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Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 638

by dgatwood (#47970667) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Another thing worth noting is that a small percentage of people choose the other two options. Thus, it can be logically inferred that there's an evolutionary advantage to having a few hermits and sociopaths as a sort of a failsafe in the relatively rare situations where being a hermit or a sociopath confers a survival advantage compared with normal, functioning members of a modern society, such as plagues or corporate boardrooms.

Comment: Re:The review ecosystem is good and truly broken.. (Score 1) 236

by dgatwood (#47968287) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

The closest anyone has come up with is the "was this review helpful?" but that gets abused easily.

The big problem with the helpful/not helpful dichotomy as a means for rating reviewers is that it fails to take into account why the reviewer didn't find it helpful. What the system needs, IMO, is to ask a second question at that point:

Did you find the review not helpful because (check all that apply):

  • It mainly covered things that I don't care about.
  • I disagree with the opinion.
  • It contains facts that are incorrect.
  • It had nothing to do with the product/service (spam and other abuse)

A review marked with the fourth one will get flagged for review by a human, and if verified to be crap, will lower the reviewer's reputation for everyone, and will be removed.

A review marked with the third one (factually incorrect) will just lower the reviewer's reputation, but at least initially by a smaller amount than a "Helpful" vote increases it. The more reviews this occurs in, the more negatively each negative impacts that person's score, so if a person consistently lies, the negatives count more and more, until they greatly outweigh the positives. However, that balance should only tip when those negatives come from unique users (so that one user can't just mark every review by a particular reviewer as unhelpful and have a bigger impact than marking a single review that way), and those ratings should be cancelled out by a sufficient number of positive reviews, ensuring that a small number of people can't attack a reviewer by each reporting one of his or her reviews as factually incorrect.

A review marked with the first two options ("not interested" and "I disagree") will lower the reviewer's reputation, but only for that reviewer and other people whose "not interested" and "I disagree" ratings on other goods and services are statistically similar to those of the reviewer. This allows users to get better, more individualized reviews that are more likely to match their interests and concerns, without adversely penalizing other people who might be interested in and concerned about the same things as the reviewer in question. To that end, instead of "44 out of 50 people found this helpful", it would say "44 out of 50 people whose tastes match yours found this helpful", such that other users of the site might well see completely different numbers.

And users who frequently give "not helpful" ratings with more than two boxes checked, but rarely give "helpful" ratings, should have progressively smaller impact on the overall helpfulness rating for the reviews that they rate, until at some point their helpful/not helpful ratings end up getting thrown away entirely (except in their own view).

Comment: Re:Good. IndieGoGo should do it too (Score 1) 189

by dgatwood (#47967599) Attached to: Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails

Of course, if it's a minor road, you might be able to save a lot of power by not showing the lines unless there's somebody actually on the road (at least during the day, when cars cast shadows). Then again, I don't suppose you would typically need movable lines on a minor road, so... never mind.

Another approach might be something more passive, where the line areas become reflective when an electrical charge causes them to line up in a certain way, so that the sun provides all the light, and where the line areas change to be transparent when you polarize them the other way, thus showing the relatively dark surface of the solar cells. Then, you could use the LEDs only at night, when the light requirements are much lower, or come up with a means of tweaking the polarity so that the lines reflect the headlights.

Comment: Re:Right... (Score 1) 388

Mental engagement in particular

Somewhat. It has to do with memory, though; the brain is not a muscle, and working it does not keep it healthy. Each time you remember something, however, it does become more linked and thus more accessible; this is exactly as true at age 8 as at age 80, barring dementia or other mental disease related to the structure of the brain failing.

Comment: Re:Right... (Score 2) 388

The funny thing is mental exercise doesn't strengthen the brain. The brain is not a muscle; it doesn't become stronger with use.

People think I'm a genius. It took me forever to realize, of course, they're right. Of course I'm a genius. It all makes sense. I didn't put my brain on some kind of mind-treadmill to get this way; it just is.

Being a genius is all about technique. The brains of great memorizers like Dominic O'Brien or Ben Pridmore are exactly like the brains of the average human. The brains of genius thinkers are similarly a near-match for your average flaming dumbass. It's all technique.

Each time you interact with a piece of information, it becomes more fixed in your mind: the more you use English or Japanese, the better you get with assembling or interpreting sentences in those languages, even though you won't get better at other languages that way. When you study a new language, you steadily pick up habits conducive to learning new languages, internally and externally. When you study math, the mathematical formula become entrenched in your mind; new formula work on the same concepts, and thus are readily understood.

Mnemonics are a good place to start: with immediate access to piles of information comes immediate association with new information and new problems. Just as with math or a language, you strengthen your mind's grasp on mnemonic techniques each time you use them. Just as with developing habits to learn languages, you can develop mnemonic techniques like Method of Loci and Major System, or habitual study methods like SQ3R. Like any new habit--driving, a new sport, Go or the inferior Chess, novel writing--it will be exhausting at first, consuming analytic resources and activating the energy-hungry prefrontal cortex; with use, the habit is encoded in the energy-light basal ganglia, and becomes natural and easy.

By encoding these behaviors into your study habits, you train yourself to take in, make meaningful, categorize, organize, store, recall, and put to use new information rapidly and efficiently. The immense and exhausting effort of learning new things still happens, but it happens for a much shorter time, and at much reduced load. Because you remember more of what you're learning, it becomes more meaningful: whatever you just learned in the previous section is memorized more completely, and can be recalled to explain and give meaning to what you're learning in the current section, thus making both more memorable and strengthening their encoding in your brain.

The ability to quickly learn new things makes you smart, unlike normal, dumb people who can't learn shit. The ability to quickly recall what you know as related to what you want to accomplish is the ability to quickly solve problems, which also makes you smart. Apply your knowledge effectively and you stand out from all others. You can even compare IQ tests with every abstract and logical problem you've ever seen, applying familiar reasoning to familiar problems, and familiar analysis to unfamiliar problems, scoring higher on these tests than you otherwise would--and then you can pass a MENSA exam, and have a framed placard stating you're a certified genius.

Memory capacity, and all implied by it, don't decrease with age. Consider that as a final point: bluntly playing the same mind games (e.g. sudoku) won't keep you smart; but your brain won't decay unless taken by serious disease.

Comment: Re:Trolling? Or just crap? (Score 1) 638

by dgatwood (#47967057) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

He's wrong. The problem is that the concept of "God" is un-falsifiable. So you can always tack "because God wanted it that way" onto anything.

Which is relevant how? This is what makes religious belief not a science, but that has zero bearing on whether science makes religion irrelevant, except in the minds of people who already believe it to be.

This bizarre misunderstanding of science yields the paradox that even as we expect the impossible from science ("Please, Mr Economist, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what will happen if Obama raises/cuts taxes"), we also have a very anti-scientific mindset in many areas.

He thinks that Economics is a science. That's how wrong he is.

I think you seriously misread that bit. What he said was that people who don't understand science believe that it can explain things like what would happen if the President raises or lowers taxes. In other words, he's saying that economics is not a science.

And in that regard, he is wrong, and so are you (unless that was a typo). At its core, economics is about making hypotheses about how a complex system will react to an event, then observing how it actually reacts and falsifying those hypotheses. Or at least that's what economics is supposed to be about, Reagonomics notwithstanding.

Comment: Re:The whole article is just trolling (Score 1) 638

by dgatwood (#47966949) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

When you ask "why is the universe here" the first thing to notice is you are giving human intent to something that has no intent. It is like asking "why does my shirt want to be blue?"

No, it is like asking, "Why does this shirt exist." It isn't anthropomorphizing the shirt; it is merely assuming that there is a reason for the shirt to exist. In that case, the answer is obvious: because someone created it. Asking the same question about a plant gets you the answer, "because the seed fell on fertile soil and grew." It may or may not have been planted by a human; if it was, then the answer is interesting. If it merely blew in, then the answer is also interesting, but for different reasons.

Asking why the universe exists is a reasonable question. It is a question that may or may not be impossible to answer with science in any useful fashion, if only because science occurs within the universe, and thus probably cannot answer questions about anything that occurs outside that universe.

Religion is one approach to answering the questions that science cannot feasibly answer. It is not the only approach, certainly, but that makes it no less useful than philosophy or any other nonscientific field that concerns the contents of the hearts of man. Where religion strays into problem territory is when it attempts to answer questions that science can answer. Those bounds are constantly shifting as science improves, hence the perceived conflict between the two. However, that conflict is illusory. After all, we can explain religion, or at least the evolutionary path that led us to have religion, scientifically. Therefore, religion is at its core a natural phenomenon that is no less a part of every human being than the desire for knowledge itself.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 2) 638

by dgatwood (#47966689) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Ultimately, there are really only three approaches to safety: treat others like you wish to be treated and hope that they reciprocate, wall yourself in and protect yourself from any situation where you would have to put trust in others, or kill everybody else before they kill you. The second approach might work, but isolation is a horrible experience for most people. The third approach, when viewed rationally, leads to ever-escalating violence. This leaves you with only one sensible option.

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.