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Comment Re:Enter the closed loop you cannot enter. (Score 1) 1093

In the social sciences, we see a different angle on this.

There is "research" under the umbrella "critical methods" which rather than control for bias, the authors state their bias and make no efforts to gather any evidence to refute their own a priori conclusions. Part of their justification is that opponents have the same opportunity: They can gather evidence to support their viewpoint, and then it will all get worked out in the literature.

The problem is that for many pressing issues, political correctness will not allow the other side to voice their opinion. So one end becomes more and more "founded" in "research" while the other - which may be more correct (from a positivist POV) - gets less and less credible.

Comment Re:Zero value study (Score 1) 146

I agree with you on this target variable because we can assess child literacy in a more objective manner.

However, there are plenty of psychological constructs for which self-assessment is the most accurate method of measurement. The results of those measures should at some point be compared against other non-self-reported data, but they are very useful.

Comment Re:You sound like you're surprised (Score 1) 670

I was at Mt. Rushmore this summer and they have a video of FDR visiting the site. He postulated that the sculpture would be around for 10,000 years and wondered what people then would think of us.

"Let us hope that at least they will give us the benefit of the doubt, that they will believe we have honestly striven every day and generation to preserve for our descendants a decent land to live in and a decent form of government to operate under."

That's not too much for to ask of people - to offer the benefit of doubt to others. But I think it's important to separate the people (the American citizenry) from the politicians (including the one who spoke those words). I'll give the Americans of the 1930's credit for doing what they thought was right, but no politician deserves that benefit.

Comment Re:You sound like you're surprised (Score 1) 670

If you had your way I imagine no one in their right mind would then go into politics.

You should google "General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull". Or, better, you should go see that painting on display over Washington's saber at the Smithsonian.

The motivation for political *service* shouldn't be instrumental, but intrinsic.

Comment Re:I am shocked! (Score 1) 670

After the election here in NY 23rd, some have wondered about the viability of third parties. The best comment I heard - which rang frustratingly true to this non-partisan - was this: "No third party can survive in the U.S. system because as soon as their platform becomes popular enough to win a seat, one of the major parties will assimilate that platform."

As I thought about this, I came to the conclusion that the two-party system isn't the disease, but a symptom.

Comment Re:Commas (Score 3, Funny) 120

The decimal comma is an SI standard as much as the decimal point and its usage is preferred (according to Wikipedia) in Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, French Canada, Romania, Sweden and much of the rest of Europe.

I was in the Louvre looking at the old French crown jewels when I heard someone read the display: "Fifty-four THOUSAND carats!?!?! WOW!"

Comment Re:Nothing to see here, move on (Score 2, Insightful) 882

While I've never seen anything like celebrating an opponent's death, in my social science experience, I've witnessed rampant conclusion-driven methodology.

"Do you think that because we included XYZ in our sampling that it's clouding the results?"

"Don't tell me what the data say; I know what's really happening and the data are wrong!"


The way science is funded is not amenable to honest science. If the track you're leading dries up, switching tracks isn't really an option because all the other tracks have people leading them already.

Comment Re:Gee, it's almost like they have a monopoly or s (Score 5, Interesting) 330

When I first read this I thought about IBM back in the day. They could put a small company out of business simply by announcing, "Yeah, we're working on that too." And they had to fight off some well-founded lawsuits. Eventually, IBM became known for quiet and consistent R&D (Giant MR comes to mind) because they had to watch what they said.

Will that day come for Google? I think not (or it's a long way off). IBM's issues with the courts came around the same time Ma Bell was dismantled, which couldn't happen now.

Comment Re:Who wants to update?? (Score 1) 1012

I had an lawyer acquaintance with whom I discussed software licensing. He saw no problem with it, but I have since learned that many lawyers only think in terms of legal and illegal, not right or wrong, sensible or insensible, etc.

I mentioned that you cannot license a book, and he told me I was dead wrong; he had himself helped a manufacturer write the license for their *printed* maintenance manuals.

I sent him a link to the Penguin Books case that led to the doctrine of First Sale. He wrote back, "A) This appears to apply to the very limited context of book resellers. B) I'm sure there's been case law in the last 80 years to override this decision."

I personally still believe it's not legal, but IANAL.

Comment There's no shortage (Score 4, Interesting) 551

I was on an evaluation team that was charged with determining how well a government program had addressed a "shortage" of a specific skill set. On the committee was an economist from a big university. He opened the meeting with the comment: There is no shortage; the government is just not willing to pay market value.

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There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923