Observation re PF philosophy forum changes and content

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The open threads in the philosophy forum now consist of:
(1) The Special Signal Problem
(2) Whenever a theory appears to you ... (Karl Popper)
(3) Dexter vs. Meursault
(4) Philosophy of Science in Steampunk

While (1) is certainly ok for the philosophy forum, the others, imho, might be more appropriately placed in the general discussion forum, as they seem to me to involve rather more literary than philosophical considerations. The OP in (2) simply presents a statement by Popper and a Wiki link, but no question. The OP in (3) seems to be asking us to interpret and compare the motives of the protagonists in a novel and a television show. The OP in (4) is asking about features of steampunk (a scifi genre) that might be used in a paper for a philosophy of science course.

It seems to me that if the intent of the recent philosophy forum changes was to make the content of that forum more closely approximate the professional standards of the field (philosopy), then that program might be off to a shaky start.

Comments?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Math Is Hard
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1) Perfectly acceptable
2) Could be better posed as a question, but I think the question is implicit. It's an older thread that was reopened.
3) Not my best stuff, and I'm ambivalent on how well it fits, but it does compare the protagonist of a French existentialist author and a similar modern character.
4) asking for help on a research topic is allowed and perfectly acceptable.

In general, it's an experiment, and we'll see how it plays out. "Shaky start"? Fair enough. But for the moment it seems to beat the years of complaints of how the forum is nonsense and complete crap.
 
  • #3
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1) Perfectly acceptable
2) Could be better posed as a question, but I think the question is implicit. It's an older thread that was reopened.
3) Not my best stuff, and I'm ambivalent on how well it fits, but it does compare the protagonist of a French existentialist author and a similar modern character.
4) asking for help on a research topic is allowed and perfectly acceptable.

In general, it's an experiment, and we'll see how it plays out. "Shaky start"? Fair enough. But for the moment it seems to beat the years of complaints of how the forum is nonsense and complete crap.
Ok, points taken. Imho, (2) might as well be closed (I'm curious why it was reopened and not some others. Was it maybe because, of the more recent threads, it seemed at least somewhat promising?), (3) is for general discussion, and (4) is for homework or general discussion.

I'm also now curious wrt approximately how many complaints there were (not counting my current, er, observation). :smile:
 
  • #4
Chi Meson
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A philosophy sub-forum within Physics Forums will always get complaints. I have none, by the way, but I am glad there is a place to shunt philosophical discussions as they pop up, just as I am glad that political discussions also have a place to go.

I do enjoy arbitrary and random topics of discussion, which is why I come to GD more than any other place on the web. I strongly dislike 90% of all philosophical and political discussions (also religious discussions which are usually only a combination of the other two). These topics are about everything that is not science, and to my brain that makes nearly all of them totally irrational. That's no judgment on anyone else, mind you, just one data point that might indicate why you might not find the highest level of philosophical discussion here.

Imagine what a Physics sub-forum on Philosophyforums must look like? Surely we all would wretch.
 
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  • #5
ZapperZ
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Image what a Physics sub-forum on Philosophyforums must look like? Surely we all would wretch.
Eeeewwwwww!!!!!

Now I have to spend the next 30 minutes trying to get that icky picture out of my head. Thanks a lot, Chi Meson!

Zz.
 
  • #6
Chi Meson
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My motto:

"It's the Least I can Do!"
 
  • #7
EnumaElish
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In science forums I've come across "limits of science (or beyond)" types of discussions that arguably belong to philosophy. Examples are (limits & beyond of ...) big bang, black holes, time, space, (e. g. end of time, what is beyond planck scale?), interpretation of "being at two places (or in two states) at the same time" (probabilistic interpretation vs. parallel universes), interpretation of quantum entanglement, quantum foam, etc. Possibly, thought experiments like the twins paradox.
 
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  • #8
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Chi Meson said:
A philosophy sub-forum within Physics Forums will always get complaints.
Ok. I was just wondering what sort of complaints they were and who made them, because it would seem to me that a philosophy forum that entertained philosophical or interpretational questions from, especially, newbies and amateurs wrt any of the other forum disciplines would be a good thing. And that's how it seemed to function, more or less, until it was, effectively, shut down.

Chi Meson said:
I have none (complaints), by the way ...
Nor do I, about the way it functioned before that is. I liked it the way it was. There were lots of interesting (to me anyway) discussions, and the place at PF where interpretational ideas and ideas about time, causality, randomness, consciousness, etc. were vetted, albeit somewhat loosely.

Chi Meson said:
... but I am glad there is a place to shunt philosophical discussions as they pop up, just as I am glad that political discussions also have a place to go.
I am too. The former philosophy forum was a place to pose (or shunt) questions, considerations, discussions and musings on 'the big picture' (or relevant aspects thereof), so to speak, as well as specific interpretational stuff.
I suspect that the recent change was intended to decrease the frequency of the sorts of musings that characterized it before, and that this will decrease the frequency of those sorts of musings at PF in general.

If that was the intention, I'm wondering why? Was there some contention that the contents of the former philosophy forum made PF seem less, er, respectable? I tend to think that that couldn't be it, considering the content of a few other forums at PF.

But let's assume that that's it. There's a simple fix. Have two philosophy forums, one for academic and professional discussions, and the other (like the former philosophy forum) for, more or less, amateur and newbie philosophical musings.

Then the locked threads can be sorted into one or the other, and reopened. Granted, there won't be many in the academic and professional philosophy forum to start, but potential contributors will have the exclusivity that they might want and higher level discussions, and the newbies and amateurs will have a forum for their less well considered musings.

And then (3) and (4), from the OP, can be put into the latter instead of general discussion.

What do you (or anyone else) think?
 
  • #9
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In science forums I've come across "limits of science (or beyond)" types of discussions that arguably belong to philosophy. Examples are (limits & beyond of ...) big bang, black holes, time, space, (e. g. end of time, what is beyond planck scale?), interpretation of "being at two places (or in two states) at the same time" (probabilistic interpretation vs. parallel universes), interpretation of quantum entanglement, quantum foam, etc. Possibly, thought experiments like the twins paradox.
I like this. Wrt the dual-forum proposal, discussions wrt the above considerations could be sorted into either the academic-professional philosophy forum or the general (amateur-newbie) philosophy forum.
 
  • #10
Evo
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I like this. Wrt the dual-forum proposal, discussions wrt the above considerations could be sorted into either the academic-professional philosophy forum or the general (amateur-newbie) philosophy forum.
Either it's a valid discussion or it's garbage. The problem with the former forum was that it was the latter. That's not what we want to encourage on this forum, the internet is overflowing with places that people can gather and spout nonsense to their heart's content.

Of course the people spouting the nonsense weren't complaining, they thought they were having meaningful discussions. For our members that knew the difference, it was a place to be avoided. Any time someone knowledgable tried to pull a thread back on track and dispell the misinformation, the thread would briefly go quiet, then the nonsense would pick back up, sometimes even worse than before.

Since you were one of the former participants, let me ask you, if you think you know the science and you understand philosophy, then why is it that you can't follow the guidelines to post now? If you don't know, why do you expect a forum that has no criteria for either discipline? I honestly would like feedback as to what you see as preventing you from posting now.

We don't know exactly what will work, we do know what didn't work. My hope is that people will realize that the philosophy forum rules have been improved and members that wish serious discussions will start posting. I've discovered that many of our members don't even know things have changed.
 
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  • #11
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Evo said:
Either it's a valid discussion or it's garbage.
Most discussions, most theories in fact, seem to, in hindsight, have contained a bit of both.

Evo said:
That's not what we want to encourage on this forum, the internet is overflowing with places that people can gather and spout nonsense to their heart's content.
I don't think it's nonsense for someone to have a, perhaps not too well formed, idea about our world, and expect to get some considered replies wrt their informal and nonreferenced musing(s) or questions.

Anyway, what's the problem with having two philosophy forums -- one for academic and professional discussions, and one for the less well considered questions and musings of amateurs and newbies? The revised philosophy forum is already being filled with threads that belong to the latter. With a dual setup, PF might actually attract some serious scholars and generate some interesting (for them) discussions, and there will still be a place for the amateurs and less scholarly. As it was (and will, I think, continue to be if the current setup is retained) the nonsense got mixed in with the good stuff.

Evo said:
Since you were one of the former participants, let me ask you, if you think you know the science and you understand philosophy, then why is it that you can't follow the guidelines to post now?
Who says I can't follow the guidelines? :smile: Anyway, I only know a little science and even less philosophy, and an occasional idea or perspective on something that I feel might be worth sharing. So, I would be posting mostly in the general or amateur philosophy thread, if there were a dual setup and the closed threads were reopened in appropriate forums.

Evo said:
If you don't know, why do you expect a forum that has no criteria for either discipline?
I don't expect anything. Just making a suggestion that you have serious philosophy forum, and a not so serious one. Why not just try it and see what happens?

Evo said:
I honestly would like feedback as to what you see as preventing you from posting now.
All of the philosophy threads that I was thinking about replying to are closed now.

What was preventing the people who complained about the way it was before from starting serious threads and the moderators simply deleting nonsensical, ill informed, or irrelevant contributions?

Evo said:
We don't know exactly what will work, we do know what didn't work.
If I may, there are at least three options. (1) Keep it the way it is now with a single philosophy forum, reopening what few closed threads might qualify for inclusion there, and reopen and move the closed threads to the general discussion forum. (2) Do (1) but keep the closed threads closed. (3) Have two philosophy forums as suggested, reopening all the closed threads and putting them in the appropriate forum.

My opinion is that (3) is the best option (of the three presented) and would create the most activity in a serious philosophy forum. (1) would dilute the general discussion forum in a way that I'm supposing most people would find unsatisfactory. And, (2), the current status quo, would keep a lot of somewhat interesting (but mostly not very high level discussion) threads closed, and there would be no place to have the sorts of informal and loose discussions on philosophical topics that characterized the former philosophy forum.
 
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  • #12
Math Is Hard
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I'm also now curious wrt approximately how many complaints there were (not counting my current, er, observation). :smile:
Enough that it was time to try something different. The complaints have come from long-time members, many of them science advisors and mentors.

The dual forum idea is an interesting proposal, but I think it would be difficult to implement. It would essentially create a serious elite forum and a "Crazy Town". Everyone who posts will probably assume that their thread belongs in the former, and when it is moved to the latter, there will be some yelling. And how crazy should Crazy Town be allowed to get? Should we have 87 vague "what is time?" threads, and posts about epiphanies during drug experiences, and "what the bleep" type posts, and junk that was booted out of the quantum forum?

It does have the advantage of corralling the silly away from the serious, but we're back to moderating the same garbage can, just in a different place.
 
  • #13
Evo
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What was preventing the people who complained about the way it was before from starting serious threads and the moderators simply deleting nonsensical, ill informed, or irrelevant contributions?
Serious members knew that as soon as they started a thread, it would be flooded with nonsense. It is disruptive and counter-productive to a discussion to constantly have to do thread surgery to remove the bad stuff.
 
  • #17
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I've come to the conclusion that it isn't important, and maybe not even desirable, for PF to have any sort of philosophy forum. Not important because, after all, it's primarily a physics/science forum, and maybe not desirable because whatever discussions develop in a PF philosophy forum there are almost surely going to be more thorough ones on the same topic(s) at forums like philpapers and Philosophy Forums, etc.

So, thanks for the feedback and never mind. :smile:

The following is the original draft of this post:

Math Is Hard said:
Enough that it was time to try something different.
Ok, that's a vague enough statement to make it into the former philosophy forum. :smile:

Math Is Hard said:
The dual forum idea is an interesting proposal, but I think it would be difficult to implement. It would essentially create a serious elite forum and a "Crazy Town".
Not necessarily. There would be a serious philosophical research forum frequented by more or less serious scholars, with closely moderated standards, and, my guess, relatively few new threads, say, per month -- and there would be a general forum, less closely moderated, with somewhat relaxed (but not without) standards, where less cogently formulated questions and arguments might be vetted with relatively more threads per month.

I don't think the old philosophy forum was as bad as you make it out to be. There were lots of interesting threads and posts there (well, to me anyway). But it wasn't held to a very high standard either -- a lot of crap (some of it authored by me no doubt) wasn't moderated out. And some of those threads could have been closed or just deleted in the course of a moderators daily, or whatever, perusal of the forum.

But that wasn't done. So, I'm led to consider that maybe it's a matter of simply not having the personnel with the time to adequately moderate the forum -- which I can certainly understand. Is that the case?

Math Is Hard said:
Everyone who posts will probably assume that their thread belongs in the former ...
I don't think that that's a necessary assumption if it's clearly displayed that the former is a serious, moderated philosophical research forum. In fact, I'll bet that there will be so few submissions that you can require all submissions to pass a preliminary screening by the forum moderator(s), like sci.physics.research does. It it doesn't pass, then it goes to the informal (or less formal) general philosophy forum or general discussion or gets deleted.

Math Is Hard said:
... and when it is moved to the latter, there will be some yelling.
I don't think there would be much of that.

Math Is Hard said:
And how crazy should Crazy Town be allowed to get?
It doesn't have to be allowed to get crazy at all. The former philosophy forum wasn't all that busy or all that crazy if I recall correctly. So minimal moderation should be enough to keep a Crazy Town from being built. And assuming that at least some of the contributors there will be relatively long time PF members, then it will sort of police itself to a certain extent.

Math Is Hard said:
Should we have 87 vague "what is time?" threads ...
Afaik, the nature of time is being continually reformulated and debated by professionals and serious academics. And a lot of it is, well, somewhat vague. 87 "what is time?" threads would be a mere 'drop in the bucket' wrt the extant literature. I'm curious how far back one would have to go through the closed threads to reach the 87th thread on time, so to speak.

Math Is Hard said:
... and posts about epiphanies during drug experiences ...
OPs like that can be deleted or moved to random thoughts or general discussion. Preferably just deleted as far as I'm concerned.

Math Is Hard said:
... and "what the bleep" type posts ...
Are you referring to that movie? Well, people believe in or are fascinated by all sorts of stuff, and it's fun (sometimes, for me at least), if not that important, to get into how they came to believe what they say they believe. Again, these posts can be deleted or moved if deemed necessary.

Math Is Hard said:
... and junk that was booted out of the quantum forum?
The quantum forum always has a few active philosophical threads that wouldn't meet the standards of a serious philosophical research forum, as do a few of the other science forums. Those forums don't seem to move much of that stuff, but rather just continue to address many of the same questions, realizing, it seems, that many of the interpretational issues that perplex professionals and serious academics also occur, probably even much more frequently, to amateurs and newbies who are not yet able to express their concerns as eloquently as professionals and serious academics.

Math Is Hard said:
It does have the advantage of corralling the silly away from the serious ...
Yes, but let's not assume that all of the OPs in an informal philosophy forum are going to be silly. Not all of the closed threads were silly. In fact, I would guess less than half (ok, I haven't the foggiest idea). Most of them (I guess) are just less tightly wound around a particular consideration, and mostly not nearly as well researched and formulated as what would be expected in a serious philosophical research forum. Anyway, that's the character of informal discussions on interesting subjects (assuming a certain connectedness wrt, well, everything). Chewing the fat is bound to produce a certain amount of garbage. But it was never a requirement that obvious garbage had to be retained. And OPs and posts that were obviously silly could have been filtered out.

Math Is Hard said:
... but we're back to moderating the same garbage can, just in a different place.
It doesn't have to become primarily a garbage bin. With clearly visible caveats on the front pages of the forums, perhaps a screening process for the philosophical research forum, and minimal moderation, then there shouldn't be a problem.

Assuming that the current setup will be retained, I have to wonder if it will turn out to be more or less like the old one (three questionable threads have already been included) except with far less activity (a total of four threads so far) -- and there wasn't all that much activity in the old one.
 
  • #18
alt
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I used to enjoy the philosophy forum a great deal.
 
  • #19
alt
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... and posts about epiphanies during drug experiences ...

Just noticed the above comment in an earlier post. The reality is, that some great literature / poetry has been written, and some great discoveries have been made that way.
 
  • #20
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I used to enjoy the philosophy forum a great deal.
Yeah, me too. But it isn't really important whether you discuss your philosophical considerations here or at some other forum. Is it?
 
  • #21
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... and posts about epiphanies during drug experiences ...

Just noticed the above comment in an earlier post. The reality is, that some great literature / poetry has been written, and some great discoveries have been made that way.
Ok. Maybe some mediocre poetry or literature, maybe even some music. But not great philosophy, and certainly not even acceptable science while on drugs.

I love music, and I've found that you can't really play (and therefore compose or perform, etc.) to the best of your abilities if you're on drugs. Any drugs. And, believe me, I've tried them all. The prescription for success is stay sober and practice, practice, practice.

Regarding fictional literature, I'm not really a fan, but I do admire the ability to tell a story, especially a really long one, really well. And, despite the legendary drunkeness and/or drug use of some great authors, I really don't think they learned their craft or produced their great works while they were drunk or high on drugs.

Regarding poetry, well, poetry is the mime of the arts, performing or otherwise. Annoying and irrelevant. So, I'd suppose that one could do good miming (is that correct?) or poeticizing (??) while as high as a kite. Like abstract visual art. I mean, who would know, and what would it matter? Just my admittedly unsophisticated opinion. No offense. Who knows, I might learn to appreciate that stuff when I'm a bit older.
 
  • #22
cobalt124
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Evo has said everything I would wish to say on this matter, and perhaps add that a less restrictive philosophy forum always has the potential to be a crackpot attractor, more so the dual forum suggestion. PF has been around for what, ten years, it knows what it is about, and knows what works and what doesn't. It has evolved into what it is now, so the current step is a step forward, and as with things that evolve, if it works it is kept, if it fails it goes. Whether I post there or not is irrelevant, to have forums where I can read and learn safe in the knowledge that I'm not reading rubbish is something I cherish. PF is special (unique?) on the internet, I'm sure there are loads of other websites out there that will provide the opening poster with what he requires.
 
  • #23
Jasongreat
Heck, I could be wrong because I wasnt taught philosophy by someone else, but isnt there quite a few philosphers that go off the deep end all by themselves? Like Mills who said that everyone needs to have liberty, then goes on to say that those same liberties can be subdued by the majority? There are a few philosophers that say logic is the shiznit, then go on to say we cant trust logic. Philosophers need no help from us to make the subject of their philosophy ridiculous. If the point of this forum is teaching and learning, those in charge may need to put up with crackpottery, inorder to help those in need of help see the light, I am first in line most times. How can one be taught that their views are wrong, or in need of a little correction, when they dont have the chance to put those views forward? Of all forums that should have a little leeway, philosophy, imo, should be the one. If a ridiculous subject is brought up, why does it need to be outlawed, and not just ignored?
 
  • #24
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Heck, I could be wrong because I wasnt taught philosophy by someone else, but isnt there quite a few philosphers that go off the deep end all by themselves? Like Mills who said that everyone needs to have liberty, then goes on to say that those same liberties can be subdued by the majority? There are a few philosophers that say logic is the shiznit, then go on to say we cant trust logic. Philosophers need no help from us to make the subject of their philosophy ridiculous. If the point of this forum is teaching and learning, those in charge may need to put up with crackpottery, inorder to help those in need of help see the light, I am first in line most times. How can one be taught that their views are wrong, or in need of a little correction, when they dont have the chance to put those views forward? Of all forums that should have a little leeway, philosophy, imo, should be the one. If a ridiculous subject is brought up, why does it need to be outlawed, and not just ignored?
A-freakin-men. Like your style. Regarding the apparent contradiction re "logic is the shiznit, then go on to say we cant trust logic", I think it might be that trust is not the shiznit. At least in that context. But I could be wrong about that.

While I agree that subjects can just be ignored and don't need to be outlawed, maybe the reason that some feel the need to outlaw and not just ignore is that it's easier to ignore something if it's just not around, ie., outlawed or deleted, whatever.
 
  • #25
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cobalt124 said:
Evo has said everything I would wish to say on this matter ...
Apparently not. See below.
cobalt124 said:
... and perhaps add that a less restrictive philosophy forum always has the potential to be a crackpot attractor, more so the dual forum suggestion.
Why "more so the dual forum suggestion."?
cobalt124 said:
Whether I post there or not is irrelevant ...
Yes, and whether I post there or not is irrelevant. But what if everyone thought that way, and stopped posting there? Then there would, effectively, be no more PF philosophy forum. So, it would seem that it is relevant whether or not we post there, or at least that somebody post there. Just maybe not us. Or whoever. That is, assuming that the existence of a PF philosophy forum is important, in some sense. Which, for me, it isn't, in any sense. So, yes, whether I or you or anybody posts there or not is irrelevant, to me. Not sure about you.
cobalt124 said:
... to have forums where I can read and learn safe in the knowledge that I'm not reading rubbish is something I cherish.
How would you know that what you're not reading is rubbish? And why, if you did know, would that make you feel safe?
cobalt124 said:
PF is special (unique?) ...
Yes, special and unique are synonymous.
cobalt124 said:
... I'm sure there are loads of other websites out there that will provide the opening poster with what he requires.
I like PF, but I don't think it matters, wrt PF's primary goal, or for my entertainment, whether PF has a philosophy forum or not.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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