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Showing posts from December, 2014

Of Oaks and Snow

After an unorthodox storm hits the Inland Empire, on New Year's Eve, Dec 31st, 2014; snow blankets the hills from Elsinore to Temecula, and my wife and I take a frosty hike up Horsethief Canyon.

Percy Bysshe Shelley - A Refutation of Deism

"The bigot of the woods can form no conception of beings possessed of properties differing from his own: it requires, indeed, a mind considerably tinctured with science, and enlarged by cultivation to contemplate itself, not as the center and model of the Universe, but as one of the infinitely various multitude of beings of which it is actually composed."

Percy Bysshe Shelley,
"A Refutation of Deism"
(1814)

Carl Sagan - The Baloney Detection Kit

"...if you don’t want to buy baloney even when it’s reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there’s a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method."
1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simpl…