ForumsWEPRTHE GREAT DEBATES! (Rd. 6 Results)

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Moegreche
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Moegreche
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Duke

Some of you may remember The Great Debates thread from years past. Some thought it was fun, and some thought it was just too heavy.

So I thought I'd bring things back, but with a twist! The basic idea is still the same: two users will debate on a topic. The difference is that you won't get to pick the topic or which side you'll be arguing for.

Oh, and I almost forgot - the topics are going to be somewhat ... silly But that doesn't mean your argument has to be silly. In fact, if you can defend your silly point in a serious way, you might just earn yourself a merit! So it's not about winners or losers, it's about whether you can argue for, well, just about anything!

RULES:

- I will provide three possible topics for debate. If you'd like to participate, then you can SIGN-UP HERE in the Art, Music, and Writing forum: click here

- Once 6 people (at least for now) have signed up for the current three topics, the signup thread will close and the debates will begin

- Assignments will be given on this thread (who will be debating for which topic and what side).
**NOTE** You are signing up to play. Which topic you get and what side you'll be arguing for will be decided randomly. So be prepared!

- You will only have 1 post in which to give your argument, so make it count! Keep in mind that your argument should stand on its own. So don't quote your opponent and just shoot down their arguments. But you should also anticipate potential objections and try to respond to them.

- Merit-earners will present well-reasoned and genuine arguments in favour of their position - even in the face of some pretty silly topics. What that means is that, if users on opposite sides each give great arguments, they would both earn merits!

- A loosely enforced time limit (which has yet to be officially established) will be in place. Once that time limit is reached, the next round will begin.

Good luck! And let the return of The Great Debates begin!

  • 224 Replies
JACKinbigletters
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JACKinbigletters
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Templar

Nuclear Fusion
You are right it doesn't exist now, but at one stage neither did other renewables or even combustion engines, just because it doesn't exist now doesn't mean it won't in the near future, plus if every developed nations nuclear scientific community came together that future will be much closer at hand.

Explodify!
You are right it may not be the only alternative method but it's one of the most dangerous and so I present it as such. However at the moment running the world on alternative methods of power are just not feasible.
Take solar, at peak conditions you would get 1000 watts per square meter. There are 1'000'000'000'000 watts per terawatt. China alone uses over 35'041.19 terawatts per hour. America; 25'434.81 terawatts per hour. India; 9'524.97 terawatts per hour. Russia; 8'489.9 terawatts per hour. Japan; 5'291.65 terawatts per hour. Germany; 3'756.49 terawatts per hour. Brazil; 3'407.59 terawatts per hour. South Korea; 3'105.21 terawatts per hour. Canada; 2'954.02 terawatts per hour. France; 2'942.39 terawatts per hour. And so on. These are the top ten countries listed in order of consumption of energy, this totals to 99'948.22 terawatts per hour, aka 99'948'220'000'000'000 watts of energy. So it would take over 99'948'220'000'000 square meters of land to supply the top ten countries. If all the land in Russia, the largest area of land in the world, was taken over that would only cover 16'377'742'000 square meters of the total necessary. And remember these calculations are based on Peak conditions. So using solar to power the developed world is so very much out the window. There is simply not enough land for it to become viable. We would need 67'106.3649792% more land for it to cover the top ten countries power demand.
Now lets take wind, I'll be working off a typical wind farm design as the variables in size, production, wind speed, space needed and number of turbines are far to individual to coalesce. I will take one of the most common designs being 4 3 megawatt turbines. This farm will take up roughly a square kilometer. That's 3'000 watts per 1m squared. It would take 33'316'073'333'333.3 square meters to cover the worlds top ten energy demand. There is only 510'072'000'000 meters squared in our entire world. And we fall short of about 6.53164128462% area for that to work. Starting to see a problem here yet? I am.

cheap power - less safety
What? That entire point makes no sense. So the power is cheaper, so what? How in any way does that effect safety? It doesn't, not at all. No safety isn't free, of course it isn't that wouldn't make sense so it's cost gets added into it's running costs and you know what that doesn't make it less safe. Just because you have to spend less cash on the power plant doesn't mean you have to skim on safety costs. Why would it? The two are separate of one another. Your entire point is fallacy.

Investment
Indeed you could put it all in other forms of production but this argument is about nuclear power so that's where the investment shall go. A nuclear meltdown can be safer and less destructive with the right procedures and safety measures a meltdown could become neigh on impossible and if it did occur locking down the reactor is a possibility, shuttering away the destruction and preventing leaks. A meltdown can be reversed if dealt with correctly thus creating no damage whatsoever. It can reduce the amount of waste to nearly 0% if the use of breeder reactors became the norm, as I've stated in my first post.

The OECD have also calculated that with fast breeder reactors such as the BN-800 and conceptual Integral Fast Reactor, which has a closed nuclear fuel cycle with a burn up of, and recycling of, all the uranium, plutonium and minor actinides

So it's already happening and so we must discuss it.

~1.5% of the world's population) can't fit renewable power.
Care to check my math? It's far more then ~1.5% of the world.
randomblah
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randomblah
246 posts
King

@Jackinbigletters

Nuclear Fusion
Again, you didn't properly address the crux of my argument. The reason that we are not discussing nuclear fusion is that there aren't enough specifics due to its highly experimental nature. Without something such as price, we'd just be wasting time claiming various prices on power.

Are renewables(most notably solar) feasible?
The short answer is yes, especially in the United States. We should note that the U.S. is considered to be a very power intensive country(especially per capita) - Americans are not known for their thriftiness. Hence, the fact that renewable energy works in the U.S. means that it can easily be adapted to more power-thrifty nations. For info on how this was obtained, please see the notes below. Other practical sources(here, and here(this one cites many many official sources)), both give similar conclusions about the feasibility of solar power in relation to land.

Cheapness vs. Safety
In an ideal world, all products are created equal. However, in a real world, cost savings tend to come from somewhere, and in nuclear reactors, this tends to be safety. It's fairly well documented that the primary costs in nuclear power are from construction. Well, one might wonder why construction is so darned expensive for nuclear reactors. And the obvious answer is safety. Safety comes from gigantic slabs of concrete, advanced programming, advanced monitoring systems, and well qualified individuals. It's absurd to think that any of these are free, or even cheap - they aren't. Nuclear power plants routinely cost 10+ billion dollars(e.g. Darlington Nuclear Generating Station) - for reference, the One World Trade Center cost a mere 3.9 billion dollars. The vast majority of this goes to making the nuclear facility safe. There's really no other explanation as to why nuclear power plants are so expensive.

Reversing meltdowns
Well, that's very... interesting(for lack of a better word). In principle, it is possible to reverse the effects of a meltdown, but for a teeny tiny price - say 100 billion. That's not exactly what you're looking for from a power plant, nor is it inspiring, as it basically involves shoveling radioactive soil into bags and dumping it where there are no humans. While meltdowns might become more rare with proper investment, I seriously doubt meltdowns will become any less dangerous unless they occur on a regular basis(and society gets good at dealing with the consequences from practice).

Investment
Nuclear power doesn't live in a void. We have to evaluate its benefits compared to other power sources. This properly accounts for its opportunity cost, which happens to be very large. After all, we have to remember that developed countries already have their own power sources - there has to be a convincing reason to swap to nuclear. In particular, solar truly beats nuclear in almost every important way.

New Nuclear technologies?
Sadly, the sources cited are still mostly theoretical and have yet to be truly refined or tested. The BN-800 for example is a one-of-a-kind reactor, with little information available. The predecessor of the BN-800, the BN-600 had 20+ radioactive sodium leaks. The Integral Fast Reactor was discontinued 20 years ago(in 1994). As an additional counterpoint, a reactor based on similar technology called Superphenix was discontinued by France(France happens to be a very nuclear-heavy nation, so this shows just how flawed it is). The nearest commercial plant isn't even intended for construction until 2020, and after that it's 2028(and those are probably very optimistic estimates). Furthermore, these claims are entirely untested(calculations predict many things, such as the elastic modulus of steel being 10x greater than what it is; calculations are by no means reality). And even if such calculations bear out, it will most likely cause nuclear power to cost more than renewables, while still retaining a miniscule risk of meltdown. Personally, I'd much rather live meltdown-risk-free and pay 5 cents more on my monthly bill, even if it's just for peace of mind.

Recap
Remember - nuclear power has many alternatives. 20 years ago, it might well have been a good choice. But today, with the boom of renewables(solar grew a whopping 34% in 2013), nuclear becomes an increasingly weaker option. But today, as efficiency continues to increase, nuclear represents many risks and is cumbersome compared to power systems such as solar power.

Note/appendix on calculations, power, and energy
It's quite important to keep your units straight when discussing energy. The typical measure of energy is a kWH(kilowatt - hour), which is (power*energy). For example, if you paid 0.50 per kWH, and you ran a 100 W light bulb for 100 hours total throughout the month, you would pay for 10 kWH, or $5 for the electricity to run your lightbulb.

Now, with regards to your statistics, I found the statistic of 1 kW/m^2. This is the solar energy received per square meter(when the sun is up). However, I am quite unable to match the statistic of 25000 Terawatts(even if I assume it's TwH). From wikipedia , I see that the entire world uses 19,000 TwH per year, which is much less than what you cited for just the United States. Here, the U.S. consumes 4,700 TwH per year. If we're really determined to perform the calculations ourselves, we just need to divide this power by 365, which tells us that we need 1*10^17 joules per day. If we earn a measly 10% from solar panel efficiency(100 W/m^2), and are restricted to just the US's landmass(9*10^12 square meters), we see that we need a full 3 minutes to power the world for a day. That's quite feasible.

In terms of the 1.5% of the world's population, that's basically Japan's population(120 mil). I can't think of a second country that really needs to have that much power in such a small space. I suppose you could make a weak argument for Russia, but with all that land, sources such as geothermal become quite possible. In any event, the vast majority of developed nations don't need nuclear.

akshobhya
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akshobhya
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@Ishtaron.

Here are a few inventions, inspired by the superiority shown by other organisms in such 'designs'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16HdgJMUOPU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pynSWVdphH4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQn4Uu2tJeY

This one below has not to much to be debated upon - (For Info)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek7Ii0WoTn8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDuvBurbjVU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyvOjrl6dNM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vq8ci4RTUs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNPQecZ8SBI

A few things from this one below can be debated upon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9YCr5KaSkg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSGq0W9Czow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kK-ZdT6imE

Here are a few other Inventions/Inspirations -

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

I also see that not ALL of my questions have been counter-acted.

Ishtaron
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Ishtaron
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Jester

@akshobhya

Here are a few inventions, inspired by the superiority shown by other organisms in such 'designs'.

So basically, some other organisms could do something and humans invented something vastly superior based on that for us to use? Thank you for sparing me any hard work by providing examples of the myriad inventions humans use to surpass the abilities of all other organisms.

This one below has not to much to be debated upon

You do realize that that video is all about a human being manipulating the genetics of other organisms so that they can produce something useful to him, don't you?

I also see that not ALL of my questions have been counter-acted.

If I missed something you'll have to point out what it was. Your post is huge and almost all of it revolves around an animal doing something and then asking if humans can do it, to which I replied that "yes we can and so much more."

JACKinbigletters
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JACKinbigletters
9,521 posts
Templar

Nuclear Fusion
Indeed we don't have a pricing for Fusion but that doesn't mean we should just disregard it's potential.

10+ billion dollars
Indeed the upfront cost is large however it is easily recouped in time and after that there is massive amounts of money to be made.

the One World Trade Center
This reference is misleading, one is a skyscraper another is a power plant. The construction of both are very different, the personnel needed for construction is different, the purpose of both are different, the materials used are different. Everything is different about these buildings and so using them as a reference point is very deceptive.

Reversing meltdowns
You misunderstand my point, when I say reversing I mean that the meltdown begins but is reversed before any determinant damage is done. Also your link is broken.

might become more rare
They will become more rare.

There's really no other explanation as to why nuclear power plants are so expensive.
Yeah you are right the reason it's expensive is because of safety yet you also try to make the point that because we are getting cheap energy from these plants that there are cuts to the safety budget. You contradict yourself and you'll need to take a stand one way or another but you can't have both.

Investment
In the long run nuclear power outperforms every other power production facility besides fossil fuels. It's as simple as that. It's the most stable source of energy besides fossil fuels. No renewable is stable. They are not constant, they are not dependable. You cannot build a feasible power-grid from renewables. It's not stable, it's cost-ineffective. The wind isn't stable, sunshine is not constant, rainfall causing water-flow is not uninterruptable. Without nuclear power on the grid your renewables will need to fall back on good old fossil fuels for dependency and stability. All the good of renewables will be reversed by the damage of these fossil fuels. It's as simple as that.

It's quite important to keep your units straight
Always work to the smallest unit of measurement. It's the safest rout for correction.

Ah yes the great and reliable wikipidia, https://yearbook.enerdata.net/electricity-domestic-consumption-data-by-region.html#energy-consumption-data.html using the data from that source alongside a converter, to ensure accuracy, my calculations are correct.

statistic
Being honest, which is most always counterproductive in a debate, but I found many different stats for power consumption of the world, the majority of the information on wikipedia is from the CIA, how in the heck do they know these things about other countries?

The predecessor
The old model, and now we use a new model, a better model. That is the way of the world, we go from dangerous and inefficient to safe and efficient. The reason that it is still only a prototype is that people are funneling money and resources away from nuclear power to other forms for the simple reason that it is demanded by today's society, people feel a moral obligation to move toward this new technology. Science is all about pushing boundaries into new and dangerous areas of the unknown and as a whole we accept this risk and let our curiosity take hold. Do we make mistakes, yes. Do accidents happen, yes. But we learn from them and do better the next time around. Take the large hadron collider for an example, do you remember how the world at large was gripped with the fear of creating a black hole by using it and then we used it. Correct me if I'm mistaken but I believe we're still here. Was there a risk of creating a black hole, why yes there was but it didn't happen. With nuclear plants is there a risk of a melt-down, yup, but we can help prevent that now with technology and training. So yes it is only a prototype but from that a commercial reactor can still emerge.

The nearest commercial plant isn't even intended for construction until 2020,
Besides what you think, 5 years is not a long time from now. Hydroelectric dams often take more then ten years to fully complete. So the time isn't an issue.

Personally,
I'd prefer my electricity was constant and stable myself.
randomblah
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randomblah
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King

@Jackinbigletters

While it is very fun to pull statements that you disagree with, it seems you have failed to counter the main gist of the arguments.

Safety vs. Price(Profit)
So, it seems we are in agreement that safer nuclear power plants cost more upfront construction-wise. I thought it would be obvious that this would increase the overall price of electricity, but it seems this is untrue.

Corporations(including nuclear power plant operators) exist to make a profit. While corporations often plop down money upfront to make a profit later, such profit has to be realized. In addition, significant time constraints exist for any company - if a company isn't making profits fast enough, its shares are going to drop. So, if I have a company, I have to recoup the costs of my power plant in a certain amount of time. If one power plant makes me $1 billion a year, I'll have to spend a hefty 10 years for a 99.99% safe plant that costs $10 billion, while I'd only spend 2 years for a 99% safe plant that costs $2 billion. Most CEOs will choose to invest in the $2 billion plant - no surprise there. To recoup the costs just as quickly from a $10 billion plant, the price of electricity would have to go up 5-fold. Of course, while the $10 billion plant might be quite safe, there's no world in which it can compete economically against other power sources.

Meltdowns
You cite the LHC as an example of safety, but that's really a bad analogy. The LHC was predicted to cause a black hole by a small minority of physicists. Experimental evidence refutes this. In contrast, meltdowns are both theoretically confirmed(by overwhelming majority) and (sadly) experimentally confirmed(via Chernobyl).

You also mention that we learn from meltdowns. This is technically true, but it's not exactly a pleasant lesson that we should strive for. It's as if your surgeon says that he/she has learned from the last 100 patients he/she has accidentally killed, and says that he/she is prepared to conduct perfect surgeries from now on. Not exactly inspiring. These "learning lessons" have a well documented price. The fact that a technological predecessor has 25 incidents does not inspire confidence that its successor will be accident free.

Feasibility of renewables, part II
All right, so it looks like we've successfully agreed that renewables are quite feasible, at least in terms of the total power produced(see appendix). So, now, we deal with the issue of storage. As it so happens, a nice technology is already available(or will be in summer). And before you complain about price, it's almost certain that the price will drop many-fold in the next few years(it certainly won't increase much).

But hey, let's suppose that this technology is all vaporware(I strongly doubt it), and that storing energy is a problem insurmountable by mankind(nevermind that hydroelectric, for example, can control water flow to provide peak power). Still, this gives a strong argument for renewables - use renewables for 95% of the power, and have nuclear/biofuel/whatever else cover the rest. Remember the original proposition - the question is whether developed nations should rely entirely on nuclear, not if 5% of our energy should be from nuclear vs. coal.

Lag time
Why are we still bringing up hydroelectrics? This is just a straw man. The question is not: "Is nuclear power better than the worst source of power", it's "Is nuclear power better than every other source of power". Otherwise, I note that solar panels only take 3 days to install. Furthermore, as a more meaningful comparison, I will note that the entire renewable industry is quite far along - by 2020, California will have 1/3 of its energy from renewables. And yes, it's certainly quite feasible for a power grid to be 100% renewables(as seen by the same article)

Appendix: Math and Facts
Your mistake, calculation-wise, is assuming that the world utilizes its yearly power(~10,000 MToe) in a single hour. Obviously, that would make it difficult to power the earth. But happily, this is not the case. Note that MToe is a unit of Energy, and not Power(as you assumed erroneously in your calculations). Presumably, this is over the entire year(this comes out to about 3*10^16 W*hrs for China, which is about one order of magnitude higher than the 5*10^16 W*hrs for China). Still, the calculation holds, and yields a somewhat longer 30 minutes of sunlight converted at 10% efficiency in the US to power the entire world.

Additionally, you ask why the CIA has this information - shouldn't the answer be obvious? That's their job? Think about the NSA? Anyways, that's not particularly relevant, as there's clearly enough energy per day to supply the world, no matter what numbers you use.

The reference point of the One World Trade Center was to drive home the cost of a large concrete/steel structure compared to another, as well as to point out just how much money goes towards safety.

Zophia
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Zophia
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Bard

@Moegreche
So I'm five days late this time and I don't think lateness is really excusable a second time. Life got very in the way of keeping track of this thread.

@apldeap123
My apologies for not getting back to you. I'm glad that you approved of the suggestion, although I was kind of expecting you to choose one or a couple of birds and argue their case at the same time. Possibly an unreasonable expectation (especially given that I do not have dog arguments ready right now either).

Bluh.

akshobhya
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akshobhya
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@Ishtaron,

"The fact that animals may not understand us, while we do not understand them, does not mean our 'intelligences' are at different levels, they are just of different kinds."

- Dr. Maciej Henneberg, a professor at the School of Medical Sciences

Some animals leave complex scent markings in their environment to communicate[Phermones]. Humans can't interpret these markings, Henneberg said in the statement, but they "may be as rich in information as the visual world."

Killer whales share a complex language of their own, and dolphins have individual names -- just like we do-- based on whistle signals. This means that dolphins have a concept of 'self' and special others. So, ae we the only ones that communicate with each other?

Elephants, grieve their dead and have excellent memories. So,we are not the only ones with emotions. Weaver birds produce intricate, multi-story nests. So, we do have fellow creatures which know atleast something about architecture.

I know that I am inferior to bacteria in terms of the rate of genetic mutation and adaptation that I am capable of. I know that I am inferior to a cheetah in terms of the ground speed I can achieve using my limbs. I know that I am inferior to an emperor penguin in terms of parental focus and determination. So, should I consider myself superior, in terms of these aspects?

trigon123
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trigon123
1,275 posts
Constable

@nichodemus...
You also raise interesting points! BUT... They are too long and they are too similar!

----------------------------------------------------------------
-Blah Blah- We can't do it becouse We are too lazy -Blah Blah-
-Blah Blah- We shouldn't do that becouse We are too lazy...

-Blah Blah- We haven't got money -Blah Blah-
-Blah Blah- We can't do it becouse we are too Poor -Blah Blah-
----------------------------------------------------------------

Maybe we can find something on the Mars... What is it??? Life? Water?

It's Cure... For Cancer... For Ebola... For everything else!

If We don't do anything, We won't change Our World...
We will fight, We will die, We will lost Our Earth...

"Our species' future is undoubtedly amongst the glittering stars and fearfully dark unknown - sooner rather than later, mankind's growth would leave the Earth a desiccated husk shorn of her beauty and vitality."

Beauty??? Maybe Singapore is beauty... But War has destroyed Beauty of Earth!

You should watch "installer" (2014), It's interesting... Maybe You will understand why "Humans should put more resources into space exploration."

"After all, wouldn't that ironically just be wasteful?"

No... If We put more resources into space exploration, We will learn about space, We will find NEW BEAUTY Planet...

nichodemus
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nichodemus
14,865 posts
Viceroy

@trigon123

I don't feel that space exploration should be abandoned, but I don't think that there is a need currently to increase funding space exploration. Rather, we can simply maintain the current levels of resources placed into such research.

Much of the point that you raise, does not lie grounded in practicality or efficiency. We might be able to widen our theoretical knowledge in the short run, such as finding water on Mars as you state (Incidentally, there is water on Mars, in the form of ice. The Curiosity and Opportunity Rovers on Mars are also searching for any clue on whether there was ancient life on the Red Planet in the past). However, this translates to very little practical application in the short term, which linking back to my previous arguments and the current crises that we face as a species, is far more crucial than chasing what is essentially a long term pipe dream.

You have also mentioned that by exploring the cosmos, we may have a chance of, most happily and most fortuitously making scientific breakthroughs such as medical cures. I feel on the other hand that, we could achieve the same results if we focus on current research closer to home which have already begun to yield fruit. This is infinitely better than aimlessly exploring the universe for the slim chance of a eureka moment.

Maybe we could tackle this from another angle as well. Instead of expanding on research funds, we could develop more efficient methods of space exploration, by utilising what resources we have already put aside. India recently launched a probe to Mars for a mere 74 million dollars, a fraction of NASA's own Mars operation, and even less than the amount Hollywood spent on making the movie Gravity. It might be the case that India's mission costs were so cheap because of a relatively simple probe design and because of far reduced labour costs in their country, however there is much to be admired of it. Space research does not necessarily have to be an expensive venture.

Humanity definitely has to spend money on space research, but this should be at a later stage of our development, rather than sooner.

Ishtaron
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Ishtaron
359 posts
Jester

@akshobhya

Some animals leave complex scent markings in their environment to communicate[Phermones]. Humans can't interpret these markings, Henneberg said in the statement, but they "may be as rich in information as the visual world."

http://www.skidmore.edu/~hfoley/images/EM.Spectrum.jpg

Say hello to the visual world. That tiny little section that had to be enlarged to be seen is the visual world. Sure, for a few animals the visual world extends somewhat into the infrared and/or ultraviolet spectrums but for the most part animals are restricted to the same visible spectrum as humans. Many of them are colorblind, lacking the necessary physical components to see even the basic colors we enjoy. And of course, anything lacking eyes has no way of perceiving any aspect of the visual world. Unlike other organisms however, humans have a plethora of ways to detect spectrums not only beyond the standard visible range, but also well beyond infrared and ultraviolet. I think we've got them beat on that front.

Killer whales share a complex language of their own, and dolphins have individual names -- just like we do-- based on whistle signals. This means that dolphins have a concept of 'self' and special others. So, ae we the only ones that communicate with each other?

Humans have roughly 4500 commonly spoken languages, another 2000 languages are endangered (spoken by 1000 people or less), and over 500 extinct languages. We have names not only for individuals, but also for objects and other creatures. Do dolphins have names for all the species of fish they hunt? Do they verbally describe recognizable landmarks? Do different pods of orcas have different languages, and translators so that pods can interact?

Elephants, grieve their dead and have excellent memories. So,we are not the only ones with emotions.

People with experience dealing with animals are well aware of the fact that animals have distinct personalities and the capacity for emotion. That does not change the fact that those animals are controlled by their instincts and lack the mental capacity of humans. Even if they were as emotional as humans, they still aren't capable of using tools the way we do.

Weaver birds produce intricate, multi-story nests. So, we do have fellow creatures which know atleast something about architecture.

Termites are far more impressive than weaver birds for architectural accomplishments, but either way the square-cube law renders those constructions meaningless compared to human cities. The volume of any object grows faster than its surface area making larger structures far more difficult to keep stable. So, for example, let's say that weaver birds built a nest twice as large as normal. That new nest would have 4 times the surface area and 8 times the volume causing thrust force (the forces acting on the object from moving it or, more likely, from wind and other natural forces hitting it) applied to the nest to be 2 times greater than a normal nest. When you compare the size of their nests to the buildings made by humans we're working on a scale hundreds of thousands of times greater and thus forces hundreds of thousands of times greater.

I know that I am inferior to bacteria in terms of the rate of genetic mutation and adaptation that I am capable of.

Genetic mutations are harmful more often than not. It's an exchange, more common mutations mean a greater probability of harmful mutations and only improves adaptability across an entire population. Humans simply exist closer towards the center of that balance.

I know that I am inferior to a cheetah in terms of the ground speed I can achieve using my limbs.

You have vastly greater endurance and maneuverability than a cheetah. You also have the option of getting into a car and traveling at a sustained speed far higher than even the fastest cheetah. With some alterations those same land vehicles can even break the mach barrier. Of course, if that's too slow for you there's always aircraft that can travel multiple times mach speed. And for the future, theoretical blueprints for a nuclear propulsion system on spacecraft that would allow for travel at 4% light speed or about 413,500 times the speed of the fastest cheetah alive.

I know that I am inferior to an emperor penguin in terms of parental focus and determination.

How do you know that? For humans, raising a child is an experience of 2 decades, emperor penguins only take 150 days to mature. Less than half a year. You can tell me you have less parental focus after spending 18 years waking up at the slightest sound to make sure your kids are okay, saving up the tens of thousands of dollars they'll need for a college education, and constantly watching your child with hawk-like focus anytime they think they're out of your line of sight.

So, should I consider myself superior, in terms of these aspects?

Yes. Every trait you've mentioned can not only be competed with by humans, but surpassed thanks to all of our incredible technologies and tool use.

Moegreche
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Moegreche
3,555 posts
Duke

Alright everyone, I'm going to go ahead and call it.

This has been an excellent round of debate and been really fun to watch unfold. I'll be giving out the awards and such as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I would really appreciate some feedback on how TGD are going. I've created a thread here in the News, Feedback and Suggestions section:
http://armorgames.com/community/thread/12504516/feedback-needed-the-great-debates

Oh, and as always, if you'd like feedback on your argument, just let me know! I'm always happy to do so.

Moegreche
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Moegreche
3,555 posts
Duke

So after a year and a half, I'm handing out awards. If you've already received the quest for this competition, you can't get a 2nd one. But I do note below whether I intend to give you a quest (and simply failed because you already have it). Included below your name is feedback I've written as I read your arguments. Each paragraph is a response to a different post, in the order that they came. I stopped (usually after 3 posts) giving feedback because it would likely be me repeating myself. Hopefully there's some use to it, despite the incredible amount of time it's been since these arguments were developed.
Also, a big thank you to askshobhya for staying on top of me to get this done.

@JACKinbigletters
You're right to rebut your opponent's claims about the safety of nuclear power. But a tremendous amount of your post is plagiarised. I found word-for-word extractions from several Wikipedia pages and the Wall Street Journal. Intentional or not, this would, of course, disqualify you from the competition.

@randomblah Quest & merit
Makes sense to talk about the real possibility of nuclear disasters. It is scary. A prominent objection here to go ahead and address is the very real damage that's being done to the environment using fossil fuels. Now it seems like a balancing act. Which one wins?
This is an excellent rebuttal that addresses my earlier worries. In particular, you've advanced the positive claim that renewable energy is the better alternative. I had read you as advocating for fossil fuels before, for whatever reason. Your analogy is a nice one to bring the point home and mentioning the Hanford leak is a really good idea. Not all ill-effects of nuclear power fall into the meltdown category.

@Doombreed Quest & merit
Smart move by making your terms clear early on. Well done engaging with your opponent's argument. You'll need to argue a bit more for why your view of value is the right one to have on this issue. In particular, you could dismiss the idea of monetary value as the right line to take.
On your next post, I'm worried you might be letting Legend take you down a bit of a red herring. If you want to engage in the utility argument (which I'm not sure is the way to go) why not talk about what the items are meant for? Or here's another approach - consider which item we would be worse off with if we lost. In other words, would our lives be worse if there were no tables, or no chairs? This seems to be more in line with the kind of value you're talking about.
This next post seems to be stuck a bit. We're rehashing the same points over and over rather than advancing the dialectic. If you've reached an impasse with your opponent, sometimes you're better off trying to take things in a different direction. The best move you make here is to argue to opposite of your opponent - that a world without chairs is worse than a world without tables. But you lost me when you returned to other things you can do with a chair (e.g. stand on it). Presumably, you can stand on a table. But this seems to be a red herring at this point.

@SirLegendary Quest & merit
Interesting opening and a neat idea to cash out value in terms of usefulness. There's a bit of a tension here because it feels like you're talking about two different kinds of value (monetary value and usefulness). I'd move away from how much something costs. Think about a microchip. These are pretty cheap nowadays, but I feel like their value to our wellbeing is massive.
Your second move is neat, but it doesn't strike me as obviously true. I feel like you can measure comfort - maybe not numerically - but it makes sense to say that X is more comfortable than Y. But I also wonder about the utility argument now. Is it really the case that all there is to this question is what you can do with the item?
You've hit the nail on the head with your next post by arguing that we would be worse off if we didn't have tables. This addresses the question of overall utility (rather than just what you can do with the object). You've also done well to work to move away from the talk of comfort. My intuition is that comfort, while an opinion, might still be measured. But you make some really compelling points here that make me think I'm wrong.

@Ishtaron merit
This is a very quick opening and feels more like a statement than an argument. But there is something here - that superiority should be defined by what a creature is able to produce. This is an interesting line to take, though it's not an obvious one.
Your response here is lengthy and well thought-out, though it might end up being a little overwhelming. Rather than engage with every single point your opponent is making, consider summarising their argument. That makes your response easier to follow and engage with. But another, more important thing to keep in mind is that your opponent has pointed out some things that plants can do that humans can't. I'm still not entirely clear on the exact details of your argument, but this seems like something that you should address directly.

@akshobhya merit
A very well-researched opening. But I'm not clear exactly what your argument is here. These are some neat organisms, but are they superior to humans? If so, what makes them superior?
Your second post is again really well-researched. I'm learning a lot by reading it. But as far as an argument, it's really, really difficult to follow. What you need is your main claim hanging right in front of your reader; without that, it's hard to tell what you're doing. It looks like the claim on offer is that plants have certain abilities that humans don't have. They can create their own food, etc. But there's this other claim about how much we rely on plants for our own survival. The first point feeds into your opponent's argument while the second just isn't clear. Humans depend on water to survive. Does that make water superior to humans? Actually, I'm not even sure what we mean when we say superior at this point
Another really well-researched post. But there are 2 really important things here. (1) You're overloading your reader with information. This isn't a biology class. It's really fun to read about and I'm learning a lot, but that's not the point of your post. (2) I'm completely lost on what it means for an organism to be superior at this point. Colour? Impressiveness? Longevity? Usefulness? It's just totally unclear to me.

@trigon123
A brief start that doesn't seem well-defended. Can we find new materials or cures for diseases? That's not obvious, to say the least. Finding other planets or aliens seems completely out of the picture given our current technology (and maybe even any future tech).

@nichodemus quest & merit
This is a very solid and well-written opener. You've done well to address objections to trigon's argument (I, too, had similar worries) and have presented some clear and compelling reasons why the US shouldn't increase funding for space exploration. One point I'd like to see better developed here is a positive claim. Perhaps the task of funding space exploration belongs to all affluent nations. In other words, maybe it should be a joint effort amongst many different nations, like the ISS. This puts you in more of an attack mode. Not only are you defending your claim, you're offering an even better alternative that your opponent will need to deal with.

@R2D21999 merit
Yours is a brief intro with a potentially very problematic line. You seem to suggest that humans making something might put it in the market for having rights. But this is clearly false. Toasters, keys, and doorknobs are not in the market for having rights. So there must be something else going to that puts androids in this market.
Your next response seems to be a hiccup. You're talking here about having a conscience - a sense of right and wrong. But your opponent was talking about consciousness - an awareness or a sense of self. But putting this aside, it looks like you're talking here about whether a robot can recognise morally correct acts. It's not clear to me how this connects to the robot having rights.

@HahiHa quest & merit
A clever move to talk about universal human rights, identify a specific necessary condition (i.e. consciousness) and then argue that androids don't have that. Of course, this just shows that androids fail to meet a condition for 'humanness'. That ends up being a trivial claim. The worry is whether they should have access to the same rights as humans - despite being non-human.
Your response to R2 is spot on. You expressed some of the worries that I had as well. You could even run the primate argument a bit farther. Primates in general (and maybe even most mammals) seem capable of some sort of genuine emotion. The great apes, in particular, have complex social structures with well-defined roles and a sense of community. Heck, they even seem to have a primitive sense of ownership and sharing. This ties in nicely with your point about innate emotion rather than a programmed simulation.
Another solid, though brief response. I would suggest here to not put the debate in your opponent's hands. Actually, I take that back - this can be a good tactic - just not here. This is because the concept of rights is a really, really tricky topic. Even the claim that rights are there to protect us is contentious.

@apldeap13 merit
The ability to fly does seem like a really cool ability to have. You could feed this into your opponent's point, though. Perhaps higher mobility means a better life. You also note that people go to greath lengths to see different birds. That seems like a good point, but why do they do that? Does being admired by people make an animal's life go better? If so, why?
You've done well to bring the question back to mobility. But, like your opponent, you need to give a reason as to why mobility (rather than quality of life) is the correct approach.

@Zophia merit
This seems like the clearest initial approach. If you have to make a choice between being a dog or being a bird, you should pick the one that has a better quality of life. I would suggest making this point a little more obvious for your readers, though.
This is a great move to make in response to your opponent's arguments, though I'm not sure about the smashing into glass thing. One thing to note here is that you guys seem to be talking past one another. Your focus is on the quality of life of the animal, and I don't think your opponent has picked up on that. So the best move at this point is to make it really clear that that's what you're going for and to give an argument as to why that's the best approach.

HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
7,711 posts
Grand Duke

Thank you for taking the time to review our arguments @Moegreche, I really appreciate the feedback.

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