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Comment: Re:The Only Good Bug is a Dead Bug. (Score 1) 726

I think people underestimate exactly how misanthropic Paul Verhoeven is. He wants people to think this stuff is cool to make his point about how disgusting people are. It is like his depiction of all the people watching the "I'll buy that for a dollar" guy in Robocop. He hates the audience.

Comment: Isn't this just a reality of neuro- research? (Score 1) 512

by sinkasapa (#45070407) Attached to: Cyborg Cockroach Sparks Ethics Debate

If we want to live in a society with good STEM education, don't we just have to deal with this? This is how research in certain fields is done and if we want to have our children grow up from an early age being trained or simply informed of this enterprise this is how one must do it. It is amazing to me the reaction I'm seeing here because I thought that readers of this site would be more familiar with what is involved in certain areas of scientific research. Despite its unpleasantness, I think that the potential benefits of learning more about the topics explored by this educational experiment have a benefit to our understanding of the natural world that far outweighs my empathy for a cockroach.

This isn't to be dismissive of the idea that there is some ethical or moral question here but the indignation some people are expressing here is naive, as though they just noticed that people eat meat and use animals as test subjects.

How about a constructive suggestion to those in education? If we believe 1. An improvement in science education must lead to more educational experiments and demonstrations. 2. To be most effective, these experiments and demonstrations should be realistic and modeled on the types of experiments that would be performed by a researcher at some time in history. 3. Many of these experiments will involve animals because animal research has been and continues to be important. If people agree on those three things, which seem reasonable to me, why not use the ethical and moral problems that are raised by animal research as part of the teaching curriculum? If the questions are raised as they have been here in a classroom at an early age, perhaps we can raise a generation with a more nuanced understanding of the issues involved who can have intelligent conversations and debates on the topic.

An example comes from a teaching experience that my wife had with a group of 8 and 9 year olds. She was on a field trip with them and one of them threw a rock at a duck and hit it. She told him to stop and gathered the children together. She asked them whether they thought it was ok to pelt ducks with rocks for fun. I think it was obvious the answer she was looking for so you can imagine the head swaying. She then asked them why. It happened that one of the students went hunting with his father and shared with the other students the guideline that he had learned between ethical hunting and simply torturing and killing for fun. Not everyone might agree with the kid's understanding of the line but it was nuanced because he was both killing animals but retained a sense of empathy and right and wrong when doing so. As if in a fairy tale ending, the rock thrower expressed regret at what he had done and looked ashamed.

Obviously my wife lucked out to have such a good group of kids that were so receptive and truly lucky to have that wise little hunter kid but it is a true story and similar stories could be repeated in the classroom environment.

Comment: Google and fanfare without follow-through. (Score 1) 481

by sinkasapa (#44512335) Attached to: Bill Gates Promotes Vaccine Projects, Swipes At Google

I think it is good to kind of name and shame Google for this type of behavior. I know some people who were involved with their supposedly revolutionary endangered language preservation project:

http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/

According to some insiders, Google came in with big promises of building a platform and providing funding. In the end it was like a child with last year's toys. They basically dropped the project, which it turns out wasn't about new research or new aid to educational projects but simply a site where researchers were expected to dump their data and put it under Google's brand. Researchers were, of course, puzzled as to why they should do this. Now the languishing project is supported by their much less wealthy partners, more of a burden on their resources than anything else.

If you look at the site above, you'll see how little the fanfare amounted to. A juggernaut like Google might have actually made a difference in an area where resources are scarce.

Comment: Re:I yell my name all day (Score 1) 110

by sinkasapa (#44506453) Attached to: Dolphin Memories Span At Least 20 Years

Um... that's exactly what the author you quote does - assumes that since humans wouldn't do it, dolphins wouldn't do it either.

The point the author was making wasn't to contest that dolphins are doing something different than humans. His point was to emphasize that dolphins are doing something different than humans.

Apparently, dolphins have a means of verbally recognizing one another and nothing is being disputed about that. The quote was intended as an amusing way of pointing out how what dolphins are doing is different from the human use of proper names. The article linked to provides more detail.

Comment: I yell my name all day (Score 4, Interesting) 110

by sinkasapa (#44500169) Attached to: Dolphin Memories Span At Least 20 Years

Dolphins don't use personal names.

See "Dolphin naming?" by Mark Liberman
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003127.html

And "Dolphins using personal names, again" by Geoffrey K. Pullum
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=5453

A choice quote:

Now, think about that. If you call out "Geoff Pullum!" in a crowded street, and I'm there within earshot, I'm likely to turn round and look at you. But what I am not likely to do is yell "Geoff Pullum!" back at you.

Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

Comment: Re:Bad Science (Score 1) 96

by sinkasapa (#44383785) Attached to: Unique Howls Are What Wolves Use As Names

I don't think you have to assume that there is a little BS here. "Unique Howls Are What Wolves Use As Names" is really misleading when all they are really talking about is being able to recognize individual wolves by their calls. It is like saying that your name is how you pronounce the letter 'r'.

It may not be bad science so much as a bad presentation of science.

Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs. -- Tom Lehrer

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