Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wait, hold on...

This is how Andrew Schlafly thinks science and research work? Well, that explains a lot... He figured that Richard Lenski finessed the E Coli data in some fashion to make citrate metabolism appear. So, he thought, if he had "The Data", he could finesse it in the opposite direction. Or something. Presumably, some of the colonies discolored the medium in the shape of bible verses. This idea that, with enough data, you can pick and choose what you like until you create your own reality... To me, it all seems a little—dare I say?—relativist.

Edit: to expand on this...

Real science starts with a hypothesis. Schlafly science starts with The Truth™.

Real scientists try to test the hypothesis. Schlafly scientists try to confirm The Truth™.

Real scientists draw a trendline through their data. Schlafly scientists fit their data onto a trendline.

Real scientists work out what the fuck they're going to do. Schlafly scientists think that methodology is a sign of close-mindedness.

Real scientists are on the lookout for something that could shake up the scientific landscape. Schlafly scientists try to create something that could, you know, slightly affect the political landscape.

Real scientists are peer reviewed. Schlafly scientists review their peers for signs of competing ideologies.

Real scientists give us results. Schlafly scientists give us bloviation.


Given the stuff that's supposed to be examples of 'love', maybe these are loving actions. That's all the apologetics I can muster.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On the Null Hypothesis

This was a comment elsewhere. I thought it was good enough that it deserved to be a post, though, so I abridged it slightly and pasted.

In the quest for knowledge, many unsupported claims may be made. In the absence of evidence for or against such claims, they may be regarded as 'equally true'. Post-modernism seems to have degraded to the point that this 'equally true' is considered true, but this is logically untenable. As such, a claim with no evidence to back it up may be regarded as provisionally false, and a claim that can never be supported by any evidence is meaningless.

To explain by example: suppose some explorer happened upon a tribe of cave-dwellers. Because they are hypothetical, they have never had to venture outside their cave. If the explorer stayed with them and learned their language, he would be able to make some unsupported claims that we would regard as obvious, for example, that the sky is blue. Given that the best way to explain the 'sky' would be within the context of a larger cave outside the cave, the natives would be justified in doubting that this 'other cave''s walls and roof are blue instead of gray, and even that the 'other cave' truly exists. If they have never seen the sky, it is more reasonable to assume that the outsider is delusional.

The default response to an unsupported claim is doubt, and the default response to an unsupportable claim is derision. Now, to combat doubt, evidence for the claim must be rallied. It is reasonable for a claim that has just been made to have no solid evidence (though this has been getting rarer in some fields), so absence of evidence is not, itself, evidence against the claim, at that point. If repeated attempts have been made to obtain evidence, to no end, then the weight of the fruitless attempts may be considered evidence against the claim. This assumes that, given a prediction of how many attempts would fail before a single success, the number of failures is vastly greater.

In the context of debate, the null hypothesis regarding a given idea is that it is false. Asking for evidence from whoever is making the claim constitutes an attempt to find evidence.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Not that I'm accussing anybody of anything, but...

If any of my friends goes on any kind of an anarchist rampage, or anything like that, I disclaim all knowledge of any such activities. Ahead of time.

Bases: covered.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let's play a quick game, even if nobody reads this in time

I'm calling this game "Lying, or Really F%$@# Stupid?". It's easy to play: just read a quote, in this case from Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, and...

"The plain meaning of sexual orientation is anything to which someone is sexually oriented. That could include exhibitionism. It can include necrophilia. It could include...voyeurism. You see somebody spying on you changing clothes and you hit them, they've committed a misdemeanor. You've committed a federal felony under this bill."

Well, I think it's pretty obvious what I want you to do.

Friday, May 8, 2009

An actual conversation

" 'That would be like saying that milk, cheese, and such, are called '''dairy products''' because farmers would dare each other to pull on the cows' udders.' "
"That's how I'm going to define it from now on."
"And the supporters of Proposition 8 think you should have that right. Or maybe they think you shouldn't, I'm not quite sure."
Yeah, it's a bad sign for a position if its proponents can't explain it well enough for people to make fun of it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So, apparently, exams make me want to focus on these things again

There is a lot wrong with how I was doing this before. I was misunderstanding a lot of the things that have to be done with blogs, and not even in just the sense of "don't not post for months at a time". Once I finish up this semester's homework, I plan to go through most of my 'old' posts and fix them up.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Huh. Have to say that I didn't expect that.

Bleh... 'content'... I'm going to be concentrating on a different blog under a different account, with no connection to this one, so this blog is now on official hiatus as opposed to unofficial hiatus.

EDIT: Also Maine and Vermont. I'd like to be all celebratory, but, then again, I'd also like to fly under my own power. I mean, like, with sufficient control and reflexes and such. Those would be a necessary part of the package. Though they'd also be nice on their own, though, of course, not as nice as the first thing. Not that I wouldn't be grateful!

See, that's why I need to edit a bunch of the entries.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm so often late to the party...

Peter LaBarbera. The Boy Scouts of America.


(Note: these have no real connection to each other. They're just stuff that's come up in the past month.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"In a similar vein, what use is it to be an agnostic?"

That's a question I asked elsewhere, in a thread at Debunking Crap, an overall rather poor parody blog of some aspects of the skeptical movement.

I'd like to take some time to contemplate my navel at this question.

The context was a seminary student, evidently unaware of Occam's razor, asking why I would disbelieve in a god that, by definition, had no physical evidence of its existence whatsoever. His justification for choosing agnosticism under such circumstances, rather than atheism, was "Well, you don't know that he doesn't exist."

I wonder if I should have brought in Dawkins's, "Well, we're both atheists. It's just that I disbelieve in one more god than you do."