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Interviews: Forrest Mims Answers Your Questions

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Education 161

A while ago you had the chance to ask amateur scientist, and author of the Getting Started in Electronics and the Engineer's Mini-Notebook series, Forrest Mims, a number of questions about science, engineering, and a lifetime of educating and experimenting. Below you'll find his detailed answers to those questions.inspirations
by lyapunov

You are the quintessential tinkerer with a non-standard education. What was the key inspiration that started you on this path? What do you feel provides the most inspiration in others, in particular kids, to learn and do hands on tasks?

Mims: Give kids a lab or robotics kit and watch their curiosity and creativity explode. Glue them to chairs in a classroom and watch them grow bored and disillusioned as their curiosity dissipates.

My dad was a US Air Force pilot as well as an artist and architect. He definitely encouraged curiosity, especially when he built a beautiful crystal radio set for my brother and me. During two 6th grade assemblies a visiting physicist and an Air Force meteorologist conducted fascinating demonstrations of cryogenics and weather balloons. As a teenager I read everything I could about transistor circuits in Popular Mechanics and Popular Electronics and “The Amateur Scientist” column in Scientific American. I even dreamed of someday writing for those magazines. An article in the July 1954 issue of National Geographic (“New Miracles of the Telephone Age”) included absolutely mesmerizing photos of transistors and silicon solar cells. Over the years hundreds of emails and letters have arrived from readers of my books who reported they were inspired as teenagers or young adults to enter electronics or science because of them. That was completely unexpected, for writing those books was just a part of my electronics hobby. So it seems that inspiration often begins at a very early age.

But young people don’t have an exclusive monopoly on exciting discoveries and projects. What can be more amazing than the molecular motors that walk along microtubules in our cells while towing huge loads? Then there’s my new project of using ultra-sensitive, homemade photometers to measure the brightness of the zenith sky during twilight to extract the altitude of atmospheric dust layers and the ozone layer. This is the most exciting science I’ve done in 20 years!



Re:No Question
by B1ackDragon

...I also have "Getting Started in Electronics" and a couple of "Engineer's Mini-Notebooks" still on my shelf, with the intention of giving them to my kids one day. Question for Mr. Mims: what was it like getting a completely handwritten book published? Did you approach RadioShack with the idea? Given all the modern publication options (self-pub, iBooks, etc.) and software to help, how would you go about it today? (I know, that's three questions...)

Mims: Interesting question. David Gunzel was Radio Shack’s technical editor back in 1978. Back then he sometimes agreed to witness pages in my lab notebooks, which were all hand printed and illustrated. One day Dave said that I should do a hand-lettered book for Radio Shack, so it was his idea. The result was Engineer’s Notebook, which sold more than 600,000 copies. This book was printed on toothed (roughened) Mylar with India ink—which meant entire pages had to be redone when a mistake was made. The middle finger of my right hand bled while printing this book. All 15 or so subsequent hand-lettered books were printed with a 0.7-mm mechanical pencil on stiff stock. This allowed errors to be easily erased and corrected. The Mini-Notebook series (all 16 volumes now merged into four) was prepared on paper, as was Getting Started in Electronics, which was completely planned, printed and drawn in 54 days, including rebuilding and testing every one of the 100 circuits four times to make sure there were zero errors. (It’s essential to rebuild circuits from the circuit drawings and not from memory!) Getting Started in Electronics has sold 1.3+ million copies and is still in print.



What book are you most proud of?
by TheBrez

What single book are you the most proud of, and see as your best work? Or which one have you had the most people tell you was the book they use/recommend the most?

Mims: Getting Started in Electronics remains my favorite book and still brings in many comments online and in emails. Science Projects, a Mini-Notebook, is a close second. From a scholarly perspective, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory: Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere was by far my most ambitious work. This book was four years in the making and was based on my many stays at Mauna Loa Observatory (1992 to present) to calibrate my atmospheric monitoring instruments.



Model Rocketry
by Anonymous Coward

Please retell the story of how you got started in Model Rocketry and some of your earlier projects, successes, and of course failures. Be sure to name names and clubs!

Mims: Great question! I’ve devoted space to this topic in a new memoir now being written. It all began way back in 1967 in Colorado Springs when my dad took me to a model rocket meeting staged by what became Estes Industries. For Christmas that year I received an Aerobee-Hi rocket kit. The rocket was quickly built and reached an altitude of 671 feet on its first flight. Before we moved to Colorado, where my dad was assigned as project officer for the Air Force Academy Chapel, I was seated in a hot seventh-grade classroom at Hamilton Junior High School watching a big fan by the door when the idea of a ram-air controlled rocket popped into my mind. The idea was a rocket that was steered not by fins but by air entering the open nose of a rocket and then jetted out ports in the nose cone. This project dominated my experimenting for several years, and its successes and failures will be covered in detail in the new memoir. The major success was confirmation that the ram air principle actually worked during test flights. The biggest failure was that the best made sun-homing test rocket control section worked great—but failed miserably during ground tests (suspended from a string looking at a flashlight) when the ram air scanner rapidly stopped during a course change and its inertia caused the entire rocket to spin.

The ram air project involved many test flights, and night flights were best since the rocket path could be easily recorded on film. To recover these rockets, I built a very small 2-transistor light flasher (which I still have). When I demonstrated the flasher during a night launch at a model rocket meeting in Portales, New Mexico, in 1969, George Flynn, editor of Model Rocketry magazine, asked me to write an article about its construction. I build a new flasher for the article, which was published in September 1969. I was very surprised when Flynn sent a check for $93.50 for the article. I told my wife Minnie that I wanted to become a freelance writer and showed my friend Ed Roberts the article. Ed and I were both assigned to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, at the time, and we often discussed forming a company to sell electronic kits through Popular Electronics and Radio-Electronics magazines. When Ed saw the article in Model Rocketry, he agreed it was time to start a company. We invited Stan Cagle and Bob Zaller to join us in a meeting at Ed’s house, where we decided to call the company Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). You can read the details on my web site. Our first product was my light flasher circuit. I left both MITS and the Air Force after a year or so to become a freelance writer but stayed connected by writing manuals for various MITS products. I also arranged a meeting with Ed and Les Solomon of Popular Electronics when Les came to visit my wife Minnie and me. That meeting led to the Opticom article (a MITS light-wave communication system), various calculator articles and finally a cover story in January 1975 on the MITS Altair 8800, a microcomputer designed by Ed. The Altair was featured on the cover, which attracted Paul Allen’s attention. He bought the magazine in a Harvard Square news store and immediately took it to his high school friend Bill Gates. Within months, Paul was working at MITS, and Bill followed later. They organized Microsoft shortly thereafter. Paul Allen planned a great exhibit on the early days of microcomputing, which began in Albuquerque, not the West Coast. The exhibit is called STARTUP. It occupies an entire gallery at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. On display are the first BASIC tape, early computer stuff, and the light flasher (and rocket) I built for Model Rocketry magazine.



projects
by Anonymous Coward

Of all the projects you have worked on, what has been your favorite? Personal or professional. (I would like to express my gratitude, getting started with electronics, got me started in electronics and I am now an engineer. I also have a "non-standard" education as they say, having mostly taught myself from reading and taking online free courses.

Mims: First, I’m glad you are largely self-taught. That’s often the best way.

Favorite Projects:

1. 1966-72: Various electronic travel aids for the blind, a project inspired by my blind great grandfather. The 2-transistor pulse generator for the LED was based on a $0.99 code practice oscillator board from a radio/TV repair shop when I was in college (spring 1966). That oscillator circuit dominated my learning curve for several years and evolved into the rocket light flasher that led to the founding of MITS.

2. 1990-Present: First sun photometers to use LEDs as spectrally selective photodiodes (still very involved with this after 25 years of near daily measurements).

3. 1990-Present: Compact 2-channel UV-B photometer for measuring the ozone layer to within 1-2% accuracy. The original two instruments (TOPS-1 and 2) found an error in NASA’s Nimbus 7 ozone instrument and led to my first publication in Nature. This work led to a 1993 Rolex Award. TOPS evolved into Microtops II, a sophisticated instrument engineered by Solar Light that’s used around the world to monitor the ozone layer, total water vapor and haze.

4. 2013-Present: Miniature photometers that measure twilight glows and enable the detection and elevation of stratospheric dust layers and the ozone layer. This is really exciting work and I will soon be comparing results from my homemade instruments with two lidars at the Mauna Loa Observatory.



a distinguished tinkerer, indeed
by swschrad

I grew up on your Popular Electronics crew, all those soldering wizards who educated us all. I'd like to hear the back-story of how you and AT&T got into a cage battle over optoelectronics

Mims: The Bell Labs story is told in Siliconnections and will be retold with new info in the new memoir. During my senior year in high school I reasoned that a solid state light detector should also function as a light source, much as an electromagnetic earphone could double as a microphone. Briefly, I connected an automobile spark coil to a CdS photocell—which emitted flashes of green light when stimulated by 12,000 volts from the coil. In 1972 I experimented with LEDs as photodiodes and described this in a book (Light Emitting Diodes, pp. 118-119). In the early 1980s I sent Bell Labs an invention disclosure for how an LED can be used as 2-way emitter/detector at either end of an optical fiber. They agreed in writing to contact me if they wanted to pursue my disclosure, but they never did. A few years later, Dave Gunzel, Radio Shack’s tech editor, sent me a Business Week article that announced Bell Labs had discovered what I submitted to them. I made 2 trips to New York to negotiate with them, but they wanted me to do work for them in return for me canceling my claim. In the end, I visited a sharp patent lawyer, and we sued. After a series of funny depositions and other adventures, the well-known Texas trial lawyer Bell Labs had hired told them they needed to settle the case. They did. They also abandoned a patent application they had filed (after I complained to a Federal judge).



Re:Ask him about Darwin
by femtobyte

Why do you trust science when it comes to electronics, but not when it comes to biology?

Mims: I trusted biology in the 6th grade when our science book showed a photo of Piltdown Man and explained how he was the missing link between apes and people. This book persuaded me to accept evolution and to almost reject Christianity. However, while researching Piltdown Man at an Air Force Academy library when I was in the 11th grade, I learned that the 1912 discovery was actually one of science’s biggest hoaxes. Even though some scientists never accepted Piltdown as authentic, the scientific consensus was that it was real, and this admission was not formalized for 40 years. That was three years before my sixth grade science book was handed to us gullible students and presented as scientific fact. While working with scientists at the Air Force Weapons Lab on a variety of sophisticated experiments involving rhesus monkeys, I decided to look more into evolution. I began collecting fossils and have since accumulated a fair number of insects encapsulated in ancient amber. By my mid-twenties, I made the conscious decision to reject Darwinian evolution in favor of what is now called intelligent design. (I prefer Superintelligent Design. ID is a misnomer, since no one has proposed the details of exactly how life has been intelligently designed ex nihilo.) The bottom line for me was that Piltdown taught me to be skeptical of scientific paradigms. Of course, that’s what science in general once taught. But these days we are supposed to accept anything that’s claimed to be the product of “scientific consensus.”

Back to your question, yes, I certainly trust science when it comes to electronics and biology. In fact, I’ve merged electronics and biology in a long term and ongoing study of daily photosynthetic radiation. I published a paper on 5-years of data using a homemade instrument in Photochemistry and Photobiology. Evolutionary science offers no viable explanation for the evolution of photosynthesis. I’ve also merged electronics and biology in an ongoing study of selective tannin deposition in the annual growth rings of various trees, especially two distinctive varieties of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum).

But I question paradigms and never trust pseudoscience, like the idea that life arose on its own through purely random processes. Occam’s razor recommends the simplest solution to a problem as being the best. Intentional design of living systems—the God hypothesis in my view, others have different ideas--is a far simpler explanation than random natural processes that have never been observed to create molecular motors and other absolutely indispensable elements of living cells. Back to electronics, it’s easy to conceive of an application, but implementing a circuit to implement the application is not a random process. I’ve built thousands of circuits, none of which were made by randomly wiring together components. The same applies to code. No one I know has ever randomly poked keys on a keyboard in an effort to create a new routine. In medicine, random events like this are called mutations, the vast majority of which are non-beneficial. When I designed the PIP processor from discrete TTL chips, it was necessary to design both the circuit and the microinstructions. PIP was built on our kitchen table, and was a bird’s nest of wires. Remove or replace a single wire or randomly change a microinstruction, and it would not work. But I was careful, and it worked. I published a book and 4 articles based on PIP, not one connection of which was random. In fact, as the designer of that rather difficult project, I might have been somewhat offended had someone suggested I relied on random processes for any aspect of its design and/or assembly. ; )

I apply these same standards to all science, so let’s briefly examine evolution.

1. RANDOM EVOLUTION. The random processes thought to underlie evolution occur throughout nature. I’ve built a Geiger counter to record the random arrival of subatomic particles, and I once wrote a program to quickly evaluate “random number generators” by plotting them as x,y coordinates. Imperfect generators were quickly revealed when their numbers formed streaks and bands across the screen. But I am unaware of how naturally random processes could have led to the first life forms, much less the information encoded within them. Consider the earliest cyanobacteria from the Precambrian. These ancient life forms were capable of cell division, and they included complex information that controlled their structure, metabolism and reproduction. Modern single-celled organisms multiply by various forms of division. In all cases, various molecular motors physically split and move the internal structures of the dividing cell, sometimes under great pressure. Consider kinesin motors that literally walk along internal microtubules towing huge loads. These motors are too small to image (they walk 8 nm per step at up to 100 steps/second), but Ron Vale’s team at the University of California at San Francisco has managed to affix glowing quantum dots to them so their movements can be observed in real time. There are many other kinds of molecular motors, including the sliders in muscle tissue and the rotary motors that drive flagella and perform amazing internal functions much like machines in a factory.

The evolution of these complex molecules, which had to exist in the earliest cells, is so improbable that the evolutionary literature is being increasingly criticized for failing to include evolutionary explanations for them. That’s a huge problem for evolutionary molecular biologists, some of whom I know. Do they really believe that a rotary nanomotor that spins an axle at a thousand or so rpm and can stop in only a revolution—all at an efficiency approaching 100 percent—somehow randomly arose from a cluster of molecules hanging out in a protocell? Do they really believe these motors can walk, slide and rotate while performing many functions absolutely essential to the life of a cell—all without a nervous system, brain, eyes or muscles? Ron Vale’s team, Harvard, the Discovery Institute and others have produced remarkable videos that show animations of molecular motors. Before committing yourself to the notion these highly complex machines evolved, have a look at some of their videos on YouTube and start asking questions. You will immediately realize why molecular biologists avoid discussing the supposed evolution of these nanomachines.

2. DARWIN. Moving on to higher forms of life, all of which rely on molecular motors, Darwin knew nothing about DNA, molecular motors and the self-assembling microtubules that support cell structures and serve as tracks for walking kinesin motors when he proposed his hypothesis of natural selection. Natural selection works great at macro levels. That’s why people have been able to select special characteristics of plants and animals to develop new varieties. But even dogs (Canis familiaris) can reproduce with their key predecessors (Canis lupis). Dogs have never evolved into anything other than dogs.

3. DARWIN’S ESCAPE CLAUSE. Charles Darwin injected a vital escape clause into his famous The Origin of Species when he recognized the absence of any fossils that transitioned into the remarkably diverse and complex creatures found in the Cambrian. Darwin wrote, “There is another and allied difficulty, which is much more serious. I allude to the manner in which species belonging to several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks.To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained.”

Today’s strict evolutionists are unhappy about Darwin’s views, for even today he would be unable to provide a satisfactory explanation. Thanks to Darwin for advocating the skeptical side of science, a side that is too often ignored or even banished when philosophical matters intervene. And that’s the final line. Ever since I was banished from Scientific American magazine after the editors asked if I believe in Darwinian evolution (no) or the sanctity of life (yes), a small number of dedicated atheists have attempted to discredit both me and my science. I know Christians who accept Darwinian evolution and those who do not. But hardline atheists have no choice but to resist any alternatives to evolution. This hasn’t impressed my editors, publishers, science colleagues and, yes, the atheist friends and colleagues with whom I have done considerable science. There just happen to be some determined atheists out there who seem to have a calling to flame anyone who rejects their philosophy in favor of a higher power or, more perhaps more appropriately in my case, a Creator. Your question doesn’t use that approach, and I appreciate that.



Makerspaces
by cowtamer

What do you feel about the Maker movement and Makerspaces in general?It seems to me as the Maker/tinkerer is the new equivalent to the electronics hobbyist. Do you believe new project designs need to keep this in mind? (i.e, present the design of an entire gadget instead of just the electronics)?

Mims: Fantastic question! Hobby electronics experienced a sharp reversal when it worked its way out of a hobby by evolving (under the lead of designers, of course) into commercially available computers. This was a major concern to many of us who judged science fairs. Physics and engineering experiments nearly disappeared while soft projects in environmental science multiplied.

Two developments have reversed the decline of hobby electronics:

1. ROBOTICS: The robotics movement has transformed many students from passive learners to active experimenters and designers. My current column in MAKE magazine proposes a new kind of robotics competition in which “Marsbots” slip behind a curtain to a scene visible only to spectators and perform a variety of tests of a simulated Martian environment and atmosphere. If this becomes a competition someday, students will learn many new concepts in math, electronics, mechanics, environmental sensing and monitoring, data analysis, and, of course, robotics. They will do all this in one major project while having loads of fun!

2. MAKER MOVEMENT: There’s always been a maker movement. It began with hand-woven baskets and hand-chipped flints. Today’s maker movement really took off when MAKE magazine arrived and began publishing projects that people were doing all along in private. Thanks to the highly creative team at MAKE, the movement has expanded well beyond what it once was.

You asked a key question: [Should we] present the design of an entire gadget instead of just the electronics? I think of it this way:

a. Present any circuit that does something useful, whether or not you have found what that use might be.
b. Present complete circuits that do something useful whenever possible.
c. Share your talents and aspirations by merging them into practical, useful projects.
d. Publish your projects! Nuts&Volts is a fantastic electronics magazine. MAKE is the ultimate maker’s magazine. If you make a scientific discovery submit your work to a scientific journal. If it’s published, you will have more credibility than ever before.

Doing electronics alone is fun, but it’s not always creative. I found my niche by using electronics to develop entirely new kinds of gadgets and instruments—like an oscilloscope the size of a postage stamp, a surface-mount organ assembled with conductive paint on a business card, and a stepped-tone generator that was renamed the “Atari Punk Console.” (I had no idea how much influence the latter circuit had until being asked to give a talk at Moogfest 2014. Search Google for more.)

Then there’s added value, as I’m trying to do with a range of compact, inexpensive instruments designed to monitor the atmosphere’s ozone layer, water vapor layer, haze and so forth. Some of these instruments use ordinary LEDs as spectrally-selective photodiodes instead of expensive filters.



Challenges faced by computer-aided learning
by LordMyren

You've written hobbyist-targetting books with Radio Shack that work through hands on projects hobbyists can do themselves. My question is, for those seeking to carry your mission in writing those books over to computer-aided or simulation based learning, what things of value did you create that will be the hardest to carry forwards and what are the greatest things of value that computer-assistance will uniquely be able to take & make it's own & go furthest with?

Mims: This is a tough questions. The Radio Shack books are really best for hands-on learning. I saw this firsthand while teaching basic electronics and experimental science to humanities majors at the University of the Nations in Hawaii and Switzerland. The students are from all over the world, and they all exhibited the same response, viz., lectures about science and electronics are boring at best, even when supplemented with cool videos and PowerPoints. But hands on learning is exciting and contagious. When students were given my Electronics Learning Lab one never knew what to expect. They were at first timid. But after 5 minutes they were building their first circuits. One class became so excited—and loud--while building light-sensitive tone generators that the classes on either side of mine gave up and walked in my class to see what was happening. Check out my YouTube video of a typical reaction of two students building a tone generator.

I will think more about your question, for there’s certainly a role for computer assisted learning. But based on many years of experience, I’m biased toward the hands-on approach.



Past vs present
by ArcadeMan

What's your opinion on the old ways, i.e. buying parts locally from Radio Shack and meeting people in local clubs compared to the new online way of buying parts and kits, publishing tutorials and forums full of people helping each other?More to the point, what do you think has been lost from the old way and what has been gained from the new way?

Mims: This is an intriguing question. While I was never a member of an electronics club, I know some people who were. I also spent time showing friends how to build circuits. I doubt if there’s a better way to learn to solder than watching an experienced person solder a connection. That’s how I taught my son Eric to solder when he was only four years old. About that time I organized the Albuquerque Academy Model Rocket and taught teens how to make rockets, design experiments and build instruments. Yes, maybe some of this firsthand instruction has been lost these days. But maybe robotics clubs and groups have brought back much of it. If asked to trade, I would take today’s approach of do-it-yourself electronics over the old days. Moving on to science, I really think the old method was better. Science today is dominated by labs filled with teams, often working with very costly equipment. Today’s amateur scientists have access to highly sophisticated equipment on the surplus market, so that’s a major advance. But it’s often difficult for even highly creative amateur scientists to win the recognition they deserve unless they publish in leading journals of science, the most difficult kind of publishing on the planet.

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Forest Mims is a classy Guy (2)

DeTech (2589785) | about 4 months ago | (#47195611)

These are thorough, well-thought answers. It's a shame more pop idols can't be more like Mims.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195673)

> MFW someone thinks Mims is a pop idol

-_-

This guys a nobody, get out more. What a useless front page story, not a surprise its samzenpus

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199459)

Mims has made significant contributions to science.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196069)

They're exactly like mims.
They know 1 thing, apply it to things outside of their field and make nonsense statements.

What Jenny McCarthy is to vaccines he is to the theory of evolution.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (0)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#47196159)

They know 1 thing, apply it to things outside of their field and make nonsense statements.

Yes!

Now, if we could just get people to recognize this obvious point with folks like Dawkins and Harris, we'd see less nonsense on Slashdot.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196227)

They are experts, so I fail to see the connection.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#47196735)

He probably thinks Dawkins is the black hole dude with the funny voice.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#47198237)

Experts, yes. But NOT experts in topics they often discuss.

I guess critical thinking only applies when you disagree with someone, eh?

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

werepants (1912634) | about 4 months ago | (#47198869)

Dawkins is an expert in biology, but woefully uninformed about theology/philosophy - he presents many arguments that are centuries old, and expects to be celebrated for it. So it would be appropriate to say he and many of his proponents "know 1 thing, apply it to things outside of their field and make nonsense statements."

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199075)

Dawkins is an expert in biology, but woefully uninformed about theology/philosophy

An "expert" in theology? :) Is that like knowing what color the invisible unicorn is without looking it up? Or being able to count how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47196419)

They're exactly like mims.
They know 1 thing, apply it to things outside of their field and make nonsense statements.

What Jenny McCarthy is to vaccines he is to the theory of evolution.

Jenny McCarthy is indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds, maybe even thousands of Children. She's peer pressured mothers all over the world into putting their children in mortal danger. Mims gave a few speeches in front of like minded Christians and wrote a few papers. I've never though that if I sat down to dinner with him and disagreed that he'd bat an eye at it. Jenny McCarthy would probably leap across the table and throttle you if she found out you vaccinated your kids. The two are not even remotely comparable.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196663)

Both promote ignorance of a science. Both undermine science, both speak on subjects they no nothing about.
Intentional undermining a science, using your status to continue to spread ignorance harms us all.
Not understand science becasue of people like these ass hats is exactly why kids are dead.

His 'logic' is the same type of 'logic' that makes people susceptible to claims from people like Jenny McCarthy, and a host of other pseudosciences.

Scientific ignorance puts us all in mortal peril.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47196833)

Both promote ignorance of a science. Both undermine science, both speak on subjects they no nothing about.
Intentional undermining a science, using your status to continue to spread ignorance harms us all.
Not understand science becasue of people like these ass hats is exactly why kids are dead.

His 'logic' is the same type of 'logic' that makes people susceptible to claims from people like Jenny McCarthy, and a host of other pseudosciences.

Scientific ignorance puts us all in mortal peril.

So do you. So do I. I'm sure I could trawl your posts and find some examples of you disagreeing with established science, not that I care to.
By that reasoning we're all equally related to Jenny McCarthy.
McCarthy is a bad person because she uses peer pressure to convince unwitting mothers into putting children in very real danger. She's made a fortune doing so. Mims simply has a different opinion. I see nothing wrong with that even if I disagree with him.

I believe in God (or something like God) and that Evolution IS creation. Science is simply understanding how God did it. Does that make me a bad person?

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47198989)

I recently got into a debate with Geekoid about crime statistics. By the end of it, I'd won pretty handily, and it was clear he was cherry picking data.

I didn't think it would come up again, but here it has, and as it turns out, you're exactly right - Geekoid engaged in selective comprehension of data to fit his emotional need to support preconceived and wrong beliefs.

That said, I agree with you that there is nothing threatening about finding science compelling to a point, and then thinking that while there are parts of a question science answers, that there are other answers we choose to believe, SO LONG AS we are willing to consider any and all data presented to us.

I personally believe in God, and believe science is just as legitimate a means to find truth as any other. If it leads me to believe that the literal interpretation of Genesis is false, I am doing nothing wrong to believe that. Religious belief is not necessarily absolute truth, and as we grow in emotional and spiritual maturity we don't need to be afraid of science overturning things we believed before from religious education.

What bothers science-only people is that there are many religious people who refuse to accept science when faced with it. I can understand why that would bother science-only folks. But I don't understand the need to hurl insults at science-and-religion folks who show little sign of threatening rational thought or scientific progress.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (1)

werepants (1912634) | about 4 months ago | (#47198857)

This guy has read Origin of Species (have you?) and he knows about piltdown man, which means he knows a fair bit about both archaeology and biology, far more than your average playboy bunny. He's also excellent at circuit design and technical writing, so he thinks clearly and analytically. On all fronts, he is somebody who is at least capable of intelligent discourse on the matter, probably to the same degree as you or I, and the fact that he holds a minority position doesn't make his ideas worthless.

I'm not saying that I agree with him - I don't. I also don't find his arguments compelling (he seems to be unaware of the Cambrian explosion, for instance) or particularly interesting. He isn't trying to mislead, though, and his contributions in physics and electronics have basically no connection to whatever he believes about theology or biology. So you've got no reason to criticize him for honestly answering a question, just because he has an opinion that differs from yours.

Re:Forest Mims is a classy Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47198513)

Sorry, he's a fucking moron, as easily established by his evolution by natural selection comments.

Astounding answer on Evolution (4, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47195665)

I only knew Mims through his electronics books. I had no idea he was skeptical of evolution. It's interesting to show an example of someone who is clearly scientifically literate, yet still has room in his belief system for God, and also sees cracks in accepted theory. How many "independent" thinkers do we have in my generation? Whenever I say things like Mims said here, I'm mocked (openly or silently). I think something's lost for that.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195847)

Citing an "All-Knowing" "All-Powerful" god is the simplest answer??? Sorry, he loses all credibility on that line of thought.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 4 months ago | (#47195889)

Did Mr Mims say "all-knowing and all-powerful" in his answer?

But, please, give us a more coherent answer on the details he did mention above. I would love to hear it.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (2)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47195965)

But, please, give us a more coherent answer on the details he did mention above. I would love to hear it.

I posted a small response below. For a more complete answer, I recommend the following books:

"Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne. His blog [wordpress.com] has info.

"The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins.

Enjoy, and please do report back.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47195973)

First, Mims cites witnessing an example of the self-corrective mechanism of science in action as a reason to reject it. How does that even make sense? The whole of science is built on that principle in the first place! Second, claiming that "the God hypothesis is a simpler explanation" doesn't make any sense either. So we explain away the existence of complex sentient entities (us) by assuming the existence of another complex sentient entity? In what sense is this not merely postponing the problem? The rest is a bunch of arguments from incredulity and ignorance ("I don't know how it could have happened, so it didn't happen!")

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47196145)

The biggest problem is that, even if evolution were wrong, filling in the answer by saying a deity did it is just irrational. If you don't know the answer to a problem, then you don't know the answer! Don't just make things up and claim it's the answer just because you don't know the real answer.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47197339)

Keep in mind I'm an athiest and firm believer in evolution, but for argument's sake: It *is* a valid application of Occam's Razor to state, without further implications, that "Because I cannot come up with any rational explanation or theory for how biological feature X could possibly have evolved in nature without the guidance of some form of intelligence, the simplest answer is that some unknown intelligent agent guided the design of it." There may be many peripheral problems with this line of thinking: for example, the lack of a rational explanation or theory could be due to the arguer's ignorance of current research, but the basic thought expressed isn't irrational, out of line with Occam's Razor, or otherwise stupid or unscientific.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (2)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199089)

the simplest answer is that some unknown intelligent agent guided the design of it.

No, not at all. Because rather than reducing the difficulty of the problem, you now have the increased difficulty of explaining the origin of the unknown intelligent agent. You've gone a step backwards.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 4 months ago | (#47199499)

you now have the increased difficulty of explaining the origin of the unknown intelligent agent. You've gone a step backwards.

Sounds like the Big Bang Theory. The answer is simply, "It doesn't matter."

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199355)

First, Mims cites witnessing an example of the self-corrective mechanism of science in action as a reason to reject it. How does that even make sense?

What is science? Science is a massive body of data and perspectives on data. Mims does not reject science. He rejects certain perspectives within science. Sure, one could argue the perspective(s) he is rejecting are extremely well-supported and should be universally accepted. That's fine. However, to conflate a particular perspective within science to science as a category for a broad spectrum of knowledge is disingenuous. If we do that, what sets science apart from religion? Nothing. These particular perspectives would become immutable doctrines and could never be challenged and/or corrected.

Thus, Mims response makes sense in that he is not rejecting science. He is rejecting a specific body of data and perspective(s) within science.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199597)

> Mims does not reject science. He rejects certain perspectives within science.

Well, I don't know if Mims is a young-earth creationist, but young-earthers necessarily reject ALL of science to justify their positions. Really. Check into it - biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy etc. all have to be full of shit for a "young earth" to be viable.

As far as I know, Mims takes no position on the age of the earth, but he is skeptical of radiometric dating - where he should be utterly convinced of the case for an old earth if he knows anything about radioactivity (which he does). The blinders he's wearing are quite large.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47200045)

Well, I don't know if Mims is a young-earth creationist, but young-earthers necessarily reject ALL of science to justify their positions. Really. Check into it - biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy etc. all have to be full of shit for a "young earth" to be viable.

This is the same issue outlined in the previous post. Biology is not something one singularly accepts or rejects. While not as broad as "science," it is still a massive body of data and perspectives on that data. As such, it is still problematic. The same goes with the other fields you've pointed to. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

As far as I know, Mims takes no position on the age of the earth, but he is skeptical of radiometric dating - where he should be utterly convinced of the case for an old earth if he knows anything about radioactivity (which he does). The blinders he's wearing are quite large.

He may well be wearing large blinders. It doesn't change the problem pointed out with the earlier post, and it was addressed because this sentiment is extremely common. It is a dishonest portrayal.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (4, Insightful)

butalearner (1235200) | about 4 months ago | (#47196233)

It's implied from his background - he is a Christian - and his use of religious terms like "sanctity of life." The main logical fallacy in his theological position is that his god is a god of the gaps. He is using gaps in evidence for the prevailing theory to "prove" that it's wrong. I don't know personally, but I wouldn't be surprised or dismayed if there is still a "missing link" in the fossil record that tells us how single-celled organisms evolved certain relatively complex things like flagella. The lack of evidence is not evidence to the contrary, so I am content to wait until further science sheds light on the matter. But the fact that we aren't sure how life got started doesn't throw the rest of Evolutionary Theory away. The fact that the Piltdown Man was a hoax doesn't either. Wikipedia has a fascinating series of articles on evolutionary biology, but here's a good place to start [wikipedia.org] .

Also, as GP implied, jumping from "intelligent designer" to the benevolent and omnipotent Christian god just does not follow from "there are issues with Evolutionary Theory." There is no logical connection between the two, and his use of Occam's Razor only makes sense to those who take it as a given that there are extradimensional beings of unimaginable power. A biologist using Occam's Razor would instead extrapolate from observed processes like natural selection, and then look for evidence (which is exactly what we've done with Evolutionary Theory, and it has worked out pretty well so far).

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47196339)

Also, as GP implied, jumping from "intelligent designer" to the benevolent and omnipotent Christian god just does not follow from "there are issues with Evolutionary Theory."

I didn't mean to imply that, though I can see why you might assume it. I was more interested in pointing out that I appreciated seeing someone who has a science and engineering background feel free to engage in thinking beyond that which is accepted in those circles.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196691)

"..l free to engage in thinking beyond that which is accepted in those circles."
unless he can actually get some evidence that adds to what is already known., he isn't thinking beyond anything. Just spouting nonsense.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47196811)

"..l free to engage in thinking beyond that which is accepted in those circles." unless he can actually get some evidence that adds to what is already known., he isn't thinking beyond anything. Just spouting nonsense.

Because there's no value in considering or thinking about anything for which empirical data doesn't exist? This concept goes broadly beyond evolution. In fact, if you believe in the mathematical concept of a circle, or a square - you have established belief in something for which no physical evidence exists. There are no perfect circles or squares in the world. Only in pure thought do such things exist. And the understanding of mathematics that we use to describe them had to come about without perfect or precise examples.

I award you zero points, etc. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#47196997)

Approximate squares and circles exist, from which the qualities of theoretical perfect ones may be extrapolated.

Approximate deities do not, unless you count Eric Clapton.

Re:I award you zero points, etc. (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47198473)

Approximate squares and circles exist, from which the qualities of theoretical perfect ones may be extrapolated.

There was a terrible attempt to prove the existence of God in this manner by St. Anselm. It was something along the lines of "if the idea of a perfect God exists, then the idea must come from a better source, and the better source would be a perfect God". I thought that rather silly myself, as there is nothing about the idea of a perfect God which requires anything better than a human.

That said, the leap from the observable universe to the Big Bang is remarkable. I cannot conceive of how cosmologists and physicists developed that theory based on anything that didn't involve highly speculative, unsupportable, and [initially, at least] downright laughable proposals. If fact, plate tectonics was laughed at for some time for similar reasons, though I find that idea less dramatic.

The flip side of this is my understand of subtle but occasionally documented rejection of examples of epigenetic mechanisms at work which didn't fit with Darwinism. Since certain types of epigenetic actions (i.e. inheritance of acquired traits) don't fit with the Mendelian OR Darwinian models, they took a very long time to be generally accepted. Even worse for epigenetics was that these mechanisms occasionally looked like ID, and so were often co-opted by ID proponents to argue for ID, when really they are just poorly understood natural phenomenon.

However, it makes me wonder: Is it worse to suppress data that can be used to support a nonscientific view because you disagree with the nonscientific view, and be wrong for suppressing the data, or is it worse to accept data that science does not explain, while being open to scientific or nonscientific explanations?

Re:I award you zero points, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199643)

That said, the leap from the observable universe to the Big Bang is remarkable. I cannot conceive of how cosmologists and physicists developed that theory based on anything that didn't involve highly speculative, unsupportable, and [initially, at least] downright laughable proposals.

Read The Big Bang [google.com] by Simon Singh for a well-written introduction. It's a fascinating story, from the original theory conceived by a Jesuit priest (Lemaître) to the recent discoveries of Cosmic Background radiation.

To me, the most fascinating part was after Hubble's explanation of near-universal red shift in galaxies, he used the Type Ia supernovae in other galaxies to calibrate standard candles and convincingly make the case that red shift is due to expansion. From there, you just have to work backwards to deduce a much hotter, denser universe and the math led to inflation theory, etc.

Of course, the theory could be overturned if new evidence comes to light or a more inclusive theory replaces it, but it's astonishing how every prediction of the theory has been experimentally confirmed, yet there's still that pesky dark matter and dark energy... :)

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47195897)

and also sees cracks in accepted theory

I think you've misspelled "manufactures" there.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196047)

" sees cracks in accepted theory."
you don't understand science, do you?
That statement makes no sense at all.
It's a theory, are there unknowns? of course, just like every theory.
Does the current data support the theory? yes.
You can not be scientifically literate and not know the theory of evolution is based on facts.
The idea the the theory of evolution means there isn't a god is wrong.
The idea that atheist 'have to believe' in the current theory of evolution no matter what is also wrong. Give another reason that explains the current data, as well as make predictions.
Yes, evolution makes predictions and yes they have panned out.

Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

kanweg (771128) | about 4 months ago | (#47196493)

What cracks? The Piltdown man? It was debunked. Constant review and scrutiny is part of science. You make a name by discovering something new/.show someone else was wrong (with facts, not with assertions). With today's tools (DNA sequencing) etc. it wouldn't have taken 40 years.
Missing fossils? Missing evidence? WTF. Ask him to produce the arc of the covenant, etc. The important thing about evolution is: There is nothing contradicting it. Every newly found fossil matches the pattern. Never do we find a rabbit with a piece of a T-rex tooth in it . No one is claiming it is complete, that every piece of evidence is there, but there is no evidence against it. EVERYTHING independent line of evidence points to the same thing: geology was used to predict where one of the missing links could be found, and was indeed found (read about it here). Every scientist would love to falsify the theory of evolution. I know I would. What a way to make a name for yourself. But the theory of evolution is bolstered every day.
ERVs show that man and apes share a common ancestor. Learn about it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]
Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil was found at the predicted location. Read about it here: http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/... [uchicago.edu]

Mims posits a Creator. Not zero creators. Not many creators. A (one) creator. The amount of evidence for that? Zilch. He has no qualms about that. If you want to spot a crack in a line of reasoning, there's one. And why does Mims give himself a free pass on a super powerful creator out of nothing but is stymied by photochemical system?

Every molecule has properties, such as a boiling point, a solubility in water etc. etc. Water vapor can form a variety of ice crystals (snow flakes). None of his electronic components did that (although resistors might self-align a bit).
Complex molecules exhibit more elaborate properties. The molecules he's so amazed about, like molecular motors? They self-assemble upon formation. They arise by transcription from DNA and translation from RNA. Not a single deity involved in that. If these molecules didn't have that property, the molecules wouldn't be there. All those molecular behavior in the end determine what you do. If you think a god is pulling the strings at a molecular level, then he can't hold you responsible for your actions.

Sure, none of Mims' electronic circuits has every self-assembled. But atoms and molecules have different properties than electronic components. They self-solder, i.e. react. And the universe is a gigantically big place (multiply the number of galaxies by the number of stars per galaxy) times a couple of planets. That's a gigantically erlenmeyer flask with a gazilion reactions taking place. Most of them leading to nothing special. I place my bet on a freak chemical event taking place leading to life in that chemical soup than a deity that self-raised himself as a super-von-munchausen.

In his own field/related to his own field of electronics, genetic algorithms have resulted in very strange-looking antennae that are better than human designed ones. Yes, the algorithm was programmed. That is because antennae don't procreate, otherwise they could have evolved to look that strange yet be so efficient.

I liked the Q&A quite a bit. But I don't think he's a man to go to on evolution, as to take him serious there, he either has to present evidence for the creator he posits or provide evidence (like a rabbit bone with a T-rex tooth in it) that falsifies evolution. That's how it works. His work on ozone got accepted not because it was his strong opinion but because it was correct.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

Millennium (2451) | about 4 months ago | (#47197511)

Constant review and scrutiny is supposed to be part of science. The successes of hoaxes like the Lysenko affair, the kinase cascade theory, Piltdown Man and cold fusion (but not the butt-head astronomer), more than one claim of inducing pluripotency in somatic stem cells, and countless others past and present show that even today, science-as-practiced often falls far short of science-as-idealized.

Oftentimes, this doesn't result in much trouble, because even when review and scrutiny don't happen, most scientists are basically honest. Their data is decent (or at least not deliberately flawed), their experiments are more or less sound, and things turn out to work anyway. But it is very easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by this assumption of basic morality (a sentence that could be applied equally well to some other things), and that sense of security is what allows the quacks and hoaxers to thrive even as their colleagues get caught all around them.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 4 months ago | (#47197313)

...also sees cracks in accepted theory

And whose ability to spot those cracks mysteriously vanishes every Sunday morning for about two hours, along with any desire to do so.

Somebody should look into that. There might be a pill for it.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199837)

Your use of clever language makes your beliefs sound less illogical, but that's just hand-waving. As if not accepting the existence of God is merely due to a lack of "room" in one's apparently insufficiently spacious belief "system."

Mims' argument is a more sophisticated version of the "I don't understand how this could be - therefore God" argument. It's that last part that's the illogical giant leap.

Re:Astounding answer on Evolution (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47199989)

I'm not claiming my belief in God is logical, for the record. My belief in God is separate and apart from logic. It's a difficult area, to be sure. Even now as I think about it, I wonder at the huge gap between what little I can comprehend and what can be proven scientifically. Maybe you're right, and my lizard brain (haha) substitutes God for things I don't understand. But, and this is a big BUT, I don't use God as an excuse to stop trying to understand via science. Science is just a means to understanding, and if it proves something wrong about my religious beliefs, so be it - I will amend religious beliefs accordingly.

Ahem. It's Forrest Mims III to you (1)

kriston (7886) | about 4 months ago | (#47195685)

Ahem. It's Forrest Mims III to you.

On Being Self Taught (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195827)

I'm a retired scientist (Ph.D. in Materials Science, 35 US patents, many publications, etc.). Sure, I've been "trained," but the reason I did better than my colleagues is because of things I learned off-hours, sometimes by trial-and-error, starting with electronics in elementary school, and many science fair projects in high school. I could convert junk items in laboratory drawers into critical experiments while others were waiting for the UPS man. And, yes, I followed Forrest's writings throughout his career.

Too bad about evolution (4, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47195861)

I really liked Mims's electronics books, but I can't respect him as a scientist when he misrepresents the theory of evolution and proposes (essentially) intelligent design instead. It's a damn shame.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195887)

I can't respect people who need to brow beat a person at every turn for whatever reason they can find when it's not even relevant to the situation. It's a damn shame.

Re:Too bad about evolution (4, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47195909)

I am particularly opposed to those who spout pseudo-scientific arguments against evolution because promoting ignorance is very dangerous, especially in a country like the United States where a significant fraction of the population is scientifically illiterate.

Mims chose to answer the question about evolution. So it's certainly relevant to the situation.

Re:Too bad about evolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195947)

If Mims is ignorant perhaps you can enlighten him. He already said that there is missing evidence (as cited by Darwin) to which there still is no answer.
 
If anything, Mims is more open minded than the likes of you. Sorry that skepticism is now heresy among the scientifically "literate."

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47196051)

He already said that there is missing evidence (as cited by Darwin) to which there still is no answer.

Mims is wrong. I posted the names of a couple of books that completely refute Mims; please go and read them. I refer to "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne and "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#47196377)

> Mims is wrong.

No he is not.

First, Darwinism is NOT the cause of consciousness. Consciousness uses evolution as a tool. Stop confusing evolution as the source when it is only a minor process.

Second, there is no such thing as junk DNA [time.com] . 100% of DNA has a purpose. Note: Scientists were currently only able to decode part of it so they made an assumption that the rest is "junk".

Thirdly, no amount of "selective" breeding or mutations is going to get cats and dogs to be able to produce offspring.

Lastly, Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D., theoretical nuclear physicist, in his documentary The Quantum Activist [quantumactivist.com] lists his reasons for why Darwinism is also incomplete: Namely the separation of matter and consciousness is based on an incorrect framework: the primacy of matter. The actually reality is that there is only consciousness.

Until scientists learns to quantity consciousness, and include it is in the physics equations Science is doomed to ignorance.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47196421)

You posted a number of irrelevant responses, misrepresentations of what the Theory of Evolution says, and some plain old nonsense. Please read the books I referenced, then report back.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#47198913)

You DO realize there is a difference between Darwinism and Evolution right???

Richard Dawkins is your typical fundamental atheist, aka idiot, who doesn't grok the meta-physical nature of reality. Namely, 1) Where the physical laws come from, 2) Why they exist, 3) let alone anything about consciousness. He doesn't understand life because he doesn't have a clue about death. He is the literal blind man saying there is no such thing as color. He doesn't understand the Source / God / Creator because he has completely failed the first lesson: Know Thyself.

Enough about his stupidity.

Science is a wonderful system inside its domain. Only an arrogant fool would pretend Science is valid outside its domain. Science by definition is amoral. Likewise, to understand life you need to go outside the limited perspective of Science.

Show me where Darwinism OR Evolution explains where consciousness comes from?
How we can measure it?
Why it even exists in the first place?
Lastly show me where Darwinism OR Evolution explains where the natural laws come from?

Darwinism is nothing more then ignorance based on incorrect and incomplete assumptions.

By 2024 you'll have proof for why Darwinism is junk science.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199121)

Show me where Darwinism OR Evolution explains where consciousness comes from?

Consciousness is an adaptive evolutionary change. Conscious creatures survive better than non-conscious ones, evidently, hence consciousness evolved through natural selection. As to why the conditions that evolved consciousness exist, it just happened that things worked out that way. Sometimes things really do happen for no reason. Despite the fact that you might not like that, the Universe really does not care.

Science by definition is amoral.

I never even mentioned morality here. In my opinion, religion by definition is immoral since it presupposes to know what an ultimate creator wants, and inevitably ends up meting out the most despicable cruelties on those who reject the religion. You can't argue with the word of the ultimate creator, after all.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47199893)

In my opinion, religion by definition is immoral since it presupposes to know what an ultimate creator wants, and inevitably ends up meting out the most despicable cruelties on those who reject the religion. You can't argue with the word of the ultimate creator, after all.

That's a broad generalization that isn't true across the board. Buddhism is a great example of a religion that has been consistently peaceful and inward-looking for the bulk of its recorded history. Christianity has as many implementations as practitioners, some evil, some saintly. Practitioners of man religions take a sincere and humble approach to knowing "Truth" that involves self-inspection and respect for others.

There are many ways to practice religion which are compatible with peaceful coexistence with others, and with honest scientific inquiry. To reject data because you have an emotional prejudice is at best unscientific and irrational.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47199925)

In my opinion, religion by definition is immoral since it presupposes to know what an ultimate creator wants, and inevitably ends up meting out the most despicable cruelties on those who reject the religion. You can't argue with the word of the ultimate creator, after all.

Interesting that secular communist and socialist governments killed more of their own citizens by murder and gross mismanagement than people who died as a result of all religious wars, ever, in all of human history, yet you identify religion as a force of the most despicable cruelties.

Here are some basic stats to back up that claim: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkil... [hawaii.edu]

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199211)

Lastly show me where Darwinism OR Evolution explains where the natural laws come from?

I don't believe the theory of evolution claims to explain that. Explaining how the laws of the universe arose is in the realm of cosmology, not biology, and we have only tentative scientific theories at this point.

However, religion does not explain anything. It doesn't make testable predictions the way science does. You say there was a creator? I say no, there were seventeen creators and a hundred and fifty-three Creative Assistants. The Universe blinked into being at 3:42pm last Thursday, except we think we've been around longer because we've received implanted memories.

There's no way to decide between our theories because neither is scientific; neither is falsifiable. (Except that it does seem people were designed by committee... :))

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47196433)

Lastly, Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D., theoretical nuclear physicist

And a theoretical nuclear physicist is more qualified than biologists like Coyle and Dawkins to write about evolution because... ?

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#47197103)

Because XKCD [xkcd.com] , and also XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

under_score (65824) | about 4 months ago | (#47198025)

Lastly, Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D., theoretical nuclear physicist

And a theoretical nuclear physicist is more qualified than biologists like Coyle and Dawkins to write about evolution because... ?

That's a veiled ad hominum argument - a logical fallacy. Just like you have asserted that someone should read Coyle and Dawkins, you in turn might consider setting an example by examining the arguments of Dr. Goswami.

FWIW, I haven't read any of these references, but I have read extensively on all sides of the argument including evolutionary biologists, intelligent design proponents and other non-standard models for what we observe. I've read other Dawkins books and found them to be just as weak as many of the ID books. As far as I can tell, it's all still philosophy, and the science that we have, namely molecular biology, breeding and the fossil record do not show evolution as the conclusive final word on how life works.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199141)

That's a veiled ad hominum argument

No, not at all. I'm genuinely curious as to why the OP thinks the opinions of a nuclear physicist are particularly germane when it comes to discussing biology. I assume we wouldn't expect an entomologist to pontificate about neutrinos...

As far as I can tell, it's all still philosophy, and the science that we have, namely molecular biology, breeding and the fossil record do not show evolution as the conclusive final word on how life works.

This puts you in strong disagreement with about 99.5% of all working biologists. Maybe you're right... but I really doubt it.

Read the Coyne book I mentioned. He's considerably less incendiary than Dawkins who does tend to be a bit sarcastic.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199971)

hat's a veiled ad hominum argument - a logical fallacy.

The logical fallacy was the inappropriate appeal to authority in the OP.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#47198833)

Are you really that dense?? Gee, does Biology use Physics to explain the world, or does Physics use Biology??

Biology is built on top of Chemistry.
Chemistry is built on top of Physics.
Physics is built up on top of Physics.

Maybe you need to actually think about the Hierarchy of Knowledge for a change.

While Physics is of the King of Science, Math is the Queen of Science.

As xkcd lapooned ...
http://37.media.tumblr.com/tum... [tumblr.com]

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199153)

So everything is built on physics? So am I to presume that you'd make stock-market predictions base on the interaction of quarks? It's all physics, after all...

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199551)

Don't you post your dumb ass shit like this in response to one of my posts ever again you fucktard. Go fuck yourself in the ass with a long handled shovel.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

Dadoo (899435) | about 4 months ago | (#47197003)

I suppose you could get information about evolution from Time Magazine, but there's this thing, called "The Internet", which allows you to get your information directly from an evolutionary biologist - you know, someone who actually knows what he's talking about: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/23/the-encode-delusion/ [freethoughtblogs.com]

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199707)

I pray to Jesus that you read some real science instead of creationist claptrap. All of the points you made are either flat-out wrong or red herrings.

There is no science of consciousness outside of neuroscience. The crap you're spewing is New-Age mysticism and pseudoscience.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#47198963)

Jerry Coyne claims that religion and science are fundamentally incompatible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Anyone who can't even understand that Religion and Science are two sides of the same coin is an total fool.

Science by definition is amoral . Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Science can teach you how to build a nuke but it never stops to ask Is this wrong?

Science asks How.
Religion asks Why.

They both value Truth.

As Albert Einstein said: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199161)

Religion does not value truth. It values obedience, submission and the rejection of embarrassing questions.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47199521)

Religion is not a homogenous whole.

Open-mindedness (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47196095)

If anything, Mims is more open minded than the likes of you

Open-mindedness is often a virtue. It's fine to be open-minded about other people's cultures, what they do for fun, what they enjoy as entertainment, how they choose to organize their cities, etc. It's pretty stupid to be open-minded about trying to decide whether or not 2+2=4 or 2+2=5, or whether the fact of evolution through natural selection is true or false.

We have witnessed natural selection in action even within the lifespan of a human being. Hint: antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47195999)

It's relevant. It's a pathognomonic symptom of severe cognitive dysfunction. If a person has his wits addled in one such area, I'd be careful about the other areas, too.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47196241)

I really liked Mims's electronics books, but I can't respect him as a scientist when he misrepresents the theory of evolution and proposes (essentially) intelligent design instead. It's a damn shame.

Whynotoboth.jpg? He's got a very different definition of "simpler" than I do, and I think he's wrong on evolutionary biology. That in no way diminishes his accomplishments as an engineer.

The Judeo-Christian God may or may not exist; that's a philosophical question and not a scientific one. It's quite possible to believe in both the existence of such a god (i speculate that if it exists, it has a mostly hands-off policy with regards to the physics of the universe it's purported to have created) and acknowledge that the observational evidence supports the theory of evolution. You can't reconcile YEC with the evidence, but if you're willing to accept the overwhelming evidence from damn near every discipline of science that suggests the universe is about 13 billion years old and the Earth as about 4.6 billion years old, there's no reason you can't be a theist and believe in evolution.

Re:Too bad about evolution (2)

timholman (71886) | about 4 months ago | (#47197177)

I really liked Mims's electronics books, but I can't respect him as a scientist when he misrepresents the theory of evolution and proposes (essentially) intelligent design instead.

Personally, I have no problem respecting Mims' contributions as a scientist. There isn't a single scientist or engineer on earth who doesn't have some blind spots in his philosophical and political worldview. No matter how smart or accomplished someone may be, I guarantee that if you talk to them long enough, he or she will reveal something about his or her personal beliefs that will leave you scratching your head and saying, "WTF?"

I may not agree with Mims' views on evolution, but keep in mind that no one reading this Slashdot article knew what those views were until they read his answers. Mims has never used his books as a platform to proselytize his religious viewpoints. Furthermore, those books have inspired many, many people to learn about electronics, and that is a net gain for the world.

In the long run, scientific facts will stand on their own. They will not go away, regardless of how many people refuse to believe in them. As long as Mr. Mims doesn't try to force his ideas on others, then I choose to appreciate him for the good he has done, and ignore the rest.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#47197711)

Agreed. Just because Issac Newton was an alchemist and a kabalist doesn't make his cookies taste any less good.

Re:Too bad about evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47198633)

I really liked Mims's electronics books, but I can't respect him as a scientist when he misrepresents the theory of evolution and proposes (essentially) intelligent design instead. It's a damn shame.

With a criterion like that, I realized that I can't respect any scientist I've met.

Because while some are brilliant in what they do (and more), there's always some belief they have where anecdotal evidence is weighted more than actual studies - be it on the subject of education, politics, economics, romance, etc. There's always some aspect of their lives that is just plain wrong, or where they've drawn strong conclusions when data is scant.

Your statement is almost at the No true scotsman [wikipedia.org] level.

I don't get why people are given a pass for having strong, confident, and dismissive beliefs on certain topics (e.g. how health care should be administered in the US and what the role of insurance companies are) with little evidence to support their views, but if those beliefs are about some "sacred" topics like evolution, suddenly they're not really scientists.

Yes, a scientist can be unscientific about certain topics. It's not ideal, but let's not make it blasphemy either.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47199181)

Evolution is about as close to an established fact as anything in biology. So yes... someone who calls him or herself a scientist and then rejects evolution is not someone I can respect, any more than I'd respect a "scientist" who says the Earth is flat or that the Sun orbits the Earth or that the Earth is less than 6000 years old.

Disbelieving in evolution is not blasphemy; it's simply a complete rejection of the scientific method, and yes... I cannot respect a scientist who does that.

Re:Too bad about evolution (1)

JBMcB (73720) | about 4 months ago | (#47199713)

I really liked Mims's electronics books, but I can't respect him as a scientist when he misrepresents the theory of evolution and proposes (essentially) intelligent design instead. It's a damn shame.

I'd argue that you can still respect him as a scientist. Most scientists get things wrong - it doesn't negate their other accomplishments. Linus Pauling thought that most diseases, including cancer, could be cured through Vitamin C supplements (it apparently didn't work as he died of cancer.) Tesla discounted the theory of Relativity and bought into Aetherism for decades after the former was widely accepted and the latter was completely disproved.

Just thanks (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47195863)

Working through your notebooks series was educational, inspirational and fun. Thanks for many happy memories.

Total misrepresentation of Evolution (5, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 months ago | (#47195891)

OK. Evolution is not"random". Evolution happens through natural selection which is about the least random process you can imagine. The mechanism for organisms to change is in fact random mutation, but by far the majority of mutations are either neutral or non-adaptive and die out. So those few random mutations that are adaptive survive and propagate. This may, to people like Mims, make them seem magical, but to most biologists they're just common sense.

Mims writes: "The evolution of these complex molecules, which had to exist in the earliest cells, is so improbable..."

Um, no, it's not. If enough random things happen and the beneficial things survive, then not only is the evolution not improbable, it's almost inevitable given enough time. Mims is intelligent enough to write a simulation tool to prove this for himself.

Sorry for harping on the topic, but pseudo-science is dangerous. It's all the more dangerous when an otherwise intelligent scientist or engineer subscribes to it.

Re:Total misrepresentation of Evolution (4, Interesting)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | about 4 months ago | (#47196121)

I agree with your general inputs and conclusions. However, I think that Mims is correct, in a sense.

"The evolution of these complex molecules, which had to exist in the earliest cells, is so improbable..." --Mims

Yes, it is improbable, on a small-scale, and that seems to be where Mims' analysis has stopped.

"If enough random things happen and the beneficial things survive, then not only is the evolution not improbable, it's almost inevitable given enough time." --parent

Yes indeed.

I found Mims' statement that he has "built thousands of circuits, none of which were made by randomly wiring together components" very telling. If he were to wire billions of circuits by randomly wiring together components, then he might end up with a few that were useful.

I'm having a hard time reconciling his beliefs with his electronic achievements. This is not meant as a slam.

Re:Total misrepresentation of Evolution (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196199)

billions a day for a billion years.
Of course it's just a new way of using the junkyard example.
Example of their ignorance to be precise.

Re:Total misrepresentation of Evolution (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47196393)

If he were to wire billions of circuits by randomly wiring together components, then he might end up with a few that were useful.

There are people who did exactly that [hackaday.com] with simulators and FPGAs. Some of these circuits have peculiar properties like being very sensitive to the substrate they're working on, and I got the overall impression that they're sort of messy and "un-designed-like", just like living organisms, as opposed to engineered machines.

Re:Total misrepresentation of Evolution (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 4 months ago | (#47198279)

I found Mims' statement that he has "built thousands of circuits, none of which were made by randomly wiring together components" very telling. If he were to wire billions of circuits by randomly wiring together components, then he might end up with a few that were useful.

That experiment was also done. Doing it in hardware turned out to give a lot of unexpected side effects, such as not being able to remove a "dead" circuit, as it's effect on capacitance and cross talk having a real effect after all.

So in order to address this they instead tried simulation of passive analogue filters (obvious fitness function and you can control which building blocks that "nature" gets to play with) and matched against the patent data base. It turns out that you indeed end up with a lot of different filters that work very well, but can be difficult to analyze, being messy evolved creatures. And also that you find the ones that made it into the patent data base.

So, even that particular version of "we do it by design so therefore nature must have" is a bust. We've done it both ways, and both ways demonstrably work. This was hot stuff in academia in the nineties so it's not exactly brand new...

Product of success (1)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | about 4 months ago | (#47198641)

Evolution may have failed to produce advanced life forms, or any life at all, on a million worlds. Only the successful random mutations exist to contemplate it.

Re:Product of success (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47199021)

Who says it hasn't failed to produce advanced life forms here? There may be a life form out there so advanced that you look like a slime mold in comparison.

What an ego mania. (0, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47195985)

Another idiot talking outside his expertise.
He has no clue about evolution, thinks darwin wrote everything about it, and can not understand new data.

Lets me clue you in:
If we found out, right now, Darwin made the whole thing up, it wouldn't matter because of the amount of other data we have collected, the number of accurate predictions that have been done, and a completely lack of understanding of the second law of thermodynamics.

This guy doesn't belong in any science magazine.

"But I am unaware of how naturally random processes could have led to the first life forms, much less the information encoded within them."
so that means it's not real? Are you aware of how mas bends space? no? well I guess gravity isn't real either.

Darwin escape clause? I guess top someone who is a clueless dolt bent on reading something and not impacting their narrative it would seem that way. IN reality it's nonsense.

Re:What an ego mania. (1)

radtea (464814) | about 4 months ago | (#47197047)

"Todayâ(TM)s strict evolutionists are unhappy about Darwinâ(TM)s views, for even today he would be unable to provide a satisfactory explanation"

Pretty much everything he says about evolution is wrong, and this is utterly wrong, particularly with regard to the "transition fossils" question it seems to be referring to. There are plenty of transition fossils. It's simply not an issue any more.

Darwinian theory predicted that there would be transition fossils. In Darwin's day transition fossils had not been found. Today they have, in abundance. To claim otherwise is to divorce yourself from simple, ordinary truth.

Furthermore, the invoke God as the "simplest explanation" for the diversity of life is to claim that somehow God, who is by definition incomprehensible according to Scripture, is somehow "simpler" than a process that necessarily follows from the chemistry of carbon compounds and the laws of probability as we currently understand them: http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-... [amazon.com]

"...hardline atheists...." (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196007)

" But hardline atheists have no choice but to resist any alternatives to evolution"

False and backwards.
Bible literalist have no choice then to deny the theory of evolution regardless of evidence.

You supply a better interpretation of the data that can be falsified? then Athiest will drop the modern version of evolution.

And it's not Darwinism, it's the theory of evolution. Only people who are unable to accept the fact that new data can chanfg a theory understand that. ANYONE who calls the theory of evolution 'darwinism' does so solely to create an ad hom attack and show they are unable to look at data.,

You sir, are ignorant of this subject and as such should shut up.

Re:"...hardline atheists...." (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47199055)

" But hardline atheists have no choice but to resist any alternatives to evolution"

False and backwards. Bible literalist have no choice then to deny the theory of evolution regardless of evidence.

Actually, I think you're both right limited to those two statements. But you make reference only to bible literalists. Many religious people do not believe in literal interpretation. The Catholic church certainly doesn't take the creation story literally; nor would the Lutherans, or most of the protestants. For these and many others, there is no conflict between science and religion. I don't think that for Atheists, who don't have a sliding scale of "how much they believe in supernatural processes", that they can accept anything other than evolution, unless you're proposing there are alternative scientific theories on the subject.

Awhile ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47196033)

> A while ago you had the chance to ask amateur scientist...

Awhile ago? You mean, like uhm, six months ago. Glad he's still alive.

Hey mims (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196083)

Thanks for responding.
Now red my sig and apply it to your incorrect view on evolution.

Someone needs a hug (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#47196235)

When it comes to evolution, someone needs a hug and also needs to embrace his inner fish [pbs.org]

(which by the way was a fantastic 3 part series, and well worth watching)

Mims logic turned around (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47196275)

Since no resister in electronics if 100% they vale stated, clearly ohms law is invalid.
How can you have a law when there is any uncertainty?
How can you have a theory of electronics if not all things are known and perfect all the time?

I have built a lot of circuits, and not on every turned into an iPhone, so clearly the theory of electronics is wrong.
herp derp

Re:Mims logic turned around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47198979)

For the sake of the children, please don't drink and post.

The choicest quote on evolution (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#47196491)

But I am unaware

You said it, Chewie.

I made the conscious decision to reject Darwinian evolution in favor of what is now called intelligent design.

Scientists don't - or ideally shouldn't - make conscious decisions to reject things. They do so when the scientific method leads them to do so, because it's the valid thing to do in face of the evidence.

Do they really believe that a rotary nanomotor that spins an axle at a thousand or so rpm and can stop in only a revolution—all at an efficiency approaching 100 percent—somehow randomly arose from a cluster of molecules hanging out in a protocell?

Yes.

Do they really believe these motors can walk, slide and rotate while performing many functions absolutely essential to the life of a cell—all without a nervous system, brain, eyes or muscles?

Yes.

This guy sure asks a lot of obvious questions.

have a look at some of their videos on YouTube and start asking questions

Yeah, that's the best place to learn the science of evolution...

You will immediately realize why molecular biologists avoid discussing the supposed evolution of these nanomachines.

Before "realizing why," one should first "ascertain if."

I (well Dad) purchased most of .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47198079)

Forrest Mimms III electronic manuals at Radio Shack for me when I was in Highschool. Excellent resources and I'm sure any modern equivalent are good too. I first got my associates degree in Industrial Electronics (Trade School) and then decided to become an Electrical Engineer (another 4 years) in large part due to Mr. Mimms. No longer an EE (was one for 10 years before Enron/911 got me out of the loop) but enjoyed my career as an EE. Thanks Mr. Mimms. :)

Imagine what a great chat (3, Insightful)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 4 months ago | (#47199207)

we all could be having, if Mr Mims had simply not answered one of those particular questions.

As someone who doesn't believe in god, and believes evolution explains our current Earthly biosphere, you guys who are hammering Mims for his views on evolution are sounding like school kids mocking the kid who's different. You can't accept that someone that is so close to your accepted template of an educated scientist has this differing viewpoint. You guys are practically frothing at the mouth over this.

Get over yourselves. You don't have to agree with the man on every item of his personal belief system, just as I don't have to agree with every item of yours. That is what discussion of views is about.

I remember this guy... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 4 months ago | (#47199377)

Or at least I remember having is "Engineer's Notebook" with all the cool stuff about a whole pile of different ICs (back when I was interested in electronics). I even came up with a few ideas (that never went anywhere) like building a set of "traffic lights" for a really really busy staircase at school using various logic gates and chips and stuff (this was in the days when "adding a microprocessor to a circuit" meant using a 4MHz Z80, some sort of programmable ROM chip and a super-expensive and hard-to-use programmer to program the chip)

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