Ok - let's see if we can rectify this situation.
For those of you who may have been offended by my choice of words & tersness, please accept my full & sincere apology. I indeed "know better" and made a common mistake by making an assumption (we all know what Assume often does) that the focus would fall on the words and not the manner of presentation. Shortcuts are always dangerous....
To quote some of what I've shared in some private conversations.................
"Steering conversations. Yes, glad you picked up on that. But not in the beginning ?
If you've ever had much experience in group worksessions etc one of the things you learn real early on is that without some moderating element (usually a person), any topic can VERY easily drift, sometimes far. You often end up in a totally different place, on a totally different topic and often accomplish nothing
At best you have to back up and start all over again unless you are willing to abandon the topic entirely in lieu of somewhere else you have ended up that seems more promising. That's rarely the case in practice, but sometimes on really broad topics it's worth the risk to hang on for awhile and see where it goes. I won't go into here why I chose to try to reign it in early but suffice to say that the "direction" Ceoli wanted to go was going to end us up FAR away from where we started, and the topic being pretty narrow as opposed to broad really didn't call for that.
I think if you go back and reread you see that I tried to say ALL of that in a sentence or two - leaving too much open to individual understanding & interpretation. My bad. Seldom get away with that (shortcuts).
In any case, once the "reactions" started it was a lost cause at that point and 2/3 (or more) of the postings were going to end up in all this personal sniping and point/counterpoint about "my" presentation and little or nothing to do with the topic at hand. This kind of stuff discourages readers and therefore devalues the forum in general."
A note here to one of the Moderators who weighed in on their feelings about any attempts of a thread poster (OP) to attempt to "moderate" a thread in an way. Point taken. We may have to agree to disagree on that one, but will respect the position you've been granted and refrain from trying to keep things running in a consistent direction. Let it go where it will. I do however stand firmly on my position (from extensive experience) that such discussions seldom reach their potential.
So...........in short.........(is this possible?)
The original thread was stated from the beginning as coming from personal observations. Nothing more - nothing less. The question was raised that IF (notice the emphasis on IF) there was indeed any pattern starting to emerge here - what might that mean and should we be concerned about it ?
One poster obviously followed that well and commented about the possibility of "local bias" or something of that nature. I didn't disagree with that to a degree, as my experiences in this area have largely been limited to the US and a minor amount of European friends/contacts.
In trying to explain questions that came up I may have also been guilty of throwing out some overly broad information that got interpreted as "statistical" ! Those comments were drawn from a lot of years of study and personal experience & conversations. The were never intended to be interpreted as anything else. Do I recall exactly the sources that led to some of those "big picture" statements. Hell no !! But I'll stand by them as accurate, (as accurate as any broad, big picture statement ever is) and there's no doubt in my mind than anyone with similar background holds the same or similar conclusions and that the supporting data IS out there for those who would be inclined to be concerned enough to do the investigation. The "picture" was painted from reading thousands (maybe 10s of thousands?) of essays, books, research papers, Internet articles etc and equally as many or more personal conversations.
At least that's how I always approach such issues. If I question some assumption someone has, and it's (the ramifications) important to me, I'll do my own independent investigation. I don't just put my hands on my hips and scream "Prove It!". But - that's just me. I had neither the time nor desire for turning what was supposed to be a general question of "What IF this were the case?" into some scientific study that would bore most and discourage others from following along. Does this help explain anything ? I sincerely hope so.
If a couple of people approach me and comment that they seem to be noticing a lot of the trees along a particular highway yellowing & dying during what should be their peak growing season, I'm going to go look for myself, or at MINIMUM mention to my circle of friends that someone else claimed to observe it - and is this something we should check out ? Because the ramifications, if true, would concern me greatly !
And that, friends, was the spirit in which the original thread was begun.......
So for those feeling some need for an "apology" - I hope this suffices. I do take full responsibility for my possible bad choice of wording in an attempt to be brief and stay focused, and as I mentioned before - shortcuts frequently come back to haunt you.