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Comment Re:How about "no"? (Score 1) 388

Hate speech absolutely does not violate US law. Inciting to violence against them, sometimes (again, if credible); Ranting until you go horse about the evils of Muslims or gays or Canadians, no. You have every right to hate whatever groups you want and talk about it every chance you get - Hell, you can even do it while running for president!

It depends on what you mean by "does not violate US law." If you mean, "You can't be convicted for a crime on the basis of hateful speech ALONE," then you're sort of correct.

But hate speech is commonly used to enhance sentences for other crimes by converting them into "hate crimes." So, there can be clear legal consequences to hate speech, depending on the circumstances -- including ending up in prison for significantly longer.

Now, we can argue semantics here about how hate crime laws work. But the basic fact is that IF you use hate speech, it can cause you to serve significant prison time. Generally, you also need a related crime to trigger such a penalty, but it's effectively an extra penalty for the motivation behind a hate crime, which is often supported by evidence of hateful speech.

Bottom line: hate speech doesn't violate US law unless you use it while violating another US law. In that latter case, it most definitely can trigger significant criminal penalties, above and beyond what would normally be appropriate for a given offense.

Comment Re:I teach a course somewhat similar (Score 1) 234

I'm late to the party here, but just happened to be reading through this thread...

What really convinced people was how simply it explained planetary motion (as opposed to the impossibly complex epicycles of the Ptolemaic system)

Except we're talking about Galileo here, who believed in circular orbits, as did Copernicus. Circular orbits still require significant numbers of epicycles as corrections, so these systems are not necessarily simpler mathematically.

Kepler of course proposed elliptical orbits, which did simplify the math considerably, but Galileo summarily rejected that possibility.

combined with the discovery of Jupiter's moons, which, while not in itself a proof of the Copernican system, was proof that not everything revoled around the Earth.

And that's one of the reasons that many (probably most) scientists who cared about this began to take the Tychonic model of the solar system seriously, which still posited that the universe as a whole revolved around the earth, but other bodies like the Sun and Jupiter might have their own satellites.

At the time of Galileo's trial, there weren't that many scientists who yet took a Copernican model as reality, and probably even fewer who knew of and agreed with Kepler. Aside from the parallax problem, there were a lot more difficulties with the heliocentric theory in terms of science of that day, and Galileo's ways of explaining away objections was usually to attack people who disagreed and call them idiots while offering up nonsensical arguments of his own. (His main proof that the earth was in motion, for example, involved a theory of tides that required only one high tide per day at noon. Obviously this contradicted empirical evidence, and everybody could easily recognize it, but that was the best proof Galileo had... in the face of millennia of previous scientists and arguments about why the earth was at rest.)

Obviously his persecution and trial was terrible. But there were lots of obstacles to accepting his theory at that time.

Comment Re:Is anyone surprised? (Score 1) 250

Here's an interesting statistic: Ty Cobb has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball history. He is, put simply, the best batter in the history of the world. What was his batting average? 0.366 Let that sink in.

Here's another interesting statistic: the significance level generally agreed upon for many psychological studies is a minimum of 0.95. Assuming we don't have any other sources of error, bias, etc., that means we should end up with roughly 5% or less of studies that can't be replicated.

Instead, the numbers are more like >60% of studies can't be replicated.

It doesn't matter what Ty Cobb's batting average was, or whether he failed most of the time. Obviously most experiments will probably fail most of the time. The issue is when you have published articles that usually require a minimum statistical threshold.

Thus, what matters is that many scientists have statistical procedures in place that are supposed to guarantee that the false positive rate is less than 5%. But those statistical procedures do no such thing -- and yes, that does mean there's a REAL and pervasive problem in research methodology when the standard for determining a "successful" study is this screwed up.

(Obviously, anyone who knows anything about stats realizes that the naive use of p values, etc. is out of hand and leads to really misleading results, even absent deliberate p hacking and other manipulation or bias. This present study is just proof that the naive statistical use in many studies is much less useful than most scientists think.)

Comment Re:He should be going to jail (Score 2) 199

He ran a fraud:

That seems possible, and perhaps even likely. But the Gizmodo story overlooks something.

From your link:

There are definitely other possible explanations for these data discrepancies. It could be that the women's data in these three fields just happened to get hopelessly corrupted, even though the men's data didn't. Or maybe most of those accounts weren't deliberately faked, but just represented real women who came to the site once, never to return.

There's an obvious missing alternative possible explanation here -- The hackers could have tampered with the data.

This hack is notable because of its specific target of embarrassing and destroying the reputation of the company. Erasing or tampering with very specific database fields that make it look like Ashley Madison was perpetrating a complete fraud... well, that's certainly a convenient way to provide the final knife blow to any credibility the site or its management might have had.

Don't get me wrong -- I have no doubt that the site likely fabricated thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of female profiles, perhaps as initial enticement to get the site going in the beginning (since female numbers obviously are going to be less, as on any dating site). But the Gizmodo analysis wants us to believe that the ratio of active male:female members was something like 1000:1 or greater. Men and women certainly are different, but it's a little hard to believe that they're THAT different.

I'd say it's at least POSSIBLE that this data has been altered or tampered with by hackers who clearly have a specific moral agenda. This kind of tampering -- if it happened -- would effectively further their agenda to discredit the company. But perhaps it also serves other purposes... certainly there's been speculation that this moral attack was motivated by a personal affront or something. Perhaps the hack was partly motivated by someone specifically angry about a situation involving men cheating. Erasing data from most of the female accounts makes the men look even more desperate and pathetic than before, while simultaneously making the women look more "innocent."

I don't much care either way. But the reality is that the only data being used to support these claims has passed through hackers who clearly have their own agendas. Thus, we should be suspicious about apparent trends in that data which also conveniently further the hackers' moral agenda.

Not saying my hypothesis here is true, or even that it's likely. But it shouldn't be completely ignored as a possibility.

Submission + - More than half of psychological results can't be reproduced->

Bruce66423 writes: A new study trying to replicated results reported in allegedly high quality journals failed to do so in over 50% of cases. Those of us from a hard science background always had our doubts about this sort of stuff — it's interesting to see it demonstrated — or rather, as the man says: "Psychology has nothing to be proud of when it comes to replication,” Charles Gallistel, president of the Association for Psychological Science.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Dangling participle error in title (Score 2) 194

Today's grammar lesson: dangling participle

As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction...

I really hate to interrupt a good pedantic grammar rant, but a "dangling participle" needs... well... a participle, i.e., a verb form that modifies another word.

The phrase "As a cable channel" has no verb and no participle. If it instead said "Being a cable channel,..." then you might be more justified in your complaint about a dangling participle.

But "As a cable channel" is a misplaced modifier or a dangling modifier, specifically a prepositional phrase. No participles were harmed in the creation of that sentence.

Comment Re:Worst outcome? Social. All the fucking prudes. (Score 2) 367

But the whole, holier-than-thou, buttinsky lot of self-appointed moral guardians who are PERFECTLY happy to tear people down for their perceived faults, as if these hypocrites had no faults of their own, and generally starting a fast-pitch league in their own glass houses.

I know, I know. The US, in general, is stupidly puritanical and judgmental (with emphasis on "mental").

And, basically, these assholes feel that everyone else's rights cease when such rights contradict their "feels" and prejudices.

The world would be MUCH better off if everyone would just mind their own fucking business and stop prying into other peoples' lives.

Oh, the irony.

You know what often the hardest thing for people who are "tolerant" and "non-judgmental" is? To recognize how intolerant and judgmental they can be, particularly toward those whom they perceive (whether justifiably or not) as intolerant or judgmental.

Reading your other comments, I get that you don't think people should rant about their own moral feelings, and they shouldn't judge all Ashley Madison users together -- because, as you point out, probably not all of them are the jerks that everyone assumes.

But here's the problem -- where's your tolerance for those "puritanical" jerks? Seriously.

Think about it for a second. Lots of people get seriously hurt in relationships through cheating. I've seen it happen myself to friends and family members. I know someone recently who has been going through a nightmare of a divorce due to all sorts of secrets and cheating, which has led to awful property disputes, custody battles, etc.

If that person wanted to rant about the evils of cheating spouses, well... you know what? I'll cut him some slack. Because he's had a pretty hard life recently, and maybe he can't tone down his rhetoric and as wonderful and tolerant as you claim to be.

Because on the one hand, he's got a point. Probably the majority of people involved with Ashley Madison are, to some extent, lying and deceitful jerks. Just like probably the majority of people who rant about morality are, to some extent, puritanical idiots.

But, if I understand your point correctly, we shouldn't judge people because they all have individual stories, and some of them may not be complete jerks or idiots... so maybe we shouldn't go ranting about them.

Except that's exactly what you did -- you just targeted a different group of people to stereotype and rant about and judge collectively as evil.

You want to have a reasoned argument about why those people shouldn't go around brandishing their morality? Fine. That's what actual reasonable and tolerant people generally do. But you yourself are also asserting your own puritanical morality and judging others. Maybe that should lead to a little self-reflection about what true tolerance and having an appreciation of the complexities of individuals and people who take actions that you might disapprove of might mean if applied consistently to your own perspectives.

Comment Re:Use Common Sense (Score 1) 136

Also, watched a fireworks show in Ottawa in August and the three teens sitting in front of us pretty much watched the whole thing through their phones recording it. How asinine is that?

Pretty typical for tourism these days. People walking around bumping into things while taking photos and recording stuff rather than actually experiencing the world.

Years ago, I lived in Rome for a short time. I got to observe idiots wandering around like this every day. I think I took less than a dozen photos the entire time I was there. If I want photos of all the gorgeous things around me, I can buy a book with professional photographers taking things from angles and with lighting I couldn't hope for. But the experience of walking on the exact same paving stones in the Roman Forum where Caesar and Cicero once walked thousands of years ago -- I just sat down there and contemplated where I was in awe.

That memory is important to me. Having a video or photo of my feet and some stones would not help me remember how I felt, and I doubt I would ever look at it. And if I were just wandering around worried about focusing my camera on all the stuff I could see, I doubt I ever would have even thought about those stones beneath my feet... and yet that was one of the most powerful feelings I took away from my trip.

Comment Re:Your phone as a lifestyle: NO. (Score 1) 136

Au contraire. In an email, I can carefully choose the exact words to tell you what I think of you, your ideas, and describe in precise detail where you exist on the food chain. After reading that email, you will have no doubt as to what was said.

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic here, but in case you're not...

"Choosing the exact words" is how most flame wars get started on the internet, usually over things that no party actually meant but which other people "read into" the text. I've seen this plenty of times in email conversations with colleagues, too. I have had colleagues who seem almost willfully to misread everything I wrote and assume the weirdest possible or most complicated scenario, rather than just answering a simple question about a straightforward matter.

Often there's a significant disconnect in email reading/writing styles. An email that is fired off quickly and barely proofread may be scrutinized in detail by a recipient with all sorts of "implications" read into it that completely warp the original intent. Or the reverse -- the subtlety of a meticulously crafted message is lost by some idiot who just glances at it and says, "Sounds great! Cheers!"

At least conversation happens in real time, and you often can correct misunderstandings or misinterpretations before they get out of hand.

Comment Re:Glued to their damned faces ... (Score 5, Informative) 136

That people know it's rude and do it anyway ... that's the part that really annoys the crap out of me. Go away, and I'll send you an email if you prefer. But stop constantly checking the damned thing, because I'm just going to walk away.

I learned an important lesson about this many years ago, long before cell phones became ubiquitous.

I remember as an undergraduate meeting with a senior university official (a provost, actually), and the phone on her desk started ringing. We were seated at a table elsewhere in her office, but I paused, thinking she would probably need to answer it. But she just kept on talking to me, and the meeting went on normally.

I ended up becoming a research assistant for her, and when this occurred in another meeting, I paused in what I was saying and said, "Uh... do you need to get that?" Her response was very logical and clear:

It was a matter of respect, she told me. A scheduled personal meeting with someone should receive her full attention, since I had taken the time to be there with her. Whether I was a lowly undergraduate or the university president, a scheduled in-person meeting was more important than whatever random person might be calling on her phone. If the situation was truly urgent, there were other ways people would get messages to her.

I never forgot that, and to this day I try to live up to her example. If you're in a meeting and you know that you may need to be interrupted, the polite thing to do is to inform the person you're meeting with at the outset that you might need to take a call or check email or whatever because you have an urgent matter to attend to. (But most of the time, you probably don't really have anything that urgent.)

Doing otherwise is disrespectful. With the growth of ubiquitous smart phones, the temptations have grown stronger, I guess. But if someone is taking their time to meet in-person with you, the least you can do is respect that time by giving them your attention.

Comment Re:Of course it never gets past the event horizon. (Score 1) 166

BTW, I'm hardly the only one suggesting that there's no "true" event horizon, only apparent horizons - Hawking himself suggests that. Any argument you make declaring the "true" horizon to be absolute truth and the apparent horizon to just be an illusion isn't just going against me, it's going against Hawking.

First, Hawking's idea here is far from widely accepted. Second, his use of "apparent horizons" is mostly to resolve the so-called "firewall" paradox. (You're probably aware of that, but it's hard to tell based on your posts.) It is NOT suggesting that event horizons "don't exist" or that someone falling into a black hole could never pass one -- it's more like they're "fuzzy" in a quantum mechanical way. Third, I'm really not sure what you're talking about as the "true" event horizon as observed by someone falling into a black hole and its recession. As you point out later in your post, an event horizon is mostly a concept relevant to external observers, not someone falling into a black hole.

From the perspective of an outside observer, if the energy of an infalling particle could keep being perceived (however weak and distorted), it would never seem to move past the event horizon - until the black hole evaporates and the event horizon recedes.

Except that's a somewhat misleading interpretation of what Hawking is claiming. And in any case, It really depends on how you interpret what goes on with Hawking radiation and the firewall paradox.

Your "wrongs" are 1) Hawking is wrong, and 2) "I'm going to complain about practicalities rather than actualities".

Well, (1) Hawking very well could be wrong (certainly many physicists have doubts), and (2) your entire first post was an attempt to put a very practical intuitive spin on general relativistic phenomena.

Time can flow differently from the perspective of different observers, but the events observed, when they occur, must match and follow in order. If an outside observer perceives a black hole as slowly radiating, then an infalling observer whose time is perceived by the same observer as running at 1000000 times slower must perceive the object as radiating 1000000 times more intensely. Otherwise reality itself is different from different perspectives, not just the flow of time.

I'm not sure what "reality" is, other than how we perceive the universe from a particular vantage point. And "reality" will be vastly different or distorted from different perspectives. You say that I'm making inappropriate claims about "true" event horizons, etc. (which I did not mean at all), but you're doing similar things in your attempt to apply practical intuition to this situation where you have a confluence of general relativistic and quantum effects going on.

You're the one confusing these concepts, invoking an infalling observer crossing the so-called "real" event horizon when the "real" event horizon is a concept perceived only by an external observer. Keep your reference frames consistent.

Huh? You're the one who started your first post talking about how the infalling observer perceived the "apparent" event horizon, or at least that somehow there was an "apparent" event horizon "receding before it." How could the infalling observer know that the event horizon was receding unless the observer had some way of evaluating where that event horizon ("apparent" or not) was? And if you're now saying that the infalling observer doesn't have an exact perception of where the event horizon ("apparent" or not) might be -- which I basically agree with -- then your first paragraph of your first post was just sort of gobbledygook, since it doesn't have any meaning or relevance to your argument.

This whole thing is getting muddled, so I'll just stop trying to respond now. Bottom line (for me) is that Hawking's interpretations about what happens at event horizons have received a lot of popular press in the past couple years, but that doesn't mean that his interpretations are correct, nor that they actually are as significant as the media is making them out to be. And regardless, I don't think he'd agree with your representation of what he's saying.

Comment Re:Of course it never gets past the event horizon. (Score 3, Informative) 166

A particle falling into a black hole never perceives itself as having moved past an event horizon, as an apparent event horizon recedes before it. The horizon keeps receding in the direction of the "singularity" until it's torn apart on the way in.

This isn't true. Particles do in fact pass the event horizon in finite time (as judged in their own time frame). In fact, for very large black holes (tens of thousands of solar masses), it would easily be possible to pass the event horizon without experiencing tidal forces strong enough to rip you apart... in finite time.

An external observer never perceives a particle falling past the so-called "true" horizon; it perceives the falling object's time as slowing down to a virtual stop at the event horizon.

While this is sort of true, the idea of an external observing viewing an astronaut "frozen in time" just above the event horizon is just not true in any practical sense.

What you'd actually observe if you watched someone fall into a black hole is the light from that person exponentially getting dimmer and fading out basically completely in finite time (i.e., probably within a fraction of a second for reasonable sized black holes). Yes, theoretically you can get a photon emitted and taking years or centuries to reach an external observer, but the amount of emitted light decays exponentially fairly quickly -- so as an external observer you'd actually see someone basically "disappear" at the event horizon in finite time (and fairly quickly actually). (For some details and a sample calculation with explanation, see here.)

Both of these views are logically consistent under a simple constraint: nothing ever passes an event horizon, and there's no such thing as a "true" horizon, only apparent horizons. The outside observer's view of "truth" should be given no more precedence as being reality than the infalling observer's perception.

Well, since both of your "views" are sort of wrong (or, well, at least misleading), I'm not sure the rest of your explanation should be taken as true.

Also, the problem is notions of simultaneity and where time and space is in black holes is quite complex when you try to compare observers in general relativity -- basically, you really can't come up with objective metrics that will satisfy notions of simultaneity for observers except in a local sense. So talking about whether a black hole "has formed" or where the event horizon "is" at a particular moment of time becomes quite complicated when you start to involve "external" observers. (For some details, see here for a bit of an explanation.)

Anyhow, there's lots of debate going on with Hawking about what exactly goes on with black holes (and information), but my point is that trying to apply simple intuition to general relativistic effects around black holes is pretty much destined to fail, or at least lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

Comment Re:No "morally acceptable" sites? (Score 1) 705

No, they are not legally bound to it. Unless your marriage contract has some weird (and potentially invalid) clauses, you can't sue your spouse for cheating. It now won't even be taken into consideration when, for example, calculating alimony.

That depends on the state. Currently, in 21 states, adultery is still a criminal offense. It is very rarely prosecuted, but the laws are still on the books. In the majority of states, adultery can be taken into account to some extent in divorce settlements when determining division of property, alimony, or child custody.

You're correct that in some states adultery has very little standing in marital cases and divorces, but those principles vary significantly from state to state. It is still a generally established legal principle in most states that sexual fidelity is a general expectation in marriage. And it tends to be an official legal reason for divorce (in states that still allow divorce "for cause," rather than only "no-fault" divorces).

As for fidelity being an assumption, even though there's no real stats about it, the idea that a lot of people will cheat is well accepted. Because of that, still having this assumption of fidelity is pretty much wishful thinking.

Given that polls have consistently shown that 90+% of the American public believes adultery is "morally wrong," it may be "wishful thinking" for some people or some relationships -- but clearly it is an established social and moral expectation.

Infidelity does not cause direct harm. Any harm someone may feel because of infidelity is only in his own head. It's the same kind of harm some religious fanatics claim when someone "insults" their religion. We do not have a moral obligation to bow to anyone "sensitivities", no matter how they will be psychologically affected by the destruction of their illusions.

Every marriage is different, but at its basis it is an agreement about a relationship between two parties. As I said in the post you replied to, I have absolutely no problem with those two parties allowing sex with whomever if that's what they wish.

Again, the problem is deception and fidelity to the agreement. If you want to get married and have a clear and open agreement with your spouse that allows you to have an "open marriage," I have absolutely NO problem with that.

But clearly established legal opinion and the vast majority of public opinion believes adultery to be incompatible with the "default" position of a marital agreement. If you don't want a part of that, either don't get married, or be clear with your spouse about the fact that you expect an open marriage. Doing otherwise is benefitting from someone else in significant ways through deceit.

I can understand why you think a legal contract should generally be respected (of course sometimes respecting a legal contract can be morally wrong), but fidelity is simply not part of the legal contract.

Yes, it is in many states, as I already mentioned. But regardless of LEGAL circumstances -- there's also the morality of general agreements too.

Even if you don't have a legal right to sue someone for a breach of a particular contract, there is a notion of moral "fair dealing" and "honesty" in most contractual agreements. You posed your questions initially in moral terms, not only legal ones. Even if the law does not compel you to act in certain ways, morality may still dictate that certain courses are right and wrong.

Generally speaking, lying to someone to gain their affection (not to mention all the other benefits that generally accrue in marriages -- financial, social, etc.) is morally wrong.

What next? Will you say the obligation to cherish your spouse until death is also part of the contract?

Yep, at least the moral contract of marriage. Part of that "cherishing" is trying not to do things that your spouse would consider hurtful. If your spouse would consider an extramarital affair to be hurtful, then either don't cheat or find a different spouse who is more open to what you want.

Don't get me wrong, I will consider lying for personal gain as morally wrong, but saying banging someone else's spouse is morally wrong is only based on an idea of control, idea of control which in itself could be qualified as morally wrong.

Morality is defined by social standards, at least in part. As I cited above, most polls tend to show that the vast majority of people are in disagreement with you and believe that adultery is morally wrong.

Now -- if you want to change that, then by all means go and lobby public opinion on your behalf. Perhaps you are correct that monogamy and sexual fidelity is an irrational expectation, and perhaps we should work to change the fundamental nature of "marriage" in a way that would be more moral, to your liking.

But for now the default assumption in marriage is sexual fidelity. And if you sign the papers to get married, your spouse is probably going to expect that by default. You don't want that? Don't get married, or find a spouse who subscribes to your particular version of morality.

But to outright lie to someone you agreed to partner with for life (or at least semi-permanently, given today's culture of divorce)... sorry, I have no problem condemning that as morally wrong, along with anyone who voluntarily participates in such a deception.

Comment Re:No "morally acceptable" sites? (Score 1) 705

So for the sake of arguments... can you explain why you view banging someone else's spouse as immoral? What is the basis for this moral judgement?

Marriage is a civil law agreement which generally has the assumption of sexual fidelity. Unless the two spouses agree to waive that part of the agreement, they are bound to it by remaining married.

Doing otherwise is deceitful. Deliberately participating in a deceitful action that has a propensity to cause a great deal of harm to another is generally considered immoral.

For example, is it because you think the spouse is some form of property, so banging someone else spouse is like stealing?

No, and I view such perspectives as patriarchal BS. Spouses are not "property."

But spouses do enter into agreements as part of marriage. Marital fidelity is generally a standard assumption, as is general openness and honesty.

I mean, do we really have to go into explaining why participating in deceitful behavior that could ruin people's lives is wrong? Many, many marriages are broken up over secret affairs. You want to have sex with people outside your marriage? I have absolutely no problem with that -- just as long as your spouse agrees. If you go ahead without their knowledge, then you are benefitting from their affection, love, and loyality through deceit. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that such an action is generally wrong, whatever the context.

As a related question, why do you think it's moral to forbid your spouse to have sex with whoever he or she wants?

It's generally part of marital agreements in the vast majority of human cultures. It's part of the basic assumption of what it means to "get married." You don't want to agree to that? Fine -- DON'T GET MARRIED. It's that simple.

Many (perhaps most) people get married because they believe that having such a structure where people voluntarily agree to be faithful to each other has mutual benefits.

Some people don't want to be part of such an agreement. Fine -- they shouldn't get married. Or, if they do get married and find it no longer suits them, they should get a divorce (or try to ask for an "open marriage" or whatever). But they do NOT have the moral high ground if they lie to keep the benefits of their married life while secretly violating their agreement with their spouse.

I have no problem if someone wants to have sex with whomever, married or not. I have a big problem with people who make a critical agreement as part of a legal contract and then break the terms of that agreement while lying to maintain the benefits of the agreement. I don't care whether this is a marriage contract or a business contract or whatever -- it's morally wrong.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein