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Comment: Re:methods, not new discoveries, win (Score 1) 77

by quantaman (#48275563) Attached to: The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

It looks like the majority of the top 20 most cited papers cover new methods or tools (e.g., a new lab technique or a new software program), not new fundamental scientific discoveries (e.g., the structure of DNA or expansion of the universe). I guess this isn't really surprising, but it is interesting. One could conclude that scientists who want to make a major impact on their field should spend their time inventing new methods for doing fundamental research and let other scientists actually do the research.

I think something else is going on.

The point of science is discovery so if you make some great discovery people start investigating it. With every new paper someone is pushing further into the unknown, eventually enough people have built on your discovery si that when someone wants to build on your work they don't cite your paper, they cite the paper that cited your paper.

But with methods the bigger concern is simply getting things done. So you may get fewer advancements because fewer people develop them and the state of the art stays current longer. But more importantly the important thing it to bring the reader up to speed with what you did as quickly as possible. Therefore you cite the paper that everyone else cites so you can say "I did more or less what everyone else did", you can then offer further citations if you used refinements of the method.

Comment: Re:Abrupt, but like 100 years abrupt? (Score 3, Interesting) 121

by quantaman (#48275129) Attached to: New Study Shows Three Abrupt Pulses of CO2 During Last Deglaciation

Sounds like they really just don't know.

  It likely was a combination of factors, they say, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns and terrestrial processes.

Actually they do know, they just don't know precisely.

You're basically implying their knowledge is zero, the truth is they've already ruled out countless possibilities, they just haven't gotten all the way to the truth.

"This abrupt, centennial-scale variability of CO2 appears to be a fundamental part of the global carbon cycle. "Previous research has hinted at the possibility that spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide may have accelerated the last deglaciation, but that hypothesis had not been resolved, the researchers say.

The earth has been from +14 to -6 degrees on average from where it is today. Historically speaking, were in the "colder than usual" range of the bell curve today, and thats with using ice cores to detect CO2 levels and temperature histories. Its not like we had a thermocouple hooked up to a server recording that data for millions of years. These deductions are best effort conclusions on data that only tells a very broad stroke of the story.

Interesting but I'm not sure how it's relevant.

What upsets me is how demonizing the argument about Global Warming / Climate Change is. The earth will change its temperature. That will happen with or without us, just look at the historical record. Earths temperature isn't stable.

You're arguing a strawman, no one has ever argued that climate is completely stable without us. The claim is that we're undergoing an extreme and dangerous rate of change due to human causes.

And for all those who argue we are burning too much fossil fuels, those carbon atoms weren't created into existence in the ground as they were today, unless you believe the earth is 6000 years old!

Ahh, I get it.

AGW deniers are often associated with Young Earth Creationists (YECs) because the religious right and YECs are fairly well represented in the AGW denier community. Therefore you compare AGW proponents to YECs, and if any show outrage at the comparison you can say they're hypocritical because of how people associate YECs with denialists.

They were a part of the global carbon cycle, and buried during mass extinction events and processes that sequestered them to where they are today. It isn't science to say "for sure this and for sure that". Its science to say: "To the level of our current understanding...". Thats it. You can't know for certain, just like they didn't know for certain that the earth was the center of the universe, even though it was proselytized. Its not OK to attack the character of an individual when they are skeptical of your conclusions. All of science works better when there are those who are skeptical. It refines your proof if you are right, or betters your understanding if you are wrong.

  As for the problems associated with climate change, it will happen. For those of us living where it will flood, there will be a new continent to live on, once it unfreezes (again!).

And again I'm not sure what the point of this section was other than to accuse the researchers of not doing science... and then promptly follow that up with a deliciously ironic complaint that people shouldn't "attack the character of an individual when they are skeptical of your conclusions".

Comment: Re:For all the idiots (Score 2) 78

by quantaman (#48274723) Attached to: Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools

There is no old code; only old auditors :-)

I can assure you, when I analyze any hardware/software system I don't in any manner way shape or form categorize anything, or base any decision on the age of, and subsystem.

I doubt I'm the only competent analyst.

I'm not saying competent analysts can find these bugs. What I'm suggesting is that they don't have a lot of motive to look and I think this story is evidence of that. If a lot of analysts were already examining Linux and all the basic tools then why the sudden flood of bugs now?

Comment: Re:For all the idiots (Score 3, Insightful) 78

by quantaman (#48274403) Attached to: Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools

"But with Linux most contributors, be they individuals or companies, are primarily concerned with their own projects."

Your definition of contributor is skewed. A FOSS contributor may do so in many ways. Clearly a project lead for a major project isn't going to contribute further by analyzing the ecosystem; their plate is full. There are others, also known as contributors, who do this. Other contributors administer project websites or write documentation. There is a whole wide array of types of contributors.

That being said, clearly there are more developers than people doing security audits, and it would be nice to see more contribtors in all the other categories, actually.

My definition of contributor didn't exclude non-coders. The point was that most contributors, except for a few individuals, are contributing with a specific goal or direction in mind. Implement feature X, support customer Y, make nicer docs, make a nicer build, etc. All of those tasks have a nice tangible outcome that is good for motivating people.

Auditing old code for potential security vulnerabilities is hard work, it isn't fun, and it's unlikely to scratch a particular itch. Those kind of problems aren't a strength of the open source model.

Comment: Re:For all the idiots (Score 2) 78

by quantaman (#48274219) Attached to: Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools

... to the masses of sarcastic "I though Open Source was more secure!" crowd: in an Open Source forum, when vulnerabilities are found, they are patched. Since it's a public forum, the vulnerabilities are disclosed, and patches / updates made available. The poor, sorry state of the first cut gets rapidly and openly improved.

With closed source, the vulnerabilities merely stay hidden and undisclosed, and you have no ability to know about it, or fix it yourself. the poor, sorry state of the first cut never improves. Yes, there are some cultures that take security seriously. You have no way of knowing.

This, right here, is what "more secure" looks like: public notification of the vulnerabilities and patches to distribute.

The disclosure and fixing is definitely a good thing, but the number of vulnerabilities and the ease with which people are finding them is worrying.

I don't think that this really disproves Linus's Law, "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". More likely I suspect that the eyeballs aren't as numerous or well distributed as we think. There's a lot of tools that have been around a really long time and may not have undergone rigorous review when they were written. Even if maintainance if fairly active (the wget changelog is pretty healthy) these are decent sized code bases and there's going to be a lot of places where bugs can hide for a very long time.

The place where propietary software companies like windows have an advantage here is they can afford to pay people to do the thankless task of auditing old code. But with Linux most contributors, be they individuals or companies, are primarily concerned with their own projects. They simply don't have the same incentive to start auditing the whole ecosystem looking for random old bugs.

Comment: Re:Silly (Score 1) 715

by quantaman (#48272313) Attached to: Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

Sort of like, "I'm proud to be 5'10"", or, "I'm proud to be male" or something. We have exactly nothing to do with creating these conditions so why would we be proud of them? Things to be proud of would be, "I wrote some amazing code." Or perhaps, "I ran five miles and made my personal best time." You aren't supposed to be proud of things you had no control of...

The accomplishment is he's embraced that identity, something a lot of people are still unable to do privately, much less openly. That's the thing he's rightfully proud of.

And this announcement is important. Can you name another CEO of a major corporation who is openly gay? CEO's are supposed to be vanilla with dull personal lives. By being the first Tim Cook has not only made it a lot easier for other major business figures to come out of the closet, but also made it easier for other gay people hoping to get into management to be open about their identities.

Comment: Re:We can be certain of one thing (Score 1) 150

by quantaman (#48264667) Attached to: Stan Lee Media and Disney Battle For Ownership of Marvel Characters

If you build your employer a piece of software that ends up making hundreds of millions of dollars wouldn't you feel entitled to some of that wealth?

Who really earned the hundreds of millions? Was it the guy who wrote the software, the manager who thought up and approved the project, the marketer who figured out how to sell it, the salesman who found the big customers? There's a lot of people who had a critical contribution and even with something as singular as an comic book there's a lot more cooks than you realize.

I think exceptional employees do tend to get shortchanged on the value of their contributions. But the upside is that even if the project bombs completely you still get a paycheck.

Comment: Re:Summary doesn't support headline (Score 1) 300

by quantaman (#48255807) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

I know this is petulant and pedantic, but Dunning-Kruger is statistical, and only reflects the naturalness of a lack of detailed introspection.

More over, some people are genuinely competent at things. I want to object to the notion that it's an inescapable human failing, because Dunning and Kruger's research didn't show that. Just a strong overall trend.

I wouldn't call it pedantic. Whether all people are major victims of this phenomena, or merely a substantial portion of people, is a critical distinction.

Personally I think I'm relatively good at professing my lack of expertise and/or confidence in areas in which I have low competence.

Unfortunately a person suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect would think the exact same thing.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 984

by quantaman (#48242561) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Would you silence a dissenting view? That is not healthy for scientific discourse, no matter how wrong you believe the dissenting view to be.

If you wish to silence them, silence them using facts, logic, and argument. Do not silence them through a political process. You would ask them to do the same for your.

I think it's a little simpler than that. If the rooms are publically available for booking then the University can't go discriminating on viewpoint, regardless of how nutty or objectionable the group in question, and the conference should be allowed to continue.

If however, the bookings are restricted to those associated with the University, such as the student group in question, and the conference was arranged by decieving that group (and harming their reputation in the process), then the conference should absolutely be cancelled.

Comment: Re:IBM no longer a tech company? (Score 1) 275

by quantaman (#48232657) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

That Amazon is stuck in low margin business that will never generate large profits. That the only way to expand is to offer lower prices than anybody else, resulting in a "Red Queen's Race", where everybody has to run faster just to stay where they are. If that is true, Amazon will never be able to generate "normal" profits, so future profits will be small, not large.

Only time will tell on who is right.

They're basically banking on being the Walmart of the Internet.

The advantage they have over Walmart is the Internet scales better than the physical world. So they can theoretically reduce their margins even further.

The disadvantage they have over Walmart is for any given shopper Walmart only has to compete against other local retails, but Amazon is always competing against the entire world.

Comment: Re:No, it was not an "active" strategy. (Score 1) 282

by quantaman (#48232647) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

That is why humans should try to stick their "ethnic ancestor" foods. [begin personal rant] Indian Indians (not American Indians) went through so many cycles of feast and famine. Only those who had the ability store fat in the times of plenty survived the lean times. When they get F-1 visa, then green card then citizenship and melt into the melting pot guzzling beer, eating pizza, their genomes are still gearing up for the next famine that could be just round the corner. Heart disease and diabetes is rampant among the immigrants from historically impoverished ethnic groups are very very susceptible to diseases of the plenty. Your body evolved to eat what your grandpa and his grandpa ate. If they eschewed bacon, stay clear of bacon. If they ate rice and lentils and ate samosa and jamoons only on festival feasts, you would do well to do the same. Stop ordering dessert in every meal and pigging out in the 9$ lunch buffet with unlimited mango lassi at India Palace. [end rant]

You're half right, though the issue might not be genetics but eipgenetics. Malnourishment while the mother is pregnant seems to affect the development of the feotus and make it prone to obesity. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary sense as ethnic groups will go through many cycles of bounty and famine through the generations, the best strategy isn't to chase an oscillating target, but to optimize your current build to whatever the most current conditions are.

Comment: Re:20 generations (Score 1) 282

by quantaman (#48232623) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

That's what makes it hard to determine when evolution via genes is occurring vs purely environmental factors winnowing a current population.

To an evolutionary biologist, that statement doesn't make sense. What, exactly, is the distinction between "evolution via genes" and "purely environmental factors winnowing a population"? "Environmental factors winnowing a population" is natural selection, and that drives "evolution via genes". If the small-footed lizards drop off the trees and fail to reproduce, the frequency of alleles in the lizard population changes -- the alleles that favor large feet are now more common. This is "evolution via genes". Sure, some small-footed lizards might remain in the population, or smaller feet could become dominant if the selective pressures change, but that has nothing at all to do with whether or not "evolution via genes" is occurring.

It does make sense because not all traits equally heritable.

Say a mad dictator killed all the people named Bob. Now the name Bob isn't very heritable. So while environmental factors will have completely altered the population, if the dictator and all his followers then got stuck in a grain elevator and died the next generation could return to its previous and unfortunate levels of Bobness immediately.

Height on the other hand is highly heritable, so if the dictator also killed all the tall people then the next generation would be much more environmentally friendly and convenient to store.

Comment: Re:The key is balance (Score 2) 158

by quantaman (#48232597) Attached to: The Problem With Positive Thinking

I think you need to have confidence in yourself and believe that you can do something. But then you need to do the actual work, solve the problems, work for success. To me, there is a difference between fantasizing about success and believing in your ability to achieve it.

In other words, I know I can do X. But to do it, I must do A, B, C, D, and overcome obstacles I, II, III, and IV. That's positive thinking combined with realism and the willingness to do what you have to do.

So for the last couple months I've been working on a start-up idea in my spare time. The thought process "I know I can do X. But to do it, I must do A, B, C, D, and overcome obstacles I, II, III, and IV." is a bad idea that turns me into a quivering blob hiding under my quilt.

The long term obstacles are certainly achievable, but they're also a ton of work and extremely daunting since I can't do anything about them for a long time.

If I want to get work done the key is to think of the long term goal but only the short term obstacles. I know X is still a very long way off, but I also know I can subtract a tangible Y and get closer to my goal.

I can also berate myself more effectively for being lazy, ie "to get closer to X all you have to do is a bit of Y, so why the hell are you wasting your time posting on /.?!?"

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.