Friday, August 31, 2007

Caring, it's only natural.

The possibility that empathy is part of our primate heritage ought to please us, but we are not in the habit of embracing our nature. When people kill each other, we call them "animals," but when they give to the poor, we praise them for being "humane." The idea that our animal background is all bad is one of the reasons a country well-known for its optimism [US] refuses to embrace Darwinism. Yet it will be hard to identify anything we like about ourselves that is not part of our evolutionary background. What we need is a vision of human nature that encompasses all of our tendencies: the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Frans de Waal

Monday, August 27, 2007


Follow this link, click the video and laugh until you cry.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ain't that the truth

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
-Upton Sinclair

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blackmore interviews Dennett (& Chess/AI)

I highly recommend listening to this interesting Dennett interview conducted by Susan Blackmore. Dennett nicely expresses his many complex ideas about consciousness and related matters.

Addendum: Dennett on Chess & AI.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Scientific Life?

A: Sometimes I think life is pretty scientific.
B: What?! Life is scientific?! You mean that which is just a longitudinal case study (N =1) that has a distinct lack of objectivity, poor reliability, continual funding concerns, negative peer review, intermittently useful collaborators, little chance of replication and a terrible attrition rate?
A: Life is bad science then?
B: ...meh, better.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Monday, August 13, 2007

Sudanese 14-Year-Old Has Midlife Crisis

Once again, The Onion succeeds with some poignant satire.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Add you and me and multiply?

Mathematics professor proves that men can't, logically, have more partners than women. Therapists struggle to explain incongruity
I found this article about number of sexual partners men and women say they have amusing because it indicates that most people have just a little too much trouble with math.

An interesting, empirical, question would be: What is the distribution of scores? More specifically, are there an equal amount of outliers with 'extreme' scores for both groups of men and women?

"...nothing had been learned from the past, and official myopia is timeless."

An interesting article by Gabriel Kolko called Mechanistic Destruction: American Foreign Policy at Point Zero .
(My source was Matt Good's page).
The beginning of the piece:

The United States has rarely lost any conventional military battle since at least 1950. Nor has it, at the same time, ever won a war. It has successfully overthrown governments through interventions or subversion but the political results of all its efforts – as in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Iran in 1953 – have often made its subsequent geopolitical position far, far more tenuous. In a word, in international affairs it bumbles very badly and it has made an already highly unstable world far more precarious than it otherwise would be if only the U.S. had left the world alone. No less important, Americans would be far better off thereby. Because – to repeat a critical point – it has failed to attain victory in any of the real wars it has fought since Korea. Its adversaries learned as long ago as the Korean War that decentralization would stymie America's overwhelming firepower, which was designed for concentrated armies, and provided a successful antidote for massive, expensive technology.

All this is very well known. The real issue is why the U.S. makes the identical mistakes over and over again and never learns from its errors.

At the present time it is losing two wars and creating a vast arc of profound strategic and political instability from the Mediterranean Sea to South Asia, it has resumed the arms race in Europe, and it is making Russia an enemy when it could easily have been friendly. Economically, it has run up the biggest deficits in American history, brought on the decline of the dollar, and wherever one turns this administration has been at least as bad as any in two centuries of American history – perhaps even the worst. We now have an unprecedented disaster in the conduct of American power, both overseas and at home, in part because of the people who now rule – ambitious men and women who calculate only what is best for their careers – but also because the imperatives and inexorable logic of past policies and conventional wisdom have brought us to this critical juncture. All the old mistakes have been repeated; nothing had been learned from the past, and official myopia is timeless.