Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: An attack on one is an attack on us all (Score 4, Insightful) 82

by SigmaTao (#49231563) Attached to: South African Government Issues Plans To Censor Internet
Control is regulated by information and the access to information. Those who allow themselves to give up access to information give up their ability to determine their own destiny.
In years past, the elite weren't just the financially powerful but those with the greatest control over and access to, information (points at the medieval elite and Roman Catholic church use of Latin as an example).
It was only the elite that could read and write. It was only the elite that had books. It was only the elite that were educated. With the advent of industrialisation, the drones needed more information to function, and so education became desirable. Even then, the access to information was restricted.
The rise of journalism, allowed people to know about their leaders and power brokers in ways that were previously unavailable. Even then, there were strict controls over the flow of information.
With the wide spread availability of the web, those restrictions were wiped away to a greater extent, and governments and power brokers have been attempting to curtail that flow ever since. People need to at least acknowledge how important the free flow of information is to their ability to pursue their freedoms, otherwise that access to information and the pursuit of those freedoms will be lost.
Governments need to inspire, be honest, and educate their populaces, instead of trying to dumb them down and put them back into the corner. Leading people by hiding what you do and how you do it is no longer an acceptable way of getting what you want.
Governments should not tell people what they are allowed to know. Attempting to categorise all information, in an information age, is simply unattainable. People must ultimately take responsibility for the information they receive, not leave it to others to make that decision on their behalf. We are not children. If they allow others to make those decisions, they won't ever get to know what they don't know. They are lost.
If the legislation is created in one country, how much easier is it to copy it to others? We have seen this with the "three strikes" policies. We have seen it with the "war on terror" eavesdropping legislation. We've seen it with the "think about the children" memes demanding controls over the kinds of information that can flow. I feel the general population is sleepwalking their way into another dark age of control being out of their hands. Their education has failed them. They don't understand technology enough to know what their freedoms depend on. It is seriously depressing.

Comment: Understanding is a feeling (Score 1) 937

by SigmaTao (#47900435) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk
Understanding is a feeling based on a set of internal mental processes. For anyone who wants to think about anything, they require their feelings as much as any other aspect of their mental expression.
Spock then is a terrible role model for a human to attempt to emulate, as to be successful is to lose the ability to think properly.
Kirk is a seat of the pants creative responder to situations. That kind of activity doesn't lend itself to solve every kind of problem.
The problem with the ideas of god are multifaceted. and cannot be simply dismissed with a poster child for science. This simplifies the problem and to a degree that makes the solution unobtainable.

Comment: How do you fight the internal misuse of power? (Score 1) 634

by SigmaTao (#44526889) Attached to: NSA Firing 90% of Its Sysadmins
It is my experience that if you reduce the number of people involved in an activity it's easier for one person to subvert the whole system.
Instead of having fewer eyes they should have enough cross checking eyes to prevent one person going rouge (without being detected at least).
Fewer people = more possible abuses of power.

Comment: D'oh (Score 1) 168

Even *if* they could suppress the details of how it's done across britain, do they not understand that the idea that it is possible, is enough for smart people to figure it out independently of this research?
Why don't they order it to be fixed rather than trying to prevent the information about it to be suppressed "somehow"?
Why don't they take it to another level and have a system implemented for identifying and solving problems like this - something like the air safety board when they investigate accidents? An automakers software / hardware safety council?

Comment: You can't know what you don't know... (Score 1) 329

by SigmaTao (#44403951) Attached to: UK ISP Filter Will Censor More Than Porn
One of the basic and insidious aspects of filtering is that is comes very possible to prevent all knowledge of an event or idea propagating.
If an event occurs which is filtered across the board, in news networks and media, and now filtering of the Internet itself - how does someone get to know it happened?
It's allows governments to prevent information like the "arab spring" being generally known. How does the populous get to know if something like this happens?
Back in the day, when I used to live in england, there seemed to be a regular series of "sex scandals" where some politician would discovered in fishnet stockings and being spanked before going off to represent his members in the house of commons or lords.
I assume such information, if described in enough detail, is considered porn and therefore blockable. You are then at the mercy of the media which can be ordered or bribed into not publishing or discussing such things. If it is never reported - has it never happened?
If PRISM is considered a national security issue by the government, does that allow them to block it from Internet searches? If such a thing happens and you know that filtering is happening - but not what is being filtered - how do you get to know what you are not being allowed to know?
Is reproducing information of that nature in a blog putting you on a watch list of subversives? Is simply asking these questions doing that? If something is reported in mainstream media in a particular way - and there are dissenting ideas, knowledge and experts - but they are able to be filtered out by the unseen powers that be - how do the people engage in conversations about it?
If something is inappropriately filtered, because something triggers the process or because of human or programmatic errors - how does it get corrected? Is that process not only done - but seen to be done by the people for whom the information that site contains serves.
I am staggered how freedom to privacy and thinking is being systematically eroded by governments across the globe without any apparent reaction by the people they govern. Perhaps the reactions to this are being suppressed and I just don't know it is....

Comment: Re:Short-term treatment... (Score 1) 931

Well well... it wasn't my ass cheek I was expecting but I guess each to their own
As I am using a PC rather than android apparently not hell yet.
As for mind reading - I really think you need more practise. Start with something simpler. A imaginary friend should suffice.

Comment: Re:Short-term treatment... (Score 1) 931

by SigmaTao (#43571669) Attached to: Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes
<presents the other cheek> Come on, right here - you know you want to. Isn't it about time you told me I was destined for hell?
I guess it's futile to say that the article talked about the effect of belief, not about whether a belief was an accurate representation of the reality. There is a difference.
Just as there is a difference between assuming what you meant and trying to find out.
.... "And your mind has nothing much to do with reality."
Such wisdom! Such judgement! You see into my mind like a.. wait let me think about it..oh I know ... "A Higher Power" (tm)
<sighs> Is this what you think will protect your fragile beliefs from examination?

Comment: Re:Short-term treatment... (Score 1) 931

by SigmaTao (#43570265) Attached to: Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes
Wrong about what specifically?
I certainly know how I would respond to a therapeutic situation which suggested that I would be better off believing in a higher power.
It also appears elsewhere in the comments that the people doing the study are actually religiously biased (they belong to the Templeton Foundation).
Any social or communicative bias causes an effect on the outcome of physiological result (whether they are specifically religiously biases or not).
I don't know how you think about the term "higher power" but to my mind it is very general indeed. It is not aligned to a particular doctrine nor to what higher power is being referred to. In such cases the ones making sense of that words are the individuals interpreting them. I was commenting in the most general of cases I could imagine where no specific higher power was under scrutiny.
Are you suggesting there is no social norm for believing there is a higher power? I suspect at least in America the general statistics would suggest otherwise.
There are no claims in the article that the differences are anything but short term, and there can be a lot of other influences that can have short term effects.
Over and above all that, I suspect by the nature of your generalised response that you are under the sway of your own bias. How will you determine an objective truth if that is the case?

Comment: Short-term treatment... (Score 1) 931

By passing the size of this study for the moment.
From article: "Of the patients sampled, more than 30 percent claimed no specific religious affiliation yet still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in a higher power was rated as moderately or very high."
No religious affiliation means effectively that the higher power is just a way of imagining something looking out for you, caring for you and loving you.
I am not surprised that if you imagine there is someone caring about you and loving you you are going to feel more positive about life in general. That it is imaginary means it can not disappoint you. That the very act of that imagination is providing a short term positive future.
I'm sure if a patient had an actual love affair with a real human being, the effects would be the similar if not superior.
If on the other hand some therapist suggested to me personally that a I might like to think there is a higher power looking out for me, it would send me into a deeper depression because if that is how they think my mind works I really must despair.
We are also embedded in a culture where believing in a god (of some description) is seen as more socially normal than those who do not.
Normal is sometimes the more attractive option to the depressed than their current state. Simply joining the "belief group" is a social inclusive particularly over the short term.
That this question is being asked inside a treatment context, it's hard to think that that isn't a bias in the way people are treated, and it doesn't take much for such a bias to undermine any other treatment.
I do hope they don't think that taking up the habit of thinking of a higher power is a treatment option. If that is the case, perhaps a drug addiction should be considered a treatment too.

Comment: Yes it makes a difference who says what and how... (Score 1) 848

by SigmaTao (#42931307) Attached to: Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network
The way a message is delivered makes a difference to how people make sense of it.
If there was a billion dollar campaign saying "People who drink milk are less intelligent than those who don't" - even if there was no science behind that. It would have an influence.
We are already at the mercy of the quality of the available information we get. That occurs before we have a belief about a topic.
One of the reasons science is successful and respected is it's approach to pursuing high quality models of the universe. Blatantly lying and ignoring the facts would destroy it's ability to do that. Why is it acceptable to do it else where?
I know we should be concerned about the thought police and I'm not suggesting that people not be able to think or believe freely. However, they should at least know enough to know the consequences of thinking in a particular way and pursue informed debate about the nature of information.
Otherwise we are all at the whim of those who wish to use the system for their own short term gains.

Comment: The only reason we care... (Score 2) 763

by SigmaTao (#42838387) Attached to: Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory
As I understand it, the only reason the body of america cares that the Texas school board makes wacky decisions (apart from their concern for Texan children) is that it affects the books that are available for schools across the country, due to the quantities of books involved.
This basically means it boils down to money. Good accurate books will be more expensive. In an age of digital media, surely the cost of having accurate science texts can be accepted by those schools who actually want to teach children rather than brain-wash them?
I think a sticker saying "This text has been rejected by the Texas school board" should be a mark excellence that is worth paying extra for.
The grander problem is, and has always been of more concern, that the school board is only really reflecting the views of the wider Texan community. If Americans really want to change the facts to fit their own world view how do you get around that?

Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. -- Edmund Burke