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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

next_ghost Re:You’re using the wrong defn of doubt (503 comments)

I didn't agree that something might be bogus, I stated that correlation != causation. If we don't have proof of a cause currently, so the most obvious method of pursuit is to look at where there are correlations and rule those out (if we can).

No, the first step is making sure that you're not comparing apples to oranges. Looking for any potential causes comes after that. Because if you're comparing apples to oranges, there are no potential causes to look for.

Interestingly I can tell you that there are warnings on numerous vaccines and medical sites warning people not to get vaccinated during certain times due to potential issues. Yet for some reason, a vaccine can not impact another vaccine? Think about that one.

As a rule of thumb, vaccination is safe if the last time you had fever was more than 2 weeks ago and you don't have any other individual risk factors. If you want better explanation, go talk to an immunologist.

4 hours ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

next_ghost Re:Experimental science vs narrative science (503 comments)

Something that generalized you can't, but there is surely deductive reasoning mixed in with the inductive.

Of course there is. First, you make lots of observations of whatever you want to study. Then you generalize your observations into a hypothesis using inductive reasoning. Then you make predictions from the hypothesis using deductive reasoning. The more ridiculous prediction, the better. And then you do an experiment to verify whether or not the prediction is correct. If the prediction turns out to be wrong and the experiment was done properly, throw the hypothesis out and start over from the beginning. If the experiment confirms the prediction, go back to making even more ridiculous predictions and test them again. If your hypothesis survives enough attempts to disprove it, congratulations, you have a theory. That's the scientific method in a nutshell.

The problem of deductive reasoning is that it only works on clearly formulated claims. And the physical world has no clearly formulated claims to offer. Inductive reasoning alone is nothing more than a glorified ass-pull. Deductive reasoning alone has nothing to work with in the first place. They only work when you put both of them together so your pedantic insisting on separating them makes absolutely no sense.

5 hours ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

next_ghost Re:Impossible (503 comments)

The Expanding Vacuum theory, Big Bang

What's the difference? Both Google and Wikipedia came up with nothing relevant about "expanding vacuum theory".

9 hours ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

next_ghost Re:Experimental science vs narrative science (503 comments)

Absolutely WRONG! At least try and read a bit about the definition of a word prior to posting, if you had bothered to read the Wiki page for "inductive reason" you would see the examples they provide. The Big-Bang is a good example inductive reasoning.

I'm the above AC. Humor me. How do you figure out a law of nature without using inductive reasoning?

9 hours ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

next_ghost Re:You’re using the wrong defn of doubt (503 comments)

So, as a scientist you would then investigate possible causes of autism, and find that we have broadened our definition of it and increased our awareness of it.

Absolutely! Why then are we not allowed to question the vaccine policy which has increased in the volume and frequency of vaccines children receive at a similar rate to autism increases?

Because you just agreed with coolsnowmen that the statistical increase of autism might be bogus because of methodological errors. When you rule out that possibility, you might also want to check influences that happen during pregnancy, rather than jumping straight to vaccination. For the simple reason that vaccination happens a little too late to cause so much brain damage in such a short time.

9 hours ago
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Our Education System Is Failing IT

next_ghost Re:It is just so horrible (288 comments)

Wrong. O(n log n)>O(n). We care because you can't erase the difference by adding a constant or multiplying by a constant.

9 hours ago
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Our Education System Is Failing IT

next_ghost Re:It is just so horrible (288 comments)

I mean that log time is most definitely polynomial time. The fact that the log function itself is not a polynom doesn't matter. Polynomial complexity means that there exist constants C, D and E such that C*N^D+E is upper bound of complexity for every N. Complexity is non-polynomial only when it grows over the polynom for every finite C, D and E.

yesterday
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Our Education System Is Failing IT

next_ghost Re:It is just so horrible (288 comments)

Log(time) is neither polynomial nor horrid.

You have a really weird definition of "polynomial time".

yesterday
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

next_ghost Re:Are you kidding (814 comments)

Wow lots of people seem to think I'm a Yank today. Sorry but I'm British

Looking at you Brits from continental Europe, I don't see much of a difference ;-P

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

next_ghost Re:Are you kidding (814 comments)

While this is true, there are generally two large parties that garner 60-80% of the seats, and these tend to be centrist parties with the same sort of minor differences that we see in the USA between Republican and Democrat.

Here are the combined results of two largest parties in lower house elections in Czech republic for the past 20 years:
1996: 56%
1998: 60%
2002: 55%
2006: 68%
2010: 42%
2013: 39%

In all elections since 1996 up to 2010, the two largest parties were Social democrats (scandinavian-style liberal left) and Civic democrats (conservative right). In 2013, Civic democrats fell to 7.7% (5th place out of 7 parties that got into lower house), which is about 1/3 of their previous result. The second place was taken by a completely new party (populist party led and funded by a local billionaire), but I don't expect them to survive the next lower house elections, just like the previous two newcomer parties didn't.

One drawback to the parliamentary system that I've seen is that fringe parties can have a disproportionate influence since neither centrist party has enough votes to form a majority on its own and needs to bribe them to join a coalition. At least, this is what I saw in Israel, and bribe is precisely the correct word. At one point it got so sickening that the two major parties formed a coalition instead.

This problem isn't caused by proportionate election system. The cause is that the winner doesn't have the balls to form a minority cabinet and play the democracy game all the way through. Running a minority cabinet is hard but the results are difinitely worth it.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

next_ghost Re:Are you kidding (814 comments)

There's a slight problem with your idea: Every single supplier on the market has only one goal: destroy the market by becoming a de-facto monopoly. And while it may take decades, some companies do succeed even without government regulation. Huge corporations and weak government result in corporations becoming the new government.

about a week ago
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

next_ghost Re:Back to One Man, One Vote (814 comments)

Czech republic requires any endorsement of political parties or candidates by a corporation to be declared as non-monetary donation to the political party. We don't have any contribution limits but the law requires that political parties have to make all donation records public at the end of the year, including names, addresses and birthdates/corporation ID numbers. If the political party doesn't have all that information, it has to either return the donation in question or give it to the state. Giving money directly to individual candidates or elected officials is prosecuted as bribery.

about a week ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

next_ghost Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

To be blunt: black people

You should call it "ghetto culture." Black people are a much more diverse group than your post implies. Ghetto culture is also very common among Czech and Slovak gypsies, with very similar crime, education and economic statistics and widespread prejudices among the majority population.

about a week ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

next_ghost Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

I think you're exaggerating their limited participation. But I don't blame you, the parents themselves probably believe that they play much less active role than they really do, simply because they don't keep track of everything they do to help their kids learn. And just to be clear, I'm not talking specifically about reading. I'm talking about their entire education (including mathematics, science, history, etc.). The younger the kids are, the more guidance they need, whether direct or indirect.

If we focus exclusively on reading, creating environment that encourages kids to try is more than enough. When there's plenty to read around the house and kids see their parents reading often for themselves (not just reading to the kids), the "monkey see, monkey do" principle will drive them crazy about reading. I know because I was like that as a 5-year-old.

But let's go back to education in general. I started teaching myself programming when I was 10 years old. Now I have a degree in Computer Science. So I can see in hindsight how much time I wasted learning useless crap simply because I didn't know better. I also felt for a long time that I was missing something important - it turned out to be the whole theory of algorithms, complexity and proving correctness that I've later learned at university. If I had a mentor early on who would point me in the right direction every once in a while, I could have learned much faster and avoided some bad habits that I still struggle with today.

I also have another personal experience with learning on my own: English is my second language. I had to take 11 years of compulsory English classes (since 5th grade all the way up to second year at university). I got my first computer after the first year of English. Another year or so later, the classes became complete waste of my time because I was learning much more from computer games. I've also learned some key insights that I'm successfully using to learn a third language at the moment.

about a week ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

next_ghost Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

The point is that not all Unschooled kid have parents who are doing everything right, yet they still learn to read. We live in a society that makes it extreamly difficult to not have text around. Even when the parents don't have books around the house, they will generally have a TV, or the kids are outside of the house. Both of these will bombard children with reading.

I've never said that parents have to do everything right. They just need enough insight to realize that what their kid is doing doesn't work and that they have to step in and give some advice. If that advice doesn't work either, they need to step in again and try yet another way, over and over again. This is especially important for pre-teen kids who may not be able to try a different approach on their own yet or they might waste a lot of time exploring dead ends.

Also, it's not enough that there's text around. The kids need to explore it at their own slow pace. That pretty much rules out TV. And while you can learn to mechanically read from a McDonald's menu, you won't develop any functional literacy from it. (Functional literacy is the ability to understand the meaning of written text. Functionally illiterate people can read text out loud but they'll have no idea what it means unless somebody repeats it back to them.)

about two weeks ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

next_ghost Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

Keep in mind that this isn't a self selected group of kids who's parents spent extra time educating them. These are kids who parents left the kids to figure out their education on their own. Only being their to answer questions that the child initiated.

Obviously not everyone becomes literate when left in a vacuum. So, what is the explination? I have thought pretty hard on this, as it is an unexpected and facinating situation. The best theory I have come up with is that it is hard to actually be illiterate in large parts of the US. I am not saying that it is hard being illiterate, which it most certainly is. I am saying that one needs to actually put effort into not becoming literate, or it will happen by accident.

It's not that simple as you think. The obvious advantage of "unschooling" I can see is that it takes full advantage of kids' natural curiosity. The traditional education of the shove-boring-facts-down-kids'-throats kind completely obliterates any curiosity very fast. But. Parents have to provide guidance in order to make unschooling work. When parents don't or can't provide guidance, kids can easily take the wrong approach to the task, become overwhelmed and lose interest. Parents also have to provide intellectual stimulation in order to point their kids' curiosity in the right direction (at least indirectly by asking the right questions or buying the right books).

So I do believe that it's completely possible to raise a naturally curious kid into illiterate adult even without any abuse. When kids grow up in an environment which completely lacks any intellectual stimulation and parental guidance (specifically of the intellectual kind), they'll turn their curiosity towards some other activity and give up on intellectual achievements. Later, when they start going to school, their late start will bring them bad grades, which will demoralize them even further and make them hate education. Kids can't get curious about reading when there's literally nothing to read in their home. And they'll begin to hate reading if you force them to read under threat (of bad grades). But again, the problem is in learned behavior, not genes.

about two weeks ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

next_ghost Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

let me rephrase then smart guy... in a language you don't speak/read?

And european languages don't count since there are too many similarities.

I can figure out spanish, italian, german, etc and I don't speak or read any of them. But we share a common macro culture and there are enough similarities.

That's how I learned English. My native language (Czech) belongs to the Slavic family so it has very little in common with Germanic and Romance languages. I strongly recommend this TED talk about learning languages: How to learn any language in six months. When you play games where you don't need to understand a word of the text to get the meaning (e.g. the first Diablo, various shooter and action games, etc.), you slowly learn vocabulary. When you soak up enough vocabulary, you'll start figuring out the grammar. And then you're ready to play language-heavy RPG games like Fallout (1 and 2, I've never played Fallout 3) and various adventure games.

And since you're probably not familiar with Czech, here's the previous paragraph one more time in Czech (loosely translated sans accents because unicode makes /. barf) so you can try for yourself if you can understand it:

Takhle jsem se naucil anglicky. Muj rodny jazyk (cestina) patri mezi slovanske jazyky, takze s germanskymi a romanskymi jazyky nema moc spolecneho. Vrele doporucuji tuhle TED prednasku o uceni jazyku: Jak se naucit libovolny jazyk za sest mesicu. Kdyz hrajete hry, ve kterych nemusite rozumet ani slovu, abyste pochopili vyznam textu (napriklad prvni Diablo, ruzne strilecky a akcni hry atd.), tak se pomalu ucite slovni zasobu. Kdyz pak nacerpate dostatecnou slovni zasobu, zacnete postupne chapat i gramatiku. A potom muzete zacit hrat jazykove narocna RPG jako Fallout (1a 2, Fallout 3 jsem nikdy nehral) a ruzne adventury.

about two weeks ago
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European Court of Justice Strikes Down Data Retention Law

next_ghost Re:Good for them. (77 comments)

UK and Poland didn't adopt the EU charter of fundamental rights so they can just ignore this ruling. But the rest of EU must follow it, including Czech republic which finally decided to adopt the charter as well.

about two weeks ago
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European Court of Justice Strikes Down Data Retention Law

next_ghost Re:Good for them. (77 comments)

Well, here in Czech republic, the previous prime minister's party went from 2nd place with 20.22% of votes in 2010 (with tiny difference between 1st and 2nd place) to 5th place with 7.72% in 2013 early elections, barely making the election threshold of 5%. So yes, there's still hope at least for my country. It doesn't guarantee that the next guy in power will be sane, but at least it's nice to know that voters can actually kick the worst ones out really hard when they run out of patience.

about two weeks ago
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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

next_ghost Re:Bullshit Made Up Language (512 comments)

The words come through, but I have no idea what they could possibly mean.

Picard listening to Tamarians before his camping trip.

about three weeks ago

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