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Elon Musk quick review of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf 87% Posted Aug 2017

Elon Musk quick review of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf

Comment: 56 days ago

Elon Musk researched super capacitors when he was at Stanford. https://techcrunch.com/2011/03/25/elon-musk-says-super-capacitors-not-batteries-will-be-breakthrough-for-evs/ Super capacitors are probably the future of batteries. Super capacitors can be charged very quickly (in seconds) and deliver very high levels of energy almost instantly. The problem is they don't store large amounts of energy very well. But it looks like nanotechnology will solve this problem.

Another cool thing about super capacitors is that they don't wear out.

Tesla are developing a semi-truck which Musk claims will out-tug the biggest diesel semis of today... uphill! I wonder whether it will be powered by super capacitors.

Paula White: Trump loves prayer, we gotta pray 86% Posted Aug 2017

Paula White: Trump loves prayer, we gotta pray

Comment: 56 days ago

She's nuts.

Richard Dawkins: Does editing human genes break moral taboos? 65% Posted Aug 2017

Richard Dawkins: Does editing human genes break moral taboos?

Comment: 56 days ago

An atheist man or woman can't marry a Muslim woman. Why? Because Muslim women are forbidden to marry outside their faith. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interfaith_marriage_in_Islam

Atheism doesn't have a rule book.

Richard Dawkins: Does editing human genes break moral taboos? 65% Posted Aug 2017

Richard Dawkins: Does editing human genes break moral taboos?

Comment: 57 days ago

Some religions create "designer babies" by trying to prevent marriage outside their faith. The goal isn't for more gifted musicians, but for people who all think the same.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 57 days ago

There's an interesting phenomenon when people learn about a new topic or learn a new skill - there's a period when you know something, but not enough to know how much you don't know. It's similar to the Dunning Kruger effect - people too stupid to realise how stupid they really are. 

So how does a non-expert evaluate expert evidence? Conventional wisdom says learn more about the topic - delve into the detail. This is what you say I should do with respect to ESP research. But I disagree, I don't think that's the best approach, and it may even be counterproductive, especially when the experts themselves are slugging it out. When Wagonmakers says: "Bem incorrectly provides one-sided p-value when he should have used a two-sided p-value", I have no idea whether he is talking out of his left ear or not.

There's a fun quiz which occasionally pops up in magazines, testing if you are smarter than a chimp. It's multiple choice with questions obscure enough for you to unlikely know the answers. Chimps usually perform better than humans, because humans try to figure out the answer with the limited or faulty knowledge, and that usually leads to results below the chimp's technique of random selection. It seems a random guess is better than an uneducated guess.

That's why delving into detail can be counterproductive. The transition from rookie to expert is usually long, and in that period, you are bound to make many uneducated guesses. 

I prefer a different approach, that is to assume that "truth" is always consistent and always subjective. We can talk about the subjectiveness of truth another time, but what is relevant here is the consistency of truth.

I try to build a world view that is consistent. I think a jigsaw puzzle is quite a good analogy. The goal is to make sense of the picture knowing that many pieces are missing, many pieces are wrong - either in the outline, or the pattern on the piece, or both. Many pieces are "facts" that can be relied on, unless of course they are shown at a later date to not be facts at all. For example, if ESP really does exist, then James Randi's unbroken $1 million challenge, and the CIA disbanding their remote viewing program need to be consistent. Those 2 jigsaw pieces are facts, but they don't sit comfortably with ESP actually existing. Nor does much else. Bem's research is with random people, but in the real world, random people don't seem to be able to take advantage of their psychic powers, and those who claim they are "tuned in" turn out to be frauds or magicians. At the end of the day, research and reality need to match, and from the pieces I have, the best match so far is that ESP is no more than fraud or intuition.

What you are doing, is that you're looking at jigsaw pieces which are very controversial, and choosing one to shoehorn into what you want to believe, and discounting the fact that it doesn't match reality. When it comes to the question of god, you even made up your own piece.

If you want to understand something, it's so important to zoom out and see how that something connects to the world around it. If you want to understand Syria, you have to look at the whole Middle East, foreign policy, religion, history, culture etc. Delving deeply into Damascus can give you a very distorted overall view.

How does CO2 actually warm the planet? 92% Posted Aug 2017

How does CO2 actually warm the planet?

Comment: 58 days ago

It's natural to think that 0.04% is so small that it can't make much of a difference. But what do you think the % of the human body is a deadly virus that kills it?

Greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide etc) account for about 0.1% of the atmosphere. Water vapour, which also affects global temperatures, varies between 0 and 4%, but crucially it doesn't build up, because at some point it falls out of the sky as rain or snow.

When you talk about expensive decisions on CO2, just think of the costs of climate change, the ultimate cost being the existence of human civilisation itself.

How does CO2 actually warm the planet? 92% Posted Aug 2017

How does CO2 actually warm the planet?

Comment: 60 days ago

Over 40% more than pre-Industrial Revolution. Today it is about 400 ppm (parts per million) or 0.04% of the air.

Is higher education worth the money students pay? 87% Posted Aug 2017

Is higher education worth the money students pay?

Comment: 60 days ago

Why would someone say education SHOULD be free if it already is? Anyway, this is about university education. School education in the UK is free (paid for from general taxation.)

Is higher education worth the money students pay? 87% Posted Aug 2017

Is higher education worth the money students pay?

Comment: 60 days ago

I don't get the student loan system we have. It makes no sense.

Automation and AI will decimate jobs over the next few decades - so how will the Student Loans Company, a non-profit UK government owned company, be expected to balance the books? A graduate who earns less than a certain amount does not pay back their loan, so as UBI, or variation of, becomes the system we employ, which no doubt it will - most of those loans will never be repaid.

Put it this way - the tax payer funds student loans today, only to be sure that in a world with high unemployment (50%+ predicted by 2050), most of that money will never be repaid. It doesn't save tax payers money today, or in the future.

I like the graduate tax concept, that graduates pay a percentage of the income tax rate they are on. It would be a progressive tax -  higher income tax rates having a higher graduate tax. This money would partly fund universities, the rest coming from the general tax pot.

Piano Poodle 94% Posted Aug 2017

Piano Poodle

Comment: 61 days ago

No, sounds more like Johann Sebastian Bark.

Is there method in North Korea's madness? 87% Posted Aug 2017

Is there method in North Korea's madness?

Comment: 61 days ago

Kim Jong-un is the only fat man in North Korea - that's what makes him special. We have many special people here in the West.

Former general analyses North Korea's military strategy 87% Posted Aug 2017

Former general analyses North Korea's military strategy

Comment: 63 days ago

Nothing to do with me mate. Maybe it's because, for once, I speak sense.

Former general analyses North Korea's military strategy 87% Posted Aug 2017

Former general analyses North Korea's military strategy

Comment: 63 days ago

If I was planning for North Korea, I'd hide thousands of fake plywood artillery inside those caves, and deploy them with the real artillery. They would have gas heaters inside to attract heat seeking missiles.

War with North Korea is unthinkable. Seoul is bigger than London, and there would be almost no warning before North Korean missiles and rockets rain over the city.

IMO the only solution is to take up the peace offer the North Koreans offered - the one Noam Chomsky was talking about - the one that Obama and Trump administrations instantly rejected.

Pre-planned US/South Korean military exercises are starting on August 21. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-usa-south-korea-idUSKBN1AR1I3 That's in a few days time! These exercises should be cancelled as a gesture of good will, and talks about how the US withdraws from the region can then begin.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 67 days ago

"...you started out this thread with an instinctive nescient position..."  Yes, that's why I started with a question: "Isn’t ESP just subconscious cold reading?" Scroll up if you missed it the first time.

"You had already decided that nothing like that had been carried out successfully – your plausible story - apparently without the need for evidence." If that was true, I wouldn't have bothered looking Bem up. Incidently. you cherry-picked Bem, I never even heard of him. You also cherry-picked a super-softball interview with Bem by Skeptiko, a pseudoscience blog. 

"Then you were confronted with the original scientific evidence, so you tried to find ways of discounting it without reading so much as the extract. Luckily, you found some quotes to selectively lift from RationalWiki, so you could maintain that original position. Panic over." Talk about making up shit.

"You seem unaware of any counterarguments, so as far as you’re concerned, the water must now be less muddy." Less muddy? I said the water is still muddy. Too muddy to see the river bed. Are you confused? 

"... every one of the criticisms you cited (and continue to cite) is about the original research, and not the subsequent extensive replications..." Of course. The only criticisms of Bem's research that I'm aware of, are of his methods and of methods in experimental psychology in general. Replications of flawed experiments are not meaningful. Even the meta-analysis of the 90 replications is odd - a sigma 6 rating that drops to sigma 4 when Bem's original experiments are removed. Shouldn't the sigma rating remain more-or-less the same?

"... maybe “political shenanigans”. I didn't make that up. "One of the nine experiments in Bem's study ("Retroactive Facilitation of Recall") was repeated by scientists Stuart Ritchie, Chris French, and Richard Wiseman. Their attempt to replicate was published in PLoS ONE and found no evidence of precognition.[29] Several failed attempts by the authors to publish their replication attempt highlighted difficulties in publishing replications, attracting media attention over concerns of publication bias.[30][31][32] The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Science Brevia and Psychological Science each rejected the paper on the grounds that it was a replication.[33] A fourth journal, the British Journal of Psychology, refused the paper after reservations from one referee, later confirmed to be Bem himself, who "might possibly have a conflict of interest with respect to [the] ... submission."

Here are some criticisms of Bem's experiments - all of which are of methodology:

"Wagenmakers et al. criticized Bem's statistical methodology, saying that he incorrectly provides one-sided p-value when he should have used a two-sided p-value.[23] This could account for the marginally-significant results of his experiment."

"After evaluating Bem's nine experiments, psychologist James Alcock said that he found metaphorical "dirty test tubes," or serious methodological flaws, such as changing the procedures partway through the experiments and combining results of tests with different chances of significance. It is unknown how many tests were actually performed, nor is there an explanation of how it was determined that participants had "settled down" after seeing erotic images. Alcock concludes that almost everything that could go wrong with Bem's experiments did go wrong."

"An analysis by Gregory Francis in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review ... Drawing on his own analysis and studies suggesting a discrepancy between the observed and expected null hypothesis rejection rates across the field of experimental psychology, he suggests that the standards and practices of the field are not functioning properly.[36]"

"The publication of Bem's article and the resulting controversy prompted a wide-ranging commentary by Etienne LeBel and Kurt Peters.[37] Using Bem's article as a case study, they discussed deficiencies in modal research practice, the methodology most commonly used in experimental psychology. LeBel and Peters suggest that experimental psychology is systemically biased toward interpretations of data that favor the researcher's theory."

---

With that background, you can't seriously expect me to accept that scientific experiments have shown that ESP exists. You say there is "a small but surprising amount of scientific evidence for believing in such things (ESP)". Not if the methodology is flawed. Flawed methods will introduce bias which looks "surprising" if you believe the methods are flawless.

So I'm sticking with the default position for someone who is driven by evidence - if there's no empirical evidence that something exists, then that something doesn't exist. That is a position, not a truth or fact. My position is dictated by the status of the evidence - not by stories I make up, spooky parallels, or highly controversial experiments.

Maajid Nawaz explains 88% Posted Aug 2017

Maajid Nawaz explains "whataboutery"

Comment: 68 days ago

Whataboutery is not about pointing out an inconsistency, it's about redirecting a question so you can avoid answering it.

"I'm a veggie. What about the Big Mac you ate yesterday?" That's not whataboutery, that's simply pointing out an inconsistency.

"I'm a veggie. What about the Big Mac that Warren Buffet ate yesterday?" That's whataboutery.

Maajid Nawaz explains 88% Posted Aug 2017

Maajid Nawaz explains "whataboutery"

Comment: 70 days ago

I don't think this is pointless. Whataboutery seems to be a growing interview technique that should be called out - if you can't answer a difficult question, redirect the attack to your rival and keep talking.

Now that you know what whataboutery is, you'll notice it everywhere. Kellyanne Conway is one of the world's greatest exponents of whataboutery. Without it, she'd be stuck for words.

Fareed Zakaria: Trump has made US irrelevant around the world 88% Posted Jul 2017

Fareed Zakaria: Trump has made US irrelevant around the world

Comment: 74 days ago

Question: Is 4 years long enough for Trump to make America's decline permanent? Discuss.

I am the best golfer of all the rich people 86% Posted Aug 2017

I am the best golfer of all the rich people

Comment: 75 days ago

In Kim Jong-il's biography, the North Korean leader first picked up a golf club in 1994 at the only golf club in North Korea. He shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he immediately declared his retirement from the sport.

Donald Trump shouldn't read so much.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 75 days ago

I think this boils down to the interesting question of what being "driven by evidence" actually means. What I see in Bem's research are experts all disagreeing with each other. Bem seems confident his experiments have significance. R&M think maybe, but maybe not. Wagenmakers thinks the methodology is problematic and psychologists need to rethink their methods. R&M disagree with Wagenmakers. And who knows what other experts involved think. And then there seem to be political shenanigans going on. A number of failed replications were very difficult to get published ... etc.

So for someone who is driven by evidence - the "evidence" is pulling in different directions. The water is too muddy to see anything. I'm waiting for it to clear up a bit before having an opinion. I think that's a neutral position - that something does not exist outside of our imagination until there is evidence it really does exist outside of our imagination. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

What you are doing, is that you're looking into the muddy water and picking out the bits that fit the position you want to hold. You do a similar thing with the existence of god. You make up a story that you think is plausible - that all religions are praying to the same god - and then you use that to push the needle off neutral towards the position you want to hold.

"I feel confident probably because I’ve read the abstracts of the experiments and the critiques, and the meta-analysis itself. I feel I’ve reached my new position due to information more reliable and extensive than selective quotes on Wikipedia. Can you say the same?" No, I can't say the same. But imagine that I decided to become an expert - I studied and then worked in psychology for a number of years until I could confidently consider myself an expert. Assuming nothing significant changed in the period I gained my expertise, I might then agree with Bem, or maybe Wagenmakers, or perhaps R&M, or none of them. The water is still muddy. Experts are like fish swimming around cleaning up the water until it is clear enough to see through. Individually, an expert may believe that the bit of muddy water they cleaned shows how the river bed really is, but until enough experts agree, I'm sticking with the neutral position - that something doesn't really exist until there is evidence it does really exist.

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan 88% Posted Jul 2017

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan

Comment: 78 days ago

I think the really crucial thing to keep in mind, a point I heard Bill Gates make, is that if ALL the energy we produce and use is 100% clean, renewable, and cheap - then we could use as much as we need to solve problems. Desalinating sea water is very energy intensive, which is only problematic if the energy is not 100% clean and renewable. We could desalinate Mediterranean sea water and pump it inland to irrigate the desert. The Sahara would make a great rainforest. OK, that's far fetched, but you get the point. 

Could we clean up, or make safe, toxic wastes from batteries if there were no limits on how much energy we could be employ in the process? I think probably yes.

Will renewable energy be cheap? Most of it is free once the infrastructure is built - solar, wave, hydro, wind, tidal, etc. And solar in particular can be easily decentralised - solar panels on the roof of a house can power the whole house without the need to connect to a power grid.

The other really crucial thing to keep in mind is that stabilising climate change is a really, really, really urgent problem. Whatever happens, we are in for some hardcore weather, but the risk is that we get into runaway global warming which we cannot stop and end up like Venus, where even cockroaches can't survive. It's so urgent that even Trump's 4 years of inaction could tip the balance.

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