a healthy mind -- hesitation and doubt can often cause us trouble. For example, if you hesitate while your car spins out in ice into oncoming traffic, you'd better not hesitate to correct and work your way back to the right lane. In in-person disputes, hesitation is (illogically) seen as a sign of weakness -- of being wrong. Doesn't make you wrong, but you might lose any chance of convincing the other person if they are too set in their ways or you run out of time. However, the two goals often conflict to set up a trap. If a subject comes up in discussion that you haven't really been able to research or think through logically well enough, you will be tempted to say something now now now. Otherwise, you appear "stupid" to many people (non-logicians lol). So the trap is to grasp onto an opinion -- any opinion -- and defend it to the death. The first idea to come to you becomes "my opinion". Other times, you have already formed this opinion -- maybe even done a ton of research on it, but someone else disagrees with it. Instead of hearing them out, you simply defend your own opinion. You see their opinion as "wrong -- not even a possibility," simply because you hadn't considered it yourself beforehand or the like. (I call that an "Instant Rejection Fallacy", BTW.) The idea of it is all about appearances. You want to appear to know you're right. You want to appear confident. I myself have fallen prey to this trap -- I'll call it the "Confidence Trap" -- many times. Even long after I considered myself a logician, this messed me up a lot. I had a certain dilemma in a subject not allowed on BZP, for example, that I honestly could not for the life of me figure out well enough to be confident in it (something I consider a life and death issue). And even just with little things I've gotten stuck in this trap countless times. The Confidence Trap The key concept here is essentially that you only actually give one possibility a chance (or only the possibilities you want to, etc.). After all, if only your opinion is even possible, in your mind, it's far easier to be confident. Why is this a trap? Simple -- you've lost sight of finding the truth. Do you know if "your opinion" really does seem to fit the facts? How can you accurately judge that if you are stubbornly refusing to consider other possibilities? Many people get so entangled in this snare that they actually lose sight of goal #1 completely, or worse, actually think that "my opinion" is the truth. Some people go so far as to think all opinions are subjective, that truth is arbitrary, that there are no absolutes, and other such self-invalidating lines of thinking. Another thing I've encountered often is confusion over just what an "open mind" is. People generally think they're open minded -- and often they go so far as to see the term "close-minded" as a meaningless insult mudslinging debaters throw around. They tend to think that if they're close-minded in some ways, everybody else is too so it's no crime. "Open" is a vague term, after all -- open to what? Clearly, the term doesn't mean open to anything, or you'd be open to becoming a murder or the like. Most often, they have confused personal taste with opinions, so they consider themselves open-minded only to an artificially limited range of types of opinion. For example, obviously if you like a Bionicle set, you probably just plain do or you don't. (Although sometimes we can artificially close off some of our own tastes and we can learn to open those up.) And they know that if they have an opinion that a set will sell well/poorly, actual sales results have the final say about what's true. But they often think that universal statements like "This is a low quality set" are off-limits to debate (they miss that quality is part of taste when it comes to entertainment), even though logically, such an opinion is highly questionable. (Again, see "Can Opinions Be Wrong?" People making that mistake often use the word "opinion" when they really mean personal taste, I've noticed, as if it was a catch-all term. Not always though.) Doubt doesn't even touch some people's minds who use this approach. They may feel literallty 100% confident that they are right -- and yet be wrong. Who cares? Well, with Bionicle debate, indeed, who cares? It's just a toy. But what if you make the same mistake on a life or death issue, and choose wrong? What if you do this with a career-or-unemployed issue? How about a relationship-fail-or-success choice? You name it, just about any important issue in your life has multiple possibilities, and the consequences of choosing poorly can be huge. Beyond that, though, is there really such a thing as a small issue? This trap can, for example, rip up a good relationship merely as a long series of "straw-that-breaks-the-camel's-back" times when someone refuses to listen about the small things. There's always the "if you can't be trusted with the small things" saying to keep in mind. Mental practice with the small things CAN, most definately, help you understand the big things. Time and time again I have learned lessons about reality while debating things as trivial as the Piraka's teeth that later I've been shocked to find helped me understand something far more important. Besides, an "I'm right no matter what you say" attitude is a big part of what can tear friends and whole communities apart. You might think your "one possibility" attitude in a complaint/debate topic is just a trivial thing about a toy, when in fact it can be more about you as a person and how you relate to other people. People have eyes -- attitudes aren't generally lost on them. So even on small disagreements, this trap can cause big damage. Solution So I think the best way to approach discussion/debate/dispute/argument/opinions/life itself is a "possibilities attitude." Put simply, if you consider multiple possibilities honestly, you're a lot more likely to arrive at the truth. With any question, you try to put into mind multiple possibilities, analyzing them to see which makes the most sense. In fact, you will actually be even more confident if you embrace it fully! Self-confidence shouldn't be associated with "your opinion." Too often, people confuse their identity with their opinions. Wrong approach. Instead, treat "your opinion" simply as one possibility, the one you're leaning towards right now, or even the one you're convinced of right now. Base your self-confidence on who you are, not what you think (a lot of times people fail here because they let others dictate to them who they are rather than owning up to their own personal tastes and talents). For example, when I'm making a Bionicle storyline theory, I don't actually believe it's true (generally). I know it's possible that it isn't, but I do to create food for thought and go on record that it's the theory I think makes the most sense at the moment. Chances are it will be disproven. I have self-confidence regardless of that, because of my "possibilities" approach. I am confident in my own worth for what it is -- that shouldn't be tied to whatever my opinions happen to be. So when someone disagrees with you, treat their opinion as an actual possibility. Analyze it honestly for its own worth. Of course, never give into the temptation to agree just because you feel like it either -- but be willing to agree IF it actually makes sense to you. With more important issues in life, it makes sense, BTW, not to be quite as willing to agree. Especially not with in-person debates, because way too often there's something you are forgetting that you'll later think of (or something you haven't learned yet) that will show you actually were right. But just having the attitude that "I still think you're wrong, but it is a possibility" goes a long way, and ironically actually makes you appear far better than if you appear stubborn. But mull it over in your mind and do more research -- maybe you'll end up changing your mind after all. A tip -- don't just stop at considering others' points as possibilities. Practice always thinking up a full range of possibilities on your own. Use your imagination and ask yourself "what else is possible?" This is the best mental practice I know of, and can help you in so many aspects of your life I wouldn't have time to try to list them all. Of course, you don't always have time to do that. Time constraints have to take first priority, of course, usually. One thing a famous inventor advised though -- take time out to be alone so that you can think. Exact quote or source escapes me, but it's true. Sometimes finding your way is as simple as taking a quiet hour alone to think things through. "Meditation", as it were, cheesy though that might sound. A Place for Feeling Notice that I call this an "attitude." I am implying that this is more emotional than logical. It's sort of both, actually, as I'll get into below. But it's first an attitude. Emotion is the #1 blockade between a person and the right thing. I'm sure you've heard the saying "a level-head". Star Trek grasped part of this with the idea of Spock the logical Vulcan, seeing logic and emotion as opposites. But these ideas are missing something -- emotion is not the opposite of logic, but rather a foundation of it. You just have to have the right type of foundation. In the past I've talked about how ultimately emotion is necessary for logic to have a point. Knowing you're right leads to a feeling of peace and safety. Being right might lead to life instead of death, giving you the chance for positive emotion in your life. Etc. What's the point of anything if there's no positive and negative at the end of the day? There's another part to it, though -- it takes the right attitude to begin with if you will decide to be logical about a question. Contrary to popular misconception, logicians like me are just as emotional as anybody else. But we don't let emotion decide our thought-opinions for us. Emotion is for personal taste, logic is for thought. If you have the emotional attitude that you welcome the truth, and that you might not necessarily have found it yet, you can enjoy the process of thinking things through. And you can enjoy the feeling you get as you get closer and closer to the truth. If you train yourself well enough in logic, you can even get so good at spotting good and bad arguments you can actually "feel" which one makes the most sense far faster than if you took the time to consciously think it through. This is tricky and requires total honesty and total lack of ego, though, so it takes a lot of practice (it's sort of like muscle memory). Training yourself in the attitude of giving different possibilities a chance can, with practice, make you able to almost uncannily sort out the truth in just seconds (at least as far as you can tell based on what research you have). I would compare the experience to the main character in Ted Dekker's novel Blink (or like the old classic Dune), to in seconds being able to "see" multiple possibilities and choose the right one. A Place for Thinking Ultimately, logical thinking and all-inclusive research are the most important parts of a search for the truth. An open mind is a starting point -- but a starting point with no way to judge where to go next is useless. Knowing the common logical fallacies to avoid, knowing the basics of validity and soundness, etc. are huge keys. This is part of why I say that logic isn't so much a field like astrophysics or engineering, but something that everybody can benefit from, sort of like a healthy diet. But a possibilities attitude can help you even if you know nothing about logic, and even if you have no idea where to begin researching or lack the time. For example. If you hear the allegation "Five thousand people can't be wrong!" in an ad, you think of the possibility "but maybe those people have different needs or wants than me." You don't have to know that's the logical fallacy of "Ad Populum" to figure out for yourself that it's invalid. Simply consider if there's any realistic way for the statement/argument to be false. When it comes down to the wire in debate, you'll find that often this approach means you have to hold your tongue or say "I'm not sure about that yet" way more often. Sometimes you just have to swallow and face up to that when you take this attitude. Because you can't just feel your way to the truth most of the time -- you do have to consciously think. And it cannot stop at just thinking -- research is needed. But thinking first about what kind of research is a good starting point is wise. Also, many people even in the highest functions of life tend to reject some sources of research before they even look at them -- this is contrary to finding the truth. You can't know if something is a realistic possibility until you give it an honest chance. BTW, I'm defining "research" as knowledge, facts, evidence, etc. and not necessarily the stuffed-shirt definition of "read it in a book and cite your source." I'm just talking about things you know. Stuff in your head. Go back to what I've often said about ignorance -- it's not "stupid," it's not an insult IMO, it's nothing to be ashamed of. But it is "not knowing something," and to find the truth, you do need to know as much as you can. So if you don't have enough knowledge yet, it's usually best not even to form an opinion per se, or not to be too confident of the one you're leaning towards. To withhold judgement. In short, "possibilities attitude" sums up logic, all-inclusive research, and an open mind. It is the way to find the truth. ION: --Deadline for 2nd Chances MOC Contest: Beasts! (Bionicle Paracosmos Contest #1) is now moved to 11:59 PM EST (which I call midnight) on Sunday July 6. So you get a few extra days. --S&T contest list should have every entry in it now (with possible exception of one that seems eaten by a code error), but has NOT been double-checked yet. Therefore, list-updating time is extended to next Wednesday. I've also got real life nonsense clogging up my schedule right now, so no guarantees about how soon the grace period can start. --The bonus/contest epic BP: Mindfire is totally posted. (Has a fair few typos but editing period is closed so will have to wait till after contest to fix -- what I meant is clear in most). Would love more reviews. --Finally got around to making Mindfire's support banner: [url="http://www.bzpower.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=289176"][img=http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/bonesiii/SigStuff/ParacosmosBanners/mindfire.png][/url]
  17. Today the Bones Blog brings you my own history related to complaint topics, and a major aspect of what I do that most complainers do not realize off the bat. This is being posted because of a recent misunderstanding, but I've needed to say it for a long time. It's also proof that I can be a windbag, so apologies. Okay, anybody who knows me knows that I post in complaint topics a lot. I am usually disagreeing with complainers (when they post illogical points), and they often wish I hadn't done so. I've been called a "debating monster", I've been called distinguished and well-spoken, and I've been called an inhuman robot. What I do is admittedly often above the level that maybe a lot of people here want to think about, or sometimes even need to think about. I'm very wordy but often misunderstood, and even some of the people I respect most have been rubbed the wrong way by what I do. So why do I do it? The Misunderstanding Complainers often assume I am trying to stifle their right to complain. The number one response I get is "this is my opinion, I have a right to it, why are you trying to stop complaints about Bionicle?' Saying this is not evil -- it's perfectly understandable. But from my point of view, it's kinda funny and ironic, because what they do not realize is, I am actually doing the exact opposite. Before I started doing this, complaint topics were automatically closed for potential or actual flame, and I do claim credit for a huge portion of why today we can almost always keep them flame-free and thus open. So I'd really appreciate more gratitude from complainers. :-P But it's understandable, because that's not super simple a concept to grasp, and not obvious to someone who's newer to BZPower debates. So let's review the history. Importance of Complaints In 2004, when I was a new staff member, I mostly left complaint/debate topics alone. I don't like fighting -- I just want to get along with people. But I'm also a logician, and I'm also a big fan of Bionicle. That means I have a vested interest in Bionicle doing well. But what happens if there's a problem, and Bionicle isn't doing so hot? If its designers become out of touch with the majority of fans, and sales decline too far, how can it keep going? LEGO would have to cancel Bionicle and move on to something else. If LEGO itself faces this problem overall, it could go out of business. Equals bad. So say there's a problem. How do we fix it? By complaining. Constructive criticism, suggestions, whatever word you want to use, the fact is that on-target complaints are vital. We have helped Bionicle in this way before -- we helped show them why clone sets were a problem, and it was because of our complaints about that, combined with sales data that showed that we were right, that made LEGO decide to introduce more variety in teams. Flame is the Enemy of Free Speech But at the time, complaint topics had been getting more and more flamey as time went on and the original fans aged so much that they could no longer relate much to the new Bionicle. 2002 to 2003 had huge problems, but since it was still trying to hang onto appealing mostly to the minority preferences we see on here a lot, the main complaints were more of yawns in the form of posts than flame. But in 2004, Bionicle went more towards the majority tastes, and BZP's "nostalgics" (if you will) got upset, sometimes angry. GregF was in these topics, trying his best to provide a more objective point of view. He deserves even more credit than me for helping out in this way. But what I saw all too often was the idea that "Well, he just works for LEGO, he's making this stuff up" or the like. He was giving complainers important info they didn't have previously, and it helped a lot, but many didn't want to hear it and refused to believe it just because the source worked with LEGO. Things just kept on getting out of hand. Now, our job as staff is clear. We're here to be a family friendly forum. We cannot tolerate flame. We will not. The admins made that crystal clear from the get-go, long before I ever even knew BZPower existed. I support that call, and obviously most online fans and their parents do too, or we wouldn't be as big as we are. We have to do our best to promote respect and kindness among members, even as they disagree with each other. So what else could we do? We had no choice but to close these complaint topics when they got out of hand. By late 2004, complaint topics were almost always closed automatically because they'd become about as controversial as religion or politics discussions. What do you think that does to free speech, guys? At the time, a big complaint lodged towards us was that we were stifling free speech when it comes to Bionicle complaints. This despite the fact that many of us were on the front lines posting complaints, including admins! I refuse to pretend that somehow what we did back then was stifling free speech. The ones stifling free speech were the flamers. Enter Me But, I felt there was something else we could do. Or at least, that I could do. For many years now, I've considered myself a logician. What that means to me is I approach debate not as mudslinging, going around in circles, speechifying to defend whatever I happen to have said to protect my own selfish pride and ego -- that was when I was a kid. I was lucky enough to be taught logic growing up, and it fascinated me. I learned more and more about it, and I used it. I started to realize I had been a fool as a kid to argue by my ego. I became a logician -- which to me means I approach debate as a search among friends for the truth -- the real, actual truth, that is, not anyone's idea of it. I learned a lot about how avoiding logical fallacies and analyzing argument structures could help understand what was really going on in discussion, and better communicate what I wanted to get across. I don't claim any credit for this at all -- as I said, I was lucky. I came to believe logic was the key, as well as an open mind and in-depth, all-inclusive research, to finding the truth. Posting on here, I realized I had a talent for steering debates away from flame and "defensive debate" and towards respect and "truth-seeking debate." When I did this, flame in topics was reduced dramatically. And since I don't work for LEGO, nobody can use that tactic on me, and I'm able to back Greg up on a lot of things that might otherwise be brushed aside. Dosn't hurt that I can zap your proto if you flame me either. :-P So I decided to go into as many complaint topics as I could, and "moderate" both as a job and like a debate moderator, to try to avoid flame and thus keep the topics open. The job was too big for just me, so as I went, I tried to encourage as many of our older members to learn some of the things I learned and help me in the same way. Again, Greg's input, beyond even just the storyline, since he has access to facts like sales or focus group results that we don't have, helped a ton. Without that, I doubt the following would have been possible: Complaint Topics Stayed Open I still remember the first complaint topic I managed to keep open. Okay, so I don't remember what the subject was, lol, but it was in early 2005 or late 2004, don' remember which (crazy memory), and I did my best to stem the slightest hint of flame. I had been debating in complaint topics for a while now, but they were still getting out of hand. I had discussions with some of the admins about this, especially Ninjo, and everybody agreed trying to keep them calm/open was best. I was talking a lot about the goal of keeping the topics open because at the time, that was the biggest problem. And in this topic, the topic starter and I were able to have an intelligent discussion, and those that came in with more harsh tones and the like I critiqued and some of them responded intelligently. There was only minimal flame that was also spam, which we could warn or delete. And the topic died of natural causes after a while. I watched it like a hawk after the discussion waned, and I saw the exact time it happened. I still remember proudly telling Ninjo it had stayed open, and he was quite pleased. So I kept at this. Some more had to be closed, some getting quite out of hand, but things were clearly improving. By 2006, complaint topic closure was a distant memory. Debate Guide, etc. The Dreaded Real Life started really getting in my way around 2006, and I began having trouble keeping up with complaint topics. So I posted things like the BZP Debate Terms Guide (which is still the orange link in my sig, and free for all to read and learn from), or blog entries like Can Opinions be Wrong? or Why I Do What I Do. Though there were and always will be misunderstandings along the way, there's a whole generation of BZPers now who does a great job of helping do the same thing. Let's also not forget that I'm the guy who hosts the Complaint Topic Archive (though it still needs work and you can help! Go there!). So to suggest I'm somehow against them, given that if nothing else, is as absurd as saying Elvis was against rock music. Also, I've posted plenty of my own complaints, often right in the very posts that people respond to when they accuse me of being against complaints! I've posted both things that personally I find displeasing, and things that as someone concerned for Bionicle's health I think are real problems too. But It Can't Stop at Just Staying Open Okay, so cool, I've backed up the right to complain, usually despite the lack of gratitude. But why did I do it in the first place? Because I think on-target complaints can help improve Bionicle. So naturally, that means to be consistent, I also have to be trying to get you guys to think about this: What we need to focus on is asking ourselves this about every complaint: You find that out by the three things I mentioned -- I call them the Three Pillars of Truth: 1) Logic -- not fallacies, not flame, not mudslinging. 2) Open Mind -- not falling back on what you find easier to believe, not sticking to it due to pride/ego, etc. 3) Research -- not "assumptions" -- facts, hints, evidence, and not disregarding or ignoring any evidence or such. I am doing my best to provide #1. Greg, news articles about sales, and many other things are sources of #3. But only you can provide #2 for yourself. That's the one thing I can't control about debates. Do you have an open mind? Would you admit it if you were wrong? And of course, let's not forget that individual taste, majority taste, emotions, and business decisions are all mixed up into this, as I explain in this blog entry: Can Opinions Be Wrong? I don't wanna rehash all that -- if you haven't read it, please do -- but the basic idea is we each have different preferences for entertainment, and individually these "tastes" are outside logic. We should not be arguing against each others' individual tastes, or saying our own are superior, etc -- we need to focus on figuring out what the majority wants, and maybe on reasonable ways to give the minority some treats too -- in other words, on what will actually help the financial health of Bionicle. (Yes, financial. :-P) That's the biggest area where things get confusing, though. People sometimes think when I say "opinion" I mean "taste" and thus I'm attacking them, lol. Which is the opposite of what I'm doing. ("Opinion" can actually mean both, so that's why it's confusing. Which is why I hate that word. :-P Communication needs to be clear -- that's the whole point of it. But that's why defining words is also very important for everybody to do.) My Bad Now, all that said, I am not Spock, I am not an angel, I am a human being like the rest of us. I do have a temper (it's in there somewhere), I do make mistakes, I do make dumb decisions, I can be just as unhelpful as helpful. One of the curses of being a logician is that I see so much that others cannot see, so easily, it gets incredibly frustrating when they don't see it and need me to repeat it over and over and over again. So I come across as condescending sometimes -- and this is wrong as just as foolish as when I was that little kid because the other people aren't telepathic. Who am I to demand they know everything I know? Why I Continue Believe me, with life how it is more me now, it's really tempting to just quit. Assume, hey, I've fixed the closure problem, nobody remembers that now, I'd rather be writing, drawing, coding RPGs, and being known only for being a friendly albeit-oddly-spooky face on the forums who gives people free stuff. Do any of you think I wouldn't love that? Before I staked my reputation on this, that's who I was seen as, and I almost never got any flak. (Not personally, anyways, just as a generic member of the eeeeevil staff, lol.) I remember well the days when the universal response I got from my argumentative posts, which were limited just to storyline discussion for fun, was "Wow, bones is always right!" Now it's usually "Bones, why can't you leave us alone?" You think I like that? I think you're getting me mixed up with guys like whoever was behind the MiB stuff. :-P But I still love Bionicle, and I still love BZPower, and I still know what complainers might not know -- that I can and do have a positive influence on both. I want Bionicle to continue, and I want BZPower to continue to be a friendly, respected fansite. Forums Gone Bad (Now none of this is going to be related to other Bionicle forums, to make that clear off the bat. Most of those are also well moderated, albeit much smaller than us. :-P And please remember mentioning other forums or linking is against our rules, so nothing like that in comments, please.) I've witnessed with my own eyes, -- and jumped right into the thick of it posting and having conversations -- what happens when there is nobody like me on a fan forum that has gotten "very old". Remember what I said about how flame warfare getting worse simply as a natural side effect of Bionicle getting older? Well, that's not a uniquely Bionicle phenomenon. Actually, the truth is we are far, far better off than a lot of other forums out there. The vast majority of other franchise fan forums are in a constant state of open war -- not just "flame war" like tempers flaring in a topic as we think of it, but like the whole forum in chaos with organized "sides" making a life for themselves out of insulting the other side as cleverly as they can imagine, just for being different, 12 hours a day, seven days a week (okay, that number is fictional, but you get the idea). I've seen this get so bad, it has helped rip apart the franchise itself. Any major fan of scifi will know to what I'm referring to. In that case, I joined the forum in question, and I tried to discuss about what the problem was -- before the franchise collapsed, mind you -- and it quite simply failed utterly because both sides were so entrenched it was clear it was too late. Note that "franchise" is the word I'm using for lack of a better word without giving away what forum this is. I faced professional insulters, mudslingers, those to whom complaining was an attention-drawing art, and all manner of things many BZPers who have never gone on these other forums haven't even imagined. I had to give up on that one to preserve my time to have a life, my sanity, and eventually the fact that the franchise was finished and nothing else would help anyways. Mainly it happened because the franchise got old enough to have "nostalgic" fans who, without anybody objective to guide discussion, convinced themselves more and more for years that they were superior to the extreme to everybody else (which I'm not just guessing -- they proudly declared it). And let's note that the franchise managers' lack of input and involvement with fans made figuring out the truth about what the problem was rather difficult, and I'm not pretending I totally understand it or don't place blame on them too. That was on a forum where there was virtually no moderation and no franchise employee input, BTW, so it's worth mentioning that those were big factors too. But those alone are not enough. There's another "franchise" (again, the word is just the best match I can give without basically giving you guys links to non-kid-friendly forums), this time in the fantasy realm, that has a well-moderated forum, and the person at the top of this "franchise" has been very open about what goes into making what the forum is centered on. Note that it's nowhere near as involved as Greg is, so it's still not ideal, I'll grant you. But the point is, that the staff of this forum do a great job of stopping flame. Complaint topics, like on BZP 2004, are almost always closed, though not always. So you'd think the problem had been solved. Think again. Complainers got more and more vehement, and more and more angry when their complaints just kept getting closed. You saw all of the things as in the first example, all the bad choices made by individuals, all the addiction to negativity. And again, with nobody to act as an objective voice between sides on this, the complainers formed a "side" against the "fanboys". And they formed their own website with its own forum to provide a place for those voices, in the name of "free speech." When I came across this website, I was frankly shocked at the nonsensical arguments they had showcased in in-depth guides to why, literally, the producer of this entertainment "franchise" was stupid, inferior, even downright evil. It was an admin-supported, admin created sometimes, comprehensive museum of flame. Some legitimate complaints were featured, but they were buried inside ridiculous ones. Incredibly transparent tactics were used to twist the facts to make it sound as if an actual crime had been committed by the producer -- I'm not exaggerating -- worthy of court action. If there was a truth in speech law, the producer in question would easily be able to sue them for harrassment. To make matters worse, the forum side of this featured a highly elitist system of rules that defended the right to flame above almost all (second only to the rule that if you have even the slightest typo, you can be punished -- again, I'm not exaggerating). To their credit, their rules allowed for "free speech" where those who disagreed could come in and post their arguments too. But the vast majority of posts were simply making a game out of flaming the producer in new and innovative ways. It really does sound like the Brotherhood of Makuta or something, seeing it written like this, I know. :-P But it is what it is. Anyways, so I decided to give it a shot at helping in this case. I analyzed their major sections in the "museum" as I called it, and in a few seperate topics I provided the objective view of it. I made it clear I expected disagreement and encouraged debate, but I was hoping it could remain intelligent and flame-free since I agreed with their goal of free speech. To make a long story short, I got through to a couple people and I did do some good, and I'm glad I did it. And there was some intelligent discussion. Almost all of it, though, was just bringing in the flame game to my topics, flaming me, accusing me of being a troll, putting my name through the old flame animation generators, etc, or just using defensive, mudslinging, sarcastic, trolling, and other harmful tactics. By the time it was clear I had "won" the debates and most of the entrenched were making themselves look foolish, the forum administrators suddenly decided to take their entire forum offline, replace it with a new one that tried to seem more objective, and conveniently erase past member accounts and the vast majority of past topics, including, surprise, mine. I didn't bother to re-join. Obviously, "free speech" was just a slogan. There really wasn't much of it. There's one other example, this one in the TV Mystery genre (okay, even that is saying possibly too much :-P), that in my observation has a reasonable amount of moderation, and has a lot of logical people in it trying to keep things civil. It's still full of flame, but it hasn't gotten anywhere near as bad as the previous two examples. I never bothered joining this one, as things seemed under enough control as is, and this was around the time when ole' Dreaded Real Life attacked me, heh. So why do I keep doing this? Because I am for free speech. LOLZ! Whoa, that went long. All that is a rewording of what I said a couple hours ago in reply in a topic. :-P I wonder if the fact that beating a fossilized horse shatters it fits with the fact that flame shatters free speech? Maybe, but I'm too tired to think about it right now. Coming Soon! So as I thought I was going to say sooner, you can all look forward to (or dread, depending :-P) a series of several blog entries coming soon that expand on some more important aspects of Bionicle, complaints, the history of all this, life, the universe, and everything. But don't worry, there won't be 42 of them.... Also, progress on the RPG is continuing now, and you can expect yet another Survurlode interview coming soon (but I'm not sure who I'll interview yet). Oh, and I know, I know, I have been neglecting Bo Ring. Workin on it, workin on it. So don't worry, the Bones Blog isn't going to be pure logician/serious anymore than it ever has been. :-P
  18. (Most important points are bold.) If there was ever a "title says it" moment for blogs, this is it. But as simple as the statement "friends can disagree" is, it is shocking how profound and almost universally unknown it is to so many people. Whether on BZP or real life, people often start avoiding each other when they find out they like different things, or don't see eye to eye on things. This is wrong. Now maybe there are situations where this is all you can do. Being friends, even in the face of disagreements, is two choices. The choice of the one person, and the choice of the other. In the case of a community like BZPower, it's the choice of hundreds to thousands of different people. Sometimes you can do your best to be friendly even while disagreeing, but the other person just doesn't chip in. As as staff member especially, I know that this happens. However. Vast majority of the time, in my experience, the other person is being antagonistic mainly with a "you first" attitude. Meaning, they want you to demonstrate to them first that you are friendly, and then they know it's okay to be friendly with them. Until you do so, they assume you to be a possible enemy. Most flame wars start because all sides have a "you first" attitude, and since none of them, thusly, go first, they just escalate antagonism until it gets out of control. Here, we deal with that with punishment where needed. On some less quality forums out there, the sides get entrenched and often bring down the forum. In real life, it can lead to violence, or in less extreme, everyday situations, yelling matches, pointless damage to property, even breaking up relationships. Equals bad. As Dokuma put it in his excellent topic, "Voicing Opinions and Responding Intelligently": How To Disagree Intelligently: I think the best way to do this is to have a "possibilities attitude." By that I mean a positive attitude, and being thoughtful and fair rather than antagonistic. Always consider other possibilties besides just what you happen to already think, or what others happen to be telling you. This way it's much easier to see the other person as a friend, because you're not staking anything on selfish pride. When it comes to thought, I often talk about the 3 Pillars of Truth: 1) An open mind. If you don't have this, there's really no point in talking, because discussion requires it. 2) Logic. Emotion has its place too, but this can help you avoid being judgemental for wrong reasons, and other problems. 3) All-inclusive research. This requires actual work and most of us don't have time for it. Probably the hardest part; if you don't have time for it, it's usually best to keep your opinions limited to what you personally like or dislike, not what you think LEGO should do. There's a fourth part to this that's maybe even more important: 4) A positive attitude. Many people think there's a "glass half full/empty" situation, where you're either an "optimist" or a "pessimist." This is misguided. Optimism is healthier (it's been shown they live longer), but it implies a naive foolishness that actually thinks everything will be peachy -- and true optimists tend to end up getting disappointed and become the infamous "disillusioned", basically going to the opposite extreme and being pessimists. Pessimism is even worse, because even when a situation is almost totally positive, they obsess over the inevitable downside and let it rule them, making them miserable. Also as I say often, cynicism is really just the ultimate form of naivete -- just feed a cynic bad news and he'll sell his soul to you -- this is a common method of controlling others by manipulative types. But a "realist", which is what I describe myself as, is someone who brings a healthy, positive attitude to any situation, realizing that this world is just, plain and simple, messed up, and getting over it. Realists, unlike pessimists, know how to maintain emotional stability even in the face of bad news. Realists, unlike pessimists, do not ignore the good side of things; they embrace it. Realists also do not pretend that bad things will never happen; they expect them, but they don't think things will always be bad either. Poison or Medicine? This isn't just pie-in-the-sky philosophy. Your emotions are chemicals. When you let negative emotions rule you, you flood your body with harmful chemicals. Basically, you poison yourself with your own venom. And don't think a "I can take it" attitude is enough -- I've met people who think that they are emotionally unreachable because they don't let others' insults affect them, yet when non-people things don't go their way, they rant and rave about it, obviously letting it get to them. This applies to any unhealthy negative emotions, which is always a choice you make, though learning how to choose otherwise is difficult. Even if you think "they don't rule me", you can still make mistakes that a positive attitude helps you avoid. On the flip side, when you choose positive emotions, you flood your body with helpful chemicals, and this can contribute to physical health, and longer life, besides giving you clearer thinking. Essentially, emotions are a kind of drug. You can choose the addictive but harmful kind, or you can choose safe, beneficial medicinal ones. It Starts With You Nor is this just about your own health. When you express positive emotions towards others, it can be contagious, and help keep communities stable. Remember that, as the Dog Whisperer says, you are a source of power. A lot of people don't know that they choose their own emotions -- usually subconsciously, but the conscious can take this over, and even train the subconscious. A lot of people also don't realize that the emotions they choose for themselves affect the world around them. Dogs for example pick up your own insecurities, and they amplify them. I have learned from newer pets that cats have the same ability, though in a different way. Well, us humans are actually the same way, though admittedly with people it is faaaaar more complex, unpredictable, and of course each person is their own source of power much more so than animals. Since everybody else is thinking, "you go first", do it! By choosing to think "I'll be positive first", you avoid pointless antagonism, and even steer antagonism back towards peace sometimes. As far as it depends on you, you can be friends even with those who don't happen to have your opinions -- which is probably everybody anyways. In this way, each and every member who posts is wielding power either to tear down, or build up this community. The Folly of the Haters Now, there's a side to all of this that I doubt most of you need to hear. But it's the obvious opposing view to this, so it needs addressed. That is, some people actually believe they can hate others, harm them, flame them, etc. without harming themselves at all. This is very rampant in other places on the internet, as you probably know, probably because people think the only bad things that could happen to them come from other people, and anonymity is a shield. Not true -- the poisonous chemicals of hate come from inside everybody and cannot be avoided if you hate. Hate can be addictive, but so can a number of illegal substances that harm the user. Yes, there can be a thrill rush from hate, but being kind to all is actually far, far more thrilling. Explaining this to people who've chosen this path is difficult, because the hate-addicted usually just use an "Instant Rejection Fallacy" and go all "peace is for wimps" on you. They also often display an "Inverse Accusation Syndrome" where they assume anyone intelligent that claims to want peace must be lying and actually secretely hates -- projecting their own fallacy on others, basically. Addictions have a way of making the addicted glom onto whatever fallacy they can, to decieve themselves so they aren't totally depressed by the consequences of their choice. But I've lived both sides of this. I've fallen prey to hate before. I'm a smart guy -- and that can be dangerous -- I've used that intelligence to harm others. But I'm also smart enough to analyze myself, and I now know for sure that this is an incredibly inferior approach. Many of the reasons I know this we can't discuss here, but I am confident enough in them after years of searching (with the "3 pillars" method) that I know the peace-seeking way is best -- it's actually IMO intertwined in the physics of reality itself. But we don't really need to discuss all that to see why the kind way is best -- "haters" get an emotional benefit only some of the time, while peace-seekers get it all the time. Another Tip A big mistake people use is assuming that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid (or stupider ). Bad idea. First of all, if anyone really was lacking in relevant intelligence due to genetic reasons, it would be out of their control. So to insult them for it would make no sense, and would be a form of discrimination. If, on the other hand, they are choosing not to use their brains, for almost any reason, "stupid" is an innaccurate label anyways. A lot of times they just have never been told how to use it for a situation -- for example, I would hope that after reading this, many of you would learn something new about how you can use your brain. That doesn't mean you were stupid before -- more like ignorant, which IMO is nothing to be ashamed of. More to the point, I believe that the vast majority of humans, even most of the so-called "mentally handicapped" are actually basically the same intellgence level, it's just that we allocate our intelligence in different areas. For example, IQ tests (one of which has called me a "regional mastermind") are fallible, because they are biased towards those who allocate their intelligence towards a more mathematic, analytical approach, like me. Yet I know that I sorely lack in abilities that I see commonplace around me. Others are often quicker to perform the right action in time-limited situations than me, where I have to step back and analyze before I can figure out what I'm supposed to do. As a consequence, I am much slower than most people. In many situations in real life and even some online when I don't have much time, I am the one who appears stupid. As another example, the "handicapped" often are far better than "normal" people at having a positive attitude, and so in a lot of situations they actually get far better results than the rest of us. Many just seem to understand this as if it was 2 + 2, where we are really slow at picking up on it. (That's not to say that brain damage doesn't decrease intelligence sometimes; brains are computers and some computers can be more powerful than others and this is okay.) Allocation. Remember that word. Most of the time, it's best to assume that the other person is probably just as smart as you. It's a very useful approach, and most of the time IMO it's true. Now, it's fair to point out that some choose not to use their brains right, on purpose, for selfish purposes. Sure, but even with this, I wouldn't go insulting their intelligence. Chances are they're plenty smart, and besides, we don't allow insulting others regardless so don't do it or else. I'll concede that with some people (not on here for the most part) who stubbornly choose pride over their brains, I do accurately label that "stupidity." But in the spirit of promoting a positive environment for discussion, it's best not to post that kind of opinion, because others who don't understand what this blog entry talks about might misunderstand and think it's okay to insult anyone anytime. (Don't ask me if I think that of you. ) In other words, if you call someone stupid, a lot of times you're basically labeling yourself. Conclusion Friends can Disagree. But also, Disagree-ers should be friends.
  19. Love or hate it, complaining is an important aspect of Bionicle discussion. It's always possible that real problems could exist, and constructive criticism might bring it to LEGO's attention and help Bionicle's health. The Bionicle fanbase has a unique relationship with the franchise it follows because the LEGO company is very interested in fan input and correcting such errors. In the past we have helped with such things as clone sets thanks to this. As such, the ability to complain is a privelege to be protected and even celebrated. Of course, many complaints aren't realistic, informed, constructive, etc. or are , however the replies in many are sources of great insight into how Bionicle works, why choices have been made, and of course, into why the suggestions might not work. In addition, they are great opportunities to hone debating skills and can be for some (like me) quite enjoyable as long as they remain respectful and hopefully friendly. Therefore, the Bones Blog is now hosting a list of BZPower complaint topics. Please help by posting URLs of more! 2006: Gear Functions Disappearing Violence Policy What The...? I Don't Get It -- Matoran story roles, good always winning, etc If You Could Rename... -- Kongu's sense of humor, personality 2007: The Downfall of Bionicle -- gears, knockoff masks, etc LEGO, What Are You Doing? -- biomechanical set design, snap-together builds, etc Eye Colors Bring Back the Gears, Masks that [Fall Off] Too Much Articulation? A New Color Scheme -- black sets selling poorly, new color suggestions 2008: No New Creative Lego Designs? -- Canister set torso similarities between teams "If I Were A Set Designer" -- Newva body design, collectibles, and more. Back in the Olden Days -- 2001 Nostalgia Time To Vent -- Mechnical functions, collectibles, proportion, complexity, and more Why Fans Like the Mata Nui Saga This was previously a sidebar, but I've decided it would work better as a blog entry.
  20. Today the Bones Blog brings you a topic that is essential for any member of any online fan forum to understand -- the equality of varying personal preferences/tastes, and how not recognizing this can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, or worse. Bold is for important points, not emotionalism. This will be very to-the-point so it's easier to read -- if you wanna know more, please ask! Please realize my goal is to show an easy way to help us all avoid flaming each other, even if we disagree on things. Quality is in the Eye of the Beholder Bionicle is a toyline, a franchise with a storyline inspired by its toys. Toys are for kids to have fun, although some adults (like me) enjoy toylines as well. To have fun, kids must be pleased by the toy and the experience that comes with it, or by the storyline, etc. How you please each person depends on their personal tastes, also called preference. Tastes vary from person to person, and are largely wired into us from birth, not something we choose or can control. Tastes do change and develop with age and life experiences, and there may some small element of choice with them. But for the most part, taste is just like race, gender, hair color, eye color, facial features, etc. -- it's built into us. And thus, to put down someone else just because they dislike different things, or to insult the things they like, is a form of discrimination, and is wrong. Now, it's perhaps not as bad as racism, because it's easy to see that skin color or other racial features are not chosen by the person, but preference is invisible. However, at heart it is just as bad, and the hate directed at the "different" can hurt just as much. Or to put it how I often do -- People are like snowflakes. No two are the same. This means that "quality", at least in toys, is subjective, and depends on the person. Nobody can claim that their own tastes automatically equal quality. The only thing close is the majority taste, since that determines what will sell well. The Mistake However, the above facts are often misunderstood or not even known by people, especially when young. People often assume that what they like, everybody else must like too. When they dislike something, they assume it must be "bad" and that everybody else will agree. When people like this encounter others, it is confusing. They often react negatively to the different person (making a mistake I call "Instant Rejection Fallacy" which I will have a blog entry in the future), assuming they are making a wrong choice, or are somehow "damaged" or immature or less intelligent, etc. When they encounter things they dislike, they assume there must be something wrong with those who designed it. Many who do know that others like different things mistakenly think that those others are "lesser." In their confusion, people often try to "defend" their tastes by trying to sound logical about what is "good" and "bad" -- two problems being that they just use fallacies, which aren't logical, and that they didn't need to defend their tastes at all because it's okay to have them. It's an easy mistake to make -- but it's easily fixed if we simply realize that taste is wired into us, and not related to intelligence or anything like that -- if we realize that all individual tastes are equal. Seeing someone who's different isn't cause for alarm -- relax yall! Bionicle's Responsibility Bionicle has a responsibility to remain financially healthy in order to continue, and to support the LEGO company. In order to do this, it must please enough fans that it turns a profit (in the face of pressures such as the cost of plastic, the cost of steel molds, both of which have been rising, or the salaries of employees, or the costs to transport and package, etc. etc. etc.). This means Bionicle has a responsibility to please "most fans," or the "majority preference." Since each individual taste is equal, each one works like a vote. That's only approximate as some might spend more money than others, but you get the idea. With votes, majorities win. While it can give minority fans small treats here and there, vast majority of time the issue is this: "Does this please most fans?" Also, BZP is NOT most fans. We are only a tiny percentage of the fanbase, and even the active posts are often unequally weighted towards the displeased than the pleased -- because the pleased would usually rather just play with toys than go post somewhere. The Risk of Entrenched Hatred I strongly recommend reading my past blog entry "Am I Against Free Speech?," especially the "Forums Gone Bad" section, because on forums where lack of understanding of this basic concept runs rampant, many people tell themselves for years that they are superior to everybody else, and this wrong opinion becomes so entrenched that it is hard to teach them the truth. Just trying to do makes you "the enemy" in their eyes a lot of times. So whenever you see a topic or post doing this, I recommend linking here. We all must be vigilant and see to it that we don't let anyone fall into this dangerous trap, including ourselves. Just one post while you're in a bad mood can come across as TDF, and spark flame. It can drag down any forum, even BZPower, and it really only takes a month or even less time for such discrimination to become entrenched if there's something big to disagree about (like new set images). It doesn't always just plain die down. In the past few months, I've seen a lot more extreme taste discrimination in the form of some extreme, even hateful topics. These are beginning to risk us needing to start closing complaint topics, and if you read that other entry, you know I'm trying my best to prevent that. But I'm a busy guy and I can't do it all myself. Obviously, these usually come from newer members (though often longtime fans) who aren't as familiar with our rules against flaming, and almost definately have never seen any of my posts or similar posts. The Fallacy, 3 Main Forms 1) Insulting someone with a different taste is the most extreme form of "taste discrimination." This is NOT to say "there's no such thing as morals." People CAN certainly make immoral choices, but morals are inside the realm of logic. Logic states that "I like" statements are considered to be outside the realm of logic, thus it is illogical to try to attach moral or universal standards to personal tastes. 2) A lesser version is when you don't insult the people directly, but insult what they like. Even if you say that you don't want to offend anybody, doing that IS an insult to the person who likes it, because it implies they shouldn't like it. 3) And a much lesser version is when you simply assume that everybody, or most people, shares your own tastes. You might not hate those who don't share your tastes, but you assume that entertainment is supposed to be targeted at you, thus you can tell people what is 'good' and 'bad' about entertainment purely by saying what you liked or disliked. Problem is, you might actually be in the minority on some things. World doesn't revolve around just you. This is a form of "Hasty generalization" fallacy. It also often comes in the form of "Chronological Snobbery" fallacy -- assuming that the new/old is good/bad just because it's new or old. Both of those terms are official logicianspeak, not my own terms. All of these are versions of a logical fallacy because, essentially, they look at something that is true inside one person (taste) and use it to say what reality must be, universally, about something outside that person (in this case, Bionicle). The argument "I dislike this, therefore Bionicle shouldn't do it" sums up the fallacy. "Taste Discrimination Fallacy" is my own term, to be clear. And don't confuse it with "He has discriminating tastes" -- that's just a fancy way of saying someone's picky. Again, What I'm NOT Saying I'm NOT saying that Bionicle doesn't make mistakes. If it appeals less to most fans than it should, that's a mistake, and needs fixed -- complaining about these is good and is the main reason I work so hard to keep complaint topics flame-free and thus open. I'm NOT saying logic is irrelevant to Bionicle. But it's usually more in the storyline realm than the set one -- plot holes and the like are a logical issue. With sets, almost everything is a matter of preference. Also, LEGO must use logic in order to determine what will appeal to most fans. Obviously it is capable of not hitting that nail on the head every time, but it's been getting much, much better at it. I'm NOT saying the majority taste is "better" than the minority. Individually each is equal, and a "tyranny of the majority" would be just as bad with this as with racism or any other form of discrimination. However, Bionicle has no choice but to try to appeal to the majority, and this is not wrong. Small treats for minority fans are cool and I encourage them, but we must be careful not to be ungrateful when this happens as LEGO has no obligation to do it -- we should not have a "more more more" attitude towards such treats. I'm NOT saying everything is about taste. There are some people who try to justify immoral behavior as taste -- this is wrong because issues of morals do exist inside the realm of logic. So for example murder is wrong universally -- a murderer can't justify it by saying he likes to do it. What else am I not saying... *thinks* I'm NOT saying that taste is as simple as "two sides." That's what entrenched flamers usually say, and it's waaay oversimplistic. However, there are two approximate sides on a lot of things. Watch for an entry coming soon on what they are. I'm NOT saying there's an "older fan" taste and a "younger fan" taste. While that might have changed slightly for the majority since new kids constantly get born, grow a little older, and join the fanbase, a lot of the original styles were unpopular even in 2001 (Rahi sold poorly, collectibles sold poorly, gears were unpopular, the most-complained-about year, etc.). I am a perfect example of a 2001 fan who disliked those things and loves the newer style a lot more. In reality, it was that in 2001 LEGO misjudged who would mostly like Bionicle, and since then, has changed to move more in line with the majority. The minority, which is often online and BZP members, dislikes this obviously. But they sometimes forget that LEGO can't please everybody -- so there will always be someone who dislikes whatever they do. And I'm not saying anything else bad. Bones = nice. I'm saying Beeeeee Gooooooood. Capisce? Examples of Taste Discrimination Some of these are near-quotes from recent topics, others are from past topics, most are paraphrased. "LEGO has killed Bionicle because I don't like a new set!" "This set is stupid." "Epic fail." (Sorry ) "LEGO's selling out!" "Bionicle is cheaping out!" "Alright, no." "Dumbest set." "Golden Age of 2001." "Bionicle is for [insert random insult]s." "LEGO is milking the cash cow." (If something sells, means it pleases kids.) "I hate this set." (Hate is too far; if you hate a toy, you have problems.") "The Umbra Mistake" "Toa Mistake-a" (I know it's punny and all, but it's TDF.) "LEGO doesn't care about the fans, just money." (If it sells, means pleases most fans.) "You're a fanboy." (Probably the dumbest insult considering most Bionicle fans are boys and are also, well, fans...) "You're not a true fan." (Just because someone doesn't like part of a franchise doesn't make 'em any less a fan.) And there are hundreds of other similar statements that reveal a taste-discrimination fallacy. I've probably forgotten a lot of biggies -- I might add more. A Better Way! If we all simply understand that taste vary, and are equal, we can learn to get along with others much more, and avoid problems like flame. When you see something you don't like, be more like "Eh, not my cup of proverbial tea... not that I drink tea..." We are all different, and that's okay. Say things more like "What set do you like least?" or "Favorite set?" or "I didn't like that at all." etc. Usually things like "Worst set" are OK as long as they aren't flamey too. It's simple, really, even if it takes a few words to say the whole thing (), and when you have figured this out, life is much easier and more pleasant. That is all.
  21. Often people wonder why I devote so much time and energy to logically analyzing and debating in complaint topics, focused on figuring out if there are problems with Bionicle. In general, people often wonder why I am logician to begin with. Why do I do what I do? The following is a quote from a PM that someone (I do not know who, nor do I want to know who) sent to someone I was debating today: This is a very telling insight. It's not often that I am privy to "behind the scenes" conversations like this (not to over-analyze it, of course). Sadly, it illustrates the wrong way to go about debates that I see all too often in all walks of life--it's about "beating" the opponent. See, as a logician, I approach debate in a way that has much better results: I always win. And I always lose. What I mean is, I look at debate as a search for the truth, between two sides who are friends. I don't want to "beat" anyone, I don't want to "win", as if this was a game or a sport, as if it was about one-up-manship. It isn't. This is about reality, trying to understand it, trying to find it. About truth. That's important to me, much more important than my own ego or whatever. (I regularly torture my ego, whip it, suffocate it... stuff it in a toaster... Make it step on Lego bricks... ) So, since I look at things logically, if I ever had an opinion that didn't jive with reality, my friends (debate opponents--anyone) would hopefully be able to show me where I was wrong, and I would be glad for this! Because then I could stop believing the illogical opinion, and take up a new opinion that is closer to reality! If this happens (and it has many times, believe me, lol), I still end up being right. And my friend has helped me get closer to reality, which is what I wanted in the first place. See how this is a win? However, if I am ever tempted to "beat" someone, or "own" them, whatever the label, I must turn down that temptation, however appealing it may seem. It is a trap, a venomous snake that sings a sweet song until it sinks its fangs in. But my ego so wants to push me towards those fangs. Hence the torture. I call this "truth-seeking debate." But the kind that this PMer seems to be using is "defensive debate", where the goal is just to speechify words to defend your own opinion, no matter what it is, no matter whether it jives with reality or not. That's sad. I have zero interest in that. And there's something else to notice--that PMer said that I am "almost impossible to beat". Well, I would actually say that is true of defensive debaters--if logic itself doesn't convince them of reality, nothing does. Defensive debaters don't want to admit when they're wrong. I do. Really, I am much easier to "beat" in that sense than anyone else. Because I am honor-bound to concede, when logic demands it. I have to be honest, I have to honestly believe what makes the most sense to believe, as far as I can know. I am very comfortable with this bondage--it means I'm a lot more likely to be right! And I like being right. Not just that--the idea of being wrong terrifies me. Imagine if I was wrong in a question of life or death--and I chose wrong, because of my ego. Now that is scary. The only other type of debater I can think of is one who will give in for illogical reasons, and that to me is pretty sad--it doesn't have anything to do with reality. Facts should be everybody's "weakness." Except--they aren't a weakness! Facts are what debate is all about! You might be able to sway someone like this, but it's no accomplishment, is it? It's possible you might convince them of reality, but they don't even know it. I am extremely glad I don't live like that. It's important to me to show this sort of person logic too--logic is the key. So my challenge to that PMer (and to everyone, really) is, can he or she accept the possibility that heshe could be wrong too? What if the reason that debater had trouble "beating" me, is that I actually happened to be right? The PMer seems to assume that I must be wrong. Perhaps the PMer should realize that he or she is actually wrong about something? As for Bionicle... When it comes to Bionicle debate, my concern is that there are real problems with Bionicle (or there could be, and have been). I want Bionicle to do well, and to me complaining about real problems is a vital part of helping it do well. If we cannot logically find real problems... what happens when a problem gets too big? No more Bionicle. It isn't enough to just accept every complaint and pretend it's a real problem--it isn't enough to pretend that if I don't like something, it's a problem. But far more importantly--it is not enough to just ignore complaints, and pretend everything is OK automatically. So I have to logically analyze, I have to challenge people when their logic is flawed, I have to concede when there are real problems that can be logically shown, and I believe that I can do some good for Bionicle this way. And even if a complainer is logically shown to be wrong, I hope that I can help them see that, and come away happier for being able to know that even though they don't like something, they can rest assured that something is helping Bionicle, not hurting. This is probably my weakest area, and I think I come off as too condescending a lot or sometimes I'm just so tired of debating someone who doesn't realize that what I'm talking about has been debated to death in the past and take too many logical leaps, or I let frustration get into my post, which really hurts this goal. I don't want that--and as a logician honor bound to be honest, I must admit that it is a serious flaw in how I debate, way too often. Trying my best to avoid that, because the goal is to help show others a better way, not to "beat" them. That is why I do what I do. But--I could still do better, and I thank the hundreds of people I have debated who have been able to show when I've made those kinds of mistakes. Even though my ego loses every time... I avoid the poisonous fangs, so I ain't complaining. And to people thinking like that PMer--let me tell you, one of the most exhilerating experiences possible is admitting when you're wrong. To people who never have, it can be scary, but I've admitted being wrong enough times to know it shouldn't be--it is actually fun! When I can get closer to reality, I feel like an eagle soaring over the clouds. This isn't a dry, boring, robotic life, being a logician. It is wonderful! And I use the eagle metaphor for a reason--it sometimes feels like having eagle eyes, being able to see what many others can't. (The ego is the rat in this equation.) And one final note: I am not Spock.
  22. Today the Bones Blog brings you the answer to one of the most commonly posted debate tactics on BZP. This is answered already in the Debate Terms Guide, but the answer is somewhat spread out over many entries there and that length can be daunting to read. So this blog entry addresses the idea directly. For clarity, key points will be bolded; don't confuse the bolding for emotionalism. Can Opinions Be Wrong? One of the most common ideas I encounter in debate is this: "These are my opinions. You can have yours too, but in no way am I going to change mine." [slight paraphrase from a current debate.] Usually this comes from someone who posted an opinion that was worded as if saying "I am right, others are wrong", that I or others had then disagreed with. The idea sounds good--that "I have a right to my opinion." Sure! But what if someone uses this to stick to an opinion that logic clearly shows is incorrect? Such as the opinion that the sky is orange, when it is in fact blue, as one example? Well, the answer is more complicated than you might think--what if what they really meant was they wished the sky was orange? That would be okay, right? The fundamental question is not whether you have the right to your opinion, but whether your opinion makes sense. The question is, can opinions be wrong? Two Kinds of Opinion The answer is, "Depends on what they mean by 'opinion.'" We must understand that the word "opinion" is occasionally used where really the word "taste" would be clearer. There are basically two kinds of "opinion": When you talk about what you like, or dislike, or feel, or what your preferences are, that's taste. That is unique to everybody, and nobody should feel that they are wrong for having theirs. These are not about the outside world, but about you. Therefore the outside world shouldn't change your view of who you are and what you prefer. If you dislike a set that was popular, you should not pretend that you liked it or feel pressured to like it. Same if you liked one that was unpopular. Sometimes I call this "taste opinion" to be clear, and it can also be called just "taste" or "preference" in standard English. Taste opinions cannot be wrong--they are individually unique. When you talk about what you think; what you say makes logical sense or is somehow a universal rule or definate truth, that's an opinion. These are not about you, but are basically theories about outside reality. These can be wrong. For example, if you have the opinion that a set didn't sell well, and sales prove you wrong, your opinion was wrong. And thus, you should change that opinion. I call this a "LEGO should" opinion, a "thought-opinion", or just a "logic-opinion" to be clear. Logic opinions can be wrong--truth and logic is not subjective. This is a basic principle of logic (which is the study of human mental processes). Issues of fact and theory, rules, morals, objective quality, common sense, storyline logic, debating, study of majority and minority tastes, sales results, methods of art, and so many others all fall under "logic-opinion". In contrast, personal statements of preference; of taste; statements worded similar to "I like/dislike this" are considered by logicians to be outside the realm of logic, and are not logically debatable. They fall under "taste-opinion". The Answer So the answer is this. "If you mean your tastes, then you're right to refuse to change your opinion. However, if you mean a 'logic-opinion', then you should be willing to consider you might be wrong, and if you're proven wrong, admit it and change the opinion." If it does turn out that the member is holding a "logic-opinion" that someone disagrees with, then that is the time to carry out a debate, look at evidence, and get into what I call "truth-seeking debate". That is, for both sides to be willing to change their minds if it turns out they are wrong. Because in those cases, either one side is wrong and the other is right, or both are wrong and the truth is something else entirely. However, if it turns out they were really holding a "taste-opinion" then there is no reason to debate that taste. Clarity -- Which "Opinion" do you mean? What most people debating me do not realize off-the-bat is that I'm not putting down your tastes. Instead, I am challenging you to word things more clearly, while I'm asking you to clarify your point. To reconsider how you originally worded your opinion, or to try, in the future, to make it clear when you mean your tastes. This can be done in many simple, easy ways. It's done by simply adding a "marker" phrase like these in your statement: "Personally" "To me" "I don't like this" "In my tastes" (I often abbreviate this; "IMT" to differ from "IMO") "In my preference" "In my personal tastes" "Tastewise, I feel" "I feel" "Myself" "Please note, this is just me" Etc. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly think "opinion" is one of these words. It is not--it is confusing, since it can mean both things. If "taste-markers" aren't used, the member often must be asked to explain their point more clearly. As a logician, that rarely confuses me, however, others who aren't logicians often misunderstand, and this can trigger unneeded debating, and sometimes even flame. This is usually how flame wars are started, often without any actual ill-intent by the person who started it! Just a big misunderstanding caused by unclear wording. When you state your tastes as fact or logic-based arguments, it comes across as putting down others' tastes and saying yours is superior, even if that's not what you meant. This can be especially true of younger members, but believe me, it's not limited to age--the same confusion causes flame wars on forums for adults/teenagers too, and I've witnessed this. In short, if you mean your tastes, say so!
  23. In most debates, most of the "disagreements" actually arise because one side or another (or both) fails to clearly define the terms they are using. This is a continuing and profound problem on BZP that I run into often; and often I find myself needing to repeat myself over and over as new debate topics pop up with members posting in them that missed the last topic. Gets tedious, so here's a basic dictionary of the debate terms most important to Bionicle debates on BZPower! [Note: I maxed out this blog entry! XD This will instead serve as a link to a topic, thusly. Please post comments in the topic instead of here, until it dies.] I'll also include some common logical fallacies and the like frequently used on BZP, and a few terms that I came up with myself that describe some common tendencies we have here. Of course, this is nowhere near complete, but it does cover most of what is important. Any formal definitions I provide are from Dictionary.com and thus are easily verifiable by anyone who doubts me. Other links are to Wikipedia--note of course that this content could be edited/vandalized after I link to it, so keep that in mind when following those links. Each opening word(s) to be defined are bolded and blued. Key phrases or words within the definition are bolded so you can avoid sifting through the longer explanations if you wish. And when one defined word is mentioned in another's definition, the word is blued. Also note, some erroneous quotes here are from a certain BZP member, and are used with permission--the member has since realized the mistakes made in them--the quotes are not to be taken as disparagement of any member, but rather examples of very common mistakes made by many, many members of BZP. I'll leave it up to that member to decide if he wants to identify himself or not. Keep in mind that the point of this blog entry is not to stifle debate or complaining, but to help BZPers improve the quality of their criticism of Bionicle--so that it can be 1) constructive, 2) useful, and 3) logical and reasonable. I'll be linking to this often, I expect, in future debates, rather than repeat these definitions over and over. Feel free to link to it for the same reasons. Basics Problematic Cliches and Fallacies My Terms Hope this is useful!
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