Nic M.'s Comments

This is a very silly suggestion. There's absolutely no sense in spending the extra money required to build these monuments to paranoid fantasy. The vast majority of cases of sexual abuse and kidnapping are perpretrated by relatives and friends: people who are known and trusted by the victims. They are already inside the walls.

Spending exorbitant amounts to protect from a rare and sensationalized threat, as if constantly under siege from marauding hordes of rapists and pillagers, points to a delusional mind (or a failed state).
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These people aren't crazy, they're from Quebec. The 'tabarnak!' was a clear give-away.

(The one laughing chides them, before they go into the van, for scaring the ducks.)
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For the record, hypocrisy doesn't mean anyone's wrong. It just means they are hypocrites. (This is known as a "tu quoque" fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque).

If a convicted killer tells you not to murder someone, his hypocrisy on the subject does not validate the murder, any more than a large carbon footprint at a climate change conference shows that global warming is a myth.
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I think Charles' comment is interesting, so let me flesh it out a bit.

As some of you you might know, a normal number is a real number whose digits, in every base, are distributed uniformly. Almost all reals are normal (i.e., non-normals have Lebesgue measure 0). So this is a good example of the kind of base-independent property that makes a "true" mathematical law.

Champernowne's Constant is a good example of a normal number:

0.12345678910111213141516...

It's just successive integers in Base-10 here. But the "normalcy" of this constant is invariant across bases, which is fascinating.

On the other hand, Benford's Law is a kind of statistical property of real-life sets of data; it is not a purely mathematical property in the same way. The continuum of real numbers has just as "many" numbers that start with .1... as .9... (and .123456... for that matter).

Let's be careful here though, because though the applicability of Benford's law has to do with *finite* data-sets empirically gleaned, the purely mathematical relations described by the law are as robust and real as you please. For instance, Benford's law is scale-invariant: it doesn't matter whether you measure the height of buildings in inches or feet or meters!

Meanwhile, the logarithmic distribution of digits in real-life data-sets, however, can be calculated *across bases too* (though of course the actual probabilities will have to be re-calculated). So in a Base-8 or -16 system the leading digit phenomenon will appear here but the probability will change accordingly. It's rather simple to calculate, actually. So Benford's law holds true as long as Base > 2.

So really it's not as limited as one would think. The Wikipedia page on Benford's law explains this quite clearly in relation to exponential growth processes. The only real limit is that it is applicable to certain kinds of data-sets.
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Finding a good adaptationist story is important, even though we must acknowledge its speculative status.
Because evolution can only proceed by small, incremental steps, figuring out what those steps might have been enable scientists to make novel predictions (about cladistics, genomics, the fossil record) even though the story they tell may not be verifiable directly.

The power of adaptionist inference can be illustrated by the following passage:

In 1976, the American biologist R.D. Alexander lectured on sterile castes. It was well know than these existed for ants, bees, and terminates, but not for any kind of vertebrate. Alexander, in a kind of thought-experiment, toyed with the notion of a mammal able to evolve a sterile caste.

[i.e., precisely the kind of speculative, adaptionist thinking that can serve as a predictive ground though the story itself has no evidential weight.]

It would, like the termintes, need an expandable next sllowing for an ample food supply and providing shelter from predators. For reasons of size, an underbark location was no good. But underground burrows replete with large tubers would fit the bill perfectly. The climate should be tropical; the soil clay. An ingenious exercise in armchair ecology, altogether.

[Alexander tells just the kind of story our Venus fly-trap people have told: evolution puts constraints on what is possible, so we can make some general predictions, if we're clever enough. That's how science works: you start with a theory, then test it. No one simply generalizes to a theory from data-points: data only makes sense within the context of a coherent theory, because it must be interpreted. But here's the kicker!]

But after his lecture, Alexander was told that his hypothetical beast did indeed live in Africa: it was the naked mole rat, a small rodent.

[Naked mole rats are eusocial, sterile-caste mammals that basically fit all the parameters Alexander outlined in his thought-experiment. Alexander was famous for giving "stories" on how insect societies might've evolved. His ability to predict, based on his reasoning, what a eusocial mammal might look it, and see that prediction vindincated, gives some evidence that he's on the right track. Science offers no certainties, of course, but that's not a bug, that's a feature.]
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I think a more principled objection can be made to this project: it's not just about the sounds aliens make, since structural similarities can be easily distinguished from sounds. A series of high-pitched beeps might be an easily decodable binary language. Nor is the issue about the phenomenology of the aliens and their interests.

The problem is that linguists since the 1950s have acknowledged that language-production is under-determined by environmental input, and have concluded that much of language consists of an innate 'universal grammar' that particular languages then fill in with their own syntax, lexicon, morphology, semantics, etc. This is all relatively uncontroversial.

Any species with a different evolutionary history will not share this 'universal grammar' unless there are very specific constraints on what language can possibly be. The '60 human languages' sampled here are all human languages, that is, languages sharing in the evolutionary history of the species.

Just as there are many ways to evolve sight (compound? lens? pinhole?) the innate linguistic structures of alien species may or may not have anything to do with ours. It's a neat idea, but we have no idea of how likely it is that linguistic evolution is constrained tightly enough that structures similar enough would have independently evolved.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_grammar
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In case anyone out there is still reading this thread.

(1) It doesn't seem anyone here is able willing to engage my point. I suggested that majority-group racism is not merely the sum total of individual behavior, but a set of institutional and systemic privileges and disadvantages that benefit a majority group to the detriment of a minority group or groups.

It follows that so-called 'black on white' racism cannot be the same thing, because African Americans are simply not in a position to engage in systematic, institutional discrimination against Caucasians. Mere bellowing that you have anecdotal experience of some dude that was mean to you does not address my point in the slightest.

You can either dispute that racism is best understood as an institutionalized, systemic set of privileges or argue that African Americans are in fact engaging in systemic discrimination against European Americans. Neither position strikes me as defensible, but I am willing to hear arguments out.

Once again, this is not about 'individual negative views'. I realize there's a certain (and pernicious) libertarian meme around that there is no such thing as society or systemic biases, only individuals. Perhaps this is our collective dialectic stumbling-block.

(2) For those people who think it is hypocritical to have, e.g., African American campus groups but not 'white' groups on campus, you are making a simple category error. 'White' is not a diaspora nor a cultural group, while 'African American' is.

You *can* absolutely have an Irish campus group or church, or a German one, or a Ukrainian Students Association: no one would even think to begrudge that or call it 'racist'. However, the only relevant, coherent category 'white' is precisely the one used to perpetuate institutional racism, which is why such groups have no place in our societies.
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Any serious, sober-minded sociological analysis of what 'racism' is concludes that it is first and foremost a set of institutional and systemic privileges that accrue to a designated social group, and denied to other(s).

It follows that while oppressed minority groups may, on occasion, express antipathy towards the majority group, since they are not in a position to sustain a set of anti-majority institutional privilege a minority cannot be 'racist' in the same way.

In other words, there is no serious anti-white 'racism', because racism is more than individual people's attitudes and antipathies: it is a larger and systematic framework of privilege.

I suggest that posters here educate themselves. This is just embarassing.

Incidentally, 90%+ of African Americans vote democrat, no matter the candidate, every time. There's nothing racial about it. If you recall the NAACP at first endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primaries--not Obama.
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"In a more hopeful sign of the times, Joshua Persky got rid of his sandwich board and demonstrated that creative people can bail themselves out without any help from the government."

Ah, yes. Personal responsibility! Which is just code for the feudal pre-destination concept of "deserving one's station in life."

Antifa's absolutely right to point out that such 'gimmick' cases are exceptional. If everyone did it (or something analoguous), we'd just be back to square one and you'd have to figure out an even better way to stand out. It's a zero-sum game.

Every now and again some rich guy says "well, all anyone has to do is stick it to the bastards and get rich, like I did, so I have no sympathy, etc. etc.".

How presposterous this is can be readily understood by imagining a world comprised solely of wealthy people sticking it to each other, there being no other category of people left.

Any social theory that negates itself if applied universally is not one to be taken seriously.
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The thing about science, Floyd, is that unlike many other bodies of knowledge it is not necessarily beholden to the authoritative opinions of its elders. It is a fallible, revisable enterprise that works specifically *because* the inductive process is in itself never certain. That's how improvements sneak in.

That's why airplanes fly and satelites orbit and we get to have this conversation over the internet. No other systematic body of human knowledge has ever proved so powerful both at explanation and technological creation.

A common argument is that the leading scientific minds of time x believed wrong thing y. Therefore, leading scientists today are wrong about z. (Sometimes one boldly adds the non sequitur corrolary: therefore my religious belief abc is true.)

Darwin might've believed all kinds of things we think are quite incorrect now, including key facts about how evolution and speciation occur. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the plausibility of evolution as it currently stands. Darwin could've believed in unicorns or eugenics. It's irrelevant.
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Sigh,

I think you are right. I never felt more oppressed than when I had to go in for emergency surgery.

My self-employed father also felt the sting of the government jackboot when he required specialized neurosurgery.

We'd have been much better off without coverage or paying a private insurer.

Truth is: when it comes to our 'socialized' medical program, I pay my taxes with pride.

Nic M.
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  • Member Since 2012/08/08


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