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I recently made a question about giant mechs. I was criticized heavily for not justifying my answer by not having mechs, as mechs are scientifically implausible.

For example Graham said this.

@NepeneNep If you're changing the laws of physics (or adding a substantial element such as magic) then we do need to know how that works. That is the most fundamental feature of the environment in which the plot happens, and hence it is fundamental to events that can happen to the characters - which amounts to writing your plot, which is out of bounds. More obviously though, no-one can give you a good answer if you don't tell us what those constraints are. You've found fault with all the answers so far - and all those issues come from you not giving us a well-constructed question.

My thoughts was that you're allowed to have absurd premises like mechs being the best financial choice, and that you don't need to justify according to the laws of science every question. What do people think is the right answer?

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    $\begingroup$ “you don't need to justify according to the laws of science every question.” You don’t, but you do need to explain your laws for your world. If you say something impossible is possible in your world, it’s likely to not just cause a change in that one thing, but to impact many thing, and therefore impact answers: $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't claim anything was impossible there, I noted that something was possible (useful giant mechs) and was told off for including such there. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ “If you say something impossible is possible in your world,” you said something impossible (giant mechs) is possible. Sorry if my wording was confusing $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Related Meta Question: Real Life cannot be an overriding limitation on any question unless specifically requested $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 7:52

2 Answers 2

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You Don't, of Course

This is not even a question of "science"! All those comments about covid and antimatter and the efficacy of mechs all miss the point that history teaches in abundance! This is purely a question of societal perspective and spiritual & material orientation. No "hard science" and no technological considerations are even being entertained.

The only point about your question that I'd like to address specifically is that your assumption that, in real life politics, governments prefer focusing on the now rather than the future, belies an extremely modern and extremely Euro-American mindset. Specifically with the advent of Socialism (cradle to grave welfare, government ordering of individual life) & Materialism (glut of resources, consumerism), people in the occident have come to be focused on the present and on satisfying only present desires.

Historically, this is not what governments have focused on. Historically, governments have, in fact, focused on building and fuelling actual mechas and they've done this successfully all around the world while still balancing military campaigns and expansionist desires and even tending, to some extent, to more mundane social programmes.

Conclusion: As far as I can tell, you're not even asking a science question, so there is no reason to justify your mechas with descriptions of science or technology available.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you think of L.Dutch's reasoning that real world reasons make mechas impossible, and therefore I need to justify why mechas exist? Should it be a formal position of the mods that mech production is impossible as a hard science matter? $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep --- Generally speaking, I agree with L. Dutch more often than I disagree with him. In this specific instance, I don't agree: I don't agree with the premise that we are supposed to follow real world premises absent specific premises in the query. In my opinion, it's enough to presume that when the querent speaks of gargantuan mechas that battle pantagruelian monsters, the fictional world is sufficiently different that, in fact, assuming only real world premises would yield poor answers. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) That said, while I stand by that perspective, I do agree with L. Dutch that, generally speaking, the burden of describing key factors of a world lies with the querent. That said, I don't agree that it necessarily follows that you had to delve into the underlying physics & chemistry & technological advances that allowed mobile mechas to exist in the first place. It's a demand for a irrelevancy. The reason for that, I still hold, and only you can tell me if I'm right, is that your query is not about mechas per se, not about physics, chemistry or technology. It's a social query. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ The primary focus was, yes, the social factors behind people funding a large social welfare project that took centuries, although in the story I am writing, the welfare project is giant mechas of course. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep --- Of course, I understand that they build gigantic mechas. Humans have been building gigantic mechas for thousands of years, too. We just don't call them 'mechas'. We call them 'pyramids', 'cathedrals', 'terra cotta armies', 'colossusses' and the like. Apart from the super science and high technology required for your mechas, real mechas have the same effect of costing a lot of money and resources over a period of hundreds of years, and all the while, countries that build them still have to do all the things countries normally do. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) That's where I think folks, especially in comments, but also in answers, have rather missed the point. You've already established that mechas exist in your world. As a respondent, I'd take that as a fact to work with, not a matter of irrealia that I have to fight against. Rather than worry about science & tech, I'd look at society and culture. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 23:19
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You were asking

How do you ensure that you can do a public service project that takes centuries and drains a huge amount of national resources, labour and time without it being stopped by any opportunistic people?

Such a question can be answered only based on logical reasoning out of certain premises. If you don't explain these premises which apply to your system, then it follows that we are supposed to follow real world ones, and real world ones makes mecha impossible.

That very element making mecha possible in your world might be of paramount importance to answer your question, but the burden is on you to explain it. We cannot read your mind.

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    $\begingroup$ So, should we be questioning any question which has some degree of implausibility? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/211056/… like your question, where you posited the existence of complex life immortals, but didn't explain the premise to how they became immortal? What sort of criteria should we use to judge whether to question the scientific plausibility of a question? Also, what do you think of Elemtilas's perspective, that mech production wouldn't be a matter of hard science? $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Is it a formal mod position for worldbuilding that mechas are impossible, and any question involving them needs to justify their existence? What reason do you have for saying mechas are impossible? $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 22:24

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