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Gmail is the new AOL

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My HP 110 Mini netbook’s battery pack suddenly failed (0% available, charging… forever). Finding an official HP brand replacement battery turned out to be nearly impossible, not to mention it would cost at least as much as the crappy netbook was worth. So, I got a replacement from . . . → Read More: Gmail is the new AOL

You make and break your own religion

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Note: I addressed the following essay to the general population of the No Agenda Forums, a community that I cherish despite frequent frustration. It is peopled by many conspiracy theorists and champions of various “alternative” things, such as alternative explanations, alternative medicine, etc. In short, people I cannot really reach on . . . → Read More: You make and break your own religion

Prejudice isn’t a discussion

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I received an email forward today from an extended family member, and it upset me more than if it had been spam or malware. It was a mal-meme:

This is not sent for discussion. If you agree, forward it. If you don’t, delete it. I don’t want to know one way . . . → Read More: Prejudice isn’t a discussion

Argument > Debate

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Debating

Like most sports, I’m not much good at debate. I say it’s a sport because it’s a competition with a winner and loser where the participants’ skills have the largest bearing on the outcome.

I think that most people casually lump debate and argument into the same mental bin; if . . . → Read More: Argument > Debate

Dishonesty in science: we still win

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As Orac states:

Science as it is practiced today relies on a fair measure of trust. Part of the reason is that the culture of science values openness, hypothesis testing, and vigorous debate. The general assumption is that most scientists are honest and, although we all generally try to present our . . . → Read More: Dishonesty in science: we still win

The emotions of energy

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Hybrid fusion-fission energy generation a possibility via Futurismic.

Isn’t it interesting how this story swept through the internet? Everyone, of course, wants to get rid of nuclear waste right? Awful, evil stuff. Bury it in the earth if you have to. Making it disappear in a magic theoretical reactor is even . . . → Read More: The emotions of energy

Dangerous faith-based mechanics

There are many confirmation biases and magical thinking tendencies that fuel testimonial and anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of woo, from acupuncture and chiropractic all the way up to the giant woo umbrella of “complementary and alternative” medicine (CAM) or “integrative” medicine.

But that’s not why these things are a threat to actual real scientific . . . → Read More: Dangerous faith-based mechanics

Risk assessment bias

Another quick redirect; I love this writeup of how we are stupid at risk assessment . I wish a few of the people close to me would learn up on this a bit.

The precautionary principle can so easily be abused to the point that it becomes a zero risk bias .

. . . → Read More: Risk assessment bias

Why we believe strange things

This is a TED video from 2006, but I just now watched it. Michael Shermer talks about cognitive bias, pareidolia, and other interesting ways we fool ourselves.

Michael Shermer at TED.com: Why people believe strange things

It’s a delightful 12 minute refutation of stupidity.

Hearts and minds

As we learn more about how brains work, traditional views can be called into question. Recent research indicates that (at least some) decision-making processes are “prepared” by the brain unconsciously several seconds before there is an awareness of having come to a decision.

“In the study, participants could freely decide if they wanted to press . . . → Read More: Hearts and minds