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.

0

2,017 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. BruceS: I consider your depiction of Sean C to be false and scurrilous. I’ll leave it a

    Hahaha. Its false! Great defense.

    You precious skeptic you.

    0
  2. Entropy: I did my grad studies in a very intellectually stimulating environment. I was not hoping that some profs would pour their wisdom on a static me. I knew I was there to challenge others and be challenged, to have great conversations, to read and challenge again. It’s the fucking environment, not whether the profs are “teachers” who can handle a classroom with hundreds of students in it

    Oh, so this is why students have to spend 100s of thousands of dollars and be deeply in debt for years after graduating from these universities that only exist to give professors free rein to sit in the tenured cubicles and do speculative research on fake universes?

    Great system.

    So, somewhere there is actually a universe where you are not a complete asshole? Get outta here!

    0
  3. phoodoo: Oh, so this is why students have to spend 100s of thousands of dollars and be deeply in debt for years after graduating from these universities that only exist to give professors free rein to sit in the tenured cubicles and do speculative research on fake universes?

    No one is forcing anyone to attend Harvard or stay there if they are dissatisfied ,there is a long line of people wanting to get in.

    Just curious, how do you know that God/ Designer did not create a multiverse?

    0
  4. newton: No one is forcing anyone to attend Harvard or stay there if they are dissatisfied ,there is a long line of people wanting to get in.

    Then why don’t they advertise their forte, “Great at research, bad at teaching!” Wouldn’t that be the best, honest way?

    You know why, because the entire university system is a joke. Charge hundreds of thousands of dollars, pretend that it is meaningful having a degree, and then throw kids out into the wild, saddled with debt, and few decent jobs to be had (unless you want to come back to Harvard and get paid for doing nothing-the ultimate pyramid scheme).

    So what does this great university, squeeze them when you can, paradigm lead to?

    America.

    Been there lately? It ain’t so pretty. Don’t trip on any homeless camps.

    0
  5. newton: Just curious, how do you know that God/ Designer did not create a multivers

    You sound a lot like Neil Degrasse Tyson. “There is no God, materialism all the way. Oh but there is a 50% chance that the world is one giant simulation.”

    How’s that for stupid? “Materialism is obviously true. But there is a 50/50 chance I am full of shit and materialism isn’t true. But anyway, there is no God.”

    What a genius.

    0
  6. phoodoo: Then why don’t they advertise their forte, “Great at research, bad at teaching!” Wouldn’t that be the best, honest way?

    If you add ‘ great for your resume” that works for me.

    You know why, because the entire university system is a joke. Charge hundreds of thousands of dollars,pretend that it is meaningful having a degree, and then throw kids out into the wild, saddled with debt, and few decent jobs to be had (unless you want to come back to Harvard and get paid for doing nothing-the ultimate pyramid scheme).

    Right, “The College Salary Report by the research firm PayScale suggests Harvard graduates are near the top nationally when it comes to the salary at the mid-point of their career. “Bachelor’s degree only” graduates a median salary of 142,000”

    Poor bastards, starving to death.

    So what does this great university, squeeze them when you can, paradigm lead to?

    In Harvard’s case, an endowment worth 38 billion dollars and it’s pick of top students.

    “For the 2018-2019 year, the university says that most students from families making less than $65,000 a year attended absolutely free. If you came from a family making between $65,000 and $150,000, you typically have to kick in 10% of your family income or less. Students with families making slightly more also receive considerable financial support from the school.

    One statistic, in particular, illustrates the scope of the university’s aid program, which is entirely need-based. For roughly 90% percent of families, Harvard actually costs the same as, or less than, an education at a state school.

    Hardly squeezing the blood out of a turnip

    America.

    Been there lately? It ain’t so pretty. Don’t trip on any homeless camps.

    Land of contradictions.

    1+
  7. dazz: I think the argument goes something like this: If there’s a finite number of possible quantum states, then there’s a finite number of possible arrangements of particles that, in an infinite universe where matter is evenly spread, must produce repeating patterns.

    I suppose my only real complaint about this line of thought is that there’s nothing really new about it. This is exactly the line of thought that Democritus invented a few thousand years ago — there’s no need for gods or any other creative intelligence if every possible configuration must be realized at some point in the history of an infinite and eternal universe. You see this come up again and again in the history of Western atheism: it’s in Epicurus, it’s in Spinoza, and it’s in Nietzsche.

    0
  8. Kantian Naturalist: I suppose my only real complaint about this line of thought is that there’s nothing really new about it. This is exactly the line of thought that Democritus invented a few thousand years ago — there’s no need for gods or any other creative intelligence if every possible configuration must be realized at some point in the history of an infinite and eternal universe. You see this come up again and again in the history of Western atheism: it’s in Epicurus, it’s in Spinoza, and it’s in Nietzsche.

    Thanks, KN. I had no idea about that.

    0
  9. : If DNA_Jock, or anybody else, shows me where I said not to listen to oncologists, including lousy twits like DNA_Jock, I will never post on this blog again.

    I’m still waiting for shameless DNA_JOCK to show evidence where I said not to listen to oncologist, including lousy twists like him…

    0
  10. J-Mac: : If DNA_Jock, or anybody else, shows me where I said not to listen to oncologists, including lousy twits like DNA_Jock, I will never post on this blog again.

    I’m still waiting for shameless DNA_JOCK to show evidence where I said not to listen to oncologist, including lousy twists like him…

    Actually, I did not claim that you were saying “don’t listen to your oncologist”.
    I wrote the (entirely accurate)

    Public Service Announcement:
    J-Mac does not know what he is talking about.
    Neither a ketogenic diet nor dichloroacetate is going to cure your loved one’s cancer. Listen to your oncologist, not some twit on the internet (that includes me).

    and I warned readers

    But please ignore J-Mac’s unsourced claims about the role of mutations in cancer; it’s the LDL debacle all over again.

    J-Mac’s latest OP is a case in point: he offers up this gem

    The experiments have shown that transplanting of tumor nucleus into cell with normal cytoplasm does not produce cancer cells. Transplanting of normal nucleus into cells with tumor cytoplasm produces tumor cells.

    Strange then, that so many people routinely transfer single genes into normal cells and thereby create cancer cells. (See Bishop and Varmus’s Nobel-winning research, and Robert Weinberg’s extension thereof.)
    The quoted statement is deeply misleading (and inadequately sourced*) and someone who believed it would be motivated to skip the treatment with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor and focus on the ketogenic diet instead, thereby shortening their life considerably.
    Please folks, listen to your oncologist, not some random twit on the internet. Especially if they are recipients of the Mercola Game Changer Award.

    0
  11. BruceS,

    Which Sean Carroll are you talking about, the one in this universe, or one of the other 7 trillion billion other Sean Carrolls from other universes?

    I know in one those universes you posted the same comment, only in that one, peanuts are being unfairly persecuted. Well, I mean obviously there are a trillion universes where peanuts are being unfairly persecuted, but I mean the one where you wrote this comment, on September 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm. Ok, ok, I know there are a trillion of those universes as well, but I am talking about the one where peanuts are prosecuted unfairly, and you wrote this comment on September 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm, and all of the fish only speak Swahili. That universe!

    The one where pink doesn’t exist, not the one where peanuts are persecuted unfairly and the fish speak Swahili and pink does exist?

    0
  12. newton,

    https://qz.com/1713033/at-harvard-43-percent-of-white-students-are-legacies-or-athletes/?utm_source=YPL&yptr=yahoo

    Harvard University is a notoriously tough school to get into, with an acceptance rate of just 4.5% in the most recent admissions cycle for the class of 2023. A new study notes that in the six admissions cycles between 2014 and 2019, 43% of white students admitted to Harvard were either legacies, recruited athletes, children of faculty and staff, or students on the Dean’s Interest List—a list of applicants whose relatives have donated to Harvard, the existence of which only became public knowledge in 2018.

    Well, at least they don’t have to worry about the quality of the education. Just get in, and hang around other privileged kids. They ain’t there to teach ya..

    0
  13. phoodoo:
    Oh, so this is why students have to spend 100s of thousands of dollars and be deeply in debt for years after graduating from these universities that only exist to give professors free rein to sit in the tenured cubicles and do speculative research on fake universes?

    1. I didn’t pay a penny. I could not afford a university in the US. Not even the “public” ones. I studied in a country where there’s actually public education.

    2. Profs didn’t sit on their asses. Grad studies focus on research, not on lectures. We had plenty of discussion in the few courses we had to take to complement our research training, and plenty of discussions when presenting our research and when others presented theirs. Professors, of course, participated and directed those discussions, but the environment, the high-quality students, were a huge source of knowledge.

    phoodoo:
    So, somewhere there is actually a universe where you are not a complete asshole? Get outta here!

    Given your tendency towards being a complete ass-hole calling me one does you a huge disservice.

    I don’t speculate about alternative universes. Sorry to disappoint you, but I take “interpretations” for the hypotheticals, at best, that they are. I don’t just buy into them. I suspect not even Sean Carroll buys into them the way you portray it. He might be inclined towards that interpretation, and he might have better foundations and understanding for doing so than me. That doesn’t mean he believes it without hesitation.

    Now, let’s see if you’re consistent, do you believe that our universe is finely tuned?

    1+
  14. dazz: I finally got around to listening to Carroll’s podcast episode with Becker. TheBohm saga is both awesome and depressing. Still 40 minutes to go though

    I’ve read his 2/3 of his latest book. First 1/3 is review of QM, next 1/3 describes MWI in detail, including answering some questions via a dialog between a philosopher (him in this case) and a physicist who raises the usual issues with MWI. Last 1/3 seems to be a popularization of his ideas on quantum gravity. I think it details the ideas in his solo podcast on that topic which is a several weeks after the Becker one.

    I tend to read the transcripts rather than listen to them; faster that way.

    0
  15. BruceS: Has anyone ever heard of the discipline of politics, philosophy and economics (PPE)? I had not.

    Yes, the tripos was considered an easy option for students at Oxford University and a free pass into UK politics. The Wikipedia entry is worth a read.

    0
  16. Trigger warning for Phoodoo: Sean C.

    Sean C and a neursocientist discuss entropy, complexity, life, evolution, cosmology. Also a small discussion near the end on search for extraterrestrial life and also why people using Shannon’s work tend to see entropy = information whereas physicists see entropy = lack of information.

    Podcast is mostly neuroscientist asking Sean C the physicists view of these topics.

    Both transcript and mp3 here:
    https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2019/10/07/67-kate-jeffery-on-entropy-complexity-and-evolution/

    0
  17. Seems to be an argument that anyone committed to physicalism cannot justify any real layers above physics. Makes sense to me. Emergentism and the like don’t make any sense.

    0
  18. walto: For those here interested in arguments against physicalism, a new book:

    I had a quick look at the book’s intro, courtesy of LibGen.

    I don’t think it is an argument against physicalism. Instead, it is an argument against non-reductive physicalism based on level of reality approaches. The author presents as an alternative his “one-level physicalism”, which he says is similar to Kim’s physicalism (sans qualia in Kim’s case).

    I did not study any details of his one-level physicalism so it may well be different from physicalism as has been depicted at TSZ. Certainly it differs from supervenience physicalism, which I have referenced in some of my posts (but would not want to defend beyond saying it is a common view among physicalists).

    1+
  19. EricMH: Emergentism and the like don’t make any sense.

    It’s true that many philosophers appeal to emergence. They rarely agree on what it is, however. I am aware of a few approaches that try to formalize the idea.

    One uses dynamical theory and relates emergence to bifurcations in complex systems.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257563255_On_the_Import_of_Constraints_in_Complex_Dynamical_Systems

    Another relates emergence to renormalization groups. According to Ladyman in following ppt, “the renormalization group describes transformations that allow the number of degrees of freedom in the Hamiltonian of a system to be massively reduced while still recovering the critical behaviour of the system”. This idea does seem to be limited to systems directly described by theories of physics.

    A third approach to emergence uses information in the form of “real patterns” which are defined using ideas related to Kolmogorov complexity.

    Ladyman provides a high-level overview of real patterns in the last 1/3 of this presentation; his book with Ross describes them in rather more detail.

    https://www.lorentzcenter.nl/lc/web/2010/379/presentations/Ladyman.ppt

    None of these ideas is about ontological levels of reality. Rather, they address the nature of scientifically useful explanations in different scientific domains.

    1+
  20. BruceS,

    Thanks, Bruce.

    I appreciate the summary. I didn’t look at this book at all myself. The author is a young professor at Tulane and recent Brown Ph.D. who just started following me on twitter. When I went to his profile I saw not only that stuff but that he’d just published this book, is now working on a logic textbook, and that he’s very into helping animals. So I thought I’d give him a plug here.

    ETA: I probably mentioned this before, but I took a class with Kim in grad school. I mean, he was in the same class as I was. He was a visiting prof at Brown, not long out of school himself and, IIRC, it was a Chisholm seminar on metaphysics.

    0
  21. For mathematicians or other relics of a bygone age like me who remember chalkboards and chalk holders.

    Where Theory Meets Chalk, Dust Flies

    (NYT paywall)
    “For the last year, Jessica Wynne, a photographer and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, has been photographing mathematicians’ blackboards, finding art in the swirling gangs of symbols sketched in the heat of imagination, argument and speculation. “

    0
  22. BruceS: For mathematicians or other relics of a bygone age like me who remember chalkboards and chalk holders.

    In an earlier post (same thread), you wrote:

    …, she is definitely PowerPoint-challenged.

    I considered responding to that with a comment about the superiority of chalkboards.

    0
  23. Neil Rickert,

    What is most disgusting/irritating to the lungs–chalk dust, dry erase markers, or the fluid you use to erase dry erase whiteboards?

    0
  24. walto: What is most disgusting/irritating to the lungs–chalk dust, dry erase markers, or the fluid you use to erase dry erase whiteboards?

    I don’t really know. But I accepted that as an unavoidable occupational hazard.

    I’ll take the chalk dust over the white board poisons.

    0
  25. Neil Rickert: I considered responding to that with a comment about the superiority of chalkboards.

    I sure would not want to do math with PP! But for her case, I meant that the bullet points were just verbatim copies of sentences from the script of the talk that she also read.
    In management courses on PP, they recommend short bullets that complement what you are saying, not just copying.

    “Step 4: Streamline your text. Do not use your slides to simply restate what you are saying. Your slides should be used to support what you saying in your presentation. Never read from your slides! In fact, you should aim to have as little text as possible! Keep the amount of text to a minimum, and present it in ways that are easy to follow”
    https://content.bridgepointeducation.com/curriculum/file/616b3bdf-7040-4d49-859c-694acef90df5/1/PowerPoint%20Presentation%20Best%20Practices.pdf

    It’s also generally considered a bad idea to read a talk from a script.

    0
  26. BruceS: In management courses on PP, they recommend short bullets that complement what you are saying, not just copying.

    I agree with that.

    The main problem with PP, though, is that you have to prepare the slides in advance. You cannot be spontaneous.

    That’s okay for a prepared lecture. But in normal classroom teaching, you want to be able to interact with the students.

    0
  27. Latest Sean C podcast is on AI. Mostly it covers the limitations of deep learning when applied to the goal of imitating human intelligence (General AI), and in particular our ability to apply common sense and to act in the world (which are likely closely related).

    Not much new if you are familiar with the debate, but I did appreciate the way one point was made: it is likely that we cannot achieve GAI — human like intelligence — without hard coding what evolution has hard coded in us, eg a bias to search for and attribute cause. Or as they put it, GAI requires metaphysics.

    No GAI without understanding and applying philosophy! Take that, STEM lovers!

    https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2019/10/14/68-melanie-mitchell-on-artificial-intelligence-and-the-challenge-of-common-sense/

    0
  28. BruceS: Latest Sean C podcast is on AI.

    It is long (1 hour, 22 minutes). But I did listen, and it was reasonably interesting.

    I’ll note that not much has changed since I retired. The main new thing that I learned, was that self-driving cars stop for a snowman on the side of the road because they cannot tell whether it will step out in front of the car.

    Or as they put it, GAI requires metaphysics.

    That would be a mistake.

    My alternative suggestion: GAI does not require computation. Yes, computation might be a useful tool. But if you see computation as a requirement, you are doing it wrongly.

    0
  29. BruceS,

    Thanks for that interview with Mitchell! Really helpful — especially because a lot of the hype about machine learning is taken as gospel in higher ed!

    0
  30. Car and Driver has published a rather good test report on automatic braking cars.

    Bottom line: pay attention to the road, or keep your life insurance paid. Statistically, the systems prevent lots of accidents, but not enough for you to trust them.

    Second conclusion: the systems have better reflexes than humans, but slower judgement. In multi car situations, you hear the crunch while the system is still trying to sort it out. Perhaps a brain wave monitor would help. Human evaluates the need to brake, and the machine cuts a couple seconds off the response time.

    0
  31. Neil Rickert:It is long (1 hour, 22 minutes). But I did listen, and it was reasonably interesting.
    [….]
    That would be a mistake.

    Well, of course, the “metaphysics” and the STEM bits were a joke. Or at least an attempt.

    But I do think that, if we want to imitate human intelligence, reverse engineering evolution (AKA developmental psychology) is needed to understand the capabilities and “concepts” of babies.

    Call it it the philosophy of babies.
    https://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Baby-Childrens-Minds-Meaning/dp/0312429843

    All the Sean C podcasts have transcripts which is what I usually use, unless I am dealing with insomnia and need something to lull me to sleep.

    I’ll bite on the computation bit: what do you mean by computation; eg do you mean GOFAI, ie rules-based computation with amodal symbols?

    0
  32. Kantian Naturalist:
    BruceS,

    Thanks for that interview with Mitchell! Really helpful — especially because a lot of the hype about machine learning is taken as gospel in higher ed!

    The Marcus article I linked has much more; I may have linked it before when this came up.

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.