The Instigator
Pro (for)
14 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
28 Points

On balance, Mafia is a waste of time

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 1/2/2015 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 14,069 times Debate No: 67694
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (400)
Votes (6)




On balance, Mafia is a waste of time

So, in an overall sense (on balance), Mafia is a waste of time.

This debate will be voted upon by judges.

I am really excited to say that my opponent here will be Bluesteel, arguably the best debater on this site. If I can show you that Mafia is a waste of time against him, I daresay that I could against anyone on this site.

Original thread: Mafia is a waste of time:


- Why debates are a waste of time:

- Why arguing is a waste of time:

- Why breathing is a waste of time:

- Why Rational Madman is a waste of time:

- Posting to prove points is a waste of time:

- Why masturbating on the bus is a waste of time:

I'm going to show all these people who made fun of me that I have a really good argument. Even if I lose, I will not be laughed at in the forums. At least I will try my best to argue what I think is right, and at least I have the courage to take on some of the best debaters on DDO, rather than being a Forum Warrior where nothing really matters.

Round Rules

First round acceptance

No new arguments or sources in the last round


Mafia – A popular forum game that is found on DDO

Waste - an action or use that results in the unnecessary loss of something valuable (

Time – the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues (



I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks, Bluesteel.

P1: What can Mafia do for you?

Mafia involves making strategic forum posts at regular to infrequent intervals, depending on the player and state of the game. This is a way to socially interact, but there is no physical presence. It is a way to learn about human behaviour, but there are alternatives. It is a way to relax, but there are alternatives.

P2: Your life is limited

If you were born in 2009, the worldwide expected a lifespan was 70.7 years [1]. The limited lifespan of humans is important to note because it renders our choices as to how we spend our time important, due to not having an unlimited amount of time. Add to the physical constraints ( gravity, other people, social expectations, the country’s law), and it quickly becomes apparent that you cannot do everything in life. In other words, if we choose to do x, we might not be able to do y. So, because of the limitations on life, humans often need to choose which of the better options they will take.

A1: You are wasting your time if you play Mafia instead of pursuing achievable alternatives

What can be done with a life? More importantly, what can you do with your life right now? There are arguably more efficient/productive/pleasurable etc. activities that you could be doing. In this sense, your time is sub-optimally spent. Even as individuals vary in tastes, there are still different, better things individuals can be doing for their unique lives.

Sub-point: Better short-term things to do

For example, you could work out at home. The benefits of exercise is widely documented and accepted, but since I have the burden of proof, so let me show you the benefits:

1) Physical benefits (including managing of weight, reducing risk of heart attack, more energy etc.) [3]
2) Healthier state of mind (lower chance of depression, improved sleeping patterns etc.) [3]

For exercises, you do not need a gym. Easy home workouts could involve crunches (video linked for those who do not know this exercise) [5], running and push-ups (all of which involve no cost or equipment).

You could read a book. Reading a book can do a number of positives for you, including:

1) Stimulate you mentally (e.g. challenge your beliefs)
2) Reduce stress (e.g. you can, temporarily, escape from your problems into a book)
3) Increase your knowledge, even if only incrementally
4) Increase your vocabulary
5) Improve your memory (every new memory, involving things like setting, characters etc.-, strengthens existing ones [6])
I think you will find whatever positives are found within Mafia are outweighed by these.

You could learn about sub-communication (e.g. detect lies, body language etc.). A common argument I heard was that Mafia offers a great opportunity to learn how to sub-communication. Whilst it is a way, I think a much better way would be studying human physical interacting and body language as well as communication in the real world, as opposed to the virtual one. Key differences are:

1) Tone is not always there in text, whilst always there in voice. That is why like things like sarcasm are difficult to detect on the internet in plain text, yet far easier to detect with tone
2) Body language does not exist one the internet
3) There is a delay in conversation online, meaning that true intentions can easily be masked. There is no such delay in real life, allowing for the detection of micro-expressions
4) Reading about sub-communication can be translated to reading text, but reading text cannot be translated into reading body language

Here is a resource that can help you learn body-language [4]. Now you have no excuse to be playing Mafia to learn sub-communication.

You could also sleep. Many people argue that they play Mafia because they are too tired to do anything. If you are too tired to do anything, then you should be asleep. If you are not tired, then you should be doing something better than Mafia.
You should sleep over being tired and playing Mafia for the following reasons:

1) It will be easier to maintain your weight
2) Your concentration will be improved
3) Your mood will be improved
4) You’ll look more attractive
5) Your internal organs will be healthier
Etcetera [7] [8].

Sub-point: work towards your dreams

Whilst you may not be able to adopt every homeless child in the world right now, playing Mafia will not (seriously) help you reach that goal. Big dreams usually take small, incremental steps. For example, writing 80, 000 words for a novel will not be done in a day. First, it requires learning how to write. This could require reading articles, books and the like, which could total a week, yet you still would not be at your goal. Investing small increments into these big dreams can greatly reward you in the end. Mafia only distracts from your dreams.

A2: It is a time-sink

I crunched the numbers on 20 of DDO’s Mafia games. Taken from the first 10 and the last 10 of Mafia games in DDO’s Mafia Game archive (the average differences between the two subsets was surprisingly little), I found that the average total number of posts in a Mafia game (on average being 6.6 rounds) to be 1261.6 posts [2].

If you consider that there are usually from 10-15 players, you will post an average of 126.16-84.11 times in an average space of 18.05 days [2]. If you consider all the time it takes to compose a post (let us say it takes you 3 minutes to analyse the situation and type a post, but it could easily be more), 3x84 = 252 minutes (over 4 hours).

You also have sign-up time, which takes anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks [9]. Whilst you are not necessarily required to do much whilst waiting, being ready to play Mafia when the sheet fills up is a bit of a burden in that you have to be ready to play when the sheet fills (which is not the time in which you notify of your willingness to play).

Also, there is nothing of real value produced by participating/finishing a Mafia game. The results are ultimately pointless, and all the work done in between amounts to nothing more than text.

Finally, the knowledge of how a Mafia game operates does not translate significantly into any other aspect of life. What use is knowing what a ‘town’ is in your actual life?

C1: Context renders Mafia a waste of time

In conclusion, considering that Mafia prevents you from making achievable, better use of your time, it is a waste of time. The time that you spend on Mafia is a waste because it does not exist in a vacuum, instead it exists under context (Mafia’s definition: “popular forum game that is found on DDO” is subject to the constraints of existence).
Seeing that Mafia does not provide the qualities and/or amount of those qualities other actions provide (P1) (A1), and because time is a limited resource (P2), and due to the amount of time being invested (A2), Mafia is “an action or use that results in the unnecessary loss of something valuable” (waste) of “the measured or measureable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues” (time).
Due to the unalienable context, Mafia is rendered a waste of time.

Next round, I will elaborate on the important details of this argument, and in doing so, reveal the crux of why Mafia is a waste of time.




Contention 1: Leisure activities are not a waste of time

Subpoint A: Downtime and brain function

Imagine that you just got off an 8-hour shift at work or just finished a massive cramming session for school. Your brain is exhausted and doing more work is the last thing you want to do. Zarroette's main case is that mafia is a waste of time because you could be doing something more productive. Zarroette would argue that instead of coming home and playing mafia, you should come home and -- for example -- learn to code Python by watching Kahn Academy videos. However, a host of studies have proven that downtime is important for proper brain functioning. Scientific American explains, "Downtime replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life." [1] As this source explains, if you come home with an exhausted brain and force yourself to study coding, you will (1) have depleted stores of attention and motivation when you go back to work the next day, and (2) find it difficult to remember any of the coding you studied the prior day because your brain was too exhausted to absorb the information. You will also find it extremely difficult to remember anything you do at work or while cramming the next day. As Eitner et al. explain, "the brain needs downtime to recycle chemicals crucial for long-term memory formation." [2] That's why studies show that children who are allowed play-time during school (e.g. "recess") actually have higher test scores than students who are not given a break. [2]

In addition, most of our thought processes work on a subconscious level. When we have a "light bulb" go off in our heads, what is actually happening is that a task that we have assigned to our subconscious mind has finally come up with an answer, and our conscious mind is suddenly made aware of this. Without downtime, our subconscious mind has no time to work on our problems, so we will be less productive and creative if we allow ourselves no downtime. Tim Kreider of the New York Times explains, "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets . . . The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for . . . making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration -- it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done." [1]

Thus, playing mafia during one's downtime is not a "waste of time" because downtime is essential for proper brain functioning. We can't be at 100% productivity every second of the day; doing so would drive us insane.

Subpoint B: Happiness

For people who enjoy playing mafia, doing so makes them happier. Happiness has a host of positive spillover effects. Happiness increases your productivity by 12%. [3] Happiness improves your health; the magnitude of the effect on physical health from being happy is the same as the effect from *not smoking.* [4] Happiness improves one's marriage and other personal friendships. [5] And studies show that happiness is the biggest predictor of success in life. [5] Happy people search for more opportunities and deal better with setbacks (treating them instead as learning opportunities). [5]

Even if all that playing mafia did was make people happy, the pure pursuit of happiness is not a "waste of time."

Contention 2: Mafia improves mental acuity in a variety of areas

(1) Reading people

The game of mafia generally involves two factions: mafia and town. If you are in the town, you must attempt to read the other players to tell who is lying to you (so you can find out who is mafia). If you are mafia, you need to read the other players to see what motivates them, so you can trick them into lynching one of their fellow townies.

"Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to read people as well as we read books." [5] EQ is extremely important to develop. Dr. Daniel Goleman says, "People who only use IQ can be stunningly poor pilots of their personal lives." [5] Up to 90% of human communication is non-literal and requires reading between the lines of what is said. [5] Mafia teaches people to read between the lines, so playing mafia increases EQ.

Mafia also teaches you to: (a) detect lying, and (b) persuade others your analysis is correct. Both useful skills that form part of EQ.

(2) Game theory

People who play mafia often become "moderators" who plan and administer the games. A key factor for a moderator is game balance, which means the moderator needs to select the correct ratio of mafia to town and has to choose roles for the mafia and townies that will give each side a fair chance at winning. Choosing the correct game balance involves a lot of game theory because it requires predicting various possible outcomes near end-game. Game balance is so difficult that mathematics researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, wrote an entire paper on what the best ratio of mafia to town was in a mafia game. [7] So people who moderate mafia games are actually teaching themselves a form of game theory and advanced prediction skills.

(3) Cognitive ability

Mafia is probably one of the most cognitively difficult games one can play without stressing one's brain to the point where playing is no longer restful. Studies have shown that playing cognitively challenging games (like the puzzle game Portal 2) increases cognitive abilities. [8] Anyone who has played mafia knows the game is difficult. If you're mafia, you have to sell some pretty big lies. If you're town, it's really hard to tell who is in the mafia. For all the foregoing reasons, it is likely that mafia is also a game that improves cognitive abilities.


Since I had to spend so much time building my case, I reserve the right to address Zarroette's points more fully in the next round.

But for now, group her entire case together. I have three main responses.

(1) None of her examples are mutually exclusive with playing mafia

Zarroette says that the average mafia game takes 4 hours of play time spaced out over 18 days. Her own estimate proves that you could come home from an 8-hour shift at work, go to the gym for an hour, check the mafia thread on DDO and post your analysis, read a book for a few hours, and then be in bed in time to get 8-10 hours of sleep.

(2) Infinitely regressive

Zarroette never claims there is *no* utility to playing mafia. She argues there are more productive uses of one's time, so mafia is a "waste of time." However, you could always be doing something more productive. Are you doing crunches at home as Zarro suggests? You'd be more effective at getting in shape if you went to the gym and did a wider variety of exercises. Does that make doing crunches at home a "waste of time"? No. Did you go to the gym by yourself? You'd have been more productive with a personal trainer. Does that make going to the gym a waste of time? No.

Perfect is the enemy of the good. If you follow Zarro's framework and only do things if they are the *most* productive thing you can do, you'll be mired in inaction trying to plan the *perfect* activity.

(3) Subjective

A lot of Zarro's examples reflect her personal views on what is a productive use of time. What if someone hates reading; or doesn't want to be a writer? What if they already work at their dream job and want to play mafia? We can't "value" time based on Zarro's assessment about what is a useful pursuit. Every person values their time differently and would rank the "worthwhileness" of the tasks Zarro listed differently. If someone subjectively ranks mafia as being "not a waste of time," Zarro cannot impose her own views on that person. People should decide for themselves what pursuits would be a waste of time *for them.* And mafia is not one for a lot of people.

[6] Holly Elissa Bruno, "Emotional Literacy," p. 1
Debate Round No. 2


The crux of my argument:

In the previous round, I argued a lot of comparatives. In this round, I will turn those comparatives into objective facts that are true (on balance) for most people. Mafia generates positives. However, due to the unalienable context, these positives are outweighed by the negatives that are innate within Mafia. Therefore, Mafia is a waste of time.

A3: Fatigue

As you can see here, the fatigue (i.e. figure out who is Mafia etc.) is largely a result of thinking that you are fatigued [1]. So whilst playing, even though you only fatigue slightly more than natural, to play because you think you are fatigued is probably wrong:

1) If you came home from a long day of work, you would be too fatigued to play the game properly, and hence this would detract from the learning about sub-communication and increase general regret as you play the game poorly. So, in this scenario, the actual fatigue experienced renders Mafia’s positives significantly less; Mafia essentially becomes a poor way for the brain to rest. Depending on the amount of fatigue, watching documentaries on Youtube (i.e. less involved with useful information retention) or sleeping would be better.

2) If you were not actually in a state of fatigue yet thought you were, then not only would you have the negative of thinking you are fatigued, but you would also have the negative of being very inefficient with your time because you choose less involving activities. As I showed, there are better alternatives when you are not fatigued.

A4: Regret

Regret is a “negative emotion” because the results of regret are, “decreased activity in the ventral striatum, an area associated with processing rewards. There was [from the study] also increased activity in the amygdala, part of the brain’s limbic system that generates immediate emotional response to threat” [3].

Regret here is generated by playing Mafia and:

1) Having better things to do short-term

2) Not working towards your dreams

There will come a sense of regret if you decide to play Mafia, in the short-term stage when you play Mafia and recognise that if you had an effort (remember, fatigue is largely due to what we think [1]), you could have done better, short-term, productive and/or rewarding activities.

Long-term regret is also a problem. A nurse revealed the top 5 regrets that people have on their deathbed. Included was “the so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content” [2]. It is easy, familiar and non-threatening to play a game of Mafia in the forums, and this is contributes to why it is a waste of time.

It is plainly obvious that Mafia is not the best thing that you could be doing with your time, nor even a better option than most things. Succumbing to the ease of a Mafia game will give you feelings of regret.

A5: Unnecessary stress

Mafia is a game which involves plentiful lying (i.e. if the Mafia told the truth, they would quickly be exposed). Lying is actually quite damaging to your health: “Lies, just like many other things, cause stress and anxiety” [6]. This is especially true when you have to lie numerous times to cover your tracks, which is what Mafia often has you do [6].

To add to this, generally hiding things from people creates further anxiety within people because they fear about being ‘caught out’ (a similar reason as to why lying causes stress and anxiety).

A6: Small gains; larger losses

I wish to rehash the values argue are involved in playing Mafia.

1) It is not “downtime” or “restful”. If it were restful, there would be no difference between watching television (something which burns 33 calories in 30 mins for the average 185 lbs person) and what could be compared to ‘computer work’ or ‘light office work’ (61-67 calories) [5]. If you also take into consideration the stress, my opponent’s counter-argument is nonsense. This is large negative.

2) It is a relatively poor form of social interaction, which can become damaging as it lacks the physical presence. “All of our Internet interactions aren’t helping [our loneliness] and may be making loneliness worse” [4]. This is a minor negative/neutral/minor positive, as it only may be contributing to loneliness, but the social interaction is still there (albeit relatively unfulfilling).

3) It is a really poor way of learning about human behaviour (for example, sarcasm is notoriously hard to detect on the internet. Comparatively, reading about body language gives you a very effective way of learning about humans and subcommunication). Furthermore, just because you are playing Mafia, that does not necessarily mean that you are developing your understanding of human nature, especially due to communication being through text (scum-tell, due to the text environment, often amounts to guessing). This is a very minor positive.

4) On average, you are actively involved with a Mafia game for 4 hours, and since your life is limited, the value in playing has to outweigh the opportunity cost, or else this is an overall negative investment (waste of time). Hence, since the difference between positives is often larger than the positives of Mafia, this is a moderate to large negative.

5) You could be engaged in more beneficial activities involving short-term and long-term goals. This is a negative but does not make Mafia a waste of time.

To give you a rough idea of the values, here are some visuals.

Above: Values involved with playing Mafia

Above: A comparative Mafia example in figure

Above: Opportunity cost explained

From these points, it is clear that whilst Mafia does bring positives to the lives of people playing, that there are larger negatives involved. Thus, Mafia is a waste of time. This largely counter-acts my opponent’s arguments found under ‘subjective’ and ‘infinite regression’ headings, because (on balance) Mafia itself is an objective source of negativity for most people (i.e. You will regret playing it. Lying is going to cause anxiety etc.).

CA1: None of her examples are mutually exclusive with playing mafia

My opponent creates a false dichotomy here, in that the examples I gave are just examples, not the definitive answers. Further examples include (***but are not limited to***:

1) Watching documentaries on Youtube (educational benefit; can do when tired)

2) Socialising with friends/family/ at a party etc. (social skills increase marginally; generally, fun, warm and perhaps educational to be around, depending on the conversation; combats loneliness)

3) Checking finances (can save or generate money)

4) Look for business opportunities (chance to earn money; exciting)

5) Learn a new cooking recipe (exciting; new skills; exploration)

6) Can go on a date (stimulating)

7) Can clean up your living areas (keeps things in order; prevents decay and stinks)

8) Furthering education related to your field, such as attending university, reading further material etc. (creates a sense of fulfilment; practical; employers will take notice)

Due to the overall negative state of playing Mafia, the list could extend for quite a length.

Brief conclusion

Mafia is not just comparatively a waste of time. Mafia is, in itself, on balance, a waste of time. This round should have made the affirmation case clear and free of most of his counter-arguments. For now, the resolution is affirmed.











(1) Mafia is a leisure activity that has cognitive benefits

Extend this argument. Not only does mafia provide the brain a necessary respite that is important to proper brain functioning, it also improves one's EQ, lie detection skills, persuasion skills, game theory and advanced prediction skills, and other cognitive abilities.

Zarroette responds to this by arguing that mafia might be *too* fatiguing and cognitively challenging to play as a leisure activity. However, her first source (Scientific American) actually says that the same mental activity results in a different level of fatigue for different people. Her source says: "Equally important to the duration of mental exertion is one's attitude toward it. . . . Some people regularly curl up with densely written novels that others might throw across the room in frustration." Essentially, if you find an activity enjoyable, it will not be mentally fatiguing even if it is cognitively challenging. The people who play mafia find it enjoyable and no mafia player I have ever talked to has said that the game is mentally exhausting. If the game felt like work, very few people would play it.

Later in her round, Zarro says that mafia is not as restful as watching TV. To the extent that Zarro is advocating that people spend all their downtime watching TV, this turns her entire case. Television is by far a bigger waste of time than is mafia. While watching TV might be slightly more restful because it is an entirely passive activity, it also results in *no* cognitive benefits at all. If people need downtime, they may as well do something better than watching TV.

(2) Do people regret playing mafia?

Zarroette argues that people will regret playing mafia because there are better things to do and they are not working towards their dreams. However, Zarroette has argued that playing mafia only requires less than 15 minutes per day. Zarroette never proves that playing mafia is mutually exclusive with exercising, reading a book, or pursuing one's dreams.

Imagine someone on his death bed who regrets not pursuing his dreams. I doubt this individual would think that he simply played so much mafia that he did not have time for anything else. Pursuing your dreams requires a commitment to achieving your wildest desires. If someone lacks that commitment, it doesn't matter if he plays mafia in his spare time, watches History Channel documentaries, or reads novels. He will feel like he wasted his life regardless. The issue is the lack of commitment to achieving one's goals, not the playing of mafia. In contrast, someone who *does* pursue his dreams is perfectly capable of doing so and also playing mafia.

I have never actually spoken to a person who regrets their time playing mafia. You would think if Zarro's argument were true, at least some mafia players would -- after years of playing mafia -- regret the time they spent doing so. It doesn't take a death bed revelation to have such regrets. People often say they regret how much time they waste watching TV; I've never heard anyone say the same about mafia. Mafia is at least more cognitively challenging and rewarding than watching TV. Using Zarro's same logic, playing *any* game -- such as chess -- would be a waste of time because you could be pursuing your dreams instead.

Some people's ambition is even to become a master of their game. Just as some people want to be chess masters, others want to become superb mafia players. Zarro cannot dictate to people what a "proper" dreams is (such as wanting to become a writer). Zarro's own ambition is to become a good enough debater on DDO to beat me one day. Some people would call that a silly dream and a waste of time based on their own subjective valuations. Zarro cannot call the ambition to be a great mafia player silly and wasteful because ambitions are inherently personal. No one would claim that wanting to be a chess master is a silly ambition, but chess is just another meaningless game by Zarro's standards. The only difference between chess and mafia is that chess is internationally recognized, but they are both games whose outcomes don't really matter.

(3) Unnecessary stress

I already answered this above by saying that mafia is not mentally taxing because people find it fun. Zarro claims that lying is always mentally taxing, but her sources are referring to *real* lies that people tell in their personal lives, where there are real stakes to being caught in the lie. If you lie on your resume and get found out, you lose your job. If you lie to your girlfriend and she finds out, you risk her breaking up with you. If you lie to your parents about your grades and they find out, you risk getting grounded. In mafia if you get caught in a lie, you merely get lynched. The stakes are too low to cause stress.

Regardless, turn this argument against her. Even if mafia causes low levels of stress, stress has been proven to improve memory and learning. [1] In one study, the control group walked past another person in an ordinary environment and was later asked to describe the person's face. The experimental group walked past a person on a very rickety bridge (designed to cause stress) and later describe the person's face. The experimental group was much better at remembering the passerby's face than the control group. Stress hormones improve memory and learning. [1]

Zarro concedes that it's good to learn to read people, such as by studying books on sub-communication and body language. However, learning to read sub-communication in an *applied* environment is always going to be better because: (1) low levels of stress improve learning, and (2) you can't learn by reading, you learn by doing. For example, employers have known for a long time that on-the-job experience is a better training tool than is book learning. [2] College graduates have had four years of book learning, but are often ill-equipped to do the job for which they were hired. With a book, you never apply what you are learning, so it's easy to forget what you read and hard to understand *how* to apply it. Applied learning is better. Mafia is a form of applied learning because it lets you *practice* reading people, something a book doesn't do.

Zarro argues that you can't learn to read body language from playing mafia because mafia is text-based, but (1) this is answered by live mafia (via Google Hangouts), and (2) playing mafia is not mutually exclusive with reading a book on body language.

(4) Social interaction

Zarro claims that mafia is a poor form of social interaction because there is no physical presence. (1) I never argued that mafia is the best form of social interaction; I only have to prove that mafia is beneficial in the ways I argued. (2) This is answered by live mafia. (3) Playing mafia is not mutually exclusive with hanging out with friends to get a healthy dose of social interaction.

(5) Not mutually exclusive

Zarro's response still doesn't prove that playing mafia is mutually exclusive with doing any of the other things on her list.

More importantly, she doesn't respond to the argument that her valuations are inherently subjective. Some people hate watching documentaries. Some people are asexual and don't want to go out on dates. Some people are too poor to make checking their finances worthwhile (bank balance: $5). Mafia is not a waste of time if the player's personal valuation is that there's nothing they'd rather be doing.

(6) Infinitely regressive

Zarro drops the argument that something doesn't become a waste of time merely because you could be doing something more productive. It's not possible to always maximize your productivity. Playing mafia is comparatively better than doing nothing (or watching TV), just like doing crunches at home is better than not exercising. So neither is a waste of time.

(7) Happiness

Zarro drops this argument, which is a huge impact in my favor. Playing mafia makes people happy, which improves productivity, health, relationships, and success-prospects in life.

Happiness itself is a noble pursuit. John Lennon once said, "When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy.' They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."

Debate Round No. 3


Thank you, bluesteel.

For this round, I will be responding to my opponent’s arguments with rebuttals, since there are no new arguments or sources allowed.


(1) Mafia is a leisure activity that has cognitive benefits

The cognitive benefits are grossly exaggerated by my opponent. As explained, lie detection is oft akin to guessing (due to lack of social cues). Game theory is limited to the mods (1 in 10/15 people). There is restricted emotion conveyed through text, so EQ development is slow. Respite comes at the expense of short-term and long-term regret.
Advanced prediction skills are developed slowly over time (at the expense of all the negatives involved with Mafia).

I never said Mafia would be too fatiguing. I said Mafia would be too fatiguing if you are already tired. Regardless, there is still slight fatigue in playing.

Using the energy source, I showed that TV is less energy intensive. I did not say that you should watch it (another strawman). I did this to show that playing Mafia is not “restive”.

(2) Do people regret playing mafia?

I do not have to show that Mafia is not mutually exclusive with any of the others. The debate revolves around whether Mafia is a waste of time, not whether you could do other things.

The regret I talk about is short-term, too, as in ‘I could have read the newspaper instead of playing Mafia’. The long-term regret is much more associated with playing an entire Mafia game (i.e. wasting 4 hours).

Just because my opponent has never heard people express regret for playing Mafia does not mean his anecdotal evidence is convincing or even sufficient an argument.

“Using Zarro's same logic, playing *any* game -- such as chess -- would be a waste of time because you could be pursuing your dreams instead.”

My opponent perpetually strawmans my arguments. I said you could find better things to do long-term OR short-term. Chess actually provides a rigorous mental exam (Mafia provides very small cognitive benefits, as I showed earlier).

My opponent claims that some people might dream of becoming the best Mafia player. I appeal to the audience: does this seem like a likely claim? I still uphold the “on balance” part of the resolution.

(3) Unnecessary stress

My opponent (incorrectly) argues that the stress is low due to not being generated by “real” problems. What if, after sifting through dozens of comments and constructing a comment to respond, you were incorrectly lynched? Does anyone honestly believe that is “low level stress?” What if everyone else had voted on who to lynch, whilst you were left and the one whose vote would decide the lynching? To add to this stress, keep in mind that people analyse every word of your post. So, considering that you are going to invest 4 hours of your life on this game, you cannot reasonably tell me that being accused and having to accuse is not stressful, due to the amount of life you invest in this game. The difference between “real” and non-real externalities causing stress is far less than my opponent suggests, so my opponent’s qualitative assessment is inaccurate.

The improved memory and learning of the increased stress is absolutely dwarfed by the stress itself, leaving it an overall negative.

My opponent then argues that this “applied” environment of Mafia is better to learn in:

(1) Low levels of stress argument already debunked

(2) “Can’t learn anything by reading”. This is absolute nonsense. Please tell me how people can learn about Harry Potter spells considering that they would never be able to do them. Reading specifically about body-language cues is far more effective than guessing what someone meant via text. You need to learn the body cues first before you can practise detecting them, which fits what my opponent’s study said. Again, the problem with Mafia is that text (especially delayed text communication) gives very little in terms of sub-communication, especially when people are being secretive.

“Zarro argues that you can't learn to read body language from playing mafia because mafia is text-based”

(1) Defies definition given for Mafia (forum game).

(2) Mutually exclusive argument shown irrelevant later.

(4) Social interaction

(1) In this way, it is very mildly beneficial, as I showed.

(2) Live Mafia defies the definition of this debate.

(3) Mutually exclusive argument shown irrelevant later.

(5) Not mutually exclusive

I gave plenty of other examples last round, and even if you were able to get through all of those, there are plenty more (like, as my opponent suggested, chess). This claim of “not mutually exclusive” is nonsense.

PLUS, I showed why Mafia itself is a waste of time, not just in comparison. This argument is irrelevant to the debate.

“More importantly, she doesn't respond to the argument that her valuations are inherently subjective.”

This is wrong. I gave plenty of examples, so there are plenty of things for plenty of people. For example, all people need sleep. Another example: exercise is good for people. The valuation is not subjective; it holds true for most people.

“Mafia is not a waste of time if the player's personal valuation is that there's nothing they'd rather be doing.”

This is not always the case. My argument involves an objective view of what resonates best for most people (hence the resolution’s “on balance” clause), an example being ‘exercise is good for you’. Here is another:

Let us say Bluesteel is tired. In his mind, playing Mafia is the best thing to do. But he is tired. As he begins, he loses focus time and time again, learning nothing about human behaviour, yet continues. The next day Bluesteel wakes up an hour later than usual and misses his bus to work.

This shows that it is not all subjective. Bluesteel’s values did not align with the objective values embedded within his biology, hence the blunder. If he had listened to “Zarro”, he would have gone to sleep instead.

(6) Infinitely regressive

This is irrelevant to the debate. I already showed that my example of better things are, for most people, objectively better.

PLUS, I showed why Mafia itself is a waste of time, not just in comparison, so there is a line in which anything above is positive, and anything below is negative. This avoids infinite regression.

(7) Happiness

People choosing and realising to do better things with their time would make them happy. I showed a sustained connection between playing Mafia and regret (among other things), so the logical opposite (positive vs. negative emotions) of this would be people who avoid Mafia are happy. My opponent’s argument merely described the effects of happiness, rather than connecting them to Mafia. Therefore, my argument is superior.

Conclusion: why you should vote for me

Firstly, according to the resolution, I do not have to prove that Mafia is always a waste of time. The majority of the time (on balance), people can not only do better than play Mafia, but (and this affirms the resolution) Mafia is inherently an overall negative, and hence is a waste of time.

I showed you how many better things there were to do, regardless of your individuality. It is not all subjective, as my opponent might try to fool you otherwise. You will regret playing this game over completing that thing that you could have done earlier. You will regret spending 4 hours on this game instead of putting that towards your dreams.

I showed you the stress and small fatigue it causes. I showed you how, in the medium term, can make you lonely. It is a poor socialisation tool and it is a really poor way to learn about human behaviour. This, along with the regret, is why Mafia is a waste of time.

So, thanks to bluesteel for the opportunity to debate you. Also, thank you to any of the judges who vote on this. I picked you all because I trust all of you to vote with, at worst, minimal bias. Though, do not feel the need to vote; it is just an opportunity for you.

The resolution is affirmed :)



== Roadmap ==

I'm just going to go over the main voting issues and respond to Zarro's arguments internally.

== Voting Issues ==

(1) Happiness

The people who play mafia do so because they enjoy it, and playing makes them happy. Zarro claims that I do not prove a link to happiness, but it's axiomatic that people would not play the game if they did not enjoy it, and doing things we enjoy makes us happy.

The reason this is important is that happiness is one of the biggest impacts in this debate because becoming happier increases your productivity by 12%, improves your health by the same magnitude as giving up smoking, and makes you more likely to succeed in your relationships and career.

In contrast, doing a lot of Zarro's recommended tasks would make the people who currently play mafia *unhappy.* Some people hate reading dense books, watching dry documentaries, forcing themselves to write a novel, or dealing with their finances (e.g. doing their taxes). These tasks are not fun for a lot of people. If you never do anything fun, that is a quick road to unhappiness.

Conclusion: mafia is not a waste of time because playing makes people happy. The pursuit of 100% perfect productivity would result in a very unhappy life.

(2) Downtime

Zarro's only response to this argument is that if you are mentally exhausted, you should watch documentaries or go to sleep instead. However, Zarro never proves that mafia is mentally fatiguing. She never answers her *own source*, which said that if we find a task fun, we don't find it fatiguing. If you work for 8 hours per day and get mentally fatigued every day after work, it would seem wasteful to sleep for 16 hours every day or to veg-out in front of the History Channel for 8 hours per day. Compared to Zarro's own recommendations, mafia is comparatively a better use of downtime.

In contrast, most of her other proposed tasks are not downtime. Working out is not downtime. Writing a novel is not downtime. Going on a date is stressful and not downtime. Cleaning, checking finances, and looking for business opportunities are not downtime.

Conclusion: Downtime is necessary to resupply stores of motivation and neuro-chemicals necessary for long-term memory formation. Studies prove that students who get to play games during recess have better test scores than students who don't get such downtime. Because I win that downtime is necessary to proper brain functioning, the only relevant tasks in today's debate that can be compared to playing mafia are ones that can also be considered downtime, which only leaves Zarro with television and sleeping an excessive amount. I can easily show mafia is a better use of downtime than those options.

(3) Playing mafia improves cognitive ability


Zarro argues that mafia does not improve EQ because you cannot convey emotion via text. But (1) EQ is about more than reading emotions; it is about understanding where people are coming from (i.e. alternate viewpoints), and (2) of course you can convey emotions via text. If you couldn't, the very idea of a "love letter" would be incoherent. Mafia improves EQ because you do learn to read and play off people's feelings. For example, if someone seems genuinely upset of being accused of being scum, that is generally a good way to town-read someone. It is undeniable that the game involves reading the other players, and I personally have gotten better at doing so over time due to playing mafia.

B. Lie detection

Again, Zarro says mafia does not teach lie detection because it is text-based. However, (1) her definition was *descriptive*, not exhaustive. Mafia is a game played on the forums of DDO, but that is not the only place it is played. It is also played via text on other websites (e.g. MafiaScum) and in-person via Google Hangouts. A descriptive definition gives an example of something that falls within the definition, but does not attempt to define the entire scope of the term. If I defined "debate" as "an activity often done on DDO via text," I don't think anyone would think that my definition was intended to be exclusive of all other types of debate. The game of "mafia" is also played via Google Hangouts, which does involve reading body language.

(2) Reading body language is not the only lie detection skill. Another recognized technique for catching someone in a lie is asking a series of quick questions to attempt to make them slip up. [1] This technique is used frequently in forum mafia.

C. Advanced prediction skills

Zarro's only response is that only the mod gains this training, but players take turns modding so everyone gets a chance. And if you mess up and the game isn't balanced, the players will offer you feedback after the game is over so you can improve. You are learning a form of game theory. Zarro never really contests this.

D. Other cognitive benefits

Zarro drops the study proving that engaging games, like Portal 2, improve *general* cognitive abilities. Playing mafia just makes you smarter in general.

Conclusion: I easily prove that mafia is a better use of downtime than watching TV or sleeping excessive amounts.

(4) Not mutually exclusive

Zarro says she doesn't need to prove that any of the tasks she lists are mutually exclusive with playing mafia because playing mafia is still a waste of time if there is a "better" task. However, this is nonsensical. If the "better" task you could be doing is exercising and you have *already* exercised that day, then Zarro cannot use "exercise" to show that mafia is a waste of time. In particular, exercise and sleep are two terrible examples because most people exercise and sleep every day and still have time for other things. Zarro had the BOP to show that mafia prevents people from doing other very important tasks, so she had the BOP to prove mutual exclusivity. If she didn't have to prove mutual exclusivity, then *everything* in life would be a "waste of time" because sleep is comparatively more important than anything else.

Conclusion: Zarro's claim that she doesn't need to prove mutual exclusivity is untrue, and this argument costs her the debate.

(5) Subjectivity

Zarro claims that sleep and exercise are "objectively" better than playing mafia. Ironically, these are the two tasks that are *clearly* not mutually exclusive with playing mafia. All the other tasks (e.g. reading, writing a novel, watching documentaries, going on a date) are inherently subjective in terms of how "worthwhile" different people would consider them to be. Zarro never responds to the argument that if someone has nothing he or she would rather do than play mafia, it cannot be a waste of time. People have different ambitions and likes and dislikes. Zarro's list of better tasks is only a list of things *she* finds more worthwhile.

Conclusion: reject the notion that you can value for someone else what tasks are "more worthwhile."

(6) Infinite regress

Zarro claims this is irrelevant and she has listed "objectively" better tasks. However, (1) she never *ranks* her alternatives. If tasks could be objectively better than each other, she could say which task was #1 most productive, which was #2, etc. But she can't; doing so would be absurd. (2) She drops this argument entirely because "infinite regress" was different from my "subjectivity" point, and Zarro answers only with "objectivity."

Conclusion: reject the notion that something can be a "waste of time" merely because there is something slightly better you could be doing. The pursuit of 100% perfect productivity is impossible because it results in an infinite regress of always searching for a slightly better task. You'd spend all your time planning, and no time doing.

(7) Stress

Zarro drops my impact turn that stress is good because it improves learning. She disagrees with the level of stress, but this doesn't matter. A lot of things are stressful, including a bunch of things on Zarro's list (e.g. working out, checking finances, going on a date). Even playing video games (like Portal 2) can be stressful. A certain amount of stress improves learning, which turns Zarro's examples of learning by reading books or watching documentaries (which involve zero stress). Zarro also drops why applied learning is better (e.g. in employment); she merely misrepresents my argument as "you cannot learn anything from books." It's not that you can't learn anything, but you learn a lot faster and better by *doing.*

Conclusion: mafia is a better way to learn about sub-communication and detecting lying than is merely reading a book on it.

(8) Regret

This argument is completely worthless because Zarro's argument is that people will regret wasting their time on mafia, so she has to win the debate itself ["mafia is a waste of time"] as a threshold issue to proving people will have regrets.

Conclusion: this argument merely begs the question and is not an independent reason to vote Pro.

For all of the above reasons, Vote Con.

[1] David Lieberman, Never Be Lied to Again
Debate Round No. 4
400 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zarroette 1 year ago
You'll be defeated by the end of the year, bluesteel. When I get some free-time at uni, I'll be winning debates you said aren't winnable and beating people who are very competent. Eventually, I'll have the mastery required to dethrone you. I don't think beating you once will prove that I'm better than you, but it'll be a start. Mark my words -- end of the year.
Posted by Genghis_Khan 1 year ago
A thorough understanding is key. It's impossible to beat someone on a topic that they know way more about than you.... and bluesteel knows way more than everyone on almost all topics :(
Posted by Zarroette 1 year ago

It was a conceptual leap from my previous understanding of debate, which means that the leap could probably only be experienced by me, at the moment.

Beating bluesteel is absolutely no easy task, btw, and my conceptual leap isn't going to make me beat him. What you need to beat bluesteel is a solid debate technique, a *thorough* understanding of the resolution + definitions (he'll murder any weakness here; this is his seriously powerful strength) and some solid sources, AND you need a bit of imagination to come up with something to throw him out of his debate rhythm. I have ideas as to what the very latter could be, and I am sure that's the key to beating him. There's another way to beat him, too, but everyone shares this weakness, so I won't go into it. But you have to fulfil the other conditions first, otherwise he smokes you on those...
Posted by Genghis_Khan 1 year ago
Can you please explain this "conceptual leap" to all of us so that we can beat bluesteel too
Posted by Zarroette 1 year ago

I just had another conceptual leap in my understanding of debate. I can finally see where you are, in terms of debating ability, and I can see why I lost the debates that I lost. Although it will take another few leaps to catch you, I can see how I could do it. Not only that, but I've got ideas of how I could surpass you. As long as you don't leave in the next 6 months, I am going to catch and surpass your debating ability, so enjoy the 1-0 over me while it lasts =)
Posted by Liberals 1 year ago
Try GTA and you'll hate mafia forever.
Posted by Zarroette 1 year ago
"Just to make sure I haven't gone insane, would you mind checking that I am on, and have not in fact wondered onto or some such personal website of yours?"

Ouch, lol.
Posted by Wylted 1 year ago
Debatability is the Vice President, so the change to is coming.
Posted by Ragnar 1 year ago
Just to make sure I haven't gone insane, would you mind checking that I am on, and have not in fact wondered onto or some such personal website of yours?

"DDO standards for voting are absolutely awful. Literally, a vote on ddo is considered good if you (a) write a lot of stuff and (b) use fancy words. Those are literally the ddo standards for voting."
While I'm the first to admit it's long outdated, please read:
Actually, you may want to read the following as well:
Either you are ignorant of the standards, you are intentionally lying about the standards, or you consider things like "Voters need to explain every point awarded when they vote. If a voter is going to award several categories then they need to be even more prepared to explain the vote thoroughly with a properly detailed RFD" to be "absolutely awful." Which is it?

"i did read your rfd"
Yet you claim it just "consists of [ragnar] explaining why he thinks mafia is a waste of time;"
Which combine to be either a blatant lie, or an indicator of mental failing in you. If my RFD consists of that, it it certainly does not contain anything about places where each debater did good and bad (I critiqued both of them), feedback on some rather blatant logical fallacies to help them improve, or anything other than me explaining why I apparently think Mafia is a waste of time. Yes I now (after reading the debate) believe that, but as an outcome of the debate, with no bias going in.

"If I'm saying that con is winning on the happiness because (a) pro hasn't actually shown that those who play mafia will feel regret because her standards are subjective..."
So you basically don't automatically consider someone to be winning an argument because you think they made an argument by assertion fallacy, then complain if anyone else also does likewise?
Posted by Wylted 1 year ago
1.There really isn't much health benefits to excercise. Recent studies show that it doesn't compensate for a sedentary lifestyle.

2. Learning about things of no practical use is a waste unless you derive some satisfaction from it.

3. If you have the Goods please show them, unless ofcourse you are Chris Hanson from Dateline NBC.

4. It's true Khaos sucks at life. I have nothing to add except "no offense". Saying no offense means that he has no right to get offended.

5. There is no succeeding at life. Nobody gets out alive. You're doomed to failure.

6. Point 6 isn't clear.

7. Umm Are we still talking about debate?

8. Prove it
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: EDITED: If you can't see the link, just PM me and I'll either fix the link or just PM the RFD to you, but the link should be solid.
Vote Placed by Wylted 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD In comments
Vote Placed by donald.keller 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in Comments: Ultimately, what won this debate was Con dropping Regret and Stress in the last round. Stress was an important argument to me. Saying Pro dropped it when I literally just got done reading Pro's Stress Argument doesn't help one's case. Same with dropping Regret, another important to me, because you think it's a stupid argument.
Vote Placed by debatability 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD coming soon in the comments
Vote Placed by Ragnar 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments (currently page 1 of 26).
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.