RSA Debate Post-Mortem
Is Robert Scott Anderson, aka "Darkstar", aka "Guardian2000" psychologically disturbed, stupid, both, or neither?
The most disturbing thing about this debate is that he actually seems to think he's winning (which is typical; he first posted his MCR idea on my BBS with a thread titled "I seemed to scare the ASVS crowd with this", in which he basically claimed that no one on ASVS could come up with a rebuttal; naturally, a Google search revealed otherwise). It is absolutely astounding what enormous volumes of sophistry he can generate in his desperate attempts to prove that the "official", or "quasi-canon" status granted to EU materials is a lie and that the Death Star somehow blew up a planet with just 23.5 gigatons of energy (less than one trillionth of the absolute minimum energy requirement dictated by elementary physics). Ultimately, his entire argument boils down to just two points:
Non-ambiguous quotes can be ignored if they contradict his interpretation of ambiguous quotes (this may even apply to two halves of the same sentence, as is the case with the Lucas quote).
If conventional physics is unable to completely explain every detail of the Death Star explosion, then his undefined theory automatically wins. And even though it is undefined and he cannot explain how any of it works, he is absolutely sure that the energy requirement for it is miniscule.
These arguments are simply bizarre, and there was never much point to this debate (no one on either side agreed with him and that would not change no matter how the debate went), other than proving once and for all that he is completely deranged.
I could pontificate for many pages on the various flaws in his methods, the way he used sneaky debate tactics (eg- <snipes snipped>, blatant mockery) and then screamed foul whenever I returned the favour, the way he sliced paragraphs up into sentence fragments before attacking them (and insisted on doing so even after being called on it), his inconsistency (eg- accepting the "innocent until proven guilty" method for the canon novelizations but decrying it as intellectually dishonest for the EU or claiming unbelievable super-physics for the DS superlaser but insisting on feeble tech limitations for the rest of the DS), etc. But his problem really boils down to 4 basic psychological problems:
He takes ridiculous positions. It is not uncommon to debate on "pure canon", and many fans do so as a personal preference. But RSA has to claim that it's not just a personal preference, but rather, some sort of Absolute Law, so that everyone who uses the EU is a liar! Why can't he just state it as a personal preference, instead of trying to "prove" that any other policy is wrong? Similarly, on the Death Star issue, even the most ignorant Trekkies do not make the ludicrous claim that its yield is less than a thousandth of the real-life dino-killer asteroid! He has to artificially polarize situations in order to pretend that it's "his way or the highway", and his cheesy debating tactics are a direct result of the ease with which the resulting false-dilemma arguments can be attacked. Even on matters of ridiculously elementary science (eg- the correlation of gravity to mass), he will make any claim he thinks is necessary to defend his ill-chosen position. As any professional soldier will tell you, only an idiot sets up camp in a position which is easily attacked.
He is overconfident. This means that he doesn't bother planning fallback positions, ie- he leaves himself no room to maneuver. Look at the canon/EU portion of the debate. It was a bonus for me, because I didn't need to win it in order to defeat his MCR. But he had to win both portions of the debate in order to keep his precious MCR. Again, any tactician will tell you that if you haven't planned a fallback position, you're either stupid, crazy, or arrogant. Suppose George Lucas finally makes a public statement in totally unambiguous terms, and it's not what you expect? One should be prepared for such possibilities.
He cannot stay on topic. One of the reasons for his incredibly long posts is that he is simply incapable of letting even the smallest sentence or implication go by without attacking it. If you make a paragraph containing one point, he will find six points to attack in your language, hence his insistence on ripping paragraphs and even sentences into pieces for piecemeal rebuttals. He may believe that this is a "comprehensive" or "thorough" debating technique, but there is a reason that the word "nitpick" is considered a derogatory term.
Pride. Most debaters are smart enough to recognize that when your argument develops an unexpected weakness, you should concede, reposition, and regroup. However, RSA invariably refuses to admit defeat on any point. When the broken logic of his "I won't allow the shield even as a possibility" claim is revealed, he claims planetary shields are impossible, and he even denies the possibility of overlapping theatre shields (even though we saw the primitive Gungans overlapping shields in TPM!). On the canon debate, even when alternate interpretations of ambiguous quotes are described in detail, he simply ignores them and repeats that his interpretation is the only one possible (even if it contradicts unambiguous quotes). There is a point when it becomes quite clear that someone is arguing only because he's too stubborn to admit defeat.
He also demonstrated quite a bit of disrespect for the reader. By far, the most common feedback I receive on this debate is that his arguments are painfully tedious. They combine the hopeless and aggravating "you too" and "nuh uh!!!" debating tactics of a child with the long-winded pomposity of a lawyer. In short, imagine Gothmog after a serious head injury, and you have Darkstar.
I would say more, and I know that with his complete lack of a social life, he will undoubtedly troll back and forth across the Internet launching waves of ad-hominem attacks against me and claiming that he defeated me easily, but frankly, he's not worth the bother. Darkstar may appear to be a mere mortal, but he actually has the Dark Power of Suckdom: he creates such a zone of boredom around himself that he can actually drain motivation out of your soul, and now that his psychological deficiencies have been pointed out, I'd rather talk about something more interesting.