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Comment: Re:Bad move (Score 4, Insightful) 169

by hey! (#49161319) Attached to: Google Wants To Rank Websites Based On Facts Not Links

It is seldom the veracity of facts that the debate is over; it is their significance. But that happens to be where this falls idea falls short, because misinterpretation of facts is where the most potent misinformation comes from.

Case in point, "vaccine injury" -- which is a real thing, albeit very rare. Anti-vaccine activists point to the growing volume of awards made by the US "Vaccine Court" (more accurately called "The Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims") as proof that vaccine injuries are on the rise.

It is a verifiable fact that the volume of awards has grown since the early years of the program. That is absolutely and unquestionably true. However, that this is proof vaccine injuries is gross misinterpretation, because the "Vaccine Court" program is no fault. You don't actually have to show the defendant *caused* an "injury", you only have to (a) show the child got sick after being vaccinated and (b) find a doctor to sign off on a medical theory by which the child's illness *might* have been caused by the vaccination.

Since you don't have to actually prove injury in "Vaccine Court", the rise in cases and awards doesn't know vaccine injuries are on the rise. All that is necessary is that more people think that their child's illness was caused by vaccinations, and the low burden of proof will automatically ensure more awards.

And so there you have it. A perfectly factual claim can be cited in a way that leads people to preposterous conclusions.

Comment: Re:Density is therefore a necessity (Score 1) 178

by fyngyrz (#49161165) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

A drop of water can self-form into a sphere by surface tension alone. If that is dropped off in space, it becomes a planet??

Not in my view. That isn't implied by what I said, either. I said mass, and I meant mass. If you dropped your putative drop of water off in space, by the way, by which I mean in a vacuum, I don't think it would be able to hold itself together by any means. I suspect it'd most likely sublimate before you even had a chance to really get into admiring it.

Oh, by the way, our sun orbits the galaxy, does that mean we aren't a planet here on earth because we orbit around something that has its own orbit?

Not to me. Again, I said nothing of the sort, and I implied nothing of the sort.

If not, then why do moons get to be moons when many of them are bigger than the "planet" Pluto, when they orbit around something that has its own orbit around another body?

Moons get to be moons in the context of a solar system; once you step beyond that level of organization, most of us (apparently not you, but that's ok) use different terminology to indicate groupings of stars, gas clouds, supergroupings, and so on.

But hey, don't let me get in the way of your irrational ranting; you've got a good head of steam going there, be a shame to see it peter out too soon.

Comment: Oh, science, is it? (Score 1) 178

by fyngyrz (#49161105) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

We see articles about how few people are scientifically literate, and so many on Slashdot decry "We are geeks, we understand science!"

Appearently, nope!

Actually, my dear fellow poster, it is you that does not understand science. Science is a method. Information gathered and suppositions constructed are both data. Such data, particularly when the scientific method is applied, may give rise to (hopefully) more accurate metaphor(s) (more data) as to how nature behaves, and that in turn may let us go a little (or a lot) deeper next time around. Science is a very simple, and beautiful, method.

Back to data. Data is subject to naming, among other things, and those names are (a) abstracts selected for the convenience of the various users, (b) significantly arbitrary, (c) quite often of a dual or more diverse nature (and still 100% correct), for instance "daisy" and "bellis perennis" and "flower" and "that thing that makes me sneeze" and (d) often extend into the metaphorical and allegorical realms in order to further-, and/or better-, and/or simply re-define the issue(s) at hand. This most definitely includes one's own personal or sharable naming conventions and specifics.

When something is controversial or simply not static, we will often see the naming structure(s) and/or system(s) undergo permutation, mutation or even outright replacement. Brontosaurus, apatosaurus, brontosaurids, etc. Those are good examples of names that changed for some pretty good reasons (wrong head on the body... the "brontosaur" was an apatosaurus that mistakenly got a camarasaurus head on it, lol. Now "brontosaurids" means, hand-wavingly, "those long-necked ones" and not much else.) These nomenclature mutations are part of the process of integrating the data into our best-approximation of knowledge about the world, which, coming back around to square one, is not "science" either. Science is a method that we "do." Knowledge is not science itself, although it can and should be used in the undertaking of science.

Further, as the users of the data, objects, information vary, often so goes the terminology. Programmer: "Time for za!" Secretary sent to get it: "Can I order a pizza, please?" counter person: "pie, cheese" artisian: "yet another culinary masterpiece!"... they're all correct. It's not a problem. It's normal and natural. It is still normal and natural if someone in a particular household begins to call pizza "magic goo"... and who knows, it could be what everyone calls it some years down the road. I still kind of twitch when someone says "you suck", because when I was a teenager, that was a deadly insult, worthy of an immediate fistfight. Means something quite a bit more casual today, something absolutely unrelated to its original meaning. And so it goes. Naming is by its very nature a malleable domain. As it should be.

The bottom line here is, just because a few astronomers (and it was very few, btw) voted for a particular usage, does not mean we have to, or even should, comply if we don't agree. I'm sorry if that seems too chaotic for you, but that's really the way it is, and likely always will be, too.

But to decry that because you learned something one way, therefore that convinces you forever, that's just plain stupid.

Well, good thing I wasn't doing that then, eh?

Cheers! :)

Comment: Re:80% of statistics are made up (Score 1) 164

by rubycodez (#49160961) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

Nothing made up, U6 even includes "underemployed" beside the "short term discouraged". Not the mocking "percentage of working age not working" phrase you coined.

There used to be a broader rank used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics before the 90s, and by THAT measure we have near 25% unemployment. That's the old method that shadowstats.com uses, for example.

Comment: Re:Going my own way (Score 1) 178

by fyngyrz (#49160905) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

A protostar, given it's in a seriously pre-fusion state, will (as far as I know) be large enough to have quite decisively pulled itself into a spheroid. If it is orbiting another star, I'd say that at that point, it is a planet and a protostar.

As I see it, protostars seem to refer to a class of planet, just as do gas giants, balls of frozen gasses, molten worlds, rocky, airless worlds, and earthlike worlds. That namespace is a very rich field to till, I think.

Once it lights off, I see it as a sibling (binary, trinary, etc.) by virtue of being stars in thrall to one another's gravity. The star with the greater mass I'd call the primary, the next most mass the secondary, etc.

If it is just sitting out in space by itself, I'd designate it a (rogue) planet and a protostar.

Sure, planets can radiate all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. Aurorae, ionizing radiation, IR, UV (some high energy electrical storms do this here), atmosphere, monkeys in tin cans... :) ok, that's pushing the indirection a little hard, but... lol

At this point, I'd say that anything that had lit its fusion lamp gets the designator, quite possibly qualified, of "star." There are various kinds of post-fusion states; neutron stars, black holes, perhaps even just dead cinders and fragments, and of course gassy / radiative remnants resulting from their destruction. Probably lots of other things too. The world, Horatio... etc.

That's all just my own outlook though.

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