Total Drek

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Monday, October 08, 2007

The Martian Test

Recently I've been thinking of Mars. I was reminded of the red planet again by Drek's post last Thursday, in which he reprinted a heated discussion from Conservapedia about scientists' search for how birds and butterflies navigate. It's far from the only heated discussion that I've seen on these here Internets, which can bring out the worst in people.

As a way of measuring argument intensity, I propose a stepchild of Godwin's Law and the Turing Test - the Martian Test. To perform the Martian Test, rewrite an argument so that any references to the subjects being argued are rephrased to be about Martians instead. Then, imagine what a Martian would think if he/she/sle read or heard what you have to say. The test obviously applies to real-life debates as well as Internet discussions.

Here is a handy phrasebook to help with the translations:

Internets Debate Term - Mars Test Analogy
  • [people who agree with you] - Earthlings
  • [people you don't agree with] - Martians
  • [religion you agree with] - Earthism
  • [religion you don't agree with] - Martianism
  • The Bible - The Martian Chronicles
  • President Bush - Prime Minister Oxhamiowefj
  • President Clinton - former Prime Minister Zfewjifo
  • [media outlet you like] - Earth Today
  • [media outlet you don't like] - The Mars Times

As an example of how to apply the Martian test in everyday life, let me compare two passages on the heated-but-unnecessary religion v. science debate - Andrew Schafly of Conservapedia about science, and Richard Dawkins of Oxford University about religion. I'll rewrite both their arguments to be about Martians instead.

Here is conservapedia founder Andrew Schafly, as quoted Thursday here at Total Drek, on scientists:

Right, Rob, the "Science" news article is a mixture of circular reasoning and unsupported conclusions, typical for that liberal rag. The "reasoning" in the article is, of course, good enough for atheists and materialists who assume that there must be a material explanation. For the rest of us who, like Isaac Newton, look beyond materialism, the Science article is referenced for only one purpose: to demonstrate that atheists and materialists are still searching in vain for their material explanation. Do tell us, please, if anyone really thinks magnetism guides butterfly migration also. Don't duck that one.--Aschlafly 18:16, 2 October 2007 (EDT)

Andrew Schafly on Martians:

Right, Rob, the Mars Times news article is a mixture of circular reasoning and unsupported conclusions, typical for that Martian rag. The "reasoning" in the article is, of course, good enough for Martians who assume that there must be a Martianist* explanation. For the rest of us who, like Isaac Newton, look beyond Martianism, the Mars Times article is referenced for only one purpose: to demonstrate that Martians are still searching in vain for their Martianist explanation. Do tell us, please, if anyone really thinks magnetism guides Marsosaurus migration also. Don't duck that one.--Aschlafly 18:16, 2 October 2007 (EDT)



Richard Dawkins on religious people:

You guessed it, once again someone was aggravated that I have dared to call adherence to religious belief a case of being "ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed." This time our indignant contestant is Mark A. R. Kleiman, who considers it atheistic bigotry to enumerate the reasons why people might come to absurd and erroneous conclusions. That 80-90% of this population, which is not hypothetical at all but is the entire US, believes that chanting their wishes into the sky might get them granted by a magic being, or that over half use the excuse of their religious dogma to reject the basic facts of modern biology, is something we must not question and especially must not criticize. Because it is religion, it must be respected.


Richard Dawkins on Martians:

You guessed it, once again someone was aggravated that I have dared to call adherence to Martian beliefs a case of being "ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed." This time our indignant contestant is Mars A. R. Kleiman, who considers it Earthian bigotry to enumerate the reasons why people might come to absurd and erroneous conclusions. That 80-90% of this population, which is not hypothetical at all but is the entire planet Mars, believes that chanting their wishes into the sky might get them granted by a magic being, or that over half use the excuse of their religious dogma to reject the basic facts of modern biology, is something we must not question and especially must not criticize. Because it is Martian, it must be respected.


Why the Mars test? Notice something about the two postings: they espouse very different viewpoints, but the angry, sarcastic tone of the articles is almost exactly the same. The Mars test helps separate the tone of the debate from its content. By debating with people, what we are intending to do is to convince people, both the people that we are debating and anyone who might be watching. With anything you write online or anything you say in real life, there are almost sure to be Martians around to hear. How do you expect them to hear what you have to say when you insult their planet and their people?


*Note that I replaced "materialism" with "Martianism," implying that materialism is a religion. Whether it is or is not is an entire blog entry in itself, but this is certainly how Conservapedians think of it, so I think it's justified to translate the term.

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