Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

30 April, 2010 08:02
April 30, 2010, 8:02 am
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Who are the candidates for 21st century Einsteins/Darwins? (inspired by an autoadmit thread).

Although I think being active in last few decades of 20th century counts, since it’s hard to think of late 20th century Einsteins/Darwins.

My candidates: Edward O. Wilson (more Darwin than Einstein though), Herbert Simon


19 April, 2010 00:38
April 19, 2010, 12:38 am
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also posted at heavengames


So as we all know, the remote extreme North in the US is quite conservative and Republican-supporting. (by "remote" I mean Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota). Although Vermont/Maine/New Hampshire could fit in there as well, their climates are not as extreme as those of the aforementioned regions, and their population densities are higher.

But what I find interesting is this: The Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories consistently support liberals. In Sweden, the Northern parts are also the most liberal. The same goes for the United Kingdom (although this is probably since the conservatives are least receptive to increased Scottish autonomy). I also looked at Finland and Japan, where statistics are somewhat more ambiguous (Northern Finland is dominated by a minority group, so they would be expected to be more liberal).

So why is that the case? I know that a lot of anti-Democratic sentiment in the northwestern US is due to the environmental policies of the Democratic Party (even though they tend to be quite libertarian on social issues). But maybe the liberal parties in the other countries seem to have more significant support for labor issues than they do for environmental issues? (since I would presume that a significant amount of the employment in northern territories has to do with resource extraction, as it is one of the only "profitable" ways to live in the extreme remote North). Environmental issues tend to be most prominent in areas where there are still significant areas of government ownership/wilderness, and labor issues also tend to be prominent as extraction industries also tend to be the most dangerous ones.

Thinking of it more though, the northern US (minus Alaska) is still mild enough for farming/ranching of some sort. The other areas I mentioned (minus the UK, Hokkadio), however, are probably way too cold for farming (or anything other than resource extraction). Ranching interests, in particular, are particularly supportive of Republicans here.

Of course, there are rugged individualists too, but they tend to be the minority (although they do explain why those states also voted for Nader in the highest percentages back in 2000).

18 April, 2010 16:42
April 18, 2010, 4:42 pm
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if beta amyloid is produced in response to infection, then maybe infection increases the risks of alzheimer’s

is rigor really desirable?
April 15, 2010, 6:28 am
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the fact is that there are always scientific crackpots who publish non-rigorous scientific data. But they should not be prevented from investigating such hypotheses. Their hypotheses need to simply be put under review. And now, such review is far easier than ever, simply because the Internet allows for such reviews. It’s just that the current review websites, like, are not as navigable and user-friendly as websites like Amazon or Yelp

The fact is, that science was not always rigorous. 21st century standards of rigor were not possible in the 19th century. The 19th century certainly saw the formation of many false hypotheses, but it also saw the formation of many of the best hypotheses there ever were.

Rigor often constrains imagination/innovation. It gets to the point where people are discouraged from seeking radical hypotheses. And false hypotheses are not always useless. They are often the best learning experiences that anyone can have, and motivate (in the author) a very close examination of the evidence (much closer than he would examine if he were correct and others defended it for him).

But unfortunately, many people forget what it was like when they were children and their curiosities were unguided by rigor. many hypotheses of childhood, furthermore, were already developed by some other scientist, and it is often difficult for an older person to encourage a young student’s ideas that were already proposed by another person.

And when people say that America has issues with attracting student motivation in the sciences, the obsession with rigor is one thing that needs to be examined.

rarely trusting official advice
April 15, 2010, 6:22 am
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So I rarely put much trust in the advice that “official websites” give. More informal places, like College Confidential (although the mods are making it more formal, and possibly less useful), provide far more useful information than any college admissions officer is willing to give They must be politically correct (in that they must cater to all interests), which makes them only give the obvious advice. Having lots of extracurriculars is “politically correct” for some reason, and so every college urges each student to get them. Working hard in school is also “politically correct”, even though a student may do much better if he sacrifices grades for competitions (it should be noted that some professors in grad school *do* say that sacrificing grades for research is a good idea, but rarely will the “official” grad school advice websites say that).

With federal government websites, it’s often worse. Following the USDA food pyramid is an excellent way to become diabetic (the bottom of the food pyramid = diabetes-inducing foods). Meat is completely unnecessary for a healthy diet. But the USDA has to cater to the farm and pig interests. It does this to be “politically correct”. Now, the USDA certainly isn’t catering to the vegetarian interests. But “politically correct” simply means that it caters to whatever interests seem to hold more influence. After all, there are always people who oppose whatever happens to be “politically correct”, but their voices do not hold as much influence.