Friday, October 16, 2009

Science, Writers, and the Public - A bizarre love triangle

Some days ago Dennis Overbye wrote an article for the New York Times, titled "The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate," about a paper by Holger-Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya, (that we discussed more than two years ago here). Peter Woit called it Embarrassing Crackpottery, which prompted Sean Carroll to explain the difference between speculation and crackpottery: "they even admit what they’re doing." Tommaso comments. Two days later, Peter informs us that the arXiv has reclassified the related papers to General Physics.

I meant to simply ignore the whole issue, for I find it quite bizarre. A major daily newspaper reports on an article that hardly anybody in the community cares about, and thereby promotes it to public attention. That in turn annoys those in the community for the reason that it sheds quite an odd light on their own research field. The topic bounces back and forth, thereby only making it seem even more important. We've seen that happening before. Now, yesterday I had an exchange on Facebook on this phenomenon, and I was wondering for your opinion.

It seems that science journalists quite frequently pick out the craziest ideas, especially in theoretical physics. That in itself isn't so surprising. I have earlier written about the tension between capitalism and science journalism, and how the internet has worsened the situation. Journalists have a need to entertain that is frequently in conflict with the wish to educate. They need a good story, something that creates a reaction. And Overbye's article did that.

Is that good or bad? At least it's a way that physics does catch people's attention! One could argue any attention is better than no attention. If you follow this blog you know that I don't share this attitude. I think journalism in general should try to create a realistic picture. If that's dull, well, then that's dull. After all, it's journalism, not fiction. And stories like this recent one, entertaining as they are, just present a very distorted picture of the actual research. And that in a time when more than half of the population doesn't know a laser doesn't work by focusing soundwaves. The laser btw currently celebrates its 50th anniversary. 50 years and they still don't know.

The issue with dullness is that it's relative. Crazy or scary stories create a need of being topped with ever more crazy and scary stories. Unfortunately, we've been running in that spiral for quite a while already. Meanwhile, to excite people you have to tell them at the very least the Earth is about to be destroyed.

But then you can ask if not the crazy and the scary stories, what should they write about instead in the newspaper? I will admit that most of our research indeed is quite boring and repetitive. It's just small variations on always the same theme. I bet it's the same in your job.

When I read popular science articles about other fields than physics, the ones that I appreciate most provide a review on a particular research direction. They tell me what the theories are that are being discussed today, what the evidence is, and what the current controversies are about. They tell me what is presently in the minds of the researchers who work in that field. I suppose if you're among these researchers, that's dull. I also suppose if you're a science journalist who has written about the same thing a dozen of times already, that's also dull. But who are you writing for?

As far as I am concerned, unsolved questions always make good topics. I want to know what's going on at the frontier of research elsewhere. I don't want to know what the crazy outliers do, I want to know what the central problems are. Give me the big picture, give me a basis. If I want to know more details, I'll look for them. Likewise, I would want it to be better communicated why physicists are interested in what they are interested in. And not articles that make it seem like we spend time with things in fact most of us don't care about.

So, what would you want to see an article in the NYT about?

    "There's no sense in telling me
    The wisdom of a fool won't set you free
    But that's the way that it goes
    And it's what nobody knows
    While every day my confusion grows"

109 comments:

schmontology said...

As someone who spent yesterday's dinner once again explaining that black holes aren't going to eat us... I prefer accurate information over anything else.

Personally, I am also most interested in the current questions. But as a science student I've been trained to have a general idea of what "asking a question" means for us, and how we go on about solving it.

The public, in general, doesn't have that. The public watches What the Bleep. That places quite a lot of pressure on the journalist, and I don't often see them living up to it (or, as my thesis advisor keeps saying, "you understand this because you already understand it").

I would love to see more pieces on "how stuff works" (like, to name a thing, the laser, LEDs, the LHC, other things that don't start with an L). Make a weekly feature in the NYT. And Cosmo. It should be easy enough to tie it to a news item (like the ban on lightbulbs in the European Union), and you can add a paragraph on the current science related to the topic.

Bee said...

Good idea, I like that suggestion.

chimpanzee said...

Bee, "Been there, DONE THAT".

I already made a comment on Backreaction ("Black Holes at the LHC - and again")..Repeated below:

===========

Bee:

Your frustration about the disparity between PR/Marketing of Science VS Science Reality, is the classic case of the following:

Collision between Technical & non-Technical groups

Here is a good article ("Revenge of the science writer"), which describes some "collisions" between physicists & writers (non-technical people). Wow, frustrations with morons/idiots/fools who got the goad of physicists, resulting in some explosive displays of temper!!

"The scientist [ Brookhaven National Lab ] could barely disguise his impatience. ..
"That's it!" he fairly roared as he abruptly stood up, his chair shooting backwards. The background hubbub in the lunchroom suddenly plummeted and everyone turned to stare. He strode away, shouting, "This is a total waste of time! You're an imbecile!" "

"..produced a tape recorder and asked the first question - whereupon he [ Feynman ] became enraged because he had been asked precisely that question before in a published interview, screamed at her for her supposed ignorance, ended the interview before it began, and left her to fly back to New York empty-handed."

R. Feynman wrote a famous letter to S. Wolfram (while he was at UIUC, leading the Complex Systems Research Inst):

"You will not like being an administrator. You think of other people as "stupid fools", & you will not be doing research. They [ administrators, bureacrats, bean counters, etc ] will DRIVE YOU WILD, or YOU WILL DRIVE THEM WILD. My advice to you is to stick with technical people"

So, Bee, you are "being driven WILD" by the stupid fools! Same old, same old. "Been there, Done that". Everyone's gone through this Bullsh*t Nonsense. It's why I left the Establishment (Academia & Industry) 20 odd yrs ago, but I'm making a comeback (on my own terms).

Let's review some recent "collisions".

1) Melissa Franklin/Harvard VS NY Times
she gave a talk entitled "Why the NY Times doesn't get the right spin on our Data". She was pretty frustrated at a NY Times piece, denouncing the SSC's cancellation, something to the effect that the strange names of the particles weren't worth anything in the 1st place. (see 1 hr profile of her on Discovering Women).

You see, it goes back to the agenda of Journalists:

"Facts tell [ Science ], STORIES SELL [ fluff pieces ]"
-- Auto Racing marketing, selling pots & pans, etc

They are looking for something non-technical (weird sh*t) to wow a science-challenged Public, & of course they're gonna wander into stupid territory! Sensational & shock-value writing SELLS copy, & therefore increases Adverising Revenue. It's the Almighty Dollar incentive at work!

[ CONTINUED ]

chimpanzee said...

[ CONTINUED ]

2) Joanne Hewett/SLAC VS PR Dept
she was asked to work with SLAC PR Dept for an article, & they distorted her careful technical description into some abomination: "SLAC Physicists Develop Test for String Theory". Her reaction was a frustrated post on Cosmicvariance, where she was reduced to a gutteral response "ARGHH!!". Yep, primal scream (ala Feynman).

So, even PR Depts at major science centers are guilty of this "distorting of the Truth".

Joanne relates an experience with journalists at 17 yrs old:

"Being my honest, naive, 17-yr-old self, I stated that I was rather unsure about the existence of God and that I thought churches were money making organizations. Naturally, I was quoted in print. In a smaller midwestern town. I received a barrage of truly hateful mail - some letters acusing me of devil worship, others wanting to save my soul. My senior science teacher summed it up best by saying `What you said was probably correct, but it’s not what you say to a newspaper reporter.’ That’s when I should have learned to be careful with reporters."

I was wincing, when I heard Tommaso Dorigo describe the "deluge of reporters" converging on CERN. Just imagine the above, multiplied by N. The technical challenges of LHC, are dwarfed by the mountainous obstacles of dealing with the MSM (mainstream media). I like S. Wolfram's comment after leaving UIUC: "It was a mind-numbing experience".

I guess Bee & Joanne would agree to the latter: totally mind-numbing. I have a 3-stage description:

mind numbing
mind boggling
mind blowing

In summary, it's called Mind FU*KAGE. You can literally "lose your mind" in this whole deal:

"trying to teach a pig [ journalist ] to sing [ write a science accurate article ]"

Here is probably the best synopsis of Technical vs non-Technical people:

reader from Cincinnati, OH November 1, 1999:
"Everyone who gave this book one star should realize that this book is Entertainment. Hancock [ crackpot journalist trying to do Science ] is not a scientist or an academic of any kind - he's a journalist! ... Of course Hancock tailors the facts to fit his theories - he is not constrained by truth, science, or even ethics. He is a journalist. ...This book, and all those like it that preach pseudo-science, appeal to the majority of people in this world who are scientifically challenged. Most
Americans don't have enough scientific knowledge to understand the technology [ TRUE!! ] they face everyday, much less untangle the fact and fantasy in this book. It is entertainment, but it's dangerous - science interpreted by a journalist!"
-- review of "Fingerprints of the Gods"
(crackpot conspiracy =e xtraterrestial civilization in Antarctica were our ancestors)

I hope the above was somewhat Therapeutic. You are NOT alone, Bee. Welcome to "Demon Haunted World: Why Science is like a Candle in the Dark"/Carl Sagan

Bee said...

Robert: It takes a little more to "drive me wild."

There are very few people I think of as fools. Mostly I think people have just other priorities than I have. I also think that the media insists their average customers are more stupid than is the case.

Harbles said...

A scientist's job is to discover the truth about how nature works. A newspaper's job is to sell newspapers. Truth takes second place to hype.

Giotis said...

This is a typical situation where capitalism conflicts with the general ethical values and foundational principles of Western tradition.

On one hand you have free enterprise and the pursuit of profit as your primary goal (a precondition for survival) and on the other hand you have the ethical norm that you shouldn't mislead the public.

What should we do?

Well you can't do anything. You can't serve two gods and you certainly can't sustain an ethical society based on an unethical economic system; a system that forces people to deceive one another for profit. This post was a perfect example of this inconsistency.

Bee said...

Hi Harbles,

I simply disagree with you. A newspaper's job is in the first place to inform. Not to sell newspapers. It's as Giotis says, a classical capitalistic conflict where optimization of profit does not lead towards the desired result. Best,

B.

Low Math, Meekly Interacting said...

Apparently this paper is so bad (lexicologically, grammatically, scientifically, etc.) that many serious people can't decide whether or not it's a deliberate joke.

Surely it must be possible to balance the need for a little sensationalism and the need for the story to be, you know, something other than a deliberate provocation. There's implausible ("Black holes will eat us all!!!") science that somehow still manages to cling to sanity by its fingernails, I guess. And then there's the paper in question, which apparently seems to fail even that basic criterion. Why a science writer would even be interested in such a thing, given the infinity of legitimately weird and titillating stuff there is to choose from, I have no idea.

joel rice said...

if you think science reporting is bad then check out the rest of it - what makes you think it is any better ? The easiest thing is to call them on it - buy the other newspaper. Capitalism has nothing to do with it - Pravda was not an improvement.

Bee said...

Joel: If I'd write about every aspect in which the world sucks, I wouldn't do anything else. The reason why I care especially about science, besides me being a scientist, is that science has a key function in our societies. It's the essential ingredient to progress. If the broad public doesn't get what it's good for and stops caring, that would simply be a disaster for civilization. The communication of science to the public plays a central role in that and it's something we should take great care it works to our all benefit. If capitalism doesn't do it for us, we better analyze the problem and find a way to improve the situation. Best,

B.

Arun said...

"Profit as the primary goal" IMO is a modern distortion. I don't think, e.g., Thomas Alva Edison thought of himself as making a lot of profit; I think he might have possibly thought of himself as adding a lot of value.

As per an old business management book I have from the 60s, the purpose of business is to add value. If it does it right, obviously it will add profits as well.

Profit as the primary motive is a great destroyer of businesses. Because then they cut corners and destroy value.

Same holds for newspapers.

Bee said...

The problem is the unfortunately widespread believe that both amounts to the same. You know, the "invisible hand" that leads us.

Anonymous said...

I disagree of course that capitalism implies poor journalism.

Last I checked, thirty years ago we had a pretty good news corp, capable of investigative journalism and so forth yet most of the western world was under a capitalist system.

If anything I blame the rise of television and quick feeds. Thats great in a certain way, but it definitely deteriorates peoples attention spans.

Further, in a capitalist system the quality of a journal is supposed to reflect on their earnings and ultimately demand. That is to say, if people are intelligent enough to recognize fact from fiction, then they should selectively pick the journals that provide more facts. So for instance most people still prefer the NYTimes, to the NYPost. The former almost gets a passing grade, the latter is sensationalist drivel.

That some people pick the NYPost is not that journals fault, nor is it capitalisms fault. Its simply catering to the level of intelligence of its audience.

Ultimately though, scientists have to accept that the quality of discourse, even in the best lay newspapers (like Scientific America) is not and never will be to our liking.

Steven A Colyer said...

Bee wrote:

"Hi Harbles,

I simply disagree with you. A newspaper's job is in the first place to inform. Not to sell newspapers. It's as Giotis says, a classical capitalistic conflict where optimization of profit does not lead towards the desired result. Best,

B."

I'm sorry, Bee, I totally understand where you're coming from, but your view is idealistic, that is to say you SHOULD be right, and WOULD be right, if people acted as morally and with as much integrity as you and I and the vast majority of those who post here.

Unfortunately, that's not how the "real" world operates. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but Harbles hit the nail on the proverbial head.

Uncle Al said...

"CERN females working near supercon magnets report enlarged breasts" That should be good for another €milliard in funding (and a Playboy "Women of CERN")

Los Angeles Unified School District has 700,000 students and the annual California Academic Performance Index (CAPI) exam. 60% of entering high school students graduate (from four-year instruction) within six years; average CAPI-normed 84 IQ.

Vote with the stupid! How can so many people be wrong?

Giotis said...

Arun, you can a teach a dog to find drugs but dog's motive is the treat and not to help society. Whatever you do the dog will always go for the treat and this could work both ways, for rigth or wrong.

Bee said...

Anonymous: I didn't say "capitalism implies poor journalism." I said if it does, one should asses the situation and consider means for improvement. Best,

B.

adamhenne said...

I can't find it on the internet now, but a couple of years ago I saw a great conference presentation called "Scientists Discover Gene for Bad Journalism!"

Steven A Colyer said...

Bee, Capitalism toDAY DOES imply poor journalism. It's simply terrible, in printed matter like newspapers and magazines. It's not like the old days pre-television and pre-internet when newspapers were the chief source of information and newspaper guys and gals had ethics.

I have a brother with a Journalism degree so I know what I'm talking about.

I mean, if they forced Science journalists to take basic courses in Quantum Mechanics let alone Quantum Field Theory the situation would be different, but it isn't. These guys don't know what a "variable" is let alone a "pair of conjugate variables" as are needed to understand Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

But if you mention "Naked Singularity" to them, then !!!! they be typing!

And it won't be because of the word: singularity. (smile)

Bee said...

Steven: The distinction I was trying to make is that capitalism by itself does not necessarily imply anything, not even bad journalism. It is a combination of the economic system with social values (or absence thereof) that causes the problem. (There are other factors too, eg available resources etc, but that's not so relevant here.) Now you can plea for a change of social values, and that's in fact what a lot of people do. I think that's not useful because nobody knows how to twiddle a wheel to adjust social values. Thus, what I'm saying is let's look at the economic aspect, investigate the incentives caused by optimization for profit (given the social values that people have nowadays), and if this dynamics leads us into a situation that is not beneficial for the long-term evolution of our societies, we should change the incentives. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

Well thank you for responding, Bee. I'm on board with just about everything you said, except:

"...nobody knows how to twiddle a wheel to adjust social values."

Unfortunately there is such a person and his name is: Karl Rove. Sigh.

Otherwise I'm right on board and here's hoping you're right and we fight the good fight which means to me anyway ... that the TRUTH will OUT!

Eventually. Sooner rather than later would be nice ... if that's not asking too much.

Adam Olszewski said...

This story reminds me of my (moderate) disgust with the TV series "Universe". They intertwine quite interesting episodes which have a good potential of educating people about modern cosmology (and I forgive repeating the same sentences in every segment)- with idiotic pieces like "10 ways to destroy Earth" or "10 most destructive future weapons". Trying to bring down the entertainment factor as low as possible.

Arun said...

Even Wall Street Barons are not dogs. Unlike dogs, even the most ardent capitalists are capable of setting incentives, not just responding to them.

theoreticalminimum said...

What is a little bit of worry to me are the really awkward events that have had CERN/LHC attributed to them. The French worker who recently got arrested, this series of papers, the previous ludicrous doomsday scenario, etc. I can easily imagine a group of bad people who could seriously use loopholes in the French legal system about terror laws and what not to make a case against the switching on of the LHC next month.

theoreticalminimum said...

sorry.. I meant anti-terror laws.

William said...

Suggestions for science articles in the NYT? Easy: none..

I think the implied premise of reforming the NYT journalism is going in a wrong direction at the start.

NYT is riddled with lies and misinformation, since it is used often as a political propaganda tool by its owners and writers.

That core dishonesty and lack of integrity naturally becomes a pervasive mindset which pollutes other sections of the paper.

I think it is better to realize the NYT is simply not a good media source to go to read about science.

There are many excellent web sites dedicated to science news, and many science blogs dedicated to informing the readers while valuing honesty and integrity.

So the same question could be asked about those sites: what one might like to see written up there.

People should do their brains a favor and simply boycott the New York Times.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

As you are aware I’m not a scientist, yet merely one that has always found science to form to be a central interest. This has long been the case since it provides one the ability to lend some explanation for what is indeed a mysterious world. I also don’t consider myself all that unique in wanting the world to present itself as being a more reasonable one, rather than largely a mystery.

So as you said there are plenty of unsolved mysteries that science still has to solve and what I find as equally important to identify. I’m reminded it was just over a century ago, where it was thought by many that physics was nearing the point in it rendering a full explanation of the world, only to find ourselves now at a point where it appears we have more mystery than explanation .

The point being, that without science we would have never known many of these mysteries to exist, let alone have a method by which we might solve them. My thoughts then are as yours, in that good science reporting should serve to have these mysteries shown for what they are, how they were discovered and might be solved, with finally having us to understand why they stand as being important to no longer be a mystery.

So I do find there is some difference to be found with this type of reporting, in comparison with the norm, which is only to give us the where, when and why. That is in the case of science reporting it should be giving us, as it is the task of the discipline itself, the what, how and why. In short, good science reporting is not simply to inform us about the problems and mystery of the world, yet rather the reporting about a important method with which the attempt is being made to both identify and solve them.

Best,

Phil

Steven A Colyer said...

"As far as I am concerned, unsolved questions always make good topics. I want to know what's going on at the frontier of research elsewhere.

So, what would you want to see an article in the NYT about?"

Oh, I love your top 10 list! I'd love to respond but it'd take too long, and many answers would end with ... we need better technology. Very unsatisfying, I know, but honest.

Regarding tech though, the Planck satellite (and Herschel) have been at L2 since July, right? What experiments have been run, if any? What's the timetable, if none?

Didn't Lee Smolin in TTWP propose an experiment regarding variable speed of light in the early Universe versus today that Planck could run? Is that experiment on the books?

I've been to ESA's website but the info is scant, at best.

Plato said...

The structure of "information sharing" has changed. Finland now is progressive with universal access to information, while here i the western world "capitalistic tendencies" seek to control the "flow of information" which to me can be "counter productive," and very undemocratic.

The "rural deficiency" has as much right to access without feeling the constraints of what can be progressive by providing information based on cost? Okay, then move to the city?

Now to what has changed.

So in some cases, scientists "feel the need" to explain what it is they see as part of the failure. An objective look then, at what is being portrayed whilst the larger public remains incontinent with the true source of science values that those now reporting deal with? :)

So now we have instant communication "to adjust the views being perpetrated " that education along with such adjustments of viewing are ever ready to communicate using this new form of communication?

Dorigo has to comment on what Sean is extrapolating, whilst Bee sees "the Merry" go round:)

You see?

If you did not connect with the links you provided how would you have come to access what it is that "you may feel is wrong" or "bring forward to view," an opinion scientifically endowed, by setting the stage for the next opinion?

You went "backward in time" to move forward with an progressive view.

So now who is reporting? Just those journalists of reporting newspapers and science magazines?

This then is going to become fodder for the "next magazine article" and they are scanning for more and current up to date information those scientists.

Can we as the public ever put on the hat of the scientific observer, without ever wearing the white jacket(sorry for stereotyping? :)

Best,

Kay zum Felde said...

Hi Bee,

I can only support you in your opinion completely.

Best Kay

Bee said...

Hi Kay,

My favorite comment of all times :-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Plato,

Thanks for the link to the article, that's interesting. Yeah, I see a lot of things go round, either in closed circles or downward spirals. Either way, the reason why I didn't comment again on the paper (except for a comment I left at CV) is that everything that could be said has been said. More than sufficiently often already. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

While it seems debateable whether Nielsen’s and Ninomiya’s conjecture lends any reason to believe in cosmic censorship, I do have evidence the mere hint of supporting it can have this to become a more worldly consequence. That’s to say in making a comment on another well known blog in response to the author’s viewpoint, I had my own comment summarily erased; without explanation. Not that I would have this be taken as to give hint of natures intent, yet rather the intent of some scientists who feel it their responsibility to act as her proxy:-)

Best,

Phil

P.S. I must also admit as this being a first time for me, yet still would not have it seen as enough to suppose it is nature calling the shots.

Bee said...

Oh, really? Whose blog was it? When blogs brings together too many people with different interests and attitudes, blogs work very badly in facilitating communication. This happens particularly often with topics that draw a lot of attention. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Regarding your earlier comment, what comes to my mind is a quote by Michelson that Stefan reminded me of recently:

"The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote."

from Albert Abraham Michelson, "Light waves and their uses," University of Chicago Press, 1903.

Thus, given the giant mistakes that intelligent people have made in their attempt to predict the future, it is all to easy to expect it to repeat that whenever somebody proclaims the end of science he must be wrong. However, expecting something to continue in the future just because it was that way in the past isn't a good prediction either. A simplistic extrapolation of that sort is a mistake that humans make constantly, and this is (besides other things) reason for a lot of problems we currently have.

In fact, this reminds me of a joke Eric Weinstein made in his talk at PI: Greenspan thinks he can't die because he's never died before. Let me generalize that to: Mankind didn't believe they could go extinct because it had never happened before.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that there is indeed the possibility that one day we'll have solved all the fundamental questions that we have asked. That wouldn't mean we have solved all questions there are, or that the theory we have really is fundamental. It just means, we've run out of questions. It not that I think this likely to happen any time soon, but asking questions and explaining what the open questions are is thus central for progress to continue.

One can also see that more directly. What gets students interested in a field is the open questions. Few of them get excited by the idea to just pipe a lot of existent knowledge into their head without having the goal of putting that knowledge to use by attacking some of the questions others have failed to answer. Talking about the open issues thus serves the simple goal of getting people excited and stimulating their creativity. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Yes all that you say I would agree with and find also to be in itself insightful. As for your saying that science will reach a limit in terms of its investigation and understanding of the foundations and fundelmentals this presents to me as being a double edged sword. That is if there ever will come such a time ,when all that is knowable be known, we should be indeed be wise, yet I would ask then what could possibly then represent as being a challange and thus serve as a reason to continue.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

I think the factor that will decide whether we will run into a dead end where we either cannot think of new questions or not answer the ones we have is whether or not we will manage to enhance the capaability of the human brain. I mentioned this in my FQXi essay. (In fact, the first version of that essay was mostly about that point, but then I thought I should stick more to physics). Thus, one could say understanding thought processes is the mother of all questions. Best,

B.

John G said...

I certainly don't think the LHC is a doomsday device but actually my three favorite physicists all have future effects past transactions that look far into the future (One is in a math department and is actually more a philosopher on physics).

I personally had a dream about 9-11 before 9-11, so that kind of solidifies my view in this area.

Now there are lots of people who would say a Kramer transaction looks a little bit say Planck scale "distance" into the future and I do think the small distances where quantum stuff happens is likely related to what would go on in the brain during seeing possible futures.

Maybe large scale things could be entangled with small scale things or effective Planck sizes could be made bigger or longitudinal photons could come into play, or the time travelling wormholes of Brian Greene's PBS specials could have a reality. I do think it is OK to look at the possibilities for known math, and these things do have math to go with them.

Jungian synchronicity aka the Pauli effect is another good future effects past thing for me. A little possible synchronicity happened for me yesterday before my paper showed up on viXra. Before my paper (and 2 others) showed up there were exactly 248 papers on viXra. My paper is entitled: E8 for Psychological Types and Physics

Bee said...

Hi William,

I actually like having newspapers that cover all areas of our lives, politics, economics, entertainment, science, etc. It is true that there are magazines and websites dedicated to all of these specifically, but I think the necessarily sparse and not in-depth coverage of some areas fulfills a certain purpose. It tells us briefly what's going on, and if you want to know more details, you can look elsewhere.

This would work better if newspapers wouldn't refuse to link to sources. Especially when it comes to science this is really inappropriate. They will give you an author's name and if you're lucky a name of the journal. What I want is a full citation with a link to the paper, so I can read it.

What happens if you boycott these newspapers is that there will be no news-source left where the staff/editorial has the big picture about what's going on. Science is often connected to politics. Politics to economics. Lifestyle to all of these. I think it is beneficial if journalists have colleagues next door who work on different topics, much like I think the possibility for interdisciplinary exchange is beneficial for research.
Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Steven,

I don't know Planck's schedule, but there's been a lot of interest recently in the data from Fermi (formerly GLAST) for exactly the reason you mention. You might want to read this post (and posts mentioned therein). Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

If the lessons of evolution serves as being our guide the the improvement of the mind will become not present as being just simply an option, yet rather a necessity, that is if we are to survive long into the future. So really the question to ask is, if our branch in tree, among all the other possible branches in the cosmos have the potential and will for this?

Now you see what happens resultant of being exposed to the writings and thoughts of the likes of Plato, Einstein and most relevantly Carl Sagan :-)

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

"Out of Nothing" Came Art and Science?

But even empty space has faint traces of energy that fluctuate on the subatomic scale. As suggested previously by Jaume Garriga of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University, these fluctuations can generate their own big bangs in tiny areas of the universe, widely separated in time and space. Carroll and Chen extend this idea in dramatic fashion, suggesting that inflation could start “in reverse” in the distant past of our universe, so that time could appear to run backwards (from our perspective) to observers far in our past. See:Scientists zero in on why time flows in one direction

John G:I personally had a dream about 9-11

I wonder what a Jungian analyst might say about this?

It would have been significant within context of your environ to have the airplane take on destructive capabilities in travel when it could have been a warning about the timing? It might have meant, and this is just from my perspective that to travel to far from home, is to travel to far from one's constitutions?:)

Speculating of course while it could indeed be a coincidence.

Best,

Giotis said...

"Steven: The distinction I was trying to make is that capitalism by itself does not necessarily imply anything, not even bad journalism. It is a combination of the economic system with social values (or absence thereof) that causes the problem. (There are other factors too, eg available resources etc, but that's not so relevant here.) Now you can plea for a change of social values, and that's in fact what a lot of people do. I think that's not useful because nobody knows how to twiddle a wheel to adjust social values."

Bee, the social values are largely dependent on the applied economic model. You can't have a healthy society with an unjust and unethical economic system at its core. The social values are not a bunch of abstract given rules but are shaped in practice day by day by the way interact with each other. The social values cannot be independent of the social structure and the social structure is a corollary of the applied economic model.

Bee said...

Giotis: You are saying the social values are a consequence of the economic system. I doubt that. Where does the economic system come from? Was it imposed on us by somebody who didn't know of our values? They are of course interrelated, and there are several positive feedback loops in that exchange, but trying to put the cause in the economic system is moot. However, as I said above, if you want to change both, it is easier to adjust something we at least have a rudimentary understanding of.

Giotis said...

"You are saying the social values are a consequence of the economic system"

I didn't say that exactly. I sait that the social values cannot be independent of the social structure and the social structure is a corollary of the applied economic model.

"Where does the economic system come from? Was it imposed on us by somebody who didn't know of our values?"

The economic system is imposed to society by the upper class. The upper's class main concern is to retain its previleges and status and not the social values.

But you didn't answer the question; can we sustain a healthy society with an unjust and unethical economic system at its core? Yes or no?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Goitis,

”The economic system is imposed to society by the upper class. The upper's class main concern is to retain its previleges and status and not the social values.

I think if you look at this historically our current economic system has more to do with the self creation of the middle class, stemming from them also having gained political power with the (forced) creation of democracy; that being their force. If it had been up to the upper classes we would all still be chattel with no right to own or decide on anything.

This is just one more instance where urban myth is substituted for the truth of history in the attempt to transfer blame from ourselves.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

The middle class is a miniature of the upper class. It will stay quite as long as it maintain a minimum standard of living in the expense of the lower classes.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis:

Bee:"You are saying the social values are a consequence of the economic system"

Giotis: I didn't say that exactly. I sait that the social values cannot be independent of the social structure and the social structure is a corollary of the applied economic model.


If what you say is not what I said you say then I don't know what the difference is. Could you please clarify? You alsa changed social values to social structure, would you also clarify what you mean.

What I say is, to make this clear, the social values do not follow from the economic system. They are both interrelated, yes, but that's not the same as the one being the cause of the other.

The economic system is imposed to society by the upper class.

Not if you live in a democracy, which is what I was, admittedly without explicitly mentioning it, referring to. We have capitalism not because it's imposed on us by some upper class, but because it works well. What I am saying is simply that just because it works well doesn't mean one should blindly trust in it at any time and for any case being the best solution. That blind trust is a consequence of social values. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

I agree with you as far as the Western civilizations are concerned. The details however depend strongly on the country. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Maybe capitalism works well for you. Tell that to the children of India and China who are working 15 hour a day under squalid conditions to manufacture your shoes.

Which only proves my previous point that the middle class will stay quite as long as it maintain a minimum standard of living in the expense of the lower classes.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

If you look at the progress capitalism has brought, also to India and China, it has indeed worked dramatically well. It is known however that there are problems pure capitalism does not solve by itself, one of those is closing the gap between the rich and the poor, in case that's what you were referring too. But that is actually completely off topic. This post was about a newspaper in the USA. Not about manufacturing shoes in India. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Your point is of course accepted and well taken. I would also say that this is why when it comes to the development of what is known as the second and third world, that outside intervention should be extremely limited and careful. Like our own forefathers learned, of whom I represent gratefully as being part of their legacy, political and economic improvement must be something wanted and fought for, rather then simply given, or there can never be an appreciation of it an understanding of its necessity or value. This may sound like a clique, yet one that has definitely been proven as demonstrated with history to be true.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

To put this in a scientific frame work and perpective, when plotting a future course, the past must be taken into consideration as well as the environment of the present, which also formed out of the past. This is why history cannot be ignored, yet forms to be an important part of the equation, even if that be the human one.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

These two are related. The journalist in USA and the child in India are both terrified of loosing their job and they are willing to endure a lot and do a lot in order not to. How can you keep your ethical values and your dignity if your survival is in stake? Don't you see that?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I would say that the success or failure of scientific reporting comes back to having a respect for the truth and how science forms to be an instrument of its discovery and understanding. From the reporting side there must be a respect for truth and from the reader’s side not only a hunger for truth, yet also a means by which it might be discerned; for which science stands as being a reliable method, yet only if that method itself be understood and appreciated.

What Glotis fails to realize and sorely many others is that the success of the western world is largely due to the expansion of knowledge of which a large part is attributable to science. What I find the problem being as of late is this is largely lost on the populous in general, as to recognize the dynamics of it. For what success we have thus far managed is not resultant of the enlightenment of the few, but rather that of the many.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Goitis,

“How can you keep your ethical values and your dignity if your survival is in stake? Don't you see that? “

In the past this was maintained by ones faith in religion, which today has largely been transplanted by our trust in the ability of knowledge, of which a large part of this happens to be resultant of science.

The difference being is that religion requires only faith, while knowledge by what it actually is requires understanding. I would say the problem arises from many still thinking all they must commit to is their belief, rather than come to realize it can only be had with their understanding.

I’m not surprise however, as simple faith is easy while true understanding is hard. Perhaps this says more about the nature of humanity and not the nature of any one particular arbitrarily selected segment of it.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

"If what you say is not what I said you say then I don't know what the difference is. Could you please clarify? You alsa changed social values to social structure, would you also clarify what you mean."

What i mean to say is that our social value system is an empty shell if it is not backed in practice by the social reality which is a corollary of the economic system. We all know right from wrong and we all know that we should not misinform the public or exploit other people but we nevertheless do it in many occasions not because we are bad but because we are forced to by the social and economic reality. And because these practices are so common we've stopped paying any attention to them or we just pretend we do i.e. our social value system has become an empty shell.

stefan said...

Dear Bee,

eventually I have read through the article, and there are indeed quite a few formulations that seem unfortunate to me.... To begin with, to label this Nielsen-Ninomiya idea a "theory" is a blow in the face to all of us how care about the "just a theory" nonsense and try to use the word in sensible way for well-established, tested concepts...

OK, this is a bit off-topic, but there is one point about the article that seems to have gone unnoticed so far, and it may be relevant: The piece is labeled as an "Essay".

I do not know what the NYT usually calls an "essay", but it may be something different from usual reporting, and perhaps more along the line of an opinion piece, or even some kind of satirical text, to be taken with a grain of salt. In the printed edition, this distinction may be made more evident for the reader by a special location on the page, or a different font or some other typesetting feature. This context is lost in the online version, unfortunately.

Anyway, it may be wrong to judge the text with the same criteria as a standard news item.

Cheers, Stefan

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Goitis,

Again I would say this will only happen if true understanding is looked upon as being our guide, rather than simply our faith. However, as Bee had mentioned earlier the focus of this has wondered far off topic, thus I will respectfully refrain from expanding on my thoughts about this. However ,it has served to suggest something I might expand on later, in one of my blogs (as dust laden as they are) as for me it presents being a strong connection between what Einstein called the religions of fear and morality and his personal subscription to what he referred to as a cosmic religious feeling.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

I strongly identify with your viewpoint, yet would have it extend beyond the reporting of science. That being in my own experience, no matter what precaution taken the public often has things such as satire in relation to truth confused.

As for instance in many satirical presentations, instead of people having come to recognize the flaws in the characters, they instead simply indentify with them, as to have the result of the presentation only to justify and reinforce their own beliefs and behaviour.

That’s why I have long insisted that before people can achieve some level of enlightenment, they first must understand what it means to turn on the light. Sadly I wish I meant this as being a joke, yet I don’t.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

Just as a follow up is i would like to add,that what I have come to understand as being the strength and utility of science rests with the central tenets of the best elements of human reasoning. That being it recognizes and incorporates our capacity for introspection and what could be called extrospection.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

In quantum mechanics, as you may have heard, things change a tiny bit. Instead of only allowing histories that minimize the action, quantum mechanics (as reformulated by Feynman) tells us to add up the contributions from every possible history, but give larger weight to those with smaller actions. In effect, we blur out the allowed trajectories around the one with absolutely smallest action. See:Spooky Signals from the Future Telling Us to Cancel the LHC!

I believe based on Tammaso's reporting and position with LHC he must of felt he must respond to this.

To tell you the truth when I read Tammaso's current article, I thought for sure they were doing a card reading based on the Tarot.

Who am I to suspect that this is what was meant about some "future result" telling us to adjust our behavior now? So, I guess I should read the article and suspend my judgment until I have all the facts of the article.:)

But that's not the end of it.

Based on Susskind's thought experiment "the information" is not dead. So historically, this is present and part of the future. Your information exists in part as a totality of the experiment?

Subjectively, this probability is part of the psychological to "look forward" while we assess the "B" position. The information is intimately connected with Alice and remains part of the analysis, whether one likes to admit it or not?

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

As far as all the opinion goes, like the differences between those like Tommaso and Sean, I would say their judgement might be more swayed resultant of whether, as they say, ‘if they have skin in the game or not’ , and how much.

I think the only thing this debate has decided is to reinforce that although scientists may be studied and at times wise individuals, that they are human in all respects never the less. That’s why it is the responsibility of those outside to have at least some understanding of the discipline, as well as those of human strengths and fragilities. That’s to say that science is not the forming of the consensus of its practitioners, yet rather the actions of their subject of study, with that being nature.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Phil:...if they have skin in the game or not’ , and how much.

Yes for sure.

But what one hopes is, that there is thought provoking information so as not to let the moment go untethered without having something substantial to say?:)

With regard to Alice and Bob, Cerenkov radiation leaves patterns for discernment. Cosmic rays have interactions points and this is part of understanding what is left for discernment about what came from a "another location."

Best,

Bee said...

Dear Stefan,

An interesting observation. I don't know what the NYT criteria are for an article being called an "essay" (as far as I am concerned an essay could be pretty much anything shorter than a novel). But from a practical point of view what matters (in newspapers as well as scientific journals) is more where it's published, and not what it's called. Unless you call it "A misinformed summary that shouldn't be printed" who is going to care? (That isn't to say Overbye's article was that bad, just to make the point.) Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

That is my own hope and among scientists alone I think this will be the end result. The only humble opinion I have regarding the matter is if nature does have some things it wishes to be hidden, I would rather suspect it rests more with the restriction (censor) of the certainty of knowledge, rather than have anything to exist or not. Also I have come to understand as Einstein insisted that although nature may be subtle but not malicious. Just for the record as to have my own two cents I leave here after the thoughts I have on the matter that was erased from existence by another that has some skin in the game.

There is a quantum mechanical interpretation that could be considered as supporting Nielsen’s and Ninomiya’s conjecture; that of course being the deBroglie-Bohm pilot wave model. The discussion why this could be is too long for a single post, yet basically it stems from it being both a deterministic and yet intrinsically non local treatment of QM. The gist of what I’m talking about was thoroughly discussed in David Albert’s book” Quantum Mechanics and Experience”, where he said in summation:

“ And so h, under these sort of circumstances (even though the complete physical theory of the world here is a deterministic one), has what you might call an inviolably private will.”

In this statement what Albert is referencing as being ‘h’ is the observer and to have it made consistent with N&N’s conjecture is have that observer to be nature itself. This would then render this as not to seen as prohibiting the existence of the Higgs, yet rather censoring the knowledge of the certainty of its existence. However, in this case the card trick proposed would prove to be unrevealing, that being since in this scenario nature will never allow its hand to be shown.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

These two are related.

Of course they are. But we were talking here about journalism in the USA, not about Nike's factories in India. I'm just trying to stay on topic. What I was saying, to come back to were we started from, knowing the economic system is not sufficient to find out whether or not it will do well with a particular task. There are other factors that play into that, one of them being social values. It is thus as useless as wrong to blame capitalism for all evil in the world, and it is equally useless and wrong to blame some "upper class." This finger pointing doesn't solve anything, it's a gross oversimplification.

What I have said here and many times before is that the origin of a lot of the problems that we see is our failure to accept that problems (journalism decaying to cheap entertainment) are not caused by any institution (or class) in particular but are emergent from our all behavior.

The complexity of that process however makes it hard for the individual to understand and consequently counteract it. It's not something that we were evolutionary trained to react on. In practice the problem is that if somebody buys a newspaper at a subway station, he's not going to consider what impact his investment will have on the quality of information we obtain in the long run. He's just going to buy what headline catches his interest, neglecting his conflicting interest for the long-term trend. If you ask economists, this tension doesn't exist because the consumer is perfectly rational and what he buys reflects what he wants, period. Anybody who knows anything about humans knows this is bullshit. It's exactly this problem that we see here. The way to solve it is to find other means for consumers to express their long-term interests, and thus, as I said earlier, to change the incentives for the supplier. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

What i mean to say is that our social value system is an empty shell if it is not backed in practice by the social reality which is a corollary of the economic system. We all know right from wrong and we all know that we should not misinform the public or exploit other people but we nevertheless do it in many occasions not because we are bad but because we are forced to by the social and economic reality. And because these practices are so common we've stopped paying any attention to them or we just pretend we do i.e. our social value system has become an empty shell.

You are just repeating the same thing, and I've already told you it is wrong. It doesn't matter if you call it consequence of or a corollary of, what you want to say is that the social values follow from the economic system. This is just not the case. The economic system is likewise based on our social values (again, talking about a democracy here). It is not a one-way causation.

Now that you have introduced another word, "social reality" in addition to "social values" and "social structure," I know even less what you want to express. In any case, I would suggest that you try the following thought: can you reverse your argument? Start with the social structure/value/reality. Doesn't it seem as if it would preferably result in a specific economic system? If so, it's not a causation, but an interrelation, which is all I meant to say. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I agree with the gist of what you related to Goitis, yet for perhaps a slightly different reason. That being that although change is seen most often a being resultant of revolution, when examined more closely it marks simply spikes (turning points) in the process of evolution.

The strength of capitalism is it can learn by its mistakes more than its success and thus doesn’t need to be seen necessarily discarded, yet rather altered to suit the changes required.

Where science comes in is to discover ways that such changes may be simulated before they are thrust upon those they are attempting to aid and serve.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

"What you want to say is that the social values follow from the economic system."

No I'm not saying that. I'm saying that the social, ethical values fail to apply in practice mainly due to the followed economic model.


"The way to solve it is to find other means for consumers to express their long-term interests, and thus, as I said earlier, to change the incentives for the supplier."

This is very vague and I don't understand it.

Plato said...

Bee, Phil,

Again like Bee, I am reminded by Stefan to stay on course here.

I just want you to consider something for a moment.

Capitalism had failed and the bank bailouts affirm this?

Do you agree or disagree?

Best,

Plato said...

Phil:The discussion why this could be is too long for a single post,

You have a forum for this?:)

Philosophically, querying Albert, Sean Carroll had a good exchange to set the parameters around the scientific questions he was asking. I thought it appropriate in setting a foundation, and might be so with what your saying.

Better to put it out there. One tends not to go to far from their roots( you have exchanged fond relations toward this before), but having "this basis" allows one to go into the world with a different perspective. So that is interesting.

Back to the thread topic.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

I would agree that the bank bailouts are symptomatic of unbridled capitalism as having failed. The point of the whole discussion however is to recognize anything that is left unbridled suffers from the weakness of not being observed objectively. I’m not proposing the continuance of economic Darwinism, yet like evolution itself which has been found to have within it a feedback system, and so can be the same for an economic system. The thing being that it is naively considered that all true models are simple, yet rather it really be that a true model is only as simple as it possibly can be, that comprises to be represent being a huge distinction, whether it be physics or economics.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hi Phil,

yet like evolution itself which has been found to have within it a feedback system, and so can be the same for an economic system.

Who is capable of observing, but those who initiated the process??:) An Invisible Hand?:)

No, Bankers exist "to make a profit."

If capitalism failed, which it did, then the feedback system, "was not the government in the bailout" but the economist who thought to thwart another depression? That was his option. Bailout, with which he approached government, or, another depression.

The signs were there, and he knew it.

Good reporting goes to the heart of that simplicity, and back?:)A good explanation "to the very thought that initiated the story."

Then all else is left to those whose interest has been piqued.

Best,

Arun said...

By the mid-19th century, the European consensus was pretty much to abolish slavery - and this was done peaceably in many places. However, the US South was highly resistant to abolition, and seceded from the Union over the issue. I think if one examines it closely, the economic system and social values were too intertwined to say one caused the other.

Douglas Hemmick said...

The original Dennis Overbye article in NY Times seems to be describing a theory in which the non-discovery of the Higgs would be attributed to some influence traveling backwards in time to the present to prevent the finding. Now we've heard everything, right?

It might be worth considering that "confirmation" of such a theory would occur with any experiment with a negative result, i.e., sensitive enough to find the Higgs, but not doing so.

Such confirmation sounds similar to the old poem:

"Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door... (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away"

Christine said...

Bee wrote:

If you ask economists, this tension doesn't exist because the consumer is perfectly rational and what he buys reflects what he wants, period. Anybody who knows anything about humans knows this is bullshit.

Just to let me understand your statement. You do *not* agree that the consumer is perfectly rational -- contrary to economists, right?

IMO, consumers are evidently not rational (I mean, they do not often purchase what they really need or want). Why do you think economists do not take this fact into consideration?

I ask this because it leads way back to a discussion we had before (which nevertheless I do not intend to return) concerning the present value of economy. I just am curious on your statement, because I *do* think economists know very well that consumers are not rational, and in fact this may be something of great interest for exploitation.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

I'm saying that the social, ethical values fail to apply in practice mainly due to the followed economic model.

Sorry, I'm too realist for that. The values you see is the values people have. That's money, good looks and a millon downloads on YouTube. What you are saying is that people "fail to apply" your values. But that's a different problem.

Bee: "The way to solve it is to find other means for consumers to express their long-term interests, and thus, as I said earlier, to change the incentives for the supplier."

Giotis: This is very vague and I don't understand it.


It's vague because I explained that in mentioned earlier post. Direct sale on a free market is a feedback mechanism that results in an optimization process. What it optimizes is what consumers want when they buy it. That puts an emphasis on impulses and neglects long-term trends, as I said above. For journalism this means eg it provides incentives for cheap entertainment, scary stories, dumbed down science reporting etc.

That however isn't the only feedback mechanism there is and not the only one you can use. One mechanism outside the market is eg that you can sue a newspaper if they make up a story about you. So at least we know it's not complete fiction what we read. Another feedback mechanism is awards given to journalists. These reward excellent reporting, good writing, etc, not whether the article was finished by the deadline and how often it was linked to from blogger. It you want to rechannel incentives for writers, you just have to put into place a different feedback mechanism. Eg redirect part of the income through non-profit agencies that redistribute it according to some other criteria. Ideally it would be a zero-sum game, and even more ideally everybody would get back what they paid in.

Either way, the point is that customers have to decide what criteria they find worthy of supporting and put in place a mechanism to reach that goal. You find similar mechanisms to in many other areas of our lives. Paying $10 for bottles and getting them back upon return of the bottle is a simple example. If the market doesn't do it by itself, you change the incentives. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

No, of course the consumer is not perfectly rational. And not all economists say so. And from the rest most tend not to think the consumer is indeed rational, but that the deviation from rationality doesn't matter much. I think we discussed that earlier on this blog. But the question is then how do you show that the actual deviation from rationality we see in the world does not affect the validity of the model. I don't know, but I doubt it's a small deviation.

consumers are evidently not rational (I mean, they do not often purchase what they really need or want). Why do you think economists do not take this fact into consideration?

It's a matter of definition. As far as I understand it (I'm not an economist as you know), what consumers buy is what they want. There is no "want"-function that might or might not conflict with the "buy"-function. Consumers have preferences and they try to buy according to them. They might lie about what they preferences are, but what they buy "reveals" their real preferences.

Now what I've tried to say (here and several times earlier) is that humans do indeed quite frequently act against their own self-interest, and they do so knowingly. The example that I used here is drug abuse. It's a repeated self-destructive behavior caused by a reward system that triggers strongly on immediate stimulus. It's a vicious cycle that can be for the individual impossible to break. Thus, we put in place safety mechanisms, starting from education over making drugs illegal, to support with recovery. We do this because we know our own interests can conflict, and our personal inability to resolve this conflict can be cause of much pain and trouble.

This is of course an extreme example, but to come back to the point, the common economic models do simply assume such a conflict in consumers' preferences cannot exist. If the guy buys drugs, is what he wants. After all, he's rational. And he knows taking drugs will ruin his brain and probably spell the end of his life within the next couple of years. What I'm saying is that in either case you need a mechanism that doesn't completely leave out the potentially conflicting long-term interests. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

"Sorry, I'm too realist for that. The values you see is the values people have. That's money, good looks and a millon downloads on YouTube."

If this is the case then there is no hope and people don't deserve anything, yet alone basic science information. But you are wrong of course. What you are describing are not social values but human instincts that the economic system has nursed and magnified in order to exist.

Social values emerge from the historical process and the advance of civilization. People can be educated to incorporate these values and apply them to their every day life if the social and economic environment helps them in that direction.

Basically what you are saying is that people are just primitive morons and we have to technically manipulate them (using again money as incentive which is the only value according to you) to serve the right causes even unconsciously. For me such an approach is totally unacceptable.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

No, that is not even remotely what I've been saying. What I said is that a merely capitalist system is only able to reflect a subset of values that people can have (in contrast to "values they do have," since I don't know what these are). If you want a better expression of what people want you need to do more than that. If I wouldn't think that people had other values in addition to what you call "insticts" (I think this is a misnomer, but that's not so important here) what would be the point of me saying you need a system that's able to accommodate them?

People can be educated to incorporate these values and apply them to their every day life if the social and economic environment helps them in that direction.

You can educate them all you want, if the system is such that a specific behavior is preferred it's not going to matter. The selection doesn't trigger on education but on success. The only thing that will change the course is a redefinition of successful strategies. Best,

B.

Steven A Colyer said...

Pardon me, but am I the only person who is sick of this subject already? Any paper that includes “Miraculocity” and “Sub-miracles” as proposed scientific words loses me, fast. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Also, to further “prove” this is a hoax to infidels or String Theory straw graspers, have any of you checked out the Math to see if there is an odd number of sign-change mistakes, which may be there “on purpose?’ If nothing else, good on the authors if they did this to draw attention to how easy it is to arXiv in inappropriate places. Were they trying to make a point? I don’t have an answer to these questions, just asking.

Sean Carroll may have said it best: “The disappointing thing about the responses to the article is how non-intellectual they have been. I haven’t heard “the NN argument against contributions to the imaginary action that are homogeneous in field types is specious,” or even “I see no reason whatsoever to contemplate imaginary actions, so I’m going to ignore this” (which would be a perfectly defensible stance).”

And regarding Economics, I have an MBA so I know the root of the questions you are asking, but time does not allow me to go into detail. Nevertheless, here would be some key words: Oliver Stone … “Wall Street”, the film … the villain, Gordon Gekko, as played by Michael Douglas … the gross mis-interpretation of Gekko’s line “Greed … for the lack of a better word … is good” by American Baby Boomers.”

Also, has anyone consulted Mike Lazaridis on the Economic stuff? I think he knows a few things about Business, eh?

Best regards,
Steve,
The SU(4)=Spin(6) Identity Analysis Guy

P.S. Thank you Bee for that stuff about GLAST, much appreciated

Giotis said...

I'm confused but it doesn't matter. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to understand what exactly you are trying to convey. Anyway I see no point to continue this discussion since we can't reach a logical conclusion.

Steven A Colyer said...

Giotis, e specific, please. What exactly confuses you? I raised several issues and hopefully with as few words as possible. That's what Engineers and Applied Physicists and Experimental Physicistss (what's the difference?) are all about ===> Optimization, Efficiency, and Economical exposition in speech and the written word. I mean, the two branches of Mathematics: Pure and Mathematical (Reality) Physics, and Physics, aren't THAT different, are they?

Giotis, how old are you and what is your background? I'm 53 and a Mechanical Engineer, under which Quantum Mechanics is our specialty. I find one's age and background to be very important. Regarding Age, people my age are running the world now, and frankly, with exceptions like Mike Lazaridis and Bill Gates, not well. I do what I can to undo the damage.

Giotis said...

Steven I'm sorry, I was not referring to your comment but to Bee's last answer. I should have made that clear in my comment.

joel rice said...

it might be useful, considering that you are sitting at a computer, to ask exactly how the computer revolution came to be, instead of a load of half baked notions about economics. Do you guys remember all those computer clubs sprouting up like mushrooms, and as they did people started computer magazines, some for shareware, some to start businesses,and some for consulting.
That is Freedom of Enterprise - not some baloney about Capitalism. Do you remember that the Politburo banned computers - how would you like to be a Russian engineer and hear that you are not allowed to have a computer. I would have gone ballistic.

Steven A Colyer said...

The computer revolution came to be because the transistor was invented at Bell Labs by John Bardeen, double Nobel Prize in Physics winner, in 1947, and Walter Brattain, with William Shockley politicizing himself in a squirrly way the Nobel for which he richly did NOT deserve, and because Gordon Moore told Fairchild Industries (Shockley, the putz) to go bleep a duck when he and others quit it and started Intel.

Regarding Politics and Economics, I consider this a Mathematical Physics website at a wonderful institution (Perimeter) that employs seers like Bee as defined by Lee Smolin. To ask Theoretical Physicists who are doing the great work of trying to break Reality like Lee or Sabine or Fontina about those subjects would probably result in the same number of conclusions as asking a professional Economist about Theoretical Physics, which is why I got my MBA, to try to bridge the gap.

But at the end of the day, the NYT is still trying to sell newspapers, and the more controversy they try to stir up and DO stir up, the more papers they will sell. Mission accomplished.

But your points are well taken, Joel Rice. Better to live in a free and open society where inquiry is encouraged (Perimeter), not discouraged (80's-90's American Academic Physics departments where you could work on anything you wanted as long as it was String Theory), than not.

Bee said...

Joel: As I said, capitalism works well in some regards. It doesn't work as well in others. Saying it worked well for case x doesn't mean it will work well for case y neq x. Saying capitalism is good is as oversimplistic as saying it is bad. The world isn't just black and white. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Joel, who told you that we are defending Soviet totalitarianism and communism here? I don't have to choose between two evils.

I want an economic system with the human being and his welfare at its epicentre. The economic system should serve the people and not the other way around.

But again we are off topic.

Steven A Colyer said...

Well said, Bee.

I think we all get a bit ticked off though that the good Capitalists like Lazardis are outshone on the public stage by bad Capitalists like Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, and Bank of America, who operate by pure greed.

But that's life. Those are ... the givens, the initial conditions. We must move on from there.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

The motto of what you refer to as those representing to be bad capitalists would be “a fool and their money are easily parted”. So my ideas as being the central goal to improving things is to consider how it best be accomplished to decrease the quantity of fools; for as you know it’s simply supply and demand :-)

Best,

Phil

Zephir said...

IMO Higgs boson was observed already as a dilepton channel of top-quark decay. From Standard model follows, the product of Higgs boson Yukawa coupling to the left- and right-handed top quarks have nearly the same rest mass (173.1±1.3 GeV/c2) like those predicted for Higgs boson (178.0 ± 4.3 GeV/c2). We can compare the way, in which Higgs is expected to be detected on LHC:

http://www.hep.man.ac.uk/u/WWW/WWW/groups/d0/teaching/images/hig-WW-txt.gif

and the way, in which top-quark pairs were detected already:

http://www.physik.rwth-aachen.de/uploads/pics/sfbtopquark_tiny_new.jpg

So that whole discussion about it is irrelevant and analogous to problem of event horizon detection, while approaching to black hole.

Plato said...

Phil:a fool and their money are easily parted

Yes indeed Phil this can be a simplistic equitable basis that is applicable to "consumerism" as well. I think once you make the statement one recognizes it's applicability?

So the self correcting spreads throughout the "watchful eye" and what rests are quickly evident according to "confidence and assessment" to corrective action in the market place.

What has emerged is not for us to judge, but to define what shape this new economic realization has grasped the fool managers and workers, not to encourage fear, but responsible and corrective action to what fools can now become?

The market place does respond to this as you know,and corrective action, what face has it taken on?

John Nash's equilibrium statement and today's negotiating practices have been thwarted by irresponsible and fallacious undertakings defined by the governments who rule, favored by "idealistic notions of what will drive the economy" so one can be given favor as to expect that supporting one side of the equation more then the other reduces fair and equable negotiating arrangements. Deal with the real world and you understand this.

In the perfect world, engineers have a hard time relating with what math expresses on a social level. The gap while thinking structurally sound has lost touch with meaning, to what constitutes social structure and value sought by meaningful existence according too, the "value of the dollar" and what it means to sustenance and life.

Best,

Steven A Colyer said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for this:

"So my ideas as being the central goal to improving things is to consider how it best be accomplished to decrease the quantity of fools ..."
... Phil Warnell

Agreed, so one idea I have to accomplish that is to have two 2 foot by 3 foot posters of The Mandlebrot Set in every American High School Mathematics teachers' classroom.

One poster would be the set itself, and the second would be 20 small pics of exploration within. It would teach the young-uns that from a small and simple equation that something very complicated could result from something that is not complex at all, and hopefully give a few fertile minds the passion to explore Mathematics, possibly as a career, rather than lose them to say Economics, Finance, and Law.

I love your joke re Supply and Demand, thanks very much. Works great for a Lemonade Stand, eh? If only the real world were that simple.

Best regards,

Steve

joel rice said...

Steven Colyer: excuse me, the computer revolution came about because millions of people like me saved their dough and got TRS-80s and Apples, and brought them to work, and started computerizing everything in sight. Otherwise you would be stuck with your PDP-11. So much for Elites controlling society.

Zephir said...

/*...so much for elites controlling society..*/

Elites? Rather bunch of ignorants, I'd say. To became member of elites you'll need time & money for education. No wonder, your thinking becomes biased toward your personal interests, it's logical consequention. This bias is clearly visible even in way of discussion here.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

So Mandelbrot set posters in the classrooms. This of course has one to grasp perhaps the structure of complexity, yet does little to reveal its dynamics, which I would say can only be accomplished by exploring it in real time with the aid of a computer. That’s because it is here that it might be recognized that with each iteration the set deepens and the complexity increases. This iterating can be equated with the passage of time, for when increased the complexity increases, while when decreased it diminishes as well as simplifies. This has of course long had me to believe that the term imaginary number was an unfortunate choice in such regard, as they in combination with the reals holds the character of more what we recognize as being real, then for what is not.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Some quotes about simplicity.

A condensed matter theorist might say, foundation-ally what building block shall one choose?

Perspective then can change according too, how much earlier the universe can exist in perspective, while on a economical front, dollars and sense:?)

Best,

Plato said...

For those who want to understand Complexity and Emergence in relation to "types" of building blocks you choose.

Best,

Steven A Colyer said...

Hi Phil and Plato,

Phil, I totally agree "Imaginary" for Imaginary Numbers is terrible, as well as "Complex" in Complex Algebra, because what can possibly simpler than the square of the square root of negative one is -1 ?

Even worse though is "Chaos" Theory for the Mandelbrot Set and Cellular Automata stuff. Try "Nonlinear Dynamical Feedback Analysis" for greater accuracy, but shrug, what can you do? I'd mention "REnormalizable," but let's pass on that for now.

In any event, if an EMP bomb were dropped the computers would shut down yet the posters would remain. Posters cost a lot less, and my only point is that kids today think very pictorially, and the younger we get them interested, the better.

Plato, thanks for that link. As I see it, Chaos is a branch of Complexity, as I'm sure you know. Complexity is amazing; it is so young as a field of study (especially in neuroscience where it seems to be shining) and has so many branches.

Click on the following for an excellent map of "Complexity".

http://www.art-sciencefactory.com/complexity-map_feb09.html

To summarize and to get back to Bee's question on this thread:
WHAT should the journalists be writing about?

Things with lots of pictures, frankly. It's where the youth of today have evolved, and without them, our future could be quite dim.

Best,

Steve

Plato said...

Thank You Steven for the map.

Some people do not understand how String theory falls under the Condense matter perspective of "choosing a model for foundation" for examination of the issues of science, and how this affects perspective.

Albeit anyone's desire to choose what ever makes one happy, it's not a end all to proclamation of TOE, just a way of pushing perspective forward.

You might be interested in one of Bee's Entries called, Web Science and comments.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Yes I would have to admit that the posters have a permanency and simplicity about them, which I’m not suggesting wouldn’t be helpful. However, I would still argue this is made more relevant when the dynamics of it all is also brought to be realized and understood. That’s the thing about complexity, for as displayed in the Mandelbrot set it only forms out of the continuance of subsequent steps or action if you will and does not come as being something wholly formed or accurately predicted or predicatble without doing so.

So this has complexity in its entirety represent more as potential, which can only be realized (in part)when actualized. I’ve always equated such things philosophically as being like a cognitive lynch pin between the physical world and what some would call the Platonic realm or plane. That is the world comes to be as it is, not simply resulting from multiplying, dividing, adding and subtracting itself, from what one would normally recognise as what can be seen or touched, yet by doing the same with concepts that seem to exist somehow and somewhere beyond them.

This for me has reality stand to be more than the sum of its parts, yet more as the result(s) of its potential. So the way I see it, is as science progresses it will become more to be the study of such potential, such that we might understand better what is real and why, yet most importantly what has it to be real, as to understand what we can ultimately have to be real. That is whether it be physics, economics or politics, one can never know what one may achieve without first understanding the potential.

Best,

Phil

Steven A Colyer said...

Hi Phil. Thanks for responding.

I'm not going to argue with you because I tend to agree. Yes, the dynamical stuff is the important thing, but my main point is we capture youth initially through permanent 2-D representations.

Other good reads (for the pictures alone!) include 2008's "The Visual Guide to Extra Dimensions: Volume 1" by Chris McMullen, and the Esher prints as an introduction to Hyberbolic Geometry and Conformal, via Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality."

Your second paragraph reminds me of Sir Roger's Mathematical/Physical/Platonic stuff in his aforementioned weighty yet wonderful tome. You list another of Penrose's books as one of your favs on your blogpage. Was it in there as well?

Finally, I truly enjoyed your Historical meme re Stephen Gray, which readers can and hopefully will read by clicking here. Yes, that Isaac Newton could be quite the career-wrecker in his later days, could he not? Good stuff and thanks.

Back to Bee's question: what would we like to see in a NYT article, i wish Overbye would write about the latest developments from Perimeter. This would certainly be worthy as Lee Smolin is from Brooklyn, as well as Leonard Susskind.

Unfortunately, the next article is most likely to be about Linde and the number of possible extra Universes, sigh. Sigh, how long must we pay for Hugh Everett III's wild speculations?

Steven A Colyer said...

I understand the difference between Many-Worlds and Multiverse, btw. Re-reading the last sentence of my last post made re realize the reader may think I am confused about the 2, but I am not.

Rather, I think Many Worlds opened the door to additional Universes and thereby Multiverse thinking. Many Worlds by Everett (and approved by Wheeler ... any surprise there?) is the 2nd most popular (according to Penrose et al) Interpretation of Wavefunction collapse. I eschew it for the moment, favoring either the Decoherent Histories Copenhagen QI (Copenhagan +) or just Decoherence without Histories. Not quite sure about Consistent Histories at the moment.

The Multiverse is another cat entirely with far too many interpretations to go into here.

But sci-fi writers love them both. Now THAT'S one thing I think we could agree on.

Steven A Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven A Colyer said...

Hi Phil, I meant "Mental, Physical, and Platonic Mathematical Worlds" re Penrose re The Road to Reality 2 posts back, sorry. It's all in Section 1.4 and Figures 1.3 and 1.4 in that book.

I profusely apologize for triple posting. Perhaps it was a slow week in mathematical physics?

Perhaps, but I if could suggest a new topic, Bee, what of String Theorist co-founder Michael Green's appointment to succeed Stephen Hawking's position as the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge, the one Newton famously held?

He makes some uncomplimentary remarks about Lee Smolin and Peter Woit, which are either snarky and dishonest or ignorant. The blowback at Woit's Not Even Wrong site can be found here.

Among the comments are one by poster C.K. regarding John Baez's remarks at his website (issue #280 here) re LQG's being formulated from thee ground up.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

I thought we would be in agreement about the dynamics of complexity and I would certainly agree that the Mandelbrot set displayed in zooms on posters can’t help but have it evident that there is something beautiful about mathematics that one can actually have brought to life. It’s also and interesting place to start when talking about whether mathematical research is an act of invention or rather discovery with me tending to agree its the latter, with the set forming to be a point of argument.

Strangely enough there were several talks given at Perimeter yesterday as part of their Q2C Festival, with one that interacts with with this poiut, as well as one given strictly to the aspect of science reporting. They posed an online question of my mine to the panel as to whether we would be better served by having those trained as scientists learn to become reporters or those trained as journalists attempt to learn to understand science. I think you might enjoy both the debate and the response.


Finally I’m glad you enjoyed some of my scribbling yet I keep to a strict rule not to promote them on others blogs. Besides I’m not really a serious blogger as it mainly serves to have a place to jot down the odd notion of mine with I don't consider it have any significant value beyond perhaps others coming to know what I think about when not struggling to put food on the table. I of course have read a lot of Penrose books, including Roads, yet its not one I would say is something I’ve come to totally understand yet forms to be more of a ongoing challenge.

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Hey Phil, thanks for that link but I'm between sound cards at the moment. I'll get back to you once I get a new one and can hear stuff again.

I definitely think science journalism can improve though. Dennis Overbye is OK, I just wish he'd made a few phone calls to some locally established physicists and mathematical physicists. Heck, Columbia University is just uptown from him.

Science and Nature still write good stuff. Scientific American holds the 2nd tier by itself. The best of the rest is headed by Discover and New Scientist, I guess, but I won't buy them because I don't know how many more naked singularity covers I can take, and they ran Terry Witt's Null Universe crackpottery for the longest time.

NYT and the newspapers are way down the list now, but business types read them. Heck I might be a journalist myself if this Age of Speculation we're in doesn't improve. I can't talk shop as well as I'd like at the moment but I'm a quantum field theory course away. We'll see, and thanks.