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Jonathan Zdziarski Answers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the friends-of-anti-spam-slash-back dept.

326

Wednesday we requested questions for Jonathan Zdziarski, an open source contributor and author of the recently reviewed book "Ending Spam." Jonathan seems to have taken great care in answering your questions, which you will find published below. We have also invited Jonathan to take part in the discussion if he has time so if your question didn't make the cut perhaps there is still hope.Winkydink asks:
How do you pronounce your name?

Jonathan Responds:
Hi. Well first off, I'm sticking to the pronunciation 'Jarsky', however many of my relatives still pronounce it 'Zarsky' or "Za-Jarsky". As far as I can tell, my last name was originally 'Dziarstac' when the first generation of my family came over, which would have been pronounced with a 'J'. It's of polish decent, but I'm afraid I'm not very in tune with my ancestors on this side of the family. The other side of my family is mostly Italian, and they drink a lot, organize crime, and generally have more fun - so they are much more interesting to hang out with. For the past 29 years of my life, giving my last name to anyone has included the obligatory explanation of its pronunciation, history, and snickering at puns they think I'm hearing for the first time (-1, Redundant), so don't feel too bad for asking.

As far as who I am and why you should care - I guess that depends on what kind of geek you are. I've never appeared in a Star Trek series or anything (I've been too busy coding and being a real geek), so I guess that eliminates me as a candidate for public worship in some circles. I guess if you're into coding, open source, hacking all kinds of Verizon gear, or eradicating spam, then some of my recent projects may be of interest. If you at least hate me by the end of the interview, I'll have accomplished something.

An Anonymous Coward asks:
What do you think about the proposed change to the GPL with the upcoming GPL 3? Is it a welcomed breath of fresh air to the Open Source Community, or will it just be a reiteration of the previous GPL? What are your thoughts and comments on the GPL 3?

Jonathan Responds:
Based on the scattered information I've read about some potentially targeted areas in GPLv3 and the religious fervor with which some of these discussions have been reported, all I can say is I hope common sense prevails. Actually there's much more I can, and will, say about the subject below, but I think it's probably a good idea to summarize in advance as you may not make it through the list of details in one sitting. So in summary of all my points to come: I hope common sense prevails.

One of the things I've heard, which doesn't make much sense to me, is the idea of changing the GPL to deal with 'use' rather than 'distribution', which would affect companies like Google and Amazon. The argument seems to be that some people feel building your infrastructure on open source should demand a company release all of their proprietary source code which links to or builds on existing GPL projects. They argue that the open source community hasn't benefited from companies like Google and Amazon. Well, from a source code perspective that might be somewhat true - but if you take into consideration the fact that we all have a good quality, freely accessible search engine, cheap books, and employment for many local developers (many of whom write open source applications), the benefits seem to balance out the deficiency. Does anybody remember what the world was like before Google? None of us do, primarily because we couldn't find it - we couldn't find much of anything we were looking for on the Internet as a matter of fact, including other people's open source projects. You might not be getting "free as in beer" or "free as in freedom", but you are getting "free as in searches" and "free as in heavily discounted but not quite free books" in exchange. That's a pretty good trade. It's certainly better than having to look at pages of advertising before completing your order, or subscribing to a Google search membership. On top of this, you probably wouldn't want to see half of the source code that's out there being integrated (internally) into these projects. While I haven't seen Google or Amazon's mods specifically, I do heavily suspect that, if they are like any other large corporate environment, there are many disgusting and miserable hacks that should under all circumstances remain hidden from sight forever - many of which are probably helping ensure job security for the developers that performed the ugly hacks in the first place. Just how useful would they be to your project anyway? Probably little. And if you really believe in free software ("free as in freedom"), then the idea that someone should be required to contribute back to your project in order to use it is contradictory to that belief - you might just as well be developing under an EULA instead of the GPL.

With that said, there's a difference between freedom and stealing. I've heard that GPLv3 will attempt to address the mixing of GPL and non-GPL software. I think this clarification might be a good thing. For one, because I've seen far too many pseudo-open source tin cans and CDs being resold commercially out there, distributing many different F/OSS tools with painfully obvious closed commercial code, and finding ways to easily loophole around this part of the GPL, and secondly because it's based around implementation guidelines that really aren't any of the GPL's business. At the moment, mixing uses a very archaic guideline, which is - in its simplest terms -based on whether or not your code shares the same execution space as the GPL code. I think this needs to be reworked to give authors the flexibility to define "public" and "private" interfaces in a project manifest. We're already defining these anyway if we believe in secure coding practices. Closed source projects may then use whatever public interfaces the author has declared public (such as command line execution, protocols, etcetera) but private interfaces are off limits. One particular area where this would come in handy is in GPL kernel drivers, which need this ability to avoid tainted-kernel situations. If the author wants, they can declare dynamic linking to a library as a public interface and even make their code more widely useful without having to switch to the GPL's red-headed stepchild, the LGPL. It would also be nice to be able to restrict proprietary protocols (such as one between a client piece and a server piece, which may have originally been designed to function together) to only other GPL projects, which would essentially create GPL-bonded protocol interfaces. This won't restrict use in any way - only what closed-source projects are limited to interfacing with when redistributed.

I would also like to see the GPL's integration clause tightened down quite a bit. There are some companies out there abusing the GPL with "dual licensing". I've considered dual licensing myself in some commercial products, and I just don't believe it's being done in the right spirit much, if at all. Doing away with the possibility of integrating the GPL into a dual license could help strengthen the GPL.

Finally, I'd say mentioning a few words in the GPLv3 about submission practices to help stave off problems like this whole Sco and Linux® fiasco from ever happening again would be a good thing. People generally don't want to limit usage, but if you're going to submit code, there should be at least some submission guidelines. I suspect much of this can (and should) be done outside of the GPL, but at least covering the basics might be appropriate. It should be understood that if you're going to contribute code to the GPL, it had better be unencumbered. It's definitely something every project should already be considering already.

An Anonymous Coward asks:
Do you have any suggestions for the enthusiastic yet inexperienced? Perhaps a listing of projects in need of developers, with some indication of the level of experience suggested (as well as languages required).

Jonathan Responds:
The best projects I've seen were those started from someone with a passion for what it is they're coding. Open source development is the internship of the 21st century, and working on projects is tedious, frustrating, and likely to make you want burn out if you haven't developed perseverance. I usually suggest to people to come up with ideas for some projects they feel passionately about and make those their first couple of goals. Even if it's completely useless to anyone else, you're still likely to benefit from it yourself. Just look at my Australian C programming macros. Who would have thought that people wouldn't want to use "int gday(int argc, char *argv[])" in their code. I'm sure I learned something from that project, though I still can't remember what.

Instead of spending idle time looking for other projects to jump on, I'd spend as much time as I could in man pages, books, and coding up my own little concoctions. Even if they're stupid ones, you're likely to learn something, or even better - come up with another neat little idea you can spin off of it. Necessity is the mother of invention, so I try and figure out what it is I need, and then do it myself. That usually works. If you still can't think of anything, see if you can catch a vision for something someone else needs. I wouldn't touch anything that you're not 100% bought into and excited about for your first projects.

RealisticCanadian asks:
I myself have had numerous interactions with less-than-technically-savvy management-types. Any time I bring up solutions that are quite obviously a better technical and financial choice over software-giant-type solutions; conversation seems to hit a brick wall. The ignorance of these people on such topics is astounding, and I find many approaches I have tried seem to yield no results in the short term. "Well, yes, your example proves that we would save $500,000 per year using that Open Source solution. But We've decided to go the Microsoft (or what-have-you) route." With your track record, I can only assume you have found some ways to overcome this closed-mindedness.

Jonathan Responds:
I'm not so sure that I have convinced anyone open source was better inasmuch as I've convinced people that other people's projects were better than what Microsoft had to offer, and that's not hard for anyone to accomplish. I can strongly justify some open source projects to people because they are already superior to their commercial counterparts, but there are also a lot of crummy projects out there that should be shot and put out of my misery. I'm not one to advocate a terribly written project, even if it is open source. The good projects can usually speak for themselves with only a little bit of yelling and biting from me. So if you want to become a respected open source advocate at your place of business, I'd say the first rule of thumb is not to try and advocate crap projects for the mere reason that they're open source. Advocating the good ones will help you build a reputation. It also helps if you read a lot of Dilbert so you'll understand the intellectual challenges you'll be facing.

Some other things that I've found can help include what managers love to call a "decision matrix" which is a spreadsheet designed to make difficult decisions for them. For your benefit, this should consist of a series of features and considerations that the competitor doesn't have, with a big stream of checkboxes down the row corresponding to your favorite open source project. Nobody's interested in knowing what the projects have in common anyway, so tell them (with visual cues) what features your open source solution has over the competitor. And if you really want to get your point across clearly to your manager, do the spreadsheet in OpenOffice so they'll have to download and install an open source project to read it.

Once you've done that, and if you're still employed by now, the next thing to put together is an ROI (return on investment) comparison, which not only addresses the costs of the different solutions, but costs to support both solutions in the long run, cost of inaccuracy (if this is a spam solution for example), cost of training, customizations, and resources to manage each product. This is a great opportunity to size machines and manpower and include that in a budget forecast. Many managers are sensitive to knowing just how much extra dough it's going to cost to implement the commercial solution. At the very least, you ought to be able to prove many commercial solutions don't actually make the company much money in the long run. If speaking of cash isn't enough to convince your manager then a full analysis of low-level technical aspects will be necessary. This is simply a dreadful process, and where most open source attempts fail - because a lot of people are just too lazy to learn about the technical details of both projects and complete their due diligence. If you take the time, though, you're likely to either convince your boss or utterly confuse him - either one is very satisfying.

The biggest challenge in justifying many open source projects I've run into is finding solid support channels that your boss can rely on if you get hit by a bus (or in his mind, fired). Support is, in many cases, a requirement but not all good open source projects see the benefit in offering support. A lot of companies are willing to pay just to have someone they can call when they have a problem. So if you can find a project that's got a pool of support you can draw out of, you can not only use that to justify the project to your manager, but kick a few bucks back into the open source community. I started offering support contracts for dspam primarily because people needed them in order to get the filter approved as a solution. I think I do a good job supporting my clients that do need help, but at least half of them just pay for a contract and never use it. I certainly don't have a problem with that, and it supports the project as well as the people investing time in it.

Goo.cc asks a two parter:
1. In your new book, you basically state that Bogofilter is not a bayesian filter, which was news to some of the Bogofilter people I have spoken to. Can you explain why you feel that Bogofilter is not a bayesian filter?

Jonathan Responds:
Bogofilter uses an alternative algorithm known as Fisher-Robinson's Chi-Square. Gary Robinson (Transpose) basically built upon Fisher's Inverse Chi-Square algorithm for spam filtering, which provided some competition for the previously widely accepted Bayesian approach to this. Therefore, Bogofilter is not technically a Bayesian filter. The term, "Bayesian", however is commonly a buzzword known to most people to describe statistical content filtering in general (even if it isn't Bayesian), and so Bogofilter often gets thrown into the same bucket. CRM114 is another good example of this - many people throw it in the same bucket as a Bayesian filter, but it is configured (by default, at least) to be a Markovian-based filter which is "almost entirely nothing like Bayesian filtering". Technically, CRM114 isn't a filter at all, but a filtering-language JIT compiler (it can be any filter). I cover all of these mathematical approaches in Ending Spam, so grab a copy if you're interested in learning about their specific differences.

2. Bayesian filters have been around for some time now but there still seems to be no standardized testing methods for determining how well filters work in comparison to one another. Do you think that comparative testing would be useful and if so, how should it be performed?

Jonathan Responds:
Part of the reason there's no standardized testing methodology is because there's no standardized filter interface. A few individuals have attempted to build spam "jigs" for testing filters, but the bigger problem is really lack of an interface. About a year ago, the ASRG was reportedly working on developing such a standard - but as things usually turn out, it's an extremely long and painful process to get anything done when you've got a committee building it (take the mule, for instance, which was a horse built by a committee). This is probably why filter authors have also been hesitant to try and accommodate their filters to a particular testing jig. Incidentally, this is how I surmise that SPF could not have possibly made it through the ASRG - the fact that it made it out at all suggests that it never went in.

I think it's of some interest to compare the different filters out there, but it's also somewhat of a pointless process too. Since these systems learn, and learn based on the environment around them, only a simulation and not a test, will really identify the true accuracy of these filters - and even if you can build a rock solid simulation, it will only tell you how well each filter compared for the test subject's email. If we are to have a bake-off of sorts, it definitely ought to include ten or more different corpora from different individuals, from different walks of life. Even the best test out there can't predict how a filter might react to your specific mail, and for all we know the test subjects may have been secretly into ASCII donkey porn (which will, in fact, complicate your filtering).

This is why some people misunderstand my explanations of dspam's accuracy. All I've said in the past is "this is the accuracy I get", and "this is the accuracy this dude got". Which is the equivalent of "our lab mice ate this and grew breasts". There's no guarantee anybody else is going to get those results, though I'm sure many would try (with the mice, that is). In general, though, I try to publish what I think are good "average" levels for users on my own system, and they are usually around 99.5% - 99.8%. In other words: your mileage may vary. So try it anyway. Incidentally, I've been working with Gordon Cormack to try and figure out what the heck went wrong with his first set of dspam tests. So far, we've made progress and ran a successful test with an overall accuracy of 99.23% (not bad for a simulation).

What would be far more interesting to me would be a well-put together bakeoff between commercial solutions and open source solutions. The open source community around spam filtering really has got the upper hand in this area of technology, and I'm quite confident F/OSS solutions can blow away most commercial solutions in terms of accuracy (and efficacy).

Mxmasster asks:
Most antispam software seems to be fairly reactionary - wither it is based on keyword patters, urls, sender, ip, or the checksum of the message a certain amount of spam has to first be sent and identified before additional messages will be tagged and blocked. Spf, domainkeys, etc... requires a certain percentage of the Internet to adopt before they will be truely effective. What do you see on the horizon as the next big technique to battle spam? How will this affect legitimate users on the Internet?

Jonathan Responds:
That's the problem with most spam solutions, and why I wrote Ending Spam. Bayesian content filtering, commonly thrown into this mix, has the unique ability to grow out of your typical reactive state and become a proactive tool in fighting spam. I get about one spam per month now at the most, and DSPAM is learning many new variants of spam as it catches them; I'd call that pretty proactive. Spam, phishing, viruses, and even intrusion detection are all areas that can benefit greatly from this approach to machine learning. They will likely never become perfect, but these filters have the ability to not only adapt to new kinds of spam, but to also learn them proactively before it makes it into your inbox. Some of this is done through what is called "unsupervised learning" and not traditional training, while other tools, such as message inoculation and honey pots, can help automate the sharing of new spam and virus strains before anyone has to worry about seeing them. We haven't thoroughly explored statistical analysis enough yet for there to be a "next big technique" beyond this. The next big techniques seem to be trying to change email permanently, and I don't quite feel excited about that. Statistical tools are where I think the technology is at and it needs to become commonplace and easier to setup and run.

The problem seems to be in the myth that statistical filtering is ineffective or incomplete. Many commercial solutions pass themselves off as statistical(ish) and it seem to be contributing to this myth by failing to do justice to the levels of accuracy many of the true (and open source) statistical filters are reflecting. Any commercial solution that claims to be an adaptive, content-based solution (like Bayesian filters are) really ought to deliver better than 95% or 99% accuracy. Part of the problem is just bad marketing - most of these tools are not true "Bayesian" devices; they just threw a Bayesian filter in there somewhere so they could use the buzzword. Another problem is design philosophy and the idea that you need an arsenal of other, less accurate tests, to be bolted in front of the statistical piece. If you're going to train a Bayesian filter with something other than a human being, whatever it is that's training it ought to be at least as smart as a human being. Blacklist-trained Bayesian filters are being fed with about 60% accurate data, (whereas a human is about 99.8% accurate). So it's no surprise to me that Blacklist-trained filters are severely crippled - what a dumb combination. If you really want to combine a bunch of tools for identifying spam, build a reputation system instead. They do a very good job of cutting spam off at the border, are generally more scalable than content-based filtering, and most large networks can justify their accuracy by their precision.

Not all commercial content-based filters are junk. Death2Spam is one exception to this, and delivers around 99.9% accuracy, which is in the right neighborhood for a statistical filter. Not all reputation systems are junk either. CipherTrust's TrustedSource is one example of what I call a well-thought out system. If you must have a commercial solution, either of these I suspect will make you quite happy. As for (most of) the rest, quit screwing around and build something original that actually works.

Jnaujok asks:
The SMTP standard that we use for mail transfer was developed in the late 70's - early 80's and has, for the most part, never been updated. In that time period, the idea of hordes of spam flowing through the net wasn't even considered. It has always been the most obvious solution to me that what we really need is SMTP 2.0. Isn't it about time we updated the SMTP standard?

Jonathan Responds:
You're talking about an authenticated approach to email, and there have been many different standards proposed to do this. First let me say that, even though SMTP was drafted a few decades ago, it's still successful in performing its function, which is a public message delivery system - key word being public. There exist many private message delivery systems already, which you could opt to use, including bonded sender and even rolling your own using PGP signatures and mailbox rules. I have reservations about forcing such a solution on everybody and breaking down anonymity for the sake of preventing junk mail. Until you can sell a company like Microsoft on absolute anonymity in bonded sender and sell ISPs into putting up initial bonds for their customers (so that a ten-year old gradeschool student can still use email), I see a very large threat (especially by the government) in globalizing this as a replacement for the 'public' system. With services like gmail, where you can store an entire life's worth of email, the idea that everything you've ever said could be sufficiently traced back to you and used against you, I would rather deal with the spam. Why? Let me pull out my tinfoil hat...

It's been advertised plenty of times on Slashdot that Google stores everything about all of its queries. It wouldn't surprise me if they already have government contracts in place to perform data mining on specific individuals. How would you like, in the future, all of your email to be mined and correlated with other personal data to determine whether or not you should be allowed to fly? Buy a firearm? Rent a car? We're not very far off from that, and even less so once this correlation is made possible.

So abstract some level of anonymity at the ISP-level you say? That's just not going to happen. For one, that makes it just as simple for a spammer to abuse somebody's network and then we've gone and redesigned SMTP for no good reason. Remember, business has to be able to set up shop online fairly easily and spammers are a type of shop. So we are always going to balance between free enterprise and letting spammers roam on the network. Should we employ a CA, how much would it cost to run your own email server? More importantly - does this perhaps open the door for per-email taxes? I'd much rather just deal with spam the way we are now. For another thing, abstracted identity architectures would only give you a level of anonymity parallel to the level of anonymity you have when you purchase a firearm (where the forms are stored by your dealer, rather than filed to a central government agency). See how long it takes for the feds to trace your handgun back to you if you leave it at the scene of a crime.

You can't leave it in the ISP's control anyway. The sad truth is that most ISPs still don't care about managing outgoing spam on their network; so new spammers are being given a nurturing environment to break into this new and exciting business. I had a recent bout with XO Communications about one such new spammer who had run a full-blown business on their network since 1997 and recently decided he'd like to start spamming under the "CAN-SPAM" act (which he was convinced defended his right to spam). He included his phone number, address, and web address in the spam - I called him up and verified he was who he said he was (the owner of this business, and spamming). Provided all of this information (over a phone call) to the XO abuse rep (let's call him "Ted"), even filed a police report, and XO still to this day has done nothing. His site is even still there, selling the same crap he spams for. This happens every day at ISPs out there.

The consequences outweigh the benefits. The people who drafted the SMTP protocol probably thought of most of these issues too. A public system can't exist without the freedom to remain anonymous, ambiguous, and the right to change your virtual identity whenever the heck you like.

Sheetrock asks a two parter:
1. In the past, I've heard it suggested that anti-spam techniques often go too far, culling good e-mail with the bad and perhaps even curtailing 1st Amendment rights. Clearly this depends on what end of the spectrum you're on, but recent developments have given me pause for thought on the matter. For example, certain spam blacklists would censor more than was strictly necessary (a subjective opinion, I realize) to block a spammer -- sometimes blocking a whole Class C to get one individual. This would cause other innocent users in that net space to have their e-mail to hosts using the blacklists silently dropped without any option of fixing the problem besides switching ISPs.

Jonathan Responds:
A lot of blacklists have started taking on a vigilante agenda, or at the very least rather questionable ethical practices. Spamhaus' recent blacklisting of all Yahoo! Store URLs (and Paul Graham's website) is a prime example of this. As long as you're subscribed to human-operated blacklists, you're going to suffer from someone's politics. That's one of the reasons I coded up the RABL, which is a machine-automated blacklist. There is also another called the WPBL (weighted private block list). As the politics of the organizations running human-maintained lists get worse, I think more of these automated lists will start to pop up. Machine-automated blacklists don't have an agenda - they have a sensitivity threshold. It's much easier to find the right list with the right threshold than it is to find the right politics (and then keep tabs on them to make sure they don't change). The RABL, for example, measures network spread rather than number of complaints. If a spammer has affected more than X networks, they are automatically added to the system, and removed after being clear for six hours (no messy cleanup). Another nice thing about machine-automated blacklists is that they are really real-time blacklists, and capable of catching zombies and other such evils with great precision.

NOTE: I haven't had time yet to bring the RABL into full production, but am interested in finding more participants to bring us out of testing.

2. This is an extreme example, but most anti-spam approaches have the following characteristics: They are implemented on a mail server without fully informing the users of the ramifications (or really informing them at all). They block messages without notification to the sender, causing things to be silently dropped. Even if the recipient becomes aware of the problem, few or no options are given for the recipient to alter this "service".

Jonathan Responds:
I've run into issues like this with my ISP (Alltel), and I agree with a lot of what you're saying. In the case of Alltel, not only are they filtering inbound messages using blacklisting techniques and other approaches they don't care to tell me about, but they are filtering outbound messages as well. I had to eventually give up using their mail server because I could not adequately train my own spam filter (Alltel would block messages I forwarded to it). To make matters worse, there is no way to opt out of this type of filtering on their network, even though I offered to give them the IP address of my remote mail server. This clearly does affect their customers, and I feel there are censorship, violation of privacy and denial of service issues all going on here. (Somebody please sue them by the way).

Fortunately, I don't think this issue is as wide spread as you might think. Many of the ISPs and Colleges I've worked with are, unlike Alltel, very dedicated to ensuring that their tools only provide a way for their users to censor themselves. I think this ought to be a requirement for any publicly used system. Specifically...

1.The user must be able to opt in or out of all aspects of filtering
2.All filtering components and their general function must be fully disclosed
3.The user must be able to review and recover messages the system filtered

Opting out of RBLs is as easy as having two separate mail servers and homing on the box you want. I would strongly advise to ensure that your solution is capable of receiving instruction from a user to improve its results, but it is still very difficult to scale this to millions users. At the very least should be fully disclosed, recoverable, and removable.

An Anonymous Coward asks:
Without going into the truths of the beliefs in question, which I'm sure will be debated enough in the Slashdot thread anyway (and I hope you'll join in), what do you think the reason is that so many scientists, nerds and people otherwise rather similar to you think your beliefs are obviously incorrect? Do you think they are all deluded? Do you agree that there might be a possibility that your beliefs are not rational?

Jonathan Responds:
The beliefs I hold as a Christian aren't always the popular ones, but they're certainly valid arguments for anyone who cares to ask about them (not that that has happened). When you read about someone's beliefs, you have the option to engage in discussion, or to filter his or her beliefs through your own belief system. The former option involves cognitive thought, however the latter is how most people today respond to anything that even smells religious. And I say this coming from the position of someone who hasn't tried to shove my beliefs down anyone's throat - I merely documented them on my personal website. That tells me that some people don't believe I have the right to my own beliefs - how asinine is that?

But to address the question, my beliefs aren't based on some religious intellectual suicide. In fact, the Bible teaches that you should know what you believe and why, and that you should even be prepared to give a defense for your faith - so the Bible encourages sound thinking and not some pontificated ideal structure as many quickly dismiss it as. I didn't dumb down when I became a Christian. In fact, it felt more like I began to think more clearly. I was raised in the same public school system as everyone else and didn't even know who Jesus Christ was until around my junior or senior year of high school. I've read from my early days in Kindergarten how "billions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth" and I've been taught the theory of evolution like everyone else. The problem, though, is that no matter how credible or not a particular area of science is, much of what is out there is taught based on authority. I find it very ironic to be flamed by anyone who thinks I'm an idiot for not believing in a theory that's never been proven by scientific process. It's recently become a "religious act" to question science in any capacity, but isn't questioning science the only way we can tell the good science from the bad science? And there is a lot of great science out there - even in public schools. But there's no longer a way for students to evaluate the credibility of what they're being taught. That seems to be degrading the quality of the subject. Science should be a quest for the truth, with no presuppositions, and appropriate understanding between hypotheses vs. theories vs. laws. When a theory is presented in the classroom as law and it's not held accountable to method, it's degenerated into mere conditioning.

I've spent a considerable amount of time studying topics such as the age of the earth and the theory of evolution, and I could probably argue it quite well if so inclined to engage in a discussion. That's important if you're going to believe anything really - including whatever the mainstreamed secular agenda happens to be.

Just as an example, I've recently looked into Carbon-14 dating and found that in cross-referencing it to Egyptian history (which dates back as far as 3500 B.C. and is held to be in very high regard by archaeologists and scientists alike), there is evidence that Carbon dating may be inaccurate beyond around 1800 B.C. For someone not to consider that would be ignoring science. My point here is that my beliefs aren't merely unfounded, eccentric ideas. Just because microevolution is feasable, that doesn't mean I'm going to sweep macroevolution under the rug and not test it - the two are actually worlds apart, just cleverly bundled. The Bible has given me a perspective that seems to offer a reasonable and sensible way to put the different pieces of good science together. No matter what you believe, I strongly feel that you should have some factual foundation to support whatever it is, and if you don't, then be man enough to admit you only have a theory put together.

No matter what side of the camp you are on, your beliefs require a certain amount of faith, as neither side is at present proven scientifically. I don't have all the answers, but I don't think science in its present state does either. At the end of the day, you can't prove the existence of God factually, and so whatever you believe is still based on faith. But at least the Christians can admit that - I just wish the evolutionists would too.

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fristola! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438576)

failure-tastic!

meh!

third post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438578)

lol, jews did 9/11

End Spam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438606)

...end email.

Ahh the sign of a leader. (3, Funny)

webby123 (911327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438610)

First Question: How do you pronounce your name?

proving a theory? (3, Insightful)

measlymonkey (750045) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439117)

i always find it laughable when 'intelligent' people counter the 'theory of evolution' by rolilng over with a statement like:

"I find it very ironic to be flamed by anyone who thinks I'm an idiot for not believing in a theory that's never been proven by scientific process."

since 'the theory of evolution' falls under the Scientific definition of theory...

a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena

here is a good one Jonathan, explain the 'flounder' w/o using evolution as a base...

Re:proving a theory? (0, Troll)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439169)

since 'the theory of evolution' falls under the Scientific definition of theory...

It is a theory, but it is taught in the classroom as law. Look at the recent judicial ruling forcing Georgia to remove stickers from text books that said, "This book contains... evolution... just a theory.". If you're going to call it a theory, one ought to teach it as such. They don't.

I still want him to answer why we are filtering! (1, Troll)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438615)

The one fucking question [slashdot.org] I really wanted him to answer he wasn't even asked.

Instead something completely worthless like Winkydink asks: How do you pronounce your name? shows up instead.

Thanks Slashdot.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (1)

bradbeattie (908320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438642)

Sorry, which question?

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438646)

Jesus Christ how old are you? 5? Grow up. The world doesn't revolve around satisfying you.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0, Offtopic)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438671)

Jesus Christ how old are you? 5? Grow up. The world doesn't revolve around satisfying you.

Well, we aren't interviewing me, but I'll answer even though this won't be the top 10 moderated questions.

1. 26.

2. No, I might end up without a sense of humor like you.

3. No, it doesn't revolve around that. It revolves around humor. It isn't my fault that some of the moderators chose "+1 Insightful" "+1 Interesting" instead of "+1 Funny" like I had intended.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (5, Funny)

cybersaga (451046) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438712)

Jesus Christ how old are you?

He was about 33 when he died.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (1)

WiFiBro (784621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439164)

but you can't prove that ;-P

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (1)

webby123 (911327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438651)

404 File Not Found The requested URL (ahref=) was not found. If you feel like it, mail the url, and where ya came from to pater@slashdot.org. ------------ Yes, yes.. a question we would all like answered..

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (3, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438755)

Well, it wasn't worthless to me, and it looks like the editors thought that my question was a bit more coherent than a improperly written href.

If there's something that you really want to know, have you considered contacting him using this newfangled technoloigy called email?

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (-1, Flamebait)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438777)

have you considered contacting him using this newfangled technoloigy called email?

Have you considered the newfangled technology called a spell checker? ;)

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0, Offtopic)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438825)

not when it the words can be properly interpreted even when improperly spelled.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0, Offtopic)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438853)

Sorry, I can't believe any 6 digit UID Slashbotter. Especially one that says that whatever the Slashdot editors choose is ok! :)

Your "a href" is wrong. (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438909)

so, no one can know where are you pointing at.
unless this is an attempt of humour (in which case, it didn't work at all).
HTH,
Massa

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439047)

Pardon, what was the question though? I haven't seen a re-post, and the link is broken.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439124)

I don't know what's funnier. Being extremely humorous and being modded "Troll", being humorous and being modded "Insightful/Interesting", or watching a bunch of dumbasses think I'm being serious post about it.

Re:I still want him to answer why we are filtering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439194)

Nice fucking link jackass. Use HTML much?

Nice fucking language too

Now shut the fuck up and get back down in your parents' basement you retarded loser

Very interesting (3, Insightful)

Sinryc (834433) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438655)

Very, VERY interesting. I have to say thank you to him, for the fact that he made a good statement about faith. Very brave, and very good man.

n00B! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438661)

Does anybody remember what the world was like before Google? None of us do, primarily because we couldn't find iy

YESI do remember you noob.

Google is nothing new, before them there were a few engines that did the job fine. There was even an web based FTP search engine Where is that google, where is that.

Re:n00B! (2, Informative)

kashani (2011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439009)

I beleive you're thinking about that golden period in '96 when any ol search engine could index the net, Yahoo actually rated sites, etc. Yeah you could search then and it wasn't bad.

Fast forward a year or two and we see Internet content outstripping Moore's law among other things. You might have been able to find something if you read 5-10 pages of search results... maybe. Google's sucess was that it appeared about the time other search engines were failing miserably. Yeah they all had the same results, but Google tended to put the results you really wanted on the first page.

kashani

what is so terrible about dual licencing? (3, Interesting)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438676)

If i write some code and I licence it under the GPL and something else what is the problem?
You can take the GPL code and do what you like with it under the GPL, but I choose to licence what i have written under BSD (say) as well then what is the problem? It is going way OTT to take that away from me if I am gifting my work back to the community with the GPL. This is why I always stipulate that my code is licenced under GPL v2 and not any subsequent version - no self-appointed guardian has the right to take away my freedom to dual licence code.

Re:what is so terrible about dual licencing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438762)

He's hardly an authority on licensing, I've no idea how that question made it in as a good number of slashdot regulars are far more knowledgable.

Re:what is so terrible about dual licencing? (1)

Denzinger (905142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439140)

What if the licenses are mutually incompatible? It's reasonable to expect that an act within the terms of one license is outside the terms of another.

Re:what is so terrible about dual licencing? (1)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439284)

That's a silly argument - or rather it is an argument against dual licencing per se. Any two licences will be incompatible in some way because if they weren't they'd be the same licence!

Name Pronunciation (2, Funny)

jatemack (870255) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438682)

At least his first name isn't Jathan. He's be stuck explaining his name for another five minutes to people as well.
Me: My name is Jathan.
Response: Woah. Were your parents stoned when they named you?
Me: haha, yeah that's funny. It's kind of like saying Jason with a lisp.
Response: Thats great caus I half a lithsp
Me: Oh, sorry, it's like Nathan with a J then.

I feel your pain Mr.Zdziarski....

Tinfoil rul35! (0)

ezweave (584517) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438691)

So, do you really think Google will be selling our info out to the government?

I do think that our rights have been sold out by our elected officials ("All hail the all ighty ollar!"). I guess I just wanted to believe that Google was different. P.T. Barnum was right... a sucker every minute.

Now, where is my hat?

Great Responses (0, Redundant)

theGreater (596196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438695)

I'm glad to see someone discuss all these various spam issues with some degree of authority. It is nice to see someone differentiate between the different types of statistical filtering out there, and talk about the interactions between different levels of spam filtering.

How sad that most of the next 300 replies are likely to be attacks on his personal faith.

-theGreater.

And? (-1)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438765)

Ok, I don't see that happening, but if you make something like that public, you can expect that. Likewise, if you release code on the net, someone might say it sucks. You state a belief system on the net, someone might say it sucks.

If he wasn't willing to endure critisism of his faith, then he would have kept it private. He didn't, so he is willing to put up with it.

Would you have said such a thing if he was, oh say, a scientologist?

--SD

Re:Great Responses (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438822)

How sad that most of the next 300 replies are likely to be attacks on his personal faith.

The troll line he threw in at the end was hardly helpful:

"But at least the Christians can admit that - I just wish the evolutionists would too."

Nesflash for you Jonathan: A great many Christians are also evolutionists. There is no dichotomy.

Re:Great Responses (0)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438870)

A great many Christians are also evolutionists. There is no dichotomy.

I suspect you are confusing social Christians with real Christianity. There are plenty of people who label themself as a Christian simply because they grew up in a Christian household or because they go to church on Easter and Christmas. Most people like this haven't really ever read the Bible from cover to cover, don't live what would be considered a Christian lifestyle, and in all likelihood believe the same as anyone who's not a Christian. It's pretty easy to water down the definition of Christianity if you include the social converts. On the other hand, if you're talking about Christians in the sense of those who have convictions to follow after the God of the Bible, live right, pray daily, and seek to have a relationship with their maker, then you're very lucky if you find a small percentage of these who accept what they're told in school about evolution.

On the other side of things, there are plenty of people who are not Christians by any sense of the word (they do not label themselves as such, and may even be atheists) who don't swallow evolution. They likely don't believe in creationism either, but they've found just as many flaws in the theory and refuse to accept it. So you're right, in a sense - there is no dichotomy - people from all walks of life have rejected the theory of evolution. Being Christian is not a prerequisite.

Re:Great Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438934)

Most people like this haven't really ever read the Bible from cover to cover, don't live what would be considered a Christian lifestyle

Yeah, people like that would never live by tenets like "judge not, that you be not judged". Thank God you're not like them, eh Nuclear Elephant?

On the other hand, if you're talking about Christians in the sense of those who have convictions to follow after the God of the Bible, live right, pray daily, and seek to have a relationship with their maker, then you're very lucky if you find a small percentage of these who accept what they're told in school about evolution.

Christians without sin who can get on with metaphorically stoning the rest of us? Yeah! Preach on Nuclear Elephant!

Do tell us more about what a better Christian you are than the rest of us.

Re:Great Responses (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438983)

Hey I'm just telling it like it is. There are social converts in any religion - not just Christianity. Just like there are plenty of people in everyday life who implement Java because it's popular. Not trying to judge anyone, but you're going to run into this kind of thing no matter what you believe.

My point is that there are people who are Christians out of strong conviction, and part of that conviction may have solid factual foundations.

Re:Great Responses (3, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439062)

Not trying to judge anyone,

But you're *supposed* to judge people. Jesus wants you not to consort with disbelievers. How would you know they're disbelievers unless you judge them as such?

The basic problem is that you're trying to impose your own definition of Christian on everyone. I'm a true Christian and I don't believe the same things as you, and you can't make me stop calling myself a Christian.

The real metric of whether someone is a Christian or not is their actions, not their claims. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Re:Great Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439101)

Jesus wants you not to consort with disbelievers.

Then I'm afraid you've both come to the wrong internet ;)

Re:Great Responses (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438949)

You're right. No true Christian [ntlworld.com] believes in evolution, because by your definition of Christianity, he couldn't believe in evolution.
-russ

Re:Great Responses (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439035)

You're right. No true Christian believes in evolution, because by your definition of Christianity, he couldn't believe in evolution.

But you're confusing cause and effect. People don't (usually) become Christians and then learn that rejecting evolution needs to be part of their faith. Well, some do - primarily the ones who just never thought the subject was important enough to think about (at which point they start thinking about it and draw a conclusion). Most people become Christians after realizing there's something terribly wrong with the way they've been living, and at least in my case that involved my burping a lot of science up in high school. There was a problem before I ever suspected there might be a solution - I spent quite a bit of time, in fact, simply believing "nothing". It starts with "faith", that is true - but nowhere does believing the Bible ever include intellectual suicide.

Re:Great Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439072)

Thought experiment. If all the humans on earth died today except for two, a male and female. And the only book left on earth was the lord of the rings, would future generations pray to frodo?

Interesting analogy (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439063)

Now, what if I said I was a scientist, but I believed in magic? Wouldn't you find it just a little tempting to say that I wasn't a "true scientist"? Now, I don't agree with the GP on what makes a true Christian (most agree that the only pre-requisite is accepting Christ as your savior - of course, this usually does imply some natural consequences, but I don't believe that rejecting evolution is one of them). Similarly, if I told you I am a Scotsman, born to parents who are both nth generational U.S. citizens (with the usual, very mixed heritage of such citizens) while they were living in Germany - and I've never even been to Scotland (that I remember, anyway), you'd have a right to question whether or not I was a "true Scotsman", wouldn't you?

Re:Great Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438979)

there are plenty of people who are not Christians by any sense of the word (they do not label themselves as such, and may even be atheists) who don't swallow evolution.

Really? I've never met one. I'm not saying they don't exist, but it seems to me that the only reason to not accept the fact that evolution occurs is because it contradicts some leap of faith.

I can see how one might not accept Darwin's theory as a proper explanation of how evolution occurs, but that is entirely different from thinking evolution itself is not a fact.

Re:Great Responses (1)

HanClinto (621615) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438953)

Jonathan's statement also caught my eye -- though perhaps he was talking about the worldview of Atheistic Evolutionists. Atheism and Evolution seem to go hand in hand on a great many points, and as such, they often get lumped together.

Re:Great Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438967)

Ah well. At least he's consistent, which is more that can be said about the intelligent design guys.

Standard testing for spam filters (5, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438709)

Although there don't seem to be any standards in the Open Source community for this, there are definitely standards in the academic community. Spam filters are a subset of machine learners, and there are very specific and well accepted ways of comparing machine learners.

Typically what is done is to select a range of filters/learners that you want to evaluate. A test dataset is also selected (in this case, it would be an archive of spam and nonspam messages, correctly classified). An M-way N-fold cross validation is performed. What this means is that the data set is split into N parts, and N runs are conducted for each classifier, training using N-1 of the parts. The remaining part is used to test the learner. This is repeated, each time holding out a different part of the test set.

This ENTIRE procedure is repeated M times. This gives, ultimately, M*N results. Each column pair of results from a specific pair of learners has a T-test applied to it. This tells the statistical significance of variations in performance. Usually, a 5% or 1% threshold of significance is used.

Once that is completed, something called a WLT table is computed. Each time a learner defeats another learner on a given test, its W ("Win") counter is incremented. Likewise, when a learner loses, the L ("Loss") counter is incremented. When two learners tie (i.e., when the variation is not statistically significant), the T ("Tie") counter is incremented.

The overall "winner" of the comparison is the learner with the maximum value of W-L.

This sounds complicated and bloated, but it is, in fact, how machine learners are tested in academia. The cross validation method, along with checks for statistical significance, is critical to achieving a valid comparison. Simply running the tests once and saying "This filter got 98% correct, and this other filter got 95% correct -- therefore the first filter is better" is NOT sufficient.

Re:Standard testing for spam filters (1)

Hrolf (564645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438882)

That's a great description of the process of testing machine learners, but as Jonathan points out, that's not the hard part. The hard part, which you sort of elide over, is selecting the test dataset. Whose e-mail? The SpamBayes project uses mailing list archives to check algorithm changes because it's available, while of course recognizing that it's not really representative.

The upshot is that it's too easy for the losing software team to claim that whatever sample was chosen was not representative, and essentially impossible to prove them wrong.

I use SpamBayes; my unscientific, lazy reason is that it works and I don't have to think about it.

Re:Standard testing for spam filters (2, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438919)

The hard part, which you sort of elide over, is selecting the test dataset. Whose e-mail?

You're right, sorry. I left something out.

You can also do a P-set M-way N-fold cross validation, which is basically the procedure I outlined above, but repeated P times with P different data sets. The mechanics of computing the WLT table and the T-tests remain the same but obviously there are P times as many results. Now, you can simply start plugging in datasets until everybody is satisfied that the test is fair.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Re:Standard testing for spam filters (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439087)

You're still missing the hard part. What are the datasets?

In academic machine learning, where you're trying to train a system to distinguish between chairs and doorknobs, there's at least a consensus on what chairs and doorknobs are. Spam is a moving target that's continually updated to defeat new filtering methods.

Re:Standard testing for spam filters (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439166)

In academic machine learning, where you're trying to train a system to distinguish between chairs and doorknobs, there's at least a consensus on what chairs and doorknobs are. Spam is a moving target that's continually updated to defeat new filtering methods.

So, you continually test. Nobody said this was easy.

Re:Standard testing for spam filters (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439010)

When I say lacking a standard testing interface, I'm not referring to how to test - that's already well taken care of. I'm referring to whatever protocol or execution standard will be used to actually communicate with the filters. You can create a "spam jig", but then getting everyone to buy into your own standard will likely leave you coding up much of it (which is where error usually occurs). Being that this is the Internet, we like to do everything based on RFC and standards. When there comes a standard way for MTAs to talk to MFAs (Mail Filter Agents), this framework will likely be adopted for testing as well.

My problem with spam filters... (4, Insightful)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438725)

I use SpamAssassin (server) and SpamPal (client). They're both quite accurate and I'm very happy with them.

However, I've had unacceptably high false-positive rates. Saying that you only get one spam a day is fine--I can deal with that. Are you sure that no legitimate e-mail is being tagged though? I have the subject lines prefixed with [SPAM] and so I just go through and look for anything that looks like it might not be spam. This process takes about 10 minutes a day, which is 10 minutes more than I would care to spend.

I give the anti-spam developers credit for their hard work, but I believe that the best solution would not be filter-based, for mere fact that if 1 spam gets through a day, and the volume of spam increases 100x in the next 2 years, then you're back up to ~100 spams a day. It's a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

Just my $0.02.

Re:My problem with spam filters... (2, Informative)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438774)

However, I've had unacceptably high false-positive rates. Saying that you only get one spam a day is fine--I can deal with that. Are you sure that no legitimate e-mail is being tagged though?

After a few months of learning, DSPAM has gotten pretty good about not giving me very many false positives. I'd say my FP rate is about the same as my FN rate, perhaps one per month. DSPAM has some integrated false-positive protection coding called "statistical sedation" which cuts off after you it learns enough messages. This waters down filtering to some degree, but it also avoids a large number of FPs.

Another function I use is the confidence-sort in my quarantine. My email is very eclectic, being that I'm involved in a lot of projects, and so I've had my share of false positives during training. By sorting on confidence, any likely candidates for FPs rise to the very top of my quarantine list around 49%-55%. This makes the daily scan through the bucket much faster.

Re:My problem with spam filters... (2, Informative)

Old Grey Beard (869804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439018)

> However, I've had unacceptably high false-positive rates.

I've been using Death2Spam for about 4-5 months now and get almost no FPs.

As far as scanning [SPAM] for "just in case" FPs, I have my client route those messages to a SPAM folder that I look at every couple days. All I do is glance at the subject line first and hit DELETE if it's an obvious spam. If not, I look at the sender and hit DELETE if I don't recognize the sender name. I think I average about one second per message...at ~30 messages per day I'm OK. Should that rise to 300 messages per day I would have to consider alternatives, as we all would.

Re:My problem with spam filters... (3, Interesting)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439044)

Maybe you should tweak your spam settings. If you're getting more then one spam or so a month then you're getting too many. I've used Thunderbird's spam filters, Gmail, and spam assassin indirectly through Evolution, . GMail by far has the highest accuracy, I've had my account for about 1 year and 3 months, I have a little over 3,000 emails (not including spam) and the accuracy is 100%. I kid you not, every single email has been correctly identified, which is one of the main perks I think most people use it other than the 2.5 gigs of space. Thunderbird correctly identifies 99.7% of my email, this account has 4,600 emails. When I first trained Thunderbird it was around 90-95% but over time it quickly increased in accuracy to the point where I rarely see spam. I havent used Evolution that extensively (I preferred Thunderbird), but SpamAssassin from the limited training I did seemed pretty good. You either get very unique spam or your parameters are messed up. You should not have to spend 10 minutes a day on spam, that is nonsense.
Regards,
Steve

back in time? (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438728)

Interviews: Jonathan Zdziarski Answers Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday August 30, @07:13AM

has time wound back? all the stories and comments seem to be showing AM instead of PM. Editors: correct the error please, I dont want to go to work again!

Re:back in time? (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438778)

ahem, I realised after a cup of coffee that even the time is wrong, not just am/pm.

Re:back in time? (1)

680x0 (467210) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438804)

Presumably Slashdot is using that "notoriously inaccurate" carbon dating for the timerstamps on posts. :-)

Hmm, my question didn't get answered - (1)

skazatmebaby (110364) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438764)

And it was +5 Interesting. Anyone want to take a crack at it?

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=160001&cid=133 92902 [slashdot.org]

Re:Hmm, my question didn't get answered - (2, Interesting)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438821)

What advice do you have as a developer of this program to: * Help my users send legitimate messages (either by education (specifically) or by programming techniques) * Help Spam Filtering Software check the messages my program sends out for possible abuse * Be a part of the solution to sending legitimate messages to many people, rather than perhaps be part of the problem.

I had written up an answer to this one, but it turned out not to appear in the interview questions, so it got bitcanned. I believe the summary was to incorporate functionality such as listid, to help a filter identify that the message was coming from a mailing list. This way, whether it's spam or ham, the filter can better identify it.

Perhaps other areas that might make it very sysadmin-friendly in terms of management would be putting in filter interfaces to allow one to check outgoing messages to the list, and potentially flag suspect messages for additional approval.

As far as making people send good messages, there's not much hope for you. People are going to abuse your software no matter how hard you try and educate them. That's part of free software - giving spammers the freedom to use it too. Hopefully incorporating as many list identification features by default will at least help the dimmer of the bunch make their spam more available.

Nobody has been fired... (5, Insightful)

PhYrE2k2 (806396) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438813)

. The ignorance of these people on such topics is astounding, and I find many approaches I have tried seem to yield no results...


Bingo. One of my managers said it very well at my former employment: nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM- and he's 100% right. I know a few companies spending millions to have services offered by Dell, IBM, Microsoft, etc who could get their services for thousands from clone computer makers, and Linux- but who would they?

Choose IBM and loose a few million, and you 'missed the market'. Choose open source and loose a few million and 'your solution wasn't up to par'. Choose open source and succeed and you make millions...

Is it worth the risk for the second situation? Most managers who want to leave with a hefty bonus and a good referral woulds say no.

PS: Agree 100% with almost everything he said. Smart man.

-M

Re:Nobody has been fired... (2)

PaxTech (103481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438973)

PS: Agree 100% with almost everything he said. Smart man.

I thought the same after reading the interview. Then I checked out his site and read his essay about Christianity [nuclearelephant.com] . I'm not trying to slam, but I was far from impressed.

We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438855)

But the other issues present in the interview are really way more interesting than SPAM (Religion and pronunciation os bizarre names :) ).

I Agree with Zdziarski in that both science and religion need a bit of faith from their believers. The difference, is that science logically analizes our environment, and bases it's conclusion on that analisis. Religion, on the other hand, is arbitrary, it just states that certain things are so 'just because'; so, reading different theorys, and then i see which seems more plausible, is better documented, etc, and, off course, depending on my personality, i will find some of them more credible, and so i will put a little faith in them. Religious persons acts differently, they beleive in a certain religion because their parents did. I Don't beleive the same things that my parents did about science, i read my own books, make my own conclussions, etc. Also, science is more unified than religion, that is, for a certain topic, there might be a few scientific explanations, that may vary slightly, but they all have a common base, share certain ideas, etc., and usually there is a reasonable number of different theorys (two?, three?), but, in religion, there are hundreds of different religions and they all state things that are VERY different from what other religions explain, absolutely contradicting each other.
Also, religion doesn't evolve, science does. The catholic church once stated how man was created, and that explanation is still the same than it was 1.7k years ago, science changes daily, improving, finding new ways and explanations, because the human being is constantly evolving, and so, we prove ourselves wrong constantly (may be not plain wrong, we just elaborate on what we thought previously), religion doesn't change, and doesn't add new knowledge.
One of the weaker points of religions, is that they base all their facts in one initial fact: God exists, and so, from that all the other knowledge is generated. We don't know if god exists, it's just a theory, so all the theorys in religion are based on one single theory, that is impossible to prove, and that is the single more discussed and opossed theory in history, with lots of proves that it's false, being it's only argument to be true, faith. Science, on the other hand, bases all it's theorys on a fact: Man can learn, so, many specific theorys might be wrong, but they can't be all wrong, and they won't be all proved wrong in a day, in change, if i could prove you that god doesn't exists, i would be proving all your other theorys wrong at the same time.
Obviously, you have the right to beleive, and i respect that.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438998)

science and religion need a bit of faith from their believers.

No. Religion requires faith. Science requires trust.

Also, religion doesn't evolve, science does.

That's also not true. Christians used to say that slavery was okay because God didn't condemn it, but instead spoke approvingly of slave holders who treated their slaves fairly. Now just try to find a Christian who thinks that.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439071)

I touched the meaning of faith a little to make it suitable for a comparission, trust is a form of faith, in this context.

About the slaves comment, we are talking about science, not ethics. Also, christians change their ethics in two ocasions: a) When a powerfull country/organization tells them to (The church changed it's mind on slavery when certain countrys abolished slavery, and not he other way arround) b) when it's convenient for political/military/economical reasons.
About the "try to find a Christian who thinks that", 99.99% of christians are capitalists, and 99.99% of capitalists aproves some forms of slavery (working 9 hours for a minimal wage, not being able to find another job, and so not being able to afford loosing the job, is slavery)

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439172)

The problem with your argument is that you are criticizing the church, and religion, while he (and I) make no claim that that is what we believe. I don't believe what the church believes, or what Christians say I should believe, or even what my parents think I should believe. My belief is not a religion, it is based on my search for truth. So when the "church" (which church, anyway?? Catholic, maybe?) changes its ethics, I'm not swayed by their opinion or control. I'm not controlled by the church, I'm controlled by God.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439224)

You are controled by god?, man, that's stupid.
First of all, god doesn't exist, and that's a FACT.
Second, if he existed, the purpose of my life would be to kill him. An absolute power?, a universe-wide dictatorship?, the idea of the existance of a god is stupid, but if a god actually existed, i would be the first blasphem.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439141)

I Agree with Zdziarski in that both science and religion need a bit of faith from their believers.
I do not. Science does not require faith. If, at any point in the "chain of belief" of a particular scientific theory, you encounter a step of logic that is not demonstrably provable by experimentation, you are quite correct to suspect the veracity of that theory. Science can be put to experimental test; religion cannot. Therefore religion requires faith, whereas the most science requires of you is trust -- you often have to trust that the scientists who figured out a certain point of science and the other scientists who recreated the experiments and pronounced the conclusions valid know more about their field than you do. If there was no way to test that scientists really have the knowledge they claim to have but you still felt you needed to believe in their conclusions, then that would be faith.
One of the weaker points of religions, is that they base all their facts in one initial fact: God exists, and so, from that all the other knowledge is generated.
Similarly, all science proceeds from the belief that the universe exists. If it does not, then no hypothesis can ever be tested accurately. Quantum physicists might already be willing to tell you that time, as humans perceive it, probably doesn't exist. What's next? So in that sense does science require faith? Now we're getting into philosophy.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439267)

Theorys can't be proved right, they can be proved either wrong, or probably true. Nothing can be proved completely true, since it's based on previous conceptions and knowledges that might change, so, there is a little bit of faith in it.

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (2, Interesting)

wabaus (648489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439143)

"One of the weaker points of religions, is that they base all their facts in one initial fact: God exists, and so, from that all the other knowledge is generated."

Just to be clear, science is based on at least 2 equally unproven hypotheses (possibly others):

1) For every physical-observable effect there is a physical-observable cause. (physical-observable was the short-hand my Physics profs used for anything that can be measured or detected directly or indirectly)

2) Physical Law (that is the way the universe behaves) is consistent everywhere in the universe.

I am not claiming either of these is false. But from a purely philosophical point of view, the idea of "proving" things is a relative notion. In science, we can hypothesize, test, and improve our theories. But there is always room for the universe to prove us wrong.

Faith and Science start from different sets of assumptions. My own opinion is that:
a) People of faith have nothing to fear from Science, since God surely understands the true nature of the universe, which we understand in progressive approximation through science.
b) Scientists are foolish to become defensive about science in the face of Faith, as this often leads to pompously accepting as immutable that which is a progressive approximation of the true nature of the universe.

Of course, the Jonathan Zdziarski's responses re: F/OSS and SPAM were also quite thought provoking :)

==>Andrew Bauserman!

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
- Richard P. Feynman
(Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Challenger Space Shuttle Accident)

"A philosopher once said, 'It is necessary for the very existence of science that the same conditions always produce the same results'. Well, they do not... Yet science goes on in spite of it...
"What is necessary 'for the very existence of science', and what the characteristics of nature are, are not to be determined by pompous preconditions, they are determined always by the material with which we work, by nature herself.
"In fact, it is necessary for the very existence of science that minds exist which do not allow that nature must satisfy some preconceived conditions, like those of our philosopher."
- Richard Feynman, _The_Character_of_Physical_Law_

Re:We have discussed SPAM just way to much ... (5, Insightful)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439150)

First, a note: I am not religious. Just wanted to clarify that so you know my position isn't biased in this rebuttal.

"Religious persons acts differently, they beleive in a certain religion because their parents did."

While this is indeed true for the vast majority of people all through-out history, it isn't _always_ true. Jonathan's responses even explicitly state that he hadn't heard of Jesus until much later in his life.

"Also, religion doesn't evolve, science does. The catholic church once stated"

Religion has evolved *tons*. Christianity today looks very little like what it was 2000 years ago, and even the Catholic church is different. The simple fact that we *have* multiple versions of Christianity is only a couple hundred years old. The Church (which was never called "Catholic" until after the Reformation) has had many changes in its beliefs. The belief that the Son is of the Father (ie, that Jesus is divine, more than a man) didn't come about until several hundred years after the Church had formed. That's but one of many, many examples.

"the same than it was 1.7k years ago, science changes daily,"

What's wrong with not changing? If it changes, that would mean that it was wrong. Likewise, when science changes, that means that it was, previously, wrong. 2000 year old scientific facts are impressive. This week's hot scientific theory is really no different than the nut-jobs jumping on the latest fad religion. (Kids with black lipstick calling themselves Wiccans: I'm refering to you.)

If you clarify "change" to mean "refine," then we once again come back to the fact that Christianity has refined itself greatly over the last two millenia, not to mention the refinements that Judaism likely underwent long before it branched into Christianity. Any major religion undergoes refinements in its beliefs and tenants, and simply studying history and works of antiquity will make that evolution (forgive the pun) of the religions clear.

"religion doesn't change, and doesn't add new knowledge."

Religion isn't about knowledge. If all you are interested in is being smart, then sure, a religion like Christianity isn't for you. That doesn't mean Religion is wrong. Science has not disproven God. It has not disproven Creation. It has not disproven anything in the Christian religion, and likewise many other religions have elements which have not been proven nor disproven by science.

I would say that the real purpose of religion is to make up for what knowledge can't give you.

It is key to keep knowledge in mind, though. For a personal pet peeve, I don't care what the book says, the Bible *is not* the word of God. That's something you can prove, I might note - just pick up two editions of the Bible and note the differences. There are in fact many factual discrepencies. Perhaps, long long long ago, some particular stories were the word of God, but they have been retold, transcribed, edited, translated, and artistically recast so many times that whatever copy of the Bible you have access to now cannot be wholly and firmly trusted to be true. In many cases, slight changes of wording can make a phrase still say the same thing, yet mean something new. There are known and documented errors in most popular versions of the Bible, and many more documented passages of the modern Bible eidtions which are believed to be flat out incorrect. Many of today's versions of various Bible passages which may have once been analogies could now be considered literal truth due to poor translation or simply a loss of contextual understanding since the passages' original inception. I.e., is the "seven days" of the creation a measure of actual time as we perceive it, or an unclear translation of a literary device used to explain the passing of seven units of time of unknown size? You can't be sure, and there are no original manuscripts of the Bible to study; indeed, there never were original manuscripts of most of it, as much of the Bible was passed by word of mouth for many decades or centuries before being committed to a written form.

That doesn't mean that the Bible is *wrong*. It just means that it is, at most, a beautiful literary masterpiece that may (or may not) contain the Absolute Truth, wrapped in the building imperfections if the text perpetrated over the ages by humanity. Take what you will of Christianity, or any religion, but keep in mind that your book is not law, and that there may well be some real truth which contradicts the popular human interpretations and available human-written editions of the Bible. That doesn't make your religion any less real or true - it simply means that your book isn't as infallible as God.

If nothing else, worshipping your book as absolute truth and God's pure word is probably a form of idolatry. ;-)

A creationist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438867)

This guy is a creationist? And he expects us to trust his faith-based spam filtering?

He's making mistake #1 that creationists make: assuming that any problems in the evidence for one theory of evolution are evidence for creationism.

Amazon and Google don't contribute? (1)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438868)

They argue that the open source community hasn't benefited from companies like Google and Amazon.

I never really understood this thinking. At amazon, kernel and oracle patches (made by the amazon kernel team) were upstreamed to Redhat and Oracle. While their name does not appear in the credits. They certainly did contribute.

BBH

OT: Slashdots SSL cert has expired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438892)

What's up with that?

Does it mean we should all stop trusting them?

My spam problem... (2, Interesting)

radish (98371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13438896)

My spam problem is the reverse of most people's. Using grey listing I get basically no actual spam. It's wonderful - works very well. But that's not my problem. My problem is that some a$$hole spammer has decided to start using my domain as a from address in his spams. So I'm currently getting deluged by bounce messages for mails I never sent. I've published SPF records and that's helped a bit, but not a lot.

Anyone got any good suggestions?

Carbon-14 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13438986)

Sure looks like he didn't take his good time on researching carbon-14 and find out that to date dino-bones we aren't using carbon-14 that much.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/carbon-142.htm [howstuffworks.com]

Hard-core Christians complain that we aren't researching their opinions, but I see way too much that it is the same the other way around. If you believe in Carbon-14 then you have to agree that the other science behind the chemistry also works. And in that case that argument for the age of dinosaurs so fall apart for those Christians.

(Disclaimer: I believe in God, Jesus, and Science - The Bible has good things but it is too man made and narrow minded towards the real world, IMHO)

Im sick of "Christians"... (5, Insightful)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439121)

I am truely sick of people who call themselves Christians but are really practising some whacky supersitious religion that has no place for critical thought.

To quote Mr Zdziarski's homepage:
"to teach and to defend what I have come to find is a scientifically beautiful piece of logical harmony - the Bible"

Ah so science is a book that is thousands of years old and most of it is not corroborated in secondary sources? A book that is known to have been selectively edited through out its history for political reasons? So Jesus violating the laws of physics in his numerous miracles is science?

It certainly has great bits of logic and moral teaching in it (Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you), but it is not science. For someone to call it science shows that they have no understanding of science at all and it is no surprise that he thinks creationism and evolution should be taught in science class. I was taught creationism at school but in thelogy class.

I spent my entire education in christian schools. I have spent the last three weeks going to church to reconnect with God. Science does not preclude God. Just because God didn't have to make Adam from mud, after he made the world in six days, doesn't mean there is no God. No matter who much scientific knowledge we get there will always be room for God (What came before the Big Bang? And how did matter get the properties it has?).

For me God is the ultimate programmer. No sense doing all the work by hand when you can write some perl scripts to do it for you.

Science tells us what we can do and how. Religion tells us if we should.

Re:Im sick of "Christians"... (1)

The Slashdolt (518657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439208)

These are serious questions. Is "God" the god of the universe or just earth? If "God" is the god of the universe, and "God" made man in his own image, then wouldn't life on all planets on the universe also be made in "Gods" image? Is the bible discussing the birth of the earth or the universe? If the earth, then is there another super bible explaining the universe and its creation?

I'm a pastafarian (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439001)

I welcome our new Flying Spaghetti Monster [wikipedia.org] overlord.

Seriously, you can believe whatever you want. It's when you start dissing evolution that we've got a problem: now the burden of proof is yours.

And you're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than challenging the accuracy of carbon dating. Ideally, you'd have an alternative explanation that wasn't half-baked.

Re:I'm a pastafarian (1)

sarasinclair (414156) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439068)

half-baked

Because His Noodliness approves only of fully-baked dishes (like ziti!)?

Re:I'm a pastafarian (1)

VoidWraith (797276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439108)

It would've been more on topic if you were a follower of SPAM [wikipedia.org] . (Hopefully that link survives.)

Re:I'm a pastafarian (3, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439123)

I second that. What you believe is one thing, but if you abandon scepticism and value religious doctrine higher than tested scientific theory, then you've got a problem.

Incidentally, I'm sad to see that Zdziarski tries to pull the same old stunt again that most supporters of creationism try to pull - namely, deliberately misunderstanding the meaning of "theory" in the context of science and equating it with an unproven hypothesis. Everyone who knows a bit about science (which no doubt includes Zdziarski) will know that that's not true, of course, but the general public often doesn't, which is why this kind of tactic is so despicable.

I'd really like to see a supporter of creationism who says "I don't believe in evolution, but I still acknowledge that it explains the observed facts and has made falsifiable predictions that were, in turn, shown to be correct". But I guess that's something you just won't hear from someone who puts his personal faith above the scientific method, as far as the search for scientific truth is concerned.

Re:I'm a pastafarian (3, Interesting)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439255)

deliberately misunderstanding the meaning of "theory" in the context of science and equating it with an unproven hypothesis.

Oh I don't misunderstand the difference. However, most public schools do, and they teach a theory as if it were a law (such as the laws of thermodynamics or the laws of gravity). I think a lot of people misinterpret trying to bring the theory of evolution down to a "theory" as trying to convert it into a hypothetis. This just isn't the desired intent.

don't believe in evolution, but I still acknowledge that it explains the observed facts and has made falsifiable predictions that were, in turn, shown to be correct

How's this:

I don't believe in evolution, but I still acknowledge that it makes an attempt to explain the observed facts and has made predictions that were, in turn, shown to be correct by those who believe the theory of evolution is in fact falsible.

Unfortunately, most scientists today view evolution as infalsible. The excuse is to simply "keep digging". I believe there is more than enough information to suggest that we move on and find some other scientific explanations.

Correction (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439274)

s/shown to be correct/shown to be only partially correct/

You've got it backward (1)

Weird Dave (224717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439174)

A person's beliefs should be questioned, as should evolution. Why should people be allowed to believe whatever they want without others questioning it?

Re:You've got it backward (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439283)

It's a reasonnable trade-off.

You can believe you have your Venus rising and an opposing Mars. You can talk about it at parties, and I probably will just smile and nod if I meet you: "oh cool, another excentric." And if you only ever keep it to yourself, you have your right to privacy.

That said, you shouldn't try to get a school board to teach astrology.

If you try to challenge the scientific consensus around astrology (that it's a crock), expect ridicule if you can't prove it.

Idiot creationist (0, Flamebait)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439039)

My point here is that my beliefs aren't merely unfounded, eccentric ideas.

Err... come again?
All our theories about the Universe, fundamental physical forces and biology are wrong - that is not eccentric? Well, I suppose not, plain bonkers is more like it.
The claim that these things have not been proved scientifically can only be answered in the way first made famous by Dr Johnson - I refute it thus.

Even though I'm not a christian (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439054)

I do like his section on his beliefs, he raises some very good points. I used to be cynical and thought all relgious people were idiots, but lately I've come to realize that this was just my own sense of inflated ego fucking with me. Some of the smartest people have been religious believers. There have even been really smart fanatics, Mohamed Atta [wikipedia.org] had a masters degree, and pretty much all the attackers in the sarin gas attack on Tokyo [wikipedia.org] had degrees in engineering, many of them at least masters.
One minor gripe though, he discredits macro-evolution by calling into question the accuracy of carbon dating. This may be true, but Carbon-14 dating is just one tool in the arsenal of the macro-evolution scientist. For instance, even if carbon-14 dating isn't accurate, there is still the fossil record. Wordlwide dinosaur fossils and human fossils have been seperated by layers and layers of earth. Even without carbon 14 dating, geologists can study those layers and give a (very rough) estimate about how much time transpired between the most recent known dinosaur fossils and the oldest known human ones.

Re:Even though I'm not a christian (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439098)

There is an excellent book that you might find interesting on the subject. I don't believe the author was a Christian either, although I could be wrong. At the very least, he doesn't state his beliefs anywhere I've seen - but then again I'm not completely finished with the book yet. It's called Darwin's Black Box [amazon.com] and it poses a biochemical challenge to evolution by a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. Regardless of which side of the fence one might sit on, this is a great book.

Nope, he's another of the "ID" group. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439135)

From that link:
Within the biochemistry of living cells, he argues, life is "irreducibly complex." This is the last black box to be opened, the end of the road for science. Faced with complexity at this level, Behe suggests that it can only be the product of "intelligent design."--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
All he's doing is digging down to a certain point and then declaring that someone-but-I-will-not-say-"god" created/designed everything else.

Re:Even though I'm not a christian (1)

sarasinclair (414156) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439127)

"Even without carbon 14 dating, geologists can study those layers and give a (very rough) estimate about how much time transpired between the most recent known dinosaur fossils and the oldest known human ones."

The geologists haven't been around to watch the transformations of the earth as they occured. How can we be sure that their theories on how these processes occur really be true? Aren't their theories based, at least in part, on carbon dating of the contents of the various layers of earth?

I am curious to know more about the basis of the geological methods of fossil dating, if you (or someone else) can provide a layperson's summary.

Re:Even though I'm not a christian (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439288)


The geologists haven't been around to watch the transformations of the earth as they occured. How can we be sure that their theories on how these processes occur really be true? Aren't their theories based, at least in part, on carbon dating of the contents of the various layers of earth?


And no ID supporter was around when the bible was written so how can we be sure it wasn't written as a joke? Or that significant parts got altered out. Maybe Jesus supported Gay Marriage.

Science is based on the idea that physical laws don't change significantly. Since its almost impossible to detect if they have changed (at best we can detect if they are changing) you have to go on a bit of faith. Everything comes down to faith eventually (How do you know you aren't in the Matrix?), but you are better off basing your faith on scientific evidence then on literal interpretations of an ancient book that is full or parables and stories.

But hey maybe God is just fucking with us and put all those fossils in the ground.

Evolution "THEORY" ARGGGGHHHH (2, Insightful)

OsirisX11 (598587) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439118)

PEOPLE!! STOP. Stop using "theory" in regards to science as a theory in the common definition. A scientific theory is very well backed up by facts.

"In layman's terms, if something is said to be "just a theory," it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true."

I will personally stangle the next person who does this. Pisses me off.
Scientific Theory = Scientific Fact. Bitches.
http://wilstar.com/theories.htm [wilstar.com]

Oh no, I smell intelligent design.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439125)

The last part of this ask slashdot infuriated me.

You know what? He's good with dealing with spam. That's great & wonderful, but please end it there. Here at slashdot, we don't believe in such things as god or religion, it's just the twisting of words & IT related stories in a bitterly geekish way for us.

These people are all over the place. They're christians, and they pose as scientists to get you to listen to them, but once they start talking.. guess where it leads to? How great & wonderful god is for creating the heavens and earth, and blah blah blah. They're trying to delude you in to thinking they are not preaching the gospel, when in fact, they are. It's pure evil at it's finest.

I'm not trolling, but this is really starting to bother me, and i'm seeing it more & more in the news. It makes me sick to believe that these beliefs are actually taken seriously in social circles, and even more scary, in the educational field.

Just because I cant prove that a Giant Spaghetti Monster [venganza.org] actually created the universe, does that mean it should be taught to children as an alternative view of how we got on this planet? No, it shouldn't. I take my science with a dose of reality. So should you.

Spam, spam, spam, spam... (1)

dbhankins (688931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439183)

I got spam today from eWeek.

What was it selling? An eSeminar on "Winning the War on Spam"

How ironic.

Religion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13439196)

The beliefs I hold as a Christian aren't always the popular ones, but they're certainly valid arguments for anyone who cares to ask about them (not that that has happened).

Yes, but as anybody with a clue would point out, a perfectly valid argument can still be completely wrong. The problem scientific-types have with Christianity isn't that it's not a valid argument - it's that the axioms are wrong.

Point out a scientist who claims that, assuming the Bible is the incorruptible word of God, Christianity is not a valid argument. I don't think that's a common attitude. What I do think is a common attitude is disagreeing that we should use that as an axiom in the first place.

When you read about someone's beliefs, you have the option to engage in discussion, or to filter his or her beliefs through your own belief system. The former option involves cognitive thought, however the latter is how most people today respond to anything that even smells religious. And I say this coming from the position of someone who hasn't tried to shove my beliefs down anyone's throat - I merely documented them on my personal website. That tells me that some people don't believe I have the right to my own beliefs - how asinine is that?

That's completely asinine. It's also a straw man argument. So people filter what you say through their own beliefs system before responding - how does that in any way whatsoever tell you that they don't think you have a right to your own beliefs?

the Bible encourages sound thinking

Correct me if I'm wrong (really). The Bible claims that it is the incorruptible word of God, and that you should believe this because the Bible says so. The Bible also says that if you don't believe, you go to hell.

I consider these two things to be antithetical to sound thinking. If, however, I am wrong, and the Bible doesn't claim these things, then you have to explain how vast numbers of Christians say that it does. The only explanation I can see is that they have misinterpreted it. In which case, you are left with the unenviable position of claiming that you are interpreting it right and they aren't - so much for the incorruptible word of God.

The problem, though, is that no matter how credible or not a particular area of science is, much of what is out there is taught based on authority.

Everything that is taught is done so based on authority. But the practice of science is based upon the rejection of authority. You can't practice science if you blindly accept things as the truth. That's not how science works.

It's recently become a "religious act" to question science in any capacity

Bullshit. Scientists question science all the time. That's their job. You can't do science without it.

Just because microevolution is feasable, that doesn't mean I'm going to sweep macroevolution under the rug and not test it - the two are actually worlds apart, just cleverly bundled.

Speciation has been observed a number of times [talkorigins.org] . If you aren't referring to speciation, then I suggest you use proper terminology instead of the terms cooked up by creationists.

No matter what side of the camp you are on, your beliefs require a certain amount of faith

I agree. I have faith in the relative fidelity of my memory. I have faith that my senses are not being tampered with. I have faith that the laws of nature don't change behind my back every few minutes. I have faith that the rest of human society isn't engaged in a giant conspiracy to deceive me. I consider that to be the minimum you must have faith in to make any sense of the world. If I suspect that any particular piece of science is wrong, those faiths above are all I need to check one way or the other.

You, on the other hand, have faith that a magical being in the sky makes things happen, who claims to love us all, but is willing to torture us for eternity if we don't do what he says.

I don't know about you, but I feel my faith is far more justifiable than yours.

Evidence of Evolution (1)

balls199 (648142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439201)

The article Evidence of evolution [wikipedia.org] has really good break down of all of the evidence for evolution.

That way we're all on the same page for the ensuing creation v. evolution flame war.

Re:Evidence of Evolution (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439271)

We can have an evolution versus creationism flamewar any day, but this might be our only chance to have a reasoned debate on the correct pronunication of "Zdziarski".

As a committed Za-Jarskyist I'm appalled that Slashdot would give forntpage coverage to this absurd "Zarsky" pronunication. How much was he paying the editors and what was he smoking?

Greylisting (1)

martinlp (904606) | more than 8 years ago | (#13439231)

I don't know why more people don't use greylisting. It really works wonders. Its reduced our spam by about 99%.. and if there is a false positive, its because the sending server is not rfc compliant. Ok so it delays mail initially for 5 minutes... big deal, its a small price to pay for virtually no spam AND no administration of a spam filter.
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