caricature, Ergotia's bitch

What will happen to the newspapers?

Newspapers everywhere are finding it progressively harder to make any money, and their future is in doubt. Lots of people have opinions on what should happen next, or what newspapers should do. I'm interested in a different question here - leaving aside all normative discussion of what we might like or not like, what do people think is actually going to happen?

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caricature, Ergotia's bitch

Pinker on statistics

I think that a failure of statistical thinking is the major intellectual shortcoming of our universities, journalism and intellectual culture. Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics. Yet pundits continue to hallucinate trends in freak events, like the Norwegian sniper (who shot all those young people on an island) and make wildly innumerate comparisons, such as between Afghanistan and Vietnam, or between today's human trafficking and the African slave trade. It's a holdover of the literary sensibilities of our science-flunking intellectual elite, who would be aghast if someone didn't know who Milton was, but cheerfully flaunt their ignorance of basic science and mathematics. I lobbied – unsuccessfully – for a course requirement at Harvard in statistical and logical reasoning.
-- Steven Pinker
caricature, Ergotia's bitch

Do men make the first move?

Reading this fascinating comment thread on Greta Christina's blog:
What counts as “the first move”?
Fair question. I would say “the first overt, unambiguous, verbal move.” I.e., asking someone out, or otherwise making a move that can’t be interpreted as anything other than a move, and that requires an overt response. (The point being that if you toss your hair at someone and they ignore you, you can save face and pretend you weren’t making a first move — but if you say, “Would you like to go out with me?”, that’s not possible, and you have to accept the possibility and indeed the likelihood of overt rejection.)
The stories told there seem somewhat American, even when they're from the pansexual, BDSM Bay Area. How does it work in our community, when a man and a woman hook up?

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Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable

Following up my earlier post asking what shall I start a fight on the Internet about, I present:

Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable, Eliezer Yudkowsky, 2007-08-04.
The earliest account I know of a scientific experiment is, ironically, the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal.

The people of Israel are wavering between Jehovah and Baal, so Elijah announces that he will conduct an experiment to settle it - quite a novel concept in those days! The priests of Baal will place their bull on an altar, and Elijah will place Jehovah's bull on an altar, but neither will be allowed to start the fire; whichever God is real will call down fire on His sacrifice. The priests of Baal serve as control group for Elijah - the same wooden fuel, the same bull, and the same priests making invocations, but to a false god. Then Elijah pours water on his altar - ruining the experimental symmetry, but this was back in the early days - to signify deliberate acceptance of the burden of proof, like needing a 0.05 significance level. The fire comes down on Elijah's altar, which is the experimental observation. The watching people of Israel shout "The Lord is God!" - peer review.

And then the people haul the 450 priests of Baal down to the river Kishon and slit their throats. This is stern, but necessary. You must firmly discard the falsified hypothesis, and do so swiftly, before it can generate excuses to protect itself. If the priests of Baal are allowed to survive, they will start babbling about how religion is a separate magisterium which can be neither proven nor disproven. Collapse )
caricature, Ergotia's bitch

What shall I argue about?

Am off sick and in bed, typing on my phone, and bored. A friend recommends I entertain myself in the time honoured fashion, by starting a fight on the Internet. But what about? Suggestions both frivolous and serious please!
caricature, Ergotia's bitch

You have reached the in-progress mark of this story

You have reached the in-progress mark of this story,
which is still being written.

Signing up for fanfiction dot net will enable you to add an email Story Alert,
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Unless you are eighteen hours past your bedtime,
in which case GO TO SLEEP.

-- from then last page of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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caricature, Ergotia's bitch

Any official Debian developers out there able to sponsor mercurial-server?

Just released mercurial-server version 1.2. Sent off the files to the Debian sponsor, but he replied that he's no longer a Debian developer - damn! Anyone out there willing and able to take this on? It's 100% Lintian clean - it's already been through several releases and been bashed into shape for Debian.


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caricature, Ergotia's bitch

Anonymous commenting disabled

I'm sorry, I've had to turn off anonymous commenting on my journal; deleting spam is keeping me too busy. When the spammers start registering accounts, I'll have to go to friends-only. I'm largely writing on Twitter at the moment, with some things going on my blog and others going on Google+ (because I'm still optimistic they'll see sense on the real name thing; obviously it will die if they don't).
caricature, Ergotia's bitch

Hole where a post should be

I spent ages writing a post here, and the Dreamwidth rich text editor dumped it. Next time I will use a text editor. This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there using OpenID.