No Such Thing As An Opinion!

August 7, 2011

Here are a couple more intense debates between readers and myself...

I've created a series of articles highlighting several passionate, revealing and lengthy debates I've had with readers.

Wednesday's article was the first article in the series

Below is a selection of excerpts from more debates.   Just enough excerpts to give you a feel for the intensity and intelligence level of the particular debate!

Note: I won't identify whether the excerpts are written by myself or a reader.  That way, if you choose to read more of the debate, it won't ruin it in advance!

1)  Racial hyphenation is condescending!

  • "Are you also opposed to women (or men) hyphenating their names when they get married? Or should women ignore the fact that they had an identity before they were married and let their new name subsume anything prior.

    Also diversity as division? Seriously? The last thing I'd want (for business, for friends, for the success of our nation) is a bunch of people who all think alike."

  • "Marriage hyphenation identifies the person's name prior to marriage. I can't see that being harmful in any way.

    It allows a person's name (when the person isn't seen visually) to be recognized by people who might not have otherwise recognized them had they used their married name alone. It would also allow an easier transition to their maiden name in the event that's what is wanted after a divorce."

  • "About diversity and division. I didn’t say all diversity was a negative. I did say that dividing a country is never a good thing. What I meant by this is that I don’t see how it’s a positive to take action to divide a country any further than it naturally is (there is a natural level of diversity throughout a country, of course). Perhaps I should’ve clarified my ideas further...Look at how much trouble has been caused in the world as a result of diversity. Look at the class conflict between upper and middle classes. Look at the genocide in Rwanda by blacks against other blacks, due to the division of their ethnicity. Look at the conflict in high schools by one clique against another clique. There has been an immeasurable amount of damage and murder conducted by people against others who are diverse from them in some way."

  • "You make so many foundational logical errors it is hard to know where to begin. Not just in this post, but in your primary premises found all over this blog...There is no such thing as 'objectivity'.  Your conservatism is overtly ideological and therefore fatally flawed. Ideology is the enemy of ideas, the enemy of logic and especially the enemy of truth."

  • "Your advocating of mono-cultures is congruent with other of your flawed arguments. Mono-cultures are a threat to life on Earth. They have resulted in the creation of famine and the famine of intellectual honesty inherent in ideological thinkers...Other results of mono-cultures: The Inquisition, The Crusades, slavery, oppression, genocide etc…"

  • "I consider myself to be logical above all else, not conservative or liberal. I support whichever views are most supported, it just happens that I feel conservative views are more supported. Yet my site will show that I support some liberal views as well. That is hardly the sign of an idealogue, which you claim me to be."

  • "I never said that diversity doesn't benefit society. What I did say, in the message that I replied to, is that I believe there's a natural level of diversity (which, by the way, may be close to the ideal level) of diversity and beyond that increased diversity tends to become a negative."

  • "You at first claim that it is 'specious' to claim that diversity causes unrest between groups:

    'You realize that your conclusion, that diversity is the cause of unrest between diverse groups, is completely specious.'

    That seems odd to me. If there hadn't been two tribes in Rwanda, then the fighting related to that diversity couldn't have come about for that reason. I don't see why you apparently disagree with this.

    But in your next paragraph, you contradict yourself and say that indeed, diversity could be the cause of conflict:

    'Could the cause of unrest in diverse populations be a function of personality conflict having nothing to do with the markers for diversity, such as color of skin, religious beliefs, etc? Yes, it can and it most likely is.'"

  • "Your belief that truth/logic/correctness can be reduced to a political duality is simply bizarre, but common amongst ideological people...You cannot escape subjectivity. It is impossible unless you are working with numbers."

  • "You write: '…there is a sum of information that exists somewhere that either supports one view or another. How can that not be objective? Because when you look at views that involve terms that are traditionally considered subjective, even those are objective in the sense that there is a majority of evidence that supports one view or the other…'

    Where is this theoretical 'sum of information' and who compiled it?"

  • "As for subjectivity in relation to my previous paragraph, you claim that objectivity is not possible from a subjective being. Implying that humans are biased. So? That doesn't alter the validity of my argument.

    That simply means that the evaluator would take into consideration that the evidence could be biased...and one problem with your point is that you fail to point out that bias works both ways. Without knowing more about the specific topic being evaluated, there is no reason to believe that bias will affect the evidence of one theory AND NOT the other. This means you would have no reason to believe the bias would, in itself, be biased and only apply to one of the theories."

  • "I had a bit of fun with you around these arguments. I offered presumptive arguments to bait you and you took it. However, you are so convinced of your ability that you skim the surface of logical constructions and fail to see the truth of logic, that it does not equate to truth."

  • "But regarding subjectivity and bias, the most important point is this:

    Human bias itself is not subjective. It occurs as a result of interaction between human genes and environment. There is a template out there, yet to be discovered, that will show how bias (and other traits) express itself: When certain environmental factors mix with certain genes, bias will express itself somehow, as a neural firing between synapses.

    So, the information is out there...because if there WASN'T a template for the interaction, then human behavior would be completely random, and it would mean that if you repeat the same interaction between genes and environment multiple times, then you would get a different result each time. That just wouldn’t occur, because genes and environment are all encompassing-everything that is not a gene is part of the gene’s environment."

  • "Wow, your accuracy cannot even sustain one thread! Go read it for yourself in my second post, and just be silent.

    Yes, you've beaten me. If this will keep you from introspection and self-reflection that might lead to growth, then I give it to you.

    I, on the other hand, know that I know nothing."

  • "'How much is 'morality' worth? How does you weigh it? Take a poll?''

    Of course you'd take a poll. How else would you do it? After all, society defines other words in our vocabulary, why wouldn't they define morality?

    Of course the arguments can be weighed and measured, all it takes is definition of the terms, which then allows measurement."

The above comments are less than 10% of the total comments in that section.

Click here for all of the comments!

2) Geniuses flunk stats. Who would have thunk it?

  • "In a study of house prices over time, a 'sample' is the price of a house, not a unit of time. Even a Gamma with basic statistical knowledge would understand this.

    Besides: people don't buy houses for a second, a minute, or even a day, so your argument is meaningless."

  • "Incorrect. Anyone with an introductory college level course in statistical research should know that a sample is whatever you define it to be!

    To say otherwise would suggest that data can't be grouped and summarized!

    In a study of housing prices, the original data are the home prices itself.

    If it's a 10 year study, then you'd list the actual sale prices of individual homes over a ten year period.

    The sample in a study then becomes however you define it, based on the research objectives. The original source data remain the same, regardless of how you define the sample.

    For example, if you want to study changes in average annual home prices, the sample then becomes a list of 10 data points, 10 average annual home prices.

    If you want to study average monthly prices, the sample becomes 120."

  • "You claim:

    'Besides: people don't buy houses for a second, a minute, or even a day, so your argument is meaningless.'

    I never claimed that people buy houses for a second, a minute, or even a day, so it's impossible for my argument to be meaningless based on that criteria.

    I challenge you to find any quotes of mine that state or imply that!"

  • "'My argument was that commentators and analysts weren't perceiving the data properly.'

    Fine. Please spell it out for the rest of us: in what way could the data have been perceived that contradicted the conventional wisdom of continued yearly house price increases?"

  • "There were 50 years' worth of housing transactions, probably numbering in the hundreds of thousands...and they chose to reduce that data into a sample of only 50, instead using a much larger sample size (for example one defined as months, or even half-years)...50 is never considered a large sample size. As I mentioned, with some items being measured, ones with high standard deviation, like blackjack results, it's common to have huge sample sizes with results that are very different from the long term expectations (long term in that case would required millions or billions of data points)."

  • "In this study, 50 is not the sample size. The sample size is the number of yearly transactions -- running into the millions, not hundreds of thousands, for recent years."

  • "I've already proven that 50 IS the sample size. There are 50 pieces of data!!:

    1960 average home price = the first piece of data,
    1961 = the 2nd piece of data,

    and so on, for all 50 years."

  • "I'm a combinatorist, but I won't pretend that my facility with probability is sufficient for understanding housing markets. You're making a ton of ridiculous assumptions here which no economist would make:

    1) That the language of sample size and standard deviation is correct to apply to a time series, in which the data aren't independent.

    2) That short-term day-to-day fluctuations are better than year-to-year comparisons at explaining long-term trends.

    3) That economists look at only one data point per year when quantifying anything.

    4) That a sample size of fifty can't tell you anything. Of course it can—if someone hands you a supposedly unbiased coin, and you proceed to flip fifty heads on your first fifty flips, there's a pretty good case that they're putting you on."

  • "1) A time series does include independent data. Each second is independent from the next, and measures the same. If that were NOT the case, it would not be possible to measure time with clocks.

    2)I never said that short term trends were better than yearly trends at explaining long term trends.

    I said that long term trends WERE the better way to predict, and the problem is that people defined the long term using a small sample size of years instead of using a large sample size of minutes or days.

    3)I never claimed economists look only at one data point.

    4)I never said a sample size of fifty can't tell you anything. I said that a larger sample size is better, and that a smaller sample size is more likely to be less representative."

  • "Oh my god you are so stupid. You explain that 50 years isn't a long time by converting it to seconds? Are you bloody high? Do you understand even the most fundamental aspects of statistics?"

  • "Sample size refers to the number of unique observations in the data. In this case, that would be house transactions. For each year, then, the sample size would be the number of transactions that have been completed in that year. You would be comparing maybe hundreds of thousands of transactions between years."

  • "My entire premise was exactly what you imply:

    That the sample size being analysed shouldn't be as small as 50, because there are so many home transactions and rises and falls within those 50 years that the sample size should be much larger, as measured in seconds (or, as you suggest, by the actual number of home transactions)."

  • "I'm sorry, but you're spouting nonsense about a subject you clearly don't understand."

  • "By the way, I have a PhD in Mathematics (Thesis in non-commutative quantum field theory) from a well respected university to back this up. Do you?"

  • "btw, the average person with a PHD would NOT place 74th out of 1 million+ people on a measure of intelligence. They might typically place between spots 10,000 and 50,000 out of 1M."

  • "I completely understand the longitudinal study, and I never wrote anything to suggest that I didn't understand it.

    My main argument was simple: that many people claimed that housing prices wouldn't fall because they hadn't fallen in 50 years.

    That rationale implies that they believe 50 years to be a large sample size, otherwise why would someone make a prediction based on a small sample size?

    Therefore, I challenged the assumption that 50 years is a large sample size. It is not. 50 is a very small sample size.

    You may counter and say that there is a huge sample size within the 50 years-thousands of transactions. True. But the thousands of transactions WERE NOT what was referenced by the commentators. If those thousands of transaction WERE what was being referenced by the commentators, they couldn't have said 'the housing market has never fallen during several thousand transactions' nor 'the market has never fallen a single day over the last 50 years' because it is simply false.

    Therefore, I completely understand the original longitudinal study. But if someone is going to make comments that reduce the sample size to only 50, then that is a HUGE mistake. Devastating, in this situation!"

  • "The sample size can only be what it is. If there are 200,000 housing transactions over 50 years, that's the sample size, no matter what.

    But the problem is that people don't report the actual sample size of 200,000. They instead usee a smaller sample size of 50 (yrs).

    Now, this 50 years still contains the 200,000 transactions, right? Yes, but the two are worlds apart.

    A sample of 50 yrs ends with the result that the market has never fallen, and a sample of 600 months is completely different, even though the data is the same. Over 600 months, they would NOT be 600-0 in terms of rising prices.

    The actual sample size of 200,000 would have provided very many examples of falling prices. But because the reporters didn't understand stats, they reported it over 50 yrs, which in effect lowers the sample size if only because it changes the results: many example of falling prices over 200,000 transactions suddenly becomes zero examples of falling prices when the sample is reduced to 50.

    So the problem was that they misreported the sample size."

  • "Here's more proof:

    You claim that looking at the annual medians and annual means, using the same source data, results in the SAME sample, and that in those cases the means could fall while the median didn't.

    But if the means WERE different than the median, of course the sample sizes in the 2 scenarios WOULDN'T be the same. They would look something like this:

    Annual Mean sample:

    yr 1 = $300,000

    yr 2 = $305,000
    yr 3 = $310,000
    up to yr 50. That is the sample of 50.

    Annual Median sample:

    yr 1 = $250,000

    yr 2 = $255,000
    up to yr 50. That is the sample of 50.

    The two samples are NOT identical, even though they both used the same source data."

  • "You know what, I've ignored most of your petty insults because it's pretty clear you're just an insecure pr*ck. However, that's the second time you've called me a liar, and I have to admit that that gets under my skin."

  • "And surely the insecure one is YOU, who has resorted to omission and lying in order to try to save face. What is it that I've written that suggests I'm insecure? Is it my willingness to respond to every single point you've made? lol you absolute fool!"

The above comments are less than 20% of the total comments in that section.

Click here for all of the comments!

Coming Up

I like to think that you'd have difficulty finding these type of debates, especially the "a-ha" moments, elsewhere :)

In the near future, I will write an article highlighting excerpts from other articles' intense debates!

Stay tuned!

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