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Comment How do they compare? (Score 2) 29

How can anyone compare VR with the failure of 3D TV? 3D TV failed because who wants to wear cumbersome glasses that prevent you from being social with others? 3D TV is expensive, and causes headaches and eye-strain for some people. There wasn't any killer content to push people to 3D TV that was overwhelmingly good enough to overcome the disadvantages; a lot of 3D content was perfectly watchable in 2D. 3D TV was just an expensive novelty.

But with VR... well admittedly it has the cumbersome glasses that prevent you from being social with others, and is expensive, and causes eye-strain and nausea, and has no killer app. But can you say that it's just a novelty? .... Hmmm. OK, maybe they are the same after all.

Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 284

What you need are citations to trustworthy sources and to be reviewed by trustworthy peers.

You've already lost the fight: no human system outperforms its incentive structure.

Peer review is hopelessly ensnared by academic advancement culture. Entire disciplines can end up publishing bunk, if that becomes the tenure-track fashion of the decade. Tulip bubbles are not restricted to the business cycle. Even hard sciences have been hit pretty bad. Et tu, string theory?

The fundamental theorem of peer review is due to Max Planck:

Science advances one funeral at a time.

The zone of convergence of peer review involves the passing of interested parties. In most of the hard sciences, fifty years pretty much weeds out the crap.

However, if you take a field such as nutrition science, I dare say it's still inadvisable to take fresh "peer review" at face value. John Yudkin was on the right track in 1958. Fifty years downstream, the truth is out there, but it's still far from evenly distributed in the public imagination.

Nutrition science was subverted by a white coat army of industry apparatchiks. These studies are expensive and, oh yeah, replication crisis.

Most human systems can be trusted some of the time. The real art of bullshit detection is figuring which times are those times. Even the best human systems are bullshit on the margin.

Faster-than-light neutrino anomaly

What you need to understand here is that the journalist impulse to publish is directly proportional to the tenuousness of the result in question.

Well, if the speed of light falls derp derp wormholes derp derp Stargate derp derp dusty von Daniken booster spice derp derp human immorality derp derp Omni Magazine alternate-reality cum shot. Well, you got your $4 worth, didn't you?

There's an enormous term in the human condition centered around escape from reality. This makes sense to some degree, because human reality usually contains a giant heal spur of oppression of the downtrodden masses (success has a habit of being highly asymmetric).

Trump's monosyllabic barrage becomes tremendously more convincing if you want to believe the underlying message.

Somehow, one supposes, being suckers for false hope must be evolutionarily adaptive (who, after all, is qualified to challenge the modern evolutionary synthesis?)

And then you get right down to it, the anchor tenants of modern bullshit culture are the major religions (being largely incompatible, at most 1 of N could anywhere close to broadly correct). Because, you know, life without bullshit would be empty and meaningless.

Deep down, most of us don't really want to drain the bullshit pond. And it's not just one pond. It's pond after pond. Never get comfortable.

The fundamental theorem of bullshit busting is due to Richard Feynman:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Evolution took a long look at Hamlet, and came up with satisficing.

Make happy assumptions that are compatible with medium-term survival (generally best obtained from proven survivors—aka your parents and select community), then behave with the efficiency of assuming their truth, until the shit really hits the fan; then sit back, renounce, regroup, and repeat.

Dawkins pretty much feels about religion the way Einstein felt about cosmic inflation and quantum indeterminacy. Right model, wrong hope, long painful row to hoe. Even when our best minds get something right, they're often left wishing they hadn't.

So there's this unhappy observation about the human condition, meanwhile the creationists are still stuck on our too-close-for-comfort family resemblance to the other apes (none of whom are paragons of family values).

For some reason that I'm still striving to properly elucidate, bullshit is a prized lubricant of human culture.

For forty years I've lived a Mertonesque credo that "godlessness is next to cleanliness" and so I've managed to winnow the standard-issue pint ("but trailing clouds of gesta do we come") down to about a teaspoon of personal bullshit lubricant.

[*] our heritage of gesta (deeds) soon turns to egesta (bodily waste), which completely explains e-gesta (deeds on the internet)

Not long ago, I was reading Amos Tversky on the perils of metaphor, and now suddenly the scales fall from my eyes.

For 99% of the population, bullshit is sugar sweet. And even among the recalcitrant 1%, no-one ever sheds their very last sweet tooth.

Comment Re:They get you off your ass (Score 3, Funny) 64

But, from a common sense 30,000 foot perspective, if there is even the slightest effect among the majority of these apps of embarrassing you into getting off your ass a little more often, isn't that likely to be a net health positive?

Damn it! 10,000 steps a day was hard enough! Now you're saying 30,000 feet is the common sense amount? That's an extra 2000-3000 steps per day!

Comment DLMO (Score 4, Insightful) 86

The article has a poor to false understanding of how blue light interacts with DLMO (dim light melatonin onset).

I'm pretty sure the entrainment effect of blue light is via direct neuronal connection to the SCN, and I doubt it involves melatonin, except indirectly.

The homeostatic sleep pressure signal builds up (more or less linearly) for as long as you're awake. On its own, this would mean that you taper into drowsiness all day long. So the sleep system has another mechanism that suppresses response to the sleep pressure signal. I vaguely recall that what happens with DLMO is that melatonin onset signals the body to turn off the suppression switch, so that the body begins to notice the homeostatic sleep pressure signal.

DLMO, however, is easily inhibited by exposure to blue light at a point in time approximately an hour before bedtime. If you're outdoors hunting moose in the bright light of late-evening arctic summer, this is a useful adaptation.

You'll get to bed later, which means you'll sleep a bit later (but not much) and then you will get less blue light early the next morning, which will affect your entrainment, gradually, on the slow-drip program.

As a rough, empirical ratio, for every extra hour you stay up, you'll sleep about twenty minutes later the next morning. It's not uncommon to stay up for an extra two hours, then barely sleep in for an extra half hour. (We need to ignore here that modern society tends to run a massive, permanent sleep deficit, which can suddenly turn into sleeping four to six hours late at the first opportunity that allows this to happen. That's a different beast entirely.)

I have a circadian rhythm disorder, and I know from decades of sleep tracking that morning wake-up time is about three times more reliable in estimating my sleep phase than time of retirement.

This is a worthwhile paper from the top of my notes, but it's hard to wade through:

Estimating Dim Light Melatonin Onset (DLMO) Phase in Adolescents Using Summer or School-Year Sleep/Wake Schedules — 2006

I like this paper because it shows how social convention (adolescent schooling) also influences DLMO phase.

The sleep pressure signal eventually overwhelms the suppression of this signal, regardless of the DLMO mechanism.

James Maas is a good representative of the modern sleep science orthodoxy:

Surefire Strategies to Sleep for Success!

I just love the page break at the end of page 6. But then I'm really into microscopic moments of small page-formatting humour. (It's probably not unrelated to all those long, lonely nights, before I found a viable treatment.)

Here's a good summary, I just found for the first time.

Phase Response Curve

The reason I only vaguely remember this mechanism is that all the phase response curves in the literature are dose dependent.

There is no PRC I've ever seen that computes the phase response differential to endogenous melatonin levels. No, what you do is administer some dose/formulation (which can include sustained-release components) at staggered times over several weeks, and then you plot the graph averaged over your test population (which thus includes all the metabolic uptake and clearance variability).

There was a time I desperately wanted to consult one of these curves and then to declare "I am here", but it never happened. These are, in effect, better regarded as qualitative curves than quantitative curves.

The model was never predictive enough to be worth memorizing exactly. And thus I remain slightly dim on DLMO when I really shouldn't be after all these years.

Comment Re:You almost got it (Score 1) 367

Nate Silver and his "group of hacks" made it clear that there were no guarantees. Perhaps if you had read his analyses, you would understand that. He made it clear right up until the election that Trump's chances were far from non-zero, and even went into detail in some of his blog posts to explain some of the problems with polling in some of the states. If you had actually read anything he wrote, rather than just inventing a "Nate Silver is a hack" narrative to beat him with, then you would understand a great deal of how he weighted the polls, and how uncertain he viewed the projections.

Comment Re:No longer all the news that fits (Score 1) 367

But again, op-ed pieces are all about narrative. They're often a series of stories written by the same columnist. Anyone who takes op-ed pieces that seriously obviously doesn't understand how newspapers function. That's not to say that there aren't informative op-ed pieces, far from it, but they are *opinion*, and inevitably that is where newspapers' ideological leanings will show up, and indeed where they should. By and large, the Guardian's actual journalism is often rather good, and they have one of the best investigative journalism reputations in the English-speaking world. Just don't go to "Comment is Free" to see it.

And that's what bothers me about your whole "narrative" line. In one respect, you're absolutely correct that newspapers and other news media spin narratives. That's what the press has been doing for centuries now. Do you think the press as it existed in the lead up to the American War of Independence didn't have plenty of column spent condemning nasty King George and praising the brave colonies for defying his despotic rule?

As I said, where I will criticize modern media is jumbling up opinion and journalism on the same web page, and CNN is actually worse for that than even Fox News or MSNBC. It almost goes out of its way to confuse readers on what stories are actually news and what pieces are opinion, and I will say that I think there is intent there to trick readers and to push a narrative, but if you open the stories they still make it pretty clear what is opinion and what is actual news reporting. Part of that is simply driven by the need to count clicks, to sell advertising, and the opinion section has been the seller of newspapers for a very long time.

Comment Remembering it's China works both ways... (Score 1) 131

Like when accounting for "20 million active users" monthly to "between 300000 and 400000 jobs" every month.

Population of China: 1.357 Billion.
Out of which 359.14 million were employed in urban and 405 million in rural China, in 2011.

Meaning that those "monthly gigs" represent 0.039 - 0.052% of jobs in China.
While "20 million active users", would represent 2.61% of workers - if there actually were 20 million gigs too.
Instead of there only being enough "gigs" for about 1.5 - 2% of "workers".

Some of whom are significant enough percent of the whole to be singled out in the article as ""beautiful women"...between the ages of 18 and 28...working as live-streaming models to keep mostly-male viewers entertained" - for 70$ per day + tips.

I.e. The company offers either "sorting crates of milk at a supermarket or hand out pamphlets on frozen sidewalks" kind of "gigs" - or "gigs" which are not so cleverly disguised online prostitution.
Considering that regular prostitution can employ some 300000 in a single city those 80$ million look more and more like they are being made on the backs of prostitutes.

Comment Re:No longer all the news that fits (Score 1) 367

You are aware the Guardian story you reference is a comment piece. Op-ed pieces are fundamentally different than reporting of stories, and in fact, in general, comment pieces are often inflammatory, even absurd, because, guess what, it's often the op-ed section that sells newspapers, and not the news itself.

Comment Re:No longer all the news that fits (Score 2) 367

And there was a point during the election when a landslide Clinton victory seemed likely. But what of it? Papers having been making wrong calls for as long as there have been elections and newspapers. Remember "Dewey defeats Truman"?

The other thing about all of this that bothers me is that people seem to be confused about what constitutes "reporting" and what constitutes "opinion and analysis". Op-ed pieces are renowned for their bias, and in fact that's the whole point. Now it is true that there is a subtler kind of bias elsewhere in a newspaper, but a lot of what people attack and declare "fake news" is often the op-ed and "analysis" pieces, and if I can criticize newspapers for that, it's that I find they often shove some of the op-ed stories on to the main page of their website. I don't think that's an issue of bias so much as it is deliberate click-bait, in that if you punch up your main web page with stories like "Just how big will the Clinton landslide be?" you'll get a lot more hits than more mundane stories reporting the daily grind of a presidential campaign. The latter, even in this last election, can often be pretty fucking boring "Clinton attended a luncheon of the so-and-sos, and had a rally at such and such a place, and the polls shows she's leading by x% in California."

To my mind that's the real problem here, not a bias specifically, at least not political bias, but a constant need to sex everything up. But come on, that's not even new either. Every edition of a newspaper has to have a headline, whether the underlying story deserves it or not. That's the nature of newspapers for over two hundred years now.

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