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Flame on! Matt Brock Flame on!

Written: 2000.01.05

Matt Brock is just a generic Trekkie, who tried the "I've given this a lot of thought, and I think there are serious flaws in your argument" tack and then grew frustrated and petulant after just one response from me. How pathetic- at least most of the other morons on my Hate Mail page had the stamina to keep it up for a few posts. This guy didn't enjoy being contradicted, so after just one exchange, he immediately ran to hide beneath the shelter of his mail filter. As usual, nothing has been altered, although some portions may have been removed for the sake of brevity.

Matt Brock wrote:

My name is Matthew Brock and I just finished viewing your Star Wars vs. Star Trek website. I feel compelled to comment and share my views about some of the information on your page. I can appreciate the sheer amount of information you have collected about both sci-fi universes, but I find both your comparisons and fact gathering abilities to be flawed. I am a Trek fan and will be a little biased towards Trek as you are towards Star Wars, but not as severe.

(Editor's note: Oh, so my bias is "severe"? Obviously, he wants to start an argument. If you read through his post, you will notice an interesting trend: he likes to make broad generalizations about things I am supposedly doing wrong, without providing any concrete examples).

You quote many novels and other published tech info as Star Wars fact, yet you treat much of the Star Trek tech info and novels as unsupported since it was not shown in an episode or an episode or movie contradicted the information. If you did the same for Star Wars, you would find that it is much less impressive.

Your "correction" is flawed in itself. The SW novels are part of the official continuity, while the ST novels are not. SW novels are subjected to continuity quality control, to the point that two complete manuscripts were rejected just before publication, for failure to conform to continuity. ST novels are not subjected to any such quality control checks. ST novels are not referenced in any way, shape or form in the Encyclopedia. Therefore, it is quite obvious that they can't be included. Your attempt to demonstrate bias is obviously based on a lack of study of the way the novels are handled by the respective franchise holders.

(Editor's note: Notice how he didn't provide any examples of arguments which would have been invalidated or weakened without the official literature. I get a lot of ignorant flames about this subject, even though it's pointless because the highest examples of Imperial firepower are in the canon films. The official sources don't do anything to improve Star Wars power- in fact, some of them tend to weaken it, such as the speed charts which suggest slower speeds than what we see in the films. If official sources were removed, there would be no Galaxy Guns or Suncrushers or World Devastators, but the hyperdrive and Death Star would remain).

Many of your arguments on your debating fallacies page are poor and rely on number crunching to give the illusion of "accuracy". I honestly don't have the time or the desire to go through and point them out one by one...although a Federation site may pop up some time in the future.

In other words, you can't disprove that the logical fallacies I describe are in fact logical fallacies, and you will not be able to do this since they are all textbook examples of those logical fallacies.

(Editor's note: Notice how he tries to weasel out of providing any examples by saying he doesn't have time to point them all out, although he doesn't explain why he can't even furnish one single example).

A perfect example of the bias I refered to. You say "supposedly" vaporized 30% of the crust because you didn't see it?!?

What you see is what you get. If you hear the weatherman saying that today is going to be a sunny day, and then you see rain outside the window, do you conclude that your eyes are playing tricks on you?

(Editor's note: At least he finally provides a concrete argument, based on the TDIC discussion. But he doesn't back it up with anything other than his insistence that his particular interpretation of a line of dialogue is more important than any direct observations, an argument which betrays his unscientific mentality. All scientists and engineers hold direct observation as the ultimate arbiter of truth. There is no dispute whatsoever about this. BTW, you may also note that he ignores the fact that I actually grant the vapourization assumption in the debating fallacies page, just to be generous).

I think you confuse power levels and ship capabilities with the costs of creating special effects of an episode.

I think you don't understand the concept of "suspension of disbelief", and would prefer to rely upon subjectivism.

If they didn't show the special effects of the glowing portion of the destroyed crust, it didn't happen?

What you see is what you get. And the cost of showing a glowing planetary surface would have been insignificant, so your "cost of special effects" argument is inherently flawed.

There is nothing inconsistent with this approach. Suppose we had never seen Alderaan explode? Would you happily accept that power levels well in excess of the Sun were required on the part of the Death Star, based on the dialogue? I would bet good money that you would hoot and holler, and refuse to accept that anything beyond surface damage occured to the planet.

Ben Kenobi's statement about Stormtrooper firing accuracy, yet they rarely hit anything they aim at in the film (whether Vader "wanted" them to miss, etc). Did you judge their abilities by what you saw in the movie?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. When they were on a mission where they were clearly ordered to shoot to kill, they shot to kill. When they were probably under orders not to shoot to kill, they shot to barely miss. Their accuracy was as good as that of real-life soldiers, who do not have the sort of ridiculous "Lethal Weapon" accuracy that some people think they do.

(Editor's note: Again, notice how he doesn't provide any examples for his claims).

(Talking about my comparison of DS power to size ratio to ST starship power to size ratio): That is a example of poor logic. It is like comparing the strength of a man to the strength of a group of ants. The human is far stronger, but if you make the ant the size of a man, the ant would be much stronger.

Is this some sort of joke? I showed mathematically that the power to size ratio of the Death Star exceeds that of a Fed ship, and you try to refute this by asking why I didn't consider size? What do you think the "size" in "power to size" ratio means? I would expect this sort of obviously broken argument from a child, but not an adult.

Was there not a comment made in the Next Generation about the Galaxy class starship being able to destroy a planet in 8 hours?

Again, you are using a fundamentally unscientific approach here, by employing dialogue as the ultimate arbiter of truth. Dialogue comes from human beings, and is subject to multiple interpretations. Any discussion based mostly on dialogue can be so wildly interpreted in so many different ways that it is essentially useless.

(Editor's note: Again, notice the vague nature of the criticism. Not only does he base his arguments on dialogue, ie- the opinions of a character, over direct observation, but he doesn't even bother to provide the quote! His modus operandi seems to be V-A-G-U-E).

That is only a small sample of my views of your site. I can see that you have a good science and math skills and know your Sci-Fi material, but your method of comparison is a little sloppy.

Sloppy because I restrict myself to a rigid set of rules, rather than the loose subjectivism which you would prefer, in which special effects can override dialogue sometimes, while dialogue overrides special effects other times? How is that "sloppy", and if that is your definition of "sloppy", then what do you call your own method?

A few quick things about myself:
I am 25 and currently finishing a degree in Communications with a minor in Computer Science.

I have a degree in Geology and Anthropology, with a minor in Physics from Marshall University, WV. I just wanted to let you know I'm not a 'high school kid' and have a science background along with a long histroy of being a 'Sci-Fi geek'

Ah, a professional student. Interesting :)  Tell me, if your background is in science, why do you so obviously refuse to apply it to Star Trek? When you were taking geology, were you taught that direct observations were subordinate to opinions voiced by your peers?

(Editor's note: Leaving aside the question of whether he's telling the truth or the fact that most of his education is inapplicable, this list of credits is actually irrelevant, because none of his arguments are based on scientific principles. If you look back through his post, you will see that all of his arguments are dramatic or literary in nature. Personally, I didn't think this exchange was that virulent, but he seemed to take extreme offense at my message and put me in his mail filter before sending his response. I leave it to the reader to examine the above exchange and decide if it was as inflammatory as Mr. Brock seemed to think. I suspect he just doesn't like being contradicted).

(Responding to my admonition that he should read the site before presuming to comment on it) Upon reviewing your site, I felt that reading your entire page would be wasteful at this time.

In other words, you can't handle my arguments so you would rather not read them. I've run into a hundred just like you.

You obviously have no information about Paramount continuity checks. There are fewer, but strict rules about Star Trek novel continuity.

Yet they are not included in any sort of official continuity whatsoever. Their only rules are designed to maintain a consistent "feel" across the franchise.

Without the SW novels, There would be very little SW material available for you to abuse.

Nonsense. The canon films establish all that is necessary. Official figures usually sit somewhere between the lower and upper limits established by canon.

Your reasoning is fine, yet you do not apply it equally to both subjects. You go into detail about how this or that would never work in Star Trek due to the violation of a specific law, yet your Star Wars tech info is based on a very narrow-minded approach - "It just does it, who cares how!" I do not refer to your weapons page, which has some minor yet very interesting "Leaps of Logic"

Leaps of logic which you don't have time or inclination to discuss specifically. As with all your criticisms, this is yet another vague "I know you've done something wrong, but I'm not sure what" complaint. If you had one tenth the analytical skills you claimed to have, you would have produced something concrete by now instead of wasting my time with these vague and insubstantial criticisms. Vague generalizations without a single example to back them up.

(Editor's note: I like how he criticises the phenomological approach, even though that is precisely how real scientists and engineers approach an unknown. If you don't know how it works, you can still measure what it is and what it does. For example, before we understood nuclear fusion, we were still able to measure the size, distance, and power output of the Sun. And although we didn't know where its power came from, we could rule out many processes which could not be its primary power source, such as chemical burning or GPE. All of that work was perfectly valid, and laid the groundwork for our present-day understanding of the Sun. Contrary to what this ignorant clod thinks, there is nothing wrong with saying "we don't know how it works, but we can measure its power output").

(Responding to my admonition that what you see is what you get): Really? Then the Star Destroyer is rarely able to hit anything it aims at and their fighters are not much better.

Vague generalizations with no concrete example to back them up. Provide concrete examples of their inability to hit "anything they aim at" since they can successfully hit the miniscule Millenium Falcon, and even the occasional even-more-miniscule fighter.

A Super Star Destroyer is an incredibly fragile vessel with it's super material hull unable to withstand an impact with a ship 1/10000th of it's size.

Vague generalizations, and in this case, horrifically flawed generalizations since this particular incident involved an impact against a window, rather than the hull armour. Provide concrete numerical analyses of the upper limits of the materials strength of the ship, based on the velocity and mass of the impactor as well as the thickness of the bridge windows. Provide concrete proof that these upper limits are inferior to the transparent aluminum windows used in Star Trek ships, since I know for a fact that aluminum is pathetically soft and weak.

One hit to the bridge and it is useless. Oh...and where are the backup controls for it? man..do they build flawed ships.

The backup controls which were not manned within ten seconds? How would a Federation ship fare if its main bridge were destroyed? Provide concrete evidence that a Federation ship can regain control within ten seconds of total destruction of its bridge.

Stormtroopers are little more than fodder that are easy to hit due to their bright, unprotective armor.

Their armour is actually quite protective. Without it, people can get killed even by blaster near-misses, such as the officer who was killed in ANH by a blaster hit to the wall several feet away from him. And again, you did not provide a single concrete example. Just vague generalizations, which seems to be your modus operandi.

(Editor's note: I don't talk about stormtrooper armour much on the site, because it can't survive a direct hit. But the effect of a blaster hit does appear to be similar to a small grenade, as shown by the wall damage in Bespin and Docking Bay 94, or the man in the DS detention centre who gets killed by a blaster bolt hitting a nearby wall. Survival of such effects, as well as immunity to chemical and biological weapons, would be the logical justification for the armour, even if it can't survive a direct hit).

The armored vehicles they field cannot take an impact from a swinging log(s)

The AT-ST is a light scout vehicle, equivalent in SW terminology to a modern jeep or Hummer. One would not expect it to withstand a serious impact. Your reasoning is flawed, since you obviously seem to assume that it is some sort of heavy armoured vehicle, and then you go on to make hasty generalizations about their armoured vehicles based on something which is not even really an armoured vehicle (unless you think a modern Hummer is an armoured vehicle).

(Editor's note: Also notice that he didn't attempt to perform any calculations about materials strength, produce any numbers for the kinetic energy of the log, etc. The notion that the AT-ST is a heavy armoured vehicle is so brainless that I have trouble finding words to describe it. You can actually see how paper-thin the "armour" is, in that very scene! The fact that a vehicle has a metallic body does not mean that it is heavily armoured! My car has a metallic body too, but it is hardly an armoured vehicle).

(Responding to my admonition about ignoring direct observation in favour of his interpretation of a Romulan officer's dialogue in TDIC): Wow...you really missed the point of that comment. Would a romulan soldier lie to his superior about vaporizing 30% of the planet's crust?

No, you missed the point of the argument. Dialogue is subject to interpretation. Language can be interpreted many ways. How do you know that he actually meant that 30% of the entire planetary crust, by mass, was completely destroyed? What exactly does "destroyed" mean, since no mass or energy can ever be truly destroyed? When a real-life soldier says that 30 tanks were destroyed in action today, does he mean that they were completely vapourized?

(Editor's note: He quotes the word "vapourizing", while I quote the word "destroyed". For what it's worth, the TDIC dialogue used the word "destroy", not "vapourize." But even if it did use the word "vapourize", he would have been contradicted by direct visual observation and therefore we would have to assume that he was using technically incorrect colloquialisms, just as people often do in real life. My canon page discusses this sort of problem with dialogue interpretation, but Mr. Brock apparently didn't want to read it).

You seem to pick out anything to support your SW superiority beliefs or to diminish ST capabilities. You also seem to judge Star Wars special effects to inflate your estimations of Star Wars power levels.

Ahh, more vague generalizations without a single concrete example. Are you allergic to concrete examples? Or are you allergic to logic?

Do you really think that Lucas and friend sat down and calculated the rate that matter accelerated from the blast point of the Alderaan explosion to make sure that the power level of the death star was accurately portrayed? NO! They stuck some explosives into a model planet and blew it up. You tend to suspend disbelief when appropriate.

Then provide a concrete example of where I am deviating from my set of rules, instead of your vague generalizations. And as for the question of whether Lucas sat down and figured everything out, I think it's pretty damned obvious that the ST writers don't sit down and figure everything out either. In fact, Rick Sternbach has publicly complained that the writers ignore his advice! Even when they have someone on staff expressly for the purpose of cleaning up tech continuity, they ignore him, and now you seem to be claiming that ignorance of tech ramifications is a condition unique to George Lucas.

(Talking about stormtroopers): Please...The only kills they manage to rack up in the films are primitive tribal mammals, scavenger nomads, and over the hill rebel troopers.

So even when they kill soldiers, you dismiss them as "over the hill Rebel troopers." Exactly what would you require as a target, in order to demonstrate superior weaponry skills? An idiot Klingon who drops his raygun in favour of a knife and then runs straight at you, perhaps?

Even when ordered to kill on Endor or even Bespin, they rarely did. In your novels and tech books, they are quite skilled, but remember, WYSIWYG.

Yes, WYSIWIG. And you are ignoring what you are seeing onscreen.

(Editor's note: All he seems to do is produce sweeping generalizations, and ignore the arguments on my page that deal specifically with this subject. As an aside, the ROTJ novelization actually describes heavy Ewok casualties, with the Ewoks winning only through strength of numbers and Chewbacca's critical hijacking of an AT-ST unit, which turned the tide. Remember that the ROTJ novelization is canon, not official, so we can conclude that the film, due to its New Republic "historical documentary" bias, didn't show most of the Ewok casualties. There is no contradiction- remember that many real-life WW2 documentaries gloss over the worst of the D-Day casualties in their footage, even if they might discuss them in the narrative).

(Responding to my admonition that my power to size ratio calculations already account for size discrepancies): You showed "mathematically" that your inflated numbers would be greater than a federation starship that is enlarged, but your power to size ratio is a little absurd. You compare two separate technology with the same guidelines.

Why does that invalidate the power to size ratio? Is it unfair to compare the power to size ratio of a nuclear weapon to a chemical bomb because they are different technologies?

(Responding to my admonition over basing his arguments entirely on dialogue and ignoring visual evidence): Similar to your interpretation of Dodonna's dialogue about the Death Star laser being more powerful than half the Imperial fleet? You seem to have taken that into account when calculating your fleet strength. Is that not fundamentally unscientific? Even with your BTM CD reference, which was also interpreted from the dialogue.

If that were my only basis for calculation, you would be correct. But it is not, and the page contains numerous examples. Furthermore, simple scaling of the DS down to a Star Destroyer results in similarly vast figures.

(Editor's note: I wonder if he really thinks that my discussion of Dodonna's quote is the same as his attempt to contradict direct visual observation with his interpretation of dialogue. Does he even recognize the distinction that my example involves no contradiction while his example does? Or is he just being obtuse?)

You seem to refer to your own methods about ignoring or accepting dialogue as you see fit. Your rigid set of rules are only rigid if you apply them equally all the time.

And I do. Dialogue is a poor source of information. It can be used sparingly, but only with the strict caveat that it is always subordinate to all other forms of information. If Dodonna's quote were contradicted by visual information, his quote would go out the window. But he wasn't contradicted by visual information, was he? Or by other calculations, such as scaling the DS down to a single Star Destroyer. So there is no deviation from policy, is there? Oops- I forgot, you never bothered to read about my policy, so you're assuming I've violated it when I have not.

(Editor's note: One of the problems with the "dialogue vs direct observation" argument is that the dialogue people always forget that we are actually arguing about interpretations of dialogue, not the dialogue itself. There is no dispute over whether a character says something, but there is a dispute as to how it should be interpreted. That's why it's a poor source of information, and I only include the Dodonna quote because it's consistent with the power to size ratio. At this point, he gets very defensive about my comment that he is apparently a professional student).

Hmm...a minor personal attack. That seems to be the last resort of a petty man.

Good one! Call me "petty" while simultaneously decrying the fact that I commented about the fact that you're a professional student. Oh, boo hoo!

(Editor's note: If the shoe fits, wear it. The guy claims to have degrees in communications, geology, and anthropology, as well as minors in computer science and physics. By any definition of the term, he is a professional student. If he doesn't like being called a professional student, that's just too bad. He should either get a job, or demonstrate some commitment by picking a field, advancing to the doctorate level in it, and then doing research instead of simply collecting unrelated bachelor's degrees in faculty after faculty after faculty).

My desire to continue my education to it's fullest extent would seem to be a poor target for someone who quit once he got one degree and seem to be satisfied.

I decided to get a job, have a family, etc. Obviously, you prefer to delay your entry into the real world.

(Editor's note: As I said before, this guy is a professional student by every conceivable definition of the term. If he thinks there's nothing wrong with being a professional student, then he shouldn't consider the term an insult. His behaviour indicates that he knows there's something wrong with being a professional student, but he doesn't like it when somebody points it out).

I'll be petty in return I guess. You seem to throw your degree in applied science around like it makes you the ultimate authority in all things Sci-Fi.

Who said anything about that? Not once do I claim that my conclusions are correct simply because I have a degree. That's why I back up every single argument with detailed reasoning and calculations, so that anybody can verify them independently. You, on the other hand, are long on criticism and short on specific arguments.

(Editor's note: I think this is a very important distinction. I mention my education, but I don't use it as standalone proof of the validity of my ideas. I always provide explanations, formulas, numbers, reasoning, etc. The fallacious "appeal to authority" is based on saying things like "this is true because Mr. Authority says so", rather than referencing Mr. Authority's facts and reasoning).

Tell me, why do YOU obviously refuse to apply your science background to Star Wars. I have seen many other like you. I can tell that you bring out the worst in people by a couple of personality flaws you have revealed.

The fact that I'm combative? Ooooh, big surprise! My website is a "vs" website. The subject is naturally combative. People get combative about it. You can blame me for your own poor manners if you like, but in the real world (as you'll find out once you leave school), we are all responsible for our own actions. I am totally responsible for any rude things I have ever said, and I don't shrink from any of it. As for you, I'm sure you would prefer to go on pretending that your own rudeness (and that of the idiots on my Hate Mail page) was somehow caused by the target of your behaviour.

One strike against you is an apparent arrogance and a self delusion of scientific Omnipotence you think you have, when it is really just a bachelor's degree.

I never claimed to be scientifically omnipotent. Find a single passage on my website in which I claim to be scientifically omnipotent (BTW, the appropriate term would be "omniscient", not "omnipotent", but I guess you haven't added English to your list of degrees yet). Pathetic strawman attack.

You are Canadian.

And that is a knock against me? Oooh, cheap nationalistic jabs. I'm so impressed.

You have no debating skills and less tact. My letter was not written in the most polite way, but I figured it would have been responded to in the same manner.

I respond to rude messages in kind, and I have yet to see you provide a concrete example of the flaws in my debating tactics which you repeatedly refer to. I am quite capable of being tactful, but only in return to those who E-mail tactfully. I warn people quite explicitly on the webpage that rude messages, or messages in which the reader obviously hasn't given the site a serious read, will be flamed in return. Apparently, you skipped by that warning, sent a message to which I responded as per my policy, and then you were shocked and annoyed at the nature of my response. Boo hoo.

That is about as petty as I can get right now. I will give you the last word and will not reply to a response due to my distaste for unintelligent conversation.

Or the fact that you obviously can't deal with my arguments.

I'll delete your messages unread. I really have no desire to start a flame war since they have no appreciative results.

I see. You would rather launch a flame attack and then run and hide from the inevitable counterattack. I suppose that you believe cowardice has its virtues- to each his own, I suppose.

Physical conflict works, but that seems impossible.

Probably impossible, but the fact that it occurred to you at all is an interesting indicator of your personality type.

The only other e-mail you will get from me will be a URL address for an anti-Stardestroyer.net site if I feel that you are worth it. I'm sure you will laugh it off and cling to your delusions of scientific accuracy.

On the contrary, I make it a habit to address stupid responses. But I doubt you will have the will or skill to make anything that anyone will ever bother reading.

(Editor's note: I don't know why I bothered to distinguish between Editor's Notes and my original response here, since he put me in his mail filter and he never would have seen this message. But I just wanted to be accurate, and I actually did compose the message and send it off in spite of the filter. I'm not sure why I did that when I knew it would simply die in the filter- just call me Don Quixote).

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