Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 392

Yes, Obama deported many. But Lord Dampnut has promised to dramatically increase those deportations. He can't do that without having somewhere to house them temporarily (and "temporarily" may prove to be a bit longer if the deportations get tied up in court and/or conflict with Mexico or other countries).

Also, he can't increase deportations without massive and widespread violations of civil liberties, which will mostly be felt by non-white people.

Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 392

The "Read My Lips" lie wasn't really a significant lie in the grand scheme of things. It was a campaign promise that turned out to not work so well when faced by the realities of government. These are pretty common, such as Obama's promise to close Guantanamo Bay. Lord Dampnut's promise to create a massive infrastructure spending plan may prove to be a similar lie (technically he still has time, I just don't think that even if implemented his plan has any chance at all of motivating $1T of new infrastructure spending. For now he hasn't even tried to get that plan off the ground).

I don't think there were any really significant policy-based lies in either the H.W. Bush, Clinton, or Obama administrations. W. Bush, however, fabricated evidence out of thin air to justify a war of aggression against Iraq. That was a truly massive lie, and one that wasn't really recognized by most people in the US as a lie until years later.

Lord Dampnut and his administration make lies that are similar in character to the Iraq WMD lies told by Bush on a daily basis. We don't yet know if he'll ever be as effective in policy as W. Bush was. I'm hoping beyond hope that he'll utterly fail in his signature issues, and that he'll also fail to get us involved in another war. But at this point we don't really know. Dampnut's lies are massive and constant, but we'll have to wait and see if any of them will be as disastrous to human life as Bush's Iraq WMD lies.

Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 392

It's quite a bit more nuanced than that, unfortunately.

For one, purveyors of bullshit often get pretty good at hiding the fact that they lack solid sources for their information. Furthermore, for many politically controversial topics, it's quite easy to find authoritative sources to support any point of view. Climate change is a good example here: the scientific community has a near-unanimous consensus that global warming is happening, that it's primarily human-caused, and that its effects will be nasty. But it's not at all hard to find authoritative-sounding articles claiming otherwise, sometimes even from people with solid credentials who cite peer-reviewed research.

Sometimes there are very clear indications that something is bullshit, such as claiming a scientific result for non-scientific concepts (e.g. vital or life energy). Sometimes it's a topic I already know quite a lot about and have learned to notice the ridiculous claims from a mile away.

The really tricky situations, though, are when reading about something I know very little about. In those cases, I find it pays to first of all read different viewpoints. I first of all want to hear the viewpoints of relevant experts or people directly impacted by the topic. For example, if I want to learn about what fiscal stimulus means for the economy, I'm going to look up the opinions of different economists, primarily through blogs and op-eds (direct academic research is often too dense to be useful for somebody new to a field). Then the question becomes: how do I decide who is right? For the economics example, I'd want to look at who is using data to inform their opinions, and whether they are using sensible models to inform their conclusions. For other situations, such as racism, I'd want to look at who is paying attention to the people specifically impacted by racism, including a combination of empirical data and personal stories by those impacted.

Very often, the answers to these sorts of controversial political opinions are not at all easy to suss out by somebody who is ignorant of the relevant information. It's easy to write an article that will fool people who don't know other data that contradicts the article. That's why learning how to detect bullshit is really important.

Comment Not likely to help diagnosis (Score 1) 119

Autism has a prevalence of (very roughly) 2%. If the MRI test falsely diagnoses children without autism as being autistic 20% of the time, then roughly 90% of all people who test positive will not be autistic. You might be able to get a little bit better by only screening at-risk children (e.g. family history of autism), but this is still going to be wildly inaccurate and what would even be the point? It's not like parents have to do anything differently until the symptoms of autism present themselves.

But it is nice to see more evidence that autism is in evidence long before symptoms appear, because it makes nonsense of many of the claims of bullshit artists that vaccines cause autism.

Comment Re:Never (Score 2) 369

Yup. Same, though I'm more on the software side of things.

AI is great for tasks with well-defined input and output, especially if they are tolerant of significant errors. But a huge fraction of engineering simply isn't like that. For the most part, AI will just become another tool in software engineer's toolboxes that will be brought to bear when it makes sense, and other solutions will be used when it doesn't.

Comment Intelligent animals are unlikely (Score 3, Insightful) 158

There are many animals that are quite intelligent, but it's exceedingly unlikely that we would ever have the capability to genetically engineer an animal like a pig to have a human-like brain, even if we wanted to.

The reason is simple: our brains are way bigger than pig brains (human brain: about 3.5lbs, pig brain: 0.4lbs). In order to have a pig with a human-like brain, you'd have to completely reshape it's skull, and because a pig skull is very different from an ape skull, you'd have to do it in a very different way than humans do. To do this, you'd need to generate a wide variety of novel adaptations to make it so that a pig can support a brain that's about 8 times the size. That's just not happening.

What is being done in these kinds of experiments is far less ambitious: to use small amounts of human DNA to make animal tissues compatible for transplantation. This kind of research has gone on for a long time: it's common to genetically engineer mice and rats to have human immune systems, to make them better test subjects. In this case, if the research continues, you'll have a pig growing a pig liver, with some of its genetic markers changed just enough to fool a human body into thinking that it's a human liver rather than a pig liver.

Comment I don't buy it (Score 1) 292

The problem here is that the federal government just doesn't have much control over many of these regulation, as they are mostly down to state and local regulations. At the federal level, then, implementing these policies as Pai describes isn't just about removing regulations: it's about increased regulations of the states, something that Republicans have been historically against, and which may open the way for court challenges.

I also worry that he explicitly mentions private industry, but doesn't appear to care about the deployment of public broadband (an effort which has begun in many communities, but is often stymied by state laws implemented as a result of telecom lobbying).

My big worry here is that these claims are a smokescreen. He doesn't actually want to regulate states more strongly. He wants to remove federal regulations related to the Internet, such as the 2015 net neutrality rules. For some of the things that Pai has opposed, see here. If he follows previous patterns, his effort will decrease competition, increase prices, and not make the slightest dent in broadband speeds.

Slashdot Top Deals

There are no data that cannot be plotted on a straight line if the axis are chosen correctly.