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Comment The Multi-Platform Livecode (Score 2) 149

I've used Livecode for all my "I need a program to do X immediately" needs for years. It has since become open source and free for most usesâ"including all of mine. The paid additional features, like compiling for iOS, are always available if needed. One if the best parts if using Livecode is its integrated IDE. It is exceedingly simple to fire it up, create a New project, and drag a few text fields and buttons on to its window. I've been using the language, or one of its ancestors, since 1988 when I first started using HyperCard on Macs. But Livecode today runs equally well on all platforms. Being able to compile from any of those platforms to make a stand-alone executable for any other has also been invaluable. I always recommend Livecode to anyone that wants to learn a little bit of programming. It's quick and easy to learn and use.

Comment Old Programmers Know "It's been done before" (Score 1) 435

I've been lucky to have been able to ply my trade as a programmer in many wildly different waysâ"from games to military to commercial software to R&Dâ"and I find I'll use the internet whenever I know that "this has been done before." It's not that I couldn't always write code for a particular situation from first principles, but if I know a few clicks away is the fifteen lines of code that I can easily alter to do the job in a tenth of the time, I'll use it. But while the internet does provide this repository of algorithmic knowledge, I've never come across a quality site that is specifically dedicated to it. Stack Overflow is probably the closest, but it's organized around the questions, not the answers. It relies on searchability and isn't particularly amenable to casual browsing. I've always felt that there were established algorithms out there I've never heard of but that would fit my current programming needs perfectly, if only I knew of them. So I'm imaging something like the pre-google hierarchical internet indexes of oldâ"like Yahoo and Altavistaâ"but just for algorithms and other generalized computing solutions. And if anyone knows of such sites they would give a positive review for, I'll be happy to check them out. But I feel that anything worthwhile out the would have come up in my Google-style searching by now, and if it did, it isn't quite what I'm describing here.

Comment Fewer DOSES? (Score 1) 416

The scale of this effect is, from the way the post is worded, outstandingly underwhelming. It's not 265 fewer new depressed patients, it's not 265 fewer prescriptions... It's "265 fewer doses." If the dose, the pill or what have you, is only once a day (and not more like some) then that's less that one patient's-worth over the course of the stated year. Talk about a study hiding in the error bars! Maybe they pay walled study has been badly reported here, but as written, this is a ridiculous argument for or against anything--and I'm not even arguing against the unstated pro-THC position. I just demand better scientific data--and better science reporting.

Comment Subtractive versus Additive Application of Science (Score 5, Insightful) 609

I think the OP is falling into an anti-science fear-mongering state of mind that misrepresents the core idea of evidence-based policy making. The best thing about science is that it is constantly improvingâ"getting closer to what we might call (with some inherent romanticism) the truth. The anti-science knee-jerk reaction to this is that, because scienceâ"at some given point in its progressionâ"has not yet reached "the truth" then it is wrong and therefore worthless. I argue that there is no better way to move consistently in the direction of truth than the rigorous application of evidence and careful testing that is true science. When it comes to the application of what is learned through the scientific methodâ"a moving target that is constantly improvingâ"to public and governmental policies and laws, there is more than one way to use it, depending on the nature of the government installed. A totalitarian society might tend towards additive applicationâ"creating new laws and rules for society to limit its bounds. A case of "science says this change is optimal so this change will now happen," for example. This is not a methodology that most of us would find comfortable. But in a representative society that values fairness and freedom, such as what we aspire to here in the United States, the application should be of a subtractive nature. Science should be a filter to prevent patently wrong and harmful laws for being enacted and a measuring stick to judge the validity of laws created in more ignorant times. With science-based knowledge continuously improving, something no other form of knowledge acquisition can claim, applying that knowledge to prevent oppressive or dangerous laws is an obvious choiceâ"far better than letting the laws bend to the wills of lobbyists and political powerhouses which have no secure claim to truth or accuracy and, in fact, are often dead-set against them. There is no inherent imperative that science should or would be used to inflict legal restrictions upon American citizensâ"that form of application requires a more totalitarian government. (A form of government that a scientific analysis might steer a society away from.) We should embrace the benefit of scienceâ"more accurate knowledgeâ"and not ignore what we've learned by sticking our heads in the sand and claiming tradition, expediency, selfishness, and ignorance trump truth.

Comment Dreamhost (Score 1) 295

I've been using Dreamhost for over a decade now and I've always had both a good experience and a good feeling about the company. But then, asking this sort of question, the most prevalent type of answer will be from people whoâ"like meâ"have used only one service and are therefore recommending it. A lone data point wrapped in anecdote does not useful information make. So take my mention of Dreamhost merely as a single vote of confidence for that company. Check out their blogs and pricing plans yourself and compare. :)

Comment Re: illogical captain (Score 1) 937

We're not that out of sync in our viewpoints, I think. My use of the "angels dancing on the head of a pin" was, as I noted, a crude example. I didn't want to get bogged down in the specifics of the example and have the point I was trying to make missed. That's why I picked the religious equivalent of the college course "Underwater Basket-Weaving 101." (Which also has a Wikipedia page.) Treat it as a hypothetical example only, and we can focus on the meaning it was meant to convey instead.

Per your hunting example, it seems similar to gambling. In any particular instance, success or failure may be the result of elements outside your control, be that the subject's free will or the complex physical interactions in a roll of the dice. That's why science favors the aggregate of many repetitions over a single case.

With your friend Frank, an expert private investigator might only need your screen name and "Frank" and from there discover his true identity. However, a PI that holds to scientific standards would be unable to say that Frank doesn't exist, even if he can't find any evidence of him. However, the probability of his existence might be reduced somewhat. A hundred PI's all given the same task and all coming up negative might further reduce the probability. But science can't prove a negative hypothesis and it always deals with probabilities, not absolute truths. My point with the Zeus example is that there is no such scientific experiment, and there probably never will be.

There are just areas that reach outside of science.

And there's where we agree. That's what I mean by "incompatible," though I might phrase it more like: There are areas outside the scope of science. Those areas can't have the scientific method applied to them because the two just aren't compatible. When a hypothesis begs the question or definitions are too loose or too broad to make concrete categorizations--to identify just a few such instances--science is helpless to provide assistance.

So I don't mean a scientist can't be religious, or that you can't do a scientific study of how religious views have changed in the last fifty years. I mean that in most ways, science can't be used to verify or disprove many aspects of the world's religions. It's just not compatible, not up to that job. The two are mostly incompatible.

Full disclosure: I'm not a scientist, but I enjoy science. I'm not religious either though, not having been raised with it. Though I did grow up in a diverse neighborhood with several religions represented. By the time I was old enough to be asked "What religion are you?" I realized I didn't have an answer and couldn't find a method of picking one that didn't feel any less arbitrary than throwing darts at a list while blindfolded. I still have not selected one and likely never will.

Comment Re: illogical captain (Score 1) 937

Testing an assumption is one thing. Taking it as absolute truth and skipping that testing is another. Science is all about the testing of assumptions, but not for their use as fact, untested. Of course, in most religions, such assumptions are self evident. But science is just a process, it has no self and so it cannot treat assumptions the same way. It can test or ignore--and so it must ignore most of religion. Science isn't against religion, it just can't support it. How that affects a person's opinion is up to them.

Comment Re: illogical captain (Score 1) 937

It's not the individual facts where science and religion disagree that makes them incompatible--though I think, depending on the religion, there are far more such points than a mere fraction of a percent. It is the many assumptions that are accepted in most religions that are the problem. A crude example would be the angels-dancing-on-a-pin religious question that some well-meaning people tried to apply the scientific method to once upon a time. Unfortunately, there are at least two assumptions that must be made before that question can be looked at scientifically: the existence of pins and the existence of angels. (There are many more, such as the motivation for divine pin dancing in the first place, but this is just a crude example anyway.) One can devise an experiment to demonstrate acceptable pin-ness of a given object, but there we have to stop. One cannot build science on unsupported (by science) assumptions. This sort of thing happens at every level of religion. That is why science tends to be incompatible with most of them. At the most basic level, there should be an experiment such that if I do X and Zeus exists, then A should happen, and if Zeus does not exist, then B should happen. And that experiment should have consistent results when repeated and get repeated often with its methodology examined and challenged and refined. Thus the probability (but not absolute) truth is approached. But for so many aspects of religion, such testing (which is what science is all about) can't be done. Science can't disprove many aspects of most religions and that is why it's incompatible. The devil is in the assumptions, you might say.

Comment Re: illogical captain (Score 3, Insightful) 937

We shouldn't allow the original poster's errors to propagate this deep into the responses. Starting with an assumption is not an action that is compatible with science. Science is (just) a method of evaluating the probability of truth. That's a very powerful thing when done correctly, but it is not a source of ethics (though it can help with some ethics questions), nor is it a source of meaning (which is nothing if not subjective). To assume there is meaning to be found is already making more assumptions than science can work with. Science is not an ideology that can replace religion. Atheism is an ideology that replaces religion. The only link between science and atheism is that science is not compatible with religion. Science must start with the null hypothesis and religion cannot back up that far. If it did, it would be atheism.

Comment Re: Whatever happened to scientific discussions th (Score 1) 770

In a perfect world, I would verifyâ"through experimentationâ"all facts I am required to base my actions on in order to verify their accuracy and be sure I'm making the best decisions possible. I don't have that kind of time, of course. Someone else may have the time and inclination to do what cannot, and the results of their experimentation can also inform me. However this introduces their biases and mistakes into the equation. To rectify this, I find as many people as I can that have performed the same tests and combine their results. This marginalizes the errors and presents a better representation of reality than a single external source could provide meâ"or even my own all-the-time-in-the-world self testing results, which also wouldn't be without bias or error. It's not the authority or opinion of each expert (defined as the people that have actually done the experimentation) that provides the benefit here as it is the aggrigate of the results those experts share with us. The more sources that are collected, the more experiments repeated, the more methodologies used, the more accurate the aggrigate consensus is. But don't confuse fact with opinionâ"if you can't tell them apart, you aren't using rigorous thought. And to confuse the content (knowledge) with the containers (the experimenters) is a sure way to make avoidable mistakes. I don't want a "consensus of opinion." Reality is not up for vote. It is the aggrigate of acquired knowledgeâ"a consensus of factsâ"that is needed to make informed decisions in a complicated world.

Comment Not The Only Developer (Score 2, Informative) 264

There's a bigger team at Boston University that's been working on this technology.

I particularly like their plans for use in cars. I can imagine combining this with nano piezoelectric technology to create roadways that use passing car vibrations to power illuminated markings that can also transmit road condition information to passing cars or link their light-based inter-car networks around corners and over hills.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades that decode and display ambient porn...

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