Besides for the white hat versus black hat link spam discussions, an other large topic that is debated in the wonderful world of SEO is to SEO by formula or to SEO by natural, organic, artistic means. What I mean by natural, organic, artistic means is - one should write copy so that it reads well and is user friendly. What I mean by SEO by formula is - one should test the copy to ensure it has the right amount of keyword density, right number of related words and so on.
There are those SEOs that do both. Some SEOs that write copy are actually so good at SEO Copywriting that they don't use formulas, they simply know what makes for good, optimized copy. In fact, most of the time, if you run it through one of those programs or have an algorithmic junky review the copy - they will agree that the copy is not bad. Then there are those who count the words on the page, ensure like (~) words are on the page enough times and run the page through programs.
Both work. One is pure science, and one is pure art. If you do not have the science part down and you do not have the art part down, then you simply don't have it. But practice does make perfect.
There is an interesting thread over at HighRankings, where typically you have the more artistic folks hang out. In that thread, they discuss a topic named Term Vector Theory and Keyword Weights (forum link to SEW), which was one of the many highly scientific threads started by Orion, Dr. E. Garcia, at SEW Forum. In this thread, you will see exactly what I am talking about above.