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Thread: Alternate History Forum?

  1. #1
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    Default Alternate History Forum?

    Gentlemen,

    As the OP who apparently caused a resurgence of this thread I must say I have been very impressed with the contributions you have made! Indeed, I have learned a lot from you especially regarding the complexities that my "what if" scenario entailed. And that is precisely why I entertained the question. I will go into that a little more in just a second.

    You know, I came here in my old age as a retired academic, as a casual visitor, not at all a student of WW2 history, merely driven by a certain nostalgia in my retirement to revisit, first of all, something relating to my dad's service in WW2, but, also, something of the time I spent in the Marines before I left to go into academics. Way back in the late fifties! I enjoyed recapturing a little of that provoked by what I have been able to read here on your forum.

    But after my latest casual contribution I feel I need to address some of the remarks Nickdfresh made. For they left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Perhaps not so important, at the personal level, is his implication regarding people who often post on Germany's miracle weapons that they have an agenda as fanboys of the Nazis. Still, that leaves open the possibility as far as Nickdfresh is concerned that such is my agenda. At least I was not told otherwise.

    The personal issue for me is not nearly as important as the truly substantial and intellectual issue involved in our ability as human beings to contemplate counterfactual assumptions or conditions, that is, the "what if" scenario.

    And it is here that you, Nickdfresh, enter the discussion, right after I was wondering about the German jets and what might have happened had they been produced earlier, with your observation that such counterfactual assumptions are largely useless, indeed, you further say they are pointless. And further, you claim, such wonder weapons are often proposed by, I guess, neo-nazis.

    But, Nickdfresh, besides going on yourself to expound you own version of what might have happened if we consider the counterfactual, thereby assuming there must be some point to it in spite of what you said, I must reinforce the importance of counterfactuals since they are the life blood of human understanding and imagination. We use them all the time in nearly all of our evaluations and reasonings and even our creations.

    That counterfactuals infiltrate all levels of our lives can be made vivid if we suppose you are married, then perhaps your wife said this morning, "Nick, if you had been sober, you would not have gotten into all that trouble," or, "Nick, if you hadn't failed to use your intelligence, you wouldn't have made that mistake." We could give thousands of such examples.

    Or imagine being told by your superior officer, "Nick, were you to have placed your machine guns properly, you could have held off the enemy."

    In all these examples, the counterfactuals bring to light a connection between events and states of affairs, such that we see that had the counterfactual been true, then the consequences may have been different.

    Lastly, the counterfactual serves in the sciences to point to law-like connections between events and states in a sort of ideal way in that we can claim that had not a certain condition been met then certain other things would not have happened, and this of necessity ( a causal law-like necessity in the sciences). Imagine the implications of this if history is a science as many philosophers of history, especially during the 50s, understood it. Of course, they were shown to be wrong since nobody can come up with law-like connections at the historical level.

    But, Nickdfresh, I assume you already know all this since you went on to engage in the "what if" thought experiment in spite of claiming it is largely useless. But why were you engaging in a largely futile enterprise by your own admission?

    The problem I have with your opinions on the matter is this. In spite of hearing from you many interesting details of history, I asked myself if I should take your final conclusion of the "what if" scenario, ie, nothing would really have been different regarding the outcome, to be skewed and colored by your over eagerness to immediately put every Nazi fanboy in their place? Could you have selected just those facts that would lead you to your desired conclusion? Would not, then, your conclusions regarding the "what if" scenario merely reflect your eagerness to deflate lingering Nazis? Or, at least, cause that suspicion?

    I can say, for my part at least, I didn't feel those with opposing views regarding the "what if" were Nazi fanboys. In other words, their views seemed more tempered by the intellectual question at hand than say your own views animated as they were with your enthusiasm to defeat the Nazis all over again. I do grant, however, that as a moderator you have to be alert to such things.

    Perhaps the little objectivity we humans can obtain in this life, if we can obtain it at all, is put in greater jeopardy by you, at least on this question? Why not let the "what if" scenario work itself out, meander around through the almost limitless knowledge all of you bring to these questions. Don't suppress our counterfactual wonderment with your suspicions. Wouldn't that be better?

    These are opening lines from the original Spiegel article I mentioned at the beginning.

    "At the very end of World War II, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler still hoped that state-of-the-art technology could turn the tide in his favor. One of those projects, the Messerschmitt jet fighter, found a home in a remote corner of eastern Germany. But it was too late."

    So I merely pondered, what if such technology had come much earlier?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Alternate History Forum?

    I am splitting this off and starting another thread though in Site Feedback forum...

    Quote Originally Posted by jimb1940 View Post
    Gentlemen,

    As the OP who apparently caused a resurgence of this thread I must say I have been very impressed with the contributions you have made! Indeed, I have learned a lot from you especially regarding the complexities that my "what if" scenario entailed. And that is precisely why I entertained the question. I will go into that a little more in just a second.

    You know, I came here in my old age as a retired academic, as a casual visitor, not at all a student of WW2 history, merely driven by a certain nostalgia in my retirement to revisit, first of all, something relating to my dad's service in WW2, but, also, something of the time I spent in the Marines before I left to go into academics. Way back in the late fifties! I enjoyed recapturing a little of that provoked by what I have been able to read here on your forum.

    But after my latest casual contribution I feel I need to address some of the remarks Nickdfresh made. For they left a bad taste in my mouth.
    Which were? Specifically...

    Um, if you're an ex-academic, then you are a very disappointing one I'm afraid. Because you haven't posted nor quoted ONE specific thing I've actually said and have simply rewrote and reposted your interpretations of them because somehow you are offended by comments that I never even directed towards you. In doing so, you have completely twisted everything I've said and have taken it well out of a very specific context. You have resorted to strawman arguments, which is pretty pathetic. If you're going to call me out, at least call me out on a specific statement....

    But don't worry, I won't do you this disservice that you've done to me. And shall take on your specific complaints one-by-one.

    Perhaps not so important, at the personal level, is his implication regarding people who often post on Germany's miracle weapons that they have an agenda as fanboys of the Nazis. Still, that leaves open the possibility as far as Nickdfresh is concerned that such is my agenda. At least I was not told otherwise.
    That's absolutely NOT what I've said. Firstly, I never implied that the said poster, ubc, was a "Nazi" "fanboy." What I implied was that he was a "faboi" of the idea and captivated by the allure of, the "super-weapons" nostalgia that many people seem fixated on on many a website. I never implied that he was a "Nazi" as I can indeed find several statements he made that were clearly anti-Hitler and I never accused him in anyway of being a fascist sympathizer or the like..

    The personal issue for me is not nearly as important as the truly substantial and intellectual issue involved in our ability as human beings to contemplate counterfactual assumptions or conditions, that is, the "what if" scenario.
    I never said you couldn't make a "what-if" scenario. The problem that I have is that there needs to be some sort of line between speculative threads that often exaggerate the importance and effectiveness of the supposedly superior German weaponry without really examining the contexts in which, and why, it was effective. There needs to be a clear delineation between the factual and the speculative, and that line was blurred here...

    The problem I had with the given poster was that he kept throwing out objections as to why it was possible for the Germans to have won with some rationales that were patently absurd (i.e. the false choice between U-boats and Swallows). But I must say I enjoyed the debate and that is why I did not originally split off this into a separate "What-if the Luftwaffe had more Me262s" thread. But what would have been the point?

    And it is here that you, Nickdfresh, enter the discussion, right after I was wondering about the German jets and what might have happened had they been produced earlier...
    I never even posted to, nor acknowledged, your post. But to answer your questions:

    a.) they couldn't have been deployed much earlier than they were since they only first flew in the middle of 1942

    b.) it was too late no matter what they did as Germany was facing a massive, industrialized giant in the United States coupled with British ingenuity. They were also facing the boundless resources and insurmountable numbers of the USSR...

    ...with your observation that such counterfactual assumptions are largely useless, indeed, you further say they are pointless. And further, you claim, such wonder weapons are often proposed by, I guess, neo-nazis.
    Oh please!

    By all means, post one "counterfactual assumption." I never claim that "wonder weapons are often proposed by...neo-nazis."

    I thought that "academics" were to critically think using evidences to advance their claims. When you are done rewriting my actual posts - please let me know...

    But, Nickdfresh, besides going on yourself to expound you own version of what might have happened if we consider the counterfactual, thereby assuming there must be some point to it in spite of what you said, I must reinforce the importance of counterfactuals since they are the life blood of human understanding and imagination. We use them all the time in nearly all of our evaluations and reasonings and even our creations.
    Fine. But it was the wrong thread for it. This isn't a creative thinking exercise, it is a specific information thread on a very specific warplane....

    Find another place for your thought experiments flawed though they may be...

    That counterfactuals infiltrate all levels of our lives can be made vivid if we suppose you are married, then perhaps your wife said this morning, "Nick, if you had been sober, you would not have gotten into all that trouble," or, "Nick, if you hadn't failed to use your intelligence, you wouldn't have made that mistake." We could give thousands of such examples.
    Or like: "if you actually used facts or quoted a specific post, and your objections to it, rather than resorting to strawman arguments, blanket statements, and personal attacks --maybe I would know what the **** you were talking about?"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Alternate History Forum?

    Or imagine being told by your superior officer, "Nick, were you to have placed your machine guns properly, you could have held off the enemy."
    You're confusing "counterfactual" with "hindsight," or "Monday-morning-quarterbacking" for us Americans. Whichever you prefer...

    In all these examples, the counterfactuals bring to light a connection between events and states of affairs, such that we see that had the counterfactual been true, then the consequences may have been different.

    Lastly, the counterfactual serves in the sciences to point to law-like connections between events and states in a sort of ideal way in that we can claim that had not a certain condition been met then certain other things would not have happened, and this of necessity ( a causal law-like necessity in the sciences). Imagine the implications of this if history is a science as many philosophers of history, especially during the 50s, understood it. Of course, they were shown to be wrong since nobody can come up with law-like connections at the historical level.

    But, Nickdfresh, I assume you already know all this since you went on to engage in the "what if" thought experiment in spite of claiming it is largely useless. But why were you engaging in a largely futile enterprise by your own admission?
    What I said was conducting a what-if thought experiment in this thread was useless as it is a historical thread dealing with facts as much as possible - and speculations as little as possible, ideally.

    You were and are welcome to start a "what-if" thread. But long ago, it was decided that this forum would not have such a forum as other message boards such as armchairgeneral.com do. You are most welcome to visit such forums. However, in my brief tenure there, I noticed that there too such what-if speculations were frowned upon in threads dealing with specific topics and regarded little more than as a "thread-jack" in internet speak...

    The problem I have with your opinions on the matter is this. In spite of hearing from you many interesting details of history, I asked myself if I should take your final conclusion of the "what if" scenario, ie, nothing would really have been different regarding the outcome, to be skewed and colored by your over eagerness to immediately put every Nazi fanboy in their place? Could you have selected just those facts that would lead you to your desired conclusion? Would not, then, your conclusions regarding the "what if" scenario merely reflect your eagerness to deflate lingering Nazis? Or, at least, cause that suspicion?
    The "facts" that led me to my conclusion were largely borne out of actual history if you'd like to actually read about it. The "fact" is that the Me262 wasn't any factor and Allied fighters such as the P-51 have a slightly greater kill ratio that is a little better than even. I've never eschewed "what-if" scenarios altogether - just the selective use of facts and a narrow view of self selected histories. But this argument is sort of becoming like the great chasm between science and religion, of observation and belief...

    But feel free to illustrate how conjecture, speculation, half-truths, and even out right fabrications masked as fact born of either ignorance or intentional deceit contributes to a wider understanding of history.

    I await your response with baited breath...

    I can say, for my part at least, I didn't feel those with opposing views regarding the "what if" were Nazi fanboys.
    I never ****ing used the term "Nazi fanboys." So, perhaps you can stop repeating that lie?

    In other words, their views seemed more tempered by the intellectual question at hand than say your own views animated as they were with your enthusiasm to defeat the Nazis all over again. I do grant, however, that as a moderator you have to be alert to such things.
    "intellectual question?" You have a rather high opinion of your posts. It's really nothing groundbreaking and has been discussed to death on the web -often using faulty information and hyperbole (as it was here IMO). But I guess according to you we should let patently silly statements and examine every seemingly plausible outcome in every thread What I attempted to do was actually play skeptic to our devil's advocate. Wouldn't you agree that skepticism, not blind acceptance, is the foundation of the "age of reason?"

    This had nothing to do so much with a "what-if" as much as it had to do with a: "well, if only they had done this, then this result would have been realized"....

    Perhaps the little objectivity we humans can obtain in this life, if we can obtain it at all, is put in greater jeopardy by you, at least on this question? Why not let the "what if" scenario work itself out, meander around through the almost limitless knowledge all of you bring to these questions. Don't suppress our counterfactual wonderment with your suspicions. Wouldn't that be better?

    These are opening lines from the original Spiegel article I mentioned at the beginning.

    "At the very end of World War II, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler still hoped that state-of-the-art technology could turn the tide in his favor. One of those projects, the Messerschmitt jet fighter, found a home in a remote corner of eastern Germany. But it was too late."

    So I merely pondered, what if such technology had come much earlier?
    Who made a German news magazine the authority on anything? They're just reflecting and echoing the wider sensationalism in various media such as the History Channel's "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe" by often presenting faulty information and exaggeration and misrepresenting the actual circumstances of what actually happened to increase viewer interest (although I haven't read the actual article) You're "counterfactual wonderment" is little more than the mongering of charlatan notions - that it was at all possible for Hitler to have saved his Reich as the die was cast when he took on nations several times his size and with a far more boundless access to natural and manpower resources. The problem is that many people, many who certainly are not Nazis and who may actually hate Hitler and the idea of him, like to pretend that somehow the German defeat was all Hitler's fault. Their thoughts mirror those of the German generals that may have even detested Hitler and National Socialism, but carried out his orders with little or no questioning. They attempt to absolve themselves of part in the destructions in the German nation --and her victims-- during WWII. The whole premise of "WWII German fanboism" is that it rests on almost an non-ideological worship of the underdog possessing a greater technology along with really cool uniforms and weapons against a more pedestrian enemy in much greater numbers. It's a certain fascination that contravenes, or at least misrepresents, reality, gorifies what is inglorious, and is often not supported by what actually took place during the war. It seems often that the mythologies have replaced fact in an almost comicbook-like revisionist history. Those that actually suffered the horrors of the real one might find that slightly offensive if not bewildering...

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