Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Encore and encore ET - Part two

by Lily Fri May 29th, 2009 at 06:08:26 PM EST

In part one, I mentioned 5 ways to make ET more attractive:

  1. Classify topics in sections; frame the ET agenda
  2. Attribute content to contributors
  3. Open up for linguistic communitarism
  4. Change the rating system
  5. Abandon the current front-page system

ad 1) Others have expressed their interest in creating sections but technical implications have been misjudged. The improvement wouldn't justify the workload.

A majority doesn't want to see any framed agenda on the site though there is agreement on the sites' "progressive social and political" leaning, its pro-European attitude and an unease with religion/faith entering any political discourse.

ad 2) The attribution of specialist knowledge or interests to contributors doesn't find interest at large though some wouldn't mind if it was there.

ad 3) Opening up for linguistic communitarism (maybe on a future platform) is welcomed.

ad 4) There have been heated exchanges about ratings. The community is split on the question. Poll results have been so far: 7 voters (53 %) did not like the ratings I suggested, 5 voters (38 %) did like it, 1 (7%) didn't care. - Some suggested other possible ways to rate comments. Frank and melo tried out melo's system. Some suggest that ratings be dropped altogether or that ratings be simplified.
The majority feels uncomfortable about expressing disagreement through ratings.
No consensus or majority in favour of some different system emerged.

ad 5) Few wanted that the current front page system be abandoned. Some expressed their belief that it is needed to keep the site going, and front pagers like their job despite the workload.

Other topics emerged and can be further discussed:


A) Should the site grow (become more relevant, have more impact)?; how and what would be the benefits and drawbacks?

B) What is ET's audience? (business, academia, others)?

C) Technical aspects (tag clouds, coding, plugins, MarketTrustee's annotated layouts etc.) were discussed among MarketTrustee, vladimir, Migeru, someone, ceebs and others.  

D) Should ET be "laïque" and show religion the door? Jerome and ValentinD hid behind smileys...

E) What is meant by "progressive" in Europe; what is its meaning in the US; is progressive the opposite of regressive? What does anyone imply when they call ET a "progressive" site. Is there a European consensus on the definition?

...

(I may add more within the diary as soon as I'll be able to access the old diary again.)

 

Display:
RATINGS BECOME INDISPENSABLE when JEROME decides to SHUT DOWN my diary for further comments. (Jerome, you could have withdrawn without closing it.)

E) Is there any blog that could serve as ET's role model?

F) Bloggers bring their ideologies to ET and build ET's presence. Are ratings, recommendations and promotions used in good faith, sincerely, objectively?

G) I am not a troll. I don't go front pager hunting. I write in good faith. I am not objective.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 06:51:34 PM EST
E, F, G should be F, G, H.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 06:52:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It needed to be shut down. It was far too big and unwieldy.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 07:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had wanted to do this though I'm not sure how to.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 07:45:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Best way is to start a new one.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 08:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Chris said, the thread was becoming unwieldy.

And frankly, the signal to noise ratio was heading in the wrong direction too.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're right - which is why I transported subjects into this diary - but the fact that Jerome closed the diary in the middle of a noisy argument with ValentinD felt ungood.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:06:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A) Should the site grow (become more relevant, have more impact)?; how and what would be the benefits and drawbacks?

B) What is ET's audience? (business, academia, others)?

Growth for the sake of growth strikes me as a meaningless exercise. If we could make a deal with the devil to be the new CNN, I would recommend that we declined - CNN's model is frankly not particularly appealing, large audience or not.

Increasing ET's influence, on the other hand, would be great, and growth may or may not be a part of a strategy for increasing our influence. Other than that, the merits of such strategies cannot, for obvious reasons, be discussed until and unless a proposal is canvassed.

D) Should ET be "laïque" and show religion the door? Jerome and ValentinD hid behind smileys...

It should be data-based (no pun intended), insofar the policy discussions are concerned. No data, no case. H.L. Menken put it better than I could: "We should respect the other fella's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." I won't go out of my way to call out somebody's spouse for being ugly or their kids for being stupid... unless they make it a matter of public policy, in which they are fair game for editorial cartoonists and political commentary.

The way I see it, religious communities have two options: They can be private affairs, in which case they really aren't anybody else's business unless they make it somebody else's business by trying to convert them. Or the religious community can be a lobbying organisation, in which case it is fair game for precisely the same kind and level of rhetoric that any other lobbying organisation pushing comparable policies would receive - nothing more, nothing less. But you cannot subscribe to and support a religious organisation that actively lobbies governments and simultaneously demand that it is treated with the same deference that a purely private matter is.

Of course, this discussion only applies to threads that deal with policy issues. Other kinds of threads [shoe threads, train threads, photoblogs, diaries about one's private life, and so on and so forth] have their own genre conventions, in which personal feelings - religious or otherwise - may or may not play a role.

E) What is meant by "progressive" in Europe;

Anything to the left of Angela Merkel that does not, for whatever reason, wish to self-identify as socialist or communist. At least that's my impression.

is progressive the opposite of regressive?

The opposite is usually called "reactionary." Yes, that's newspeak. No, the fact that it's newspeak is not a problem.

What does anyone imply when they call ET a "progressive" site. Is there a European consensus on the definition?

Presumably a vague understanding that most contributors (and the Conventional Wisdom in the community) are to the left of what the press calls the centre.

G) Bloggers bring their ideologies to ET and build ET's presence. Are ratings, recommendations and promotions used in good faith,

In all but the rarest of cases, yes.

sincerely,

Always, or near enough as makes no matter.

objectively?

That would be a very high bar to clear - and I am not sure that it is a reasonable one.

It would, I think, be more useful to discuss what we want to use the rating system for: As a way to indicate technical quality (propriety w.r.t. genre conventions, language, disposition, how easy it is to follow the reasoning, etc.), as a way to express agreement without typing out a post or as a way to acknowledge that one has read the contribution and appreciate the effort that has been put into it.

Currently the system is used in all three ways - sometimes even by the same users. And while that may not be bad, it is not self-evident that it is good either.

(The above discussion applies to positive ratings - the downratings are a different ball game in that it is usually possible to assign them far more objectively than the positive ratings.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 10:15:28 PM EST
Thanks, Jake, for your feedback.

E) I believe that your definition of what is meant by "progressive" on ET could be what most perceive.

poemless mentioned in "Encore I" that liberals had begun to call themselves progressives when they couldn't get anywhere as liberals, and that they had gone liberal when socialists were discredited; originally they had been communists. Maybe that's an American view only.

I had also mentioned before that being a progressive (moderate to pronounced lefty) and a patriot rarely go together in Europe. In the US they do which gives a very different flavour to the same notion here and there.

D) Any religious debate or that of personal faith on a political blog is prone to generate flame wars because they touch sensitive, existential matter. It helps to understand that sensitivities exist on both sides, the atheist doesn't like to see his worldview treated as mere "nothing there there". That's maybe less obvious for the religious person than vice versa (I'm guessing.)
I concur with much of what you say on this.

The problem is that these things are so existential (also to what we're debating here) that they tend to surge from time to time unless there is underlying agreement on some given belief.

Laicism is an agreement to leave religion at home; it works like a "faith" that all have in common. France tries to maintain peace that way. Laicism does have merit but it is a bit like trying to tame the weather. Faith and spirituality are such mighty powers (realities)(generally speaking) that they will never be fully under control. And then there are the big religions where spiritual and political powers merge.

I perceive ET like a body that says: "NO! We don't play that game. We don't assume but base our assertions on facts and logical reasoning. We don't succumb to the pitfalls of spirituality's wobbly matter." The intentions are good but I believe that you are betraying (??) yourselves or underestimating severe weather patterns.

I will try to elaborate on this soon.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with my own opinion, and it is just that, my opinion.

I have my own definition of conservative and progressive and it really can jump the lines of left wing or right wing in the political sense.  I look to the linguistic roots of the words.

I see progressive and someone who believes in "progress", also known as change.  I see conservative and someone who wants to "conserve" the status quo.  Change can often be chaotic and disrupting, so there is a natural resistance to it.  It is entirely possible to have someone conservative on the left-wing of the political spectrum, someone who is left but does not want progress or change to happen because it is comfortable to remain in the current status quo.  Consequently, it is possible to have someone on the right being a progressive.  My example here would be the Futurists and Italian Fascist Party who were indeed looking back at Roman aesthetic but progresses into the future (no pun intended) for a change, no matter how reactionary that change may be.

Personally, I identify myself as a Leftist, and a pragmatic one at that as opposed to dogmatic.

I came to this idea with the example of the artists and architects of the Bauhaus movement in the 20s.  How I came to that conclusion is probably a diary rather than a comment.

Secondly, I also personally believe the religious issue is over blown.  I best identify as a Deist (and lapsed Freemason behind on my dues), who believes in a Deity who works through physical laws of nature in the order of the universe in a hands-off approach.  I also believe that human being have added a lot of superstition to ritual and religion, especially since all religions have basically the same message, once you take away the pomp and self-rightiousness:  "hey, wouldn't it be great if we could be nice to one another for a change".  This also conforms to natural laws of survival and survival of the fittest of Darwin.  That would also be an entire diary to go into further.

Now, I had a very productive conversation with a firm scientific atheist over at big orange.  I firmly stated that my belief, which is rooted so deep within my being that I don't even know where it comes from, was entirely irrational.  There was no logical basis for it and no way to prove or disprove it.

In fact, this is the way it should be.  Kirkegaard's Fear and Trembling is probably the best treatise on the nature of faith.  By definition it must be irrational and absurd (absurdity meaning here beyond the realm of reason and fact).

That is how I define my faith, if you would call it that.  It's part of my being and no intellectual exercises will allow me to exorcise this very primal part of me.

However, once I defined my conception of faith, once I admitted that it was irrational and that I did not believe or condone forcing irrational thought on others, that atheist complimented me with the greatest of respect.

In this sense, I have never been attacked for being deluded with my beliefs, just the opposite.

I think it depends on how the faith and religion is presented in conversation on whether there is rejection or acceptance.  I don't believe anyone here at ET will reject or deride me for for this comment of my views even if they do not hold them themselves.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:11:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting. And no derision from me, though I do not hold the same views.

Art is a subject that comes up occasionally at ET, but of course it is fairly opaque to scientific analysis and reasoning, except to the extent that knowledge of human information processing and the quirks of our physiology can inform it. An artwork is how a discrete object impinges on the unique neural networks of an individual experiencing it.

Thus your mention of Bauhaus and its influence on your pragmatic leftiness is interesting. So let's have that diary please ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:29:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes I find the Bauhaus philosophy fascinating as they materially built the environment around the human being, just as Marx started with the worker and built his economic theory around the worker.

Art is a strange thing.  We could actually substitute the subject of religion for the subject of art and still would not be able to qualify or quantify the subject with the scientific method.

This tells me that certain aspects of the human condition cannot be explained scientifically (at least not yet), although people like Horkheimer, Adorno and Benjamin certainly tried.

I am only a pragmatic lefty because I realize that convincing people on the other side will not be done through dogmatic conviction.  It has to be done gradually through experience and argument.

As a tangent, this is why I feel the FDP neo-liberals are more of a threat than the NDP.  Europe has already done fascism, I really do not believe it is a serious threat due to common memory except for the very small percentage of loonies out there.

But "free markets" I think are a greater threat to society.  Not that I wish to ignore the National Democrats, but the Free Democrats are much more positioned to wreak mischief and much more credible in the political sphere.

We certainly need a campaign on the Left to educate the populace of the unseen dangers of neo-liberalism, and that is why I take a pragmatic stance on that question.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are some similarities between art and religion, but in one fundamental way they are very different. The latter is to try to make sense and the former to use senses.

I see religion as preceding science as a social emergence and thus w*st*rn religion had outgrown its usefulness by the time of, or because of, the Enlightenment. But art continues alongside science because they do not supplant each other - rather they feed each other (a somewhat heretical view for ET imo, but I may be wrong).

The supersticiousness of religion is not the same as the symbology of art. The symbology of art is internal, not external. It's what it means to you.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 08:08:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The superstitiousness part holds rather for uneducated catholics, I guess. I wonder if Buddhists can be categorized as superstitious - or even mystical: I've met people who contest Buddhism being called a religion. Also christianism has a entire rhetorics on the interiorisation of faith; alas, it will take someone more capable than myself to speak of this with the required intellectual level.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 08:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but I have to navigate back further for the common denominator.  I have to break it down that way, as it is the way I think.

I always refer to the Enlightenment, hence my screen name.  At the same time, I view religion and art in a Kantian sense.  These things are very neumenal for me rather than phenomenal.

Subjective rather than objective.

I can not defend them either because of their subjective nature.  I cannot make an argument for them.  What I experience, in my consciousness, is an irrational belief in religion or superstition as well as an unexplainable and irrational appreciation in art and the aesthetic.

The closest analysis I've been able to come up with is my own fear of death.  Not that death itself is the object of fear, but rather if there is no afterlife, then my entire life doesn't make any difference what-so-ever.

I am then no different than an ant in a colony carrying on in a biological sense.  One person in billions does not make a difference.  This may be the root of my irrational beliefs.

But the irrational faith keeps me from falling into abject nihilism.  If there was no God or afterlife, then I may as well put a bullet into my brain and end the needless suffering of life.  It would be logical to do so.

But I find my subjective reaction to aesthetic and art to be very similar to my irrational belief in religion or deity.  I do believe they are closely related, but again, that is a subjective belief.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 08:47:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would not be logical to put a bullet through your brain just because there is no afterlife. 'Carrying on in a biological sense' is, according to me, all that we're here for. And quite a challenge it is. The bullet would deny you that challenge.

The only experience I have had (repeatedly), that could in your terms be called 'religious', is to sit out on one of the outermost islands in the Turku archipelago - an island that hasn't really changed in 14000 years. It's 3 am, it's light, the sky grading up from misty lemon to deep blue above, the sea is dead calm, a couple of swans drift in the distance, and up on my right, a flock of gulls are squawking on the cliff. They and their ancestors have been doing the same thing for 14000 years with never a thought of a bullet.

And I realize, once again, how insignificant I am in the whole picture. A flash in the pan. A blip, an errant pixel, in the Tellurian stop-motion movie of time. And yet it gives an enormous sense of belonging. Everything just is and you are part of it. It is more than enough for me.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 09:16:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The bullet would deny you that challenge."

But then what is the purpose of that challenge?  What is there to be gained by winning or overcoming that challenge if there is nothing afterwards?

What is the purpose of witnessing so many beautiful birds in Turku if the memory is to be obliterated when one fades into the abyss at death?

What does 14,000 years mean to an organism that perishes in a probable life-span of 70-80 years?

Again, I admit this is irrational and subjective/personal.  But without belief or faith I could easily fall into nihilism and just friggin end it here and now

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 09:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is to inform what you give to other people - some of them not yet alive.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 10:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is possible to 'rewire' yourself - it takes a long time though ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 02:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeffersonian Democrat:
But then what is the purpose of that challenge?

isn't this what they invented the word 'teleological' for?

there were cloud patterns yeaterday that seemed like they meant something, like it was an exquisite puzzle to contemplate, fraught with import. i thought of meaning in general then, and wondered about man's search for it. was i 'going teleological', and why was it so seductively pleasant a meditation?

serotonin?

there was a kind of scientific narrative going on that a meteorologist could explain, a procession of causes and concatenations concerning wind, humidity etc etc, all fascinating...

but what i felt was noumenal, an ancient sense of skrying nature for a glimpse of something existing behind its phenomena, beyond its appearance, a message, inchoate, but none the weaker for that.

so difficult to language this mindstuff.

especially as the message seemed incomprehensible! lol.

lovely envelope though...

today it rained, long and soaking, after 2 weeks of dry, unseasonably warm weather.

maybe the message was 'the weather's about to change, so get your tools in!'

the 60 tomato plants i planted yesterday are stoked.

"To be able to love the mystery surrounding us is the final and only sanction of human existence".-- R.W. Dickson .

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:04:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have an almost completely cynical view of religion, which I don't apologise for. Looking at it from the outside too often the real purpose seems to be to make it possible for irrelevant nobodies to become loud self-important somebodies. Dogma and creed are largely irrelevant - persistent social dynamics are the giveaway.

Religion is strewn with gurus, high priests and priestesses, so-called leaders and so-called authorities whose only real talents are egotism, authoritarianism, exploitation and hucksterism.

It's not unlike politics from that point of view. As I'm sure I've said before, I find it bizarre that most jobs are rationed on the basis of ability, but the handful that offer real leadership power are rationed on the basis of popularity, superficial meanspirited charm, and demagoguery.

Sadly, this is only true because people remain desperate to buy what the hucksters are selling. So it goes. But it remains true that anyone who lacks scruples and has an unrealistically high opinion of themselves can do exceptionally well selling religion, and will reliably accumulate political, social and financial capital if their sales talents are good enough.

Which isn't to say that some religious types aren't modest and truly moral. There is a Christian Left which includes people whose views I'd guess would fit in comfortably here, and which has had a positive effect, especially in South America.

But many secular types are also modest and truly moral. And the Christian Left isn't exactly in the Catholic mainstream - Darth Pope notoriously doesn't approve. Elsewhere the links between authoritarianism, violence, and religious extremism are so established and so hard to ignore that the Christian Left remains a rare approachable exception rather than a golden rule.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're making a sociological analysis, discussing religion as a phenomenon of the society. Or the mystical part of religions is usually revealed to only a few, and then the gurus and their equivalents put into place the philosophy, which can reach complexities far beyond the scope of the ordinary individual. It does ressemble politics, in that there is political philosophy and there is also populism. Neither religion nor politics can exist without the two sides.
That said, buddhism (despite being associated with the term theocracy by some) can hardly be said to have a hierarchy and influence people the way the catholic church did/does here.
Finally, peoples need frameworks in their lives and in spite of all abuses, of all religions, present, past or to come, they seem to never fail to provide that. Is it because on some basic, fundamental human level they do respond to spiritualbiological needs? Is it because people are weak, naive and gullible? I guess we'll know that the moment our romulan ancestors will descend from the sky and finally reveal themselves.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither religion nor politics can exist without the two sides.

I beg to differ.

Finally, peoples need frameworks in their lives and in spite of all abuses, of all religions, present, past or to come, they seem to never fail to provide that.

But then again, so does many other social constructs with rather less onerous side effects.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 12:14:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you mind giving us some point making real life examples, for both of your statements. Thanks.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For the first, I must confess to having misread you. I took you to imply the necessity of a mystical quality to political theory when in fact you spoke of the distinction between ideology and populism. That you need both a coherent ideology and a broad support base to do effective politics is not something I want to question.

For the second? Friendship, family, the local club/pub/neighbourhood garden party, hobbies, art, scholarship, political activism and literally a thousand other things can and do serve the same social role as religion does in some communities.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You want to replace religion with the local club and hobbies ? Oh boy. I suspect there were absconse things in the second sentence as well.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. I don't want to "replace" religion with them. I merely note that they also provide a structure and framework in life, which is what you claimed religion had a monopoly on.

Whether you create structure and framework in life around your religious in-group or around your local chess club is none of my business, as long as you don't attempt to enforce the rules of that club on the rest of society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 05:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would the two of you please end the sub-thread here?

One of this diary's original point was whether religion should be allowed to enter the political debate. It had been said that this was not desirable.

Well, this sub-thread here demonstrates that religion in politics does also dominate the political discourse here which may not be desired but a natural process that can reflect world affairs on all levels, depending on the issue discussed.

The underlying, 'When does life begin?'-question is an existential one to which different people find different answers.

At this point, many arguments have been heard. It may be best to agree to differ.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 06:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
may have derailed my thoughts.

Whatever this deep and irrational neumenal experience or belief is, I did not mean that it had to do with heiarchal structures of organized religions, frauds, charlatans, or superstitions conjured up not only to explain it but also give people power over others.

I also object to organized religion hijacking morality and ethics, especially at the expense of those on the secular side of the spectrum.

Bottom line, though, I think this thread proves my main point that I think the religious/non-religious argument is overblown and needlessly divisive.  I mean, no one has attacked me here for these beliefs that I admit are irrational and I have not insisted that I am correct or that others should believe as I do or hold these beliefs.  I think that is the key and this thread supports that in my opinion.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 11:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a tangent, this is why I feel the FDP neo-liberals are more of a threat than the NDP.  Europe has already done fascism, I really do not believe it is a serious threat due to common memory except for the very small percentage of loonies out there.

For the general population, the NPD may well be a lesser threat than the FDP, or neolibs in general (given that other parties are influenced by them too). For people identified as members of minorities, the NPD sure as hell is the bigger threat.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 01:37:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
" By definition it must be irrational and absurd (absurdity meaning here beyond the realm of reason and fact)."

Absurdity should be more in the sense of, "beyond the realm of understanding" I think. There are plenty of areas in science that defy (or seem to defy) logic. Heisenberg's principle can be demonstrated with a simple optics experiment, and still it makes no sense to natural logic. And I won't even go into entanglement theories. The point is that a switch, or a shift, or a displacement of dimension in the way something is apprehended and comprehended, even by means of reason, can change the nature of the thing to esoterical and back. That's the whole point of argument, and it comes from the fact that we don't know exactly what we mean by science, is it what we can touch, what can be proved logically, what can be theorized without material proof, does it also include those things that are not there yet for the simple reason that have not been discovered yet. Try to show a nuclear explosion to an 18th century Englightened and see if his first impulse is not to take it as a god's thunder. Try to explain the principle, and the theory of relativity with it, and see if he finds it rational.
Yet another subject for a diary...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 09:10:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think JD may be quoting Kierkegaard, who is quoting Tertullian - Certum est, quia impossibile est.

The logical talents of the early Christian fathers were perhaps not their strongest suit.

ValentinD:

That's the whole point of argument, and it comes from the fact that we don't know exactly what we mean by science, is it what we can touch, what can be proved logically, what can be theorized without material proof, does it also include those things that are not there yet for the simple reason that have not been discovered yet.

No, we do very much know what we mean by science. Science isn't specific discoveries, but the social and personal processes by which those discoveries are made. I would be very surprised indeed if the members of the Royal Society in Newton's time would have considered a nuclear bomb to be an act of god, once someone took the time to explain radioactivity and fission to them.

Some scientists seem to drift into quasi-authoritarian religiosity, and new ideas can take a generation or more to become accepted. (The theory of continental drift is one of the most famously disappointing examples.)

But as long as reliable evidence is provided scientists will, eventually and sometimes grudgingly, remain open to reassessing how they believe the world works.

This shouldn't be confused with a lack of appreciation for strangeness. Quantum theory and relativity are counter-intuitive - but only because our natural intuition evolved in a different direction.

In fact all of science works in the opposite direction to naive intuition, by definition. Anything which is obvious and intuitive, or 'obvious' because it 'feels right' in a purely subjective, irrational or conveniently expedient way, isn't science.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:31:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not certain you could have successfully explained the relativity theories, let alone quantum mechanics, to scientists in Newton's time.
But even if we could say that brilliant people have such great minds, no matter the century they existed in, it's not only a problem of (counter-)intuitiveness.
I used the term logic, not intuitive (or worse: obvious) because logic has a universal quality to it, independent of the sophistication level of the person.
Saying that light can be seen as a wave or as a particle though, is not so so unlike the early christianism's theological disputes around the holy trinity's composition.

There is also another point: the scientifical methodology still in use today is absolutely useless in face of a new phenomenon. Say, a parallel universe. Partly because of the technical means available, partly because being inside a system makes it very hard to get a birdeye view of its functioning, we're doomed to advance blindfolded.
We notice some weird behaviour in some CERN experiment, and start building theories as to the cause of it. Theories are built on the base of what we know today, hence faced with something totally new, very different, or overarching, there will be little chance of figuring it out (I'll attempt a class-difference example: imagine someone barely familiar with powder guns and suddenly having to deal with a nuclear bomb; or better, an F22 attack on a tribal army in medieval Africa).
In practice, science evolved by a myriad of steps and streams of discoveries, but they were all depending on the past situation. Something which is somehow outside the present day's scope will likely never be captured by one of the proposed theories, except by accident.
In short, this methodology is not comprehensive, and given the way we constantly get to new levels of complexity of the universe, I don't expect it to be.
Maybe ants are intelligent at their own level, but I can perfectly see why we would never be able to explain to them the world outside.

Note: this is no plea in favour of religion, but just a train of thought that can well have flying-saucer aliens at the end.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:11:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In many ways, the 16th century scientist was much more open to new ideas than the 20th century scientist. There is a huge leap from the (western) medieval mind, which could explain everything in a religious context, to the Renaissance mind, which puts every aspect of the world back in question.

Modern physicists are much closer to the former, because there is an ever increasing body of knowledge that must be preserved sine qua non. One simply cannot invent a theory that contradicts past successes. For example, both relativity and quantum mechanics must reduce to classical Newtonian physics on the scale of a laboratory or an engineering work.

Newton didn't have to follow the accepted rules of past developments except for one: Euclidean geometry. This does not mean he could not have grasped Einstein's ideas, on the contrary he was probably a better geometer than Einstein. He simply had no reason to develop in that direction, as the experiments that Einstein cared about were not accessible. Moreover, the fact that at least 1/3rd of all of Newton's work was on alchemy suggests to me that he would have been quite at ease with the quantum view of the world.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 12:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. One can also construct a sound theory, even prove it, and leave the job of its compatibilty with the acquis communautaire to someone else. The two parts of the demonstration are not necesarily dependent on each other.
The modern history of scientifical theories has seen anything btw, including theories cancelling each other or not being successful because not being convincing, or even liked enough by the community.
Fortunately science doesn't work in the manner of the catholic church burning Giordano Bruno, and there are scientists taking seriously, or at least doubting mystical or spiritual phenomenons without being reduced to muttering silently "eppur si muove".

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 06:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One can also construct a sound theory, even prove it, and leave the job of its compatibilty with the acquis communautaire to someone else.
True, but if the theory is not relevant to other scientists, it stays on the fringes and is soon forgotten. That's a risk one takes.

BTW, I think you're using theory in the typically mathematical sense of a body of consistent results. I believe the word theory is usually reserved by scientists for an amply proven set of mechanisms and conclusions about the some aspect of the world.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 11:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not certain you could have successfully explained the relativity theories, let alone quantum mechanics, to scientists in Newton's time.

If you gave them the equivalent of a modern university education in physics, you most probably could. But it's true that you cannot explain quantum mechanics to someone who is not familiar with Newtonian mechanics, matrices and PDEs. That's a couple of centuries of gap you'd have to bridge.

But even if we could say that brilliant people have such great minds, no matter the century they existed in, it's not only a problem of (counter-)intuitiveness.
I used the term logic, not intuitive (or worse: obvious) because logic has a universal quality to it, independent of the sophistication level of the person.
Saying that light can be seen as a wave or as a particle though, is not so so unlike the early christianism's theological disputes around the holy trinity's composition.

shrug

The experimental results are what they are, and the equations are pretty convincing. And the equations and experimental results agree that there is no fundamental distinction between waves and particles. I fail to see how that's any weirder than the fact that ice cubes and water are made of the same kind of molecule, despite having radically different physical properties.

There is also another point: the scientifical methodology still in use today is absolutely useless in face of a new phenomenon. Say, a parallel universe. Partly because of the technical means available, partly because being inside a system makes it very hard to get a birdeye view of its functioning, we're doomed to advance blindfolded.
We notice some weird behaviour in some CERN experiment, and start building theories as to the cause of it. Theories are built on the base of what we know today, hence faced with something totally new, very different, or overarching, there will be little chance of figuring it out (I'll attempt a class-difference example: imagine someone barely familiar with powder guns and suddenly having to deal with a nuclear bomb; or better, an F22 attack on a tribal army in medieval Africa).

If it interacts with our experimental apparatus in a reasonably consistent fashion, we can build a model for how it behaves. It does not need to be the correct model, or even to have any justification from first principles. "Black magic empiricism" will allow us to get a rudimentary handle on its behaviour. And once we have a rudimentary handle on its behaviour, we can begin to construct testable models. From that point out, it's a fairly routine exercise to reconcile them with existing models - that's what physics has been about for the last couple of centuries. Assuming, of course, that there is a Theory of Everything. But as working assumptions go, that assumption has done us a lot of favours.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 12:42:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"That's a couple of centuries of gap you'd have to bridge."

Yes, that was my point, and until you bridge that gap the person risks taking it as yet another weird theory of turning copper into gold. A couple of centuries gap is a leap sufficiently big to turn a heresy to material fact, or to make walking on air accepted by empiricists :)

"I fail to see how that's any weirder than the fact that ice cubes and water are made of the same kind of molecule"

Your comparison is of the wrong category. It would be weird if they were made of two different kinds of molecules at the same time.

As to the equations, you're probably aware that the issue is about statistics involved in explaining a fundamental property of the matter, and with it, the fact that we still don't know what a photon is.
As an aside, the particle property of light was not definitively accepted until the '70s, despite any quality of Logic and Reason that Einstein's quantum theories and the experiments of Compton and others carried.

 

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that was my point, and until you bridge that gap the person risks taking it as yet another weird theory of turning copper into gold.

But that gap can be bridged in a matter of three years' worth of university education.

So Newton wouldn't understand QM and GR in the sense that if you presented him with the results, he'd say that they were nonsense. But he would certainly be able to understand them if you explained their basis in experiment and theory. Only, that explanation would take a couple of years, because there's a limit to how much you can compress this stuff...

A couple of centuries gap is a leap sufficiently big to turn a heresy to material fact, or to make walking on air accepted by empiricists :)

I'm not sure what the point is here? That the world is weirder than we imagine? Certainly. But it is also weird in different ways than what we imagine. Of all the weird ideas about the world - from Newton going forward - only a minuscule fraction of a percent have turned out to be correct.

Your comparison is of the wrong category. It would be weird if they were made of two different kinds of molecules at the same time.

But who promised you that waves and particles were two different kinds of phenomena? At the quantum level, they are no more different than electricity and magnetism are different in the relativistic picture. That is equally weird if you stop to think about it.

As to the equations, you're probably aware that the issue is about statistics involved in explaining a fundamental property of the matter, and with it, the fact that we still don't know what a photon is.

But we do. It's what comes out when you quantize the Maxwell equations. Why does there need to be more to it than that?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:39:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's what comes out when you quantize the Maxwell equations. Why does there need to be more to it than that?

Because as can be seen
here, even for minds as brilliant as Niels Bohr's it took quite time before accepting the existence of a particle of light.

One can also look here for a different kind of view of quantum mechanics. I particularly liked this phrase:

The Bohm interpretation is a hidden variables theory. In other words, there is a precisely defined history of the universe; however, some of the variables that define the history are not (and cannot be) known to the observer. For that reason, there is uncertainty in what we know about the universe.

One can also check out this theory here that seems to have a particular problem with quantizing Maxwell's equations - and I'd also like to quote:

In a September 2007 conference David Wallace reported on what is claimed to be a proof by Deutsch and himself of the Born Rule starting from Everettian assumptions. ...  It is fair to say that some theoretical physicists have taken them as supporting the case for parallel universes.

and also this one of which we can read here:

Carver Mead has developed an approach he calls Collective Electrodynamics in which electromagnetic effects, including quantized energy transfer, derived from the interactions of the wavefunctions of electrons behaving collectively. In this formulation, the photon is a non-entity ...

None of these theories are disproved, btw.

That said, it can be refreshing to meet a mind populated by so many certainties. On condition that it's on a sunday afternoon and one has nothing better to do of his time.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:19:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you've proved - presumably to your own satisfaction - what, exactly? That JakeS doesn't know what he's talking about?

Quantum ontology is not the same as quantum modelling. The ultimate 'existence' of quantum phenomena is an artifact of modelling the quantum world from a classical starting point, and extending familiar concepts like waves and particles into spaces where they don't entirely fit. Not even the concept of existence applies in the same way that it does in the classical world.

So no one knows what a photon is - and it's not a useful question to ask, because no one knows what anything is. There are only functional descriptions of varying levels of consistency and accuracy. Our psychology imposes approximate but useful object relationships which turn out not to exist in reality.

But the functional descriptions still work reliably. The functional descriptions which calculate how quanta behave work well for bosons and fermions, subject to certain limits and only a little handwaving. The functional description that calculate the large scale relationships between matter and spacetime work well, subject to certain limits, and only a little handwaving.

The link between the two remains a mystery. So of course there's uncertainty about parts of the picture, because that's where the science is happening. You can say a theory is useful and understood without demanding that there's a full ontological picture to support it. As long as it gets accurate answers, and as long as it's being expanded, improved, or challenged, it doesn't need to be a final and complete map of the world.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:43:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Way up this thread I chose as an example the dual nature of light precisely for its implications.
I claimed that this is an example which can hardly be explained rationally.
I showed that brilliant scientists doubted for years, even as both theoretical and experimental base was already there.
Why? Because explaining such fundamental topic by means of probabilities is -- weird. In this particular case, it's not just that we wouldn't hold the ultimate secret of the universe; the problem is that we don't quite know what photons, or quanta are, even at a functional level. And the practical applications in work today are only using the tip of the theoretical iceberg.
More still, the philosophical issues resulted from this are absolutely fascinating and show, not the limits of rational thinking (on the contrary, I always claimed myself of rational argumenting, not from mystical ), but the complexity of the universe even as we know it and the irrationality of using terms such as irrational vs some rational, hard-fact science.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 03:38:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or like I already said before, there is but a small part of the religious phenomenon that I can safely call "subjective". The rest of it, be that the creation (not that idiocy called intelligent design, mind you), the spiritual, or the mystical side, I hold my judgement and I don't exclude at all that sometime in the future they will be subject to rational, skeptical, analythical approach.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 03:46:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Related to this, one big obstacle will have to be removed, and that is science being reduced to materialism and reducing the world to what can be seen. The fact that scientifical positivism became the religion of the modern days, literally killing the man, doesn't mean it will always be like that. We're known to be a resilient species :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yawn. I've seen that movie before.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 08:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you've probably seen it here, argued way better and leaner than I tried to.

I begin to realize that you indeed have debates of almost anything.

The newcomer's guide should contain an explicite recommandation for him/her to search the archives before entering in or starting any kind of debate :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 09:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Why? Because explaining such fundamental topic by means of probabilities is -- weird. In this particular case, it's not just that we wouldn't hold the ultimate secret of the universe; the problem is that we don't quite know what photons, or quanta are, even at a functional level. And the practical applications in work today are only using the tip of the theoretical iceberg.
At a functional level, you get particles when you decompose the hilbert space of spaces of a complex system in terms of irreducible representations of the appropriate group of spatio-temporal symmetries.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 04:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you just say weird?

European Tribune - The world is weirder than you ever thought

In other words: it is an experimentally verifiable fact that, if God doesn't play dice, 1) the world out there has spooky action at a distance; 2) you are not allowed to ask about the values of quantities you don't measure; 3) if you considered "what if" you had actually measured an additional quantity, the values of the ones you did measure would change.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 04:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Way up this thread I chose as an example the dual nature of light precisely for its implications.
Which are? Hopefully something more substantial than
this is an example which can hardly be explained rationally.
If you cannot explain an experiment rationally, you'll have to revise the logic of your attempt at rational explanation and, if that is not faulty, examine the (often unstated) philosophical assumptions and maybe drop some of them.
I showed that brilliant scientists doubted for years, even as both theoretical and experimental base was already there.
Why?
Because they had to give up a lot of metaphysical baggage. Some of the creators of QM were never able to do it. Einstein and Schrödinger among them.
the philosophical issues resulted from this are absolutely fascinating and show, not the limits of rational thinking
Wait, I thought
that this is an example which can hardly be explained rationally.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 08:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like the good semanticist that you are, you certainly realized that the latter sentence used "rational" in a positivist/realist understanding, while the former used it in an idealist one.

Unfortunately I had not read previous debates here on quantum mechanics ontology, related metaphysics and so on.
Or else I would have directly referred you to those debates and avoid repeating here what has largely been said before.
Suffice it to say that ontological and epistemological interpretations of the different quantum mechanics theories are well there and are not disproved by "rational hard-fact" science. At that level there is hardly any "hard fact" and the notion of rational depends on your chosen interpretation. That's what I also meant with my example, which I gave with no intention to provoke such a debate, but just to show that science is far from being a hard-fact field.

That said, it's your right to think you can leave metaphysics and the spiritual out of science, or classify them as irrational, and my right to call that positivism and blind materialism.
Others also did this before, and subsequent debates were far from solved.

Other diaries will probably deal with the issue, and this is definitely not the place.
I can hardly find a post in this diary, so it's become unmanageable and that's a pity, it was originally about improving ET's presentation and clarifying agenda issues.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think it's an important part of ET's 'knowing itself', and the facet being presently studied is tolerance toward diversity. i'm glad not all ET is so meta, but it makes a nice break from oohing and aahing about the latest ghastly phenomena coming down the newspike, lol.

yes other diaries will return to this, because, atheism's victories notwithstanding, there is more religion than ever in today's world, (most bad, probably), and religion has more influence than ever on politics that affect all of us, faithful or not.

where better to debate its sins and virtues than this forum, where several nations (and belief systems) meet?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:12:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suffice it to say that ontological and epistemological interpretations of the different quantum mechanics theories are well there and are not disproved by "rational hard-fact" science. At that level there is hardly any "hard fact" and the notion of rational depends on your chosen interpretation.

Scientifically, they are the same theory. They make the same experimental predictions, and their equations reduce to each other. The debate between them is a non-debate, as far as the science is concerned.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... at least we settled one thing: we've still no idea what a photon really is :)

Besides all this, another question come to mind:
how come a whole range of progressive can be so idealistic in social, or political matters, and so down-to-earth materialistic in science matters.
You all jumped at my throat when I was singing praises to God Reason and pragmatic ThirdWayers, yet now those same people do exactly the same about science: all of a sudden, pragmatic, hard-fact, purely-rational approach is no longer damned.
I proclaim my idealism about science, and all I hear is Vade Retro!

What is a progressive in the end, is it an idealist, or not? Or the idealism is limited to the working class? The philosophical dreamer continuously building new, better worlds, is in reality reduced to hard fact science and restricting philosophy to production-means ownership issues.

The conclusion would be that poemless was right: progressive is no progressive really; it's just another word for marxist.

Why not call a cat what it is then.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:51:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how come a whole range of progressive can be so idealistic in social, or political matters, and so down-to-earth materialistic in science matters.

Who's idealistic around here?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
we've still no idea what a photon really is :)
It depends on what you mean by "really".

Can you calculate a phonon dispersion relation, by the way?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how come a whole range of progressive can be so idealistic in social, or political matters, and so down-to-earth materialistic in science matters.

Because science deals in facts, predictive power and universally applicable theories. Politics, by its nature, does not have the luxury of universally applicable theories and easily controlled experiments. That is not to say that science cannot inform politics - it obviously can, just as science and politics can inform religious dogma (the other way around, though... not so much).

But attempting to turn politics into a physical science with universally applicable theories and three-significant-figures predictive power has historically not turned out so well. Just as attempts to turn science into a political or religious enterprise has never really been terribly productive.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I, personally, feel extra-ordinarily bored by your comments.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 07:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's your prerogative. Me, I feel extraordinarily exasperated with all the attempts to claim the mantle of science to justify personal superstitions.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 08:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because as can be seen here, even for minds as brilliant as Niels Bohr's it took quite time before accepting the existence of a particle of light.

So?

The proponents of the steady state theory took a long time to be convinced of the big bang. Again, this speaks to the intuition and metaphysics of the scientists, not to the science.

The Bohm interpretation is a hidden variables theory. In other words, there is a precisely defined history of the universe; however, some of the variables that define the history are not (and cannot be) known to the observer. For that reason, there is uncertainty in what we know about the universe.

Yes. Your point?

It is possible to attribute the time development of the observable to non-local hidden variables, just as it is possible to attribute it to the operators (Heisenberg picture) or to the wavefunction (Schrödinger picture). These are mathematically and experimentally equivalent. Which one you choose is an issue of mathematical elegance and/or personal preference.

The same goes for the multiverse picture: Being experimentally and mathematically indistinguishable from the Copenhagen picture, using it is a matter of personal preference.

All of these different metaphysics are about where to locate the time dependence of an observables. But since observables are only observable in toto, it seems highly unlikely that this particular line of enquiry will ever move beyond the philosophical into practical application. By all means, use any and all of them if that is the most mathematically elegant, or conceptually satisfying, solution to the problem at hand. But let's not pretend that they justify treating quantum mechanics as evidence that science accepts "weirdness" in general, or that your particular religious "weirdness" is epistemologically equivalent to scientific models.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
None of these theories are disproved, btw.
You know why? Because they are just interpretations. They lead to the same experimental predictions as "standard" quantum mechanics and are mathematically equivalent.

In other words, you're talking about different noumena noumena for the same phenomena

The positive noumena, if they existed, would roughly correspond with Plato's Forms or Idea -- immaterial entities which can only be apprehended by a special, non-sensory, faculty: "intellectual intuition".[19]

Kant doubts that we have such a faculty, because for him intellectual intuition would mean that thinking of an entity, and its being represented, would be the same. He argues that humans have no way to apprehend the meaning of positive noumena:

which is not very productive.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 04:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru,

  1. Are you trying to make the case for science that will one day have the means to answer any question that may arise?

  2. This is not yet the case. The picture isn't complete, and you cannot prove that it will ever be.

  3. Valentin believes there's more there which he cannot prove, either, though there's some evidence - for more, not the complete picture.

  4. Science explores the odds and ends of our existence. So does philosophy. So does Buddhist contemplative science, to cite but one prominent example. The findings of Buddhist scholars cannot be proved with the same methods that you apply to prove your point. Does this make these findings irrelevant?

  5. Maybe 'materialistic science' will make discoveries that have been found long ago in other disciplines. Maybe not. If they do, are these discoveries only given scientific relevance once they'll be proved through the methods you solely acknowledge?

  6. You will not be able to find a consensus because, again, one is talking apples, the other oranges.

So, maybe it is better that each tries to explore the other's view, if interested, and come back in a few diaries' time.

I admit that this is not exactly a balanced approach since Valentin doesn't appear to be a contemplative scientist but knows your side.
This would be different if you were debating each from his own and differing discipline alone.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 06:03:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Migeru,

  • Are you trying to make the case for science that will one day have the means to answer any question that may arise?
No, because some questions have no meaning or no answer.

For instance, under Newtonian physics there was a concept of "absolute velocity". When Maxwell's equations were found to predict the speed of light, it was assumed this could be used to answer the question "what is the absolute velocity of the Earth in space?". The Michelson-Morley experiment failed to show any absolute speed. Under Einsteinian physics the question "what is the absolute velocity of something?" is a meaningless question. It's not that science cannot provide an experimental answer to the question, it is that the question is meaningless. Quantum mechanics also provides a number of examples of meaningless questions

  • This is not yet the case. The picture isn't complete, and you cannot prove that it will ever be.
I am, in fact, quite confident that it will never be. On the other hand, I am also quite confident that we know enough about physics to explain every ordinary phenomenon, in principle.
  • Valentin believes there's more there which he cannot prove, either, though there's some evidence - for more, not the complete picture.
He's not very explicit as to what, exactly, there is "more". Thus I am not quite sure how it would be possible to prove or disprove thar this "more" actually is there. If he's referring to "hidden variable theories", there is no known experiment that is inconsistent with the "standard interpretation" of quantum mechanics. So, "hidden variables" are either incorrect or experimentally indistringuishable from "standard quantum mechanics". Moreover, although "hidden variables" have their origins in a philosophical "naïve realism" (naïve here being a technical term and not one of abuse), hidden variable theories compatible with experiment must be nonlocal, contextual and not counterfactually definite. This means they are nothing that any reasonable layperson would call "intuitive", and since hidden variable theories are mathematically more contrived than standard quantum mechanics and are not any more "intuitive", I choose to stand by standard quantum mechanics. Well, I am partial to the Everett "relative state" interpretation (I consider "many worlds" a misnomer) but that is still only an interpretation of the standard mathematical apparatus.
  • Science explores the odds and ends of our existence. So does philosophy. So does Buddhist contemplative science, to cite but one prominent example. The findings of Buddhist scholars cannot be proved with the same methods that you apply to prove your point. Does this make these findings irrelevant?
Did I say they are irrelevant?
  • Maybe 'materialistic science' will make discoveries that have been found long ago in other disciplines. Maybe not. If they do, are these discoveries only given scientific relevance once they'll be proved through the methods you solely acknowledge?
Clearly they can only be given "scientific relevance" by scientific methods.
  • You will not be able to find a consensus because, again, one is talking apples, the other oranges.
I'm talking quantum physics because quantum physics was being talked about.
So, maybe it is better that each tries to explore the other's view, if interested, and come back in a few diaries' time.

I admit that this is not exactly a balanced approach since Valentin doesn't appear to be a contemplative scientist but knows your side.
This would be different if you were debating each from his own and differing discipline alone.

I don't know what you mean by this last part.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 06:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always thought of myself as being quite prolific...; I feel humbled.

There are questions that have no meaning, no answer. Agreed.
What about questions that have existential meaning?

Science can explain almost every "ordinary phenomenon". Agreed.
What about extra-ordinary phenomena?

I'm no quantum physicist. I believe the point of science's limitations can better be made arguing from outside science, not from within. Valentin is trying to argue from within. He may not be a quantum physicist but he stays (tries to) within the rational framework of the debate. One must sound ir-rational to defend a position or other sciences that reach into, ~other dimensions.

When you consider findings outside your own science relevant, you should also consider methods revolving around them relevant. Not?

Clearly they can only be given "scientific relevance" by scientific methods.

Agreed.

I'm talking quantum physics because quantum physics was being talked about.

:) I see.

Last paragraph: You can drop it, please. I hope I've just made myself clearer.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Last paragraph: You can drop it, please.
Actually, now that I think I know what you mean by contemplative scientist I can go back to what you say
Lily:
So, maybe it is better that each tries to explore the other's view, if interested, and come back in a few diaries' time.

I admit that this is not exactly a balanced approach since Valentin doesn't appear to be a contemplative scientist but knows your side.

How does the fact of whether one or both or none of two people is a "contemplative scientist" determine what is a "balanced approach"?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[You read an write at light speed...]

What I meant by "balanced approach":

If one has been trained as a scientist and the other one in Buddhist contemplation and none knows the discipline of the other. Both can find out about the other and maybe learn from it.

If both are trained scientists but one has the vague idea (open mind) that there is merit to integrating contemplative (or other) methods into what is considered as scientific, then both don't have the same amount of work to do.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:24:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"A vague idea" and "an open mind" are not quite the same thing, though.

The raison d'etre of science is to provide universal answers. I find it very hard to imagine a "contemplative" approach that provides universality. That is not to say that contemplation is not interesting, but it cannot meaningfully be called science.

(Mig has a good Keynes quote saying something similar about economics and Queen Victoria...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From The General Theory:
But the proper place for such things as net real output and the general level of prices lies within the field of historical and statistical description, and their purpose should be to satisfy historical or social curiosity, a purpose for which perfect precision--such as our causal analysis requires, whether or not our knowledge of the actual values of the relevant quantities is complete or exact--is neither usual nor necessary. To say that net output to-day is greater, but the price-level lower, than ten years ago or one year ago, is a proposition of a similar character to the statement that Queen Victoria was a better Queen but not a happier woman than Queen Elizabeth--a proposition not without meaning and not without interest, but unsuitable material for the differential calculus. Our precision will be a mock precision if we try to use such partly vague and non-quantitative concepts as the basis of our quantitative analysis.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:25:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
What about questions that have existential meaning?
How do you propose to explore an existential question in a way that allows two different people to reach an agreement on the answer?

What's the meaning of life? We don't know. What's the meaning of my life? Maybe I know, or not, but I submit that you cannot know, just like I cannot pretend to know what the meaning of your life is, unless you tell me and I take you at face value. And even then, your meaning may not apply to me. So, what would be the point of asking about the meaning of life?

Lily:

When you consider findings outside your own science relevant, you should also consider methods revolving around them relevant. Not?
But relevant to what?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
relevant to what?

You said you hadn't said they were irrelevant.

If you find them relevant in some way, you could explore that question.

If you are confident that science has the answers to all ordinary phenomena, and other disciplines provide answers to both some ordinary but also extra-ordinary phenomena and you find that this is relevant, something about these extra-ordinary phenomena may be relevant and point to a deeper meaning that you do not wish to acknowledge at this point.

"What's the meaning of life?" is the central question that motivates all philosophising.

Science is only a sub-discipline that evolved because people were curious about physical phenomena that they wanted to understand in order to make use of them. Their understanding would serve (cf. industrialisation) our meaning. That meaning has always consisted of living on planet Earth for a given number of years, exploiting it and the time at hand, consciously or not. Has it been an end in itself, or was it rather motivated by religion (serve the gods/God) and our struggle for survival?

Scientific discoveries and progress helped to better cope with our physical human condition (discovery of new land, medicine, engineering, etc.). We have always 'worked the land' and struggled with our human condition. Through the ages, people have also sought answers in nature, in gods, in God, for the better, for the worse.

Suddenly Science stands out and claims that the likelihood of a God being there is minimal and cannot be proved. Religion is at the origin of wars, so much harm and inhumanity. So why bother with it? Science can explain almost everything in our world anyway.
WHO is that 'Science' ;) that he claims sovereignty in all matters of knowledge?

It cannot explain what the meaning of life is. Hence life has no meaning, says he. Only your life has a meaning, my life has a meaning and what that is, is only for you, for me to decide.

I find it hard to find individual meaning in an overall meaningless scheme. Why trust science on that? Why not go and look and ask others who have found meaning? Do we stop bothering about life's meaning (as a whole) because we're afraid there will never be a consensus? That seems silly because this question is existential. It speaks of where we come from, where we're going. If others have found answers, why would you, I not find? What if your, my answers differ? They may. They shall give you peace, they shall give me peace and not anyone else.

The very curious thing is that once people try to explore the question, having only themselves in mind and their quest for Truth (with the big "T"), they arrive at a magic moment where they look up and see that they're not alone, that others have found the same. They may have different names for what they've found, describe it differently because our knowledge is always only partial and two people will always see differently but they'll know that they're talking about the same, ~God~.

At that point, however, consensus is no longer an end in itself. It's simply there.

---

If science claims authority but ignores the question of life's meaning, what can it alone be good for?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 09:03:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er - sorry - but this is nonsense.

The experience of god proves nothing about the existence of god. Because - obviously - experiences differ. So does any consensus about what they mean. And also what they mean for 'the meaning of life.'

The one thing theists - and conservatives - seem to have in common is a rather desperate need to impose absolute moral meanings on their experience.

But the reality is that these meanings are obviously different for everyone. So which of them is 'god'?

Moral and metaphysical relativism already happens within and between religions. So no consistency is possible.

Science has its own morality, but it's hardly any more absolute than the insistence of a theist that reality is like this and this is what it means.

Peace is a good thing, but - as I'm sure I've pointed out before - Christianity and theism hardly have an excellent record when it comes to promoting peaceful coexistence.

The difference between science and religion is that science accepts diversity and open-mindedness, of a sort, while religion denies them.

By not denying reality, science has a more hopeful chance of reaching an accomodation with it. Human nature can be studied - and in fact it's only by studying it and accepting the realities of human morality, both good and bad, that a rational civilisation might one day by possible.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 09:26:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
impose absolute moral meanings on their experience.

That is your experience. Is it absolute?
Is it what is essential to spiritual experiences?
Do you know?

The difference between science and religion is that science accepts diversity and open-mindedness, of a sort, while religion denies them.

This may be true for religion as the organised political body of believers. Is it also true for faith itself?

Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Institutionalised religion offers structure to believers. At the institution (Church governing level), people have power, and there is/has been abuse. You only see the abuse and choose to miss the essence of why believers believe and what they have found. Have you ever asked?

By not denying reality, science has a more hopeful chance of reaching an accomodation with it. Human nature can be studied - and in fact it's only by studying it and accepting the realities of human morality, both good and bad, that a rational civilisation might one day by possible.

Science does not deny reality? But it ignores so much of reality unless you deal the non-answers about our origins and our hereafter as absolute truths.
This can really only be open-mindedness "of a sort".

[I must go out now, will be back tonight.]

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should know better than to respond, but this is so immensely wrong I can't help myself:

Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Wrong. It just wants evidence of them. Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

Science can explain all these things, at least in draft form. It's just people don't like the explanations.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many more are reading along here? Are you taking turns? lol

I don't know whether 'paranormal' was a good choice of word. Science doesn't have an explanation for miracle healings. Scientists call them "spontaneous remission". The name doesn't offer any explanation.

Miracle healings happen. That's a fact.

You want to see God, yet you don't know the meaning of 'spiritual'. That will be difficult, and it's not meant to be because God cannot be seen, only experienced through faith. Quantum theories won't do, and I won't do but we can take it easy because I'm not imposing on you what you cannot see. I only invite you to have a look for yourself.

Later -

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:29:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
How many more are reading along here? Are you taking turns? lol
News flash: this is a blog, not a private conversation.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[yes, I'm STILL here]

I know it's a blog :) but the debate is quite advanced... so.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the "recent comments" tab at the top of the screen? Following along is easy.

Religion doesn't have an explanation for miracle healing. It calls them "miracle healings" and witters on about the grace of Apollo and the favour of the Three Hags.

I don't want to see God. You do.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay then.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW: Do you hereby acknowledge God's existence?
In fact, you do. You hear that others 'see' God, respect what they see and you just don't want to see the same as well.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:00:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, though if you were wilfully misinterpreting what I said you might manage to construct that from it.

Other people experience something they call "God". That only tells me about what they experience, not what is real or true: it's an interesting datum about how humans work, not how about how the universe works.

Or, to put it another way, my best guess is that "God" is a brain-fart.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:06:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very possible in the next 50 years of Central Nervous System research, both physiological and systematic, that 'experiences' will be well understood.

I am already convinced that subjective transitions of emotions/moods/feelings (and why not beliefs?) are biochemical. Exactly how these biochemicals change or transition a 'mood state' depends on what is there already, both in terms of memory (patterns of past experience decentralized), genetics and any physical 'damage' that may have occurred.

Roxy Music sang that 'Love is the drug'. It's actually the other way round.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:22:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. Though I wouldn't hold my breath for the 50 years ... I rather suspect it'll take longer than that to work out the tools to think about it, never mind actually understanding it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But is 'sometime' scientific? ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:

Science doesn't have an explanation for miracle healings. Scientists call them "spontaneous remission". The name doesn't offer any explanation.

Miracle healings happen. That's a fact.

Hold it right there.

"Spontaneous remission" happens. That's a fact.

Calling it a "miracle healing" is an interpretation.

Since the fact that remission or healing took place can be agreed on, but whether there was a supernatural event ("miracle") involved  is not agreed on.

A doctor may say "I don't know how this happens". And you come and say "I know, it was a miracle". And how do you know? "Because of my faith".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, quite. A nice wide statistical survey of health benefits would be more useful than cherry-picked accounts of miracles which may or may not be independently verifiable.

When people try do this, results are mixed - at best.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can ignore these events and find the comfort you're looking for in history. You live in a free country.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may call it spontaneous remission or miracle healing. There's no scientific way to explain how a cancer that had been there suddenly disappears.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The scientific explanation is "We don't understand that yet."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:07:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The body's immune response wins out?

But why is it so wrong to say honestly, I don't know?

Does accepting it was a supernatural event inform future treatments of other patients? No, because a "miracle" is not repeatable.

Accepting you honestly don't know may lead you to research what actually happened and you may end up making a therapeutic advance.

Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does accepting it was a supernatural event inform future treatments of other patients? No, because a "miracle" is not repeatable.

That's not quite so. If you begin to look outside science, you will find that there's an immense spiritual world that can be understood (and is understood by some). It can explain such spontaneous healings. You'd have to open your minds to be able to integrate these insights and applications into what's known in science. But nobody has to.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:23:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You ignore psychosomatic effects. "What do you call alternative medicine that works? - medicine"

The entire animal is a feedback system. You can't separate out the bits that are physical or metaphysical, or which is the product of which. So in one sense I agree with you - belief is part of the human (at least) system. But belief is only one small area of the total ecosystem that is called a human.

But then again I believe that consciousness is a simple product of complexity i.e. the 'experience' that emerges when different parts of the brain 'terminate' simultaneously.

And none of this in any way reduces my sense of wonder at life.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And none of this in any way reduces my sense of wonder at life.

I like this.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:44:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
You ignore psychosomatic effects. "What do you call alternative medicine that works? - medicine"
Now we could get into whether religion helps motivate people to engage in beneficial behaviours which are beneficial because of psychosomatic effects and not because of any supernatural effects, and whether "enlightened rationality" threw out the baby with the bathwater in the 18th century...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:52:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Supernatural' is, as you have been promoting, another name for 'We don't know that yet'. If you'll forgive my clumsy paraphrase.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 12:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you begin to look outside science, you will find that there's an immense spiritual world that can be understood (and is understood by some). It can explain such spontaneous healings. You'd have to open your minds to be able to integrate these insights and applications into what's known in science.

Look, if you're gonna do medicine - particularly serious business like curative and palliative therapies for dangerous diseases like cancer, you need clinical trials and plausible biological explanations. It is downright unethical to start practising any modality that has not been tested for safety and effect.

And guess what? Once it has been tested for safety and effect, it is not "alternative" anymore. Medicine is incredibly open-minded in that respect: If it works for more patients than it harms, then it's in.

Humanity tried "looking outside science" for cures for thousands of years. Then we tried looking inside science for a hundred or so years - give or take fifty years depending on the disease in question.

I know which mortality rate I prefer.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 05:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is in, unless it offends the structures in the medical system.

Washing your hands before treating patients was not in, just because of the proven effect in Ignaz Semmelweis famous study. (Instead he was driven away.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 10:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as we know
a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
But this doesn't mean that paradigm shifts are not evidence-based.
Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is always better, not just different.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Feyerabend similarly says that the changes are generally better by being mathematically simpler.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:19:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though "simpler" is not as simple a concept as it sounds.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:26:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps cleaner, or more elegant. I'm not sure I'd go with simpler!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:28:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think from memory he goes as far as saying easier to calculate, but it is ten years since I read his work.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is surely wrong.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:33:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there's fads and yes there's results that are not accepted for political reasons. But the track record of scientific medicine is still better than the record of non-scientific medicine, even with these flaws.

Or, to put it in another way, data beats consensus, but consensus beats folk medicine.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 03:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God cannot be seen, only experienced through faith.

God can also be experienced through the historical influence and actions of believers.

The results are mostly not encouraging.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, what you see is collective pathology by people who are manipulated to do what evil human told them.
gig bifference...

a million misapprehensions don't disprove anything.

white crows...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so much heat expended over a false dichotomy!

plenty of scientists believe in god, plenty don't. what's the issue?

religion created the inquisition, science hiroshima, both have plenty to answer for.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:35:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

show the fish the water!

the whole universe is mostly unexplained phenomena, isn't it?

it's great how we've sussed so much out, but doesn't it pale compared to what we don't know?  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:31:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unexplained phenomena

Which are very different to unexplainable phenomena (whose existence I do not admit).
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:34:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's great how we've sussed so much out, but doesn't it pale compared to what we don't know?  

I'd be interested to know how you know that. isn't the amount we dont know in essence unknowable? It might be that science is complete next week, we just don't know.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:22:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What we don't know is a non-computable set, isn't it? Even if it were complete you might not know.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<giggle>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes definitely.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you said i know that, really it's just an idea, not original!

i find that's what history suggests. it took us so long to discover the earth was round, or that the sun was the centre of our galaxy, now we have begun to realise how deep space is, how can anyone think we have done more than scratch the surface, i don't understand.

even the workings of our own brains are only beginning to come dimly into view.

if you'd shown a neanderthal an ipod, and asked him how to get from there to here, he would probably strike two flints together and say, does it start with this?

he was probably pretty stoked with that science already, lol.

so extrapolating, if we are still neanderthals in some respects, doesn't it follow that the best discoveries will always lie ahead? as we discover more about how to discover, and correlate theories with proof.

there may have been a neanderthal whose eyes would have lit up, as he hustled off to find some beryllium or whatever to get started on his ipod project, or he may have gone, 'cool idea, but at this rate it'll take thousands more years to make one', and of course he'd be right!

some people are blessed with more imagination than their reality can contain, others just shut it down, it's just too painful to think of what we could be as a species, ( i_really don't like the word 'race'_) then look around at what we've become.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 08:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i find that's what history suggests.

In the matter of the rate of accumulation of scientific knowledge, as in the matter of price movements on the stock exchange, the past does not predict the future with any great accuracy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 07:15:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's true, but i don't think great accuracy is really necessary here.

after all, i'm investing in it time, thought and imagination, not hard cash, like the stock market!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 05:44:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
    Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Wrong. It just wants evidence of them. Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

Science can explain all these things, at least in draft form. It's just people don't like the explanations.

If we seperate between science as a method and the scientific community I think you are both right. Science as a method can approach any question and just wants evidence.

The scientific community on the other hand, can be very averse to touching some questions at all. There was a quite large donation for a professors chair in parapsychological research that bounced between Scandinavian universities before finally settling at Lund. There was quite some concern expressed that studying certain phenomena would debase the scientific community. Not very open-minded indeed.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 10:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But as it happens, parapsychology (if we're talking about the same thing) turned out to be mostly bunk.

If you start studying everything that some eccentric rich uncle wants to give money to, you're going to get a high rate of false positives. If the True Probability of an event is very low compared to the noise in the experiment, the number of apparently significant results that are really due to noise will be much larger than the number of true positives. Of course, we do not know the true probability, but in some cases we have a pretty good idea.

While false positives are not a problem in principle, when you combine it with the well-known bias against publishing negative results and the fact that the metastudies needed to weed out false positives are time consuming (and then add the way pressure groups, newsies and outright frauds like to seize upon a single scientific paper, regardless of quality, to justify their cause, angle or story1), it actually does make sense to refuse to study something that can present no physically plausible mechanism of action.

Which is not to say that science doesn't have fads and that the scientific community isn't pretty conservative - sometimes excessively so. But obvious nonsense like homeopathy and wheels of perpetual motion really has no place in a serious research institution.

- Jake

1That's not a problem for science per se, but most scientists do observe a minimum of social responsibility.

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 03:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You said you hadn't said they were irrelevant.

Irrelevant to science? They are. Irrelevant to philosophy? Not necessarily. Irrelevant to your personal experience of the human condition? That is for you to decide.

Macroeconomics do not consider the father's love for his daughter, except in the most tangential and contrived way. But we do not lambaste macroeconomics for failing to describe love, because it is outside the remit of macroeconomics.

Why, then, do so many people insist that science must describe their emotional life, or validate their philosophical convictions? Science can tell us that the Earth is quite definitely round. It can tell us that Bell's inequality is most certainly broken at the quantum level. It can inform the design of transistors. But it does not - indeed cannot - speak to your subjective experience or your personal belief, except to say that it is not universally and generally true, and that it has little or no predictive power.

I do not care whether the rest of the world shares my love for my family (in fact, I would be a little bit disturbed if it did...). That does not, however, make it less real. So the fact that science does not describe it can affect no more than a shrug and a "so what?" from me.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I recommend,

Contemplative Science - Where Buddhism and Neuroscience converge by B. Alan Wallace.

inside the cover:

Science has long treated religion as a set of personal beliefs that have little to do with a rational understanding of the mind and the universe. However, B. Alan Wallace, a respected Buddhist scholar, proposes that the contemplative methologies of Buddhism and of Western science are capable of being integrated into a single discipline: contemplative science...

also:

In Contemplative Science, B.A.W. forcefully and properly challenges the materialistic presuppositions held by many scientists. He goes on to argue convincingly for the development of a contemplative science of consciousness based on a highly trained faculty of attention that can investigate the mind firsthand.
(Arthur Zajonc, Andrew Mellon Professor of Physics, Amherst College, author of 'The Dalai Lama at MIT')

publisher: Columbia University Press, NY

The Columbia Series in Science and Religion is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science and Religion (CSSR) at Columbia University. It is a forum for the examination of issues that lie at the boundary of these two complementary ways of comprehending the world and our place in it. By examining the intersections between one or more of the sciences and one or more religions, the CSSR hopes to stimulate dialogue and encourage understanding.
(emphasis mine)

... stimulate dialogue and encourage understanding, not: encourage polarisation.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 06:47:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Western science is not "contemplative". It is experimental.

On the value of "contemplation"... Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume I, Chapter 16 [PDF]

There is another school of philosophers who feel very uncomfortable about the theory of relativity, which asserts that we cannot determine our absolute velocity without looking at something outside, and who would say, "It is obvious that one cannot measure his velocity without looking outside. It is self-evident that it is meaningless to talk about the velocity of a thing without looking outside; the physicists are rather stupid for having thought otherwise, but it has just dawned on them that this is the case. If only we philosophers had realized what the problems were that the physicists had, we could have decided immediately by brainwork that it is impossible to tell how fast one is moving without looking outside, and we could have made an enormous contribution to physics." These philosophers are always with us, struggling in the periphery to try to tell us something, but they never really understand the subtleties and depths of the problem.

Our inability to detect absolute motion is a result of experiment and not a result of plain thought, as we can easily illustrate. In the first place, Newton believed that it was true that one could not tell how fast he is going if he is moving with uniform velocity in a straight line. In fact, Newton first stated the principle of relativity, and one quotation made in the last chapter was a statement of Newton's. Why then did the philosophers not make all this fuss about "all is relative," or whatever, in Newton's time? Because it was not until Maxwell's theory of electrodynamics was developed that there were physical laws that suggested that one could measure his velocity without looking outside; soon it was found experimentally that one could not.

Now, is it absolutely, definitely, philosophically necessary that one should not be able to tell how fast he is moving without looking outside? One of the consequences of relativity was the development of a philosophy which said, "You can only define what you can measure! Since it is self-evident that one can not measure a velocity without seeing what he is measuring it relative to, therefore it is clear that there is no meaning to absolute velocity. The physicists should have realized that they can talk only about what they can measure." But that is the whole problem: whether or not one can define absolute velocity is the same as the problem of whether or not one can detect in an experiment, without looking outside, whether he is moving. In other words, whether or not a thing is measurable is not something to be decided a priori by thought alone, but something that can be decided only by experiment. Given the fact that the velocity of light is 186,000 mi/sec, one will find few philosophers who will calmly state that it is self-evident that if light goes 186,000 mi/sec inside a car, and the car is going 100,000 mi/sec, that the light also goes 186,000 mi/sec past an observer on the ground. That is a shocking fact to them; the very ones who claim it is obvious find, when you give them a specific fact, that it is not obvious.

Finally, there is even a philosophy which says that one cannot detect any motion except by looking outside. It is simply not true in physics. True, one cannot perceive a uniform motion in a straight line, but if the whole room were rotating we would certainly know it, for everybody would be thrown to the wall--there would be all kinds of "centrifugal" effects. That the earth is turning on its axis can be determined without looking at the stars, by means of the so-called Foucault pendulum, for example. Therefore it is not true that "all is relative"; it is only uniform velocity that cannot be detected without looking outside. Uniform rotation about a fixed axis can be. When this is told to a philosopher, he is very upset that he did not really understand it, because to him it seems impossible that one should be able to determine rotation about an axis without looking outside. If the philosopher is good enough, after some time he may come back and say, "I understand. We really do not have such a thing as absolute rotation; we are really rotating relative to the stars, you see. And so some influence exerted by the stars on the object must cause the centrifugal force."

Now, for all we know, that is true; we have no way, at the present time, of telling whether there would have been centrifugal force if there were no stars and nebulae around. We have not been able to do the experiment of removing all the nebulae and then measuring our rotation, so we simply do not know. We must admit that the philosopher may be right. He comes back, therefore, in delight and says, "It is absolutely necessary that the world ultimately turn out to be this way: absolute rotation means nothing; it is only relative to the nebulae." Then we say to him, "Now, my friend, is it or is it not obvious that uniform velocity in a straight line, relative to the nebulae should produce no effects inside a car?" Now that the motion is no longer absolute, but is a motion relative to the nebulae, it becomes a mysterious question, and a question that can be answered only by experiment.

I realise I paraphrased part of this argument in a parallel comment, but that's because I had recently re-read it. And I decided to hunt or a quote in response to the claim that "Western science" is "contemplative".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's my mistake. I've also just realised this (before having read your comment).

Contemplative Science is seen as a new discipline.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:17:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why what?
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 09:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why is it a new discipline?

all science involves some contemplation or you're not doing it right.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 12:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Contemplation here means meditation, entering other levels of consciousness (yes, that fuzzy stuff). 'Contemplative Science' encourages dialogue and research between empirical scientists and contemplative 'scientists'.
 
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 01:34:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But in fact it is a very old discipline... and it has never been very good at the whole predictive power thing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 05:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you gave them the equivalent of a modern university education in physics, you most probably could.
I don't see this as the issue at all. Newton, Descartes, Huygens, Leibniz were first rate minds who were quite capable of bridging the conceptual and philosophical with the practical. This is in fact what they did and what we celebate them for.

There is very little that's actually difficult about relativity or quantum mechanics at the purely conceptual level. Anybody can pick up the basics from countless books written for the public if they like. The true difficulty is technical. You cannot join the scientific conversation without a mastery of Riemannian geometry or operator theory, and these take many years to approach.

Yet the technical aspects are only used to actually solve problems, and in principle one is free to solve a problem any way one likes. I would claim that with nothing but the purely conceptual foundation of the modern theories, such as could be explained in an evening, the likes of Huygens and Newton would have had no difficulty in solving real problems. They did so with the problems of their day after all, which were just as vaguely expressed. Their solutions would have looked nothing like what we expect to see today of course, but would have been solutions nevertheless.



--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 03:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would disagree. There is an entire conceptual apparatus that developed with 17th-19th century mathematical physics - generator functions, matrix algebra, vector calculus - etc. I don't see how you can make meaningful predictions in QM outside that framework.

Heck, in Newton's case, you'd have to explain electrostatics before you could even get started on QM, and electrodynamics and electromagnetism before you could get very far. And I would claim that electromagnetism in particular is impossible to understand until and unless you're familiar with PDEs, because you have to be able to quantify the positive and negative feedbacks in order to even give a qualitative description of the system's behaviour.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would disagree. There is an entire conceptual apparatus that developed with 17th-19th century mathematical physics - generator functions, matrix algebra, vector calculus - etc. I don't see how you can make meaningful predictions in QM outside that framework.
There's nothing specifically QM about any of your examples (generating functions, matrices or vector calculus). Historically, these ideas were developed for entirely different areas of mathematics in the 19th century or earlier, but even that late arrival had no limiting effect at all on scientists' ability to solve complex real world problems much earlier. For example, Euler (as for that matter Newton) was perfectly capable of treating full 3d motion in the middle of the 18th century without requiring the crutch of matrices or vectors. Monge was a master of PDE theory - in 1795!

Electrostatics is actually a bad example to use, precisely because the theory is mathematically identical to Newtonian gravity. Even relativity would have been no problem to these guys. Einstein's contribution, while crucial, is technically really very small, as it amounts to doing hyperbolic geometry instead of the Euclidean one. Newton knew more about conics than most mathematicians probably do today.

As to making useful predictions in QM without these methods, remember that matrix mechanics is only Heisenberg's picture. The Schroedinger picture is about wave equations, which had already been worked out in the middle of the 17th century by Euler and the Bernoulli gang.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, they were terrifyingly smart.

Netwon would have been a pig to persuade, but I doubt he would have had problems with the theory. Every year hundreds of ordinarily talented undergrads work their way through the basics without falling off anything tall and hurting themselves, so a genius really wouldn't find it difficult.

Ed Witten of string theory fame apparently worked through an entire three year undergrad physics curriculum over a summer holiday - competently enough to enrol as an applied maths postgrad, even though his original major was history, and he was planning to be a political journalist.

He may have had help from his father, who was another theorist. But even so.

He also lasted one term as an economics wannabe, which may or may not say something relevant and interesting about economics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Give Newton the Feynman Lectures on Physics and a summer and he'd be up to speed.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 04:33:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This sentence:
"If it interacts with our experimental apparatus in a reasonably consistent fashion"

positively cancels the rest of the paragaph. My supposition precisely mentioned the technical means available, besides our being inside the system we are trying to understand.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:31:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it does not interact with our experimental apparatus in a reasonably consistent fashion, how do you distinguish it from an invisible pink unicorn?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 08:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just wondering which exactly apparatus you have in mind: the present day one, or the one of Newton's time.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:13:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't matter insofar as the epistemological point is concerned: If the best, most precise experimental apparatus available cannot detect the effect in any reliable way, then it is very hard to distinguish from invisible pink unicorns. If you can come up with a physically plausible detection scheme, then you've bought yourself a little bit of time. But making vague appeals to what might or might not be discovered in the grim darkness of the far future... well, that's just unproductive.

Science advances one equation at a time; speculation about the nature of major scientific discoveries made decades or centuries from now is something best left to SciFi writers.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 05:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll rather focus on the filled-half-glass of your post.
At least we have agreed that the scientifical methodology, in its skeptical and experiment-driven (I'd call it minimalist) approach, is far from comprehensive, and we can't exclude it entering the realm of metaphysics at some point, when a majority of the scientific community will open raise their eyes from pure materialism.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For certain values of "comprehensive."

Science describes the world as it appears to everyone who bothers looking. That is its great virtue, and what makes it such a powerful tool.

Of necessity, however, it means that science cannot answer - and will indeed never be able to answer - questions that have different answers depending on your subjective taste, your unique life experience or your particular cultural baggage. If you move into that, you are leaving the realm of science and entering into the realm of metaphysics, taste, ideology, theology, ethics, political economy or any of a host of other diciplines.

(Most of) these disciplines are both interesting and relevant. But they are not science.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
logic has a universal quality

LOL! Not after it has been processed by the human mind, it doesn't.

The only logical statement that can be made about light (or anything else) is that it is what it is and it does what it does. If it does something that a person does not expect, then logically-speaking that person does not understand it. The thing itself does not care either way.

by det on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 04:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Not after it has been processed by the human mind, it doesn't"

That has nothing to do with it, no matter how you take it, as a philosophical category or as as a basis for science. Logic is at the basis of rational argumentation by definition, of scientifical argumentation, the best example being mathematics. This is the first place ever where I hear it taken for "intuitiveness" :)


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 06:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually there's no such thing as a completely logically consistent mathematical system.

The consistency is patchy. You can start from axioms and build systems, but you have to accept the axioms as given. They're not provable - nor are some of the processes used to build system.

According to George Lakoff, logic is founded in cognitive psychology. Certain processes 'make sense' because they use internally consistent metaphors. The process of selecting and refining those metaphors is trial and error, and not a metaphysical revelation of philosophical truth.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:58:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. I can smell some nice philosophical implications of this, concerning our methodological approach in science. Funny how little by little every thing seems to reduce to the man, in the end :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"If it does something that a person does not expect, then logically-speaking that person does not understand it."

Understanding issues like the dual nature of light, or the idea of curved space-time continuum remain "counterintuitive" even when you successfully went through the whole process of explaining the mathematics behind. If you look at how volatile things still are in the world of quantum physics, how theories appear, shine and disappear faster than a meteorite, you'll probably understand what I meant by saying that science is far from being the safe land we like to think it is, and that keeping in the realm of Reason and Hard Fact is far from excluding unexplained, weird phenomenons as mere delusions.

(obviously all this doesn't concern winged dragons spitting fire, or burning chariots taking this or that saint to the sky; those may be the criteria some choose to dismiss mystical phenomenons, for me it's just a mark of unseriousness and a intention to do propaganda rather than debate).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 06:39:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And again you're not understanding that science is a process - it's not a set of beliefs about the world which are supposed to be fixed and definitive.

The edges of science are always in a state of change and tentative guesswork, by definition.

That's what the process is for - to extend those edges. And as a process it's the most successful philosophical construct in history.

Skeptical collaborative cross-checking and model building have turned out to be immensely powerful. No one - well, hardly anyone - believes they're limitless. But they're incredibly useful for exploration and open-ended enquiry.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 06:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know all this, I agree with you. I am just pointing out that even fullblown scientists using the skeptical collaborative cross-checking model sometimes happen to have it wrong and consider something as absolutely impossible.

When we speak about religions, we must distinguish what we're talking about.
For me, there are the mystical aspects that I may doubt about (ie, I don't venture defending them in a debate, but I keep an open mind, from reasons explained in my posts above);
there are philosophical aspects with which I came to agree with, after careful consideration;
there is stuff like the creation part, of which frankly, in a debate with a skepticist, I wouldn't know what to say: is it a metaphor, is it something deeply spiritual and without immediate logical value, or something else - this is indeed the realm of subjective, although I wouldn't go as far as to call it irrational;
and finally there are the religion bureaucracies, with the history we all know, and which I don't defend or particularly support.

All this shows why I shy away from giving outright verdicts about this or that, even as I understand your issues with the church bureaucracy or Jerome's with the mystic side of it.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:38:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For me, there are the mystical aspects that I may doubt about (ie, I don't venture defending them in a debate, but I keep an open mind,

A skeptic's mind isn't closed. It just has a door policy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
scientists ... sometimes happen to have it wrong

No offence, but this is just a statement of the bloody obvious. They are only human after all. They do not claim to be infallible.

scientists ... sometimes happen to have it wrong and consider something as absolutely impossible.

Devious wording (again no offence). Science is dealing with describing the nature of things as they are; it is dealing with studying reality (what is possible) not unreality (what is not possible). But in so far as it goes, since science never considers anything to be absolutely proven (hence the concept of falsifiability), a scientist who claims something is "absolutely impossible" might be sticking his neck out a bit. However, he is perfectly entitled to make the claim since it only requires one instance of that "something" occurring to prove him wrong.

But to the broader point, so what if a scientist or group of scientists get it wrong? I hope no one has the idea that there is something wrong about being wrong in science (which is to say drawing the incorrect interpretation from the observations/results). Scientists get things wrong all the time. The point is that science strives to correct its own errors.

Of course, if you believe that there are some errors that science will never be able to correct or some aspects of "reality" that science will never be able to probe, then that is a different story. Such claims are ultimately unknowable, since the identification of an error/omission in current scientific understanding is the start of the process to rectify it.

by det on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:32:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No offense taken. I can assure you the intention wasn't devious.

This sub-thread started from an affirmation of religious phenomenons as totally subjective and downright irrational. Many fellow bloggers here seem to be in agreement with that (I feel like saying: DUH! this is why I think the rating system is bad; I doubt certain posts above bear any "excellent" quality to them).
While I too can agree to the subjectivism of certain aspects (eg the creation in christianism), I think we should be much more careful in declaring it all "irrational", especially regarding religions like, say, buddhism.

TBG and JakeS mentioned the necessity of hard facts, and rational processes.
My point is that there were many scientifically sound theories considered wrong for decades before being accepted by the community, despite "rational" theoretical proof and hard-fact experimental proof.
No doubt bearing a grudge against religion, some here treat the religious phenomenons exactly the same way the Vatican treated Giordano Bruno and Galilei. I can't touch it, hence it doesn't exist. Well a lot of stuff was considered impossible even in modern time science, and is now accepted. So if we pretend ourselves evolved and rational, we should at least learn from the past,
namely to be more careful in our sentences (or else, why not, to tag them "Ideological"), more precise in our argumentation (rather than reducing christianism or buddhism to the winged dragons), open minded enough to accept that "impossible" today may be "scientifical fact" 200 years from now.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 01:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that there were many scientifically sound theories considered wrong for decades before being accepted by the community, despite "rational" theoretical proof and hard-fact experimental proof.

"They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." - Carl Sagan

No doubt bearing a grudge against religion, some here treat the religious phenomenons exactly the same way the Vatican treated Giordano Bruno and Galilei.

I call Galileo Gambit.

"I can't touch it, hence it doesn't exist." Well a lot of stuff was considered impossible even in modern time science, and is now accepted.

Doggerel.

So if we pretend ourselves evolved and rational, we should at least learn from the past,
namely to be more careful in our sentences (or else, why not, to tag them "Ideological"), more precise in our argumentation (rather than reducing christianism or buddhism to the winged dragons), open minded enough to accept that "impossible" today may be "scientifical fact" 200 years from now.

Markups added for clarity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Understanding issues like the dual nature of light, or the idea of curved space-time continuum remain "counterintuitive" even when you successfully went through the whole process of explaining the mathematics behind.

That is a statement about your intuition, not about the laws of physics...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm still trying to figure out why wheels go backwards in movies!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A function of shutter speed/frequency + Persistence of Vision phenomenon.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:56:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Science meets the brain ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:56:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless mentioned in "Encore I" that liberals had begun to call themselves progressives when they couldn't get anywhere as liberals, and that they had gone liberal when socialists were discredited; originally they had been communists. Maybe that's an American view only.

I am forced to make up a new rule just for you Lily!

From now on, when attributiing ANYTHING to me, use the "copy-paste-put in blockquotes" method.  I am really tired of following you around to correct you whenever you put words in my mouth.  Your pattern of doing this is attrocious web-ettiquette and borders on petty trolling.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 04:39:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what I said in real life:

I've snarkily remarked that "progressive" is what we called ourselves when it became dangerous to be liberals, "liberal" is what we called ourselves when it became dangerous to be socialists, "socialist" is what we called ourselves when it became dangerous to be Communists, etc...

But to be clear, most Americans who are openly "progressive" would never ever think of themselves as Communists.


"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 04:42:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought (my thought only) that my paraphrasing you which was not a quote but picking up on your idea which wasn't text from the dictionary or a scientific journal, but a thought that you had or had picked up somewhere (I don't remember exactly), an inspiring thought!, was okay.
BTW, when I 'misquote' "... had originally been communists", it is already clear that the different labels and their change, even if you had provided that text with citations, must have occurred over a long period of time so that you were probably not born, yet, when anybody would have considered it acceptable to come out as a communist (something along these lines).

I may have written too much in a short period of time and didn't pay all that much attention, couldn't find your quote in those 300+ comments and didn't want to go over it for three times.

To give you peace of mind, I will avoid quoting or paraphrasing you in the future, okay?

At any rate, from Monday on, I will have to cut back again drastically on writing here. No choice.

Why do I have to prove incessantly that I write in good faith?

BTW, when I summed up my diary, I came across a rather lengthy reply from you to one of my comments that I had missed before and I then replied to tell you that I had missed it. You may have missed that.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 05:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Why do I have to prove incessantly that I write in good faith?

you don't have to prove a thing, only you can know for sure anyway.

your diaries have pushed some great buttons, i've thought about ET in a new way, as i do after any of these meta excursions.

i think the ET of the future should be famous for its broadmindedness, an example of how quality thinking can breed with itself and reproduce. i'd like to see molecular biologists, bishops, marine biologists, trades union members, coal miners and cosmologists, jesuits and jurisprudence experts, as wide as tent as good writing will shelter and unite.

where anything could be discussed without fear of offending anyone, because respect and good faith would be the baseline, and trolls ignored or re-educated to see how they could be contributing better quality.

ET could be a Way, in a taoist sense, meaning it evolves naturally, and models a wise and imaginatively respectful relationship with our environment, starting with one another. our opinions are only part of who we are, and can happily be altered when exposed.

i also really enjoy diaries that are from outside europe (though i know others would like to see more focus on our issues), because i never want to forget that we are never separate from the rest of the world.

europe may be where most of us are speaking from, but i hope we'll continue to cast our gaze ever wider.

scale 'er up, baby!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:21:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Americans who are openly "progressive" would never ever think of themselves as Communists.

A) Unless they're drunk.

B) BTW, This sounds as if they still feared being hunted down.

(I hope I don't have to apologise for this now.)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 05:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
B) BTW, This sounds as if they still feared being hunted down.

Actually:

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US abortion doctor is shot dead

A prominent US abortion doctor has been shot dead at a church in the city of Wichita, Kansas.

Sixty-seven year-old George Tiller was killed just after 1000 (1500 GMT) at the Reformation Lutheran Church.

The gunman, described as a white man, fled in a car, but officials say a suspect is now in custody.

Dr Tiller, one of the few US doctors who performed so-called late-term abortions, had been vilified by anti-abortionists in the US.

His clinic - called Women's Health Care Services - had often been the site of demonstrations, and he had been shot and wounded by an assailant 16 years ago.

Also, this kind of thing, which is really not hard to find:

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is one happy shortcut. Is it your conclusion that US lefties should be afraid of declaring themselves as such?  Was Tiller shot at because he was a liberal, or because he performed late-term abortions?

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 08:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you implying that the latter would, could or should make liberals feel safer?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:02:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The killing was a random act. Hate exists on both sides of the spectrum. Maybe emotions run higher on the conservative side towards liberals, precisely wrt pro-choice.

Under a liberal government, liberals don't have to fear systematic prosecution. I have strong doubts, though that the same can be said about dissenting "anti-American" views in general and across the board.
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 04:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The killing was a random act.

Bull. Shit. It was no more random than the murders of Malcom X or Martin Luther King. If you think that this doesn't have any connection to the organised American fascist movement, then you are seriously in denial about the nature of American right wing politics.

Hate exists on both sides of the spectrum.

Bull. Shit. When was the last time someone shot a moderate conservative in the US? For that matter, when was the last time someone shot a fascist vermin like Rush Limbaugh?

The political violence is exclusively on one side of the political spectrum on that side of the Pond.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Random act - in the sense of not backed by the government, neither secretly nor openly. We can talk again once we learn more about the suspect in custody.

Hate - isn't necessarily expressed through acts of physical violence. Political violence includes everything from accusatory or aggressive speach (ehm, hmm..) to murder.

Political violence exclusively on one side of the political spectrum on that side of the pond - Does that mean no drones to Afghanistan? Swords to ploughshears?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Random act - in the sense of not backed by the government, neither secretly nor openly.

Neither was the Biergarten Putsch.

Hate - isn't necessarily expressed through acts of physical violence. Political violence includes everything from accusatory or aggressive speach (ehm, hmm..) to murder.

Wow.

Just wow.

Did you just claim that demanding prosecution of war criminals and calling Rush Limbaugh an animal beneath contempt is the moral and political equivalent of political assassinations?

I do believe you did. Please tell me that I'm wrong.

Political violence exclusively on one side of the political spectrum on that side of the pond - Does that mean no drones to Afghanistan? Swords to ploughshears?

OK, make that violence directed at domestic political opponents. Colonial wars is a bipartisan enterprise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:33:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you just claim that demanding prosecution of war criminals and calling Rush Limbaugh an animal beneath contempt is the moral and political equivalent of political assassinations?

I do believe you did. Please tell me that I'm wrong.

I'm surprised. My trains of thought differ greatly from yours.

I "claimed" if one can call it such that hatred knows different expressions.
(Erotic) love comes along with soft whispered words, kisses, gifts, love letters, sex, kids, holding hands, crises, reconciliation, etc. It's a huge spectrum within one attitude.

Calling Rush Limbaugh an animal beneath contempt doesn't do anything to him, I guess. You could likewise ignore him. Now, is it the same as murder? "Only" in the way in which to think of having sex with someone differs from actually having it. And saying it out loud without going there can still lead to break-ups.

I can sit in the corner of a room and say, "I like my friend Babidou so much!". Maybe Babidou will receive the telepathic message. That's unlikely. But I will feel good.
Limbaugh won't hear you but you sit there, filled with anger.

Real change happens from the bottom up, inside out, for the better, or for the worse.

PS: To demand that war criminals be prosecuted is different: You can do so in an effort to keep them behind closed bars etc. Such demand isn't violent. The challenge lies in the implementation.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you did actually make that moral equivalence.

Interesting.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:50:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For that matter, it's also interesting that you'd claim that the American communists were "discredited," when in point of fact they were purged.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:52:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would I have played down what is a fact of history? Cross out "discredited", call it purged, haunted down or any other synonym that fits.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I consider this remark unnecessary and 'trollish'.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 08:03:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This country, and most of the world, have never let the Muslims get away with the "those people that do those atrocious acts are not following what the Qur'an preaches" line. We call them Islamic terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists, Muslim terrorists, whatever. The official and unofficial news media casually name-checks their religion thousands of times every day.

These things ingrain in people's minds, y'know. Which is why this whole Muslim = Evil meme has taken hold so pervasively.

We can hold their religion "accountable". So why not make sure you're out of the glass house before you do something about that stone-throwing itch?

"Accountability" never hurt anyone who is trying to make themselves better.

I do understand that this heinous act hurts your decent religious self and I do recognize that you are on the side of what is right and I do apologize to you, in advance, for sounding maybe a bit too harsh than what I really am...

... But in return, I want you to call it for what it is. ....

This is an act of "Christian terrorism", and by extension, it was carried out by "a Christian". Whether anyone is proud of it or not.

link


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:25:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome,

Murder does not belong to Christian ideology, only its condemnation.

This guy, who goes to church, the same as Dr. Tiller, presumably considered the latter was a murderer (of unborn babies). If we go into why and whether he should look at it that way, we'll never end here.

It is clear, however, that there is no Christian belief that would justify Dr. Tiller's murder.

Now, it is possible, maybe even probable that there are fanatics who are out of touch about what "respect for life" really means while they try to defend it and who will then resort to such acts of violence.
In that sense, you can call them Christian terrorists in analogy to Muslim terrorists.

It is a far stretch, however, to "hold their religion accountable". Their religion, in this case Christianity, is not accountable.

If anyone wants to hold Christianity as a whole accountable, it's just another 'eye for an eye' because Islam as a whole gets blame for Muslim terrorist acts which I don't condone, either.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 05:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Murder does not belong to Christian ideology, only its condemnation.

Has this ever been true in practice?

I don't want to labour this point because it would be like kicking a puppy out of a window. But surely Christianity's historical record doesn't quite support the idea that it's primarily a peaceful religion dedicated to non-violence.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 09:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Don't listen to what people say. Look at what they do."

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 09:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, you can say the same about Islam, and maybe you do.

When you have crusades in the name of institutionalised religion, and there is murder, the religious body is to be held accountable. I agree.

Now, when and where has anybody within the different branches of Christianity and within the US called to open arms and kill in order to fight abortion?

As I said, you cannot hold Christianity accountable for the acts of a few, one in this case, who make up their own rules in the name of religion.

Or, you can choose to do so but how is that scientific or fact-based?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 10:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone makes up their own rules wrt religion. That's why Christianity doesn't offer a useful moral compass - anyone can persuade themselves that they're acting in god's name, and use that argument to support any action.

As for facts -

Violence at US Abortion Clinics

One source reported in late 1996, that there has been "over $13 million in damage caused by violent anti-abortion groups since 1982 in over 150 arson attacks, bombings, and shootings." 1

Many pro-choice individuals and groups blame these criminal acts on the most violent extremists in the pro-life movement. Some believe that the violent rhetoric heard from pro-lifers motivates the more radical pro-life fringe to resort to violence.
Many pro-life individuals and groups blame the violence on groups which are quite separate from the pro-life movement -- people who have little regard for human life.

It's worth reading the rest for some interesting statistics. Anti-abortion violence has been far from rare in the US.

Of course pro-life people distance themselves formally. However - inflammatory anti-abortion rhetoric is dispersed by both the Catholic and protestant churches in the US. E.g.

Rhetoric, repetition, and violence: A case study of clinic conflict in Milwaukee | College Literature | Find Articles at BNET

In addition to having organizational links to the national leaders of the antiabortion movement, Milwaukee's activists situate themselves within the rhetorical and organizational context of a broader, nationwide conservative movement. One force that links Milwaukee's antiabortion activists to this larger movement is VCY/America, a Christian radio and television network. VCY has stations in Wisconsin, Kansas, and South Dakota, and broadcasts its programs nationwide. Theologically, the network's positions are consistent with a growing movement known as Christian Reconstructionism. Reconstructionists seek to establish a theocracy run according to Old Testament law. In this society, the nuclear family would be the central unit, women would be subservient to men, and capital punishment would be the penalty for numerous crimes including homosexuality, adultery, heresy, and striking a parent (Blanchard and Prewitt 1993, 243-45; Clarkson 1997, 77-96). Consistent with this agenda, VCY programming combines support for state enforcement of "God's Word" with a desire for minimal government involvement within "Christian families." Typical programming on VCY voices strong opposition to assisted suicide, gay rights, birth control, and gun regulation, stressing the importance of parents' rights, home-schooling, and grass-roots political involvement. Abortion is discussed on nearly every program; many of Milwaukee's antiabortion activists make regular appearances. Thus, VCY acts as an important tool for framing and disseminating antiabortion rhetoric in Milwaukee, linking it to a larger right-wing agenda.

THE RHETORIC OF THE ANTIABORTION MOVEMENT

The rhetoric commonly used to discuss abortion on VCY, and in the antiabortion movement as a whole, is absolutist. This rhetoric insists that there is only one way of viewing abortion, and dismisses all opposing arguments as trivial. In her 1990 study, Condit identifies the use of such rhetoric as "overweighing." Using this strategy, she writes, speakers "attempt to show that the values and interests on their side [outweigh] those of the opposition" (1990, 159). By far the most important example of over-weighing in antiabortion rhetoric is the slogan of Operation Rescue: "If you think abortion is murder, act like it." This call to action has become a central tenet of the sidewalk "rescue" movement and has had enormous impact on the public abortion debate. Indeed, personhood of the fetus is a claim that typically goes unrefuted, even by individuals who identify themselves as pro-choice (Condit 1990, 82).

The slogan "abortion is murder" frames antiabortion discourse in two important and closely related ways. First, it articulates a defining equation: abortion equals murder. Second, it creates a closed system that eliminates competing definitions. According to this equation, abortion can be viewed as nothing but murder. The claim that the fetus is a person functions similarly, categorically excluding other definitions. Beneath Operation Rescue's moral imperative, then, lies an epistemological one-one must not only take action if one believes in the abortion/murder equation: one must accept the equation (indeed, there is no alternative to it), and then take action.

So you have a movement which is repetaedly told that abortion is murder, and which also supports the vindictive morality of the old testament.

The results aren't difficult to predict.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 10:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that the American pro-life movement is quite complex. I have met "pro-lifers" in the US in the 90s, and they were very charming and peaceful people.

I assume that these people are still around. Nonetheless violent extremism is apparently growing.

I hadn't heard of "Christian Reconstructionism". Now, where's that even "Christian" since they aim at an Old Testament theocracy, including capital punishment, no gun control? I'd classify them as sectarian at best. That goes of course also for the "If you think abortion is murder, act like it." - I would only interpret it as another way to say, "Don't have one," but you think of other consequences.

These groups, unfortunately, have gone astray from Christian faith. Quite dramatic.

But then, there's this other question, should all Christians take the blame when there are some who cause trouble?
And also this: Do you believe the violence of one or that of a group justifies an equally violent or even more violent response?

Jerome's quote suggests it does... when the Christian religion as a whole is held accountable. - It's simple to blame the Christian religion but not justified.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that the American pro-life movement is quite complex. I have met "pro-lifers" in the US in the 90s, and they were very charming and peaceful people.

I have also met quite pleasant anti-choice people. Europeans, not Americans, but I doubt that there is any ethnic difference in the capacity to be a nice person...

But that's beside the point. There are also nice orthodox Israelis. I'm sure you can even find a more or less civilised "settler" if you look hard enough. That does not detract from the fact that Israel has a fascist problem, and that their fascist problem is centred around their orthodox communities, in particular the "settler" communities.

I hadn't heard of "Christian Reconstructionism". Now, where's that even "Christian"

Who are you to say that they're not? They self-identify as Christian. They believe in the divinity of Jesus. Last time I checked, those are the two most common definitions of Christianity.

But then, there's this other question, should all Christians take the blame when there are some who cause trouble?

I am not quite sure where you got the idea that anybody is saying that.

What several of us are saying is that the US has a fascist problem. And that it's specifically centred around the fundagelical communities. Saying that their fascists are not "true Scotsmen Christians" is unhelpful.

And also this: Do you believe the violence of one or that of a group justifies an equally violent or even more violent response?

Not necessarily. But that's an academic point, because nobody is perpetrating violence on the American fascist movement to any significant extent.

Jerome's quote suggests it does... when the Christian religion as a whole is held accountable.

Only if you believe that terrorism justifies suspending common civility. Few people around these parts do.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 01:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, comparing the American Pro Life Movement with Jewish settlements is comparing apples and oranges. You can sure try to mix categories to make your point.

I AGREE with you that the US has a problem. I don't fully agree on where it lies or that Christian evangelicals (alone?) are responsible for what you call American fascism. They, i.e. certain fundamentalists may have their share in this general sense of loss of freedom.

When I ask whether all Christians should take the blame (for the assassination/its causes), I can call it only pedantry when you ask me where I got that from. In Jerome's dkos link, one of the issues was the Christian religion's accountability. What is the Christian religion? The author didn't talk of bible burning. The Christian religion = its members = Christians. I hope you can follow the reasoning.

Enfin, Christian reconstructionism is NOT Christian. Sorry to disappoint. To call Jesus a divinity isn't quite sufficient to claim Christianity for oneself. Jesus made a new covenant that didn't exactly cancel out the old one but fulfilled it. A society based on Old Testament Law is under the old covenant. These people don't walk their talk, or rather don't walk their name. But then, I should at least quickly check them out on wikipedia before I'm going pass any final verdict on them/their ideology.    

I wonder whether you really want to find out what's going on in the US or whether you already know everything, and your opinion isn't subject to change anyway. Maybe it would be the easiest if you could outline your philosophy in a diary. It would safe valuable energy.

I'd like to end the Tiller debate here (at least my part in it).

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 03:39:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, comparing the American Pro Life Movement with Jewish settlements is comparing apples and oranges.

But I didn't.

Upon re-reading the relevant paragraph, you will see that I was simply dispelling your argument from anecdote: That some member(s) of a group are nice and civil does not mean that the group is a constructive addition to society or that its agenda has any place in a civilised democracy.

They, i.e. certain fundamentalists may have their share in this general sense of loss of freedom.

"Certain fundamentalists" who "may have" a "share" in the "general sense" of loss of freedoms? In the same way that "certain factions" of the BNP "may have" a "share" in the "general sense" of increasing racism in Britain?

Of course the evangelicals are not alone in promoting authoritarian policies. But they are a major player on the American right-wing-extremist scene. Possibly the major player.

When I ask whether all Christians should take the blame (for the assassination/its causes),

No. But they must acknowledge this as an act of Christian terrorism (at least inasmuch as they acknowledge that "terrorism" is a meaningful term - I for one don't, but that's a different discussion). Claiming that "he isn't a (true) Christian" or that he is "an individual lunatic" obfuscates the fact that there exists a far-right Christian community that supports, encourages and breeds these kinds of terrorists.

You would never accept mealy-mouthed "but they weren't (real) communists" bullshit if the discussion was of the Baader-Meinhof gang. Or of Stalin's purges. Or of Castro's imprisonment of Cuban dissidents. Why does Christianity get to use a "get out of embarrassing terrorist groups free" card when communism doesn't?

Enfin, Christian reconstructionism is NOT Christian. Sorry to disappoint.

Again, who are you to say? Rushdoony, Schaeffer and Ahmanson (Schaeffer is also a leading light of the American anti-choice movement, by the way - very nice company they keep...) would in all probability say that you are not a Christian.

I wonder whether you really want to find out what's going on in the US or whether you already know everything, and your opinion isn't subject to change anyway.

I don't claim to know "everything" that's going on in the American far-right. But if you don't even know Rushdoony, Ahmanson, Scaife and Schaeffer (or Alcoa, Chiquita and ClearChannel, for that matter), then I do think that I know more than you do.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 08:19:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"the vindictive morality of the old testament"

The morality of the Old Testament is a fact ever since the colonisation of North America.

"which is repetaedly told that abortion is murder"

I suppose you mean to deny that there actually is a living creature in there, whose life is stopped during the procedure.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you mean to deny that there actually is a living creature in there, whose life is stopped during the procedure.

Well Biologically and biblically it's debateable

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 04:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, what is debateable is whether it can be considered human being yet, or not. The quality of being alive and kicking :) is not.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 08:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, before the foetus is viable, the question is whether it should can be considered a parasite or not?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 04:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this supposed to be provocative ? I didn't mention viability here. Until then, your speaking of parasites lies in the same category as JakeS's chicken egg-sterilization post. I'd really like the opinion of a few bloggers having experienced motherhood on this kind of language, because to me it is of the exact same fascist type as those instigating to the murder of abortion doctors.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretending to take the high ground could be unwise - especially if you total the long, long list of dead bodies in the old testament.

Don't make me quote Exodus 11:5 - I'm really not in the mood for that kind of silliness.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 04:40:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just stating a historical fact. No higher ground taking. Yet another assumption of bad faith....

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 08:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh? Where?

You're saying old testament violence began with the American Revolution?

What?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 03:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you misunderstood me, or maybe I didn't express clearly. I meant to say that America has been practically built on this kind of old testament morals, hence it's no surprise it's still there.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:09:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on which America you're talking about. The original colonists were indeed religious nuts. But the framers of the CONUS were building an explicitly secular state. If you want to convince yourself of that, try to see how many of the 10 Commandments it would be outright unconstitutional to enforce by law. (Hint: It's more than five.)

The US is a big place with a long(ish) history.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you mean to deny that there actually is a living creature in there, whose life is stopped during the procedure.

That is also true for slaughtering a pig or sterilising a chicken egg. Doesn't make either of those murder.

Sorry, no points. Please try again.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 05:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
also end this sub-thread, please, guys!

Jerome is debating the "terrorist" on the front page...
As I said above, it had been an issue that religion in the political debate was undesired at ET, well, that was before this murder made the headlines.

It has become clear that religion cannot be excluded from the political debate on ET.

It would be possible, if no political affairs within religious contexts were ever debated at ET.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 06:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, wasn't it you who said that conflict was interesting?

it's fascinating seeing how much education there is in the argument, bringing the best out of folks' reasoning.

it's as lovely as hearing a guitar being tuned.

exploring dissonance and then twisting the pegs...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 09:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religion as a justification for public policy has no place in rational discourse.

Religion as a social phenomenon is clearly important and should be analysed, deconstructed and understood.

Arguing that abortion is wrong because your religious text says so is an example of the former. Noting that the American fascist movement congregates around a number of extremist Calvinist churches is an example of the latter.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 04:47:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And to clarify, "progressive" is not a party in America, it's a way people self-identify.  So you can no more say what an American progressive is than what an American feminist is.  No two are bound to agree on everything.

From observation, I will say that it appears the majority of Americans who could be called progressive are usually pro-choice, pro-equal rights for gays, etc., care strongly about the environment, are not anti-union, and believe the government should provide some social safety nets.  It's hard to say beyond that.  I am sure most would be flattered that you think they are patriotic, since they're used to being accused of hating their country.  But patriotism, which you also appear to conflate with unchecked nationalism, is neither here nor there.  It's not a defining aspect.  I thinks it is a defining characteristic of conservatives.

And liberals were not having trouble getting anywhere, they were called anti-American and told they should somewhere else to live if they don't like America.  And socialists and Communists were not "discredited" but literally hunted down by the government, accused of being spies and were  blacklisted.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 05:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
were not "discredited" but literally hunted down

Okay, there we go. I'm quoting you again. Just to clarify: I'm not a native speaker and may not always feel the nuance that you see. I know they were hunted down but I thought 'discredited' would be strong enough to describe how they and all opponents of government were treated (or risked being treated).

But patriotism, which you also appear to conflate with unchecked nationalism...

I happen to know a case of fierce patriotism combined with progressive attitudes (as you describe them). I don't know how representative my experience is. Therefore, I try to learn more about this phenomenon.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 05:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am forced to make up a new rule just for you Lily!

You are forced to make up a new rule?

If I don't abide by the rules that are already there, you can

  • troll-rate me
  • not recommend or
  • not promote my diary and
  • even close my diary.

Is that not enough? But I appreciate that you warned me instead of troll-rating me. The above still strikes me as disproportionate muscle-flexing. It could be a matter of temperament.
 
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 08:01:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You shouldn't get hung up on ratings. They're only a vague indication of preference. I've never seen a forum anywhere on the internet whose rating system was applied consistently by the public. This is regardless of whether the rating is a number or an adjective, etc.

On scoop, the main value of the ratings system is to allow users to give each other a small amount of trust. With trust comes the ability to operate censorship of comments to keep discussions clean, but this is too dangerous to give right away to somebody who's just signed up. You can't keep trust over time, so it needs to be replenished over time by having others rate your comments.

Most people in my experience give 4s in this spirit. Some people like to use "4" as a kind of short hand for "I've read your comment, but I'm not going to reply". Very few people use the full range, and if they do, they tire of it.

The scale of the ratings doesn't actually matter. On kuro5hin where the rating system that you see here was invented, the range used to go to 6 or 7 I think, and the only thing that changed was that people would rate comments 7 instead of 4.

When a story got a lot of commentors, ratings wars were inevitably started, with the idea that highly rated comments should be visible earlier. This usually involved a lot of sockpuppet accounts, but since scoop has several ways of ordering comments, it didn't truly matter to readers. However, highly rated comments tend to gather more replies over time.

At some point, the idea of two ratings numbers was introduced, because some people felt that a 4 rating given by 10 people was more reliable than a 4 rating given by 1 person. IIRC, the non-rating threshold was added to reduce the variability of the rating value because people got tired of comments jumping all over the place.

All these things can (and have been) gamed. It happens naturally once there is a critical mass of people reading and commenting on a story. In fact, on kuro5hin the diary system was evolved precisely to allow people to write small personal interest stories that nobody cared about, just for their friends to read.



--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 11:32:40 PM EST
Thanks, martingale.

I have spoken my mind and am at peace now with regards to ratings on ET. No big deal.

Since the system is a given, I'm also going to use it though I very sparingly did so on the last diary where I made it an issue.

How I rate:
"4" may mean "excellent" or "agreement"; I may also use "2" when I feel the necessity.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How I rate - Also, I may not rate at all when I reply at length.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice summing up of the previous debate.

Concerning point A, if the site should grow, with the possible advantages that would bring (like wider reach, influence) and disadvantages (the loss of a certain coffeshop feeling, or conviviality; unmanageability ?). I came to realize that huge websites, if they happen to lose on the conviviality side, they gain on the neutrality one; in the sense that someone who doesn't particularly seek self promotion will find it easier to join a bigger site, where it's harder to feel as if everybody else is on the exact same lengthwave, and the communion of values and opinions reached such depth through repeated debates in the regulars' circle, that the newcomer risks to be welcomed with

  1. a statement in the line: "we've debated this here several times before", with the more or less obvious implication that a conclusion, one way or another (if not a consensus), has already been reached, and now there is little else left to add to it
  2. a strong feeling of political correctness


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:08:42 AM EST
Well maybe I should nuance this, risks to be welcomed with, or to feel as such. There is little difference in practice. In any case, this is what I tried to attract the attention upon with one of my last posts on the other "encore" thread. Poemless replied, and justifiedly so: "it looks like you are picking a fight in order to validate your claims.  It's inside-out logic."  I agree that that was an inflamatory phrase that I should have avoided. On the other hand, I meant it as a caricature of how things seem to go sometimes. (and by the way provoking Jerome would be pointless, he obviously knows how to deal with such characters, and puts out his "I don't care" reply :) )

More seriously, there can be conviviality on much bigger sites, the difference is that it happens punctually, at thread level, on certain topics, and not at site level. Bigger sites look (and I think are) more open, because they make it harder for people to aggregate into one relatively small community and act as such. This is why it is in my view preferable  - and in ET interest as well, especially from an influence viewpoint.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:17:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, we have a conventional wisdom. I don't think that's a bad thing, per se, but we could get better at using it right.

The point of saying "this is something we've discussed before" is not to say "this conversation is closed." Rather, it should be read as "don't be surprised if your arguments have been made before." If that's not apparent, then obviously we have a communication problem.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 01:36:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The following may make more diaries on the limits of scientific materialism redundant:

Gaianne's diary got me interested when I had not yet joined ET. She debates the limits of science (mathematics).

This morning I found this diary by Chris Cook on "metaphysics and science" which he wrote after

this diary by Jerome "Hostility to the notion of limits to growth" (Deepak Chopra/Emil Möller.)

The possibility, i.e. reality in my view, that there could be/is more to reality than our passing physical/material existence on Planet Earth has been considered and elaborated upon in all three threads.

(There was also quite some unease wrt ratings in Chris' and Jerome's diary 1.5 years ago, hm.)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 10:24:05 AM EST
Bloody hell, Lily, you're opening up a can of worms there!

My Boxing Day thread wasn't a pie fight, it was a nuclear exchange....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 12:24:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can of worms? Well, it's a topic I had wanted to write about, maybe from a different angle. This also gives me an opportunity to tell you that your diary was "excellent".

The diary writer bears little responsibility for the debate and how it's evolving unless he/she decides to engage in it a lot. If it goes into many directions and there is controversy, it is all the more interesting. We can always learn from conflict.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 01:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
This also gives me an opportunity to tell you that your diary was "excellent".

that makes me think why, when diaries can take so much more time and effort, do we have a simple binary, recc or not, to ascribe mojo/value to them?

why is there so much bigger a choice for any simple throwaway/filler comment?

hmm

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 07:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Long-time members here remember these debates and will understandingly roll their eyes if I decide to bring up topics you have already chewed over extensively.

It is such a pity that there is no way other than with the help of good luck or a hint to avoid unnecessary repetitions.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 01:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... you say:
Others have expressed their interest in creating sections but technical implications have been misjudged. The improvement wouldn't justify the workload.

It may be that the balance of the trade-off is more specific to a particular vision of creating sections than to sections in general.

To repeat my proposal:
(1) When people rec a diary, they specify which section they are rec'ing it for

(2) "Sectional" reclists are generated using the same algorithm as the reclist, except filtered by type of rec

(3) The "diaries" selection on the top bar turns into a drop down menu:

  • recent diaries
  • recommended diaries
  • current affairs
  • policy briefs
  • background briefing
  • ET community

... f'rinstance, where the last four are the section options people have to choose from.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:28:03 PM EST
That would be cool.

It might very well be a pain to code, though.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd reckon a drop down list for the four sections. Rather than all sorts of protections, do-over you forgot to set a section, yadda, yadda, yadda, default to "no section". Then the reclist button updates two entries in the database ... total recs and section recs.

The drop down list for the diary would pretty much recycle the present drop down list for the user.

One code to generate a page from a reclist, with a parameter on which type of rec is being looked up.

Generating it from a variation of already working code to generate the recommended diaries list seems to me to be less challenging than adding a whole new bag on the side of the box.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 03:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All of this code already exists, as I mentioned elsewhere.

In fact, the original kuro5hin/Scoop design had about 5 or six sections ranging from politics to science, technology, philosophy etc (from memory, I havent logged in the place in a few years). The fundamental unit of discussion was the "story", diaries only came later. However, the variety of sections is only useful if there are enough people interested in them. In the run-up to the Iraq war, the only section that got stories was the politics section and the others simply died out.

Everybody would hang out in the edit queue, which was an area where stories were submitted for publishing approval. People would offer editing suggestions (that's why ET has "editorial" comments) to improve the story and the story author could make changes. After a while or as a result of voting, the story either got published to one of the sections for public discussion, or went into the trash.

Diaries were a later response to this mechanism because people didn't want to lose their work or spend too much time on a story, and many people simply didn't want to have to submit to editorial scrutiny. It became a very popular feature but as a result diaries would scroll off the page in literally a few minutes during peak times.

This led to the ability to monitor authors and diaries, classify diaries, and one feature I personally like which is to have new replies to your own comments in a box on the side of the page.

As the saying goes: "Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme".

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 01:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the original kuro5hin/Scoop design had about 5 or six sections ranging from politics to science, technology, philosophy etc (from memory, I havent logged in the place in a few years).

Yes, but on the author-allocates-to-section model. The first blog I blogged at extensively had that model, and it requires a large commitment and high frequency of time from a few dedicated worker bees all with a common editorial system to train each new user into the meaning of each category.

This suggestion is not "here's a cool extension available" driven suggestion, its a suggestion driven by experience with what is right and what is wrong with a variety of Scoop and Scoop-descendent systems.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 08:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the variety of sections is only useful if there are enough people interested in them.

This is the salient point of that comment concerning "section" usage.

The methods (mechanical and intellectual) and extent of automation employed to divide ("to classify") a large quantity of information are different procedural questions determined by a website's administrator and patrons as is the enumeration of attributes employed to define one or more classes of "story" or "diary" which constitute a category of stories or diaries, a "section".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few more things about "reclist generated sections":

(1) There are no diaries that languish because they are entered into less heavily frequented sections. All diaries that get put up show up on the recent diary list, and all diaries that accumulate enough recommendations get on the reclist, and those continue to be the two lists on the side of the page.

(2) Given 1, being in a less heavily frequented section can be a good thing, since you stay on the "main" page of that section longer, and attract more comments from those who are interested in that section.

And that leads to (3) ...

(3) The content of each section is guaranteed to have attracted the interest of people, who feel it "belongs" in a section as defined by the kinds of stories recommended into the different sections. So there is a positive learning loop between those diarists who are learning to write diaries that attract recommendation into various sectional reclists and those audiences who find various types of diaries of interest.

The flaw of most sectioning systems is that they try to impose a view of what piece belongs in what section based on the view of an author or editor. But the authors and editors are unpaid volunteers.

This system relies on the desire of readers to express their appreciation of diaries that they appreciate, and the reward for the act of selecting a section when recommending a diary is seeing those diaries that attract sufficient agreement move up the sectional recpage.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 11:16:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you correctly, your proposal is to alter the "home" layouts below.

READER logged ON, comment count updated REDREADER logged OFF, comment count NOT updated

And alter the navigation option bar item DIARIES (ascending chronology of "front page" artices, excluding "OPEN THREAD" records) to display a reader's choice of "sections" listed (navigation option menu). Note that your suggested list obviates redundancy of display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES currently listed in the sidebar.

Further, some programming routine will be written to generate dynamically (update) the DIARIES menu options as registered readers assign a "section" category from an option list of sections displayed with each published RECENT DIARY. (Your list is much briefer than the one Lily suggested in her earlier diary.) Also, a reader may (or may not) "recommend" a RECENT DIARY. A db-polling routine counts reader recommendations per diary per "section" in order to display an ordered list of "section" articles at any time.

Here you suggest: "One code to generate a page from a reclist, with a parameter on which type of rec is being looked up." I doubt this programming strategy is feasible or desirable for a number of reasons. Chief among these is reversability of recommendation and "section" assignment at any time. Note that irreversibility of assignment poses a host of ethical challenges to site administrators that guarantee future so-called debates about ideology, validity, and "user-friendly" and authoritarian functionality.

Aside all that, I hafta object to the overweening attention you give to rewarding writers with recommendations (another form of automatic "rating" incentive) and your assumption that diaries "languish" if the publishing platform provides no rating mechanism. You do have an idea how many blogs and webzines do not employ comment or article rating systems of any sort? If not --and absent any empirical analysis of page view data NOT VISITS or UNIQUE VISITORS remotely comparable to that DKOS fella who turned the charts-- I'm having some trouble accepting your guarantee (3) to "improve" as Lily might say, if Lily had something to measure like reader interactivity to lurking, exposure or "influence" potential, market penetration or "impact," or whathaveyou, attributable to "section" assignment.

:)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 03:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that your suggested list obviates redundancy of display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES currently listed in the sidebar.

{Wait a minute while I look that word up} ... No, it doesn't, not at all. Indeed, it relies on the display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES sidebars. The recommended and recent diary list is what prevents the borders between the sections from becoming ossified.

Aside all that, I hafta object to the overweening attention you give to rewarding writers with recommendations (another form of automatic "rating" incentive)

That's the present institutional state of play you are objecting to ... I'm not proposing to change that, except to leverage it into getting the work of sectioning done.

and your assumption that diaries "languish" if the publishing platform provides no rating mechanism.

I didn't say any such thing. Diaries languish in sections that get no company, because when there is no new content, the audience dwindles, and when the audience dwindles, the contributions dwindle.

A few, broad, categories are better than a larger number of precisely defined categories, since it is easier for the commentariat of the site to evolve the distinctions between the sections for itself.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:23:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, I'll tackle just one of my misinterpretations.

it relies on the display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES sidebars.

I had imagined the DIARIES option menu of SECTIONS included RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES --AND-- RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES displayed in the sidebar. One of these sets is redundant.

Thanks for clearing up my misunderstanding: RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES lists in the sidebar only.

"Occasional Reader" (OR1,to you) double-clicks a title in RECENT DIARIES. As usual full text of story appears in new window with sidebar navigation elements REC and SECTION enabled (disabled? if OR1 has ever elected an option, making assignment irreversible). Perhaps too a list of SECTIONS currently assigned to the title appears in the story sidebar.

OR1 elects REC (t) and elects SECTION [VATICAN] from option list.

(Meanwhile, OR2 comes along to elect REC (f) and elects SECTION [HUMOR]. OR3 elects REC (t) and elects SECTION [PUBLIC POLICY]. OR4 selects DIARIES menu OPTION [VATICAN], run-time opens new window to display all VATICAN titles. Alrighty then.)

The need for RECOMMENDED DIARIES in the sidebar is not yet obvious to me, given the DIARIES new functionality: display [SECTION] RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES.

So which RECOMMENDED DIARIES appear on the home (index) page, if at all?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they are not redundant.

A page view of the most recent diaries, and a page view of the top of the reclist, is not identical to the reclist, or the recent diary list. One contains more information about the diaries about the top of each list ... that is, the above the fold section of each diary ... while the other contains a longer list of titles alone.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:58:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here you suggest: "One code to generate a page from a reclist, with a parameter on which type of rec is being looked up." I doubt this programming strategy is feasible or desirable for a number of reasons. Chief among these is reversability of recommendation and "section" assignment at any time. Note that irreversibility of assignment poses a host of ethical challenges to site administrators that guarantee future so-called debates about ideology, validity, and "user-friendly" and authoritarian functionality.

You are suggesting that it is impossible to generate the reclist, since given the ability to generate the reclist, there is the ability to generate a page from the top items in the reclist.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are suggesting that it is impossible to generate the reclist

Nope, not at all impossible. I'm suggesting however the "occasional reader" could perceive the list unreliable, if RECs are reversible and/or a title appears on multiple SECTION (index) pages, as called from DIARIES option menu selection.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Recs are reversible today. That makes a causal reader find the Reclist unreliable?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sections are a different issue, and I still think manual tag filtering rather than fixed categorisation is the way to go there. You could add a few simple buttons and the mechanism would be intuitive and obvious. (I'm not sure about the Scoop side, obviously.)

Otherwise, the rec process seems to work. It reflects community sentiment about the value and readability of diaries. In practice most diaries at the moment end up rec'd, even if it's only for a while, so it's not obviously restrictive.

This doesn't guarantee that outsiders will like a diary. But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

The system even works on dKos, more or less, in that diaries on the rec list do usually seem to be worth reading - although they've taken to propping it up with their rescue ranger system to give more exposure to worthwhile diaries that fall off the list.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 09:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sections are a different issue, and I still think manual tag filtering rather than fixed categorisation is the way to go there. You could add a few simple buttons and the mechanism would be intuitive and obvious. (I'm not sure about the Scoop side, obviously.)

Otherwise, the rec process seems to work. It reflects community sentiment about the value and readability of diaries. In practice most diaries at the moment end up rec'd, even if it's only for a while, so it's not obviously restrictive.

Author assigned tags are a good way for a prolific author to categorize their work so diaries in the archive may be more easily found. And they would certainly make it easier to index diaries. So they are useful.

They don't work very well for generating common sections, though, without the overhead of a committee of worker bees that go through the tags and clean them up.

The sectional reclists is a version of sectioning that leverages what already works.

This doesn't guarantee that outsiders will like a diary. But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

I hadn't been aware that was the goal, so I hadn't thought about how to achieve it.

The system even works on dKos, more or less, in that diaries on the rec list do usually seem to be worth reading - although they've taken to propping it up with their rescue ranger system to give more exposure to worthwhile diaries that fall off the list.

There's a lot of aggressive behavior on dKos involved with the fight for the position on the reclist that ensures hundreds of comments and hundreds of recs and comments and lots of "mojo".

Power law distributions being what they are, its not likely that the European Tribune will expand to that size, but if it did, that would turn sectional reclists from a nice feature into an essential one.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 10:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't need worker bees. You just tell people there are six or eight (say) broad tags, and they click one or more buttons to autotag their diary when they're done.

Section views display only the selected tag category/ies. Problem solved. It's not a perfect solution, but it's relatively simple, and it's easy to understand.

I can't see the point of infinitely granular tagging, except possibly as a not so effective way to speed up searches.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This does the same thing ... though fewer categories ... except without the strategic dimension of the author picking the category.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:52:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

Quite.

The premise of this 2-part foray into "user-friendly" design "improvement" of ET is the unknown quantity of "occasional reader" (Lily). Let's not forget: Acquiring ("attracting") and converting an unknown quantity of "occasional readers" into ET um insiders --presumably persons distinguished by frequency of visible activity-- is a problem, she identified more or less, for ET administrators to solve.

  • Size: universe of ICT subscribers excluding cumulative registered users, visits per month, unique visitors per month (for comparative  value perhaps).
  • Usage: e.g. views per story, time per story, comments per story, services (rating by type, search, wiki, published stories etc. per diem and by device (whot, no ET Mobile proposals? RSS?). Analysis of such data informs reader segmentation
  • Preferences: i.e. how "occasional readers" specifically prioritize value of website services. (That's a data collection challenge no diary-with-poll can service!)

Why is this piece of interface design proposal writing a big fat void thus far? Could it beeeee (1) unknown by definition (2) no model demographic of "occasional reader" (3) no target demographic of desirable "insider"? heh.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or 'not actually an interface problem.'

Blogworld proves that interfaces are less relevant than content, intent and leadership.

People love them some Myspace, even though most pages look like they fell out of a textbook on screwing up and uglifying HTML.

Yet, popular. Therefore.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not actually an interface problem. LOL

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 01:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the only 'inside' and outside' i can relate to is the  readers who don't post being 'outside', and the posters 'inside' because someone has to, lol!

ET as 90% lurkers and 10% bloviators?

i bet large numbers of readers here would have something valuable to share, but feel too intimidated to even post to say that they're intimidated! i'm actually not very attached to this issue, except tangentially, as size is not really the important part of ET for me.

if intelligent old-time posters like redstar and metavision, and more lately valentinD and Lily try to offer opinions about what's off-putting about some patterns of group behaviour, or suggest ideas to make the website more expressive of a wider set of points of view, or just plain nicer to look at and navigate, then i think we'd do well to be grateful for their input. all 4 are too smart to be criticising just for the hell of it, and all have at one point or other enriched these pages with good-to-great content and heart.

sometimes it appears a bit that there's a bit of a kneejerk defensiveness, that implies that ET is such a precious jewel that even to say you don't like something about it disempowers its mojo, or impugns its honour.

it's a (pretty) free-ranging, flowing collection of thoughts, and should be happy to mutate if enough people think its a good idea.

how else are we going to get new ideas to keep ET evolving, if we don't listen to feedback, even if we don't agree?

prickly comments and sometimes subtle and in-group witticisms betray insecurity and a slight snobby edge. it doesn't bother me as much as it used to, but it seems tone-deaf to ask for more diaries, then make people feel shot down when they come along with fresh ideas, maybe because they're not uber IT geeks, they don't realise how much work it is, but then sometimes the coders aren't omniscient and learn from each other (yay open source!), and things that were thought too hard are in fact attainable.

i think we should keep doing exactly what we're doing, but just more attention to respecting people, cutting them some slack before retorting, just maybe there was a conclusion jumped to, and later you'll have to cop to it.

most here are charming, but it only takes a few to cast quite a pall sometimes, it's no capital crime, just a few tics that can be less than inviting, unless that is the intention, to send between-the-lines messages to those who think or believe different to go away, or pipe down until they have gone through all the archives in case maybe they say something we've already hashed out...

red carpets aren't necessary, but little puddles of insecurity left in the doorway are a little less than as inviting as the hearty exhortations in the salon blurb, or whataboutbob's earnest entreaties to contribute more.

i did my best with what i could find to hand bob, 2 diaries with a total of under 10 comments!

blogs usually die because they get dull from too many trolls staking territory, and repetitive loops of old chestnuts around a cozy fire of regulars, gradually isolating themselves by their desire to keep cosy.

colman picked up on this recently, asking some good questions, and getting some spirited debate going...

the world is falling apart, the squabbles here are like arguing over pieces of candy in a plane going down.

it can be very depressing, reading the news every day, and i'd like to thank all the posters for their humour, it makes the grim reaper's approach a lot slower! thanks also for posting positive stories.

with all the extreme dramas going on world wide, i find it very interesting how many more comments come out on the meta diaries. i am ever more certain that the attention to inner things will come to balance out all the attention to the outside world. whether it's poemless' hilarious (and razor sharp) odds and ends, jerome's amazing deconstructions, the wonderful photo diaries, these are the sweetener that keeps the bitter medicine of learning the more difficult lessons to be learned here at ET.
 'Know Yourself', isn't that the oldest european wisdom we have?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 07:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As it happens, I traveled several times over several years to Barcelona to revisit la sagrada familia, specifically.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the compliment.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
occasional reader. Casual reader is another horse altogether, innit? One reader modified by time, the other by behavior. Being an GUI designer now, such distinctions are strategically informative. Could end up with Streaming Big Type, 200 word story limit or 30 sec-audio promos for ET podcast distributions.

So what I'd hope to show through my crystal ball above is two results of contigent tag assignment --volatility of location, ambiguity of SECTION attribute. (See how a Wordpress blog handles the dilemma. Scroll to Add Tag. Click it. LOL)

The "occasional reader", presuably prioritizing speed and accuracy in locating a particular class of article, could likely conclude over a period of time (say, months) the DIARIES menu fails to satisfy this expectation and is an unreliable method.

Especially if he or she cannot relocate a favorite article in the section last visited, because some number of other "occasional readers" migrated it elsewhere and the title is long gone from RECENT DIARIES list.

On the other hand, the occasional reader may appreciate the entertainment value --GOOG Feel Lucky Quotient-- "user-friendly" promotions add to ET navigation.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to interrupt the technical debate here, just quickly jump in. Even if the occasional reader is happy about speed and accuracy, I don't believe that occasional ET readers come here - and stay! - when they want to feel lucky and be entertained.

Maybe this aspect (provided I assess it correctly) would take one worry away?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially if he or she cannot relocate a favorite article in the section last visited, because some number of other "occasional readers" migrated it elsewhere and the title is long gone from RECENT DIARIES list.

There is still the learning process ... learning to click "+" if you are going to want to revisit an article is one of the things to learn.

But for the weekly reader, speaking as an oft-times weekly reader, it would without a doubt be appealing to have sections that you could page back through to look at what had happened in the week.

The "occasional reader", presuably prioritizing speed and accuracy in locating a particular class of article, could likely conclude over a period of time (say, months) the DIARIES menu fails to satisfy this expectation and is an unreliable method.

I don't see the likelihood. Given a small enough class of categories that are defined in terms of the types of diaries that are commonly posted, the regular users of ET that recommend diaries for the reclist will be far more reliable in forming coherent groups than a sectioning that relies on each individual author's interpretation of the meaning of each section.

And whereas in the author-selected sections, in a blog with the level of traffic of ET, there's a very strong incentive to pick the section that gets the most traffic, and we're back to the "all diaries in politics" scenario.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:31:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you correctly, your proposal is to alter the "home" layouts below.

No, didn't say anything about modifying the "home" layouts.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:47:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would this also allow to retrieve diaries by topics using a search function?

Is it a system that better classifies topics (by category and in chronological order)?
(I guess this is what it is.)

My questions are probably not at all helpful.

It would be nice it if the 'IT people' or whoever else feels competent to comment on this could look into your suggestions some more.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 04:16:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few broad categories ... like sections in a Newspaper, that is ... and the consensus view of people making diary recommendations would define what is in one section and what is in another.

Its primary benefit is in reducing the artificial bottleneck of a single rec diary list. That allows topics which run on a slower "clock" to stay up longer for ongoing discussion ... which in turn encourages people to post the kind of diaries that users are likely to recommend into those sections.

And increasing exposure to the audience interested in that type of diary is, after all, the main coin of the virtual realm that Eurotrib can offer to encourage contributions.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 05:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it a system that better classifies topics

Classification is a system for grouping things. People invent classification systems all the time and for the most mundate purposes. Some systems are more coherent --comprehensible to other people-- than other systems.

All things evince to people attributes such as title (name), creation date, dimension (l, w, d) --that parenthetical statement is a group of attributes known as an array--, author, weight, species, leaf, genus, file size, file type, BMI, color (R,G,B), category (politics, fiction, gardening), gestation period, topic (EU election, Il Duce, PES, 18 October Fundraiser) etc. etc. etc.

There is no natural limit to the number of attributes one associates with a thing (possibilities). There is a limit on the number of attributes one needs to sort things into different groups. That limit is a set of rules, or system, to identify all attributes of the things to be sorted.

Category (or "topic" or "section") and creation date (required to perform "chronological order") are the least informative attributes by which to sort things. To be informative at all, category type must be limited to one attribute.  


Click to enlarge. GOOG like every other search engine interface displays a list of operations to  exclude certain attributes shared by things, so reducing the total number of things located that match more accurately the user's peculiar "interest".

You are unaware of this software functionality?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 01:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are unaware of this software functionality?

This snark is necessary because?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 01:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My question is not sarcastic. It is a prompt. To the contrary, the few comments I've made addressed to Lily encourage (ok, challenge) her to experiment with software tools available, explore features and functionality of other websites to compare to ET, and report her findings of "user-friendly" interface.

A goodly portion of knowing is doing.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 03:32:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are unaware of this software functionality?

Thank you, MarketTrustee. I see that you know what you are talking about and follow your reasoning. It's just that these practical applications don't belong to the realm of my interests. I'm on the lazy user side.

You will eventually sort out among the site's editors how or if this place would benefit from change and whether it would be worth the effort.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 02:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So I gather.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 03:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would you mean by
I gather.
?

I like that you value the evolutionary importance of diversity.
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 03:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To gather (v.) American colloquial expression, is to affirm a truth from foregoing statements; to collect disperate strands to an agreeable result; as to gather wool is to daydream, to speculate.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 04:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It could have meant, "So, I gather my charts and walk off - if you still resist the exploration of software functionalities!"
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:10:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It could have meant that if you agree with "words mean what I want them to mean at the time I say them, nothing more and nothing less" position from Alice in Wonderland.

Otherwise, "So I gather", with no direct object, is a stock phrase that only means one thing.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I should actually return to English "Wonderland" since the linguistic feeling is fading.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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