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.

1,698 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. Mung: ok, but how does that preclude truth claims from being moral claims, or as I put it earlier “all truths are moral”? Who cares if either truth or morality, or both, are human inventions. That simply seems utterly irrelevant to what I wrote.

    Do you think that other people ought to believe, along with you, that morality is a human invention? And if so why ought they believe it, because it is true?

    Consider “it is wrong to lie”.. To what norms does “wrong” appeal to?

    Isn’t there a difference between moral norms/oughts and epistemic norms/oughts? Hint: I alluded to the latter in at least three posts above, one in direct reply to you.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology-virtue/

  2. Hey, Nonlin,
    I am moving this conversation to Sandbox since Gregory quite rightly asked us to go elsewhere (although there’s a whole new ‘eugenics’ threadjack happening over on his Swamidass thread…)
    You wrote:

    Your example is not my field of research, but are these guys not talking about the same transgenic rabbits: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3892305 ?

    Nope. Like I already told you, no transgenic rabbits at all

    Sure Linnaean taxonomy helps. If you were to place the three organisms in a triangle (or four in a square, etc), which one would be further from the others? And don’t forget common sense. Did you understand why that’s all you need in this case?

    Gee, the lagomporphs and the rodents are next to each other, and quite close to the humans, all in Euarchontoglires
    The cows and sheep are further away, in Laurasiatheria (along with whales, bats and hedgehogs)
    How does this help me decide WHICH PARTS of the GH gene I should chose for my PCR primers?

    Whatever you think “evolution” predicts, it is actually coming from unrelated observations of those organisms.

    Just DNA sequence analysis, actually.

    Repeating your claim for the n-th time doesn’t make it more true. I asked for proof, not how certain you are. You do understand what proof is all about, right?

    Proof is for logic and mathematics, not science. You asked me to prove that “Evolution helped my work [in drug development].”
    So I demonstrated this with a concrete example. Which I still do not think you understand. You appear determined to NOT understand it, which is a pity.

  3. Here’s where phoodoo can talk about Bertrand Russell & Jewish people as much as he wants …. without derailing other threads.

  4. Gregory:
    Here’s where phoodoo can talk about Bertrand Russell & Jewish people as much as he wants …. without derailing other threads.

    That would defeat the whole point, to goad moderators into a reaction. Your thread is just an innocent bystander in his Phoo’s crusade against the man.

  5. QUESTION:

    We have synapomorphies, autapomorphies, etc.

    I don’t see a “morphy” for an Orphan or Taxonomically restricted feature that isn’t derived from some other organ. Poof-omorphy still seems like the most descriptive word.

    The organs of animals relative to a unicellular creature count as poof-omorphies to me.

  6. stcordova: I don’t see a “morphy” for an Orphan or Taxonomically restricted feature that isn’t derived from some other organ.

    Could you illustrate with an example? Or a counter-example? A feature (taxanomically restricted) that derives from some other organ.

  7. stcordova: I don’t see a “morphy” for an Orphan or Taxonomically restricted feature that isn’t derived from some other organ.

    An autapomorphy is a taxonomically restricted character.

    But when you say it isn’t derived from something else that’s really just question-begging.

  8. Thanks for all the replies about “morphies”.

    Alan,

    The wiki entry on synapomorphy is here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synapomorphy_and_apomorphy

    You asked about an example, from the wiki article:

    In most groups of mammals, the vertebral column is highly conserved, with the same number of vertebrae found in the neck of a giraffe, for example, as in mammals with shorter necks. However, in the Afrotheria clade, which includes elephant shrews, golden moles and elephants, there is an increase in the number of thoracolumbar vertebrae. This is a synapomorphy of the clade: a shared feature considered to be derived from a common ancestor.[5]

    So what about the defining organs or features of an animal that differentiate it from unicellular creatures? A digestive system, with all its developmental machinery, sort of poofs onto the scene. I don’t see that it is reasonably derived from anything except by stretching the idea of “derived.” Poof seems a better way to describe the transformation from unicellular creature to animal. Poof-o-morphy seems a more accurate term for features without ancestors even in principle.

    Rumraket:

    An autapomorphy is a taxonomically restricted character.

    Or a taxonomically restricted poof-o-morphy, like a digestive tract.

  9. stcordova: You asked about an example…

    Why yes, I did and apologies for not noticing your response till now. I asked because I was puzzled by your use of the word “organ”.in the context of synapomorphy;

    Your example (cite from Wikipedia) of the change in neck vertebrae number in the clade, Afrotheria is fine. Would you refer to an increase in the number of cervical vertebrae, or the vertebral column in vertebrates as an organ? If so, then what’s the problem? Evolutionary theory predicts (due to common descent with modification) such relationships.

  10. phoodoo,

    You can call me Uhtred.

    Hey, Alan II kicked the Vikings out of Brittany, and he had a couple of sons by Judith before he settled down with Adelaide of Blois. That we know of. And they say Judith was quite the looker, although they say so in Latin, so you might not have picked up on that.

    Hey, as Uhtred, I might be fictional, but I do get to spend a lot of time gazing into Thea Sofie Loch Næss’s eyes, so I reckon I’m ahead of the game…

  11. For those who read Reich’s Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past : NYT magazine has an extended article on the impact of this work in archaelogy, including how it has divided archaeologists.

    The second half of the article has some scientific gossip on the infighting in the communities and the unusual review process leading to publication of one of Reich’s Nature article.

    The article spends too long on background and biography for my tastes. It also likely pushes the controversy aspect for journalistic reasons. Nonetheless, I found the latter half of the article interesting.

    Probably paywalled.

    Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

  12. For those who prefer to get their quantum science via YT, Scott Aaronson has just posted about some videos of his there (which I haven’t yet watched).

    https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4048

    ETA:
    LInk to all posts to date
    https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRationalFuture/videos

    I’ve watched the last three and found them worthwhile. They are a step or two above the usual poppulatizations by scientists.

    The Show More under each video shows the topics addressed.

    I watch at 1.5x using the Chrome extension “Video Speed Controller”

  13. 3AM interview with philosopher interested in causality, probability, role they play science. Works on experimental analysis and design with scientists in many domains (Hi Alan!)

    https://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/causal/

    “Frederick Eberhardt is interested in the formal aspects of the philosophy of science, machine learning in statistics and computer science, and learning and modeling in psychology and cognitive science. His work has focused primarily on methods for causal discovery from statistical data, the use of experiments in causal discovery, the integration of causal inferences from different data sets, and the philosophical issues at the foundations of causality and probability. Eberhardt has done work on computational models in cognitive science and historical work on the philosophy of Hans Reichenbach, especially his frequentist interpretation of probability. Here he discusses what we know about causality, Hume’s problem, Reichenbach’s struggle with thew relationship between probability and causality, coordination in Reichenbach, understanding climate change, modelling El Nino and La Nina weather systems, the difference between a cause and a correlation, causal discovery, understanding human emotions, the relationship between micro and macro levels, the Causal Coarsening Theorem, the problem with experiments and randomised controlled trials, facing down AI anxieties, on not being a Bayesian, causal Bayes nets and the need for philosophy to continue to engage with substantive scientific and theoretical literature.”

  14. Came across an interesting fact in an article about the “prime number conspiracy”:

    Consider two tasks:
    1) flip a fair coin until you get two consecutive heads (H H)
    2) flip a fair coin until you get heads followed immediately by tails (H T)

    Surprisingly, it takes more flips on average to achieve #1 than it does to achieve #2.

    Some challenges for the readers:
    a) Come up with an intuitive explanation of the difference.
    b) Calculate the average number of flips for each case.

    Hint: If (a) is giving you trouble, then it may help to do (b) first.

  15. There are four starting scenarios:

    HH
    HT
    TH
    TT

    If you are trying to get HH
    25% of the time you get it from the start (HH)
    25% of the time (HT) as a matter of PRINCIPLE you need to try at LEAST two more trials.
    25% of the time (TT) as a matter of PRINCIPLE you need to try at LEAST two more trials.
    25% of the the time (TH) the next flip could go either way, but more on that later….

    If you are trying to get HT
    25% of the time you get it from the start (HT)
    25% of the time you get HH, but then in PRINCIPLE you could get T on the next flip so you don’t absolutely need two more trials to get HT
    25% the time you get TT so you need in principle at least two more trials
    25% of the time you get TH and the next flip could go either way, more on that later

    So the case of TH, if we start with “H” of the TH, it’s really a repeat of what happens with HH or HT, so we just refer to the above odds.

    We see then the tie breaker is the scenario where seeking HH requires in principle 2 more flips, namely when the opening is HT. Whereas the opposing situation where we are seeking HT, but start off HH, we don’t need in principle 2 more flips.

  16. keiths:
    Came across an interesting fact in an article about the “prime number conspiracy”:

    Consider two tasks:
    1) flip a fair coin until you get two consecutive heads (H H)
    2) flip a fair coin until you get heads followed immediately by tails (H T)

    Surprisingly, it takes more flips on average to achieve #1 than it does to achieve #2.

    Some challenges for the readers:
    a) Come up with an intuitive explanation of the difference.
    b) Calculate the average number of flips for each case.

    Hint:If (a) is giving you trouble, then it may help to do (b) first.

    I run a quick simulation and I get 50-50

  17. Cool.
    Consider a very long sequence of tosses. HH and HT occur at equal frequency. However, the HH’s are somewhat more clustered than the HT’s: specifically, they can overlap.
    The puzzle consists of landing at a random spot on the sequence and walking until you hit the pair of interest. Since the HT’s are more evenly spread out, it’s a shorter walk, on average.

  18. Alan Fox:
    Does anyone else find this article worrying?

    No timeframe that I saw, so I am guessing I will be dead first. I am not sure if I should worry more about that or about living until the collapse.

  19. BruceS,
    I just feel our generation will get the blame. And I see confirmation everywhere. I’m looking out at Pyrenean peaks with a snow line I might have expected in early Autumn. Outside temperature is 16°C or more. Spring flowers everywhere. It should be wonderful but instead it’s worrying.

  20. dazz: Doh, I see. I simulated the wrong problem

    If you started with thinking they were playing against each other with the same coin, then I feel I am in good company…

  21. BruceS: If you started with thinking they were playing against each other with the same coin, then I feel I am in good company…

    Yep 😄

  22. Alan Fox: Well, yes. Yes, we should. Thanks for cheering me up.

    Here’s an article on one climate change contributor that our generation need not take responsibility for: public blockchain with its huge power requirements.

    It turns out that such blockchains are not even a good idea, according to security expert Bruce Schneier. So not only are the millennials (or some other not-us group) pumping out CO2, they also have to own up to theft and bubble-supporting technology.

    THERE’S NO GOOD REASON TO TRUST BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY

  23. BruceS: It turns out that such blockchains are not even a good idea, according to security expert Bruce Schneier.

    Yes, that was a good essay by the other BruceS (or maybe it is the same BruceS?).

    Quoting him:

    Honestly, cryptocurrencies are useless. They’re only used by speculators looking for quick riches, people who don’t like government-backed currencies, and criminals who want a black-market way to exchange money.

    I’m reminded of observations made long ago about AI (artificial intelligence). AI systems are very brittle. Small failures can have devastating effects. By contrast, natural (biological) intelligence tends to be more resilient, more robust.

  24. Neil Rickert: Yes, that was a good essay by the other BruceS (or maybe it is the same BruceS?).

    ETA: Doh. I missed the BruceS coincidence on first read. So I have ETA-ed out a dumb remark I made as a result.

    “I’m reminded of observations made long ago about [long ago] AI (artificial intelligence)”

    Fixed that for you. In words, I agree with this regarding GOFAI. But not regarding Deep Learning, at least not for the limited domains it currently works for.

    Rather than brittleness, I worry it is not scalable to full world experience, because of its need for so much data to form its patterns (which are not GOFAI rules).

    ETA 2: I have realized I forgot about the Deep Learning issues that have been raised that could be called brittleness, eg changing a few pixels of the test image changes the conclusion of the Deep Learning educated AI (going by memory on that issue so no link).

    That’s not so good for my argument, is it? Can I hand wave those examples away by saying that type of brittleness is the Deep Learning equivalent to the perceptual illusions we experience as a price for workable perception?

    Probably not. So more thought needed by me.

    But at least my hands are real, aren’t they? They are not BB hands.

  25. BruceS: No timeframe that I saw, so I am guessing I will be dead first. I am not sure if I should worry more about that or about living until the collapse.

    Now you sound like Jerry Fodor.

  26. BruceS: At least you could link a book title for the Fodor reference.

    I wouldn’t want to engage in argument by book title!

    It’s in the interview with Suzan Mazur that I linked at PS. His outlook appeared to be influenced by the fact that we are all going to die anyways. I’ll see if I can post a quote or two later.

  27. dazz:

    Doh, I see. I simulated the wrong problem

    Bruce:

    If you started with thinking they were playing against each other with the same coin, then I feel I am in good company…

    dazz:

    Yep 😄

    Not sure why you guys think it matters. As long as we are talking about fair coins flipped fairly, the identity of the coin(s) doesn’t influence the result, since the coins have no “memory”. The identity of the flipper(s) is also irrelevant.

    That’s why my formulation of the problem didn’t specify either of those things:

    Consider two tasks:
    1) flip a fair coin until you get two consecutive heads (H H)
    2) flip a fair coin until you get heads followed immediately by tails (H T)

    Surprisingly, it takes more flips on average to achieve #1 than it does to achieve #2.

  28. keiths: Not sure why you guys think it matters.

    From the article linked by Alan:

    This result is counterintuitive because a sequence is just as likely to terminate with HH as with HT. So Alice and Bob “win” equally often if they are observing flips of a single fair coin. However, the sequences for which Alice wins tend to be shorter than those for which Bob wins.

    In my simulation I stop every run after either of the two contestants win it, which is wrong

  29. dazz:

    In my simulation I stop every run after either of the two contestants win it, which is wrong

    Then the problem is the premature termination, not the fact that they are observing the same coin.

  30. keiths:
    dazz:

    Then the problem is the premature termination, not the fact that they are observing the same coin.

    So you wanna fight over this, right? Alright buddy, but let me warn you upfront, I’m much tougher than Alan or walto. I’ve watched lots of karate flicks. Like six or seven of them 😂

  31. keiths: Then the problem is the premature termination, not the fact that they are observing the same coin.

    No, it’s a combination of both of these elements.
    HH would be slower to win and end the game, iff they were observing different coins. Because they are observing the same coin, it’s 50/50.

    ETA: observing different coins, I get about 32% HH wins, 54% HT wins, and 14% ties.

  32. dazz,

    So you wanna fight over this, right?

    Just correcting your (and Bruce’s) misconception. Observing the same coin for both tasks is not the problem.

    You haven’t completed task 1 until you get two consecutive heads, and you haven’t completed task 2 until you get heads followed immediately by tails. In other words, the problem description rules out premature termination. By terminating both tasks as soon as either of them reaches its target, you have violated the problem specification.

    If you follow the specification, thus avoiding premature termination, then you’ll get the correct answer regardless of whether you are observing the same coin for both tasks.

    Here’s the spec again:

    Consider two tasks:
    1) flip a fair coin until you get two consecutive heads (H H)
    2) flip a fair coin until you get heads followed immediately by tails (H T)

    Surprisingly, it takes more flips on average to achieve #1 than it does to achieve #2.

  33. Jock:

    No, it’s a combination of both of these elements.
    HH would be slower to win and end the game, iff they were observing different coins. Because they are observing the same coin, it’s 50/50.

    As with dazz, your mistake is that you aren’t honoring the problem specification. The description says nothing about “winning and ending the game”. Instead, it defines two tasks and then poses a couple of challenges to the reader:

    Consider two tasks:
    1) flip a fair coin until you get two consecutive heads (H H)
    2) flip a fair coin until you get heads followed immediately by tails (H T)

    Surprisingly, it takes more flips on average to achieve #1 than it does to achieve #2.

    Some challenges for the readers:
    a) Come up with an intuitive explanation of the difference.
    b) Calculate the average number of flips for each case.

  34. keiths:

    Just correcting your (and Bruce’s) misconception.Observing the same coin for both tasks is not the problem.

    Thanks, but I had already managed that, which was my point of my post to Dazz (and I thought the point of his post).

    I admit Alan’s googling was a good clue. And then I had done the separate simulations.

    Thirty-five years ago I would have been able to derive the theoretical probability distribution for each case and also the expected number of trials until termination. But now I am content with the crutch of simulating it only because too much math makes my brain hurt.

  35. BruceS: Here’s an article on one climate change contributor that our generation need not take responsibility for:public blockchain with its huge power requirements.

    It turns out that such blockchains are not even a good idea, according to security expert Bruce Schneier.So not only are the millennials (or some other not-us group) pumping out CO2, they also have to own up to theft and bubble-supporting technology.

    THERE’S NO GOOD REASON TO TRUST BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY

    I happen to be a fan of cryptos, Bruce. I think the technology behind them is fascinating. Not an expert by any means, but I have contributed some code in the past. Nothing fancy or even core related, just mining stuff.

    It’s true that mining poses an environmental problem, but that’s why proof of stake may be the way forward

    As for the article you linked, the author seems to ignore attempts to address known problems and apparently assumes there’s nothing else other than bitcoin in crypto

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