oo a philosophical discussion =)
Gold u do make a good point in that memorizing a prog is more similar to memorizing an answer sheet than a textbook, because on a real life test, u really don't know what the question will be (at least with most subjects, like math or science or literature where there's an infinite # of questions a teacher could ask. With geography you basically do get to study the answer sheet but for argument's sake i won't count that). By memorizing a program, you are preparing for every possible question that could be asked, so it's like memorizing a mega answer sheet. Watching players is the same thing, if all you do is memorize their moves. So you have countered my example of testtaking (provided connect 4 is more similar to math than geography and biology).
But i still have 2 objections that come to me at the moment. The first, not everyone who trains with a program does so by memorizing its moves, the second, the rules of the game do not prohibit the use of memory, and therefore memorization is technically not cheating, lame though it may be.
Before i argue those 2 points, i'll first respond to your weightlifting example.
Steroids is bad for your health, and that's why it's illegal. Taking them gives you an advantage over those who do not take them. Not all advantages are unfair, but this advantage is. The reason: the only way for other people to have the same chances as you is to sacrifice their health, which is an unfair thing to make others have to do.
You tried to equate steroids to training with a program, arguing that prog training gives u an advantage over people who don't train with a prog. And you said this advantage is unfair. But you failed to give a reason this advantage is unfair. I agree it is an advantage. But unfair, no. First of all, anyone with internet can get access to the same programs. Second, by downloading a program, you are not forced to sacrifice anything else, as opposed to steroids which makes you sacrifice your health. So anyone can train with a program at no cost. If they choose not to, they are simply not training as smart (and probably not as hard) as the people who do train with progs. So program training, i would argue, is not parallel to steroid use, but instead, parallel to working out with a personal trainer. With a personal trainer, you are doing the best excercises and you are getting stronger faster, while working equally hard as before. In the case of connect 4, there's an infinite supply of personal trainers, and they are all free. So to not get one is just your own unwise decision if you're trying to improve.
Now for my first point. Memorizing moves is not the only way to train with a program. There are plenty of people who think about a position on their own, then when they have an answer, they compare it to the program's. If their answer is wrong, they try to figure out why it's wrong. Once they understand why the program's move is right and theirs was wrong, they have learned something about the game as a whole, and not just that particular position. Their skill has improved---whether or not they remember that position in the future, they will be more likely to get that move right because they are better at thinking about moves.
Consider learning math. You learn by trying problems. You try a problem, and are not certain if your answer is correct, so you check with the back of the book or with a teacher. If your answer is wrong, you try to figure out why. You try to see how one could get the book's answer. Once you see how the right answer is arrived at, you've learned something about those types of problems. Next problem you are more likely to get right, even though it has a different answer.
The only difference between math and connect 4 is that c4 is finite, whereas math is inifnite. Say you wanted to try to memorize all the possible answers for equations of the type: AX + B = C. There are inifnity possible values for a, b and c, and inifnity different answers for X that can result. Whereas connect 4 there are only so many moves that can be made, so if you wanted to, you could memorize it. But that doesn't mean you can't learn it the same way you learn math, and not memorize. If you choose to learn connect 4 as though it's another type of math, then you will try problems (positions) and check your answers in the back of the book (a program). There is no difference. One learns with the help of a teacher because it is quicker. It is better not to reinvent the wheel. Otherwise it would take 50 years to master the game, when you can have the same deep understanding of it in a few years (if you don't memorize moves). Same goes with calculus. Few people would be able to do calculus if they couldn't learn from a source other than themselves. And even the people who did figure it out on their own (Leibniz and Newton) did not figure it out as fast as people learn it today in school.
I don't feel like saying my second point since i just wrote an essay already. i just wasted 20 minutes lol