RSA Debate

Round 2, Part 1a (EU Inclusion)

(posted Wednesday, September 18, 2002)

In spite of the pre-debate concession, term violations, and tardiness ... <snip>

Ad hominem fallacy: attacking my personal behaviour before even mentioning any of my arguments. I thought you said you wanted this debate to focus on the argument, not the man. Concession accepted.

[Quoted] I will focus on your so-called "Death Star chain-reaction theory".

"Superlaser Effect" is the accepted term.

Accepted by whom? By the way, that's a red-herring nitpick. I thought you said you wanted a rational debate, rather than the usual free-for-all. Did you realize what you were asking for?

STAR WARS CONTINUITY: EU INCLUSION

(Note: I refer to statements defining the Canon, Continuity, and relationships between them as being part of the Canon Policy. In other words, "Canon Policy" is a blanket term for official dictates of what is and is not fact. You disagree with this definition here (http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/index.html), but such terminology is accepted, and I shall continue to use it.)

Accepted by whom?

[Quoted] You conclude (in your preface) that "the Expanded Universe is NOT part of the official story of Star Wars".

Emphasis yours. Please be more careful.

Red-herring nitpick. I thought you said you wanted a rational debate.

<snip Cerasi's quote about how only the films are "absolute canon", with the novels coming in second>

With Cerasi's comment that the novels should be regarded as very accurate, I see no problem in placing them and their Insider-stated-brethren in a sub-film Canon status, lesser than the Absolute Canon.

Red herring fallacy. Of COURSE the movie novelizations are secondary canon. How does this address my point that something NEED NOT BE CANON in order to be included in the "overall continuity," which is larger than the canon?

However, I see no way for the non-canon Expanded Universe to squeeze in under the gun. Cerasi makes the following comments regarding the EU:

"The further one branches away from the movies, the more interpretation and speculation come into play. LucasBooks works diligently to keep the continuing Star Wars expanded universe cohesive and uniform, but stylistically, there is always room for variation."

"The analogy is that every piece of published Star Wars fiction is a window into the 'real' Star Wars universe. Some windows are a bit foggier than others. Some are decidedly abstract. But each contains a nugget of truth to them."

Some have argued that Cerasi's analogy allows for the acceptance of non-canon material in a manner consistent with the current accepted doctrine, a "logical extrapolation by us" (*), wherein the data from the Expanded Universe is considered 'canon unless contradicted'. (* Source: Dalton, ASVS - (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3D38B610.C1BC60E4%40daltonator.net&output=gplain))

Red herring fallacy. We are currently debating the question of whether the EU material is valid, not how you think it should be analyzed. Moreover, I am not responsible for arguments made by OTHER persons. While it is tempting to defend my colleagues from your gratuitous red-herring attacks, it is not relevant to this debate.

All you've accomplished with this Cerasi quote is to provide yet more evidence that the EU material is valid, albeit "foggy". And since the same could be said of all historical documents in real life, you have helped support my website's longstanding position that the EU material should be treated as "historical literature and narrative" (as written on my Canon page) rather than observation. Thank you for supporting my longstanding conclusion so clearly, albeit inadvertently.

I consider such an argument improper, on the following grounds:

First, "the real story of Star Wars" is the Absolute Canon of the films, and *only* the films.

Circular logic fallacy. Stating your conclusion as a premise, and then using it to justify your conclusion.

Second, acceptance of the non-canon EU must lead to error. A foggy or abstract window will, like a fun-house mirror, produce distortions. If we wish to look at any particular EU data point and ask "is this true or false . . . right or wrong?", there is no answer.

Black and white fallacy. Forcing us to choose between "gospel truth" and "totally useless". By this "reasoning", all of real-life science and history are ALSO useless, since you can't look at any particular data point in science and have guaranteed assurance that it is absolutely accurate and correct; there could be measurement errors, researcher error, outright incompetence, dishonesty, etc. It is only through looking at larger patterns, consistency, independent repeatability, etc. that we gain some measure of reliability. The situation is similar with historical documents, albeit with even greater potential inaccuracies. Moreover, on a fundamental philosophical level, the lack of absolute certainty does NOT preclude investigation or analysis.

The maneuver commonly performed under the logical extrapolation rule-set is to determine whether or not there are other EU examples and attempt to rationalize them if possible, or discard the peculiar data point if necessary. The highest EU example is generally considered a minimum upper limit, and all data points which suggest themselves as the maximum but fail to meet this minimum upper limit are rationalized or discarded.

Red herring fallacy. Not only have you tried to drag the issue of preferred EU analysis methods into this debate about whether the EU material is part of the overall continuity, but you are also attempting to introduce the issue of how upper and lower limits are addressed, in OTHER debates, regarding OTHER subjects, by OTHER debaters.

The problems with that maneuver are manifold. First, rationalization efforts can lead to absurdities. Second, it includes as an assumption the notion that the majority of the non-canon (or simply the EU with the uppermost limits) will be more correct than some specific example. Further, the fact that the non-canon is self-referential (and therefore that the distorting windows stack as EU data continues to expand in new EU works) is ignored.

Nowhere is the concept of EU "majority rule" stated or implied in the Canon Policy. The vast majority of the non-canon could mislead, and we would be none the wiser. Similarly, nowhere is the concept of EU "biggest is best" stated or implied in the Canon Policy. EU materials with the largest tech figures could mislead, and we would be none the wiser. All we are told is that there are "windows", some foggy, some abstract, but each containing a nugget of truth.

Once again, this "reasoning" could be equally applied to real-life scientific and historical documents, many of which are "self-referential", to use your term. Once again, you have used your bizarre "reasoning" to show that in your opinion, all of real-life science and history should be ignored.

With the films constituting the "real story of Star Wars", I argue that the nuggets of truth contained in the EU can only be what is borrowed straight from the Canon. Why? We're trying to arrive at a method to determine the accuracy of data points in a data set where inaccuracies, some grotesque, are known to exist and have been stated as existing. Unlike uncertainties in science, where, for example, a carbon-14 dating effort might have an uncertainty (+/- X-thousand years) attached, there is absolutely no way to determine the level of possible error of a non-canon statement, except by referencing the Canon.

Non sequitur. If one determines the accuracy of an EU statement by "referencing" the canon, it does NOT follow that everything in the EU is invalid except for that which is "borrowed straight from the canon". If canon is "observation" and EU is "history" as I have long maintained, then any EU material which is in direct contradiction with canon is obviously wrong, just as any historical document which describes events that are scientifically impossible is obviously wrong. However, it does NOT follow that everything in every historical document which is not drawn directly from scientific observation is useless.

Meanwhile, we have a separate data set, the Canon, which is, by definition, virtually free from error.

Thus, to include the EU according to current common doctrine is not only to flagrantly ignore Cerasi's caveat that *only* the films are the real story of Star Wars, but it is also to allow "interpretation and speculation" and distortions of the Canon to enter into one's thinking. To allow such distortions to guide one's efforts unless those distortions are contradicted by Canon is of questionable intellectual honesty.

Quasi-religious mentality. You seem to think it is possible to analyze something without "interpretation and speculation", hence their use invalidates any analysis. This is simply absurd; it is IMPOSSIBLE to analyze ANYTHING without a certain amount of "interpretation and speculation". Did it occur to you that ALL of science is an interpretive and speculative exercise? We take observations, interpret them into numbers and units, construct hypotheses (ie- speculate), etc. We can then verify those hypotheses via more interpretation of new observations. For the THIRD time, I must point out that you have effectively denied the validity of all science and history.

(Rather like those who maintain that everything is legal, so long as you don't get caught.) Though playing fast and loose with data in such a manner may be be acceptable in some circles, I do not consider it appropriate. I certainly find it highly inappropriate for our purposes, where ostensibly we wish to choose the safest, most reasonable course to determine fact.

"Appeal to prejudice" fallacy. You are attempting to link those who would analyze the EU to shifty lawbreakers, in an obvious attempt to generate prejudicial feeling against them. This might be somewhat excusable if you could actually show that A leads to B, but you don't even TRY; how on Earth does "interpretation and speculation" lead to "everything is legal, so long as you don't get caught?" Instead of explaining this HIGHLY dubious connection, you merely present some grandstanding.

Further (now returning to the Insider quote), I do not consider a statement prefaced with the phrase "between us" and including the term "much" to constitute sufficient evidence for the claim that the entire EU is formally considered official Star Wars fact according to the Canon Policy. This is especially the case when it contradicts the fact that the real story of Star Wars is the films, and only the films.

Circular-logic fallacy. Yet again, you cite your conclusion as a premise (the "fact" that the story of Star Wars is limited to the films), which is then used to support the conclusion.

Finally, there is definite uncertainty in regards to the single-use term upon which your argument is based. "Overall continuity" appears in no other statement of Canon Policy, nor in any statement relating to it that I am aware of. Cerasi, via Sansweet, makes several references to "continuity", but his use makes it apparent that he refers to a judgement or dictate of LucasBooks personnel:

(from http://www.starwars.com/community/askjc/steve/askjc20010817.html)
"Fans of the old monthly Marvel Star Wars comic will be heartened to know that LucasBooks does indeed consider them part of continuity. Decades of retrospect haven't been kind to all the elements of the comic series, but the characters and events still hold weight and are referenced in newer material whenever possible."

"In order to allow unlimited freedom of storytelling, the Infinities label has been placed on the anthology series, Star Wars Tales. This means that not only can the stories occur anywhere in the Star Wars timeline, but stories can happen outside continuity ... <snip>

You are projecting your own behaviour onto me. Unlike you, I do NOT base my argument upon sentence fragments, the way you have analyzed Lucas' choice of the words "parallel universe". The term "overall continuity" is not important for my argument; a continuity of some sort must exist, and it would still exist by any other name; we are debating the question of what is included in that continuity, and you have failed to present a shred of evidence that the EU is NOT included.

Indeed, you have provided several more pieces of evidence that go directly AGAINST your case, such as the Cerasi "foggy window" quote and now this: "LucasBooks does indeed consider them part of continuity". Case closed. The fact that the "Infinities" label specifically marks a particular anthology outside continuity HARDLY implies or proves that the ENTIRE EU is outside continuity (in fact, the existence of a special label for non-continuity material implies the opposite; that everything not specifically marked as non-continuity is probably in the continuity).

<snip many quotes used to show that LucasBooks has an internal continuity which includes the EU with the exception of material with the "Infinities logo" and "Star Wars Tales", which they sometimes erroneously refer to as the "canon" but which is obviously the "overall continuity" mentioned in SWI>

So, while we have no idea what the "overall continuity" referred to by the unspecified Insider #23 personnel refers to, it would seem to bear a striking resemblance to the in-house continuity of LucasBooks, insofar as non-canon EU material is taken into account.

Red herring fallacy. The fact that the "overall continuity" is the "in-house continuity of LucasBooks" has nothing to do with the fact that this continuity DOES exist, and that EU material (with a few clearly marked exceptions) is included in that continuity.

<snip defense of quote taken out of context in your canon page by pointing out that you have the full quote on a separate, unrelated page>
At no point have I done anything less than offer full disclosure on the matter, your insinuations notwithstanding.

I am not insinuating; I am stating fact. You chose to analyze a SENTENCE FRAGMENT on your canon page rather than the full quote. The fact that the full quote is buried somewhere else on your website does not excuse this fallacious method. You employed the "quote taken out of context" fallacy and ignored Lucas' statement that the EU intrudes on his continuity despite its obvious relevance.

<snip Lucas quote, which is already on previous message>
Lucas here refers to the EU as being another world, a parallel universe separate from his own Absolute Canon of the films.

You are ignoring the point. I already explained that the EU can be separate without necessarily being excluded from the continuity. It does you no good to repeat an argument which proves nothing.

Some have argued that Lucas was not referring to the EU's *content* as being part of another world and a parallel universe, but was instead only referring to the various departments and divisions in his company operating outside his movie-making universe. In other words, some say Lucas was using very flowerly language to refer to real-world issues.

However, that makes little sense, given that his "world", a.k.a. "select period of time", a.k.a. "the movies" would therefore have to be a space of time back in the late 70's/early 80's and a space of time in the modern era. To argue that the licensing companies go inactive or stop consulting him when he's making a movie is peculiar to say the least. The first is definitely contrary to the knowledge of anyone who goes to a toystore, bookstore, and so on around the time a movie comes out. The second is contrary to statements of people such as Saxton, recent writer of some EU materials.

Red herring fallacy (or possibly strawman fallacy, depending on how one wishes to interpret your intent). I don't know who these anonymous people are whose arguments you wish to refute in our debate, but they are not ME, so drop it. If you had bothered reading my original post instead of ignoring it and attacking these mysterious, anonymous people, you would have seen that I obviously think when Lucas says his movies occupy a "select period of time", he's referring to the fictional timeline of the Star Wars universe, not the real-life 1970's and 1980's in which he made the original trilogy.

Others argue that the "intrude on my world" comment overrides his reference to other worlds and parallel universes.  In other words, the fact that they intrude is supposed to make us think that they are part of the same universe. However, this argument also makes no sense, especially in light of such recent licensing efforts as the Episode I "Battle for Naboo" game, prior efforts such as the Marvel comic adaptations of ANH, et cetera, et cetera. Those most assuredly "intrude" on his world, his select period of time of the movies, and the Marvel monthly comics are most assuredly considered part of the EU continuity, as per Cerasi.

Strawman. No one is saying that one comment "overrides" another. George Lucas is a human being, not a set of legal documents with varying precedence. The act of analyzing any SENTENCE FRAGMENT is inherently fallacious, to say nothing of a sentence fragment from a verbal interview, in which he could not have chosen his words so carefully as to permit such semantic analysis. One can only derive very general statements from such interviews, such as his clear statement that the EU and canon are separate, and that they cover different points in the same timeline. Rather than trying to analyze PRECISELY what he means by "parallel universe" or "intrude", you should recognize that in a general sense, he obviously made it clear that the EU definitely has SOME validity, which is more than enough to disprove your assertion that it should be completely ignored. If you are going to wrangle over its precise boundaries, then you are already implicitly accepting that it does have validity. Concession accepted.

<snip> Further, this is not the first time Lucas has referred to the EU in such a manner:

"TVGuide: Yet novelists have written "Star Wars" sequels using the same characters and extending their stories.

George Lucas: Oh, sure. They're done outside my little universe. "Star Wars" has had a lot of different lives that have been worked on by a lot of different people. It works without me."- TV Guide Interview with George Lucas, week of 11/19/01

Again, we have Lucas placing EU content outside his "little universe", which in spite of his modest phrasing is, in fact, the Absolute Canon . . . the real story of Star Wars, which is *only* the films.

Again, you analyze a SENTENCE FRAGMENT rather than the full quote. Again, you make a daring leap in logic from "EU is outside canon" to "there is no continuity outside canon". George does NOT say that his "little universe" (ie- canon) is the TOTALITY of Star Wars continuity; that is an inference which you derive by analyzing the semantics of SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. When any one of his quotes is viewed in full, it is obvious that he's saying precisely the OPPOSITE of what you're saying; he's saying that Star Wars is larger than his "little universe" of the canon.

No, I'm afraid that cannot be seen at all. According to LucasBooks' EU continuity, even that which intrudes on his select period of time is acceptable as reference. That, in concert with the fact that Lucas is not at all bound by the "continuous and unified" "official Star Wars history", demonstrates rather clearly that Lucas's EU parallel universe comments are the law of the land, and rightly so.

Non sequitur. So Lucas is not "bound" by the EU; how does it follow that the EU is worthless? Star Trek's writers routinely ignored precedent set by previous episodes or series; does that make previous series worthless? He and his licensing firm have publicly stated that the EU is included in the continuity. How we analyze it is a separate question, but its inclusion is indisputable.

Summary

You argue on your website that the EU and canon are separate. I agree that they are separate, but I argue that they are BOTH included in the overall continuity, which is larger than the canon, and I point out that you are relying upon a Lucas sentence fragment rather than the full quote. You retort that they are separate, and provide many quotes to support this claim, totally ignoring the fact that I've already agreed that they are separate. Then, you attempt to analyze another Lucas sentence FRAGMENT in order to support your standing non sequitur. Are you capable of recognizing how you utterly failed to address the point?

Worse yet, you contradict yourself by inadvertently providing quotes such as Cerasi's "foggy windows" quote which show that the EU is valid, albeit imperfect, and then you pile logical fallacies on top of that mistake by employing "black and white" fallacies to argue that "valid but imperfect" is the same as being totally excluded! By admitting that the EU represents a window onto the Star Wars universe according to LucasBooks (and failing to provide anything more subtantive than a Lucas sentence FRAGMENT to contradict them), you have admitted that you were wrong about the EU not being a part of the story at all. You are attempting to cover for this concession by making the utterly outlandish argument that imperfection makes useful analysis impossible, but that does not change the fact that you quietly conceded the point. Are you capable of admitting this?


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