Sandbox (4)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.

488 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. So I tried to post in a comment an evolutionary tree drawn with monospaced characters. It stripped off all leading blanks.

    How do I do the equivalent of <code> … </code > or <pre> … </pre> ??

  2. afiak it’s just not possible. how many rows of data do you have and how many levels of indentation?

      I use the html ampersand nbsp semicolon syntax. But taht can be a pain to write out.

  3. Paul Manafort!

    Who are Richard Gates, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos?

    Just let me drop the name Robert Mercer here because I’m sure it will crop up.

  4. Neil Rickert:
    How Popper killed Particle Physics

    This is well worth reading.It’s by physicist Sabine Hossenfelder.

    And luckily so, because it was utterly impractical. In practice, scientists can’t falsify theories. That’s because any theory can be amended in hindsight so that it fits new data. Don’t roll your eyes – updating your knowledge in response to new information is scientifically entirely sound procedure.

    So, no, you can’t falsify theories. Never could.

    Gee, I thought there was a scientific consensus.

  5. stcordova: The EDIT function Obliterated my beautiful LATEX. WAH!

    I can’t fix it, because I cannot guess what it was supposed to be.

    My advice: if there is latex, and you want to edit, then click on the balloon icon in page heading. That gets you to the comments page. Scroll down to find your post there. If it is recent enough for you to edit, it should be near the top.

    Then you should be able to use “quick edit” to edit that post. If you can do it that way, it won’t mess up the latex tags.

    I haven’t checked, but I think you can edit your own posts that way (at least during the edit window).

  6. A test post as non-admin, to see if I can edit this with “Quick Edit”.

    Hmm, no, I can’t. I can only edit in a way that screws up latex

  7. Test two to fix.

    ihbarfrac{partial}{partial t}left|Psi(t)right>=Hleft|Psi(t)right>

    Let’s see if it blows up.

    Yup. Kaboom. I screwed up again.

    Let me try another way.

    ihbarfrac{partial}{partial t}left|Psi(t)right>=Hleft|Psi(t)right>

    I screwed it up again. Oh well, thanks for your assistance. What I can do is type the stuff up on my website and my wordpress, which for some unknow reason, probably because it is done as a post, NOT a comment, will not cause problems.

    Thanks anyway Neil. Regards.

  8. To Sal and anyone else wishing to use \LaTeX in a comment. It is enabled site -wide. You don’t need to prefix with {latexpage}* (using square brackets) just enclose code in dollar ($) signs or double dollar signs for a stand-alone line.

  9. Alan and Neil, thanks for looking into this. I guess the issue is the comment editor. I think the post editor is OK, but I haven’t tried it yet. Apparently the post and comment editors operate differently.

    I can cut and paste latex equation and then do a “post comment” if the latex equation is syntactically acceptable. However, when I try to edit it with the comment editor after posting it — Kaboom!

  10. stcordova: However, when I try to edit it with the comment editor after posting it — Kaboom!

    There’s a choice of two edit options with comments. The grey edit button at top right seems to work for me.

    ETA Grey button comment editor Good, Blue button comment editor Bad!

  11. Another test, with some latex \pi.

    As an ordinary user, I only get one edit option (“click to edit” at lower left).

    That removed the backslash and broke the latex. As Admin, I get the other edit option at top right, where I can fix it.

  12. NeilWR,

    Ah yes, it’s so nice you and Alan have powers we mere mortals at TSZ don’t have. 🙂

    I have a work around by editing and correcting on my website or creating a unpublished post at TSZ that’s just used to edit and preview my Latex equations.

    The relativity discussion revived my interest in some of the math I’ve long forgotten.

    Thanks so much guys for you help! I look forward to publishing some of my derivations on the relativity page.

  13. What is are and upon using lots and lots oven på en masse ord som maybe doesn’t giver ret meget mening the with you a this is a test post composed to test whether the thing jeg trying to test correctly lends itself to at blive testet.

    The test was en stor success.


    The researchers used electrodes to measure how much sweat people produced while reading statements like “I dare God to make my parents drown” or “I dare God to make me die of cancer”. Unexpectedly, when nonbelievers read the statements, they produced as much sweat as believers — suggesting they were equally anxious about the consequences of their dares.

    And that’s not simply because nonbelievers didn’t want to wish harm on others. A companion study showed that similar dares that did not involve God (such as, “I wish my parents would drown”) did not produce comparable increases in sweat levels. Together, then, these findings suggest that despite denying that God exists, nonbelievers behaved as though God did exist.

  15. stcordova,

    “Unconscious beliefs” is one interpretation of the data, sure.

    Another is that religious language is non-cognitive, in which case it’s less surprising that those words retain emotional power regardless of what one believes about the world.

  16. Kantian Naturalist:

    “Unconscious beliefs” is one interpretation of the data, sure.

    Another is that religious language is non-cognitive, in which case it’s less surprising that those words retain emotional power regardless of what one believes about the world.

    Oddly, I had the some problem overcoming typical casino superstitions when playing cards. If I’m losing and losing and losing, casino superstition says one should stop playing. Statistically, if one is a card counter, the law of large numbers says just keep playing and playing and playing and only reduce your maximum wagers to about 1/8% of your total bankroll.

    Even some bizarre feelings I had to overcome. Occasionally if someone sat beside me, I’d start losing. It was easy to think that person brought me bad luck. I had to work through all those superstitious feelings to become successful at cards. Even without being religious, the mind can equate correlation with causation, and hence we tend to think of events signally good or bad luck. We see this definitely in training of animals.

    What is really sad is see all those superstitious people at the craps and roulette tables. They feel lucky, have some superstitious system, but they can’t overcome the casino advantage and the law of large numbers. Casinos love profit from people’s gut feelings and superstitions.

    A comparable situation is found in piloting a plane and trusting instruments over gut feelings.

    I once was temporary blinded during some night flying when approaching for a landing I couldn’t see the horizon nor for some strange reason I couldn’t even see my instruments. I couldn’t see the runway, and a few seconds before I lost vision the altimeter indicated to hit the ground one way or another. I gunned the throttle and pulled up too fast and heard that awful stall warning sound. I’d be dead in less than a minute. Everything in my body said I was in straight and level flight, but I was gunning full throttle. But my stall warning horn was telling me my nose was pointed dangerously upward and I was about to start falling backward.

    It took all of my will power to lower the nose of the airplane since I was so sure if I did so I would dive right into to the ground. My stall warning horn was screaming one thing, my gut level feeling said another. All my training said if I relied on my feelings and gut instincts I would die. I had to use my mind and reason in order to live and to distrust my gut feelings and instincts. I did so. I ignored my feelings, followed the scientific answer, and lowered the nose of the aircraft. I’m alive today as a result.

    I have some idea of what cause my slight loss of vision. It was extremely dark that night (new moon), and I was very tired. I shouldn’t have been flying. When it’s that dark and I’m tired the muscles controlling the lenses in my eye prevented me from focusing and seeing my instruments clearly. I probably didn’t adjust the instrument lighting properly as I dimmed them so I could have better night vision — “hah!”. My medical evaluation didn’t really test for how my eyes would perform under those conditions.

  17. stcordova: I did so. I ignored my feelings, followed the scientific answer, and lowered the nose of the aircraft. I’m alive today as a result.

    It’s a shame you don’t see the value of that in other endeavours.

    A simple test will suffice to demonstrate this. Simply make a claim that can only be true if the earth is young, and bet on it’s arbitration by a judge acceptable to both parties as honorable. What side is actually supported by the evidence, young or old?

    In a way that’s what actual science and peer review actually is. People putting something of value on the table, i.e. their reputation. But it’s no surprise you’ve not chosen to go down that route, for obvious reasons.

  18. fifthmonarchyman: I expect this will come in handy at some point here when I am accused of violating the rules for pointing out the obvious.

    People have been pointing out the obvious for years. It’s only when we stopped listening to them and started determining the true nature of things that progress started. But sure, keep on thinking you are doing a great service with your profound “insights”.

  19. fifthmonarchyman: What exactly is the difference between non-cognitive an unconscious?

    I’m surprised you even ask this question, since it’s quite evident (at least to me) that unconscious and non-cognitive are completely different. Put most crudely, it’s the difference between how aware one is of something and what one is aware of.

    Generally speaking, we can distinguish between (at least) three kinds of mental states: cognitive mental states (thoughts and beliefs), conative mental states (intentions and volitions) and affective mental states (feelings and moods). One can be (and often is) aware of being in a certain mood, or feeling a certain emotion. Anger, sadness, and joy are emotions, not thoughts. So they are non-cognitive, yet we are often (not always) aware of having them.

    So thoughts, feelings, intentions, desires, fears, expectations, assumptions, commitments, predictions, beliefs (etc) can all be conscious, unconscious, or “pre-conscious” (on the fringe of awareness, not the center of attention but influencing the field of awareness).

    Anyway, my suggestion was that religious discourse and symbolism is primarily about creating community through the construction of shared feelings or shared emotional states (e.g. awe, gratitude, guilt, etc.) and not really about true or false beliefs about the world.

  20. Alan Fox:
    Kantian Naturalist,
    And those two almost separate centres of consciousness in our left and right hemispheres explain some of that! 🙂

    I don’t know how much confidence I want to place in stories where lateralization does a lot of explanatory work, and I worry that Gilchrist’s story is too Jaynesian. But I’ll put it on my list of pop cog sci books to get through.

  21. Kantian Naturalist: Put most crudely, it’s the difference between how aware one is of something and what one is aware of.

    As you know I’m a fan of putting it as crudely as possible. 😉

    So in your opinion a belief that God does not exist is non-cognitive because it “is not really about true and false”?

    Denying God’s existence “is primarily about creating community through the construction of shared feelings or shared emotional states”.

    Is that a fair representation of your position on the article?


  22. stcordova:

    Abstract of study

    “We examined whether atheists exhibit evidence of emotional arousal when they dare God to cause harm to themselves and their intimates. In Study 1, the participants (16 atheists, 13 religious individuals) read aloud 36 statements of three different types: God, offensive, and neutral. In Study 2 (N = 19 atheists), 10 new stimulus statements were included in which atheists wished for negative events to occur. The atheists did not think the God statements were as unpleasant as the religious participants did in their verbal reports. However, the skin conductance level showed that asking God to do awful things was equally stressful to atheists as it was to religious people and that atheists were more affected by God statements than by wish or offensive statements. The results imply that atheists’ attitudes toward God are ambivalent in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response.”

  23. Kantian Naturalist: But I’ll put it on my list of pop cog sci books to get through.

    Not sure about “pop cog sci”! 🙂
    I’m sure you’d appreciate chapter four The Nature of the Two Worlds. Here are a few snippets:

    In Western philosophy for much of the last two thousand years, the nature of reality has been treated in terms of dichotomies: real versus ideal, subject versus object.

    p 136

    …philosophy in the West is essentially a left-hemisphere process. It is verbal and analytic, requiring abstracted, decontextualised, disembodied thinking, dealing in categories, concerning itself with the nature of the general rather than the particular, and adopting a sequential, linear approach to truth, building the edifice of knowledge from the parts, brick by brick.

    p 137

    If the process of philosophy is to understand the world, and in reality things are always embedded in a context of relation with other things that alter them, you are not going to succeed in understanding them if you start by taking them out of context.

    p 141

    [Husserl] was the first, and perhaps the only, true phenomenologist in the strictest sense, aiming to study consciousness and conscious experience (phenomena) objectively, but nonetheless from a first-person, rather than a third-person, perspective.

    p 143

    The left hemisphere is not impressed by empathy: its concern is with maximising gain for itself, and its driving value is utility. As a result, philosophers in the Anglo-American tradition, more or less untouched by the European phenomenologists, have been nonplussed by altruistic behaviour.

    p 145

    For Merleau-Ponty the ‘object’ of perception cannot be viewed in isolation, because it is in reality embedded in a context, the nexus of relations among existing things which gives it meaning within the world.

    p 148

    For Heidegger, the fact that our apprehension of whatever is takes part in the process of that thing becoming what it is, and that therefore there is no single truth about anything that exists, does not mean that any version of a thing is valid or that all versions are equally valid.

    p 153

    Heidegger reached naturally towards metaphor, in which more than one thing is kept implicitly (hiddenly) before the mind, since he valued, unusually for a philosopher, the ambiguity of poetic language. He lamented the awful Eindeutigkeit – literally the ‘one-meaningness’, or explicitness – to which in a computer age we tend: both Wittgenstein and Heidegger, according to Richard Rorty, ‘ended by trying to work out honourable terms on which philosophy might surrender to poetry’.

    p 155

    He does reference Jaynes, and, whilst stating there is much to admire in Jaynes’ book, he thinks he got one important thing wrong. He adds

    Putting it at its simplest, where Jaynes interprets the voices of the gods as being due to the disconcerting effects of the opening of a door between the hemispheres, so that the voices could for the first time be heard, I see them as being due to the closing of the door, so that the voices of intuition now appear distant, ‘other’; familiar but alien, wise but uncanny – in a word, divine.

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