This is Part 2 of an article series. You can find Part 1 here: http://11thcompany.blogspot.com/2012/12/read-as-wrong-origins-of-bizzaro-40k.html
Introduction and Recap:
To recap, in part 1 of this series, I closed by stating that this article series intends to move forward with the notion that there is a BETTER way to negotiate rules disputes other than “Read as Written”, that “Read as Written” (RaW) as a sole rules arbitration tool produces the same “Bizzaro 40K’ that gets produced when rules arbitration takes place without applying the RaW philosophy. Moreover, part 1 also sought to introduce the idea that the RaW banner has become a sort of cult-like mentality which I refer to as the “Church of RaW”, to which many people within our community flock to and follow. Mostly, this is because the promises of the Church are quite alluring as it promises a method of rules arbitration which is logical, results in absolute truths, and disregards our human nature’s incessant ability to interject our personal feelings into arguments. However, the siren’s call that is these idealistic principles has some very serious drawbacks of which I believe our community is growing to ignore.
Ultimately, where I will end up with these essays is not as a denial as to the usefulness of the philosophy of RaW. Rather, what I am seeking to do is to help provide the community with the thoughts that perhaps RaW is not the ONLY answer but rather a TOOL that when combined with all the other myriad tools out there, HELPS to CORRECTLY resolve rules disputes. I will contend that using RaW as anything other than one tool out of a tool box ultimately leads to INCORRECT rules resolutions, the same INCORRECT rules resolutions that a follower of the Church accuses anyone who is not a member of the Church of arriving at by any other methodology.
What is Correct?
If I really wanted to, I could devolve this essay at this point into a riotous romp through thousands of years of philosophy about “the Universe”, “Universal Truth”, “human perspective”, and close out with a ton of links to thousands of philosophical essays covering this topic. We could all sit around, toke on a hookah, talk about our small part in such a massive Universe, and ultimately resolve nothing except getting high while stroking our egos. (Hell, we could get really interesting, hit some acid, and end the night actually thinking we’ve solved the Universe’s greatest mysteries by tapping into the stream of unconscious energy and reading each other’s minds. Seen this happen, so true story, bro. :) )
Fortunately, though, I don’t have to go there! Our beloved gaming system has definable boundaries and actual answers to the mysteries that it manufactures, and even better, solely because our game system is manufactured, that means our brains can actually wrap themselves around the concepts it presents. Sweet!
So, if we actually do have correct answers, then why are there so many rules arguments? Where are these correct answers when I’m sitting at a game table trying to explain to some very emotional competitor that actually, a Flying Monstrous Creature not being grounded after it takes a grounded test is wrong even though the Rulebook doesn’t explicitly state that, is neither “Read as Written” nor correct. (See what I did there? Used a RaW argument that was proven WRONG! Note the Bizzaro 40K that this rules issue created.)
One of the major tenets of the RaW philosophy is that if you read the words of the rules exactly as they are written that you will arrive at the only possible, logical conclusion. If this were not true then the Church of RaW would be forced to acquiesce that perhaps correct answers to rules questions can be found by some other means than just reading words.
Although I agree that this line of thinking is very alluring, there’s this BIG problem that we know for an undeniable FACT that RaW doesn’t always produce correct answers. What encompassing proof by contradiction is this that is so absolutely powerful?
The GW FAQs.
See, correct answers in the 40K Universe don’t come from logical proofs. They don’t derive themselves out of undeniable, mathematical certainty. They come from the gaming company that wrote the game. GW is the supreme court of our game. What they say is the correct answer regardless of if what they say is logically ascertainable from the Rulebook or not.
This is what CORRECT is.
Ultimately, as a TO and podcaster, when I get asked a rules question, I’m not interested in providing WRONG answers. I’m interested in providing RIGHT answers. RIGHT answers are those that when the rubber meets the road that the gaming company will agree with me on., not those that I can obscure in a drawn out proof misquoting or cherry picking sentences and words.
This is very important because it introduces the notion that what we should be seeking is to actually find those CORRECT answers, not logical proofs of INCORRECT ones. And this leads to our next topic.
One thing that is immediately obvious about our set of CORRECT answers is that our governing body doesn’t always rule in favor of the direction that the “Read as Written” results in. Fundamentally, this should be all you need at this point to out of hand reject RaW as a rules governing philosophy, and I could end this essay where it stands. However, as stated, that’s not my goal nor intent. What I want to express is that RaW is IMPORTANT but only because RaW is the first baby steps into a much broader area, known as Reading Comprehension.
I LOL’ed when I read this: (WIKIPedia on reading Comprehension)
“Reading comprehension is defined as the level of understanding of a text/message. This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text/message. .”Woah! “the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text/message?” Hold the phone! Are you trying to tell me that there is meaning to some text besides what is actually written on the paper? That true comprehension of what you read doesn’t just involve the words on the paper but also knowledge outside the paper?
“That Which Isn’t Written.”
I recall a time in my life where I HATED analogies. I could write an essay on that topic. You know, those statements on the SAT that read something like: “this is to this as that is to _______”. And you were expected to come up with an answer to this. Absurd! Preposterous! You can’t prove a result to this bogus question. There’s nothing factual here. There is nothing but assumptions based on what you “feel like” the common ground it.
I loved history when I was in school in no small part to my Dad being a history teacher. I specifically remember a teacher I had junior year who would use standardized tests at the end of each chapter in our book. I was a smart-ass teenager like everyone else, and I remember several times, thinking I was funny and not realizing that I was just being a jack-ass (see statement about nerd culture above), that I would go up to her in the middle of tests and express to her that although I knew the answer to Question #36 was “A”, that arguably “C” could potentially be correct as the question itself was ambiguous due to wording.
And even then, I couldn’t admit it to myself that if it was so ambiguous, provably so, why did I know for certain that “A” was the correct answer even though by logical proof it wasn’t?
Because there are forces at work which drive CORRECT answers which aren’t necessarily WRITTEN DOWN in the text you are reading. “That which isn’t written” is exactly what English professors are trying to beat into your skull with all that jazz about context, bias, history, and a load of other jargon that I of course memorized (math geeks have zero trouble memorizing and regurgitating) but not actually internalized (because it’s tripe and unprovable to begin with.
Wouldn’t you know? Just because you can argue ambiguity in an analogy doesn’t mean that the analogy has no CORRECT answer? All that means is that you flatly just don’t perceive the answer. It’s not ambiguous at all if the guy that scored an 800 on the English portion of the SAT blew through it. You just suck at reading comprehension (and probably at vocabulary which is a big contributor, but I digress).
Think about it. The lauded authors of history didn’t get that way because “they wrote good words”. You don’t MOVE people emotionally with text. You move them when they comprehend what you are really trying to say.
And what I’m really trying to say is that it is fundamentally obvious with any amount of reading comprehension that our governing body, the body which produces the CORRECT answers, doesn’t just use words to find them, it uses comprehension of the text to produce them.
“That which isn’t written” NOT EQUAL TO “Read as Written”.
More to come.