Round 4, Part 1b (Death Star Firepower)
Robert, as I expected, you created yet another massive "rebuttal" in
which you took individual paragraphs, stripped them apart into sentences
to attack piecemeal, and quietly ignored, misrepresented, or evaded the
main points. Moreover, your increasing use of personal insults (such as
having the gall to accuse ME of scientific ignorance despite your own
mistakes, or dismissing my criticisms as "BS"), enormous
misrepresentations, and brick-wall denials (eg- answering challenges by
simply saying that you've already dealt with them even if you haven't,
or denying accusations of fallacies by simply saying "incorrect" or
"completely false" without further explanation) is steadily making a
mockery of this debate.
You can't even admit the most obvious red herrings, and you have adopted
the incredibly audacious tactic of claiming that "as the challenged
party", you have the right to change the subject as you see fit! Sorry
to burst your bubble, but once the subject is declared in the opening of
the debate, it's too late to change it. And since you insisted that I
open the debate instead of you, you forfeited your right to select the
subject. If you want to keep up this charade of being a rational
debater, you should be prepared to focus on the main points, avoid
logical fallacies, stop trying to change the subject, and be prepared to
abandon untenable positions rather than stubbornly holding onto them and
then desperately lashing out at your opponent by trying to goad him with
thinly veiled insults and blatant misrepresentations.
I see now that answering each and every one of your denials and evasions
simply produces a downward spiral, in which more and more of the post is
taken up with your quixotic attempts to pretend your argument is
completely infallible in every minute detail, while less and less of it
actually addresses the point. Therefore, since no one is buying your
brick-wall denials anyway, I will summarize the major arguments and
challenge you to defend on the MAJOR points, rather than wasting any
more time going around in circles with you while you insist that you
haven't made a single misstep, no matter how small.
By the way, I challenge you to answer this as a normal debater would, by
answering each WHOLE point with a single CONTIGUOUS rebuttal, rather
than breaking each paragraph apart into fragments in order to attack
them piecemeal, snip quotes out of context, etc. It would not only
produce a cleaner (not to mention more honest) debate, but it would also
produce one that is much smaller and easier to read. I don't see any
reason to torture the audience, and I don't see why you can't resist the
temptation to mulch and re-order points into unrecognizable debris
rather than dealing with them whole.
Point 1: Parsimony
The principle of parsimony, also known as Occam's Razor in this context,
instructs us to avoid redundant terms. Given two theories of equal
performance but differing numbers of terms, the one with fewer terms
wins. A lesser-known aspect of this principle is that unobservable terms
are redundant by definition, since they cannot be evaluated and
therefore cannot be used for quantitative prediction. Or as Stephen
Hawking put it:
"It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam's razor and cut
out all the features of the theory which cannot be observed."
And this is where we come to the single biggest problem with your
so-called "theory": it replaces the planetary shield with your MCR, so
the number of terms is the same, but planetary shields are KNOWN TO
EXIST in SW (ranging from tiny ground theatre shields to huge theatre
shields like the one at Hoth which could easily be networked, and even
planet-encircling systems such as the one at Endor). Your MCR, on the
other hand, is neither seen or mentioned anywhere in the canon.
Moreover, your MCR cannot possibly be evaluated in any quantitative
manner. You have NO WAY of assigning it any numbers whatsoever. You
cannot determine how much energy it produces, other than assuming that
the superlaser is weaker than the explosion by some arbitrary figure.
You don't even know what the reactants are, or what the reaction rate is!
Your MCR is a textbook example of a redundant, unobservable term. The
minute you try to make it "real" by assigning numbers to it such as a
reaction rate, it quickly produces predictions which severely contradict
observation. So here are my challenges on point 1:
1. Define the reactants employed by this reaction, as well as the
2. Estimate the reaction rate in the case of Alderaan.
I'm not asking you to explain precisely how it works; I'm only asking
you to define what is reacting, and how quickly. If you have anything
which remotely resembles a workable theory (which you claim to have),
then this should be quite easy to do.
Point 2: Unsolved Mystery Fallacy 1: Fire Rings
As mentioned many times before, you cannot prove that your MCR exists
simply by showing that the fire rings are an unsolved mystery. So what
if the fire rings are not explained by conventional physics? Have you
got a BETTER idea? There's the rub; you can't supplant A with B unless
you can prove that B is better. B is NOT automatically assumed to be
better if A is not quite perfect!
The fire rings defy the laws of physics in many ways. First, they slow
down spontaneously in the vacuum of space. Second, they are not visible
from the ground (watch ROTJ; the fire ring follows right behind the MF
as it streaks toward the Rebel fleet, which is sitting between the DS
and the planet; this obviously means that the ring is headed straight
for the sanctuary moon, yet we see Ewoks looking up at the sky and
seeing nothing). Third, they cause no effect upon striking the
atmosphere of Endor; not even a harmless "aurora borealis"-style
lightshow. So what are they? How much energy do they carry? And how does
your theory predict their existence? Isn't it entirely possible that
they are some wholly exotic hyperspace side-effect which can only be
seen by our omnipotent observer, since the phenomenon is heading
straight for the Ewoks and they can't see it with the naked eye?
Ultimately, the fire rings crush your argument rather than helping it,
because the ring simultaneously appears around the entire circumference
of the planet. While the conventional theory has the planet exploding
from the inside out (which should produce effects that are centred on
the core), your argument has the planet reacting from the outside in, in
a slow reaction that crawls along the surface. Why, then, does the fire
ring appear all around the planet simultaneously, even emanating from
part of the planet where your imaginary "bands of brightness" have not
even reached yet? Here is my challenge on point 2: explain how your MCR
produces the fire rings. Do not dismiss the challenge by pretending that
you have already done so (hint: you can't just say "it creates planar
shockwaves" and call that an explanation).
Point 3: Imaginary "Bands of Brightness"
You produced a marked-up picture to show your "bands of brightness".
EVERYONE who has seen that picture has come away convinced that you are
delusional. You have no plausible explanation for why the planet is
white-hot luminescent for thousands of kilometres AHEAD of the imaginary
"bands" in the early frames, nor can you explain why this region of
luminescence does not stay ahead of the imaginary "band" as it
supposedly moves around the planet but rather, waits for it to catch up.
And finally, you claim that when the "bands of brightness" close in on
themselves at the other end, a huge secondary explosion results. I hate
to break the news to you, but that's NOT what happens when a real
exothermal chain reaction reaches the end. Try lighting a book of
matches at one end. Watch what happens: an exothermal chain reaction
shoots along the row of matches (which don't glow until it REACHES them)
until it reaches the end, whereupon it closes in upon itself and ...
Point 4: Unsolved Mystery Fallacy 2: Secondary Blast
You claim that the "secondary blast" is explained by your MCR.
Unfortunately, that is simply not the case, as I have shown above. Even
if we humour your imaginary "bands of brightness", and even if we humour
your desire to interpret this as an exothermal chain reaction moving
through the planet, the fact is that if the secondary explosion doesn't
occur until the "bands" reach the far side of the planet, then it
actually DISPROVES your MCR by not fizzling out at that point, the way
an exothermal chain reaction should.
Ultimately, your MCR is shattered, not supported, by the secondary
blast. There are an infinite number of theories one might concoct to
explain what it is (particularly since the delay is really not that
large; I suggest people watch the clip at FULL speed to see what I
mean). For all we know, the superlaser is so intense that it creates
gravitational distortions, and part of the core becomes a short-lived
singularity (which spontaneously detonates in a massive burst of gamma
rays). But regardless of how we choose to rationalize it, the point is
that there is no reason to imagine that any exotic reaction would
require LESS energy.
So here is my challenge on point 4: explain why your imaginary "bands of
brightness" would create a massive explosion AFTER running out of reactant.
Point 5: Fear of Evidence
Your theory relies upon exclusion of evidence: you must eliminate the
entire EU, explain away the opening crawl of ANH, and even dismiss the
original versions of the canon films! As a matter of principle, our
arguments over canon and continuity exist only because YOUR theory is
wholly dependent upon an ultra-strict interpretation. The conventional
explanation works equally well with or without the EU. The conventional
explanation works equally well with or without the original versions of
the canon films. The conventional explanation works equally well with or
without the opening crawl of ANH. Your "theory", however, rests upon the
flimsy platform of your dogmatic and inflexible brick-wall claims
regarding what you call the "Canon Policy" (invariably capitalized for
extra Religious Power(TM)).
I do not fear evidence; the conventional explanation works equally well
regardless of which policy you choose to use. You, on the other hand,
have constructed an argument so flimsy that it absolutely REQUIRES that
most of the available evidence be declared inadmissible before trial.
You have left yourself no flexibility whatsoever on this matter, hence
your policy of denying as much evidence as you can.
So here is my challenge on point 5: how can you claim to be conducting
"evidence-based debate" when you expend so much effort trying to
SUPPRESS most of the evidence? Even "foggy" pictures of the situation
(as per your Cerasi quote) are better than no pictures at all.
Point 6: Inconsistency (ie- hypocrisy)
You flatly deny the existence of the Alderaan planetary shield because
there is no explicit statement that it exists. You refuse to even TEST
it against the observations of Alderaan because of the lack of PRIOR
evidence (even though the test ITSELF would provide the evidence you
need). However, if you were to apply this policy in a UNIFORM manner,
you would have to disqualify your MCR for the same reason: there is no
explicit dialogue or prior observation whatsoever to even remotely hint
at the existence of this MCR (indeed, it's much worse; at least we know
planetary shields and theatre shields have been mentioned before).
So here is my challenge on point 6: explain why you think we should
carefully consider your MCR while disqualifying the planetary shield
before we even reach the starting blocks.
Point 7: Alderaan Planetary Shield
You refuse to evaluate the conventional explanation with a shield in
place. Rather than see the visible manifestations of a shield as
evidence of that shield, you insist that there is NO shield and then
challenge us to explain the shield-like manifestations WITHOUT it! This
is a truly bizarre line of reasoning, even from you. Do you honestly
believe that anybody besides you is buying into this horrendous sophistry?
Here is my challenge on point 7: defend your MCR against the
conventional explanation INCLUDING the shield. If the shield is not a
workable explanation, then we'll find out if it fails the test. But if
you continue to insist on disqualifying it before the test even begins,
then I can only conclude that you do not want to face it on a level
playing field, with all that this implies.
Point 8: A Candidate for your MCR
Since you refuse to provide a candidate for your MCR, I will. You have
claimed that the explosion involved a chain reaction which is not
particularly sensitive to the type of matter involved. Luckily enough, I
happen to know of one such chain reaction.
It is based on simple thermodynamics, and it is known as mass/heat
transfer. Given a solid mass, a large heat input at one spot will excite
particles at that spot. These energetic particles will impart their
energy to cooler surrounding particles through thermodynamic heat
transfer. Those surrounding particles will impart their energy to THEIR
cooler surrounding particles in turn, and so on, and so on in a cascade
effect. If the heat flux is turned off, the entire mass would eventually
reach the same temperature. However, if the heat flux is too great, the
object will tend to be disrupted, as the chain reaction cannot move
energy away quickly enough.
Voila! A chain reaction which moves through matter at a finite rate and
produces an asymmetrical explosion. It's not an EXOTHERMAL chain
reaction, which would be highly material-sensitive, but it DOES happens
to fit your requirements. So there you have it: since you wouldn't do
it, I have helpfully defined your MCR for you. It is (to use your
nomenclature) DET. Does that help? No need to thank me; the pleasure is
Point 9: Energy Level
Ultimately, your argument is not about chain reactions. As I have
already pointed out, conventional heating mechanisms are actually a
chain reaction! No, your argument is about energy levels. You insist
that the Death Star did not need 1E38 J in order to raise Alderaan's
energy state by 1E38 J. And after all of your sophistry, evasions,
nitpicks, etc., you have produced only a SINGLE piece of evidence for
this claim: semantics. You insist that the "artificial sun" comment in
the ANH novelization is a precise description of Death Star power
generation physics. You base this on your assumption that "sun" means
"something which runs on nuclear fusion". Oddly enough, there are many
kinds of star which do NOT run on nuclear fusion (as I already pointed
out, and to which you predictably replied by extensively nitpicking
details of the examples provided, rather than acknowledging the
underlying point), and Merriam-Webster says a sun is a celestial body
"resembling the Sun (as in warmth or brilliance)". Nothing there about
nuclear fusion being part of the definition of "sun", I'm afraid ... it
appears to apply to any luminous celestial body.
Moreover, this entire line of reasoning is inherently
self-contradictory. I have already pointed out that your theory calls
for the Death Star to be able to convert any arbitrary piece of matter
into energy with its superlaser, but NOT its power reactor. This is
utterly ridiculous; if the Death Star has the ability to convert any
matter into energy with its superlaser (as you say), then they should
surely have devised a way of using this amazing capability for power
generation, instead of relying on primitive nuclear fusion! Is this
concept too difficult for you to understand? Are you truly unable to see
the logical self-contradiction in your argument? Or did you ignore this
point the first time around because you knew you had no defense against it?
Here is my challenge on point 9 (since your semantic "artificial sun"
argument is so weak that it convinces no one but yourself): explain how
the Empire can possibly have the fantastic technology to convert
arbitrary masses into energy from tens of thousands of kilometres away
while being unable to employ anything more sophisticated than nuclear
fusion for power generation.
In the end, we see 1E38 J on the right-hand side of the equation; this
is indisputable. You refuse to acknowledge that we should put 1E38 J on
the left-hand side as well, and the only "evidence" you put forward on
this point (by far the most crucial point, since everything else you
mention can be attributed to conventional physics more easily than your
MCR) is a seriously flawed semantic analysis. You have willfully ignored
your own debate stipulations about sticking to evidence, conducting
rational debate, or keeping it brief. In fact, the audience is already
rumbling that your ridiculously long posts are an exhaustion tactic.
You can continue to hurl your rhetoric, sophistry, and thinly veiled
insults all you like, but ultimately, I doubt you will be able to answer
ANY of these points properly, in essay form, as a whole point rather
than a mulched pile of sentence and paragraph fragments. I have made
them before, you have evaded and/or ignored them. So this time, I
challenge you to face them head-on, instead of writing voluminous
treatises on side-issues while quietly glossing over the major points.
Just 9 points, 2-3 paragraphs apiece. Can you handle that? It isn't that
difficult to stay concise and on-topic if you make an HONEST effort for
Back to The Wong Debate
Back to STvSW