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657938 Posts in 9260 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 59 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: OK, you can stop now: new 'stupid things' thread  (Read 21849 times)
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dieblucasdie
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« Reply #300 on: Aug 31, 2011, 05:47:52 PM »

How Billionaires Could Save the Country

The link to it on the Post's front page was "America Needs a Billionaire"
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he was basically your only chance at making the world love you.
dieblucasdie
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Posts: 24493


« Reply #301 on: Aug 31, 2011, 06:06:23 PM »

I mean, the best part is how he doesn't even name a specific billionaire he thinks would make a good president (in fact, he goes out of his way to say he's not offering coded support to Bloomberg or Howard Schultz), he's just all, "WE NEED A PLUTOCRAT TO SAVE US.  SOME PLUTOCRAT.  ANY PLUTOCRAT."

Quote
Yet here’s the problem: Some wealthy patriots in the “far center” who might consider running for president or supporting such efforts think philanthropy is a better way to spend their time and money.

One of the important problems facing our country, surely
« Last Edit: Aug 31, 2011, 06:09:41 PM by dieblucasdie » Logged

he was basically your only chance at making the world love you.
Ignatius
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« Reply #302 on: Sep 01, 2011, 02:02:04 AM »

Hmm... I don't see how Nirvana's appearance on the VMAs represents a validation of the VMAs and not simply a reflection of Nirvana's chart success.

I'm with pollo, but not the part where he throws his hands in the air. FUCK THAT, PASSIVE OBSERVERS
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jebreject
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« Reply #303 on: Sep 01, 2011, 07:47:40 AM »


(By Lining Up Against the Wall and Being Shot, Every Last Motherfucking One of Them)
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I'm not racist, I've got lots of black Facebook friends.
dumbfish
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Posts: 3869


« Reply #304 on: Sep 29, 2011, 12:54:24 PM »

Girlfriend sent me this link and stole an hour of my life.
On Ducking Challenges to Naturalism
He's using reason to reject reason, which strikes me as ironic and doomed to fail.
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Good Intentions
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« Reply #305 on: Sep 29, 2011, 06:59:41 PM »

That whole exchange has been... frustrating.
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dumbfish
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« Reply #306 on: Oct 01, 2011, 11:47:00 AM »

That was my reaction as well. I was sorta hoping that, as usual, I was missing the key idea of a philosophy discussion. Guess not. Le sigh.
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Good Intentions
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« Reply #307 on: Oct 01, 2011, 05:09:49 PM »

Methodological debates are no more fun in philosophy than they are anywhere else. Both Rosenberg and Williamson are people whose work I am very familiar with, and they are both very, very good. I'm glad that the NYT's Stone column actually got decent philosophers for a change (except for some occasional highlights, that series has been dire). But even in the depths of the technical literature people aren't very clear on what naturalism is supposed to amount to, which means that the proponents and opponents aren't quite meeting each other head to head. And it's worse in an area where people give brief surveys rather than in-depth discussions, like in a newspaper column.

I'm not sure what you mean with 'using reason to reject reason', though. Williamson doesn't challenge the advances of sciences. He's saying that we shouldn't believe that hard science is the only way to learn about the world. He brings up one of the strongest points in favour of a view like his, that when people talk about the sciences they tend to mean physics, but that many sciences are not like physics (biology is nothing like it, chemistry resolutely refuses to be reduced down to it) so nobody can give a meaningful description of what the sciences are. Talk about 'the sciences' made more sense when most people believed in the unity of the sciences, that all forms of science will be shown to be continuous with each other (and with physics at the bottom). But it is very hard to keep up the belief in the unity of the sciences, since nobody has actually managed to reduce any other substantive field to physics during the past century (and have pointedly failed doing so for chemistry, the main candidate). So, Williamson says, for people at this point of the game to try and say that the sciences is the highest court of appeal for human knowledge is either to not say anything, because we haven't as it were appointed the judges yet, or to be wildly too restrictive, because not only does literary theory not meet the grade, metallurgy doesn't either.
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RavingLunatic
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« Reply #308 on: Oct 02, 2011, 10:13:19 AM »

Speaking of reducing sciences, one of my favorite absurdities in the reading for my education classes is that neuroscience can tell us something meaningful about what sort of teaching methods we should use. Allow me to quote some of my favorite passages from Essential Questions--with Answers--for Middle Level Teachers, published by the National Middle School Association:


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If we never teach children honesty, they will not have honesty hard-wired into their brains.
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As we give our teenagers lots of experiences that will challenge them intellectually, we help their brains to grow
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If one takes time to process [an] issue with the teen, we are using those circuits, guaranteeing an opportunity for that social skill to become hard-wired.
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jebreject
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« Reply #309 on: Oct 02, 2011, 12:58:02 PM »

Is your exception simply to the use of terms like "hard-wired"? I mean, yeah, that's probably misguided, but beyond that, I don't really see what there is to take issue with in those statements.
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dumbfish
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« Reply #310 on: Oct 02, 2011, 01:17:36 PM »

OK, so GI's longer response makes it clear that I was missing some important context, thanks. I figured the Williamson's attack on the"naturalism is just physics" view was him strawmanning, or at least a caricature of what Rosenberg had said. Apparently not. I'm surprised to learn that there are people who seriously claim that all useful knowledge of our world derives from physics.

I'm still irritated by the second half of Williamson's post that goes after what he calls more general naturalism, which would include biology, chemistry, and the more sensible (his phrase, as I recall) parts of literary criticism. Am I correct in thinking that general naturalism is synonomous with a rational view of the world? That he's contrasting that with one that invokes supernatural explanations? If so, I think he's setting the bar unfairly high when he says that if hard science can't prove itself to be the best perspective. It's tough to prove a negative, but it's even tougher when the thing you're trying to disprove, by definition, isn't limited to the physical world as we know it. (Hence, my "using reason to defeat reason" claim.)

Alternatively, if I'm wrong and he's not trying to make room for God here, and all he's doing is saying that art (or people's ideas about God) can tell us a lot about our world, then never mind, and sorry for wasting your time.
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alex
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« Reply #311 on: Oct 02, 2011, 02:19:41 PM »


Alternatively, if I'm wrong and he's not trying to make room for God here, and all he's doing is saying that art (or people's ideas about God) can tell us a lot about our world, then never mind, and sorry for wasting your time.

Well, in the first comment of this debate (the first link in the article you linked to), he writes: "I am an atheist of the most straightforward kind." So yeah, I think you're reading a bit too much into it here.

Is your exception simply to the use of terms like "hard-wired"? I mean, yeah, that's probably misguided, but beyond that, I don't really see what there is to take issue with in those statements.


I too find the suggestion that teenagers should be taught honesty and social skills and should be challenged intellectually quite uncontroversial (and I'd wager RL does, too), but I do find the formulations of those statements very problematic indeed. Not just the term "hard-wired" (although, yeah, I think that's just plain silly and unnecessary), but also and especially the idea of letting the teenagers' brains grow, as though size was what mattered here. Seems like only a small step back to ideas about the correlation between the size of someone's head and their intelligence.
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jebreject
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« Reply #312 on: Oct 02, 2011, 02:38:28 PM »

I didn't think "help their brains grow" is a strictly literal statement, though. It's the same as saying the brain is a muscle and you have to exercise it. Well, no, of course the brain isn't a muscle, but you do train the mind how to work, and you learn how to think critically, and challenging the mind is part of that. I mean, maybe I am wrong, and they do literally mean that challenging teenagers makes their brains grow larger, and, well, honestly I don't know enough about neuroscience to know whether that's a thing that actually happens or not. But I'm willing to wager that they are using "grow" to mean "develop," which seems completely uncontroversial to me.
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jess
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« Reply #313 on: Oct 02, 2011, 02:43:37 PM »

Yeah, I don't expect ed people to be talking literally about neuroscience. That said, presenting things to people together and building the association between the two (i.e. classical conditioning) does in fact actually strengthen the neuronal connection between the areas of the brain where the two things are encoded, so not all of what they said was particularly farfetched, even if not precisely phrased or somewhat overstated.
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alex
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« Reply #314 on: Oct 02, 2011, 03:14:13 PM »

I probably wouldn't be particularly bothered by any of these statements on their own, but since the authors seem to repeatedly choose these kind of formulations (and based on Ryan's post, it seems that those were just a few examples), I kind of assume that they were not phrased in that way by accident. Part of why I think they are problematic is that they are just plain lazy - it seems that the authors went out of their way to find arguments in favour of the particular pedagogical strategies they propose, but instead of looking for arguments based either on practical pedagogical experience or insights from any of a number of scientific fields that would be much more directly relevant to teaching methods, they go looking in the field of neuroscience - and not only that, they remain on such a generic level that they provide no real explanation or argument at all. (Of course, I just read these quotes out of context, so what do I know. But I can certainly see why a book containing numerous such instances would leave a bad taste in someone's mouth.)
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RavingLunatic
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« Reply #315 on: Oct 02, 2011, 04:53:52 PM »

OK, so GI's longer response makes it clear that I was missing some important context, thanks. I figured the Williamson's attack on the"naturalism is just physics" view was him strawmanning, or at least a caricature of what Rosenberg had said. Apparently not. I'm surprised to learn that there are people who seriously claim that all useful knowledge of our world derives from physics.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "all useful knowledge of our world derives from physics," but it's hard for me to believe there's anyone who holds that position. It seems more likely to me that there are people that maintain that it is--or has to be--possible to describe all the hard sciences in terms of physics, even if we cannot do so or may never be able to do so, perhaps because of the limits of our mental abilities. This seems like a reasonable position, though I don't think you can really defend it rigorously when it comes right down to it. I don't think the fact that nobody has managed to reduce much of anything to physics is a very strong argument against it though either. It seems like the main reason for maintaining that physics is at the bottom of everything if you dig far enough simply that 1. we've never found anything to violate laws of physics and 2. there have been many cases in which non-material forces have been posited--I'm thinking vitalism--but when we took a closer look and science advanced far enough, the explanations have turned out to be basically of a mechanical nature, chemistry in the case of vitalism, physics in the case of planetary motion and the like.

From the Philosophy of Science Teaching Company course I listened to, I got the impression that naturalist philosophers basically sidestep the question of justification for basic scientific methods, such as the problem of induction. I thought they were basically in favor of just doing science and then justifying the results of science in terms of science, not philosophy or logic or any sort of rational reconstruction. I can see how one would object that this is either too permissive--since without some sort of philosophical justification science could be just about anything you like it to be--or too restrictive--since you can't reduce all knowledge down to the hard sciences--but if the naturalistic position is that we simply use "our best science" to justify itself, I don't see how you can object too strongly. No real rational reconstruction seems  possible, and if you don't want to open the door to complete epistemological relativism, you have to start with something, and our best science seems as good a place to start as any.

I may be way off on any or all of this though.  
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RavingLunatic
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« Reply #316 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:06:19 PM »

....instead of looking for arguments based either on practical pedagogical experience or insights from any of a number of scientific fields that would be much more directly relevant to teaching methods, they go looking in the field of neuroscience - and not only that, they remain on such a generic level that they provide no real explanation or argument at all.

This. Basically, the author of the article throws around the word "brain" along with some really crude facts about nerves and acts as if it reveals something really important about learning and behavior and teaching. They might as well have said, "The core of the Earth consists of iron, and we should teach children to be honest."

The fact that the amygdala develops at a certain rate compared to the rest of the brain tells us nothing we didn't already know about teenagers, nor does it provide any insight into what sort of teaching methods we should use. I'm not sure what the thought process is of people who write these sorts of things, but I think it results from a kind of worship of science and a notion that if you say the word "brain" and pretend to know something about the way it functions, it gives you instant credibility.

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Good Intentions
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« Reply #317 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:07:25 PM »

Am I correct in thinking that general naturalism is synonomous with a rational view of the world?
Gods in heaven, what's the rational view of the world?

Quote
That he's contrasting that with one that invokes supernatural explanations?
No, supernaturalism isn't anywhere in the picture. You don't have to believe in god to think that there are domains of knowledge parallel to the natural sciences but no worse off for it.

What naturalism is supposed to amount to is damned difficult to see. The current state, as I understand it, isn't the claim that every bit of knowledge must be producible by the natural sciences to be genuine. It's rather that every fact must invoke only entities which are attested by the natural sciences. This would mean that the literary theorist better not invent a new faculty of the mind that psychologists can't verify.

This would help keep the link between, for instance, biology and chemistry: thought they have wildly different domains and methods, the fundamental entities of biology are chemical. This still has problems, though - the fundamental entities of chemistry aren't all physical, there are (on current chemical models) forces which are not derived from physics (and forces are entities).

I don't know what to think on the issue, despite the fact that the majority of my own work is providing naturalist hypotheses in ethics. What I don't do is argue that only naturalist hypotheses count as worthwhile, and in ethics that question is a very live and difficult issue.
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Good Intentions
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« Reply #318 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:15:16 PM »

I may be way off on any or all of this though.  
No, that's all fine, though you might want to see my post above on how we could try to link the natural sciences together without hoping to accomplish the unity of the sciences (by only making use in explanations of entities that are verified by the natural sciences).
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Good Intentions
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« Reply #319 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:16:03 PM »

For my triple-post of power, I'll add my support to RL and alex's misgivings about those embarrassingly empty appeals to neuroscience.
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jess
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Posts: 3571


« Reply #320 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:26:18 PM »

....instead of looking for arguments based either on practical pedagogical experience or insights from any of a number of scientific fields that would be much more directly relevant to teaching methods, they go looking in the field of neuroscience - and not only that, they remain on such a generic level that they provide no real explanation or argument at all.

This. Basically, the author of the article throws around the word "brain" along with some really crude facts about nerves and acts as if it reveals something really important about learning and behavior and teaching. They might as well have said, "The core of the Earth consists of iron, and we should teach children to be honest."

The fact that the amygdala develops at a certain rate compared to the rest of the brain tells us nothing we didn't already know about teenagers, nor does it provide any insight into what sort of teaching methods we should use. I'm not sure what the thought process is of people who write these sorts of things, but I think it results from a kind of worship of science and a notion that if you say the word "brain" and pretend to know something about the way it functions, it gives you instant credibility.



Ok, that seems reasonable enough. There are probably ways a person could invoke neuroscience appropriately in making some educational arguments (though limitedly, of course, given the general state of knowledge or lack thereof), but those examples certainly don't have it adding anything.
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Good Intentions
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« Reply #321 on: Oct 02, 2011, 05:30:52 PM »

Yeah, when you're making claims it's not just whether the claim is true (or, more appropriate here, whether there is a reading under which it is true), but whether it is informative. In this case nothing is added, except a sham sheen of authority.
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Antero
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« Reply #322 on: Oct 07, 2011, 02:56:33 AM »

Brooks writes something stupid.
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Quote from: nonotyet
this has been OPINIONS IN CAPSLOCK
YojimboMonkey
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Posts: 12034


« Reply #323 on: Oct 07, 2011, 10:11:46 AM »

Poached from a friend's FB: "Should JesusWeen replace Halloween?"

"JesusWeen - A Christian Gift Giving Festival." Wherein, apparently, Jesus gives the gift of ween.
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RavingLunatic
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« Reply #324 on: Oct 07, 2011, 10:13:48 AM »

I like the idea of Jesus and his followers passing out bibles along with copies of Chocolate & Cheese.

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I will meditate and then destroy you!
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