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Comment: Wavefunction collapse (Score 2) 770

by overshoot (#47853361) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

This whole discussion is distorted by the framing around "belief." As long as the result of a scientific inquiry is "belief" it's reasonable (in the "sound reason" sense) to hold the issue open and speculate that Einstein's General Theory (or the current version of Darwin's) might in fact be totally wrong.

But that's where the denialists play word games. They talk about open minds, and how consensus isn't dispositive, etc. and then use that as an argument against teaching evolution in schools or taking steps agains AGW. Or, for that matter, against teaching heliocentrism or plate tectonics.

The "scientific consensus" may not be dispositive in any epistemological sense, but when it comes time to collapse the waveform and make a decision it's certainly the way to bet.

Comment: The human touch (Score 3, Interesting) 102

by overshoot (#47494647) Attached to: "Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

Thanks to a prosthetic knee, I get the "human touch" every time I fly. That's after a trip through the pornscanner and taking out all of my electronics and startingt them up, of course.

As for the kiosks -- if you know what you're doing, the last thing that you need is the kind of condescending "help" that gets in the way of getting your freaking boarding pass.

Comment: Gross or net? (Score 2) 155

by overshoot (#47443465) Attached to: Fighting Climate Change With Trade

The United States exported about $106 billion worth of such goods last year.

It's one thing to export $106 billion more than you import and quite another to export $106 billion while importing $250 billion.

A good rule of thumb is that if an article doesn't explicitly tell you that it's a net export, it's because it's a puff piece with a bias and the truth would harsh the whole slant.

Comment: Chicken or egg? (Score 3, Interesting) 230

by overshoot (#47442191) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

Yes, lots of educated (and wealthy) citizens create markets for better services in cities. But decades of surveys of companies planning locations and of educated workers considering relocation tell us it works the other way around, too.

States like Arizona and Texas that base their plans for attracting high-wage (lots of educated employees) employers on cutting taxes usually do it by also slicing schools and other services.

That seems to be working in places like Austin, where the city makes up for the lack of State support for education (or actual hostility to it) by cranking up local sales taxes -- which fall more on the poor than on the affluent. Which is a sweet deal if you're making serious money as a twenty-something in technology there, but might not look so good when you have kids and you're looking for daycare and primary schools.

We're doing the experiment. Check in again in ten or twenty years to see which way the arrow of cauality runs.

Comment: Re:But you can still (Score 1) 702

by overshoot (#47407515) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Ask yourself: what does the TSA do to detect iron oxide and aluminum? (Much less magnesium! MacBooks, anyone?)

They've known about this for years. They have quite competent "red team" people who think up possible threats, and they're not remotely so stupid as to believe that the Bad Guys can't think up this kind of thing themselves. Ask a classroom of sophomore-level engineering students to come up with ways to get plane-killers aboard and this is one of the first ones -- although it's a very, very long list.

However, stopping thermite from getting onboard is going to be way more of a public inconvenience than their mission statement allows.

Comment: Re:It's the politics (Score 1) 725

by overshoot (#47393185) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Most of the AGW activists are pursuing political agendas that have a limited connection to AGW. Here are some questions to ask yourself - Why are AGW activists not actively pursuing increased hydroelectric power? Why are AGW activists not actively pursuing increased nuclear power?

Mostly because they're not interested in mandating specific aproaches. Instead of the old-fashioned approach of Nixon's EPA, they're going for market-based solutions: putting a price on carbon emissions, for instance. Or a conservative variant on that, George H. W. Bush's cap-and-trade mechanism updated by John McCain for carbon dioxide.

Or the most recent study's proposal: just eliminating taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels would get us halfway to the 2-degree target.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller