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Comment Re: Worse than useless (Score 1) 98

The fact stands that idiots are harder to run from in person. Note that the magnitude of the effect on your opinion doesn't mean that your opinion always has to be brought closer to the opinion of the person you're discussing it with. Say you have a certain policy on hosts files. Since you probably filter out everything APK posts, he probably has no net effect on that policy. But if you saw APK everyday and he spouted the same drivel he spouts here, you would likely start doing the opposite of what he says.

Comment Re:Does it Matter? (Score 1) 288

Yet even a story can hide wisdom in allegory. Knowledge is not limited to certain (or currently accepted) answers to the question "how." Take aesthetics, for example. Since you can't exactly test what the "right" way of doing something is (i.e. derive an "ought" from an "is"), you have to throw around random ideas and refine them through debate, checking for internal consistency, etc. into something that intuitively "feels right." Knowledge of the purely physical should be testable, but you'd have a hard time doing the same for abstract concepts.

Comment Re: Worse than useless (Score 1) 98

Online discussions have made me rethink my deeply-held beliefs, forced me to re-examine my arguments, changed my opinion on several occasions...

You may be a minority there. Internet "debates" rarely end with anything other than one side shutting out the other. In fact, it's the ease with which we can filter out dissenting opinions on all kinds of media (traditional and new) that make them poor catalysts for significant changes in opinion. Face-to-face discussion trumps all else when it comes to magnitude of effect per person.

Comment Does it Matter? (Score 1) 288

String theory, or any idea, for that matter, should not have its merit determined solely by how scientific it is. Science is a good hammer for testable hypotheses, but not everything is a nail, and claiming that everything not a nail is irrelevant will have us missing out on two of the three types of knowledge.

Comment Re:What I Don't Understand... (Score 1) 177

Even if you counted all the "bad, less bad, and not really bad just misinformed people living next door to you that are all more likely to cause you harm than ISIL and terrorism are" as terrorists themselves, they'd still be statistically less of a threat to your life than, say, your own furniture.

Terrorism is ultimately another bogeyman, and while a problem nonetheless, I believe that we are interpreting a situational cause (the "Great Game" that has practically never ended, resulting in turmoil in various countries and causing more people to look for extremist solutions to impose order) as fundamental (that Islam predisposes people to terrorism, which is contradicted by a study (Lewis, Bernard, 'Islam: The Religion and the People' (2009), pg. 53) finding Islamic jurisprudence to be at odds with terrorism and a report by MI5 finding Islamic terrorists not being particularly religious or irreligious on average).

The fundamental problem is that when you have a lot of young people who either live in or have active ties to a region that has been screwed over for a long time, you are bound to see increasing numbers of people getting angry about it and thus increasing (but still small) numbers of people channeling that anger into horrific acts (which will, of course, be high profile compared to more statistically significant threats), believing those acts to be a solution, and perverting a belief system shared by most other people from the group they believe to themselves to be fighting for to justify them and popularize their cause.

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