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Comment Re: Umm (Score 1) 371

The amount of voter fraud in the United States is exceedingly low so the whole voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem.

Voter ID laws solve a very clear problem, just not the one their proponents claim.

There is also widespread evidence that such laws are designed to target democratic voters and that they tend to target the poor and minorities.

Yep, that's the problem: blacks, latinos and white trash voting too much. Voter ID isn't a complete solution, but it's a useful step. I'm sure Bannon has some ideas about the final solution.

Hmm... maybe that is what Trump meant when he claimed three million "illegals" voted for Hillary. He meant "people who shouldn't be allowed to vote", rather than "people who aren't citizens", the way the silly media interpreted the words.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 371

You have not described a "phenomenon", you made a false claim. Instead of admitting you are wrong, and caught in the act, you attempt to play word games. Cowardice at it's finest.

So you are saying that people only ever use language to establish stable beliefs in propositions, and that they never say anything purely to achieve emotional effect?

As for cowardice, well if it makes you feel less insecure I suppose there's nothing I can do about it. But it's bullshit -- in the epistemic sense of the word -- and it reflects on you more than me.

Comment Endocrine hacking has a long history. (Score 2) 128

A long history of not working particularly well. And testosterone hacking is the grand-daddy of them all. You know all those steampunk-y horror stories about rich Victorian eccentrics who go mad because they implanted monkey testicles into themselves in a bid to achieve eternal youth? People actually did that.

There's a thin line... or rather let's say a fork in the road between pseudoscience and science. I think they both start in the same, non-scientific place. And that place is a kind of magical thinking. It's what happens after the initial inspiration that makes the difference between science and pseudoscience.

Testosterone is higher in men than women, an in particular higher in young men, and higher in men who achieve social dominance. It also rises after sexual intercourse. So by magical thinking testosterone must be the "manliness" hormone; it makes you young, vigorous, dominant and sexually potent.

There's nothing wrong with that as a starting point, but in the long history of testosterone hacking it hasn't worked out, except for gaining muscle mass in conjunction with resistance training. Sure if you treat men with a testosterone blocker they'll eventually lose interest in sex, men generally have less sex as they get older, and at the same time their testosterone levels decrease. So it's natural to jump to the conclusion of a chain of causality: worn out old glands put out less testosterone, and that causes a reduction in interest in sex. But if you actually test that hypothesis, it doesn't work out: individuals with least decline in testosterone levels actually have less sex than their normal counterparts. The normal decline isn't large enough to produce on its own any measurable effect in interest in sex. So if your interest in sex is dropping as you get older, look elsewhere for the cause.

This is the danger of calling testosterone "the male sex hormone", as if God had a punch list of features He wanted and implemented each feature with a single steroid compound that works in isolation from everything else. Yes, testosterone is involved in masculinization of adolescents, but it's not as simple as the more testosterone you are, the more male you are. The endocrine system is complex and dynamic, responding to internal and external changes -- including aging. Both men and women have and need testosterone and estrogen, in ways we don't fully understand yet.

If you want to get the most out of your life, eat a variety of real food in moderation, exercise, sleep, and in general alternate stress with rest. The ancient Greeks could have told you that, and in thousands of years we have not been able yet to improve on that as far as lifestyle advice is concerned. Go to your doctor if you're sick or injured, or even for a testosterone treatement if you have abnormally low testosterone for your age. But don't go to the doctor for a magic pill that will make you youthful, manly, sexy and dynamic. All that's up to you.

Comment Isn't this kind of obvious? (Score 1) 423

Sure catastrophe is great for establishing equality. It's also great for establishing dictatorship, or oligarchy.

Consider Japan. Japan is a major industrial power with no energy resources (other than renewables) of its own, so it got 30% of its energy from nuclear power, and it was on its way to making that 40%. Then there was the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe and now nuclear is essentially dead in Japan.

Is that good? Bad? Either way the indisputable thing is that Fukushima made a difference. Catastrophe is practically the only thing that makes people undertake drastic change; absent disaster people will simply tweak things until they seem to more or less work.

Comment Re:Yup (Score 1) 423

The position where slaves didn't count towards representation was just as good a default, which makes 3/5 looks like a compromise to me. Which wouldn't be surprising; the framers had a real knack for that.

Note also because of the limited, means-tested franchise in many states, the higher property ownership disparity in slave states (because of the plantation economy) concentrated enormously disproportionate power in the hands of planters.

Democracy in the early US wouldn't look very familiar. In 1824 just 4% of all Americans voted.

Comment Re:Rose tinted glasses (Score 3, Interesting) 423

Another thing you had was a huge body of men who'd been through a massive, life-changing experience together. One that took immense risk and sacrifice but ultimately ended in victory (at least for us Americans).

If you believe that people are capable at all of learning from experience, they must have brought something away from that.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 371

Well, you are ignoring polysemy here; yes "bullshit" can refer to tall tales like your drinking fifty gallons of beer. However there are other senses of the word, including topics of serious inquiry in the field of epistemics.

I refer you to Professor H.G. Frankfurt's seminal work, On Bullshit (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-691-12294-6.) for more information.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 371

I find that Socratic debate usually convinces the other person that you are attacking them and their stated belief fairly quickly even if actually just honestly wanting more information.

Well, you're in good company on that one. As I recall Socrates ruffled his share of feathers.

That said, I'm talking about satisfying yourself. Convincing others necessarily involves making allowances for their muddy thinking.

Comment Re:Paid news is hopeless against the internet (Score 1) 402

There are so many free sources of news, it may be impossible to sell it in the near future.

But how do those news sources get filtered and curated? The problem today is that there is so much news that you can find someone writing absolutely any story you want, regardless of the facts, and regardless of the relevance or importance.

Comment Re:Trump on Sweden (Score 1) 402

Except I have seen no data from the Swedish government, which publishes extremely comprehensive crime data (something we would do well to copy), to support the Syrian crime wave story. I've gone through Brottsförebyggande rådet data and it's just not there.

What I have seen is a lot of sloppy correlation and overprojection of statistical noise. For example Sweden amended its legal definition of "sexual assault" to be much, much broader, generating a spate of spurious stories about a Swedish rape epidemic.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 371

Again, you're confusing "lying" with "bullshitting". Lying is about establishing belief in a false version of the world, which is best done, as you point out, by omission. That's because lying depends on peoples' regard for the facts; it exploits that. Being caught in a false assertion destroys a lie's effectiveness, so a smart liar sticks to the facts.

Bullshitting is about inculcating the desired feelings and attitudes in the audience. While a bullshitter doesn't hesitate to use facts when they suit his purpose, he doesn't hesitate to make shit up either, because it doesn't matter if he's caught. It doesn't even matter if he asserts two inconsistent things in the course of a single sentence.

Why?

Because bullshitting doesn't aim to establish belief in propositions; propositions are completely disposable. Once it has done its job, a piece of bullshit (unlike a lie) is a nullity. You can show that it is false, but the bullshitter's adherents won't perceive that as inconsistent; not as long as the bullshitter is conveying the same attitude.

That's why fact checking a bullshitter is a waste of time, once you've established that's what he is. It doesn't matter if you prove something he said was wrong, unless you do it in a way that changes his audience's feelings.

Comment Re:In next weeks news get your nails done at Autoz (Score 1) 43

Wow - this is some pretty cool stuff and I commend Netflix for doing it, but really? Netflix?

It's a tool developed for internal, corporate users, to make Netflix's own operations more secure. They've decided to open source it, probably in hope that others will have good ideas to make it better.

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