Fairness (Both Sides)

The main idea exploited by Fox News since its inception was to capitalize on the “liberal bias” of whose existence right wing radio personalities had been insisting since Reagan did away with the “Fairness Doctrine.” Research has since revealed the existence of a strong liberal bias in journalism. What the research did not look into, however, was the most important aspect. Legitimate journalism was strongly biased against the claims of movement conservatives in the same way that science texts are strongly biased against the claims of witches.

The general pattern for the decision-making process is roughly this:

  1. Traditionally, liberals’ claims are often biased in their favor.
  2. Traditionally, conservatives’ claims are often biased in their favor.
  3. The public, in the interest of fairness, gives equal weight to both sides.
  4. The resulting ideas are often fairly accurate assessments.

Roger Ailes’ strategy seems to be this:

  1. Allow the liberals to make somewhat biased claims. (i.e. 2+2=3)
  2. Answer with profoundly biased claims. (i.e. 2+2=39)
  3. Wait for the rubes to to accept the middle point between the two claims as fact.

Result: the rubes accept that 2+2 = 21

Mission accomplished.

or, perhaps, fait accompli.

The Opposite of Science

The opposite of “science” is “bullshit.”

examples:

“I don’t believe in science.” = “I believe in bullshit.”

“Science doesn’t have all the answers.” = “Bullshit has all the answers.”

“I don’t trust science.” = “I trust bullshit.”

Quit Using Our Words

Often I hear a drooling political prostitute use the vernacular of science for moron-baiting purposes. Among the techno-babble words recently acquired by the anti-intelligentsia is “optics.”

The book on optics (Opticks, as he wrote it) was written by Newton himself. Optics is the science of light. “The way morons will see it, if properly guided by my propaganda” is not functionally equivalent. Is it that the words “perception” and “appearance” have too many syllables? Optics is a fairly narrow area of study. I mean that it is very specific, though many would argue that its vast and growing set of applications shouldn’t be called narrow. Screw those guys. Within the field, the word “optics,” when not applied to the field itself, generally refers to items such as filters, lenses, and mirrors. In what way is this similar to “appearance?”

But I guess it sounds educated to the sorts of people that prefer the airheads who deliver their daily dose of bovine excreta to sound smart.

It beats having to listen to actual smart people who will almost certainly disagree with their preferred delusions, I suppose.

Legislate on Snake Oil

Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) form a potent coalition defending the impotent concoctions of the snake oil industry.

I understand that the purveyors of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM, for short) have always had a friendly ear in Congress. That is, a friendly pocket. In addition to those individuals, the recent fashion of acting the part of quasi-Libertarian kook has taken the lower house by storm. Among the numerous incongruous ideas that Antiregulators blather about is that all regulation is bad. In particular, regulation with the potential to cut into the profits of decent wealtho-Americans is simply unacceptable. Clean water and a safe work environment are only the tip of the iceberg of disasters waiting to befall those who would let down their guard.

In such an environment, then, I would take a step with which the anti-governmentarians couldn’t reasonably take issue. Granted, reason is hardly a disqualifying factor for producing excremental arguments on the basis of “Freedom! Or something.”

My proposal is this: any treatment that the FDA does not currently look at may continue to receive the preferential status it currently enjoys as a “health supplement.” But the poultice, potion, or tincture of [insert natural or mysterious sounding name here] would be clearly labeled as a “Quack Medicine.” As well, physicians would be required by law to report any noted effects suspected to be the result of quack concoctions. Ironically, some quack medicines which purport to contain minuscule doses of the ichor of exotic plant or animal parts would actually lose their preferred status as a true quack medicine if the mixture were found to actually contain any of the substance.

I used to give my child colic pills that proved effective. I was shocked to see that the pills were supposedly homeopathic. They were similar to antacid tablets, in their chalky consistency. They felt similar in the mouth as well. The non-scientific conclusion would be that the producer was using an actual effective treatment, but bypassing any quality control or other FDA regulations by slapping on a nonsense label.

Just a thought that will never come to fruition so long as quackery is so damned profitable…

Mindnumbing

Steering clear of politics for a moment, as well as retreating from the exchange of “your mama” jokes on Twitter, I’ll talk about what has been haunting my dreams lately:

Science.

Tomorrow is my day off. Yet I so wish to go in to work. I have been working all week on revising a piece of software I wrote some 6 or 8 years ago. I have been treading water just keeping up with my ever=growing workload, but find myself caught up for the first time in several years. This entire week has been spent taking a hammer to my cobbled-together piece of functional software. Using a far superior algorithm I developed for very low ballistic coefficient debris propagation, I began to completely replace the viscera of the program.

A problem with working on old software is that you often forget what the hell you had been thinking. I found that my code commenting skills 6 or 8 years ago were far better than 10 or 12 years ago. Much confusion was avoided by simple notes to myself clearly explaining what might otherwise appear to be gibberish. That was good. But I wasn’t perfect. In one case, I discovered what seemed to be a pronounced mathematical error in matrix multiplication. It took several hours before I found that I had simply melded several processes together, while trimming away portions that became unnecessary in order to maximize efficiency. I essentially repeated an optimization I did long ago.

Concentrated work on a single such activity swamps the mind. Except for a couple of bouts of rigorous exercise on Tuesday and today, I’ve been headlong in this project.

This afternoon, the worst possible thing happened: I finished.

Well, that is a bit of an overstatement. I finished freehand plugging in hundreds of lines of code that needed to be changed. Then the hard part started. Put in the data, press the button, and then…

Far too early in the debugging process, it was time to go. Tomorrow is my day off, making for a three day weekend.

The worst thing in the world for people like me is an interruption in the process.

I am all but certain I will awaken multiple times over the course of the weekend contemplating potential reasons for the issues I found. I expect to be a basket case until I get this software out for beta testing.