Origins Debates

Given the ideological opposition by the site’s founder to having ‘debates’ as a way of making progress or solving disagreements over at Peaceful Science (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/, “In my view, science is not up for public debate.”) on topics related to human and life origins, I wonder what the attitudes of people towards ‘origins debates’ are here at TSZ. Do you call it ‘the Creation Wars’ as S. Joshua Swamidass does?

Below are a few questions for those who do not wish to play by Swamidass’ rules and who indeed, don’t mind putting their ideas, knowledge and ability to answer challenges to their theories, dogmas and biases, to the test in debate. It’s not like Joshua can actually defend ‘methodological naturalism’ other than with multiple falsehoods and having to sell his ‘Me-Scientist’ piety badge at a discount. So, let us imagine a hypothetical and suppose a ‘friendly debate’ were possible to construct and see if anyone here can play along. These are survey questions about a ‘debate’ that many people seem willing to admit they are themselves already engaged in here and elsewhere.

Questions:

1. When considered as not only a discussion, but rather as a ‘debate,’ what is/are the key debate topic(s) over human & life origins really about?

2. Is there a particular intractable problem that you have found never gets resolved in debates about human and life origins?

3. Which debate(s) about human and life origins do you feel most qualified to participate in? Given the diversity of fields and topics involved, it’s expected that everyone should be able to openly admit many things they don’t know about human and life origins.

4. Is there a particular debate topic that you are surprised people try to raise with you because it is so obvious they wouldn’t have more than the slightest possibility of convincing an expert in the field?

5. How many women are ‘debating’ about human and life origins in contrast to men?

6. How many young people are more than superficially interested in human & life origins enough to ‘debate’ about it or to the extent that they keep track of debates on the topic in contrast with older people? Is there a level of getting fed up with listening to too much argumentation and controversy, especially in the USA, regarding this topic that late Millennials, Gen Y & Gen Z are less interested in bickering about events from 50,000+ years ago with only some vague & obscure comparison with ‘modern human beings’ (homo sapiens sapiens)? Are today’s youth much more interested in the recent understanding of humanity in the anthropocene period to worry too much if Darwin killed Adam & Eve or if instead he had just grown comfortably numb in his own unbelief?

7. Is debating about human & life origins any fun? Does it frustrate people here to endlessly ‘debate’ with a guy like ST Cordova who claims to be both an IDist & a young earth creationist, or is it actually enjoyable or valuable for anyone? Not a few people still keep coming back to do it. There must be something motivational in ‘defending the anti-creationist, anti-IDist, anti-theistic evolutionist and sometimes anti-theology and anti-religious side in the argument,’ according to the skeptics here. What is it that makes people want to debate human & life origins?

8. If you could choose one opponent, who would you most like to debate with? If you want to be nice, then don’t name the person’s name, instead just speak of what you want to debate them about. Is there a specific subcategory of IDist, or materialist or evolutionary creationist, for example, that particularly grinds your wheels to a halt when they start speaking, such that you feel you must answer them online?

9. Is it a kind of relentless opposition that is always linked with theology or worldview at its roots, rather than only natural science, which makes origins topics almost endlessly fascinating for people around the world and sometimes nearby at home?

10. Isn’t it almost comic that many participants on public forums like this one think they hold a ‘winning record’ in ‘debates’ about human and life origins on the internet (cf. Dunning-Kruger, illusory superiority) & in reality only few can really claim expertise over others on any given topic or field & if they have it, don’t need to ‘prove’ it anywhere on the internet against amateurs?

This thread ties back with a previous one about origins discussions, in the aim of helping enable conversations without vilification and with more honesty involved and encouraged.

http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/origins-discussions-what-would-be-the-first-question-youd-ask/

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127 thoughts on “Origins Debates

  1. Gregory: I’d like to understand the end game you have in mind that confuses you about why mathematicians and information theorists along with software developers, programmers & designers can honestly & openly reject IDT & still live in vertical priority as Abrahamic monotheists. Do you think you will turn those people to IDT, rather than being turned away from IDism yourself to a more realistic and mature view of science, philosophy & theology/worldview discourse involving origins & processes of change?

    I’m just interested in the truth, and the mathematical/comp. sci. component is the easiest for me to grasp, and also seems most fundamental. I ask on these forums to see if anyone has a refutation for the ID argument in that arena, just to see if I’ve missed something. But, so far, it appears there are zero good refutations of the ID argument, even from experts in the field.

    My personal end game is to turn the theory into practical application, which I’ve done. Then, profit!

    Then, there is the interesting aspect of the Archimedes quote:
    “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world.”

    ID math seems very solid and very controversial, so it gives me vantage to evaluate other truth claims, and provides an interesting inside view of the rhetorical methods of those who don’t have the truth on their side.

    Anyways, I’m happy to discuss the ID math with anyone. Just don’t waste my time with pointless arguments 😀

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  2. EricMH,

    Yes, I’m familiar with that Archimedes quote & used it in my undergrad thesis more than a few years ago. I’m obviously not against finding a place to stand. It seems one difference between you & I on this topic is that you think standing upon the work of the IDM is a good idea, while I think it reveals woolly, duplicitous ideology that has damaged & is damaging communication, particularly among religious theists.

    I’d really like to believe you are interested in truth, but from what I’ve seen so far, you get stuck mired in ideology & stain truth with IDism. The DI, as you may know, has a nasty habit of imputing ideology to others, while feigning ideological innocence and making no admission of their own ideology, which is frankly quite obvious to other Abrahamic theists. Are you unaware of this or are you woke to what they are doing with ideology?

    Ok, let’s do a test to see if you’ve read the literature about ‘design’ in comp sci & mathematics. Can you please name some ‘design theorists’ who are not IDists? Can you show that you are aware of the similarities & differences between ‘mathematical design theory’ or ‘computer science design theory’ and ‘Intelligent Design theory’? If you’re not going to do the work, then your claims regarding “the ID argument in that arena” are rather easy & probably wise to dismiss.

    If you need help typing in suitable search terms, I’m available to help you. Will you actually do the work or continue to avoid doing it?

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  3. EricMH,

    “ID math seems very solid and very controversial, so it gives me vantage to evaluate other truth claims, and provides an interesting inside view of the rhetorical methods of those who don’t have the truth on their side.”

    At this point, you have shown you have ideology on your side, not truth. Even the notion of “ID math” (though Dembski seems to have left it incomplete, unfinished & half-baked!) looks mainly like ideological probabilism so far.

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  4. Gregory: At this point, you have shown you have ideology on your side, not truth. Even the notion of “ID math” (though Dembski seems to have left it incomplete, unfinished & half-baked!) looks mainly like ideological probabilism so far.

    Just short hand to refer to the mathematical theories that Dembski et. al. have published. At this point you are showing you have alarmism on your side 🙂

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  5. EricMH: ID math seems very solid and very controversial, so it gives me vantage to evaluate other truth claims, and provides an interesting inside view of the rhetorical methods of those who don’t have the truth on their side.

    I’d say it’s going to be very hard for you to follow the truth and remain without controversy with people like Behe of Egnor…
    Behe seems to fixated on the supposed evidence for common descent.
    Egnor is focused the immaterial mind or soul that is supposed to defeat materialism…
    IMO, both ideas seem to be on questionable arguments…

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  6. EricMH,

    Instead, alarmism (also an ideology) is obviously part of the ‘science uprising’ approach. What I’m doing is calmly and patiently asking you to “follow the evidence where it leads” so that you might FINALLY discover ‘design theory’, ‘design thinking’ & ‘design thinkers’ that you seem to be studiously & underhandedly avoiding.

    “the mathematical theories that Dembski et. al. have published”

    Let me help you then, since you seem unwilling to do the work. I believe I’ve asked clearly enough about non-IDist ‘design theories,’ so that you should know what to look for.

    Mathematical & Comp sci ‘design theory’ (5 minute search):
    Wolfram: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/DesignTheory.html
    https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9780792350798
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1512.08055
    https://www.amazon.com/Design-Computer-Science-Cambridge-Theoretical/dp/0521390214
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1057/ejis.2008.45
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Center_for_Design_Research
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-20633-7_4

    Now, please don’t waste our time & instead tell us what is different or the same about these mathematical and computer science design theories and so-called (properly capitalized) ‘Intelligent Design theory’ by “Dembski et al.”. You say “the mathematical/comp. sci. component is the easiest for me to grasp.” Ok, please then demonstrate that you understand ‘design theory’ by non-IDists.

    As you may know, I’ve met Dembksi & wasn’t impressed. I’ve met Meyer & likewise was unimpressed. Indeed, I have found it extremely hard to trust IDists because they don’t usually answer the simplest questions & won’t acknowledge priority & previous works. Will you be any different by putting in some work about ‘design theory,’ ‘design thinking’ and ‘design thinkers’ that precede or differ drastically from the DI’s offerings? Or not, Eric – is avoidance also your calling card?

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  7. “Then, profit!”

    Spoken just like an IDist – based on evangelical donations. ; P

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  8. Gregory: Now, please don’t waste our time & instead tell us what is different or the same about these mathematical and computer science design theories and so-called (properly capitalized) ‘Intelligent Design theory’ by “Dembski et al.”. You say “the mathematical/comp. sci. component is the easiest for me to grasp.” Ok, please then demonstrate that you understand ‘design theory’ by non-IDists.

    Well, what you’ve posted appears to be a grab bag of whatever comes up in google.

    But, some of them seem relevant. They appear to be trying to mathematically formalize the human design process. So, what they are doing would be relevant to ID theory. Dembski back in the day brought up Triz, the Soviet attempt to formalize innovation.

    For example, we could take the properties the design theorists derive and look at biological history to see if the properties show up. If so, this would indicate an agency like human intelligence is responsible for what we see in the biological record.

    Gregory: As you may know, I’ve met Dembksi & wasn’t impressed. I’ve met Meyer & likewise was unimpressed. Indeed, I have found it extremely hard to trust IDists because they don’t usually answer the simplest questions & won’t acknowledge priority & previous works. Will you be any different by putting in some work about ‘design theory,’ ‘design thinking’ and ‘design thinkers’ that precede or differ drastically from the DI’s offerings?

    Perhaps you can do some work and explain what your point is? Is there something about the design work you post that you think disproves the mathematical theorems of ID? If not, then what are you getting at?

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  9. This is the last time I challenged Eric M. Holloway, to which he didn’t respond. Why not? The flaws in his IDist argument would immediately be revealed if he did.

    Let us see if this is a man of integrity to answer a fellow Abrahamic theist asking him simple, clear, basic questions about ‘design theory,’ ‘design thinking’ & ‘design thinkers’ outside of IDism. There’s always hope for a surprise! = )

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/do-software-engineers-find-intelligent-design-theory-obvious-trivial-or-irrelevant-eric-michael-holloways-halfway-right-mostly-wrong-double-talking-idist-ideology-on-display/comment-page-3/#comment-242841

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  10. Gregory:
    This is the last time I challenged Eric M. Holloway, to which he didn’t respond. Why not? The flaws in his IDist argument would immediately be revealed if he did.

    Let us see if this is a man of integrity to answer a fellow Abrahamic theist asking him simple, clear, basic questions about ‘design theory,’ ‘design thinking’ & ‘design thinkers’ outside of IDism. There’s always hope for a surprise! = )

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/do-software-engineers-find-intelligent-design-theory-obvious-trivial-or-irrelevant-eric-michael-holloways-halfway-right-mostly-wrong-double-talking-idist-ideology-on-display/comment-page-3/#comment-242841

    Ah, you make a good observation in your comment there. Yes, that is the vagueness I am pointing out, that ID does not really consider carefully human design, even though it is a premise of the main ID argument:
    1. nature contains specified complexity
    2. only human intelligently designed artifacts contain specified complexity
    3. therefore, nature is intelligently designed

    So, a critic might say, what if human intelligence is the product of natural processes, doesn’t the argument fall apart?

    Well, not really, since Dembski’s vertical NFLT shows that even if human intelligence is the product of natural processes, that just pushes the information problem up the chain.

    As such, while investigating human design is pretty interesting, it is not essential to the ID argument. The essential points are:
    1. Definition of CSI
    2. CSI cannot be created by stochastic processes due to the conservation of information
    3. Natural processes are only stochastic processes
    4. CSI exists
    5. Therefore, some causal agency outside of the natural processes has inserted CSI into our world

    So while interesting, human design theory does not have a lot of bearing on discrediting these points. On the other hand, if it is shown that human design theory is not reducible to stochastic processes, then we have even more evidence for the ID position.

    But, if you are a student of the summer seminar and conversant with the main articulators of ID theory, I’m sure the above is obvious to you. So, I’m still not clear what exactly is the flaw you are trying to point out.

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  11. EricMH: CSI cannot be created by stochastic processes due to the conservation of information

    Yes, you define your conclusion right here. CSI is evidence of design because it is evidence of design as CSI can only be designed.

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  12. EricMH,

    So you’re suggesting that TRIZ is an example of ‘Intelligent Design’ theory?!

    Well, Eric, it turns out that I wrote the TRIZ entry in the ISCID encyclopedia (c. 2004). If you want, I’ll send it to you privately. ISCID Encyclopedia & network is now defunct. They broke a promise in the process, but that’s the ‘morality’ of the IDM’s leadership. TRIZ differs drastically, indeed, it is categorically & substantively different from the DI’s ideology. So that’s a strike.

    In his last response to “Objections to Design” in his pretentiously named “ID: THE Bridge”, Dembski distinguished between ‘mundane designers’ (human) and ‘transcendent designers’ (blank). Dembski wrote: “We have no experience (!) of transcendent designers and can make no scientific claims about them.” He then continued: “there is no principled way to make the analytic cut between mundane & transcendent designers.”

    So you’re not being consistent with what Dembski has written on this topic (not that he’s consistent either, but that’s another time). Not he, nor anyone else I know of at the DI, includes ‘human design’ as the subject of ‘Intelligent Design’ theory. Do you?

    “an agency like human intelligence”

    If the DI really wanted to study ‘agency’ it would hire different people than it currently has, none of who have backgrounds in the ‘right’ fields to study agency. Another disingenuous move!

    You’re making a category error & relishing the abuse of fellow Abrahamic theists who are more competent & properly positioned thinkers & who don’t flip-flop intentionally on this topic like IDists continually do.

    I wrote in the unanswered link posted above: “You either include human-made designs in the theory known as ‘Intelligent Design’ or you don’t. Which one is it?”

    Do you finally have an answer for this or is it time to run away again, further staining your record with evasion?

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  13. EricMH: 1. nature contains specified complexity
    2. only human intelligently designed artifacts contain specified complexity
    3. therefore, nature is intelligently designed

    Doesn’t that assume nature is an artifact, therefore assuming the conclusion?

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  14. Gregory: Do you finally have an answer for this or is it time to run away again, further staining your record with evasion?

    Perhaps he should be forced to wear the letter E so all may know his shame if he doth not answer your challenge.

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  15. “ID does not really consider carefully human design”

    Ok, thanks for that admission. I agree they (people, not theory itself) don’t “consider carefully human design.”

    Did you know, however, that John G. West actually once tried to do this (without actually studying human design carefully!) – to make a theory of ID in SSH?! The next summer after I was there, they had changed the name from “ID in the Humanities and Social Sciences” to “C.S. Lewis Fellows on Science & Society”. West all but admitted there is no IDT in SSH. Are you suggesting he was wrong?

    “if you are a student of the summer seminar and conversant with the main articulators of ID theory, I’m sure the above is obvious to you.”

    What is obvious to me is that you’ve been brainwashed by the DI’s ideology. I saw this happening first hand & still cry for those who will be scarred for life by IDism & their allegiance to the IDM (Ewert was in my year & he asked his fellow students if he should throw in with Marks, which I believe he unwisely did).

    Please don’t misunderstand. 1) I hold no grudge against them & was conducting research for sociology of science dissertation (the IDism stuff didn’t make it in, though I wrote about it in my Masters thesis). 2) I’m all for people attempting innovation and advancement in scholarly, scientific or technical fields, so I am not discouraging this. IDists, however, have gone & continue to go about this the wrong way; they start by assuming ‘Intelligent Design’ (the Logos of John’s Gospel, big oops by Dembski for disclosing that) & then try to fit that into their claims of being ‘strictly scientific’. Every leading religious scientist, scholar & technologist I know rejects this approach. Do you have any idea why they reject it, Eric?

    “if it is shown that human design theory is not reducible to stochastic processes, then we have even more evidence for the ID position.”

    Sorry, but you’re either not listening or just not understanding. There is no “evidence for the ID position” via human design thinking. None. Zero. Nado. They are categorically different things. There would be overcoming & obsolescing of the ID position that way only.

    “even if human intelligence is the product of natural processes, that just pushes the information problem up the chain.”

    This is the wrong question & it’s not what scientists & scholars ask. It is only ideologues who would start at this place. We non-IDists study ‘design processes’ without even asking if “human intelligence is the product of natural processes.” It is presumed because we are studying human-made things & irrelevant to the study of the processes themselves.

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  16. newton,

    No, I don’t mean to attack or mock him (that’s what the atheists & agnostics here do); just trying to help him get sorted out before he throws his career down the drain with IDism, if that’s on his agenda.

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  17. EricMH: ID does not really consider carefully human design, even though it is a premise of the main ID argument:

    Is it because people like Behe and Meyer have no quarrel with common descent?
    Or is it because it would take some kind of experiment, like failed hybridization of a human and a chimp, to disprove common descent?

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  18. Gregory:
    newton,

    No, I don’t mean to attack or mock him (that’s what the atheists & agnostics here do); just trying to help him get sorted out before he throws his career down the drain with IDism, if that’s on his agenda.

    Yup. Eric’s career would look much brighter with people like Swamidass and Peaceful Science with their best evidence there is: What if… God guided evolution?
    Eric, don’t let the best of life pass you by! 😆

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  19. Gregory: What is obvious to me is that you’ve been brainwashed by the DI’s ideology. I saw this happening first hand & still cry for those who will be scarred for life by IDism & their allegiance to the IDM

    Was it like Clockwork Orange? Is that what they did to you Gregory?

    They made you watch videos of why dog breeding doesn’t lead to new species?

    Poor Gregory.

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  20. phoodoo,
    Dude, get a grip. I am not asking for pity. I went intentionally to conduct research & hear their best arguments & evidence. It just happens that I’ve studied ideology & propaganda up close in a location where scientific persecution and religious persecution are both HUGE issues in that nation’s history. They knew that when they accepted my application.

    What the DI does is textbook brainwashing & fear mongering. Some of the stories have a basis in reality & some of it is either hysteria or paranoia. They warned us to hide our identity in public and take a pseudonym so we could become the next generation of ‘revolutionaries’ like they consider themselves.

    Poor them, deceiving fellow Abrahamic theists while thinking they have come up with the greatest ‘strictly scientific theory’ in 100s of years – that’s their ‘revolutionary’ claim!

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  21. phoodoo: They made you watch videos of why dog breeding doesn’t lead to new species?

    What if… God guided dog breeding? Could a chihuahua turn into a tiger?
    How about a 50 ton whale?

    phoodoo: Poor Gregory

    People like Gregory, or Swamidass , should research why God would guide evolution and leave no evidence for it and call Himself The Creator…Or they should look up what oxymoron means…😉

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  22. Gregory: Poor them, deceiving fellow Abrahamic theists while thinking they have come up with the greatest ‘strictly scientific theory’ in 100s of years – that’s their ‘revolutionary’ claim!

    Deceiving people with oxymorons and calling them scientific is the way to go…

    “Leonardo! Did you or did you not paint Mona Lisa?
    Well, I got the canvas, the paint, the brushes…next thing i noticed the painting was there…
    Whatever, or whoever, guided me deserves the credit. That’s why they never let me signed the damn thing with Dyslexia “🤣

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  23. Gregory:
    newton,

    No, I don’t mean to attack or mock him (that’s what the atheists & agnostics here do);

    Bad news, it is what you do too. Pretty much exclusively. The good news is you, sprinkled among your personal attacks, sometimes raise some interesting questions.

    just trying to help him get sorted out before he throws his career down the drain with IDism, if that’s on his agenda.

    Perhaps atheists and agnostics feel the same way.

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  24. newton: Bad news, it is what you do too. Pretty much exclusively.The good news is you, sprinkled among your personal attacks, sometimes raise some interesting questions.

    Perhaps atheists and agnostics feel the same way.

    I do think it’s soooo nice for dear Gregory to help others get sorted out, before they do or say something stupid.

    THANKS! xo

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  25. For Joe. While he may be irreligious himself, is rarely if ever that I can recall anti-religious. Unfortunately, the same is not true of a small few others here, who wish to try to slander & hurt a person simply for being a religious theist & defending their views in discussions. He & I every now & again seem to make steps forward in discussion. And we do indeed have a shared opposition to D.S. Wilson’s life’s work on ‘cultural evolution’ & This View of Life. http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/openfordebate/2019/07/01/the-human-ingredient-needed-for-productive-disagreement/

    I’m quite aware that many people don’t often like being psychologized or sociologized by someone they don’t personally know online who treats them both as a person & as a properly reflexive subject/object of study. Not much can be done to change that unless psychology & sociology are banned from the conversation, like sociology was banned in the Soviet Union for almost 70 years! = P

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  26. Gregory: I’m quite aware that many people don’t often like being psychologized or sociologized by someone they don’t personally know online who treats them both as a person & as a properly reflexive subject/object of study. Not much can be done to change that unless psychology & sociology are banned from the conversation, like sociology was banned in the Soviet Union for almost 70 years! = P

    BURN THEM!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrzMhU_4m-g

    That’s what all the atheists here (as well as in the old USSR) want, obviously. It’s the atheists and the atheist-friendly sites who always do the banning and burning! X>{

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  27. Gregory: I’m quite aware that many people don’t often like being psychologized or sociologized by someone they don’t personally know online who treats them both as a person & as a properly reflexive subject/object of study.

    I think the one problem may be what they view as the quality and accuracy of the analysis. Both the limited data available and the real risk of misinterpretation in an online setting almost guarantees a superficial analysis, conclusions from such analyses run the risk of revealing the biases of the analyst more than insight into the subject.

    Not much can be done to change that unless psychology & sociology are banned from the conversation, like sociology was banned in the Soviet Union for almost 70 years! = P

    I would think not making over-broad conclusions from limited data is something that could be done.

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