How professional sowers of doubt moved from issue to issue: tobacco, energy, climate.
Here’s a great view from the other side of the moon, courtesy of NASA and the Lunar Reconnaissance orbiter.
Here in Kansas we are experiencing signs of Spring, buds appearing on trees, snow melted, and yesterday I got my first chigger bite.
Muller was a go to guy for many climate deniers the last decade, so it’s nice that he’s finally discovered that the Malankovitch cycle, vulcanism, and other half baked theories of global warming are wrong, and that only CO2 accounts for our warming. Of course scientists knew that back in the fifties, and Isaac Asimov tried to convince folks back in the sixties, however the right is still in fossil fuel funded denial to this day.
The other day I saw someone online boast about how they knew some obscure English etymology fact as they proclaimed that they ‘didn’t even have to look it up!’ Their pride in their knowledge of a trivial fact was a revelation for me: my generation usually takes great pride in their knowledge of facts, as if knowing something obscure were of value by itself. However does knowing facts matter as much in this day and age, and does knowing more facts than your neighbor make your life better anymore than having more beer caps would?
Before you automatically object, please take a moment to weigh some values against the facts you treasure.
First – Is it better to know things, or is it better to know how to know new things? Is it better to commit things to memory, or is it better to commit patterns, learning tools, logic, faces, friends, beautiful moments, and art to memory? Is the knowledge that you have as important as the journey to gain it?
Second – Any bare fact in and of itself is pretty trivial – and gaining that fact is more trivial still. This thudded home to me with great force on my last vacation as I watched a couple unfold a map, and pore over it, trying to find some location. Meanwhile their teen kept trying to interject and they kept hushing her. It took the teen pushing her phone screen with a pinpointed map on it in her parents face for them to recognize that she had just asked her phone and found the spot they’d both been arguing over and trying to find for ten minutes. She’d done it in seconds.
Third – Our memories are fallible, and we all have built in biases. These are inescapable conditions of being human. What we think we know is sometimes wrong. e.g. My wife tells me I’m wrong a lot. I think it was Socrates who said something akin to “The unexamined life is not worth living” so why don’t you examine your assumptions and “knowledge” on occasion?
Fourth: Our biases aren’t all socially evolved conditions of being human, some are built in by purposeful lies. That’s known as propaganda, and propaganda is driven by fear and hate. Propaganda only works with the ignorant, or the with the willfully ignorant.
Fifth: Your human perceptions are also flawed, maybe that song’s not really about a cross-eyed bear. (mondegreen – you could look it up.)
So why think you know some fact, or take a guess, when instead you can just ask Google, Siri, Alex, or even Bing? Why not double check even if you think you know? When I thought I knew the quote author above I was a bit wrong…. Yes, it was Socrates sort of, but only as paraphrased by Plato’s recollection of his speech at his trial. I just learned something new that I thought I already knew. So there’s the power of augmenting your intelligence. Finding that out was as simple as asking my pad.
Perhaps to my generation facts are of more value simply because of the efforts you had to go to just to obtain them – as my many trips to the library for my high school debate team attest to… nowadays finding things out has become trivial with all of the online data tools and search engines that we have at our beck and call.
In this millenium why shouldn’t you Google, ask Siri, or Alexa, almost anything just to double check? Why wouldn’t you augment your intelligence with the biggest brain and knowledge base on the planet: the Internet? Please take a New Year’s resolution to start asking Google and Siri more, start augmenting your feeble human intelligence, in this coming year stop handicapping your brain friends. Be not proud of what you know – instead be proud that you are smart enough to look it up.
Crossposted to LittleGreenFootballs.com .
A stunning collection of several timelapse photo series taken from the ISS.
Microsoft legal has a philosophy that local laws ought to apply to data — the only part that gets fuzzy under this approach is cloud data that is mirrored in multiple servers across multiple nations.
This discussion and case is highly important for the future of technology – if one country can by fiat demand that only country of origin laws apply to US companies doing business in foreign countries, what kind of reception and business can they expect? If your data is not secure when housed in US data farms, where will the data farms go? There will be lots of fallout from this case that could affect US employment. Right now businesses seek secure and stable locations that have class A networks for their data farms – if we fall behind in laws protecting data, and in network, we aren’t going to see many cloud farms built here.
The major market share players for PaaS and SaaS cloud services are Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – if the NSA continues to take an “All your base are belong to us” approach then that’s not going to continue.
Microsoft’s fight against the US position that it may search its overseas servers with a valid US warrant is getting nasty.
Microsoft, which is fighting a US warrant that it hand over e-mail to the US from its Ireland servers, wants the Obama administration to ponder a scenario where the “shoe is on the other foot.”
“Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany,” Microsoft said. “They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.”
In a Monday legal filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, Microsoft added that the US government would be outraged.
For in depth coverage of these positions
Brad Smith and Jonathan Zittrain on Privacy, Surveillance, and Rebuilding Trust in Tech | Noblesse Oblige