The Sky Is Falling...?

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AuthorTopic: The Sky Is Falling...?
? Man, ? Amazing
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I'm a curious guy, so I'll ask. By what method do scientists measure historical sunspot activity?

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Thralni - "a lot of people are ... too weird to be trusted"
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Shaper
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I added another link to my previous post to the article that discusses that a bit.

"Separate records of sunspots, auroral activity (the Northern Lights) and terrestrial deposits of certain substances generated in atmospheric reactions triggered by solar output, suggest the Sun was persistently active prior to the onset of this Little Ice Age, as scientists call the event."

I believe Kel earlier quoted this"

The new study shows that the TSI has increased by about 0.1 percent over 24 years. That is not enough to cause notable climate change, Willson and his colleagues say, unless the rate of change were maintained for a century or more."

The same article contains:

"A separate recent study of Sun-induced magnetic activity near Earth, going back to 1868, provides compelling evidence that the Sun's current increase in output goes back more than a century, Willson said."

Verdict out. Stay tuned to planet earth for more updates.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
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quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

Either way, who are you going to ally with? The British? NASA? Neither? You can't really trust anybody's science, because someone else is always contradicting you. Science is religion. Choose your faith.
This is why I think that you fundamentally misunderstand the nature of science. Real scientists don't choose to believe something in the face of inadequate evidence. Scientists may have opinions, and they may even express them, but when it comes to what we know and what we don't, real scientists are honest. If we have contradictory data, real scientists say that we don't actually know (but we're still working on it).

They don't do this because they're good people. They do this because they're peer-reviewed, and if they aren't adequate about their interpretations of their own data, they get slammed in reviews and can't publish.

I'm not convinced that there's any genuine uncertainty about this, though.

[ Monday, August 20, 2007 10:17: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

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Electric Sheep One
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I believe sunspot activity is measured by counting sunspots. You can see them easily with a telescope, and it's well worth doing if you never have.

Obviously: do NOT look directly at the sun with an unfiltered telescope.
Less obviously: do NOT rely on a solar filter that fits on the back end of your telescope, in front of your eye. It will be trying to absorb magnified sunlight, which is really hot, and so it may suddenly crack and let all that light fry your eye.

What works and is safe is either:
a) Hold a piece of paper somewhere in line behind the telescope, and focus the telescope until you see a projected image of the sun's disc on the paper. Watch this. The little black spots are really there.
b) Use one of the big and relatively expensive filters that goes on over the front end of your telescope (the end that is towards the sun). This is quite safe, as long as you check to make sure there are no holes in the filter. (If there are, just patch them with bits of electrician's tape; the image will not be noticeably affected.) You can convince yourself that these are quite safe by just looking at the sun through them without the telescope. It is so faint that even if all that light reaches your

It can be tricky with either method to actually find the sun with the telescope. You can't even use a little spotter scope to line up with; that will damage your eyes, too. What I found worked best was to leave the rear lens off and try to center the sun as best you can that way, either using the projection on paper method or the front filter. Then put a low power lens in and try to fine adjust the sun into view.

Sometimes there are no sunspots visible. Sometimes there are lots. They each typically last a few days. Some are big and some are small. They seem to move across the sun over the course of about two weeks, as the sun slowly rotates.

What sunspots mainly are is localized regions of high magnetic field. We know this quite directly, because we can measure the spectrum of light emitted by sunspots, and find frequency patterns that precisely match those generated on earth by hot hydrogen and helium in magnetic fields of given strength. Since the sun is composed of charged plasma swirling around, the presence of strong magnetic fields in the sun is no surprise; but the precise mechanism by which the sun's field is generated as it is is not yet known. Sunspots look dark because they are cooler than the surrounding solar surface. The lower temperature and the higher magnetic field go together, but I forget now which causes which, or even if the direction of causality is known for sure.

People with good eyes who risk making them not so good can see big sunspots without a telescope, and they have been reported in ancient times. They have only been systematically observed for a couple of centuries, though, so an 8000 year cycle must be a theoretical extrapolation from more limited data. There does not seem to me to be any plausible link, however, between an 8000 year sunspot cycle, and a fifty year warming trend — which although slow in terms of a human life, is faster than any natural global climate variation of which we know.

EDIT: And this, by the way, is an example of how science is NOT a matter of choosing your religion. You can see the sunspots, you can measure their temperature, and this measurement is really convincing. The way science gets reported and explained, by crackpots and mainstream media alike, is frequently poor enough, that an intelligent layperson can definitely be forgiven for having this religious impression. But people with this sort of post-modern relativistic impression generally get rude shocks if they ever meet actual scientists of any articulacy. It turns out that the evidence and reasoning behind scientific conclusions is really convincing, if you can ever get someone to actually present it, instead of just regurgitating the conclusions themselves.

[ Monday, August 20, 2007 10:49: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Thanks for the explanation SoT, I was sure that the ancients had recorded sun changes, as it would be a mind blowing experience for them (much like an eclipse.)

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Thralni - "a lot of people are ... too weird to be trusted"
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

People with good eyes who risk making them not so good can see big sunspots without a telescope, and they have been reported in ancient times.
As far as I know, reports of sunspots in antiquity were fairly minimal (though, as you say, they are found here and there). I didn't come across any mention of them in my brief reading last semester on ancient Greek and Roman astronomy, and the usual source only mentions ancient Chinese astronomers and medieval Europeans. Other astronomical phenomena were known much more broadly.

quote:
They have only been systematically observed for a couple of centuries, though, so an 8000 year cycle must be a theoretical extrapolation from more limited data.
Under the article on Solar Variation:
"Sunspot numbers over the past 11,400 years have been reconstructed using dendrochronologically dated radiocarbon concentrations."
Not terribly specific, but the idea appears to be that we measure things on Earth to figure out how the Sun has been for the past few thousand years.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

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I never saw the information on how much in degrees the human contribution is. I've seen how much carbon we've put out but I've looked at the links and the posts and don't see what this translates too in degrees.

Anyone with mastery in a field of knowledge can make a position sound convincing. That does not make it the right position though.

I love science and everything good it has done for us in terms of knowledge and technology. But just as technolgy can always be improved, knowledge is only partial. And scientists are at best only human. If they have a love for truth and stick to a method to uncover it - fantastic! They also have bellies, families, houses, lust, bosses, limited intelligence, limited time and all of the other things that can influence where a person's focus is, what they see as they examine it, and how what they report they see. Aything peer reviewed is reviewed by people with the same issues. I would agree that a multitude of minds on an issue can provide some clarity, but there are no guarantees.

This is why I'm not troubled by dissenting opinions and find no need to belittle someone with different views. Unless you have a truly divine revelation, you don't really know. When something moves past theory and really starts working, then you may be onto something. But all sides on this warming issue are theorizing. If we cut back carbon emissions and things seem to cool in decades to come we can say, "Maybe we were right."
Posts: 701 | Registered: Thursday, November 30 2006 08:00
Shaper
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One part of me finds this whole issue as it presently exists highly amusing. There is an absurdity to it. We do seem prone to drawing conclusions prematurely, if you ask me. It fulfills a deep human need much better than dealing with lingering uncertainties and unknowns. Science likes to do it as much as anything less "scientific." It just looks more sophisticated, impressive, and authoritative the way science does it. I expect to live long enough to see radical shift and focus in all this theory.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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A person is more likely to catch fish if they are fishing than talking about fishing.

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Thralni - "a lot of people are ... too weird to be trusted"
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Warrior
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

This is why I'm not troubled by dissenting opinions and find no need to belittle someone with different views. Unless you have a truly divine revelation, you don't really know. When something moves past theory and really starts working, then you may be onto something. But all sides on this warming issue are theorizing. If we cut back carbon emissions and things seem to cool in decades to come we can say, "Maybe we were right."
But isn't this - again - the easy way out of any discussion? That we pray until the solution comes along, because some scientists are opinionated rather than scientific? So let's not bother with all this scientific gibberish and make up our minds based on... well, on what?

And one other thing you repeatedly seem to ignore: A scientific theory is not, infact, an unproven idea about how something works. Divine Revelation, on the contrary, is!

Just in case you want to look up what a scientific theory is:
scientific theory

Apart from this:

If the global warming issue, which has been presented repeatedly since the 70s, only it wasn't on any political agenda but the Green Partys' in a few countries across the world, now has become a political issue, by which Synergy means - correct me if I'm wrong - that it is now instrumentalized against the truth, I wonder: What's their mission?

To deprive humanity of CO2?

It's not like Al Gore came up with any of this. I know a lot of people (scientists, environmental activists who are really ticked off by Gore's hype, because he's making it appear as though without him mankind is doomed. That probably is his agenda.

Alas, it would seem to me, that the critical question at hand should not be: What if they are wrong? (Answer: We will have cut down our CO2 output.)

Instead we should be asking ourselves: What if they are right? What could all this extra CO2 possibly do? This is the sort of scientific and critical question we should have been asking ourselves before we started dumping enormous surplus(!) amounts into the air.

And, please, remember: Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition!
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Law Bringer
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quote:
If we cut back carbon emissions and things seem to cool in decades to come we can say, "Maybe we were right."
Maybe if I had run that red traffic light a few blocks back I would have run over a kid. But who knows? So I should run the next one. Right?

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 01:23: Message edited by: root ]

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Shaper
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Do you intend to keep trying until you do hit a kid?

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quote:
Originally written by Locmaar:

But isn't this - again - the easy way out of any discussion? That we pray until the solution comes along, because some scientists are opinionated rather than scientific? So let's not bother with all this scientific gibberish and make up our minds based on... well, on what?

And one other thing you repeatedly seem to ignore: A scientific theory is not, infact, an unproven idea about how something works. Divine Revelation, on the contrary, is!

You misunderstand me. I'm saying humanity should investigate these things, come to a conclusion, and act on it. I'm all for that. What I'm also saying though, is that because something has popular appeal, scientific or otherwise, does not make it correct. History should tell us that. So if we make a decision we should very well be prepared for the outcome that we are dead wrong. Which leads us to this - while making a decision the wise course is to listen carefully to all sides while keeping an open mind. Belittling people because they have a different view is counterproductive. It may be their view can change or enhance our own and vice versa.

Whenever I see scientists or anyone denegrade someone with a different opinion my trust in their position goes right out the door, because I automatically know they have an ulterior motive. They want to be "right." They don't want the truth so they refuse to listen and don't want me to listen either. To that end they say the dissenter is a wacko, lunatic, anti-science, fringe, etc.

By the way, I know exactly what a theory is. On divine revation, please note I said "truly." The implication being that it is information from God which would be absolutely and wholly true, unlike scientific knowledge. If you are a disbeliever, of course you don't believe in such things, but that is really beside the point.
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quote:
Belittling people because they have a different view is counterproductive. It may be their view can change or enhance our own and vice versa.
That's all the more reason to belittle them! If you make your opponents angry, they're more likely to be motivated to find good arguments for their position so that they can take you down a peg -- and whether they succeed or fail, everyone's a little better off by virtue of those arguments being found. Adversarial systems are so common in economic and political life for a very good reason: they work.

The participants in a debate are only rarely trying to convince each other of anything. It isn't even important whether they believe the arguments they're making. Instead, just like the prosecution and defence in a trial, they're each playing their part in a whole, and for the whole to be right does not require that any of the parts be right. Argument isn't counterproductive: on the contrary, trying to see each other's point of view would be counterproductive, leading to the risk of premature consensus.

quote:
Whenever I see scientists or anyone denegrade someone with a different opinion my trust in their position goes right out the door, because I automatically know they have an ulterior motive. They want to be "right."
If there's a better motivation for finding the truth than the desire to be proven right, I don't know what it is.

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 05:36: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

You misunderstand me [...] By the way, I know exactly what a theory is. On divine revation, please note I said "truly." The implication being that it is information from God which would be absolutely and wholly true, unlike scientific knowledge. If you are a disbeliever, of course you don't believe in such things, but that is really beside the point.
As a matter of fact, I do not misunderstand you. It is just obvious that we have a disagreement on what truth is. And since your view on truth is not negotiable - again: the easy way out of any discussion - entering any form of discourse seems utterly futile.

Somehow this reminds me of something. I just can't put my finger on it. Hmmm...

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 06:43: Message edited by: Locmaar ]
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Another argument that global warming-deniers have put up is that our knowledge is necessarily incomplete and will be furthered in the next few decades. Therefore we can't know whether global warming is happening or what's causing it, because our knowledge is incomplete.

This argument doesn't really work. You don't need to have a complete knowledge of aerodynamics to know, if you drop a bowling ball from a tall building, it's basically going to accelerate toward the ground at a rate of 9.8 m/s^2. It may be 9.7 m/s^2 or 9.6 m/s^2, due to aerodynamic effects, but it sure as heck isn't going to float or rise above the level from which you dropped it.

The incompleteness of our knowledge about climate change is like not being able to take into account air resistance when we're doing projectile motion: yes, it adds an uncertainty, but only to the details, not to the big picture.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

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I never said argument was counterproductive - I'm in fact saying the opposite. What I'm saying is that the way you go about presenting it can be productive or counterproductive. If a scientist says. "Humans pump X amount of CO2 into the atmosphere causing Y amount of temperature increase annually. We know this is the cause because we've isolated A, B, and C and have found them to be inconsequential for these reasons" he's got my attention. If he says, "We're causing the world to heat and anyone that disagrees is stupid" I'm less prone to listen. The well being of humankind overshadows personal pride. This is not some highschool debate team.

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Truth is reality. Your words let me know you don't get me. If you did you would know that I believe in non-negotiable absolutes. The thing is that humans don't know it all. Anybody thinking otherwise is deluded. When they speak of knowledge they've uncovered through scientific method in absolute and non-negotiable terms it lets me know they have lost touch with reality and puts a large question mark over everything they say. Science simply does not work that way. I'm not a scientist, but I've studied it enough and have enough interest in it to know that much.

I think the scientific method is generally the best means we have to unlocking the secrets of the universe. So, when a scientist (or better yet a large group of them) says that they've looked at an issue from every angle presented and is putting forth the best solution they can come up with then I'm all ears.
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Warrior
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

Truth is reality. Your words let me know you don't get me. If you did you would know that I believe in non-negotiable absolutes. The thing is that humans don't know it all. Anybody thinking otherwise is deluded.
Amen, brother.

But you sorta do know that only divine revelation can be true?

BTW: Reality is that which surrounds us, even without anybody knowing the truth.

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 07:39: Message edited by: Locmaar ]
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

The thing is that humans don't know it all. Anybody thinking otherwise is deluded. When they speak of knowledge they've uncovered through scientific method in absolute and non-negotiable terms it lets me know they have lost touch with reality and puts a large question mark over everything they say.
Eh... what if I say that I've discovered that dense things always, always, always fall at a rate of approximately 9.8 m/s^2 near the surface of the Earth without any exceptions and always will, unless we do something drastic to the mass of the Earth? I'm speaking in absolute and non-negotiable terms, but do you really want to argue that there's something wrong with me saying that?

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 07:51: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
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If God exists (the Judeo-Christian God) then knowledge from him would be absolute.

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Acceleration due to gravity may be one of those partial truths that I mentioned. But to use words like "always" and "without exception" is saying quite a bit. How would you know that? That is the very heart of the matter. Still your theory is applied and works. That carries far more weight than an untested idea. Now explain to me exactly what gravity is and how it works including its relationship to the other forces...
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

But to use words like "always" and "without exception" is saying quite a bit. How would you know that? That is the very heart of the matter.
Eh, objection sustained. Let's use the terminology that the IPCC report uses. Do you have any objections to saying that it's extremely unlikely that dense objects would fall at a rate far different from 9.8 m/s^2 near the surface of the Earth, provided that we don't do anything drastic?

quote:
Still your theory is applied and works. That carries far more weight than an untested idea. Now explain to me exactly what gravity is and how it works including its relationship to the other forces...
Who cares? That's irrelevant to the question of approximately how things fall near the surface of the Earth.

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 09:35: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

The thing is that humans don't know it all.
So by extension, neither do you. So, how can we believe that you're right when you say that humans don't know it all? But then if that's incorrect, then humans might know it all, so you could be right. But then by extension...

You lose.

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Nuke and Pave
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

...
What I'm saying is that the way you go about presenting it can be productive or counterproductive. If a scientist says. "Humans pump X amount of CO2 into the atmosphere causing Y amount of temperature increase annually. We know this is the cause because we've isolated A, B, and C and have found them to be inconsequential for these reasons" he's got my attention. If he says, "We're causing the world to heat and anyone that disagrees is stupid" I'm less prone to listen.
...

There is a difference between pop culture, popular science, and real science.

The only place where a scientist will say "We're causing the world to heat and anyone that disagrees is stupid" is a talk show where everybody speaks in 10-second sound bytes. That is not science. That is pop culture.

You might also have seen some "popular science", which is the wartered-down version of scientific arguments, presented in a way that would be accessable and fun for the general public.

However, if you really whant to know the scientific opinion, you have to read real scientific papers, which are written in the style of "Humans pump X amount of CO2 into the atmosphere causing Y amount of temperature increase annually. We know this is the cause because we've isolated A, B, and C and have found them to be inconsequential for these reasons". The summary report Kel had linked to earlier is probably a good place to start. From there you can follow citations to actual studies. It's a lot of work to struggle through the dry language of technical papers, but if you want to evaluate the truth behind the soundbytes yourself, you'll have to do this.

One sentence summary: real scientific arguments are as rigorous as you'd expect, but you will not find real science in popular bestsellers; instead, you have to read dry government reports and even more dry scientific studies they cite.

[ Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:10: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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For the sake of your illustration I won't question you on what would and would not qualify as drastic and just agree with you on the acceleration. Now find some scientists who'd disagree to make your illustration really fit. I'm guessing you'll find unanimity. You won't find the same on the global warming issue. Why do you think that is?

Ephesos, your logic circle would be more viscious if I said "humans know [i]nothing.[i]"

Zeviz, I can accept your point.
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Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

Ephesos, your logic circle would be more viscious if I said "humans know [i]nothing.[i]"
Yes, I know. But I had fun, and that's all that matters. :P

But honestly, I still have a problem with using that as a defense in a serious debate. It's just misleading, because either side can sling that one at their opponents, regardless of topic and positions. Really it just discredits the entire discussion, because it's equally valid when applied to any argument.

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TM: "I want BoA to grow. Evolve where the food ladder has rungs to be reached."

Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.
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