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Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 440

by mtrachtenberg (#48876389) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

In other recent news, the United States Senate recently passed legislation requiring that all government contractors use 3 as the value for pi. Asked for comment, Sen. Inhofe stated "irrational numbers are the devil's spawn, and America is a Christian nation. We use wholesome whole numbers in this country."

Comment: Backtracking (Score 2) 138

by mtrachtenberg (#48481315) Attached to: Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal?

As I get older I am less impressed by the infinitesimal bit of knowledge that science has revealed and more impressed by the vast gulf of ignorance it has revealed. I hope however it is that our elites choose to bury this stuff, they invest at least a little attention to being able to dig it all up again when it turns out they were wrong about whatever.

Comment: Re:Not as simple as teaching how to ... (Score 1) 328

OH, well why didn'tya say so fercryinoutloud. He wasn't just saying a law enforcement tool was bullshit smoke and mirrors, he was saying you could defeat the bullshit smoke and mirrors in order to lie. Geez -- if that sort of stuff starts happening, you'll see people selling bullshit smoke and mirrors to law enforcement, so we'd better punish him severely.

Comment: Fine Line (Score 1) 320

Is it a programming exercise? Then actually have human beings who understand the assigned task go over the submitted code with the student, having the student explain it. If the student can explain what is happening to the investigator's satisfaction, fine. If the student copied code and has no clue what it is doing, force them to work for a large company. And please stop calling programming computer science; no one could "copy code" over the internet to demonstrate an understanding of computer science.

Comment: Re:History is written in the geologic record. (Score 1) 495

by mtrachtenberg (#48269011) Attached to: Imagining the Future History of Climate Change

Yesterday I got into a conversation about climate change with a tow truck driver. He explained to me that the geologists know it's all a fraud. At the time, I just mumbled something about, well, yes, neither of us do lab work so who can know for sure. But I'm thinking of mailing him a printout of this:

There are at least two serious problems with Americans' understanding of the seriousness of our situation. The first is the continued power of the fossil fuel based companies and the banks that love them; they put the tobacco industry to shame when it comes to deceit. The second is a spectacularly pathetic media, that seems to have evolved into a group of incredibly dumb gasbags bringing in their comrades to shout at one another, leaving the impression that every issue is an ongoing debate in which the winner is the person best able to shout stupidity.

Comment: Re:And now the opposite view. (Score 2) 553

by mtrachtenberg (#48225811) Attached to: Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

"Just because someone exercises critical thinking does not mean that that person will come to the same conclusions you have."

Well, perhaps not. But I think it's very reasonable to guess that a group of critical thinkers will be able to agree that a serious problem is, in actuality, a serious problem, and will be able to recognize, individually and collectively, that a given existing situation is unacceptable due to the seriousness of a serious problem. The solutions that they propose will undoubtedly vary based on group members' experience and goals, but I like to believe that the solutions that critical thinkers offer, while varying, will be offered along with the reasoning leading to the solution, and that the reasoning can be accepted or rejected in predictable ways based on the beliefs of the members of the group. Thus, groups whose members have similar beliefs and high-level goals -- say, "conscious beings have a right not to be arbitrarily killed, or killed for the pleasure of others;" and/or "approaches that reduce every individual's suffering while also reducing the average individual's suffering are to be preferred to approaches that fail this test" -- will be able to converge on solutions acceptable to most members.

Comment: Re:What is critical thinking? (Score 5, Insightful) 553

by mtrachtenberg (#48223563) Attached to: Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

Way too many people don't realize that our current economic and political system would not survive if critical thinking skills became commonplace.

We are destroying our own planet in the name of making 0.01% wealthy, and most of us, most of the time, are perfectly content to participate in the process in any way that pays decently and offers "interesting" work.

Comment: Global Emergency? But What Color Code? (Score 0, Flamebait) 183

by mtrachtenberg (#47630991) Attached to: WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency

The WHO has declared an emergency? Well, that's fine, but let's do it the Murkan way. Would you prefer "Hot Pink," "Schoolbus Yellow," or "Fire Engine Red." We badly need for our top world leaders to work out the colors for our color code. What are these world leaders wasting their time on, if we don't have color-coded posters for airports?

Comment: Re:Really, We Get What We Deserve (Score 1) 144

Look at what happened with the Obamacare website to see how things actually work. Tons of time and money were spent on an important system that was developed by the usual suspects. It didn't work, and it was going to cause problems for someone important, the President. So what happened? The President called in competent people -- the people who had worked on his campaign website, not the people who work for his government. The thing got turned around in no time and started working. See -- people get what they care about.

Comment: Really, We Get What We Deserve (Score 1) 144

Gee, another $300 million down the drain on a system that doesn't work? What a shocker.

Contractors are being well-paid, government supervisors are being well-paid, I'm sure no one will be fired and I'm sure at least some folks who have contributed to the problem are getting bonuses. Just like the banks in 2008 -- there is not a shred of real accountability.

A public that allows this is getting what it pays for. It really has no reason to complain.

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. -- Franklin P. Jones