Re: ASA and Evolution Lists and noise

Bill Hamilton (
Thu, 23 Sep 1999 16:17:27 -0400

At 11:00 PM 9/22/99 -0500, James Mahaffy wrote:
>While I quit subscribing to the evolution list several years ago, I
>took a look at the archives recently and noticed an interesting
>discussion about why the thinkers had left the list. ...

Thanks for your work, James. I have a question about the meaning of one of
your tabulations, but I'll ask that later. One factor, as you mentioned,
in the interminable discussions, especially on evolution, is that much gets
repeated. Having good friends on both sides of the C/E divide, I have come
to the conclusion that this is probably the result of each side being
covinced that the other side has not carefully evaluated -- or even
listened to -- their position. Perhaps a big part of the problem is that we
tend to think about what the other side has said for a time, and then post
our conclusions to the list. So I might say, "David's conclusion is
incorrect" instead of asking David -- in the list -- questions and followup
questions about the thought process that has led him to his conclusion.
Frequently we jump into C/E discussions without either side explaining
carefully what is important -- what we want to preserve, and this causes
misunderstanding as well.

I don't have much to offer in the way of solutions at this point except
some fairly obvious rules:

1. Try to clarify the other individual's position before commenting on it
2. Be willing to use some bytes to explain the basis of your reasoning --
what principles you believe are important to preserve, and therefore affect
your conclusions.
3. Try to learn the other individu7al's reasoning well enough that you can
critique it fairly -- commend what it does well as well as pointing out
what it doesn't do so well.

I believe I answered my question about James' table, but I'll ask it anyway
juust to make sure I got it. One of your tables looks like this:

Evolution ASA Paleonet

Days 26 28 31
total posts 242 318 120
Posts/day 9.31 11.36 3.87
posters 33 59 58

50-60 1
30-40 3 1
20-30 1 1
10-20 3 2 3
0-10 26 59 55

I believe you mean that in the ASA list one poster posted between 50 and 60
messages, in the Evolution list one poster posted between 30 and 40
messages, etc. Right? We engineers tend to be very literal-minded and get
(at least temporarily) lost when labels are apparently missing :-).

Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
Staff Research Engineer
Electrical and Controls Integration MC 480-106-390
GM R&D Center
30500 Mound Road
Warren, MI / (home)