Thunderf00t: Solar Roadways, IMPORTANT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS!

This is a follow up to Thunderf00t’s first criticism of this hair-brained idea for a ‘solar-powered roadways’.

Predictably, pretty, shiny roadways appeal to many people and they didn’t really appreciate the reason for Thunderf00t’s criticism, thinking him a bit of a luddite… Actualy, Thunferf00t is a real-life super-smart scientist, advancing the leading edge of scientific discovery.

Which is precisely why he is criticizing the ‘LED road markings in the daytime’ and glass-surfaced roads…

But, let’s go to the video and let Thunderf00t answer some of these accusations himself:

UPDATE:  Here are some more answers fromThunderf00t:

Thunderf00t: when faith in God will kill you!

 

The instigators…

My cat-loving aunt’s been sick, so I’ve been looking for funny kitty videos to amuse her with.  Who would have thought there were so many cat videos on the interwebitudes?!?!?  ;-)

Came across this most amusing video and could not resist posting it:

Substance of Dualism

Here is some debunking of dualist’s ‘load of dingo’s kidneys’ – much more eloquently than I could have done!

 

Random Observations: Analysis vs Algebra predicts eating corn?

OK – it’s summer and we are all enjoying tasty summer treats, like, say, corn on the cob.

But, did you know that how you eat corn tells a lot about your other preferences?

‘Back when I was in grad school there was a department lunch with corn on the cob. Partway through the meal one of the analysts looked around the room and remarked, “That’s odd, all of the analysts are eating corn one way and the algebraists are eating corn another!” Everyone looked around. In fact everyone was eating the corn in one of two ways. One way was to munch over the length of the corn in a straight line, back up, turn slightly, and do another row across. Kind of like how an old typewriter goes. The other way was to go around in a spiral. All of the analysts were eating in spirals, and the algebraists in rows.’

It seems natural that the way you analyze/think about the world around you extends to how you interact with your surroundings – including how you eat.  Mentalists have long taken note of such cues and used them to cold-read their clients.  So, why should we be surprised that this connection exists between how we eat and how we approach mathematics?

Or, indeed, life in general?

And not just mathematics:  programming, too:

‘Let me give some examples. Upon my first encounter it was clear to me that object oriented programming is something that appeals to algebraists. So if you’re a programmer and found Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software to be a revelation, it is highly likely that you lean towards algebra and eat your corn in neat rows. Going the other way, if the techniques described in On Lisp appeal, then you might be on the analytic side of the fence and eat your corn in spirals. This is particularly true if you found yourself agreeing with Paul Graham’s thoughts in Why Arc Isn’t Especially Object-Oriented. There was a period that I thought that the programming division might be as simple as functional versus object oriented. Then I encountered monads, and I learned that there were functional programmers who clearly were algebraists. (I know someone who got his PhD studying Haskell’s type system. My prediction that he ate corn in rows was correct.) Going the other way I wouldn’t be surprised that people who love what they can do with template metaprogramming in C++ lean towards analysis and eating corn in spirals. (I haven’t tested the last guess at all, so take it with a grain of salt.)’

To which I add:  you should always eat your corn on the cob with a few grains of salt!  And lots of butter…

 

Thinking in a Foreign Language Makes Decisions More Rational

I’ve been saying this for years!!!

Or, at least, a version of this…because I have noticed this in myself.

This ‘Wired’ article is about a recent study which found that people’s risk assessment appears to be less affected by linguistic positioning when they are functioning in a language they are just studying:

“It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases,” wrote Keysar’s team.

It is an interesting article, well worth the read.

NOTE:  The sign in the picture which accompanies the article  says different things in English and in Czech.

The Czech wording, if simply translated, would say ‘Prohibition on Interpreting’. Though, for ease of use (and, perhaps symmetry), this would be interpreted as ‘Interpreting Forbidden’.

The Czech word for ‘translating’ (accents omitted) is ‘prekladani’ ‘Tlumoceni’ means ‘interpreting’.

There is a difference!

OK – details aside….

Thinking using any symbolic language is slow and cumbersome.  It is much faster, clearer and accurate to think without the use of symbols.  The difficulty comes in trying to express the process and/or results of this process in any kind on manner in order to communicate them:  so much gets lost in any translation!

It often takes me a long time to find a way to communicate the results of my thinking to anyone, in any language.  Sometimes, it takes me years – many years.  (This is why I sometimes respond with:  I know what I want to say, but it will take me a while to figure out how to say it…regardless of the language in question.)

However, often, I will reason things through in a language.  And, because it may be a complex thing that will take me a while to reason through at this slow pace, I will sort of set it into the background of my mind.  I find it impossible to do this in the language in which I happen to be functioning at that time:  there is so much interference that my ‘background’ chain of thinking gets derailed.  (Perhaps it’s my ADD…)

To make it easier, when I do the ‘background thinking’, I will set it in a different language than the one I happen to be functioning in at that time.

When I was doing business internationally, I often altered the ‘background’ processing language between the ones I was sufficiently ‘natural’ in to do this with (these differed over time).  Or, if I had a conversation with a business associate in one language, then went on to talk to somebody else in another one, I would continue to analyze our conversation (and the proposed deal) in the language I had conducted it in (even if I were not ‘natural’ in it, because the details were in that language).  This was very useful, as it allowed me to analyze several situations at the same time.

When, later, I would analyze the results of my thoughts and build a cohesive, cross-referenced picture in my mind (abandoning symbolic language), I noticed that my analysis would often differ, based solely on the language I had done it in.

So, I thought about it – quite obsessively – for a while.  OK, years.

It soon became clear to me that my analysis was affected by the ‘colouring’ of words in the various languages.  The less ‘natural’ I was in that specific language, the less ‘coloured’ the reasoning would be – but it would also be much less nuanced.

I have often wondered if this is ‘normal’ to all humans, if this is ‘natural’ to Aspies’, or if my brain is simply wired funny.  And, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this from other people who have even remotely similar experiences.

In conclusion:  for years, I have been saying that the ‘colouring’ of words affects our reasoning on a profound level and that we ought to pay more attention to this phenomenon.

VictimlessCriminal: Analytical Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief

On 9/11 ‘conspiracy theories’…

I do not like to blog while angry, but, I find it difficult to keep my temper under control…

In the wake of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade buildings in New York, there are so many idiotic (sorry – that is the only term that fits) claims being made that it makes my blood boil.  Yes, I have said much of what Ithis before, and others have said it better than I – but, it seems to me, it requires re-telling.

Perhaps this time, I will say ir better – more methodically, more clearly…

Here are a few of the true claims people make – but whose significance is constantly misunderstood and misinterpreted by those who claim the 9/11 tragedy is part of a conspiracy by the US government.

Most of these ‘cospiracy theorists’ state:

‘The Government’ knew about the bombers’ plans and ‘let’ 9/11 it happen (on purpose).

To recognize the silliness of this statement, one needs to understand a little bit about the governance structures in large organizations – and, let’s face it, the US Government is a mammoth-sized one!

(I am no ‘governance guru’ – but, during one of my previous ‘professional’ incarnations, I have spent close to a decade evaluating governance in government projects.  I have some limited experience analyzing, evaluating and re-structuring governance, in private, public and non-profit organizations.)

First, one must address the question:  What is ‘the government’?

‘The government’ is an ‘organization made up of organization’s, each with its own agents (civil servants) – and agendas (including institutional and specific problems).  Just because a ‘civil servant A’ in organization ‘B’ gets a piece of information does not mean that ‘civil servants C,D,E…etc’ in other organizations (agencies and/or departments) actually have any inkling  that this bit of information exists – much less have access to it.  If ‘civil servant A’ does not grasp the significance of this isolated piece of information – or has simply not processed it yet, even their supervisor may not become aware of it!

Why?

Because information is organized and graded – and only ‘kicked up’ once a certain ‘quantum’ of information/significance has been accumulated.  This is how organizations gather and process information – it they did not, the organization would be crippled by the ‘noise’ of irrelevant information.

I mean the term irrelevant information quite literally – information whose relevance has not been assessed!  Thus, the information is not yet connected to the facts it is relevant to – and before this assessment is made, and made correctly, the information is simply not usable.

If you excuse the tired jigsaw puzzle comparison – it may be used often, but because it is analogous…

Each bit of information is like a 1 million piece jigsaw puzzle being worked on by 1 000 people.  If every puzzle piece picked up by each person is immediately shown to every other person – without regard to its relevance (Is it a corner piece?  Does it have a distinguishing mark on it?) – the process is so chaotic that the puzzle will never be built.

Similarly, just because different people in different branches of the government each had a bit of relevant information does not mean they had the opportunity to fit them together.  Most isolated pieces of information were not relevant enough on their own to ‘pass on’ – even were there no rivalries between various agencies each of which wanted be the one to solve ‘puzzles.  Add to this the realization that most of the various agencies thought they were each working on a separate, limited investigation…  They were simply not even aware that there was a bigger puzzle they should be fitting their bits of information into!

So, yes:  ‘the government’ had all the information – or much of it.

Had all of it been seen by one person who happened to recognize its relevance and how to piece it together, it could potentially have prevented this tragedy from happening.  But there is no evidence that this happened – and much that demonstrated it did not.

It is therefore ridiculous to suggest that, actively or passively, ‘the US Government’ is complicit in the conspiracy to comit this crime!

*   *   *

What the government IS guilty of is trying to look smarter than it was – after the fact.

Individual civil servants/bureaucrats were trying to protect their butts – pretending they were more in control than they were, more competent than they were (individually as well as organizationally).

And the government spokespeople were trying to calm panic among us, the little people, by pretending they were more in control than they were.

Some people believed them!  Then, the lies caught up with them.  That is what made them look guilty…

Let me re-phrase Ockham’s Razor/’the law of parsimony’  as ‘Xanthippa’s second law of human dynamics’:

Never ascribe to ‘conspiracy’ what can better be explained by incompetence!

Conspiracies require secrecy.  Being ‘in’ on a conspiracy makes people feel ‘special’ – and it usually makes them want to tell everyone just how ‘special’ they are.  Not bragging about one’s ‘specialness’ requires self-discipline – something most people sorely lack.

People are simply not good at conspiracies!

This does not mean that conspiracies do not occur – they do.

However, the conspiracies that actually succeed are ones in which a very limited number people is actively involved.  A conspiracy that would encompass even 1% of the people involved in ‘the government’ would be blabbed out long before it could succeed!

Which brings me to the other part of the claim:

Some people in ‘the government’ worked with the attackers

D’-ugh!

Of course!  But…

When Soviet agents infiltrated Western governments during the cold war, it did not mean that those governments were working FOR the Soviet Union.  Similarly, the Islamists had some people who had infiltrated the US government and were feeding them information/aiding them.

That stands to reason.  It would have been foolish of the terrorists not to cultivate some sources within the US government civil service who, knowingly or not, fed them intelligence.

But it does not mean that the US government itself was directing their actions!

No, they were clueless…or, at best, crippled by political correctness which prevented them from investigating suspect employees from ‘protected’ groups.

And – of course, no government wants to admit that the enemy had penetrated their defences.  Again, both as an organization which would lose credibility and as individual civil servants caught napping on the job, the first instinct is to lie to cover one’s behind.  Individual behinds and the collective behind.

Of course, these lies get exposed – and the lies uttered in order to hide simple incompetence begin to look like ‘the government’ is complicit!

Yes – there are many other claims, many claiming pseudo-scientific sources…  But, upon closer scrutiny, these simply do not stand up.

Between ‘not seeing the big picture’ and ‘lying to cover butts’, the ‘big conspiracy theory’ just doesn’t hold up.

P.S. – It should not even be called ‘theory’ – it is, at best, an unsupported hypothesis.  A far cry from ‘theory’.  When people twist words and overstate their case – like calling a ‘hypothesis’ a ‘theory’ – a large helping of skepticism is called for.  To say the least…

Mark your calendarsfor the Free Thinking Film Festival in November

Now that the summer is winding down (noooooo!) and people are beginning to plan their activities for the fall, those living in the Ottawa area might be interested in the second annual Free Thinking Film Festival – set to begin on Remembrance Day 2011:

…seeing stars…

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