1119) One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.
Hans Henrik Bohr writing about physicist Niels Bohr in "My father" in Niels Bohr - His Life and Work As Seen By His Friends and Colleagues (1967) S. Rozental, ed. posted by bobjcumbia [UAQ] (6/21/1995)
1120) The truth is not in nature waiting to declare itself, and we cannot a priori know which observations are relevant and which are not. Every discovery, every enlargement of the understanding, begins as an imaginative preconception of what the truth might be.
Peter Medawar Advice to a Young Scientist (1979) posted by bobjcumbia [UAQ] (6/21/1995)
1121) As we look at the herring gull, moving westwards from Great Britain to North America, we see gulls that are recognizably herring gulls, although they are a little different from the British form. We can follow them, as their appearance gradually changes, as far as Siberia. At about this point in the continuum, the gull looks more like the form that in Great Britain is called the lesser black-backed gull. From Siberia, across Russia, to northern Europe, the gull gradually changes to look more and more like the British lesser-backed gull. Finally, in Europe, the ring is complete; the two geographically extreme forms meet, to form two perfectly good species: the herring and the lesser black-backed gull can be both distinguished by their appearance and do not naturally interbreed.
Mark Ridley The Problems of Evolutions (1985) quoted by Daniel C. Dennett in Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995)
1122) LIFE RESULTS FROM THE NON-RANDOM SURVIVAL OF RANDOMLY VARYING REPLICATORS
Richard Dawkins t-shirt slogan quoted by Michael Schrage in "Revolutionary Evolutionist" in Wired (7/1995)
1123) Perhaps we were asking the wrong question when we set out to find whether there is a gene for sexual orientation. We know that genes are responsible for the development of our lungs, larynx, mouth, and the speech areas of our brains. And we understand that this complexity cannot be collapsed into the notion of a gene for "talking." Similarly, what possible basis can there be for concluding that there is a single gene for sexuality, even though we accept that there are genes that direct the development our penises, vaginas, and brains? This analogy is not to deny the importance of genes, but merely to recast their role in a different conceptual setting, one devoid of dualist prejudice.
Richard Horton "Is Homosexuality Inherited?" in New York Review of Books (7/13/1995) [review of The Sexual Brain by Simon LeVay and The Science of Desire by Deam Hamer and Peter Copeland]
1124) All experiments in psychology are not of this [cargo cult] type, however. For example there have been many experiments running rats through all kinds of mazes, and so on--with little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if he could train rats to go to the third door down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the door where the food had been the time before.
The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door as before? Obviously there was something about the door that was different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe they were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the corridor, and still the rats could tell
He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go to the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.
Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because it uncovers the clues that the rat is really using--not what you think it's using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with rat-running.
I looked into the subsequent history of this research. The next experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young. They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on sand, or of being very careful. They just went right on running rats in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn't discover anything about rats. In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic of cargo cult science.
Richard Feynman "Cargo Cult Science" adapted from an commencement address given at CalTech (1974) posted by Carsten Kalles-Agger on sci.psychology.misc (6/27/1995)
[UAQ] - Usenet alt.quotations newsgroup
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 504 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.