A rational approach to debates and 'best' arguments...?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Wingspanner, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Wingspanner

    Wingspanner New Member

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    I'm getting to the 'teeth grindy' point of frustration with some threads on this forum. It seems that many debates are based around what turn out to be completely subjective judgements on the relative superiority of one aircraft over the other. What drives me to distraction is the way in which otherwise apparently knowledgable contributors let jingoism and bombastic bias (masquerading as patriotism) diminish any sence of logic and instead of considered opinion, people start making bold seeping statements of 'fact'.

    I wondered if we could encourage everyone to be a little more balanced - as the 'debate' always seems to break down into what I can only describe as 'fact [email protected]' based on paper stats (of which there seem to be many contradictory choices!). I'd like to suggest the following guidelines for anyone who wants a SERIOUS discussion when comparing aircraft and their relative superiority or inferiority:

    1. Compare like for like - or acknowledge difference to begin with. It beggars belief that people start hopping about and getting angry over the minutiae of what makes something 'better' when they're not even comparing airframes designed for the same specific purpose. Its like asking which tool is 'better' for making a hole in a wall - a drill or a rifle bullet. It depends what you want to achieve...(and how, why, where and when)
    2. QUANTIFY and QUALIFY the aspects which make something 'better' and acknowledge the things which make it worse
    3. Acknowledge the impact of chronology and design evolution (so many of these debates are about airframes separated in design or manufacture by several years) - and are you comparing relative airframe marks and developments? (ie. comparing an ME109C with a P51D)
    4. Acknowledge the 'human factor' (the most important aspect of 'better' might actually be a factor totally ignored in the endless reams of paper stats - ie: what was the aircraft's historical impact? How easy was it to fly? How did it advance the 'state of the art' in terms of design, how much it COST, ease of production, how was the performace of the machinery influenced by the training of pilots, their morale, their leadership ... etc etc.
    5. Acknowledge reliable first hand experience - and also consider the bias of the source (see above) If you don't, then the whole 'debate' becomes rather laughable - and participants are reduced to a bunch of airchair nerds arguing pointlessly about REAL events and artifacts. That often becomes disrespectful to the subject matter. At the end of the day, hardly ANYONE posting here has ANY first hand experience or knowledge of what they're talking about. Chill out and remember that there's barely a cigarette paper beween patriotism and stupid nationalism.
    6. Cite sources - and acknowledge those which might not support your case rather than just quoting selectively
    7. A proper debate conducted by adults is a means by which to share information
    8. If you post an opinion - don't pretend its a fact. If you're speculating, reflect that in the way you're writing. If sentimental reasons lie behind a thought or claim, be honest enough to acknowledge that too.
    9. Respect what happened in the real world rather than on paper or on the PC/Xbox/PS3. Consider why. Reflect that in your posts
    10. Reflect the fact that very often there will be no winner because speculative questions like this cannot have absolute answers. Its through the consideration of the question and the balance of evidence that we learn more. If you've said your piece and cited your evidence or opinion, don't go on flogging a dead horse. Walk away if you have nothing fresh to add! By having your opinion successfully argued down, you've probably discovered something new.

    I know that might all sound rather obvious - but it would be much more useful if everyone was pooling real interesting considerations and historical observations rather than treating a poll or debate like a game of 'top trumps'.

    There are some really good posts here by people who know their subject matter and who write in an entertaining way. Lets not drag them down!!! (Debates... not mass-debates :| )

    :D
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    If we didn't bring human traits to these discussions, then it will be as exciting as lecture by a boring professor.
     
  3. Wingspanner

    Wingspanner New Member

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    #3 Wingspanner, Jan 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
    Well, horses for courses. It all depends on what participants want from this forum.

    Its a bit like TV. If you like gaudy colours and things kept simple, watch a kids show.

    If you want to learn more about the thing you profess to be interested in, surely its better to participate in something eductional or which requires some intellectual input? The only people I've met who found aquiring knowledge boring were... boring!! (not to mention willfully ignorant)

    This forum features , real history, quotes from real people and accounts of real suffering and death - as well as being about intersting (and perversely beautiful) pieces of engineering. Treating the subject matter as a game seems like a wasted opportunity - as well as more than a little disrespectful. I'm just suggesting some people can raise their game a little to make it more informative and interesting.

    I guess its up to you to draw your own conclusions on the approach you'd prefer to take and why.
     
  4. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion debates only occasionally get out of hand and the mods are usually pretty quick with warnings to chill. Its only the idiots who dont listen to the warnings get beached. There is also a thing known as the off button if your not happy with any thread.

    Anyway its obvious the answer is always a Spitfire :lol:
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    For "BEST TRANSPORT?" :) :)

    Granted they kept the beer cold :)
     
  6. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    We all know that the answer to everything is "42". unless it's Bf-109!
     
  7. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Well, I certainly think Delycros deserves thanks from all of us for his numerical approach in the twin-engine bomber thread. We may pick nits about various inputs (I've done so myself with Me 410 cruise speeds) or with the axes chosen, but by forcing us to think empirically and dispassionately, delycros has "changed the game" quite radically.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    No I think you will find the answer is always a Spitfire

    009706.jpg
     
  9. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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  10. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Lol, with all the recent noise about Spitfires buried in Burma, some wag's taken a pic of himself digging one of those bottles out of the ground.

    The ground itself looked distinctly un-Burmese, but was funny nonetheless.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The majority of these "best of threads" and debate threads, actually turned out some rather interesting discussions. Why else do some of them carry on for hundreds of pages. The problem is when people can't debate like adults.
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Jeez, d'you really want to take the fun out of this forum, Wingspanner? :D I understand what you're trying to achieve, but if you can't w**k on about your favourite topic on an internet forum, then where else can you? All of what you are asking is all very well, but it's impossible; you know that, don't you.

    As for the best; that's obvious, Old Boy...

    [​IMG]
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    But you can carry more beer in a Mosquito, along with extra peanuts, pork scratchings and crisps...
     
  14. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Whats the difference? Its just a Spitfire with 2 engines.
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #15 GregP, Jan 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  16. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    If you let emotion ride roughshod over logic you would always claim the best plane is the one you just happen to like!
    unfortunatly just because you think a plane is "cool" does'nt make it the best , or even that good!

    the problem is how you quantify whats best, best at what?, dependant on the criteria you can prove just about any plane is best , the yardstick I have tended to use is, can plane A do the same job as plane B,C&D, or can it do that bit more ,for example, when it comes to fighters I have to conclude the best was the P51 (despite disliking the radiator setup, its plain ugly), it could do any job the others could but much farther than the others !

    the situation at the time , how skilled is your opponents , how many your facing, distance from base ,visibility from the cockpit, altitude, even maintainability and reliability play more important role than the last few mph or fpm climb, unless theres a clearcut performance advantage (190 v mkv spit springs to mind) then your just arguing for your favourite!

    it's the Typohoon that was best anyway and anyone who says otherwise is obviously a buffoon!
     
  17. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Was that the qwerty version :lol:
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I could debate all day, knowing that many positions are just opinions, or beliefs.

    Difficulties arise when beliefs are mistaken with facts. That and when things go personal. Ive been here a while, but never get used to that
     
  19. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #19 nuuumannn, Jan 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
    What Wingspanner is proposing is certainly achieveable, but not here; this is a public forum, which means any fella with an interest can come along and offer his opinions, and let's face it, isn't that what public internet forums are about? Human nature dictates that we are going to get a bit carried away at times by loyalties of some sort or another, but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that if put into the right context. We are all different and we all come from different backgrounds - our individual preferences tell us a bit about each other and our influences. Beliefs, historical inaccuracies repeated time and again will always surface here because people like to demonstrate what they know, after all, that's what most of us offer here, our knowledge, be it accurate or inaccurate. If it is inaccurate, someone is always going to attempt to correct it at any rate.

    The debate of which type is best is always going to involve an element of bias. It's just human nature. We can put up bar graphs, performance curves until the cows come home, but some individuals will always go for what they prefer, as opposed to what is being displayed in front of them. Delcyros' efforts are to be applauded as an attempt to rationalise an argument, but in a real world situation, combat aircraft at war rarely achieved their maximum speeds, war loads etc - every individual aeroplane is/was different - anyone who has experience working on them or even read about airmen flying them and engineers working on them will have come across stories of one aeroplane that was a 'hangar queen' - stuff just happened to it that went wrong. This demonstrates that figures in manuals don't always paint the most accurate picture, so a real debate on which is best can rarely be completely achieved. Nevertheless, these debates are fun and why not enjoy them for what they are? Only on an internet forum can you debate which is the best between a P-38 and a Mosquito - two hardly relateable types, but there are pages of discussion on the topic. Sure, things get out of hand, the debate raging about the Spit XIV, Bf 109K, La-7 and Yak-3 is a bit farcical, really. Most of it is arguing between two individuals who refuse to see eye-to-eye. But that's what the Moderators are for.

    I do disagree with Wingspanner's assessment that because we have no experience of dealing with the aircraft we debate, we are in no position to debate them; that's arrogant posturing claiming such a thing; these forums are here so we can debate these things and let's face it, WW2 was a long time ago. Not only that, many of the types we do discuss no longer exist, so the opportunity to have anything to do with these types might never arise, but that's no reason not to discuss them, after all, why bother coming here if we can't?

    We all visit the forum for different reasons; me, I like to come here for a bit of fun and a bit of time out from my life; some of the topics we discuss are fantastic and some real insightful things come out. Long may it continue and let's not take it too seriously, let's just enjoy it for what it is.
     
  20. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Lol, my creative spelling again!
     
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