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It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

Tenebrousedge Reading is Fundamental (470 comments)

You must be confused about what I wrote. Why would I explain how absolute truth is not scientific, and then claim something as absolute truth. "Well supported by empirical evidence" is as close to truth as science gets.

I'm getting the idea you're using "verify" in the sense of "prove." To dispense with this idea, I present this article for your perusal (it was the first google result for 'scientific verification').
I'll excerpt some relevant bits for you:

Verification: The use of empirical data, observation, test, or experiment to confirm the truth or rational justification of a hypothesis. Scientific beliefs must be evaluated and supported by empirical data.

One of the most important consequences of this extended and complex debate is the conclusion that theories cannot be "verified", but they can be "confirmed," "warranted," or "falsified."

It is rare for a scientific hypothesis to be amenable to direct and certain confirmation along these lines: given E, H is certainly true. That is, it is rare that there is a finite body of observations that suffice to establish the truth of a given scientific hypothesis. This is so for two reasons: First, because scientific hypotheses normally refer to entities, mechanisms, or processes that are not directly observable; and second, because hypotheses and theories normally make universal claims (laws) that go beyond any finite body of observations. Instead, verification normally takes the form of indirect inductive or hypothetico-deductive support for the hypothesis: given E, H is likely to be true.

Thanks for playing, have a nice day.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

Tenebrousedge The curious incident of the dog in the night-time (470 comments)

No, I am afraid that you are in grievous error.

You do not suggest a theory and claim the inability to of an ecperiment or observation to falsify it as verifying it.

You do not, clearly, but that is actually how science works. We have two categories of scientific theory, the falsified and the yet-to-be falsified. Theories (mark you, not hypotheses) which have yet to be falsified are considered true.

Support and verify are completely separate things...

Not in the context of science. There is no such thing as "proof" or "certainty" in this context, either. If you want to continue playing semantic games you'll have to find another player: these are well-defined terms.

"...when you indirectly test a concept by indirect measurments..."

Most measurements are in some sense indirect. They can still be strong evidence for a theory; even null results (notably, Michaelson-Morley) can be valid and useful observations. I'm sorry if you wish, like Thomas, to personally probe the mysteries of the universe, but we are not endowed with a universal perspective nor even vision beyond a tiny spectrum. You cannot directly observe subatomic particles; they exist regardless. However, to most definitions of the term, the CMBR is a direct measurement: it is residual radiation from the Big Bang. We don't have to be there to see it; we have a snapshot. We have other evidence, but that alone should be sufficient grounds for the theory. There are no competing theories for this observation -- one might say that it is "settled science". In the same way with AGW, almost everything we know about physics would have to be (wildly) wrong for it not to be true.

You don't seem scientifically literate, and I include the adverb as a courtesy. You may feel free to redefine "evidence", but it won't change anyone else's definition, and it definitely doesn't discredit the observations. It's a pretty bizarre departure from reason; I'd ask what belief you're sheltering from reality, but I think we'll all be the better for not knowing.

about two weeks ago

UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP

Tenebrousedge You known nothing, Jon Snow (341 comments)

I quite like how the Chrome OS works, although I'm probably going to do a factory reset, pull the drive, replace it with a larger one, and install a real Linux -- running Debian via crouton doesn't seem to be stable.

I know you have a not-entirely-retarded axe to grind about cloud services, but let's think for a minute about how this must have been implemented. This device is not a thin client, and it does not boot off the network nor Internet. In point of fact it does have local storage, albeit not much, and in no sense is it "all online". The apps are written with HTML/CSS/JS, but you can certainly run them offline, and create and save documents as you like. Documents you create are associated with your Google account, and they are generally mirrored to Google Drive. This allows one to reset the system more or less at will.

There are a lot of dumb people in the world, and before you start labelling others as such you might want to check your assumptions. Unless you just like tilting at strawmen, of course.

about two weeks ago

It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

Tenebrousedge Unverified? You mean 'not in the Bible'? (470 comments)

In Science, there is no distinction between verification and supporting empirical evidence. The question of whether or not something is scientifically truth is entirely empirical. Scientific theory is the best description of these observations that we have at any given point. It is probable that every scientific theory yet invented will be superseded at some point by a better explanation.

You should know all this. Either your nick is well-earned or you're just playing games with semantics.

To address the specifics of your ignorance, the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is unambigous evidence for the Big Bang. There is approximately zero chance of the Big Bang cosmology being disproved at this point; steady-state cosmology is as dead as geocentrism. The only less credible theory would be...you're not a Young-Earth Creationist, are you?

about two weeks ago

Interview: Ask Bruce Perens What You Will

Tenebrousedge Cool It, Linus! (129 comments)

I ran across an article which is hilarious in hindsight, relating some of the drama about the use of the closed-source tool BitKeeper for managing the Linux kernel. You told Linus to "cool it", and whether or not that worked, the result was the git source control management tool. This in turn has led to GitHub, and an increase in open-source projects, although it's hard to measure such things at the best of times. Do you feel like you were on the right side of that debate? Do you think git deserves the hype it gets, or do you think that mercurial might have done just as well in its place? Which source control tool do you use?

about two weeks ago

Interview: Ask Bruce Perens What You Will

Tenebrousedge Gun Ownership (129 comments)

You are on record as being rather firmly against private ownership of firearms. Frankly, I thought this extremity of anti-gun zealotry was a Republican myth, a straw man used to rile the rabble. I understand that people in less civilized territories will on rare occasion use guns for murder and atrocity, I am not aware of this impulse being a general hazard of gun ownership.

I'm from Alaska. All the people that I know who have guns have only ever used them for hunting. I'm less sympathetic to those who can acquire an alternate hobby besides shooting, but there are yet many places where hunting is a means of subsistence. I've known many people to bow-hunt, but I suspect if your dinner depended on your marksmanship you might prefer the more effective instrument. Does your plan involve screwing hunters as well as the millions of other lawful citizens?

Originally we are a revolutionary state, and I believe the People yet preserve the right to revolution. Furthermore, Mao was right about the origins of political power: violence is the defining characteristic of government. Do you believe that the 'tree of liberty' is no longer hematophagic? Else, by what means are we intended to obtain and keep self-governance?

about two weeks ago

JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla

Tenebrousedge Don't like gay marriage? Don't have one (112 comments)

Let's not equate you being "discriminated against" by so-far-mostly-polite comments on a message board, to people being discriminated against by denying them spousal rights. It's also incorrect to suggest that marriage is somehow a religious institution -- it most certainly preceded all current religions. In point of fact it is primarily a legal construct, which is why we discuss it in terms of civil rights and not e.g. theology.

No one really cares about Eich, it's just an excuse for opination. Your opinion appears to be incorrect and impolite. Personally, I don't see what difference it might make to you whether I should choose to be married to a man or a woman, but you needn't attend the ceremony. I will console myself with the knowedge that the tide of opinion is flowing against you. This discussion is obsolete: each day brings the death of old reactionaries and the birth of scores who will not be taught to hate.

P. S. Reason being preferable to ad hominem invective, you might disengage your spleen from your keyboard.

about three weeks ago

BP Finds Way To Bypass US Crude Export Ban

Tenebrousedge Look Deeper (247 comments)

I think that the United States has a vested political interest in controlling the sale of oil. Which is not to suggest that you are wrong per se, but I think that the US oil policies are better understood in the context of hegemony than fair trade. However, the oil industry has been putting all of their propaganda efforts towards lifting this ban; I mark a half-dozen articles in Forbes alone within the last two years. As long as they can keep away from any concerns about national security, they might get their wish.

about a month ago

Canonical Ports Chromium To The Mir Display Server

Tenebrousedge Re:ssh -X (63 comments)

The slides are here. While I respect the idea that video is an inefficient means to convey information but, since this is an issue that you seem to care about, you may want to take the time to educate yourself. I believe it is possible to speed up playback of youtube videos. This article conveys some similar points, but not much depth. Here is an architectural overview.

Why don't you go over some of this information, and we can take this conversation over again from the top. You should find most of your concerns answered. I'm not particularly interested in spoon-feeding it to you, however -- please accept my apologies on that score.

about a month and a half ago

Canonical Ports Chromium To The Mir Display Server

Tenebrousedge ssh -X (63 comments)

You must not be an X11 developer. You are also, if you can talk about Linux becoming somehow comparable to FreeBSD, not very aware of Linux usage. Linux sees far more use as a server than a desktop, and while it's possible that some other project starts eating up marketshare in that segment, I would be extremely surprised if that happened, and then we have the supercomputer, embedded, and mobile markets.

Your post is devoid of technical arguments for X11, because X11 is technically a clusterfuck. It does far too many things, and none of them well. The print server is probably the worst offense there, but by no means the only one. How many rendering interfaces are there, again? Tell me about why exactly I can't adjust my computer's volume while the screensaver is active, and how that is a good idea.

The only approximation of a coherent argument against Wayland is a repetitive drone of "network transparency means my ssh -X works as expected". Cool, but that's not what that means and that's not going away, and certainly not any time soon. Wayland is not ready for production, and not expected to be anytime soon, and it's blindingly obvious to everyone that it will not be considered ready for production until ssh -X works correctly.

I have to ask if you're even a developer, because my limited programming experiences have led me to believe that if an experienced dev says that the entire approach is crap and needs to be scrapped, more than likely this is true. It is unreasonable to expect that the display solutions of 30 years ago are remotely appropriate for today. It's also a deeply held Unix principle that programs should have a limited scope; why anyone would complain about a "stripped down windowing system" is beyond me. Especially with all of the obsolete, unused crap that even X11's adherents cannot deny that it contains.

So one the one side we have technical and philosophical arguments, and on the other -- please, please have something better than "ssh -X won't work". If you haven't seen the video, it's amusing and informative. Also if you haven't seen the video, you don't know what you're arguing.

about a month and a half ago

Inventor Has Waited 43 Years For Patent Approval

Tenebrousedge Re:Monopoly (258 comments)

One of my arguments was Jefferson's, so you are bizarrely dishonest in claiming that it was based on any fallacy of mine. You are also incorrect in identifying said fallacies.

If patents prevent competition, as you assert, then why is it that Apple is not the first smartphone inventor, nor Microsoft the first OS inventor, nor Dell the PC inventor? I would be harder pressed to find markets that were dominated by a single entity by virtue of patents; perhaps you can suggest some. In the strict sense though I am afraid the case is unassailable, since unless a potentially-infringing party is competing there is no case to be made for infringement. One may force an entity to cease infringing, but you can't prevent it. Even getting an injunction during a lawsuit can be tricky, as evidenced by the Apple/Samsung litigations. I am not the world's most ardent capitalist by any means, but a for-profit, government-granted monopoly is a hard thing to justify in any circumstances.

I admit you didn't say explicitly what I ascribed to you. Your example however utilized in the positive sense an inventor and as adversary a MegaCorp, which is a strong case for patents but not the common one. The example you chose was one where patents were a good thing for the "little guy". Far more often, patents are held by "big guys", who need much less help in dealing with their competition. Even if it were not the usual case for patents to be used abusively, there's no use pretending they are not a two-edged sword. Disputing one with any entity having a $100M patent portfolio would be risky no matter how righteous your cause.

If you have the time, you might attempt a real response, but I suspect that you will have to succumb to a more nuanced view on patents; Jefferson makes a compelling case, the more so because he served as the first Patent Commissioner. I will also suggest that you might not need to ask why people require explanations of these things, if you actually read the counterarguments.

about a month and a half ago

Oil From the Exxon Valdez Spill Still Lingers On Alaska Beaches

Tenebrousedge Overblown Concerns (261 comments)

I submit I am the highest authority on this specific subject here on slashdot. I grew up in Valdez, AK, the closest town to the spill. I was there when it happened. There is some documentary footage somewhere of myself and my siblings at one of these oil-soaked beaches. I've known friends to go out and do these beach surveys looking for oil, and I've fished and kayaked throughout Prince William Sound.

Firstly I have to say that, unless one goes specifically looking for it, this oil is invisible. The environment has entirely recovered, the salmon run is healthy, and there are as many sea birds, sea otters, and sea lions as there ever have been.

Secondly, the other posters make a very good points about the relative safety of oil tankers vs oil pipelines. I will additionally say that tankers are better protected from deliberate damage than pipelines. I don't know where you're getting your costs from, but I make the average oil tanker to be in the $100M range, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System cost $8B.

I don't know if you know about it, but there is also a proposed natural gas pipeline which was intended to run through Canada to the States. Extrapolating from the cost per mile of TAPS, an oil pipeline would probably be in the range of $15B. Setting aside whether it is actually better for the environment, it is a lot easier to suggest that environmental concerns trump economic ones when it's not your $15B.

Nuclear power is probably a good option for Alaska, whereas solar is pretty much off the table. Hopefully one day someone will take advantage of the tidal energy in the Cook Inlet as well, one lobe of that (Turnagain Arm) having the third-highest tides in the world. There are one or two problems though with putting nuclear reactors in geologically active places though, and the NRC isn't exactly putting applications through quickly at the moment.

Personally though, from having witnessed one of the larger oil spills in history, I don't really find them all that concerning.

about a month and a half ago

Inventor Has Waited 43 Years For Patent Approval

Tenebrousedge Monopoly (258 comments)

You assume that patents do anything to prevent MegaCorp from competing. You also assume that it is Joe Inventor filing most of the patents, and not said MegaCorp. In practice, neither of these things are true, and the primary beneficiaries of patent litigation are lawyers.

Patents are the right to squash competition. Competition in the ideal sense is a very efficient way to allocate resources. If one company is first to market, and a competitor makes a product which is "better, faster, and shinier," what exactly is wrong with letting the market decide who gets rewarded?

Your argument hinges on the role of patents in encouraging people to bring products to market, which is actually an orthogonal process. Patents are intended to promote the disclosure of ideas. All well and good, but maybe an automatic monopoly isn't necesarily the best way to accomplish either of those things.

There are two really big problems with patents. The first is that almost all knowledge is derivative of other knowledge. Certain persons with an excess of self-interest will argue that such a thing as originality exists in some distinguishable form. I submit that even for the invention of fire there was prior art, and every invention since then was either an incremental adaptation or based on some other preexisting knowledge. Keep in mind that the ones who add to our knowledge of the world are called scientists, not inventors.

The second problem is embodied in the phrase "intellectual property." Jefferson noted that there is nothing less suited to ownership than an idea. I could not possibly improve on his argument.

Patents are a granted right, not a natural one. You are as free to pursue financial gain by sweat of the brow or toil of the mind with or without their existence. I'm not, frankly, interested in pursuing a discussion of whether there is some better way to encourage inventors, but the discussion is not advanced by conjuring a trivial and misleading hypothetical situation, ignoring actual practice, and presupposing the necessity of some legal instrument unknown through most of human history.

about a month and a half ago

Facebook Gives Up On Desktop Apps: Kills Messenger For Windows and Firefox

Tenebrousedge Meanwhile, on our planet... (53 comments)

You seem to have a strange divergence from reality.

The deal is four billion dollars cash, the rest in stock. Facebook's net income for 2013 was $1.5 billion. The deal ate up 35% of Facebook's cash on hand, so there's not necessarily any debt here to make up, and all things being held constant, my math would have them in the green again within three years.

I don't think that Facebook has any more chance of long-term success than those people silly enough to sell operating systems, but at the moment they're both pretty good rackets. This is a heavy investment for Facebook, but they're not an untalented bunch; they have by necessity made a very fast pig out of a PHP application, and they have (apparently) a lot of money to throw at a new market. Can anyone really say that this makes less sense than whatever chunk of Google's $6.8B R&D budget is going to autonomous vehicles and Glass?

Besides, you're giving Zuckerberg & co. far too much credit for long-term thinking.

about a month and a half ago

Schneier: Break Up the NSA

Tenebrousedge Martial Construction, not Parallel Construction (324 comments)

The NSA can notify whoever they want to as long as there is a public process for it. However, they should stay the hell away from that for the most part because they are a branch of the United States military and it's fucking retarded and treasonous to use military force against its own society.

This is the whole reason we have rules of evidence. We intentionally restrain the investigative branches of our civil justice system, because few citizen can entirely avoid lawbreaking, even aside from cases of civil disobedience. We also restrain these bodies because their consequences are often swift and terrible, and the mere association with crime, the suspicion only of guilt, can be enough to end a man's reputation and career. Laxity in evidentiary procedure is not really a problem we need to have. You also have a right to all the evidence used against you, specifically so that you can challenge it. Secret evidence is a hallmark of the Star Chamber, not the US Justice System.

The bigger issue though is the military nature of this investigative body. I'm sure that to some degree we are justly hoist on our own petard for our treatment of our allies, but freedom from military action is a right of all citizens. Where concerns our martial foes, we have far fewer legal restrictions on actions. War is not civil. War is Hell. We do not bring Hell home, and we do not visit arms against the shores that bore them. If we are not to raise arms ourselves against this treason, then let justice come swiftly.

about 2 months ago

A Mathematical Proof Too Long To Check

Tenebrousedge Oh, so that's what Beta is for (189 comments)

Editor? This is Slashdot.

You forgot to finish with the kick into the pit of death.

But what if GP is already using Beta?

about 2 months ago

Japan's Alleged Death Threat-Making, Cat-Hacking Programmer Says He's Innocent

Tenebrousedge Re:O brave new world / that has such creatures in' (69 comments)

Straw man. Try what I actually said: we already have the most expansive prison program in the world, and it is objectively bad at rehabilitation. You should probably be trying to justify either the current system or your idea that somehow it's not punishing people enough. Also we might cover whether punishment or rehabilitation is the primary purpose of a prison system.

Nice soundbite though. Reactionary, fallacious and obvious: a jab to please even the most thoughtless. I hope you didn't stay up too late writing it.

about 2 months ago

Japan's Alleged Death Threat-Making, Cat-Hacking Programmer Says He's Innocent

Tenebrousedge Re:O brave new world / that has such creatures in' (69 comments)

There is indeed a difference. Please pardon my rhetoric; my argument is not necessarily academically rigorous. However, if we can reverse my intention with that remark, and suggest that a criminal record is an excellent way to be unemployed or otherwise in an impoverished state, the statistics range are supportive. Some of them were even shocking; one document I read indicated a low four-figure annual income for some groups. An exaggeration, one can only hope. I also do not think it beggars belief to suggest that e.g. a starving man might steal a loaf, but since he cannot be proven to do so, you must have a valid objection. I had considered striking the term, and mere laziness prevented me. Again, your pardon. If you have further argument for increased incarceration, please do continue.

about 2 months ago

Japan's Alleged Death Threat-Making, Cat-Hacking Programmer Says He's Innocent

Tenebrousedge O brave new world / that has such creatures in't. (69 comments)

We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and you're arguing that not enough people are being jailed? Poverty is causally linked to crime! Assault, rape, and robbery have been in decline for years, and prison sentences have been lengthening.

It should be a surprise to no one that statistics on the income level of incoming prisoners are heavily biased towards the lowest levels of income. Income statistics for released felons are even worse. We stigmatize prison to such a degree that it destroys people's ability to earn a living afterwards, and you wonder why we have a >60% recidivision rate. Our "corrections system" is fundamentally broken, and by all measures worsening. Isn't prison supposed to prevent people from returning to a life of crime?

I am appalled at your ignorance, and the idea of a higher incarceration rate is vile. If you have no human compassion, have at least the sense to see when a solution isn't working.

about 2 months ago

Debian Technical Committee Votes For Systemd Over Upstart

Tenebrousedge Sour Grapes (379 comments)

Yes, yes, Gnome3 depends on logind/systemd. Also ConsoleKit ceased development. It's almost as if they think it's a better technology. But hey, you want to install a massive monolithic DE, it's gonna pull in some dependencies that you may or may not like. That is not Debian's problem, actually -- if they showed any signs of being amenable to discussion on the matter, then you might complain to the Gnome developers.

This vote ignored the issue of what kind of default the default should be, because it only had one question that was being decided. It is unlikely to be the end of the discussion on the matter, so I am sure that all those with opinions will get their fair say -- just not on this vote. I realize that the vote may not have gone your way, but those grapes were probably sour anyway.

about 2 months ago



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