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Comment You don't understand how govt documents work (Score 1) 78

The FBI is simply undertaking a minor delay tactic. Given current trajectories, I believe they have calculated that within a short time frame American citizens will have no remaining privacy. Then they can check the box (I am morally certain there is one) that says, "no discernible effect on citizens' privacy." Then they will be happy to post it.

Comment Not cheap, won't happen (Score 1) 81

If the prof has to interact in real time with actual humans this won't save the universities any money. Their only interest in all this is figuring out how to automate millions of student credit hours while using cheap labor. This approach isn't going to be the future of anything except servicing home bound students in remote areas, which some responsible universities have been quietly doing for a century.

Submission + - Delusions theorized to be brain's mechanism for explaining the inexplicable (gardenofthemind.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Using a trick called the rubber hand illusion to make a subject's hand appear to move when it didn't, researchers have induced strange and odd delusions in normal patients including reports of 'outside forces' manipulating hands providing a theory on the origin of delusions in patients with Schizophrenia.

Submission + - Could IBM's Watson Put Google in Jeopardy? 1

theodp writes: Over at Wired, Vashant Dhar poses a provocative question: What If IBM’s Watson Dethroned the King of Search? "If IBM did search," Dhar writes, "Watson would do much better than Google on the tough problems and they could still resort to a simple PageRank-like algorithm as a last resort. Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google. All the search traffic that makes Google seemingly invincible now could begin to shrink over time." Mixing supercomputers with a scalable architecture of massive amounts of simple processors and storage, Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think. And because the costs of switching from Google search would not be prohibitive for most, the company is much more vulnerable to disruption. "The only question," Dhar concludes, "is whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google from its perch. That’s one answer Watson can’t provide."

Submission + - Hidden Message from Weather Service

Holistic Missile writes: CNN Reports a hidden message from the folks working (without paychecks) at the NWS in Anchorage:

"Sometimes, it pays to read between the lines. At least that may be the message --and, more accurately, the hope — of workers at the National Weather Service office in Anchorage, Alaska.

The message can be found in an official forecast put out at 5 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) that seems, at first glance, routine with its discussion of air pressure, wind speeds and weather systems.

But if you line up the first letters of each word from top-to-bottom in the forecast, under the heading "Analysis and Upper levels," there's something else there: P-L-E-A-S-E-P-A-Y-U-S...."

The text of the forecast is on their web page. Some of the comments in the story's discussion are rather interesting, including a few people sending their own similar messages.

Submission + - Attitudes towards time of Facebook users predict Problematic Internet Use

vrml writes: A study that has just appeared on the Personality and Individual Differences Journal has linked specific attitudes towards time (TIme Perspective) of Facebook users with their level of Problematic Internet Use, by applying Phil Zimbardo's psychology of time. More specifically, a negative view of the past (Past Negative) and a fatalistic view of the present (Present Fatalistic) turned out to be the two time perspectives that predict pathologic Internet use in Facebook users. A full copy of the paper can be downloaded at this link .

Comment Re:Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (Score 1) 308

In a word, yes. Re-opening the case would at least make it possible to identify incompetent defense, confessions by frightened intimidated or learning-challenged people, and so forth. Lots of polygraph-cheating involves taking various drugs like beta blockers, and that's why I mentioned blood tests. Psychopaths who are emotionally flat are identifiable by a competent polygraph test, so you just re-open, investigate, and re-instate. And I'm perfectly willing to include various "truth drugs" to the protocol, given the stakes here and the apparent forfeiture of lots of privacy rights by the death row inmates. I'd rather leave a couple of these people in jail for the rest of their lives than execute innocent, frightened, confused people.

Comment Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (Score 1) 308

This is a little off topic but I've had a somewhat relevant thought over the years: I think every death row inmate should be required to take a polygraph (with or without any drugs and blood tests you like) before they can be executed. If the inmate passes the exam, there should be an automatic indefinite delay in execution, and the case should be re-opened. There are dozens of documented cases of wrongful executions, the people on death row usually (yes, I read "usually" somewhere) get public defenders who have been or will be disbarred, many are unable to help themselves intelligently, and some are intimidated into confessions. I'm not keen on execution to begin with, but if we're going to have it, a redundant test of guilt would be a very good thing.

Comment Smith is easy to underestimate (Score 2) 292

I met this guy once in a real meeting with genuine conversation. He's actually very bright. He went to Yale for instance. I know that's no guarantee you haven't been infected with some ideology virus, but ask yourself: if you had been to Yale and wanted a lot of red meat eating, capital punishment cheering, cousin marrying Texans to send you to Congress, what sort of stuff would you have to say in public? I really think that thought is at the bottom of a lot of his stuff. I think that he'll be okay as long as the spotlight isn't too bright. We just won't see a lot of progressive science leadership from him.

Comment Re:USB Microscope (Score 1) 118

Years ago when my girls were little, we had one of these from Logitech. It worked fine (came with some software). It was essentially just a camera with some close-up capability. I can also recommend little $10 portable microscopes from, among others, Edmund Scientific. They're about the size of a cigar case. They're a small hassle to get focused but you can take them anywhere. They even have a little light.

Comment Re:Power Analysis (Score 1) 315

No, I didn't read the paper. But I've done power analyses plenty of times and I know that with tiny expected effects 40 or 50 isn't enough. It's enough if you're expecting moderate or large effects, but you can't seriously propose that if you're trying to prove that the effect size is zero. You can't take Bem's effects as proper estimates of what to expect in your power analysis if you've got theoretical reason to suppose that Bem's results were overstated in his data set. If you're actually setting out to prove a null you can't skimp on sample size. Their idea was to refute the original paper, not just jab at it, and they needed a killer case to do that. N of 50 won't do, and even N of 150 won't do. If you're going to prove nothing is going on, you have to stomp on the finding, and N = 500 and upwards is going to be what's required. This sort of minimalist study design is just going to keep things going.

My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer