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Comment: Re:The key word is "prove" (Score 1) 223

by zolltron (#41529995) Attached to: The History of 'Correlation Does Not Imply Causation'

The reason this phrase is so catchy is that it's counter-intuitive, and easily proven to be true. People love to use it as a "gotcha" phrase, PRECISELY because in regular life correlation does in fact usually imply causation.

I agree, and this cannot be overstated. I worry that the use of this phrase is almost more dangerous than the mistaken belief that correlation does imply causation.

To be precise, in most of the examples people love to trot out, correlation does imply causation, just not direct causation. A and B might be correlated because they are both caused by the same thing. While a correlation between obesity and TV watching doesn't imply that TV watching causes obesity, the correlation is good evidence that one causes the other or that there is a third thing, laziness perhaps, that causes both.

Of course there are counter examples to this assumption, called Reichenbach's principle, but they are even more rare.

Comment: Re:Ending badly? (Score 3, Insightful) 407

This. The falling sky proponents love to pretend that it's all a done deal yet the entire model fails to adequately account for previous warm periods, nor the fact that CO2 is merely plant food. (photosynthesis, how does it work?)

Even if you accept the premises that 1) the climate is warming and 2) that human produced CO2 is to blame, taking the entire thing a step farther to say that we can effectively mitigate the problem by radical geoengineering means is a step way beyond credibility. That we SHOULD do such a thing is absurd in the extreme.

The law of unintended consequences patiently waits.

You think it's a bad idea to seed the oceans with iron, because our interfering with the natural ecosystem might have unintended consequences. So instead, you're suggesting that we should do nothing to stop our interfering with the natural ecosystem by pumping huge amounts of CO2 into the air.

Seems consistent.

Comment: Re:Dont like it? (Score 1) 214

by zolltron (#38958705) Attached to: Delayed Outrage Over A Censored Site; What's a Better Way To Spread News?

When talking about Universities, people often tend to have this reaction that seems at home in the private world. If Starbucks doesn't want me to connect to Change.org and are providing me with free internet service, they should have the right to block that site. After all, they have no obligation to provide me with internet service in the first place, so they are free to limit the access.

As pointed out by others, the first major difference here is that ASU is partially funded by Arizona tax payers and therefore operates by different rules. But, more importantly, ASU is a *university* and universities should operate by different rules. Good universities are either government entities or non-profits with a mission to educate students with the interest of developing them into well-educated citizens. Unfettered access to different ideas is absolutely critical to that process. A university that restricts access to free speech is simply failing at its primary mission: preparing students to be active participants in a democratic society. It's not a matter of whether ASU gets government money or not, it's that ASU has a mission that they are actively thwarting.

Comment: Re:This guy ever been beaten up before? (Score 5, Informative) 566

by zolltron (#38142996) Attached to: The Future of Protest In Panopticon Nation

One woman had a miscarriage as a direct result of being kicked in the stomach repeatedly by police. (And, yes, she told be police she was pregnant, and that she was trying to escape to protect her unborn child.)

http://open.salon.com/blog/fingerlakeswanderer/2011/11/22/pregnant_protester_who_was_beaten_miscarries

Is that enough violence for you? Or would you like more before you regard this as despicable?

Comment: Re:View from the top (Score 1) 297

by zolltron (#38127882) Attached to: How To Get Into an Elite Comp-Sci Program

This is the often-overlooked benefit of top schools. The most talented students tend to learn a lot from one another, and so you want to surround yourself with the smartest peers you can. If all the smart people were going to North-South Nowhere State University at Tinyville, that's where you should go. But they're not. They're all going to the "top" programs. So, if your smart, you should go there too.

Comment: Re:Again, on what basis an internet tax? (Score 2) 392

by zolltron (#37665092) Attached to: Amazon Pushes For National Internet Sales Tax

There's no 'state-provided' street or sidewalk on which this business is taking place, nor a state-built thoroughfare upon which a consumer has to travel to visit a store.

Maybe your Amazon purchases are delivered by teleportation, but mine come via UPS or USPS. They use trucks, the kind that travel on roads. They often come to my city via planes that fly in airspace regulated by the FAA.

Yes, the US gov't invented the internet, but for at least the last dozen years every iota of bandwith on which our (consumer's) signals travel is paid for commercially, and the costs passed down to either we the consumers (through our ISPs) or the businesses (through their providers)

Yeah, thank god the government invented the internet so they don't ever have to invent anything ever again. We can stop paying taxes now because we've reached the end-of-days. Nope, no new ideas the government could fund with our tax dollars today.

- whatever actual physical location a business has somewhere, the services that they consume (fire, police, etc.) from the government are already paid for in their property taxes. Self-evidently there's no need for police services for the sorts of store loss-prevention actions (shoplifters, etc) for internet stores.

What about other forms of fraud like credit-card fraud? Large scale fraud that involve transactions that go across state lines are investigated by the FBI. Should someone pay for that?

Comment: Re:Bad summary (Score 1) 101

by zolltron (#37601916) Attached to: For Academic Publishing, Princeton Goes Open Access By Default

People without subscriptions are often prevented from reading taxpayer funded research

Is true for very little current research.

You're simply wrong about this. True the NIH requires submission to open access journals, and I trust you know what your talking about with the NSF. But these are not the only tax-based sources of research funding. First, there are non-U.S. sources. Even in the U.S. there are the departments of defense, education, and energy which fund huge amounts of research. Defense and energy do a lot in science and technology. On top of that you have state universities that are funded (less and less) by tax dollars from their states. They often support the research of their faculty with that money.

Take a look at the top journals in many fields. We are very, very far from free access to scientific research.

Comment: Re:Not anti-intellectualism (Score 1) 949

by zolltron (#36367024) Attached to: Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

The "college is a waste of time" thing is purely economic advice, nothing anti-intellectual about it.

College might be a waste of time if you view the only benefit of college as increasing your earning potential. But, this view of college is anti-intellectual. There are other benefits to college other than monetary, and some people are willing to pay for them.

Most of what you do for money is bad for your bottom line. Buying that TV? That won't make you money. Going to the movies? Waste of money. But I'll bet you do some of those things. Why? Because the item or service you receive in return is valuable to you -- more valuable than the money you exchange for it. The same could be said in college. While the money you invest will not increase your earning potential proportionally, it still might be worth it if you value the intellectual rewards you get while there.

Comment: Re:Discouraging Science and Technical studies (Score 1) 532

by zolltron (#35966000) Attached to: University Proposes Tuition Based On Major

Freed from the normal constraints of supply and demand, tuition prices are no longer tracking closely to the cost to provide an education.

This is preposterous. If it was really the case that tuition exceeded the cost of operating the university, state funding and private endowments wouldn't be necessary. What crazy statistics did you use to determine this claim? Or did you just make it up because it sounded good?

Comment: Re:Hate meets hate? (Score 1) 744

by zolltron (#35250552) Attached to: Anonymous Goes After GodHatesFags.com

The most impressive counter protests I've seen have involved soliciting donations. The Topeka symphony (I think) put out a person who was asking people to pledge $1/hour that WBC spent protesting to the Human Rights Campaign. That way every hour they spent protesting gave money to anti-homophobia organizations.

Comment: Re:Philosophy... (Score 1) 630

by zolltron (#34838662) Attached to: The Logical Leap: Induction In Physics

In those days everyone was a philosopher. But the heirs of historical philosophers are not those who call themselves philosophers today; rather, they're the followers of the he best and most successful branch of philosophy, natural philosophy - which we now regard as the distinct discipline of science.

What makes you say that?

There are plenty of contemporary philosophers who are active participants in science and who would be appropriately called natural philosophers. Now- a-days they're more often called "naturalists" (named by W.v.O. Quine). Contemporary philosophers, and citations to them, regularly show up in scientific journals.

Comment: Re:Philosophy... (Score 5, Informative) 630

by zolltron (#34827908) Attached to: The Logical Leap: Induction In Physics

While the greek word philosophia literally means "friend of wisdom", the common-day philosopher tends to stare at their naval and wonder if they even exist

Which "common day" philosophers are you referring to? How much common day philosophy have you read? I think it's fair to say that this problem is near death and has been for a long time. The problem was made famous by Descartes of course, but he's hardly "common day."

I - personally - find it frustrating that we listen to the naval-staring philosopher, and forget what wisdom is in the same moment.

I'm happy to hear that you think people listen to philosophers. How many people do you know that spend their time worry about the problem of existence instead of something else?

Your attitude about philosophers is common, people take an intro to philosophy course that focuses on rationalist thought of the 15th century and assume they now know the state-of-the-art of philosophy. Somehow people don't realize how stupid this is, even though they wouldn't dare assume they understood contemporary physics after taking physics 101. Philosophy has a very long history of contributing to major scientific breakthroughs. Here are a few:

1. Einstein, throughout his life, credited many philosophers including Hume and Kant with inspiring him to come up with special and general relativity.

2. Neils Bohr invented his preferred interpretation of quantum mechanics because we was inspired by Kant.

3. Adam Smith was a "moral philosopher." Before him economics didn't exist.

4. Psychology wasn't it's own discipline until very recently. Before that it was philosophy.

+ - What can a lawyer do for open source? 3

Submitted by zolltron
zolltron (863074) writes "I have a friend who went to law school. He really enjoyed intellectual property law, and he seems to genuinely regret that he didn't end up as an IP lawyer. But, what's done is done, and he's not going to radically change career trajectories now. But, I think he might be interested in volunteering a little of his time if there was an interesting project he could get behind. Computer folks are always trying to figure out how to get involved in open source even if it won't be their full time job. So, now I ask you Slashdot, how can my friend use his expertise to help an open source project?"

Comment: Re:Makes the rest of us suffer... (Score 4, Informative) 347

by zolltron (#34517452) Attached to: IT Worker's Revenge Lands Her In Jail

Meanwhile IT guys are basically treated like janitors.

The irony of your comment is that it reproduces exactly the line of thinking that you criticize. You realize that janitors, by having physical access to almost all parts of a business, are capable of more havoc than IT folks. They often have physical access to all the same systems that IT people do and much more. If potential to cause damage should correlate with compensation, I'd argue that the janitors should get paid the most in any organization.

Comment: Re:There is a link however... (Score 5, Insightful) 438

by zolltron (#33702830) Attached to: You Are Not Mark Zuckerberg, So Stay In School

University is a waste of money for most people who go

I hate these sorts of claims because they are absolute nonsense. How can you know if my university degree was a waste of money for me? Do you know how much I value the things I learned (both in and out of the classroom) at the university? No, of course not, because you don't know me. It's like looking at someone you've never met and saying that they were stupid to go eat at some particular restaurant.

Usually, these sort of studies assume that the only reason anyone would go to college is to improve their lifetime earning potential and then compare the average change in earning to the cost of the university. While this is an important consideration, it shouldn't be the prevailing one, and more importantly it shouldn't be translated into the only potential thing of value that might come out of a university education. We are all not mindless money generating machines that simply wish to take the quickest route to a buck. Some of us want to enjoy the journey too.

I am a far better person for my university education. Even if it cost me money in the long run, I'm happy I went.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.

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