blueollie

2 April 2009

Workout notes Yoga, then 7 mile run, 1 mile walk (outside). The run was in about 1:09 (running time; I didn’t use a stop watch) and was roughly 19, 31, 19.

Links:

This is the best explanation of how I see things:

Roughly speaking, it goes something like this: to me, accepting major conclusions without evidence is NOT being open minded; it is being gullible and stupid. But one should be willing to change one’s mind, if sufficient evidence is presented. For example, quantum mechanics makes no sense to me at all. But that theory makes valid predictions; hence I accept it even though I don’t understand it at all.

On the other hand, superstition (e. g., belief in gods, spirits, deities, healing crystals, ghosts, etc.) is not backed up with any evidence at all. So, when I say “I don’t believe that” I mean “I see no evidence for it and I think that it being true is highly unlikely”.

Also, I’d much rather say “I don’t know and I can’t explain that” rather than to just make something up.

April Fool’s Jokes:

Sandwalk: claims that intelligent design advocate Michael Behe won the Nobel Prize. On one hand, this is funny. On the other hand, it kind of bothers me to see Behe getting so much attention. Had Behe stuck to doing real science, no one would have ever heard of him.

I think that this is part of what attracts people to crackpottery. Were I to say, make some bogus mathematical claim for creationism I’d probably become much more well known than I am now.

Ann Coulter falls for an April Fool’s joke about President Obama:

In her April 1 column, Ann Coulter fell for a fake April Fools’ Day article by Car and Driver magazine that claimed that President Obama has ordered General Motors and Chrysler to cease their participation in NASCAR because it is an “unnecessary expenditure.” Coulter wrote, “If Obama can tell GM and Chrysler that their participation in NASCAR is an ‘unnecessary expenditure,’ isn’t having public schools force students to follow Muslim rituals, recite Islamic prayers and plan ‘jihads’ also an ‘unnecessary expenditure’?” Car and Driver originally posted an April 1 story online — since removed — with the headline, “Obama Orders Chevrolet and Dodge Out Of NASCAR,” and the text, “With their racing budgets deemed ‘unnecessary expenditures,’ GM and Chrysler are ordered to cease racing operations at the end of the season.” However, Car and Driver later clarified that the story was an April Fools’ Day joke, then removed the story from its website.

In an April 1 USA Today article, Larry Marshak reported that “Car and Driver later pulled the fake story (which estimated savings of $250 million between the manufacturers) and apologized for ‘going too far’ while noting the magazine ‘has a proud tradition of irreverent editorial and we amplify that each year with our April Fool’s Day joke.’

I wonder how many poor wingnuts are going around fuming about Obama trying to take their racecars away without even knowing that this article was a joke?

Stupid people are good thing: they are loads of fun to laugh at! :)

Academia

Tenure: it does provide some job security, but not total security. If a university really wants to get rid of you, it can.

Gunman incidents on campus: these are rare events and people frequently overreact to such things.
At the blog Edge of the American West, a history professor takes down the idiotic argument that professors should be armed. Frankly, were I to carry a gun, I’d be much more dangerous to the people around me than I would be to any gunman.

Mathematics In my linear algebra class, we talked about eigenvectors and eigenspaces. This blog post is about a cousin of eigenvectors: invariant subspaces.

Science
I really want to take time to watch this video; here a neuroscientist talks about the brain and the concept of “free will”.

At Cosmic Variance, a scientist talks about the difficulty of our visualizing more than 3-dimensions. I believe that this is a product of our evolution.

Science/religion compatibility Jerry Coyne wrote a book Why Evolution is True. This is on my summer reading list! The idea is this: Coyne talks about what is meant by “truth”:

Because a theory is accepted as “true” only when its assertions and predictions are tested over and over again, and confirmed repeatedly, there is no one moment when a scientific theory becomes a scientific fact. A theory becomes a fact (or a “truth”) when so much evidence has accumulated in its favor– and there is no decisive evidence against it– that all reasonable people will accept it. This does not mean that a “true” theory will never be falsified. All scientific truth is provisional, subject to modification in light of new evidence. There is no alarm bell that goes off to tell scientists that they’ve finally hit on the ultimate, unchangeable truths about nature. As we’ll see, it is possible that despite thousands of observations that support Darwinism, new data might show it to be wrong.

And on p. 222-223, at the end, I show why evolution qualifies as “true” under this definition, and also give examples of possible observations that could disprove evolution.

But a reviewer takes Coyne to task for not saying that science and religion can be reconciled. Frankly I am glad that Coyne didn’t say such a thing:

What should I have written, according to Padian? That “truth” is philosophical, not objective, and that we should recognize and respect the philosophical “truths” of the faithful:

Creationists—people who deny evolution because it conflicts with their religious precepts—often tell us that whether we accept a naturalistic or a supernatural explanation of the world around us is a philosophical choice: a belief. They’re not wrong. That first decision—what kind of “knowledge” is going to be privileged in your mind—is ultimately a question of belief, a leap of faith, a decision about truth, if you care to use the term at all. . . . .

. . . Coyne does a very good job in this book of presenting the actual evidence for evolution. He is less complete on the philosophy and methods that underlie science, particularly in specific disciplines. And one would have liked to see more
about dealing with people who are apprehensive about the “truth” of evolution.

But this is something I’m incapable of doing. I can’t tell people that faith and science are compatible, because I don’t believe it, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Nor do I want to pander to religion. And I’m not so sure that it is a “philosophical” choice” or a “belief” “to “accept a naturalistic versus supernaturalistic explanation of the world around us.” Is it a philosophical choice to take antibiotics when you have an infection, rather than calling on a shaman or Christian Scientist? (I bet you do take antibiotics, Kevin–is that a philosophical choice?) And is it a “philosophical choice” to say that AIDS results from drug-taking and a dissipated lifestyle rather than from a virus? Is it a “philosophical choice” to believe that the world is 6,000 rather than 4.6 billion years old? Well, if these are philosophical choices, one of them works and the other one doesn’t.

The postmodernist claim that accepting scientific rather than spiritual truths is simply a matter of taste is a claim of breathtaking inanity. Science helps us understand the world — it works. Religion can soothe us, but I don’t see it coughing up equivalent truths, nor have I heard a convincing argument for what “truths” faith presents to us, as opposed to those revealed by secular reason alone.

Coyne goes on to say that attempts to reconcile science and religion haven’t done much good anyway, not at least in increasing the public’s acceptance of science anyway.

Politics Nate Silver provides a nice visual (graph) which shows that GM’s problem was a long time in the making.

Media Matters has a handy list of misconceptions concerning President Obama’s proposed budget.

IL-18: Aaron Schock: he is becoming quite the national star; Megan McCain likes him. I can say that he is photogenic and does very well from the podium; I saw him debate his Illinois House 92 opponent (back when he was running for reelection to State Congress) and he completely overwhelmed his opponent without becoming nasty; had this debate been a boxing match the referee would have stopped it.

But, well, there are lots of promising bright stars.

Sexual Humor (sexual in nature)
I found this video on youtube (it is a closeup of a spandex clad woman who has a rather large butt); when I saw it this song came to mind.

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April 2, 2009 - Posted by | 2008 Election, Aaron Schock, April 1, atheism, Barack Obama, creationism, Democrats, economy, education, entertainment, evolution, IL-18, mathematics, morons, obama, politics, politics/social, pwnd, religion, republicans, running, science, superstition, training

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