Timothy Jones

Timothy Jones is something of a legend on the newsgroups, but for all the wrong reasons (see the Timothy Jones FAQ). He likes to appeal to the authority of his unnamed "physics prof" whenever he is challenged, and he is famous for the patented Timsult™ debate tactic (a polite insult, ie- carefully worded mockery, condescension, and contempt), which is designed to goad the other party into a conventional insult, at which point he tries to portray himself as a "wounded innocent" and change the subject to his opponent's bad manners (see the aforementioned FAQ). And of course, he is infamous for once saying that "watts and joules are interchangeable." He (or someone or something claiming to be him) recently re-appeared on the newsgroups after a long hiatus. Numerous fakers have pretended to be him over the years so there was some cause for skepticism, however he remained perfectly in character throughout our entire exchange, which is highly unusual for one who's just doing it as a joke. Aron Kerkhof (author of the FAQ) agreed that if this wasn't Tim, then it was an incredibly disciplined facsimile. His argument was very simplistic, and can be summed up as:

"An ISD was destroyed by an asteroid in TESB, and we've never seen an ISD destroyed by a single turbolaser blast, so a turbolaser blast has less energy than a TESB asteroid".

That in itself is nothing new (I've heard that argument many, many times before), but watch how he goes to work on it, expanding and decorating it until it somehow balloons from a single sentence to a bloated mini-essay, complete with a blatantly obvious attempt to boost his own credibility by blathering on about Occam's Razor. Also notice the tremendous effort he makes to seem reasonable and well-informed. I was warned that Timothy Jones was a master of sophistry, and that his arguments are invariably 100% style, 0% substance. Perhaps one could call this admonition "poisoning the well", but I challenge you to read the following E-mail and not come to the same conclusion:

April 15, 2002:

Name: TJ
E-Mail: gadfly_@hotmail.com

Comments: Hi. I've browsed at some of what's written here. It's well thought out. But it seems to me it's missing a fundamental point that, unfortunately for the SW propoenets in technological debates, undermines its entire project.

The fact that the ISD in ESB has to shoot down those asteroids at all in the first place, as I've often had to point out, indicates very weak (compared to Trek starships anyway) weapons, albeit indirectly.

Why? Because, *if* the weapons were as powerfull on an ISD as this site argues for, and *if* the ISD is yet vulnerable to the much lower threat energies from colliding with those small rocks (which are *also* calculable, though I notice the conspicuous absence of such calculations from this site), then we are faced with the unavoidable logical implication that the ISDs must therefore have very weak shields and hulls. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to destroy those small rocks. Since they do, though, this would therefore *also* mean that their weapons, including their turbolaser weapons simply cannot be as powerfull as has been argued for here on this site as well as on the newsgroup debate threads, in which I have long taken part.

This is because of the conflict created by the duel premises of powerfull weapons and weak shields and hulls. The arguments of this site and threads on newsgroups like ASVS try to establish the first premise. But the visuals from ESB that such arguments rely on, ironically, clearly imply the second premise. Since we cannot reject this second premise, the first one is jeopardised by the its conflict with the second. If we refuse to abandon the first premise, the only other way to resolve said conflict is to say the ISDs must have weak hulls and shields. Otherwise, since lesser energies from low speed impacts with small rocks are so devastating (as ESB visuals clearly show), obviously the supposedly greater energies from turbolaser bolts would destroy capital ships in just one or two hits, or at least cripple them, by smashing whatever part they contact.

However, not only would this choice be unwise for the SW proponents, it would in fact be in conflict with the overall preponderance of the visual evidence from the SW films. Simply put, turbolasers do *not* disable or destroy capital ships such as corvetts or other ISDs in just one or a few hits. So we actually *cannot* take that we out of the dilemma, even if we wanted to. Therefore, the first option becomes logically unavoidable. Turbolasers *cannot* be and simply are not as powerfull as has been asserted on this site and in the newsgroup discussion threads, all calculations and "observations" (well thought out though they are) notwithstanding.

There must then be some flaw in either the observations that the SW proponents have made, or else in the calculation they have made based on them. Given the verifiability of the calculations themselves, I doubt this second area is where the flaw rests. And indeed, it would seem more plausable to suppose that it is the basic observations and resultant assumptions that are in error. This means that, *something* that the SW proponents take themselves to have seen, simply is not so.

It is my contention that, as has occured before (and therefore can be argued from a basis of precident), George Lucas and/or his special effects people simply took too much cinematic liscense with the visual production of the scene being refered to. In other words, those rocks were *not*, in fact vaporized, but merely blown apart, and at slow enough speeds so as *not* to render said fragmentation "a moot point." The special effects crew simply didn't bother to draw in the rock fragments (which would've been just dust particles and pebbles and such), because they didn't want to take the time over what they considered to be a minor detail. Or they may have thought (correctly I would think) that such would not be visible againt the pitch black backdrop of space. In other words, they goofed. It would be no different than when Han Solo spoke to Luke and Ben about having "...made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs," refering to a parsec as a unit of time, when it's actually a unit of distance.

The Rule Of Parsimony, or Rule Of Simplicity (A.K.A. "Occam's Razor,") says that one should take the simplest explanation to be the best one, pending further input. Here, our choices are to deal with the conflict between the dualistic implications from the same scene in ESB, namely, that ISDs definitely have comparatively weak hulls and shields (that is, compared to Trek ships, whose navagational defelctors easily protect them from such small objects at such slow contact speeds, and even at high warp) and yet *supposedly* have such powerfull weapons, that we would then expect to see one-hit kills/neutralizations of capital ships -- which we never do -- or the choice of interpreting the asteroid destruction visuals in ESB with a bit of leeway for the fact that those who created them were not as scientifically astute as those who've since tried to hold them up as evidence of weapons power. Occam's Razor clearly directs us, in this case, to the latter choice. Therefore, that is my conclusion.

The clearly shown weakness of SW ship shields and hulls (compared to Trek ships' shields and hulls) prevents arguing for SW ship weapons power levels that are close to or beyond that of the lesser threats (such as small asteroids) which we've seen do greater damage than said SW ship weapons. Ergo, they are substantially less powerfull than have been argued for by the SW proponents based on ESB visuals, said visuals therefore being less well thought out than they should have been, based on the overall preponderance of evidence (both visual and spoken dialogue) of their performance. Thank you.

User's browser was: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; Hotbar 3.0)::ELNSB50::00008110040003000400024c000000000507000900000000
User's IP was:

Whew! Did you catch all of that? Amazing what you can do with a simple one-horse argument, a whole ton of sophistry, and a blatantly obvious attempt to misappropriate Occam's Razor, eh? Well, if you've figured out anything about my personality by now, you should know that I hate bullshitters, and ladies and gentlemen, this guy is a first-class bullshitter. I'm also the kind of guy who respects honesty before superficial manners, and this guy's artificially polite manner (well-mannered, but it's obvious he didn't even bother to read the relevant portions of my site) rubs me the wrong way right off the bat. I might have ignored him, but people have been telling me for years that they'd like to see Timmy Jones on my trophy wall, so I thought "aw, what the hell" and decided to give him the usual body-slam.


My first rebuttal (April 15, 2002)

His cowardly attempt to hide his rebuttal from me (April 16, 2002)

My Response (April 24, 2002)

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