I've got someone on another forum who's stance on the versus debate as a whole is difficult to grasp, and harder to debate without a lot of effort on my part.
Here's a few snippets:
So the fact that debaters like "Borg boy" get banned is a mark against the forum..?
There's plenty of people with controversial or contrary-to-the-norm views, the only people who get the boot or titles are the ones who simply refuse to be rational in defending their points.
No. I think both sides of that particular argument are a mark against the forum, but they are useful because of what they illustrate about internet debates as a whole. It is very easy for people to start treating them like competitions or games in their own right. In questions that don't actually have a single answer, people start to see their own solution as a banner they have to protect. Fanboys invest massive amounts of emotion in building up pseudo-scientific explanations for why they are right, completing ignoring the assumptions and uncertainties inherent in the process. And then they have the temerity to call their style of argument "rational".
Some other gems of his:
The reason why phasers don't cause vaporization is that the guy at Stardestroyer really doesn't want them to, and uses questionable physics to explain why not. If you were dealing with mechanisms that never got more complicated than conservation of energy and momentum, those explanations might carry some weight. If they do cause vaporization by means we could quantify, the energy required would be enormous. And since stardestroyer works almost exclusively in the physics of conservation of energy, that is something they would want to avoid. So in the grand tradition of vs. debates, stardestroyer formulates a theory that best fits the available evidence while still coming up with the answer they wanted to keep their own side on top. The plain truth is that Star Trek makes use of fictional physics as much as it makes use of fictional characters and settings. So using high-school physics to try to quantify the effects (or downplay them) has never been appropriate. Phasers apparently use "nadions", and nadions are just as fictional as the phasers themselves. Their physical properties and the influence they exert on real materials are entirely variable based on the needs of the plot.
It might be like setting off a small bomb if it was obeying the laws of "real" physics. Which it clearly isn't. It says that it operates using particles that do not really exist. And it says that it vaporizes the target. So the only possible conclusion given Star Trek's strict approach to canon is that those imaginary particles are somehow capable of converting solids and liquids to vapor without releasing as much energy as we might expect. It does not seem possible, but then we are not dealing with real physics. Once you realize that, there is no inconsistency between the observations and the stated effects. It might as well be magic.
This is not very complicated. It is not that Star Trek physics or physics explanations make sense. They don't. But the reason they don't make sense is not that they are wrong, but rather that they are fictional. So you can't use real physics for comparison. It just doesn't work when many of your basic physical mechanisms are imaginary. So if you want to draw comparisons, better to stick with what can be compared empirically.
On phaser "vapourization":
But your "observation" is based on the assumption that the target being converted to vapor will have certain effects, which are in turn based on your understanding of real thermodynamics. But the term "vaporize" does not imply all of those secondary effects. It just implies a conversion of some mass from a solid into a vapor. So your observation can be mistaken because your assumptions are wrong. In which case, the dialogue fills in the blank. We don't know how the target is vaporized, but we can not say that it was not without in-canon evidence to override the explanation provided.
There are no physical explanations for the effects we see in the show. Stardestroyer came up with a few theories listed on the link Novae posted, but they are operating under equally ridiculous assumptions. That is why there is so little point in trying to rationalize or quantify this sort of imaginary technology. You are not "observing" a real effect, and so you can not hope to understand it by application of physical laws that you have no proof even work in that setting. And when the canon is defined literally and strictly, as is the case for Star Trek, you really don't have much wiggle-room.
Thermodynamics doesn't need to apply if we are dealing with imaginary physics, (which we are). So you don't have to break all that much, nor do we have to understand how it works. This not science, nor is it even science fiction in a traditional sense. It is science fantasy. The laws its physics operate under are no different from the laws many authors come up with for magic. Star Trek throws around words like "quantum" and "neutrinos" like incantations. That is the context you need to be working in if you want to understand how things in the show work. They only make sense in their own internal reference frame. Trying to define them in ours is absurd. It is the same problem that exists with sound effects in space, or that defines just about every anime space opera ever conceived. It is like trying to use how much a character's hair is flowing to get a quantitative estimate of solar wind when they are floating around in the void.
I could normally sympathize with the attempt out of basic intellectual curiosity, but not when it is done for the fundamentally shallow motivation of keeping a fictional energy level as low as possible. I have no respect whatsoever for that approach.
It's like you're determined to win the argument by removing the entire foundation upon which the discussed topic is built.
That would imply that I had any respect at all for the foundation of sites like stardestroyer or its Star Trek equivalents in the first place, and I don't. In particular, I think their favored form of analysis is a terrible way to approach the idea of writing rules to transform characters from one setting to another. I am interested in discussing the projects members undertake here. The context of debates taking place elsewhere is of no interest to me, and I find the concept of "winning" a discussion of fictional settings to be rather pathetic. I discuss things that I think are interesting, but I do not feel the need to treat that as a game.
To illustrate the problems I have with the approach they apply:
Say we want to have a "versus" debate comparing Lord of the Rings and Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons. On the surface, this seems easy enough. They are both basically medieval settings. They have many of the same races. They have many of the same types of settings, locales, and systems of government. But then we hit a snag. Dungeons and Dragons has magic everywhere. Many individuals can learn to call on it at will, and it lies at the heart of all strong equipment. But in Lord of the Rings, magic is rare and can not be learned. So does that mean that characters from Forgotten Realms will win out? Not really. If magic can be learned, there is no reason to suspect that many of the characters in Lord of the Rings could not do so. If it can't, no one from Forgotten Realms could use it, either. The reason for the disconnect is that the basic laws of reality are not the same between these settings.
This means that the very first thing you have to do for a "versus" argument to work is to set ground rules. Whose model of magic are we using? Or do we just let both sides play by their own rules? The ground rules we set determine the outcome. If we want to be fair, we don't stack the ground rules to favor the side we like more. Fantasies like Star Trek and Star Wars make to attempt to honor physics. As such, their technology obeys its own laws, just as magic in other fantasy settings has to have its own internal rules within the story if the story is to function.
Many of the common science fiction debates simply fail to recognize this. Rather than setting ground rules appropriate to the settings they want to discuss, they try to use real physics as some sort of common ground, even when real-world physics do not and can not apply. This would be equivalent to trying to gauge magic based on how much mass teleporting in a demon involves, or trying to calculate the firepower of a magic missile (in tons of TNT, of course). And then you would simply haul out the vast reverses of ignorant arrogance necessary to claim that your interpretations were absolute and impartial (or maybe "lower-limit").
But it is not a "scientific" argument, particularly when you deliberately bias the outcome based on personal preference (I find it somewhat suspect when a site claims that phasers don't cause vaporization despite direct confirmation and then tries to apply the physics of vaporization to every visible effect in the setting they prefer, whether or not it is actually appropriate to do so). To claim that this approach is "scientific" is the reason the whole debate angers me to such an extent. If you can't see the bias there, you are too far gone for your opinion to be of any worth.
If an effect is not directly caused by a real physical phenomena or is intended to portray a real physical phenomena that is otherwise unfilmable, you can not use real physics to come up with a single answer to quantify it. In the case of phasers, we know that they do not rely on real physics to work since their in-canon explanation blatantly states as much. Vaporization is impossible without more obvious effects than what the show depicts. But there are no other explanations that do conform to real-world physics. So in the absence of a mechanism, all you can do is look at the effects and in-canon explanations. Particularly in a setting like Star Trek, where the writers never bothered to use either realistic physics or physics terminology. And that should give you all you need to write rules for it that work in the current 40k system. If you can't keep your personal bias out of it, you have no business responding to threads created with that purpose in mind.
So for emphasis, I don't think any of their firepower calculations are accurate, and I think the entire system they apply should fall to bits given the garbage it is based on. Particularly departures from sanity like Thunder's "propaganda film" argument. A basic thematic analysis of the settings involved can give you a perfectly good idea of the relative capabilities of both continuities. And you can do this sort of analysis without all of the ridiculous biases that obscure what might otherwise be an interesting debate. This approach is not favored by sites like stardestroyer or its equivalents because it requires you to make actual judgments, and thus recognizes the subjectivity of the interpretations you make. So instead, they pretend that their approach is impartial and "scientific", and then claim that their results are absolute. I suppose because that is the only way they feel they can "win".
Any pointers on how to grapple with him would be appreciated.