Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 28, 2013 - 09:05pm PT
I have a problem with the commandment part of the 10 commandments.


Dec 28, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
DMT: Is fruitless open ended inquiry to be given equal respect as ideas and theories that have withstood the inquiry of others? Or more directly, why should I give credence to the 'findings of one?'

What's fruitless, and how would one know?

Those things that withstand the inquiry of others may also be a sign of a single mindset.

What and why you should give credence to anything is only something that you can know. Whatever your "reasons," you will make your own judgment and decision. Appealing to a higher source or a more significant standard beyond your own making could be a sign of indoctrination. You should and will always make-up your own mind, follow your own lights, come to your own conclusions. There are obvious issues with this line of thinking, but I can't see any other way. Maybe you can.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 28, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
Who's to say? I am. Who else?


Sport climber
Dec 29, 2013 - 04:00am PT
The jokes scientists tell:

"Two theoretical physicists are lost at the top of a mountain. Theoretical physicist No 1 pulls out a map and peruses it for a while. Then he turns to theoretical physicist No 2 and says: "Hey, I've figured it out. I know where we are."
"Where are we then?"
"Do you see that mountain over there?"
"Well… THAT'S where we are.""

"A statistician is someone who tells you, when you've got your head in the fridge and your feet in the oven, that you're – on average - very comfortable."

"At a party for functions, ex is at the bar looking despondent. The barman says: "Why don't you go and integrate?" To which ex replies: "It would not make any difference.""

"A weed scientist goes into a shop. He asks: "Hey, you got any of that inhibitor of 3-phosphoshikimate-carboxyvinyl transferase? Shopkeeper: "You mean Roundup?" Scientist: "Yeah, that's it. I can never remember that dang name.""

"Psychiatrist to patient: "Don't worry. You're not deluded. You only think you are.""

"A psychoanalyst shows a patient an inkblot, and asks him what he sees. The patient says: "A man and woman making love." The psychoanalyst shows him a second inkblot, and the patient says: "That's also a man and woman making love." The psychoanalyst says: "You are obsessed with sex." The patient says: "What do you mean I am obsessed? You are the one with all the dirty pictures.''"

More to be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/29/scientists-favourite-jokes

Dec 29, 2013 - 09:54am PT
Marlow: Ha-ha.

Back in the 80s, I was an institutional broker for a primary government securities dealer, and I was put on a client engagement (CNA Insurance company). There I simulated whether a product comprised of a fixed income instruments & stock-index futures could guarantee upside performance no matter what and make money for the insurance company. (No go.) The people I worked with at the insurance company were all statisticians. It was like working in a foreign country. They kept telling me statistics jokes, and I didn't get most of them. I post these jokes as an honor to them. (They were all great guys.)

These I stole from Nancy Pfenning at U of Pittsburg. They get more sophisticated as they go along. (I'm not explaining any of them.)

Your Momma is so bad at statistics that . . . .

• She thought “mu” was a sound a cat made!
• When you were talking about the population standard deviation “sig ma”, she responded, “No, I don’t smoke!”
• She thinks beta1 and beta 2 are the names of her son’s fish
• She thought a z test was a sleep study
• She thinks z score is the French way to report the results of a game
• She started boiling water to perform a t test
• She thought a high P-value eventually turned into a Q-value
• When you told her to use the F test she said watch your language
• She thinks the alternative hypothesis was laughing at her (Ha)
• She thinks Ho is the name of the girl who stands on the corner
• She wanted to know how to open a closed question
• She managed to fall into an open question
• She read The Scarlet Letter to learn about the Hawthorne Effect
• She thought a five number summary was a zip code
• She thinks the range is where the deer and the antelope play
• She thinks the interquartile range is something you cook on top of
• She found the median by driving down the highway
• She thinks degrees of freedom refer to how warm it is outside and how little clothing she can get away with
• She thought minitab was a small bill
• She thought a histogram was a medical procedure
• She tried to ring a bell curve
• She plays connect-the-dots with a scatterplot
• She thinks unimodal is a model with a unibrow
• She thinks boxplots are areas to plant her flowers
• She thought a two-way table was a type of furniture
• She stood in line for the uniform distribution
• She thought if X was binomial it dated both men and women
• She thinks degrees of freedom is part of our Constitution
• She thought the 68-95-99.7 Rule only applied to senior citizens
• When someone told her to use the Empirical Rule she asked why she should colonize a small developing nation
• She thinks having a small p-value is a personal problem
• She thinks an ANOVA Table is something she can buy at Ikea
• She thought a double blind study related to curtains
• She thinks a double-blind experiment involved Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder
• She thinks a population mean is a mob of angry people
• She never rejects the null hypothesis because she doesn’t want to hurt its feelings
• She thinks it’s hip to be chi-square.
• She thought a goodness of fit test involved a dressing room
• She brought a towel to pool a two-sample t test
• She thinks Simpson’s Paradox was the episode where Homer tears a hole in time and space
• She thinks multiple regression is a psychological disorder
• She made a Type I and Type II Error---at the same time!
• She thought Type I and Type II Errors were diabetes
• She thought a Type II Error is what the dog did in the living room
• She commits Type III Errors
• She thought correlation=causation
• She tried to find the average of categorical data
• She tried to say that the correlation of two variables was +2
• She thinks a probability can be more than 1
• Her binomial random variables have 3 possible values
• She tells you to respond to an open-ended question, and then provides you with a list of responses to choose from
• She tried to organize a retrospective study--forward in time!
• She noticed that the researchers had taken control of the explanatory variable and thought it was an observational study!
• In a study of gender and smoking she makes gender the response variable
• She thought that a smaller sample size makes for more accurate results
• She doesn’t know the difference between quantitative and categorical variables
• She doesn’t know the difference between a histogram and a bar graph
• She thought histograms should have spaces between the bars like bar graphs
• She tries to use Excel to work with stats
• She relied completely on a point estimate!
• She thought a 99% confidence interval is narrower than a 95% confidence interval
• She thought a 90% confidence interval was more likely to contain an unknown population mean than a 99% confidence interval
• The true value is outside of her 100% confidence interval
• She thought you used t if sigma was unknown
• She used s for the standard deviation of a population
• She said if the t value’s small, then the p-value’s small too
• She said that the p-value for a one-sided alternative was double the p-value for a two-sided alternative!
• She doesn’t know the difference between paired and two-sample
• She thinks the F distribution is left-skewed
• She thought the chi-square sample size was large enough when all the values in a 2x2 table were less than 5
• She reported strong evidence of a weak relationship with r=0.98, p-val=0.73
• She used a C.I. when focusing on an individual
• She doesn’t know that the distribution of sample proportion has a mean of p and a standard deviation equal to the square root of p times 1 minus p divided by n and a shape that is approximately normal if n times p and n times 1 minus p are both greater than or equal to 10!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 29, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Ut oh, spiritualists, Palo Alto is closing in on you fast...

Palo Alto, California: Computers have entered the age when they are able to learn from their own mistakes, a development that is about to turn the digital world on its head.

Is science flying too close to the sun?



Dec 29, 2013 - 11:58am PT
From the article:

Kwabena Boahen, a computer scientist who leads Stanford's Brains in Silicon research program, said that . . . scientists are far from fully understanding how brains function. "We have no clue," he said. "I'm an engineer, and I build things. There are these highfalutin theories, but give me one that will let me build something."

The notion of dynamic weighted nodes in neural networks is not new in cognitive science or artificial intelligence. It's a modeled approximation of experiences that we are all somewhat aware of almost every waking moment.

Kwabena Boahen is reasonably prudent. It would be helpful to make sharper distinctions between what one can assemble technically and materially, and what consciousness is. People can and do model almost everything that they perceive in reality. As Largo said repeatedly, the map is not the territory.

The more interesting question, I would say, is: "What is Consciousness, and what are the things / experiences in consciousness (thoughts, feelings, images, etc.)"--not "how do they happen?" A focus on the latter question is a pragmatic mechanic's or technician's view. The former view is something else that I don't think can be said. The two questions are not the same, and they are not equivalent. One does not imply the other. Both are categorically and qualitatively different from each other. Explanation is not existence.

Dec 29, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
We have more ants than we used to.



These ideas have an interesting history. The pattern-classifying perceptron dates to 1957. It was neglected but made a comeback circa 1971. The back-propagation method for training artificial neural networks first appeared in published form in 1963 but took years before gaining recognition, causing a lot of hype, and then losing steam in the '90s. Now "Deep Learning" is a promising approach.

There are still many questions about how to scale up and generalize machine learning.

Sport climber
Dec 29, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
Great links, MH2

Here's a picture telling a story about Politics, God and Religion...
Credit: Fred Dufour

Hebrews 1:3
Dec 29, 2013 - 12:47pm PT
Good morals means doing the right thing, and God is always good and right!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 29, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
Kwabena Boahen is reasonably prudent.

Of course he is. He's an engineer.

The advances in computer science will continue to exponentially accelerate.

The most poignant example I can give is DNA sequencing of the human genome. In the late 80s and early 90s as initial successes in sequencing some segments came about, there was a lot talk about the potential medical benefits that might some day be realized. And of course there was ample reasonable-caution from the engineering crowd then, too. It was said that even with these advances the actual sequencing of human DNA remained a distant possibility.

It took less than 10 years from that point, to get the job done, with computers using WINDOWS!

And now look what medicine and big ag do with it all....

My point is simple and obvious... I would not be so quick myself, to hang my hat on the peg of science not moving forward at shockingly fast rates.

I have no doubt in my discursive mind that humans are in the process of creating a new life form, no doubt at all. And that life form will be intelligent and eventually self-determining. And there will be ghosts in those machines that 'know thyself.'

We are gods in training. We always were.


Boulder climber
Dec 29, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Although I know little of the architecture of modern computers I have witnessed their amazing evolution, and have occasionally taught an introductory course on fundamental computing theory. From a room-sized computer at the U. of Alabama in 1962 when I began grad school to the superb instrument upon which I type and communicate these comments. When I construct a mathematical program, then execute it I am continually astounded at the sheer number of arithmetic operations done within the smaller part of a second. The fact that quantum computing will probably leave these instruments in the dust of history is almost incomprehensible. I am convinced that at some point "consciousness" as we know it will appear, then be surpassed.

I think meditation as described by several participants of this thread shows us mental phenomena not available to the rational and ego-linked mind, but not necessarily any sort of "truth", whatever that may mean. As computers evolve they may point the way to a much deeper understanding of reality. But then our limitations might make these discoveries incomprehensible.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 29, 2013 - 07:41pm PT
Several months ago an OP on another thread asked for incredible predictions.
After some thought this was my contribution:

I predict that by the 2020s we will see the first supercomputers designing new generations of supercomputers, with material innovations now on the horizon. The first credible android/ cyborgs will start to emerge , designed and built by other computers.

In the 2030s regional resource wars will break out, culminating in some sort of hideous conflict by 2035 in which nuclear weapons will be used on a somewhat large scale, resulting in the subsequent death of millions of people , largely by radioactive contamination of the environment and food chain .

The 2040s will be a period of recovery from these hideous wars and environmental devastation.
A new nation will be founded that will attract growing numbers of disaffected people who seek to escape what they consider the folly of a world based upon the runaway excesses of technology.
The world essentially will be divided between these two camps-- the 'naturals ' who favor a restricted and highly controlled technological society and the 'techs ' who favor no restrictions on technological growth.

In the early 2050s supercomputers will become so advanced that they will start to exhibit strong independent and autonomous characteristics .These highly advanced "supers" collectively develop a meta-program that is so awesomely powerful that it links every computer on earth and begins to solve problems with absolutely astounding solutions, at ever- increasing incredible speed. The cures for almost all human disease, like cancer, are finally realized, as well as a reversal of the radioactive genetic damage from the wars of the 2030s..
These computers ,having been built and designed by other computers, will consist of almost entirely different materials and components from the ones we have today.

By the 2060s the meta-program , which is not located in any one specific locale, has grown so powerful and omnipresent that it has designed and controls every aspect of collective human life, from food production, resource extraction, manufacturing, and environmental regulation and management. Computers do everything.

By 2070 the meta-program has decided that humans , at a population of 14 billion, represent a continuing threat to the integrity of the planet and to an ever growing legion of Artificial Intelligences.
The meta-program therefore designs a highly specialized group of viruses that can kill a person within an hour and subsequently rapidly dehydrate the corpse in another hour. Humans go from apparent health to a pile of dust in 2 hours.

The meta-program decides to eliminate 98% of the human race...
The year: 2072.

The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 29, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Well, that's cheery. How bout this instead.

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

© Richard Brautigan.

Dec 29, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
Jgill & DMT & Ward:

All three of you should be old enough to remember your elders' assessments of technologies and the predictions of the future that came from their mouths and minds.

Maybe your memories are better than mine, but I can't remember a single prediction that came true to any recognizable extent.

I worked in a futurist unit at 3M in 1982, and the most remarkable prediction I ever saw that came true was that East and West Germany would reunite. Me and my colleagues thought it was pure lunacy.

I'd say that nothing important changes. What would be an important change would be a change to who and what we are as humans. Nothing seems to change there.

Dec 29, 2013 - 09:28pm PT
What would be an important change would be a change to who and what we are as humans. Nothing seems to change there.

Then we should make do with what we have.

Boulder climber
Dec 29, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
All three of you should be old enough to remember. . . (MikeL)

In some alternate universe all my "predictions" will come true!
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 30, 2013 - 12:12am PT
Maybe your memories are better than mine, but I can't remember a single prediction that came true to any recognizable extent.

You'll have to be more specific here MikeL. There were many predictions over a fairly wide swath of time. Some were patently absurd and others were generally right on target--- although a bit rough on the specific details. I'm thinking of many of the forecasts put forth by individuals such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, and later Arthur C. Clarke, Alvin Tofler, Marshall McCluhan , and scores of others.
I will grant you that the world of The Jetsons has not hitherto come to fruition.

Remember, modern humans only started indulging in "futurism" since the late 1800s.(Part of the raison d'être for the numerous World Fairs beginning about that time)
Before that era technology was not seen as playing much of a pivotal role in overarching human endeavors. Therefore, an attempt to forecast social and technological developments did not appeal to the general public.

We as a species are kind of rookies at this sort of thing.
Part of the reason why we appear to be bungling our way along.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 30, 2013 - 12:21am PT
If you leave Asimov out of this then you aren't even in the ballpark.

Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 30, 2013 - 12:37am PT
If you leave Asimov out of this then you aren't even in the ballpark.

Depends on what you mean by "ballpark"
Asimov didn't immediately come to mind. But he did make some prescient forecasts for the year 2014 during the 1964 Worlds Fair:

“Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals,’ heating water and converting it to coffee.”

“Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing.”

“The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course.”

“Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘Robot-brains.’”

“There will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface.”

“By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.”

“In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000.”

“Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth.”

“Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.”

“Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”

And so on.

Asimov was a brilliant man and a very prolific writer.

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