Sorry virusdancer, I was straining to follow you through that logic until you said "basically, rank 1 skills are the same as rank 2, so the only difference is 2 heals!", and then I lost you. For the record, I am a cruiser captain. But even I can't sign off on this type of "salesmanship". It's an attempt to compare apples to honeybadgers, all while trying to convince me that a honeybadger pie is basically the same thing only better.
It was not a case of trying to sell that an Escort can have as much survivability as a Cruiser. It was a case of selling that Escorts can have much more survivability than some people claim. On top of that, they're still going to be doing more damage.
It wasn't a case of suggesting that AtS1 is the equivalent of AtS3 or the like by any means.
Personally, I believe the pecking order goes something like this:
Science > Cruiser > Escort > Science > Cruiser
The Cruiser should be able to beat the Escort through attrition in a 1v1. It should be able to take the alpha while still doing enough damage that over an extended period of time the Escort will either pop or disengage.
The Science should be able to beat the Cruiser through debuffing in a 1v1. It should be able to throw such a monkey wrench into what the Cruiser does, that with the combination of offensive/defensive Sci abilities with the damage it can do - the Cruiser will pop (it won't be able to disengage).
The Escort should be able to beat the Science through spike. The Sci simply doesn't have the defensive abilities to handle the Escort's alpha and has to gamble on when to nuke - nuke too soon and they risk getting shredded by GDF - nuke too late, and well it's too late.
Duels are pointless, though - since it's generally going to be a team or multiple players engaged. A Cruiser vs. two Escorts might be a stalemate. The Cruiser can't do enough damage to cover the crosshealing of the two Escorts and while the two Escorts may eventually win that battle of attrition...who's going to spend that long in that fight? Bring a Sci along with that Escort, and pop - that Cruiser's gone. Add a second Cruiser though, well...is that another stalemate?
That's where folks have worked out what comps work best for them. Those combinations don't necessarily fit the duel mentality that some people adhere to...the ships aren't even built the same.
In the end, I think it comes down to certain players - doesn't matter if their Cruiserjocks, Escortjocks, or Scijocks...wanting their ship build to be the best build regardless of the activity. They don't want to accept that they might need to adjust that build depending on what they're doing or who they're doing it with. They don't want to accept that somebody else might be better at doing X while they're better doing Y. Tac, Eng, Sci...Escort, Cruiser, Science Vessel... that doesn't matter. People still think that what they're doing should be the best or equivalent to everything else while doing everything.
Say you've got a SUV, sportscar, and cargo van. I mean, bam - that they're going to be better at doing different things stands out like a sore thumb, right? Escort, Cruiser, Science Vessel... why is it so hard for so many to see it here?