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R.U. Sirius Co-Authors New Book On Transhumanism

ideonexus Re:What exactly is Transhumanism ? (54 comments)

Transhumanism is currently a hodgepodge of religious nonsense, visionary science fiction, and practical self-improvement. I confess I am a bit swept up in the romantic ideal of it. I love the idea of human improveability in the form of intellectual and technological advancement, extended lifespans, higher quality of life, and even post-scarcity economies.

The religious nonsense part of it is best embodied in Ray Kurzweil's singularity (also known as the nerd rapture), the idea that humanity will soon upload our minds to computers and live forever. I can't imagine us not having this technology before the end of the century--especially with efforts like the UK's Human Brain Project and America's BRAIN Initiative AND a proof of concept with researchers mapping a worm's brain into a legobot and having it "come alive". HOWEVER: I also don't pin any personal hopes for immortality on this research because we are making copies of our minds, so even if my mind joins the singularity, I will still die--probably bitterly jealous of my immortal self having all that virtual sex in technoheaven.

For me, the science fiction of transhumanism is all about vision and inspiration, and not about dreams of salvation and immortality like Kurzweil promotes. The science fiction part of it is most accessible through Star Trek, but in reality our transhumanist future will probably be more like the wild visions of Charles Stross' Accelerando, or my personal favorite the Quantum Thief Trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi. These books drop you into settings filled with Matrioshka brains (Dyson Spheres made of computronium), and force the reader to confront all the uncomfortable otherness that comes with virtual life.

Another great science fiction resource is the Creative Commons Eclipse Phase RPG, which takes place in a future where humanity has colonized solar system and extended out into the Oort Cloud. Each planet and environment requiring different engineering and culture adaptations to survive. You can download all the books in PDF format. These books are a fantastic jumping-point for the imagining what a post-human future might look like.

This all said, I am not a fan of Sirius' encyclopedia. I was looking for practical, real-world things I can do right now to enhance my life through science and technology. Instead, I got very thin treatments of many subjects, overstatements of medical advances, important subjects left out (like the 19th Century Russian Cosmism movement (precursor to transhumanism)), and a general lack of leads to new areas to research. I get way more information from Wikipedia-surfing than I got from this book. I do appreciate his efforts though. If he gets more people into the idea of transhumanism, then more people will collaborate on it, we'll have more hacks for better living, and more people thinking about the future and human progress.

yesterday
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The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

ideonexus Re:More ambiguous cruft: hardly. (493 comments)

Exactly this.

What's funny is that when Climate Change Skeptics, the Koch Brothers, funded their own study and planted an outspoken critic of climate change science as the director of the research, that skeptic ended up becoming a believer and published an Op-Ed in the NYT explaining how wrong he had been to not accept the science.

But somehow people still find a way to rationalize it all away as just the invention of a bunch of wealthy limousine-riding scientists keeping down those poor, defenseless oil companies.

2 days ago
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New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

ideonexus Biofuels have Always Been Political (215 comments)

The reason politicians on both sides of the political aisle push biofuels from corn is because they are pandering to voters in Iowa. A favorite political joke in recent elections is that if Wisconsin held the first primary, we would have major initiatives to make fuel from cheese.

2 days ago
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2014: Hottest Year On Record

ideonexus Re: noooo (560 comments)

Interesting. No global warming in 17 years... what a funny number, 17. It's a prime number. Why not 10 years, 20, or even 100? Why are "skeptics" always so hung up on 1997 as the baseline for all global warming trends? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the 1997-1998 El Nino event generated a record year for high temperatures? I was just getting interested in the science of global warming when this phenomenon hit, and I remember NASA scientists warning everyone that we could not blame rising carbon dioxide levels for the anomalously hot temperatures of those two years.

Ironic that 17 years later, the 1997-1998 El Nino event is now the holy grail baseline year to which all skeptics cling like a polar bear to a melting iceberg. In 2008 the skeptics were using this baseline to claim that global cooling was taking place. Then, as yearly record high temperatures kept happening, they used this baseline to claim that global warming had flatlined. Now, just eight years later, the trend from 1997 is on an incline, but the skeptic story is that temperatures aren't warming as fast as predicted. Keep clinging to 1997, you are just one El Nino event away from looking really really silly.

As for the WattsUpWithThat blog, I used to respect it until Anthony Watts pulled a 180 on accepting the findings of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. Originally he said he would accept the findings whatever they may be because it was funded by the Koch Brother's, but when the independent research led by a prominent skeptic further confirmed Global Warming was real, Watt's rejected it. The man has zero credibility at this point.

about a month ago
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Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

ideonexus Re:Great news (269 comments)

I've read the The Bell Curve, and I think it was a fair analysis for it's time, but--unfortunately for Murray--it was written right before the genetics revolution made all his speculation about race seem naive. The assumption at the time was that people of the same race were genetically similar; therefore, you could lump people of the same race together and make assumptions about their genes influencing their intelligence.

Then the Human Genome Project came along, followed by cheap genetic testing, and scientists like Craig Venter found that the genetic similarities between people of the same race are nothing compared to the genetic variations between any two humans.

In other words, The Bell Curve's conclusions were based entirely on phenotypic analysis, which was fair at the time, but the advent of genotypic analysis has rendered the book pretty much irrelevant.

about 5 months ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

ideonexus Re:Answer: They mostly can, but is it economical? (444 comments)

I would add (6) Many states have regulations making it impossible to do what Musk is doing. I live in Republican-Controlled Virginia, where I can't buy solar panels from Musk's SolaryCity, which has a location 20 minutes away from me in Washington DC and more locations in Maryland, because my state has pretty much given Dominion Power a monopoly on supplying electricity here, giving them exclusive rights to net-metering--which they have made cost-prohibitive to implement, and the company has actually successfully sued organizations that install solar panels.

about 5 months ago
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NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

ideonexus Confusing Weather and Climate (143 comments)

You might be misunderstanding the difference between short-term forecasts and longterm projections. I know I failed to understand the scientific nuance until recently.

You see, "global average temperatures are going to rise X by 2100" is a projection. It's based on pretty basic thermodynamics (ie. this much carbon increases the greenhouse effect by such-and-such). This science, because it's so basic, is pretty solid.

At the same time "global average temperatures are going to rise by Y by 2025" is a forecast. It's based on computer models that are perpetually being refined to more accurately predict the short-term trend. Most recently, these models were found to be missing el-nino/la-nina cycles which is why they have lagged over the last decade.

This is why people get confused when I tell them the science of global warming is actually extremely basic. It's just thermodynamics, but then they confuse projections with forecasts and wonder why the models haven't accurately predicted the last 10 years. It's the "weather versus climate" debate all over again.

Why do scientists even publish forecasts when they know they are still very much a work in progress? Politics. You see, your local representative couldn't give a damn if your children's children suffer from today's lack of leadership a century from now. So scientists are tasked to find out what the short-term effect will be on the constituency to inform politicians whether or not they might suffer some voter backlash on the issue.

In other words, our children's children are doomed to shell out billions to fix this mess.

about 6 months ago
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Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

ideonexus Re:Hmm? (84 comments)

I was wondering the same thing. I've never been that interested in engaging twitter, but everyone else was, so I wrote a bot to post random daily science quotes to my account for the next several years. I put a lot of effort into this bot (content-wise, the programming is elementary), and I think I should count as a real user because of that. I'm up-front about the fact that I am a bot, and it's mostly bots that follow me. All the meat-space people should just leave us alone. Don't let some bad bots ruin it for the rest of us.

about 6 months ago
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Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

ideonexus Re:Are You Kidding? (541 comments)

You might want to take some time to actually read the criticisms. Jerry Coyne has a good write-up on his blog that delves deeper. You see, the researchers aren't saying the conclusions in the book are wrong they are saying, as the originators of said research, you cannot draw these conclusions from their work.

But please, don't let the nuanced comments of 140 published researchers dissuade you from shrieking "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" like a poop-flinging howler monkey.

about 6 months ago
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About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

ideonexus Re:And what they did not publish (227 comments)

That omission has wasted millions of dollars for higher education for those that can't learn. Not to mention the money wasted on "equal opportunity" and "head start" programs.

What a mind-boggling conclusion to draw from the article. If a human-being's intelligence is only 50% influenced by their environment, you think we should deny them the environment to develop that 50%? If that's you're reasoning, I suspect you would be one of the people being denied these social benefits.

about 6 months ago
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Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

ideonexus Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (497 comments)

That's a fair argument, and that's also why I used the word "faith" to describe my opinion. I would love to continue having a constructive dialog on this... but unfortunately, we can't move the conversation on Climate Change to a discussion of what, if anything, we should do about it until we get the public to accept the scientific consensus on it. This is how the Skeptics are winning, by preventing the dialog from moving forward.

about 7 months ago
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Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

ideonexus Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (497 comments)

It seems to me that the Climate Skeptics are making the same mistake the anti-eugenics movement made in 1925 with the Scopes Monkey Trial, which fought the teaching of evolution in schools. Most people don't know this, but the anti-evolution activists were horrified by the textbook's use of Evolution to justify Eugenics, but instead of attacking the public policy proposals of the Eugenics Movement, they attacked the science of Evolution, and history remembers them as buffoons for combating the scientific consensus.

Today, Climate Skeptics are fighting the scientific consensus instead of debating the policies being proposed from that consensus. I myself am an adaptationist, I don't care if we do anything about Global Warming for another 20-30 years and at that point I have faith that civilization will start to engineer its way out of the problem... however, I find myself on the side of the environmentalists with their oftentimes draconian public-policy initiatives because I believe in scientific literacy, and the anti-science positions of today's Climate Skeptics threaten to undo the scientific progress on which our civilization depends for its survival.

about 7 months ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

ideonexus Re:IF.. (561 comments)

If they were that smart they would know that the IQ test is neither a valid no reliable test for comparisons between groups, only within groups.

In all fairness, Mensa accepts scores on a variety of tests to become a member, including SAT, ACT, and Military tests. Mensa has even created their own test to eliminate the verbal-bias inherent in so many other IQ tests.

That being said, I joined Mensa because I liked being part of the same club as Isaac Asimov and Buckminster Fuller, but, like my heroes, I also found that just because somebody has a high-IQ, doesn't mean they aren't an idiot. I am shocked in many Mensa publications to find many members believe in alien abductions, are anti-vaccers, and are suckers for many other pseudoscience scams and conspiracy theories. Like Asimov and other Mensa-members, I find I get much more intellectual stimulation from my membership in the American Humanist Association of free-thinkers and rationalists.

about 7 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

I'm glad you mentioned the eugenics movement, proponents of which used the theory of evolution to support their policy proposals. As a result, an anti-evolution movement rose up in the United States. Many people don't know this, but the Biology textbook at the heart of the Scopes Monkey Trial advocated for eugenics, but instead of attacking the policy recommendations, the anti-eugenics movement attacked evolutionary science.

The anti-AGW movement is making the exact same mistake today. By attacking the science instead of the policy, they are setting themselves up to be remembered as fools, just like the anti-evolutionists of the 1920s.

about 8 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Your self-righteousness turns me off (387 comments)

To be clear, as I was on the other thread, I did not make any statements about severity, or propose any solutions, or even suggest anything needed to be done about Global Warming. All I did was state the scientific consensus, and that was all I needed to send you into a frothing, irrational rage.

about 8 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

And yet nowhere in any of my posts have I made any mention of a need to act on Global Warming, proposed any solutions to it, or even suggested that solutions are needed. All I did was state the science, and that is what you and so many others react to. You are against the science because you fear that to concede even that much will somehow render you powerless to have a reasonable discussion about public policy.

There is the science dimension to this and there is the public policy dimension. If the skeptics would simply accept the science, they might have me as an ally when it comes to debating public policy, but when they even reject the science, I can't take anything else they say seriously.

about 8 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Your self-righteousness turns me off (387 comments)

I don't care how right you are, it's your self-righteous and smug tone that inclines me to vote against you.

This is sarcasm, right? You're presenting an unfair caricature of a climate skeptic to discredit them, yes?

about 8 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

That's not how this works. You propose your problem then you suggest a solution.

Everyone makes their own evaluation as to the relevance of the problem and the cost of your solution and then either accepts your offer or makes counter proposals.

I disagree. First we have to agree on the science. If any solution I propose can be vetoed by someone because they reject the science, then we aren't having a discussion. If I propose eliminating oil subsidies and increasing alternative energy incentives and the response I get every single time is the accusation that I am pushing a political agenda based on pseudoscience, then I have to take step back to the science and fight for that.

The reality is that I don't care if we do anything about Global Warming for the next 20-30 years. What I care about is science, and the skeptics are calling science into question, which leads to pseudoscience taking hold in other public policy issues. To me, Global Warming is about science education. The public policy dimensions are for other people to dispute. There is no balance between skeptics and scientists. The science is overwhelming.

about 8 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

ideonexus Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

I agree, we should stick to the science. Here you go:

  • The peer-reviewed Journal "Nature Climate Change" includes and references thousands of scientific papers on the subject.
  • The IPCC's 1,500-page "Physical Science Basis" report cites hundreds of references and is authored by hundreds of experts. It clearly states what we know, don't know, and how we know it. It reviews its past predictions, notes where its models have errored, and takes into account an incredible wealth and scope of scientific observations over 150 years.
  • The IPCC also makes all of its data and models available for review. So you can see for yourself.
  • The US Government also recently updated its regularly scheduled report written by over 300 experts.
  • The USGS has a Climate Model Browser that lets you try out all the different simulated predictions for Global Warming. You'll notice the specifics vary widely, but they all predict dramatic temperature rises.
  • The NOAA has a National Climate Data Center where you can watch the temperature trends. Here's a visualization based on the data.
  • The United States Defense department has several reports on the risks posed by Global Warming (see here, here, here, and here).
  • The Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) has produced some excellent reports on sea level rise due to Climate Change to inform local communities like Norfolk VA, where flooding is already a major issue, what to expect in the near future due to Global Warming.
  • You can also watch the sea levels rise at the NOAA's Sea-Level Trends website.
  • If you don't trust the government, then I recommend The Berkely Earth Project. It was funded by the liberal's favorite bad guys, the Koch Brothers, but its results were so compelling that the lead Climatologist, Richard A. Muller, wrote a piece for the New York Times announcing he was no longer a skeptic.
  • Of course, it's always good to have a contrarian viewpoint in the mix, and for that, I recommend AGW skeptic Judith Curry, who presents valid challenges to the consensus with her strong scientific background. I don't find her convincing, but her challenges make for good food for thought.

If you dispute this science, then I recommend publishing your own peer-reviewed papers, your own models, and your own alternative hypotheses in the scientific journals. I see a lot of skeptics nit-picking the science, but not many actually taking the effort to publish in the scientific forums.

I eagerly await one of the skeptics out there to please post an equally substantive list of references to "balance" my citations, so everyone can review and compare them.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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Google Sues Mississippi Attorney General for Conspiring with Movie Industry

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about a month and a half ago

ideonexus (1257332) writes "Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has called for a "time out" in his perpetual fight with Google in response to the company filing a lawsuit against him for conspiring with the movie industry to persecute the search giant. Leaked Sony Pictures Entertainment emails and documents obtained under FOIA requests this week have exposed how the Motion Picture Association of America was colluding with and lobbying state prosecutors to go after Google, even going so far as to "assigned a team of lawyers to prepare draft subpoenas and legal briefs for the attorneys general" to make it easier for them to persecute the company."
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Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny in Gamer Culture

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about 5 months ago

ideonexus (1257332) writes "2490 gamers, developers and journalists have signed an open letter supporting inclusion in the gaming community after indie game developer Zoe Quinn received backlash and harassment when her ex-boyfriend posted false accusations that she traded sex for favorable reviews of her game and feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian was driven from her home after receiving death and rape threats for her videos illustrating the way some mainstream games encourage the commodification of and violence against women. The harassment has prompted geek-dating advice columnist Harris O’Malley to declare the backlash the "Extinction Burst of Gaming Culture", the last reactionary gasp before the culture shifts to become more inclusionary."
Link to Original Source
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Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages to UVA, Michael Mann

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about 7 months ago

ideonexus (1257332) writes "In January of 2014, the American Traditions Institute (ATI) sought Climate Scientist Micheal Mann's emails from his time at the University of Virginia (UVA), a request that was denied in the courts. Now the Virginia Supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling that ATI must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit."
Link to Original Source
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NRA Launches Pro-Lead Website

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

ideonexus (1257332) writes "The National Rifle Association has launched a website defending the use of lead ammunition against scientists and environmental organizations who argue that lead bullets are poisoning the environment and tainting game meat with a known neurotoxin. The rise and fall of lead levels from gasoline and lead-based paint are strongly correlated to the rise and fall of crime rates in communities around the world."
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HPV Vaccine Reduces Cancer Virus in Girls by 56% Since 2006

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

ideonexus (1257332) writes "Despite only one-third of girls receiving the treatment, the HPV Vaccine has reduced incidence of human papillomavirus in teenage girls by 56% since vaccinations were begun in 2006--possibly due to the herd immunity effect; however, without reaching 80% vaccination rates, which even Rwanda has done, doctors warn we are condemning 50,000 girls alive today to contract cervical cancer from the virus. Implementation of the HPV Vaccine has been a thorny issue in American politics, especially with social conservatives, most recently with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley vetoing a bill that would provide free HPV Vaccines to 7th graders."
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2012 Warmest Year on Record, 2nd Most Extreme

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Apparently 2012 is the warmest year on record according to the NOAA, and 12 of the 13 warmest years on record have all occurred since the year 2000, and decades of temperature measurements go from warmest to coldest by 2000s, 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, 10s, 1900s, etc, etc. It's almost as if there's some sort of pattern here. If only there were some theory backed up by nearly 14,000 peer-reviewed research papers, 18 consensus statements by scientific organizations, and two centuries of reproducible laboratory results that could explain this strange "warming" phenomenon."
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The Implications of Google Blocking Access to Anti-Islam Film

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "While the decision has been a footnote in most news stories, the Washington Post is raising the question of what it means that Google can shutdown access to the anti-Islam film in countries where that film has sparked riots, something the American government cannot do thanks to our First Amendment. A popular meme in the Information Age is that the Internet spreads democracy by enabling citizens to organize and speak out, but we forget that much of that speech is now hosted by third-parties who are under no obligation to protect it."
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Pussy Riot Faces Sentencing Friday

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Three members of the punk-rock band Pussy Riot will be sentenced Friday. The trio have spent five months in pretrial detention and face three to seven years in prison for 30 seconds of singing a "Punk Rock Prayer" in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour protesting Vladimir Putin's reelection. They chose to use their closing statements not to defend their actions, but to further register their protests against the state, its President, and the Russian Orthodox Church, which has called for divine retribution against the women. The trial has gained international attention and sparked a Free Pussy Riot movement."
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The Art of Elections Forecasting

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Years ago Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, a blog seeking to educate the public about elections forecasting, established his model as one of the most accurate in existence, rising from a fairly unknown statistician working in baseball to one of the most respected names in election forecasting. In this article he describes all the factors that go into his predictions. A fascinating overview of the process of modeling a chaotic system."
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NC Republicans Consider Outlawing Sealevel Rise Predictions

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Republicans in North Carolina are floating a bill that would force planners to only consider past historical data in predicting the sea-level rise (SLR) for the state as opposed to considering projections that take Global Warming into account. NC-20, the pro-development lobbying group representing twenty counties along the NC coast, is behind the effort and asserts that the one-meter prediction would prohibit development on too much land as opposed to SLR predictions of 3.9 to 15.6 inches."
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Astronomer Who Inspired Carl Sagan's "Contact" Retiring

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Jill Tarter, the woman who inspired the fictional character Ellie Arroway in Carl Sagan's "Contact," is retiring as a SETI Astronomer after 35 years in order to focus entirely on raising funds to keep the SETI project operational, which employs 150 people and costs $2 million a year to operate, but had to shut down for several months in 2011 due to budget problems."
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The Rise of "Brogrammers"

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Several news stories in recent weeks are covering a culture-shift in computer programming from being a nerd-culture thing to becoming more of a frat-house thing with the rise of "Brogrammers." Businessweek describes it as a "new, more testosterone-fueled breed of coder", while Mother Jones editor Tasneem Raja laments that the culture-shift is alienating women. Users on Quora posted satirical answers to the question "How does a programmer become a brogrammer?" with answers about sunglasses, energy drinks, protein, and time at the gym."
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Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "NFL Linebacker Junior Seau's suicide this week bares a striking similarity to NFL Safety Dave Duerson's suicide last year, who shot himself in the chest so that doctors could study his brain, where they found the same chronic traumatic encephalopathy that has been found in the brains of 20 other dead football players. Malcom Gladwell stirred up controversy in 2009 by comparing professional football to dog fighting for the trauma the game inflicts on players' brains, but with mounting evidence that the repeated concussions football players recieve during their careers causing a lifetime of brain problems, it raises serious concerns about America's most popular sport and ethical questions for its fanbase."
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Brown University Prof: Economists are Social Scientists

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Controversial or insightful? Glenn Loury, an economist at Brown University, laments that economists arrogantly pretend to have empirical mathematical certainty on their side but are actually merely glorified social scientists."
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The Addictive Potential of Brain Hacking with tDCS

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "New Scientist author Sally Adee has a fascinating blogpost up about her personal experiences with using Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation (tDCS), the act of conducting an electric current through the brain, to learn marksmanship with an assault rifle for an article she wrote, and talks about how much she longed to put the electrodes back on a few days later after the effects had worn off. With tDCS devices now available for sale with a prescription and DIYers posting instructions for building your own (see also here), are geeks on the precipice of a revolutionary and potentially addictive new brain hack?"
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101 Reasons Why Evolution is True

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ideonexus writes "Today is Darwin Day. With states continuing to introduce bills to teach creationism alongside the established science, like Indiana did at the beginning of this month, it's important to remember the overwhelming evidence supporting the Theory of Macroevolution through Natural Selection. Here are 101 Facts supporting Darwin's theory, in a creative commons licensed post with 101 accompanying photos."
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The Zynga Skinner Box

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about 3 years ago

ideonexus writes "Benjamin Jackson has published a summary in the Atlantic of an article to soon be published in the Kickstarter-funded journal Distance concerning the psychological strategy employed by social game makers like Zynga. Games like Angry Birds and Farmville use Pavlovian conditioning to turn human beings into rats in a Skinner box, pushing the button over and over again to get that little dopamine fix from our brains as we earn fake rewards. We have a finite amount of time in this life. If we want to spend it on games, then those games should be creative, challenging, and force us to grow, like Portal, Civilization, Magic the Gathering, Robo Rally, or Memrise."
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Scientists Compete on Qatar Reality Show

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  about 3 years ago

ideonexus writes "Qatar has just wrapped up the third season of the reality show "Stars of Science, where innovators in the Middle East compete to have their inventions funded along the same lines as the American shows "Survivor" and "Project Runway." Wired has a write-up about the show and the drama the Arab Spring has brought on the contestants as well as how some of the more conservative contestants balanced socializing with a female contestant in the latest season. It's easy to forget that while Western Civilization was mired in the millennium-long dark ages, the Middle East was inventing Algebra, optics, and the Scientific Method before the region fell into its own dark ages of religious fundamentalism. Could this be the spark of a European-style Era of Enlightenment for the region?"
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The Convoluted Life Cycle of a News Story

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ideonexus writes "Once upon a time, newspapers were considered the "first draft of history." Today, rather than the daily episodic updates of major news stories developing a narrative over time, we have a perpetual stream of factoids from which a story emerges. Lauren Rabaino of mediabistro details this new lifecycle of a newspaper story, from tweets to blog posts to an eventual print edition, and asks What are the best standards of practice? Should news sources provide a single web address with a stream of updates, post new blog entries that link to older ones, or should they adopt a Wiki approach to the news--revising a single story with a history of revisions available behind the scenes?"
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Journals

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Thoughts on Time's POY 2010 Article on Mark Zuckerberg

ideonexus ideonexus writes  |  more than 4 years ago This article had its ups and downs, mostly downs. Here's my thoughts...

"There are other people who can write code as well as Zuckerberg â" not many, but some â""

If the Time profile of Zuckerberg is acurate, then I think even he would be offended by this statement.

"Websites entreat you to log onto them using your Facebook ID â" the New York Times does, and so do Myspace and YouTube."

Hmmm... So does Time. Great job on the full disclosure principle there.

"Right now the Internet is like an empty wasteland: you wander from page to page, and no one is there but you."

Right, because all World Wide Web content is produced by robots.

Facebook wants to populate the wilderness, tame the howling mob and turn the lonely, antisocial world of random chance into a friendly world, a serendipitous world. You'll be working and living inside a network of people, and you'll never have to be alone again. The Internet, and the whole world, will feel more like a family, or a college dorm, or an office where your co-workers are also your best friends.

It'll be a wonderful land of lollypops and puppies and kittens! Privacy concerns? No worries:

"If "liking" an ad the same way you "like" a news article or a photo of your spouse seems creepy to you â" it's more or less the definition of what Marx called commodity fetishism â" you don't have to do it."

If you have privacy concerns, then GO BACK TO YOUR COLD LONELY INTERNET COMMIE!!!

"Zuckerberg has a talent for understanding how people work, but one urge, the urge to conceal, seems to be foreign to him. Sometimes Facebook makes it harder than it should be. It is biased in favor of sharing. That is, after all, what Facebook is for."

Facebook isn't leaking your personal information to make money, they're doing it because they genuinely misunderstand why people need to keep some things private. Why do you have a problem with this? What's wrong with you? Do you have some secret perverse sexual fetish? Are you performing criminal activities? When did you stop beating your wife?

I did like this thoughtful paragraph:

But what makes life complicated in the postmodern technocratic aquarium we're collectively building is that there actually are good reasons to want to hide things. Just because you present a different face to your co-workers and your family doesn't mean you're leading a double life. That's just normal social functioning, psychology as usual. Identity isn't a simple thing; it's complex and dynamic and fluid. It needs to flex a little, the way a skyscraper does in a high wind, and your Facebook profile isn't built to flex.

But then it goes to the other extreme of The Social Network's Gonna make you demented:

An article published earlier this year in European Psychiatry presented the case of a woman who lost her job to a Facebook addiction, and the authors suggested that it could become an actual diagnosable ailment. (The woman in question couldn't even make it through an examination without checking Facebook on her phone.) Facebook is supposed to build empathy, but since 2000, Americans have scored higher and higher on psychological tests designed to detect narcissism, and psychologists have suggested a link to social networking.

I do totally dig this quote, which mirrors my opinion of twitter:

Now Facebook is the bottle, and we're the genie. How small are we willing to make ourselves to fit inside?

What a journalist rollercoaster! The article was all over the place, but it does give me a more favorable opinion of Zuckerberg, a less favorable opinion of Facebook, lots of concerns about adapting myself to the social network instead of it adapting to me, and now, if you'll excuse me, I must go break this comment down into 50+ tweets.

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