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I was very excited about this site when it first came up, and tried my best to participate with questions and answers.

This website has failed.

It is not MA.SE's fault.

It is our fault. We as human beings are not developed enough to grow past the ego involved in being right. We as human beings have decided "Scientific method or bust", thus discarding centuries of eastern holistic wisdom because "the words aren't good enough". So, because we don't understand it, we discard it.

This website has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of limiting one's thoughts. It is not a website that promotes growth.

MA.SE should be closed.

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    I'm not sure I understand your reasoning here. Can you elaborate on why exactly you think MA.SE should be closed?
    – THelper
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 9:49
  • As someone who tries to walk the fine line between them, my two cents: Western and Chinese cultures approach "useful knowledge" differently. Western cultures seek ideas which could hurt greatly if wrong, but are easily falsified - they rely on the slow march of progress to accumulate "good." Chinese philosophy seek ideas which "do no harm, but are hard to prove, and let time sort them out - they rely on the slow march of progress to accumulate "true." Nearly all Chinese beliefs are "unprovable" because they were never intended to be proven.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 3:11

4 Answers 4

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The website provides a venue for people to ask questions and people to answer questions regarding martial arts.

That seems to be happening just fine. No failure there.

Nothing states whether the most popular answers are true, or the most popular questions are good questions. Nothing forces querants to have to read or consider any answer that doesn't already fit their established world view.

It seems a little egotistical to demand the whole site shut down because the answers you like aren't the popular one.

If you want to find a site which will reaffirm your ideas about Qi - there's plenty of forums, plenty of communities around teachers who have books and DVDs and specific teachings.

I've spent a lot of years of my life pursuing traditional Chinese arts, as someone who is diasporan Chinese, it's not that this site has tossed away "thousands of years of Eastern wisdom", it's that a lot of our home cultures have scattered a lot of what was good between political persecution, destabilization and allowing hucksters to run roughshod over everything.

I've met a few folks who have done things which I can't explain with all the science I've studied, however - some of them freely admit they're not sure how some things worked, and they're generally not out there trying to sell books or convert everyone. Lumping in the people who specialize in parlor tricks like "Rub your eyes! Do you see lights? It's Qiiiii!" is a disservice and unethical.

A lot of us who are dismissing some of the claims are doing so because we've spent years trying many of these methods with a variety of folks.

And some of the effects we've gotten, between a few folks aren't consistently replicable. "I don't know why I can hold your neck and tell your ankle has been twisted years ago. I don't know why 3 out of 10 of us can do it and the others can't." There's not much of an answer to give when you say "Here's this anecdotal piece of evidence from an internet stranger that I can't prove to you, can't explain why it works, and I can't guarantee will work for you, good luck!"

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether anyone else believes it or not - it's a question of what you, personally can do with it. The best you can really get on a general internet Q&A site is recommendations towards books, sites, or schools to check out.

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  • That is a fair answer. However, saying that I want it closed because "the answers I like aren't the popular ones" is essentially throwing my arguments of weak arguments back at me, which I'm not sure is a very valuable point (I don't think that's the main reason behind my suggesting we should shut this down). Certainly, if a majority finds that this is valuable, then this website should stay up.
    – Anon
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 1:15
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This website has failed. It is not MA.SE's fault. It is our fault.

You are right and wrong, but not in the ways that you think.

You are right about egos - they abound in the martial arts world, and it was one of the immediate dangers the site faced when it started, it had the potential to turn the site into a circus. However they have mostly stayed in check, which is great.

You are wrong about the site failing, it is doing quite nicely. In general the subject matter has been of reasonable quality with very little off topic nonsense.

So where is the failure? It's mostly in people's expectations when they get here - they fail to grasp that it is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. This means we endeavour to base all answers on evidence rather than anecdote, and the aim is to have a single "answer" (although its common that many answers can be completely correct in different ways).

Scientific method or bust...

Stack Exchange started with the "trinity": Stack Overflow, Server Fault and Super User. The rest of the network grew from there. The initial trinity are all quite quantifiable and provable, and this is what the site design grew around. But once other sites started to be spun off people realised that not all subjects were quite as concrete as those three, therefore a certain amount of tolerance needs to be exercised on a site by site basis.

It is the community that sets that tolerance level, it is the community that determines what is acceptable and what isn't - this is done via voting, closing, and to a lesser degree commenting.

The critical thing to remember is that the overall aim of the network is to be a high quality repository of knowledge (not opinion or general chatter).

If you think the community is moving in the wrong direction, then it is important that you contribute and exercise your right to input. There will always be people who are not 100% satisfied with the direction, and the community is a collective so no one person has any right to dictate things. But as alluded to by Bankuei, provable facts and figures will always trump unvalidated or unprovable opinion/anecdotes from sources that are unknown or of unquantifiable reliability.

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  • The Q&A argument is a very tricky one for the SE's that are in beta. All three of the beta SE's I visit frequently are frantically trying to find a balance between "we only allow Q&A" and "we don't want to have to close 80% of questions because they don't fit the format." Interestingly, in the particular case of Qi, the community is actively preventing the storage of high quality knowledge. There are words and approaches that are considered "good" for helping people who are studying Chinese martial arts, but all of them involve wordings that are attacked here, so we just don't use them.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 3:08
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I agree that there is a frustrating problem with the site: There is a subgroup who not only consider their opinion to be right, but also actively crush any attempt for the minority to come to some semblance of an agreement on basic terminology within SE. With such an agreement, some peace with that subgroup might be brokered, but we are never given such a chance.

I tend to compare this site to the Philosophy SE. Philosophy SE faces the same issue as martial arts (there is a great deal of desire to debate topics within the confines of a particular belief structure). However, while Philosophy has a tendency to stick to a "live and let live" policy, we on this forum have not figured out our equivalent to that policy.

I do find it interesting that this tendency to loudly destroy any attempt at a conversation is restricted to the Chinese arts (Kung fu, Tai Chi, Xingyi Bauguazhang, etc). I've enjoyed the comparative analyses on other martial arts. However, there is something about the terminology and approaches taken in the Chinese martial arts that is simply foreign. It's simply too difficult to use the correct terminology without someone arguing that that terminology is meaningless.

I think the real issue is that those who loudly destroy conversations truly believe they are helping. I have no illusion that they are trying to be rude or mean. They honestly believe the most valuable answer for a google-searcher to come across is a negative one. Short of enacting a rule to muzzle such talk (which I do not recommend), I'm not sure how to stop someone from trying to help, and given that my opinion is just that - my opinion - I'm not entirely confident that my definition of "help" is the only valid one for MA SE.

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Anyone is more than welcome to believe whatever they wish and state their opinion as such. I will defend their right to do so whether or not I agree with said opinion. This site would benefit from experts on eastern martial arts philosophy, holistic or not.

However, anyone trying to pass their believes as facts is at best an intellectual fraud. Furthermore, if one is asking for proof to validate their believes, then the scientific method is it and has been immensely successful.

This site, and the whole stack exchange network, are based off facts. It is all about growing your understanding of the world around you. In that respect, this site has been very successful indeed.

A warning: Just because something is old, does not mean it is worthwhile. It could be worthwhile. It could be worthless. Being "old" does not give it credence. Thus "centuries of eastern holistic wisdom" might be as worthless as "centuries of western holistic wisdom". As an example, western holistic wisdom dictated that diseases were caused by humours, something which we now know to be utterly ineffective at treating diseases.

Finally, I shall leave you with Tim Minchin's Storm.

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  • Seems like we're just playing around the No True Scotsman argument.
    – Anon
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 17:01
  • I assume you are talking about the centuries of holistic wisdom. If so, you appear to have misunderstood my point. I just gave a warning that just because something is old, does not mean it is worthwhile. It could be worthwhile. It could be worthless. Being "old" does not give it credence. Answer edited for clarity. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 6:41
  • Interestingly, I had a huge debate on Philosophy SE as to definitions of terms like "facts" "proof" and "the scientific method." It turns out the topic is far more nuanced than we in western culture are lead to believe. I wholly agree with your statement that "the scientific method has been immensely successful." However, I find many take that step further, claiming the scientific is the only valid approach. That is the philosophical equivalent of overextending, and it causes just as many problems in philosophy as it does in the ring.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 3:04

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