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Messages - Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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We all gotta have a safe place to vent about the weird shit that goes down that we really just can't talk about anywhere else/don't want other people to know. This place is great for that.

Techmology and Scientism / Re: I need someone smarter than me to parse this
« on: December 03, 2016, 07:53:21 pm »
This article isn't terrible at breaking it down:

Techmology and Scientism / Re: I need someone smarter than me to parse this
« on: December 03, 2016, 07:42:17 pm »
Most recent thing that showed up was today. Don't recognise the source (clickbait), came via google.

I've seen it posted on a couple of forums and FB places. Didn't want to waste time fact checking if you knew anything about it. Filing it as crap pending further info.

Oh, gotcha. Here's the journal article it links to.

This is definitely legitimate neuroscience from a very respected team, and it's pretty interesting; I'd be interested in seeing whether anyone has tried modeling it with rich club networking. I'm strictly a biological neuroscientist with a focus on signaling molecules rather than on connectivity, but the systems neuroscience approach is critical to understanding how my signaling molecules actually accomplish anything so I'll be interested in seeing where this goes.

Hang in there, ECH. We like you.

Beyond the wall / Re: Raising the next generation: PD style
« on: December 03, 2016, 07:28:18 pm »
My #1 piece of advice is to talk to the offspring like people. Don't worry too much about dumbing it down for the wee little brain; they are much much smarter than most people give them credit for, and will let you know if they don't understand. Kids are geniuses at picking up vocabulary from context, so keep it heady and they will quickly keep pace with you.

Techmology and Scientism / Re: I need someone smarter than me to parse this
« on: December 03, 2016, 06:24:19 pm »
I'm completely struck by this paragraph. Let me try to explain why I think it doesn't make sense at all.

Hoffman: Suppose in reality there’s a resource, like water, and you can quantify how much of it there is in an objective order—very little water, medium amount of water, a lot of water.

Ok, I'm still following so far.

Now suppose your fitness function is linear, so a little water gives you a little fitness, medium water gives you medium fitness, and lots of water gives you lots of fitness—in that case, the organism that sees the truth about the water in the world can win, but only because the fitness function happens to align with the true structure in reality.

In the first place, of course, it is entirely your supposition that the fitness function is linear - in fact, I think there's a very simple experiment to prove it isn't. Do all animals when confronted with a large body of water try to drink it all and end up drowning? Do animals simply charge at the ocean and die? They don't? Well then.

Also notice how he doesn't really define what is "the truth about the water". There are certainly a lot of truths about water - that it is H2O, that it is liquid at certain temperatures, that it dissolves some salts, etc. The closest thing I can interpret from the text (which is unclear) is that "the truth about the water" means, to some organism, something like "more of it will make me fitter" - which is of course a subjective statement. If he defines truth to be subjective like that, then what a surprise that he concludes that we can't really see the world as is!

Generically, in the real world, that will never be the case. Something much more natural is a bell curve—say, too little water you die of thirst, but too much water you drown, and only somewhere in between is good for survival.

Great. We're in the same page then.

Now the fitness function doesn’t match the structure in the real world. And that’s enough to send truth to extinction.

Come fucking on. The only thing you proved is that you supposition about the fitness function being linear is wrong. He's litterally saying, "oh, the first shit theory off the top of my head about the complex behavior of animals is wrong - I guess that means no one can access reality!"

And of course he's still unclear what does he mean by truth. If the "truth" means the subjective thought of some animal that more water will always make it more fit then sure, that's completely extinct. I still can't see how it has much to do about us being able to know that water is H2O, for example.

For example, an organism tuned to fitness might see small and large quantities of some resource as, say, red, to indicate low fitness, whereas they might see intermediate quantities as green, to indicate high fitness.

Your point being? First, let me point out how computer-model-centric this is. The only reason some organism might see water as "red" or "green" and not, you know, larger and smaller sizes of water is if that's the only damn thing it's ever tracking. Yeah, sure, that's how evolution works, there's not payout for coordinating different kinds of information, specially the relative sizes of objects, right?

Also, so what if it interprets what it sees in a particular way? You could say the same thing about how we se color - "oh, you're not really seeing blue, you are only interpreting a certain kind of wavelength in a certain way". I think we can all agree this kind of thought is in general useless.

Its perceptions will be tuned to fitness, but not to truth. It won’t see any distinction between small and large—it only sees red—even though such a distinction exists in reality.

First of all, your last fucking sentences say the organism sees red AND green. That's a distinction. And of course it completely obviates actual, true biological complexity. For an organism to sense something, it needs to have a way to sense it - an eye for example. Now I know that in a computer you can just program it to sense something, but that doesn't make much sense in reality does it? And if an eye can't make distinctions it's an useless eye, probably not an eye at all. But if it can make distinctions - and the more corresponding to reality the better the organism's fitness - and on top of that the organism has the capability to reason and its species has a long tradition of industry to expand on the organism's natural capabilities of perception (e.g. building telescopes) and its societies have means of storing information and collecting data and comparing theories and... well, you get the point.

Yeah, I didn't even want to get into the weird way he created strawmen to demolish while completely disregarding established research. You do a good job of pointing out how fucking ridiculous his logic is.

Techmology and Scientism / Re: I need someone smarter than me to parse this
« on: December 03, 2016, 06:19:31 pm »
On a side note, Nigel, I'd be interested in your take on this N=2i-1 thing that has flashed across my radar three or four times in the last week or so. Google seems ignorant, the sources are somewhere in the middle of the credibility scale but it seems really interesting and maybe not totally nonsensical. What are proper neuroscientists saying about it? Is it even a thing?

It's not ringing any bells for me at all. N=2i-1 is the degrees of freedom in many statistical analyses, but other than that I got nothing. Do you have a link or any context?

Techmology and Scientism / Re: I need someone smarter than me to parse this
« on: December 03, 2016, 05:55:31 pm »
Thanks for the excellent critique!

My pleasure!

ECH, there are many avenues for fulfilling a dream, but family is irreplaceable.

Beyond the wall / Re: Space dogs
« on: December 03, 2016, 05:39:22 am »
Don't eat brains or you'll catch the prions.

A good rule for the colony ships.

Aneristic Illusions / Re: General Trump hilarity free-for-all thread
« on: December 02, 2016, 10:37:51 pm »
This is the way the worlds ends
not with a bang but with a "believe me it's going to be great"

The greatest ever! Of all time!

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Turning Purple
« on: December 02, 2016, 10:35:15 pm »
He seems to want to engage in link-for-link pedantry, whereas we take previously establish links as, well, previously established.

I don't think he really looks at threads other than his own, so he probably missed those conversations. Being completely self-absorbed will do that to a person.

Beyond the wall / Re: Space dogs
« on: December 02, 2016, 10:25:59 pm »

Beyond the wall / Re: Space dogs
« on: December 02, 2016, 08:55:23 pm »
Okay so now I'm freaked the fuck out about this prions shit. I think we may owe it to the world to spread mass-panic

Already happened; remember Mad Cow Disease?

Aneristic Illusions / Re: General Trump hilarity free-for-all thread
« on: December 02, 2016, 07:54:33 pm »
This guy is going to make it easy to laugh as the world burns.

There are few foreign policy topics quite as complicated as the relationship between India and Pakistan, South Asia’s nuclear-armed nemeses. Any world leader approaching the issue even obliquely must surely see the “Handle With Care” label from miles away, given the possibility of nuclear conflict.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, however, doesn’t seem to have read the memo, injecting a pronounced element of uncertainty about the position of the world’s only remaining superpower on this most complex of subjects in a call with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Donald Trump spoke with Pakistan's Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif via phone Wednesday. According to a readout of the conversation from the Pakistani authorities, he apparently agreed to visit the country and said he was “ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.” He reportedly added: “You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way.”

The hilarity of his hyperbole aside, Trump’s intervention could have serious consequences for both regional and global stability.

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