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Author Topic: AmeriPol thread  (Read 943567 times)

sluissa

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29955 on: March 19, 2019, 05:42:27 am »

Re: Orbital lasers

300 million isn't going to get a functional one into space.

While there's the old "If you give a mouse a cookie" path where eventually the mouse is going to want an orbital death laser after spending all the time and money doing the stuff to prepare for the orbital death laser, just doing research on a weapon system that other countries are likely to be doing their own research on isn't necessarily the worst idea.

There's a weird balance to it. I don't think the pentagon necessarily expects to launch them in the next 5 years, but they have to seem like they have some sort of plan for the idea if they want money to research it.

That also said, I'm sure there are people at the pentagon who fully 100% believe we need orbital death lasers and probably think we need them today.
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Starver

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29956 on: March 19, 2019, 05:45:53 am »

Orbital Death Ferrets.

Whatever the question is, that is the answer.
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Trekkin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29957 on: March 19, 2019, 08:47:37 am »

That also said, I'm sure there are people at the pentagon who fully 100% believe we need orbital death lasers and probably think we need them today.

Well, of course there are. That is, in some sense, their job.

It's the defense version of what might be called the cop problem. Every day the police get called out to deal with some sort of threat; their presence in and of itself indicates that the normal order has broken down. Unfortunately, since they're present for all of it, they can get a distorted view of how often that actually happens and forget that, however often they see wrongdoing at work, they are no more likely than any other citizen to see it in their off hours. So they go sort of paranoid; after all, wherever they are, the guy who gets called out when all other options fail is here, so shit must have hit the fan.

Defense has the same problem on a larger scale. Spotting threats is their whole schtick, so they've become so adept at seeing them that they forget how rare they actually are -- and since they're usually the ones evaluating the threats in the first place, a paranoid feedback loop emerges. All countries seek advantage, therefore everything every country does must be an attempt to gain power over us, therefore all countries constantly seek advantage. Intelligence gets this the worst, since they can't be reality checked by anyone not in the same boat, but the Cold War was in some sense this idea run amok on both sides, and here we are yet again testing ways to deter or destroy hypothetical threats. They'll burn themselves out in time.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 08:55:32 am by Trekkin »
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Doomblade187

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29958 on: March 19, 2019, 08:50:05 am »

Suddenly I'm reminded of that one scene from Iron Sky where everyone is outraged that everyone else secretly weaponized their spacecraft.
Except Finland.

Poor Finland.
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Max™

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29959 on: March 19, 2019, 09:31:20 am »

Regarding the whole uninformed experts assumptions, I say never take anyone who says "trust me, I'm an expert" at their word, while it may be true, they're doing everyone a disservice.

I have found that, at least for stuff you don't know anything about, checking if there were any experts on the field involved and their credentials is usually enough to judge the amount of bullshit being passed.
Works great here in Brazil, the last three times I check were zero experts and 100% bullshit, so it checks out.

There's a big pitfall with that, though. Most people only go checking when they already have a problem with the expert consensus, and there's a great temptation to scale your estimation of the scope of someone else's expertise according to whether you agree with them, particularly since how different fields relate is not obvious to the layman. It's tempting to insist, for example, that the "so-called experts" telling you that ferrets are dangerous have degrees in ferretology and Californiology and any number of other hyperspecific and often fictitious fields until they come up short and can be disregarded, while simultaneously deciding that your cousin who had a friend who had a ferret once and agrees with you that it didn't seem full of tuberculosis is obviously qualified -- particularly since laypeople massively underestimate the extent of expert knowledge until they start whining about not having jetpacks yet.

Then, too, argument from authority doesn't actually prove anything. It's just an excuse to sit and judge people, substituting opinions of experts (by whatever criteria) for actual subject matter expertise.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.  So you have to be very careful about that.  After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.  You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I’m not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being.  We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi.  I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist.  And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen." ~The guy who came up with THE diagrams
Orbital Death Ferrets.

Whatever the question is, that is the answer.
Q: How many ferrets does it take to destroy a given target of interest?
A: One, at sufficient velocity.
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Trekkin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29960 on: March 19, 2019, 10:23:27 am »

It's still argument from authority when you use quotations, you know, but I actually don't think Feynman was right about this one -- or rather, I think the context in which he made those remarks is sufficiently different from our own to warrant pause in taking them wholly to heart, as we have effectively done in outreach for many years. We've been so careful to note our uncertainty that we've forgotten to explain how limited our uncertainty is and by extension how confident we really are, and I think that's helped to erode confidence in our institution -- or at least made it easier for the anti-science movement to muddy the waters.

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"

That was an extreme example (and wrong in every particular), but the basic pattern holds from climate change denialism through "citizen science" tomfoolery on into crystal healing woo: we do an absolutely execrable job of explaining how uncertainty actually works for us. We say we can never be absolutely sure about anything and people hear that we have no idea regardless of our actual margins of error; we're so careful to express humility and not sound overconfident that we forget to mention how much we actually know, and that's how the woo-peddlers and Republicans get a chance to spread their nonsense. We've overcorrected relative to 1974, I think.
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Zangi

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29961 on: March 19, 2019, 11:26:58 am »

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Kagus

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29962 on: March 19, 2019, 11:33:21 am »

Fake news is banned in Russia? Man, RT is in for a rough time...

SalmonGod

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29963 on: March 19, 2019, 11:35:02 am »

It's still argument from authority when you use quotations, you know, but I actually don't think Feynman was right about this one -- or rather, I think the context in which he made those remarks is sufficiently different from our own to warrant pause in taking them wholly to heart, as we have effectively done in outreach for many years. We've been so careful to note our uncertainty that we've forgotten to explain how limited our uncertainty is and by extension how confident we really are, and I think that's helped to erode confidence in our institution -- or at least made it easier for the anti-science movement to muddy the waters.

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"

That was an extreme example (and wrong in every particular), but the basic pattern holds from climate change denialism through "citizen science" tomfoolery on into crystal healing woo: we do an absolutely execrable job of explaining how uncertainty actually works for us. We say we can never be absolutely sure about anything and people hear that we have no idea regardless of our actual margins of error; we're so careful to express humility and not sound overconfident that we forget to mention how much we actually know, and that's how the woo-peddlers and Republicans get a chance to spread their nonsense. We've overcorrected relative to 1974, I think.

I agree with this.  Although I'm not sure how much of anti-science sentiment is to blame on it vs people just generally being stubborn about holding on to whatever they want to believe.  They'll fall back on statements about uncertainty because it's convenient, but without them, I'm not convinced they wouldn't find some other weak misinterpretation to carry around in their pocket.

But also... it can be healthy to be skeptical of science, because it can be prone to corruption and flaw.  Here's a fantastic example of some bad science that permeated our culture for 50 years to the point of creating one of modern day's worst health crisis, and is only recently beginning to turn around.

Yeah... I know being able to tell a case like that from quackery like climate denialism is beyond plenty of people, and I hate mentalities that reject science wholesale.  But that doesn't make it wrong to take a deeper look yourself and form your own opinion when expert consensus looks too convenient for the interests of industry or state.
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Kagus

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29964 on: March 19, 2019, 12:00:39 pm »

But also... it can be healthy to be skeptical of science, because it can be prone to corruption and flaw.  Here's a fantastic example of some bad science that permeated our culture for 50 years to the point of creating one of modern day's worst health crisis, and is only recently beginning to turn around.
Quote
(this is a trick of the language: we call an overweight person “fat”; we don’t describe a person with a muscular body as “proteiny”)

Well we never used to, but now that you suggest it...

Doomblade187

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29965 on: March 19, 2019, 12:18:02 pm »

I do have several proteiny friends... :3

Let's make this a thing, eh?
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Trekkin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29966 on: March 19, 2019, 12:52:53 pm »

Yeah... I know being able to tell a case like that from quackery like climate denialism is beyond plenty of people, and I hate mentalities that reject science wholesale.  But that doesn't make it wrong to take a deeper look yourself and form your own opinion when expert consensus looks too convenient for the interests of industry or state.

Oh, I quite agree, but people should be careful to recognize the difference between skepticism of scientists and skepticism of science itself. Much like how theists will speak of "what atheists believe", nonscientists often implicitly assume that there exists some cabal of old scientists that dictates The Expert Consensus that we all believe unreservedly, and by discrediting them science itself may be proven wrong. This matters particularly when looking at paper retractions and so forth, which by their nature have to be publicized; they're usually the end result of serious, professional doubt rather than the beginning, so it's not so much science being wrong as science being loudly self-correcting. It's just a full-time job to look under the hood, so all anybody hears is that famous eminent scientist so-and-so "fooled everyone for years." They almost never did; everyone just quietly dismissed them until they had proof. The same is true of the predatory journals that keep getting hoaxed with fake papers, incidentally. You hear the laughter when the Journal of Very Excellent Sciences publishes something an AI spat out, but nobody mentions their impact factor of 0.

This gets particularly egregious when politics gets involved, particularly in metascience. When, for example, a scientist who is a woman makes some advance in a way unexpected by her male colleagues, this is almost universally regarded as a good thing in-house and another reason to keep working on diversity -- but the worst of the feminist press runs headlines like "Brave Woman Proves Stupid Man-Science Wrong" because the nuances don't fit in their columns, and that's what ends up on Facebook because it's snappy. The same thing happens with conservative scientists and the alt-right press, although they have far fewer examples to draw from, and of course the lunatic conspiracy theorist fringe eats up every scrap of uncertainty they can find.

So yes, skepticism is a good thing, but it needs to start internally, with a recognition that the lay enthusiast is working from a very restricted data set filled mostly with bottom-of-the-barrel open-access papers with all the perverse financial incentives they still have to publish as much as possible and an understanding that, since it's our job as scientists, we have a better understanding of what is to be taken seriously than is apparent to people from the outside. Yes, form your own opinion, but never forget that it is opinion after all.
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Max™

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29967 on: March 19, 2019, 03:13:51 pm »

Bah, don't bother with opinions at all, everyone's got an asshole and some opinions, but at least assholes serve to eliminate waste plus possible... alternative uses... they're generally best kept to yourself all the same.
It's still argument from authority when you use quotations, you know, but I actually don't think Feynman was right about this one -- or rather, I think the context in which he made those remarks is sufficiently different from our own to warrant pause in taking them wholly to heart, as we have effectively done in outreach for many years. We've been so careful to note our uncertainty that we've forgotten to explain how limited our uncertainty is and by extension how confident we really are, and I think that's helped to erode confidence in our institution -- or at least made it easier for the anti-science movement to muddy the waters.

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"

That was an extreme example (and wrong in every particular), but the basic pattern holds from climate change denialism through "citizen science" tomfoolery on into crystal healing woo: we do an absolutely execrable job of explaining how uncertainty actually works for us. We say we can never be absolutely sure about anything and people hear that we have no idea regardless of our actual margins of error; we're so careful to express humility and not sound overconfident that we forget to mention how much we actually know, and that's how the woo-peddlers and Republicans get a chance to spread their nonsense. We've overcorrected relative to 1974, I think.
Yeah... I know being able to tell a case like that from quackery like climate denialism is beyond plenty of people, and I hate mentalities that reject science wholesale.  But that doesn't make it wrong to take a deeper look yourself and form your own opinion when expert consensus looks too convenient for the interests of industry or state.
Not sure climate science suffers from a problem of excessively forthright presentation of uncertainty. I mean, nobody bothers to even mention a consensus on plate tectonics, general relativity, solar plasma physics, thermodynamics, or the more exciting branches of chemistry where stuff like flourine gets to come out and play when people aren't tossing around words with far too many wurtzitaneizene sounding syllables. It's important to identify and compare things like majority and minority positions when working towards a political consensus, but it will never cease to baffle me that anybody thinks it has any sort of relevance when doing science. You don't determine experimental results by committee, you get them by running experiments--indeed, this is a case where quantity matters: more experiments is generally going to mean more understanding--and a single experimental result can outweigh any number of scientists arguing against it until they do their own experiments and find the prior results flawed or otherwise inaccurate.

The political easy-button for funding in various fields where you might struggle to convince a board to fund shit like... I dunno. THE GODDAMN JWST... but you find a way to hook it into climate something or other, pow! You're set to start pulling in grad students and ordering gear to test your brains out with.

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

I doubt your walk and remain suspicious of swim!
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Egan_BW

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29968 on: March 19, 2019, 03:27:47 pm »

There are some verbs that I am sceptical of. Such as telepathy.
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Folly

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29969 on: March 19, 2019, 06:29:58 pm »

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

After a general survey of human beliefs and policies now and throughout our entire history, ridiculousness should surprise nobody at this point.
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