Archive for March, 2010

Excellent comment from the Bishop Hill blog

March 30, 2010
By Commentor Pa Annoyed in reply to Cedric Katesby, discussing the comparison between the Creation/Evolution debate and the AGW debate:
“Cedric,

“It starts with a problem. The creationists don’t have any support in the scientific community. That’s a problem. They can’t get any real traction in the peer-reviewed literature. This is a PR problem. Not a science problem.”

No, this argument is not about science, it’s about authority.

The scientific problem with Creationism is that they don’t have any good technical arguments, and their own version of events is inconsistent, incomplete, and provably wrong. The problem is not that they don’t have scientific backing or authority.

It’s a fundamental failure on the part of some of the evolutionary biologists. Rather than explaining evolution in terms of evidence and experiment, in terms of mechanisms and subtle details and correcting misunderstandings, instead they were lazy and used the argument “all scientists believe in evolution, therefore you should too.” This was incredibly stupid, and a fundamental betrayal of science. Instead of teaching science by teaching science, they used Argument from Authority.

And by doing so, they handed the entire debate on a silver platter to the Creationists, because religion is an expert at Argument from Authority.

As it happens, there are extremely good and very convincing arguments for evolution, and against Creationism. But you wouldn’t know that from the way most evolutionists conduct the debate in public.

The climatologists are making exactly the same error – using Argument from Authority rather than teaching the Science – but the difference is that they don’t have the good arguments to back it up. All they’ve got are the claims to authority, and the support of the political elite.

Climate sceptics mostly talk about technical arguments (with an admittedly wide range of technical competency), and the believers respond with “consensus”, “peer review”, “experts”, the “thousands of IPCC climate scientists” and similar empty propaganda. It’s not even true. Consensus has often been wrong, peer review is more superficial than claimed, many of the experts are not, and the IPCC thousands are a misleading deception.

The lists of sceptical scientists are an explicit response to these misleading claims, themselves unsupported by actual surveys or other evidence. But they’re not an argument we place any weight on ourselves.

The problem is arguments from authority in general. And while the AGW-believers rely on it in such great degree themselves, your comparison bears no weight.”

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Northumbria Police win gold.

March 25, 2010

Inspector Gadget hits the target on this:

Hayley Adamson is dead but Northumbria wins Gold!

The inevitable result of selecting “managers” based on how well they can parrot the latest politically correct catchphrases and not on whether they actually know the job and can actually provide leadership.

UPDATE: This comment by Ray Warren is good as well:

“…As a MOP I obtain considerable comfort from the knowledge that there are a few people in the public sector with INTEGRITY.

Gadget, Bloggs and others show that standards in public life aren’t to do with ‘process’ or ’systems’. It is the quality of the individuals given authority to act on behalf of the public that matters.

Representing the public and taking decisions and making judgements, on the spot and in the heat of the moment isn’t something that can be turned into a computer program or procedure…”

GLOBE look like a fascist organisation.

March 25, 2010

See here. An essentially secret organisation that attempts to coordinate senior “opinion formers” from all the main parties and takes it’s money from both government and industry.

Lib-Dims trying to live up to their nickname.

March 17, 2010

I would never vote for them anyway, but the Lib Dems are busy trying to prove how fucking hopeless they are:http://order-order.com/2010/03/17/lib-dem-choir-clanger/

I don’t recommend listening to it, as it sounds completely shit.

The face of reason.

March 15, 2010

The face of reason by Richard North.

I totally agree with Richards stance on this, I could not have said it better.

Mass Effect 2

March 12, 2010

I’ve just finished Mass Effect 2 on the hardest difficulty level (called “insane” for a good reason). Just to make life difficult I also set myself the objective of completing the final level (called the “suicide mission” for a good reason) without losing any of the supporting characters. I do feel pretty good about completing it, though playing on that difficulty level was bloody annoying at times (ranging from “wanting to throw the computer across the room” to “wanting to hunt down the level designers and hurt them severely” level of annoyance).

The last level isn’t as good as the last level from Mass Effect 1, though it does have some advantages over it. Breaking the last level down into three sectors and giving the player the ability to switch teams between each sector is both good and bad: Good in that you get to use different characters whereas in the first game you had to pick 2 of them at the start and the unused ones just twiddled their thumbs back on your spaceship the whole time. This time all the characters are doing something, even if only 2 of them are with you at any time. Unfortunately this is also bad because it weakens the pacing of the last level. The pacing of the last level on MS1 was fantastic, the best I can think of. It started fairly conventionally with a battle against a series of Geth, then switched to a vehicle sequence through the Ilos sewers (or whatever they were), then it took us to the Citadel, but a citadel wrecked by fires and debris. Then they managed a surprise with the elevator getting stuck, forcing the player to fight up the outside of the Citadel tower while an immense Reaper looms overhead. Then the final confrontation with Saren in the ruined counsel chambers.  Several changes of scene, a good surprise, and either showing us stuff we’d seen before but significantly altered, or showing us new stuff. Compared to that MS2’s last level takes place primarily in the Collector base,  which is visually uninteresting, and contains little that we hadn’t already seen on the Collector ship in an earlier level. The earlier space battle elements were ok, but the player was peripheral to events during them. The “human” reaper was no where near as interesting to fight as Saren and lacking any interpersonal feel (the ability to talk the Saren into blowing his own brains out was pretty cool).  I’m also a bit dubious about the whole injecting the Reaper with liquidised humans: I have no problem with them studying organics for design ideas. I can even swallow the idea of engineered gods with psychic powers in addition to their awesome physical capabilities. It’s just not really clear what a load of organic “soup” does for them. Also the human Reaper appeared to be rather different in form to all the other reapers we’ve seen. I have difficulty imaging a human shaped Reaper flying alongside the various crustacean-shaped Reapers we’ve already seen. Would he have flown through space like a giant evil robotic version of superman? Or would he have had some sort of chair/throne arrangement like Galactus? It’s lucky he got killed really, I’m sure all the other Reapers would have taken the piss out of him just because he was different and made his life unbearable.

I don’t know what they could have changed to make it better. Maybe have the final battle with Harbinger instead of the human Reaper? That would’ve been a bit too much like the battle with Saren.  Maybe add some extra Reaper tech into the central chamber rather than repeating the floating Collector platforms, anything to add something new and different, even just changing the lighting would have been visually interesting. Maybe have the final battle involve using Reaper tech to kill the Reaper, rather than just shooting it’s vulnerable spots repeatedly with the same weapons as normal.

I am looking forward to Mass Effect 3, hopefully they’ll end the trilogy on a high note!

Help, how do I know.

March 12, 2010

Via Countingcats, this is good: help-how-do-i-know Jo Nova has a look at the basics of science again. It’s tragic that we’re in a situation where this is neccessary.

RAF helicoptor pilot shot between the eyes by Taliban flies 20 to safety.

March 7, 2010

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7373768/RAF-helicoptor-pilot-shot-between-the-eyes-by-Taliban-flies-20-to-safety.html

Holy crap, if this is even remotely true this guy deserves the biggest fucking medal they can fit on his chest.

UPDATE: Maybe they should have used this as the title: “RAF pilot shot between the eyes, flying not noticeably effected.”