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darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:30pm PT
Thanks for the posts, HFCS. Psyched to watch that video in full!

Fritz: awesome charts. Do you think there is any connection between sedentary lifestyles and lack of education? Or between sedentary lifestyles and religious belief? We know that cognitive function is improved/enhanced by physical activity. I think there is some literature out there to support the connection: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17518420801997007
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:37pm PT
Thanks to Fritz for the summary of the present situation.

Large parts of America seem to have no ability to see reality as it is.

People are drifting along in a sea of power, money and double-dealing, believing and praying to a god that has long been dead, a god that is still used as a means in the money-/powermakers double-dealing. The zeenyboppers are sitting on their cushions and every time they open their mouth they feed the beast.

Luckily America still has some of the best scientific minds on earth. But also proper science is under attack from money-makers as well as preasts and zeenyboppers, not to mention a juridical system that is cementing the idiocy.

My best wishes for America and president Obama to sort this out. It's extremely difficult to change the mindsets of people who believe in something that is a part of what destroys them. It is going to take a generation or two to sort this out.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:37pm PT
This one says a lot


The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.[1]

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".[2]
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:38pm PT
Moose -
In other words, it is hopeless to try to make the world a better place? I don't agree Jingy. The world is a better place to live in than it was a 100 years ago. Look at Europe. 2000 years of wars, and now at peace for the longest period of time. There is hope.
Education and unbiased information is key.

 No, its not hopeless. I just prefer to have a realistic view of as much as I can.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:03pm PT
63% of Americans say that they absolutely believe in "Angels"

when questioned further, they say Angels are fairy type flying beings that are good and look after them personally

how cool is that?
mechrist

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:07pm PT
what about those that believe in both creation/evolution?

aint even represtin...

uh... isn't that the 32%? Or are you talking about something even more contrived?
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:09pm PT
Damn, my angel must be a bitch ;/
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:09pm PT
I've said a few times on this forum that whether evolution is true or not is the least interesting thing you can possibly discuss about the subject. Here's an interesting one. Any complex extraterrestrial life anywhere in the universe will almost certainly have also evolved by evolution by natural selection. The idea was first suggested by Richard Dawkins. There's simply no other process that we know of that could logically do the job.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:27pm PT
Why is not perfectly acceptable to say and believe that:

1) There IS a "god" of whatever description

2) That god created the universe, which allowed the random creation of our planet

3) All life did indeed evolve over billions of years on earth, including humans

4) When we die we will have a better spiritual life under god's approving watch

everyone is happy?


"Yes, it's true honey, we were created in His image"
photo not found
Missing photo ID#281289
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:28pm PT
ehh... don't worry about too much, Jim. The good news is they canceled Easter this year.





yeah....

















they found the body
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:43pm PT
Why is not perfectly acceptable to say and believe that:

1) There IS a "god" of whatever description

2) That god created the universe, which allowed the random creation of our planet

3) All life did indeed evolve over billions of years on earth, including humans

4) When we die we will have a better spiritual life under god's approving watch

everyone is happy?

You know why, Norton, because the scripture says otherwise. Individual believes are very different from religious dogma.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:47pm PT
This is a complicated subject and certainly there are lots of ways to interpret the various polls, etc... but the national character of the United States (I'll leave the other Americans out of this) is one of practicality.

You can see that in de Tocqueville's writings, an interesting set of observations that ring true today written at that very early time of the US, certainly a work of someone interested in just how democracy was going to work out...

...the dominant ethic at that time was "hard work and money-making" (quoted from Wikipedia). There was the sense that equality was a driving force in the nation, with no deference to elites.

In that context one could ask what the science of Evolution has to provide to such a nation. First off, it is the product of a group of elites, those intellectuals and academics. The most effective affront to evolution is that idea that science is just as good a description as anything else. Interestingly, in the one place that evolution actually has an economic impact, the technologies of anti-microbal medicine and virus vaccines, we find even the staunchest opponents of "macro-Evolution" allowing for the "fact" of "micro-Evolution" that science which is accepted provides for "money making."

de Tocqueville addressed this in his Chapter X of Democracy in Amercia "Why The Americans Are More Addicted to Practical than to Theoretical Science". It is a wonderful chapter and bears reading (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch1_10.htm) and it captures the current conundrum excellently, in particular, most of the country wonders why we pursue research goals that do not have some practical outcome, and nearly all of the "pure science" research organizations go to great lengths to show the practical aspects of their programs.

One might protest that the United States has been a great scientific power, but actually that is an artifact of European politics in the 1930s, that is, the expulsion of intellectuals from Germany and allied countries, many of whom made their way to the United States, especially scientists. Previous to World War II all the best scientists in the United States trained in Europe, the US was, for the most part, a scientific backwater.

In part that was because of the practical bent of US science, you have Edison's exhortations that "genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration" which is a wonderful evocation of de Tocqueville's observed ethic of hard work (and the subsequent reward of "big bucks" made of Edison's work).

Can anyone of you name a prominent US scientist who worked before WWII?

The influx of the best of Europe's scientists had a profound positive effect on science in the United States. It was a major contribution to the development of technologies that contributed to winning the war. This was so evident that Roosevelt had asked Vannevar Bush to write outline for him the role of science in the United States following the war. Two weeks after the successful test of the atomic bomb Bush provided his reply in his report "The Endless Frontier" which is the blueprint of the US government's science enterprise, responsible for creating the National Research Board, the National Science Foundation, indirectly responsible for the national labs.

It's deepest insight was that no one had anticipated the utility of science for its role in aiding to the war effort as profoundly as it did. And no one could anticipate in the future what might be needed in the time of national crisis. Therefore, the only reasonable policy was for the government to support science in the broadest sense free from direction by application.

The government's role was important since this goal of having a robust scientific infrastructure was not something industry was interested in nor could fund.

Even given reasonable and noble cause, the program outlined in "The Endless Frontier" languished for a decade. The United States was in the mode of getting back to normal, and the practicality of spending on something that didn't really have a direct commercial or practical application seemed a bit frivolous and unnecessary. This changed with the perceived threat of the Soviet Union's success at launching a satellite. The "Sputnik" required a quick response, and the Eisenhower administration dusted off "The Endless Frontier" report and made it policy...

At the end of WWII, the United States was the only country that could support science at all, and science thrived here, it took until the 1970s before there was a glimmer of scientific competition from the world, the Soviet Union leading in that time, and the emergence of a robust, competitive European science enterprise emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Now the playing field is quite flat.

Given that the US doesn't dominate in science, it is natural for the government to ask questions regarding the funding of this enterprise, especially where the research lack direct practical outcome.

Not only that, but the elite status of the science community has certainly been questioned more and more, and is at the center of many policy debates of current social importance.

The best example of this is the so called "climate change" debate, which is a debate largely about whether or not we should respond to a particular scientific finding. To recall briefly, atmospheric science is a discipline which emerged over the last 200 years, and waited for a practical computational technique to move it forward due to the complexity of the mechanics of fluids. The 1950s saw "super computing" capability (coming out of the war effort) and the first models computed provided results consistent with general observations. The practical goal was to aid in weather prediction, an obviously utilitarian outcome.

But this work also aided in the study of climate, which certainly was a "backwater" science until recently, addressing largely academic questions of things like the paleoclimate, certainly of no use to modern industry.

Bringing these studies forward in time, and coupling climate and weather models together, there emerged the long anticipated signs of human influence on the climate, out of the noisy natural variability of the weather. That signal grew, as predicted, and now the signs are quite obvious.

This scientific finding allows a varying degree of predictability, and that predictability allows some consequences to be fleshed out... and those consequences being rather disrupting, the natural question is what should the government response, in terms of policy, be to this scientific finding.

I'm not opening up the issues of the "climate change" debate here but rather to point out that 20 years ago nearly no one in the United States could explain just what the climate scientists were doing, let alone why. And it should surprise you all to know that all they were doing was pursuing their scientific questions, which at the time didn't seem to have much practical application, and very little notice on the national scale of important things to worry about.

That is a vindication of Vannevar Bush's instincts that we couldn't anticipate what science we would need to help rise to future national challenges. Somehow, climate science was supported not to anticipate the problems of "climate change" but to just do science.

The open-endedness of most science questions is not very appealing to the national desire that these things be relevant in some way to current problems. For the most part, the science that gets done is of little notice to the general public even though access to this work is the greatest it has ever been (thanks to another "spin-off," the internet and the World Wide Web, both inventions driven by scientific needs).

People in the United States don't care about the Big Bang, or Evolution, or any of that stuff because it is perceived to be, at best, irrelevant to their day-to-day activities and at worst the stuff foisted upon them by the "scientific elites."

The modern idea of having polished performances of the national lab director's utterances would certainly gloat at your visceral response to the answer Robert Wilson, then the director of an embattled Fermi National Laboratory, in congressional testimony, responding to the question "does your particle accelerator contribute to the defense of the country" [in other words, is it at all practical], he was reported to have said "It makes the country worth defending."

Almost every citizen of the United States would have essentially the de Tocquivillian predicted response that this was an elitist reply, and most national labs today would have so carefully scripted such testimony so as to avoid the possibility of such utterances, yet Bob Wilson actually felt that there were things the United States did that defined itself that were worth defending.

Bob Wilson, for what it's worth, grew up on a Wyoming ranch and was the first generation of a truly US grown science community who did much of his science in the spirit of that US.

But when the local populace of Batavia Illinois was informed that the government was taking that land for the new national laboratory observed that it was "a waste of good farming land." They didn't have much need for the work that lab would do over the next forty years.

Now we live in an era long past WWII, and it's my opinion that the science achievements of that period were an anomaly rather than a change in direction. We are getting back to the business of the US, and that is business.

It is questionable that the country has the interest or the will to pursue science, the simple razor being "what does it do for me today? how does it make me money?"

While I believe that the pursuit of science for its own sake is of great benefit, I cannot prophesize which research those benefits will come from, no one can. Just look at the net, Google, when first created, received the scorn of the business community because there was no viable "business plan" and now, today, Google is the subject of anti-trust investigations. The annual business revenue from the internet exceeds the total expenditures of the US government to support High Energy Physics since it began to do so over 50 years ago. That's not a bad return on investment.

Who now could make such an argument for science?
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:51pm PT

Death is final...



Our energy may float around a bit...

But it won't be, US...
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:15pm PT
How the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-crackdown-occupy

"The document shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens."
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:22pm PT
Ed, could you summarize that in 10 words. This is football Sunday.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:26pm PT
will evolution make me money?
no.
who cares about it?
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
If Denver wins over KC, they will have a week off and homefield advantage throughout playoffs!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
A quick and oversimplified take on a short version of Ed's post:
America has always wanted applied science that generates money and not pure science without an immediate practical purpose. Excellent scientists came from Europe to the US during WW2 and gave the US a scientific advantage. The scientific advantages did not grow out of an American scientific mentality and now everything is returning back to normal - business as usual.

Ok, ok... that was nearly 60 words.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:43pm PT
An excellent essay, Ed. Always a pleasure to read your posts!


;>)
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:44pm PT
Back from the Broncos game. Nice, Ed! Now that's the kind of sound bite that I can hold in my head at the same time as the football score.
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