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Comment Re:Just to keep it straight on my scorecard (Score 3, Interesting) 260

We shouldn't accept things as true simply because gathering accurate data is hard. Quite the opposite.

Of course not. But that's not what I was talking about. We may have varying degrees of certainty about something based on the data we have. That doesn't change the utility and importance of trying to infer something from what data we do have.

Particle physics, however, by it's very nature is very statistical these days. You don't observe anything directly, you observe things 3-4 steps removed from the interesting event, with a statistical model of what the decay products can be at each step. There's nothing but statistical inference typing actual measurements back to theory. Given that level of indirection, caution is called for.

Let me share a story I heard once about indirect evidence.

Do you know for certain that electrons exist? How? Have you ever seen one? All of the evidence for their existence is indirect.

Compare this with...

Do you know for certain that the Pope exists? How? Have you ever met him? All of the evidence for his existence is indirect.

Comment Re: Wow, posts are being censored quickly (Score 2) 260

By that logic, burning books isn't censorship because your can always go visit the author to find out what the original story was.

I'm guessing that logic is not your strong point. Here, let me help you.

First of all, burning books is not censorship. Banning books is censorship.

Second, nobody is "burning" a comment by modding it down. It's still available for you to see. And you don't have to "go visit" the poster to see it. You merely adjust your browse level.

Comment Re:Just to keep it straight on my scorecard (Score 4, Insightful) 260

Physics: 4 sigma error, question the model
Climate: 4 sigma error, jail those who dare to disagree

Not quite.

Everything: 4 sigma error, question the model
Everything: shame those who think a 6 sigma error is the truth

I agree with where you're going, but in all fairness, the sigma-level that matters depends on the field.

Not all fields can gather very large amounts of data the way particle physics can. For example, psychological and drug-trial studies must live with small sample sizes for moral and practical reasons. Even astronomy sometimes has to cope with large error-bars in results, yet the conclusions they draw can be significant. I think climate science lies somewhere in the middle in this regard.

Comment Re:Bad idea Elon (Score 1) 304

To remove yourself from a position where you can (hopefully) continue to try to influence Trump, to a position where you cannot influence him harms everyone.

Make your objections, make them loudly, but don't quit the council. We need you there.

If Musk feels that he cannot actually influence Trump, and he's just there for window-dressing, then he should leave.

And I doubt Musk would succeed. Trump pretty much listens only to himself.

Comment Re:The Republicans will never.... (Score 1) 382

allow this to happen since they want to force everyone to work, which is slavery.

No, slavery is a system in which people are treated as property, i.e., one human being can legally own another. A system that Republicans brought to an end in the USA.

Being forced by the government to work (and get paid) may or may not be just, but it is not slavery.

We all should work if we can, but people should have the freedom not to work. Some simply can't, for legitimate reasons. But not working can have consequences, including an indigent lifestyle.

Disclosure: I am not a Republican.

Comment Re: PNAS (Score 3, Insightful) 144

Also I can't square "has zero side effects" with "blocks conception". It either does something or it doesn't. There is no such thing as "zero side effects" for compounds that are active in the body.

If the only thing it does is block conception, then it has zero side effects. I'll wait to hear whether that's actually true, but the definition of a side effect is an effect other than the primary one.

Comment Re:something something gold farming (Score 1) 203

"Carbon County, Wyoming (yes, that's a real place)"

Is there an issue with the word carbon happens to be a very useful element unless your'e a death cult worshiper that thinks carbon is a curse.


You have to wonder what it says when a county names itself after an element.

Copper County
Lithium County
Nitrogen County
Fluorine County
Chlorine County
Sodium County
Plutonium County

All elements are useful. Whether their compounds are useful as a component of our environment is another question.

Comment Re:When I was a kid it wasn't free training (Score 4, Interesting) 203

in engineering college, the foreign kids were sitting in the library on Friday night of a holiday weekend while most of the natives were out partying.

The families of foreign students sacrifice a great deal to send their children to Western schools. The "foreign-devil fees" are much higher than for domestic students. If foreign students don't go home with As, they go home shamed.

Being a foreign student in a Western school is a brutal existence. Show them some compassion.

Comment Re:When I was a kid it wasn't free training (Score 4, Interesting) 203

It's not just for their employees, they're offering this program to unemployed coal miners as well.

Apparently with the hope that these unemployed miners will provide support for Goldwind turbines where they live. This is a loss-leader for the company, but IMHO, it looks like a win-win-win for Goldwind, the residents of Carbon County, and the environment.

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire