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Comment Re:Response to Walmart.com (Score 1) 173

I've been using Walmart online lately as I become more wary about Amazon's size. Their customer service is excellent. When I do in store pickup there is rarely a wait, returns are hassle free, heck even their extended warranty paid for a new bicycle when I wore the old one out.

I wouldn't dream of trying to get an employee to answer any questions beyond where a department is. However for my limited use they are doing a good job. It sure feels weird to have Walmart be the underdog, but up against Amazon I guess they are.

Comment Re:Trump on Sweden (Score 1) 336

Actually the policy conclusion is not correct, however without a sophisticated understanding of statistics it's easy to be misled.

It is true that a higher proportion of immigrants commit crimes in Sweden than natives. However, if you break down immigrants by socioeconomic status and educational attainment you don't see any difference between immigrants and natives. This is because of something called Simpson's Paradox.

What's happening here is that Sweden is a wealthy advanced country with a low birth rate, and it's been importing low-education poor workers to augment it's own dwindling underclass in filling low-paying jobs. Now poor, uneducated people commit many kinds of crimes at a higher rate that affluent, educated people. Whether they are native or immigrant makes no difference. So what the Swedish statistics actually tell us is that uneducated low-wage workers make up a higher proportion of immigrants than they do of natives, which should be no surprise because that's why the largest proportion of immigrants have been admitted.

This also raises another possibility: you can actually reduce crime rates with immigration, if you let in the right people. In fact there is evidence this is happening in Canada, which places a premium on education and language skills when deciding who to admit.

Comment From an unnamed Oxford lecturer (Score 2) 217

"nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest use to you in after life â" save only this â" that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view is the main, if not the sole purpose of education"

Comment Re:Too Late (Score 1) 217

It definitely ought to be in the mandatory curriculum somewhere before students get to their mid-teens, and science classes are probably the best fit, or maybe whatever class any debating skills get put into where you are (if any). On the other hand though, putting it into religious education classes would actually be far more likely to get some interesting debates going that would help more students realise why it matters - not to mention providing some absolutely *hilarious* videos for YouTube! Sadly, thanks to all these precious snowflakes and their need for "safe spaces", we'll just have to keep making do with more cat videos...

Comment My female colleagues and friends agree (Score 1) 859

I have heard this from so many women scientists, systems engineers, and other IT specialists who are female.

There is a problem.

My key ROI on this is:

1. Stop using the old boys network, your frat buddies, to find recruits. Set a goal of 50 percent promotions, 50 percent board position candidates, and 50 percent new hires being female.

2. If you think having one woman in the after hours drinking means you're diverse - you're wrong.

3. If you're female, stop undercutting other women when they have ideas. Most groups won't hear a woman's idea unless at least two women agree with the idea. If a male steals credit for the idea, call it out right there. Don't wait for a "good moment to bring it up". There is no good moment.

4. If you find 1-3 impossible, then you're just pretending you're a real business.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 217

Actually the defining characteristic of conspiracy theories is that they get you to believe things which contradict things common sense tells you are so unlikely they're bound to be false, e.g., that people do things that are against their interests, that mutual enemies act with perfect trust in each other.

It is no conspiracy theory that the Nixon White House covered up Watergate, even though that is a theory about a conspiracy. In fact Watergate shows you the problem with most conspiracy theories: massive cover ups are impossible to maintain for very long. Something as big as the government leaks information constantly.

Comment Re:There is nothing new under the sun (Score 2) 217

It seems like this particular wheel gets regularly reinvented; when I was in higher education the most often cited work on this was the chapter of Carl Sagan's 1995 work "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" entitled "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection" (PDF link) which, rather fittingly, opens with a quote from an even earlier passage on the subject:

The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called “sciences as one would.” For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding.
Francis Bacon, Novum Organon (1620)

I wonder if there's any correlation between those reinventions and the level of bullshit in the world.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 5, Interesting) 217

As I get older I realize how big and difficult objective "truth" is. It's easy to get hold of bits of the truth, the challenge is to get hold of enough of the truth and enough kinds of truth to make sound judgments.

That said, detecting bullshit is not intellectually challenging -- in fact I'd argue that's the defining characteristic of bullshit. Bullshit is easy to detect when it's aimed at other people. So why is bullshit so hard to resist when it's aimed at you?

Because bullshit tempts you to believe what is easy, convenient and apparently self-serving. A person with perfect moral courage, who is incorruptibly fair-minded and objective, such a person would be completely impervious to bullshit. But all of us, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, fall far short of that ideal.

That's why advance-fee scams hoodwink people who manifestly have the intellectual ability to see through them ... when they're directed at other people. But as soon as the opportunity for personal gain enters the picture it becomes a struggle between greed and intellect. Even if your intellect is formidable it's useless to you once your greed is engaged.

That's why I say detecting bullshit is an exercise in moral character.

Comment Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 5, Interesting) 217

A conventional lie is detectable because of the network of falsehoods that must necessarily support a consistent sounding alternative picture of the world. Often the best way to detect a liar is to invite him to elaborate on his statements, until the entire fabric of falsehood is unsupportable.

Bullshit doesn't try to create an elaborately self-consistent fabric of false beliefs. Bullshit doesn't even bother being consistent with itself. Bullshit persuade through the power of how it makes you feel in the moment, and as a bullshitter rattles on he keeps his audience enthralled moment by moment even as he contradicts himself.

So to detect lies you need epistemological skills. To detect bullshit you need strength of character.

Comment Re:Really More Interesting? (Score 2) 120

As opposed to the traditional job market where you may work between 1 and 10 different jobs throughout your entire working life (and getting bored in the process)? By comparison, E-giggers can work dozens or up to a hundred different jobs.

...that are boring right from the beginning.

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