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Comment Re:Citation, please. (Score 1) 291

Your position is fundamentally ridiculous. If you had a claim that passed simple common sense, you could get it past Randi... if he tried to deny something that actually worked, than that whole media thing would be working against him, and he'd lose credibility. Again, this is a case of citation needed; if you really think Randi is quelching evidence... or really, that there's any non-negative evidence out there to begin with... you need to point it out. Failure to do so implies a degree of willful ignorance on your part, in the sense of "I am choosing to believe in this nonsense claim despite a lack of any evidence, and shall proceed to mock all naysayers for being close-minded."

Comment Re:Dissident Speech (Score 3, Insightful) 281

Uh, no. *Some* of the people on each side believe they're right. I'm pretty sure that John Boehner is just trying to protect his job (position as Speaker of the House) and wishes the Tea Party never made the demands in the first place.

And what gives you such deep insight into the minds of others, to accurately judge who is sincere or not? Remember, no one sees themself as the villain of their own story; most people have layers upon layers of rationalizations, justifications, and excuses, which combine to form a 'moral code'. It's entirely possible, even probable, for someone's motivations to be completely consistent with an earnest belief that they are in the right, even when observers see their actions as corrupt and self-serving. Even serial killers and child molesters typically have worldviews that frame themselves in a positive light. It takes an unusually honest disposition to admit to flaws in one's own character, even to oneself... and politicians are not generally known for such honesty.

Comment Re:PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS (Score 3, Insightful) 682

Personally, I'd be inclined to assume that since the original question was asked by a guy with a name, and the comments about a divorce + lesbian relationship were made by AC (possibly you), that the latter are unrelated trolling attempts. Hence, GPs comment. Feel free to prove me wrong by posting with your name, of course.

Comment Good news (Score 4, Insightful) 343

In my experience, you get better government when there are more opinions at the table. The occasional election of people from minor parties (Greens, Pirates, Libertarians, etc...) makes it more likely for there to be objections to the really awful policies that the mainstream politicos try to force through. Even if you don't necessarily agree with what the guys have to say, they're probably a better choice than the typical minions of the expected 'lesser evil'. As such, it's good news when these sorts of guys get in... even if it was possibly 'an accident'.

Comment Re:I, for one, welcome our bot overlords (Score 1) 55

many sites which have 3 download now buttons and only 1 is the correct one and the rest install malware on your computer.

Yes, those are cleverly-disguised ads placed on the download sites by unscrupulous individuals; since the sites in question tend not to case about having safe ads (given, y'know, that they host illegal content anyways), they can get away with all kinds of shit, up to and including malware links. Fortunately, there's a really handy program for filtering out that sort of thing. It's called AdBlock, and is free. Get it, or continue to suffer from malware-infested advertising.

Comment Re:Who cares about the polygraph? (Score 2) 213

Quoth Cory Doctorow:

"Polygraph" is the fancy, semi-scientific name for a "lie detector," a machine that's supposed to be able to tell whether you're fibbing by measuring things like "galvanic skin response" (another science-y word, meaning "sweatiness") and your heart rate. They were invented in 1921, and, like many science-y things, people decided they were so complicated that they must work. This, of course, is an insane reason to believe something.

Lie detectors are crap. What they tell you is whether the person they've been hooked up to is sweaty, or whether his pulse has gone up, but that doesn't mean he's lying. Courts don't admit lie detector evidence for a reason.

But they're still made and they're still used -- for much the same reason that people still wear crystals around their necks to cure their diseases or buy "homeopathic remedies" to get better. It's a combination of two distinct flavors of stupidity. I call the first one "It's better than nothing." I call the second one "It worked for me."

These delusions are why many big corporations, the U.S. military, and the FBI subject their people to lie detectors. Imagine that you're some kind of millionaire big-shot company executive, the founder of a chain of successful convenience stores. You need to hire a regional manager, and if you hire the wrong person, he or she might rob you blind and ruin you. You need to get this right.

So you pay some expensive "executive recruiting" company to find the right person. They have a big sales pitch: we're smart, we've been doing this for years, and best of all, we're scientific. We have "scientific personality tests" we'll administer to make sure you're getting the right person. And before you hire that person, we'll wire her up to our lie detector and ask her some important questions, like "Are you planning on robbing the company?" and "Are you a secret drug user?" and so on.

Science is awesome, right? A scientific recruiting company's going to be totally bad-ass at finding you the right person, using the science of hiring-ology, and their science lab must have a bunch of Ph.D. hire-ologists. But you've heard that the polygraph is, you know, kind of sketchy. Does it really work?

"Oh, sure," the consultants tell you. "Not perfectly, of course. But nothing's perfect. Polygraphs, though, sometimes tell you when someone is lying, and isn't that better than nothing?"

(The correct answer is "probably not." Flipping a coin or sacrificing a goat would "sometimes" tell you if someone was lying, if you had enough lies and enough goats and you did it for long enough.)

Now, imagine you're a section chief at the FBI. You got your job by passing a lie detector test. You'd been wired up, you'd been asked if you were a secret communist islamofascist terrorist dope-fiend. You'd said "no," and the machine agreed. It works! Now, some people out there say that the machine's a piece of crap, but what do they know? After all, it not only worked on you, it worked on everyone you work with!

(Of course, everyone it didn't work on wasn't hired, or was hired even though they're snorting lines of meth through rolled up pages of The Communist Manifesto while they strap on their suicide bombs.)

The world is full of science-y crap. You probably know someone who wears a copper bracelet to "help with arthritis." They might as well burn a witch or cover themselves in blue mud and dance widdershins under a full moon. There's a chance either of those things will make them feel better, because of the placebo effect (when your brain convinces itself to stop feeling bad), but there are an alarming number of people who insist that because something "works" it must not be a placebo, it must be "real."

Comment Re:The sent this via Email??? LOL! (Score 1) 145

How do you get to oil refining from making hay?

Y'know, just because incremental developments are going on along different lines, doesn't mean that you get to point out an early point on one line, compare with a later point on another, and say that there's no link. It's not a matter of 'transportation' being some kind of technology category that gets increased every time someone develops the field; agriculture and chemistry and metallurgy and all other fields are bound together by innumerable tiny interdependencies. Science is not monolithic, and it's entirely normal to be incrementing multiple lines of research separately. It is also an incremental increase to take two things that already exist and combine them, since that combination is explicitly 'taking things that already exist'.

Specifically, of course, this means that the agricultural line (though advanced considerably by the development and later availability of internal combustion engines to power farm equipment) was not specifically responsible for the creation of fuel oil... but at the same time, that doesn't mean that the oil was a 'revolutionary' concept, since the refining of oil itself was a simple application of long-known techniques, stretching back through the work of alchemists all the way to the Byzantine Empire (re: 'Greek Fire').

That said, the whole 'incremental vs revolutionary' thing is a silly distinction. People like to apply the 'revolutionary' tag to inventions that are impressive... but really, these developments never spring full-formed out of the minds of their creators. The very nature of human society is that everyone has a lot of common framework to draw on, starting at stuff like language and working on up. You did not develop your own language before you began to think about the relations between concepts; therefore, any progress you make can never be entirely decoupled from that of the society in which you live.

Comment Re:Not copyright laws (Score 1) 145

Ok, so you're one of those 'information wants to be free' types, and you don't think access to any sort of information should be restricted at all. That's not necessarily wrong, but do note that just because you don't think a thing SHOULD be illegal, that doesn't actually affect whether or not that thing IS illegal. In this case, the guys in question absolutely knew that what they were doing was illegal (hence their attempts at obfuscation), and got caught out anyways. Post-scarcity ideals about free access to information aside, I really can't bring myself to shed any tears about rich and corrupt corporate types who knowingly break the law and then get caught.

Comment Re:Missing option (Score 1) 290

I'm on that same 250 GB plan with Comcast, and generally find the service acceptable. I'm comfortably below that cap basically all the time, but not so far below it that I can confidently say I'll 'never' go over. That's 'just right' so far as a cap goes, I think; low enough to discourage me from wasting bandwidth (eg: continuous seeding of torrents), but high enough so as not to be actually inconvenient.

Comment Re:More false history (Score 2) 206

Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun? Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

To provide an example of Galileo's "evidence-free assertions": in an earlier work of his, he asserted that comets were simply optical illusions, without much evidence to back up his claim, largely to score some points off a rival, and attempt to curry favor with the Pope (the same Pope which he later insulted, notably). His rival actually had a mathematical argument in favor of his position on comets, which (beyond the fact that the guy was, y'know, actually correct) did kind of mean he was doing better science than Galileo.

Comment Re:useless article (Score 1) 198

Evil? Really?

That's a fairly absurd position. There is, in fact, a difference between a radiation dose you get all at once, and one that happens gradually over time... but Sieverts are specifically a measurement of dosage, and as such, are more generally useful when making quick estimates. True, the chart isn't perfect, but in terms of 'what you, the average guy, should know about radiation', as opposed to 'what a radiation worker or medical doctor needs to know about radiation' is a fairly wide gap. As noted by Randall himself, the comic is only a general education piece; if you, personally, happen to live in Japan, or are maybe considering a visit in the near future, by all means, do your own homework.

That said, as noted by another AC, Sieverts are used in general parlance specifically because of that issue you mentioned. There are other, more technical measurements out there that factor radiation in different ways... but the Sievert is a more useful measurement, because it tells you what you need to know (how dangerous is this leak) right away, if you know how to read the figures. That's all the chart is for, to give you some context to let you read the figures, which gives you a sense of what a figure like '100 mSv/hour' actually means.

Comment Re:useless article (Score 1) 198

True, but the timeframe presented is worse than useless. A better figure would be that, if you spent all day bathing unprotected in the radioactive pool, you could die; if you spend two days there, you would probably die; if you spent four, you would certainly die. This is perhaps relevant to local fish over the extremely short term, but nothing you the consumer need to worry about; the legal freakouts associated with this will certainly keep any fish that happen to be right there where the waste's still concentrated enough to be hazardous off plates.

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