Hypotheses I Have Known
Hypothesis generation and testing puts the method in the scientific method. Without hypotheses we cannot do science or use the scientific method. While one cannot do science without hypothesizing, one can hypothesize without doing science until the cows come home. Witness the contents of this very article for a collection of examples.
An Argument Against Secret Knowledge
It seems obvious to state that as the number of people who are aware of a given secret grows the chances of its being revealed increases. There is a point at which the number of people that know a given secret is essentially guaranteed to result in its reveal. What that number is varies greatly based on the type of secret, and subset of persons that know it, but all secrets have such a number. The power of the particular secret will reduce that number as the temptation to reveal it becomes ever stronger the more powerful it is. This is human nature and it can only be fought against, but it cannot ever be defeated.
Libertarian God Questions the Need for so Many Natural Laws
God, creator of all things, the all knowing and all powerful one, shook the universe today when he/she/it questioned the need for so many natural laws. "We have too many laws already" complained the suddenly libertarian leaning God bitterly. "If I want to be in two non coextensive places at the same time, I should be able to be. And why does a thing have to be identical with itself? Why can't it be something different? Moreover, If I want something to be both bigger and larger than another thing I should be able to make it that way. I mean, I am God, right? Right? I say it's time for another way. This universe is being crushed under the weight of too many God damn laws already. Pardon my cursing but dammit I am really annoyed at the moment. It's getting so a guy can hardly breathe without some new law telling him exactly how much air and for exactly how long without the air police coming to his house to write him a ticket and fine him for daring to take a breath at all. It's bullshit is what it is, and wouldn't you know it, guess who is leading the way down this road to tyranny? Surprise, surprise, it's our good friends and step parent wanna be's, the ultimate nanny state, California. They have laws covering every God damn thing. At some point we just have to trust that people are able to make decisions for themselves and they don't need big government or God or anyone telling them how to do it." said a visibly angry God as dark storm clouds swirled around his unbearably bright visage. After a brief pause of just 10,000 years God continued "Yes, we all know (perennial libertarian presidential candidate) Ron Paul is a kook and would make a terrible president but at least he has the right idea when it comes to personal responsibility and the dangers of big government. Even the internet, which was once a place of freedom of expression and a beacon of openness has morphed into a modern day electronic mom. Look no further than Vocal.media, a two bit website with about as many views as a dinner menu in a home for the blind. Their so called community standards and outlandishly stupid 600 word count minimum policies are just two examples of big government, big brotherism run amok." God concluded sadly. With that he turned from the podium bowed his infinitely large head, and walked away.
Born of Ash and Torn Asunder
There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Of course depending on the time frame one is considering, there wasn't always a valley either. Go back far enough and what is now a valley was once a chasm which split wide the floor of an ancient sea. That sea teemed with creatures that many thought were dragons, but turned out to be nothing more than rather large fish with fins on each side running the lengths of their massive bodies. When they leapt from the water, which they had the propensity to do quite often, their great fins would spread wide to each side, pushed apart by the rushing air. This gave them the appearance of flight to the naïve fishermen who first spotted them. They called them aquaero' dr'aco, and they were greatly feared. It turned out their fear was misplaced as the aquaero' ate nothing but phytoplankton. The reason they leapt from the water was not in pursuit of other fish or even sea mammals to eat, but so they might strain another ton of tasty microbial life through their gaping maws. They had no teeth nor even any jaws to hold them, and reportedly were gentle and highly intelligent. That realization did not stop the ancient Kromlize people from hunting them to extinction. They were prized for their blubber, and most importantly the webbing which was packed like a cotton plug into the gigantic plankton filtering orifice which served as the mouth of the aquaero'. The webbing could be used for many things the Kromlize found particularly useful, not the least of which was building nets to trap ever more of the giant fish. Over time the practice of net trapping decimated their slowly reproducing population until suddenly, before anyone knew what was happening, they were gone. Every last one. Dead. Species never to be seen on this world again. It is a great historical and tragically sad irony that an entire race of majestic sea creatures was wiped from the face of Lasion by an ignorant race of people using the dr'aco's own anatomy as the instrument of their doom.
Is it Possible to Use the Scientific Method to Determine if Something is Art?
The scientific method would seem to be a poor choice for determining whether or not a given thing is art. After all, art is subjective, whereas science concerns itself with the objective. The question of what is art has plagued philosophers since ancient times and has not been answered satisfactorily to this day. I know it pains artists to hear this, but after thousands of years the best answer still seems to be, art is what anyone person says is art, or crudely, if it is displayed in an art museum, it is art. I would never attempt to propose to answer the question what is art, and it likely has no answer. That said I do think it is possible to ask if there might be a way to determine if a thing is art or not without necessarily having to "know" what art actually is. Strangely, it seems there is at least one (highly improbable though not unimaginable) way the scientific method could be used to do this.
Self-Worth About Five Bucks
Local man Ted Stephens reported today that his self-worth about five bucks. Five bucks marks the lowest level his self-worth has seen since former high school sweetheart and wife of ten years Janet (Thomkins) Stephen suddenly announced that she would be leaving him to move in with Ted's former best friend Tim Crutz by telling him "Tim can satisfy me in a way you never could Ted. Sorry." It also represents a stunning fall from the near record highs his self-worth had reached in recent years after Ted had found a new girlfriend and landed a high paying job as an accountant at a prestigious local law firm. In a prepared statement Mr. Stephens said "After Jan-Jan (Miss Thomkins) left me for that snake in the grass Tim Crutz I thought I would never recover. My self-worth less than a dollar back then. However, with the help of my true friends, my family, my counselor, and a lot of hard work I was able to pull my life out of the tailspin it was in. I found a beautiful new girlfriend Kathy, finished my college degree in accounting, and accepted a high paying position as junior accounts manager at local law firm Smith-Kline & Breatchem (SKB). At SKB I quickly climbed the ladder and soon found myself leading their accounting department with a staff of six junior accountants reporting directly to me. It took years, but before I knew it my self worth around ten thousand dollars and all was right with the world. Then, out of the blue disaster struck, and a downturn in the local economy forced SKB to enact a series of austerity measures including significant workforce downsizing. I hung on for three months but eventually was let go with only three months severance and almost zero savings to survive on. At that point my self-worth less than two thousand bucks in the blink of an eye. To make matters worse it turned out that Kathy was not the ideal mate I had believed her to be as I discovered she was secretly addicted to pain pills. After I lost my job her pill addiction spiraled into heroin and before I knew it she was selling her body at the local seven eleven to anyone who could get her a fix. It was at that point that my self-worth dropped to its current all time low of five bucks where it remains to this day." With that Ted broke down, began to weep hysterically, then slowly turned and walked away.
China Admits Defeat in Secret War with America
China admitted defeat today in its 20 plus year secret war with America when it revealed that its ability to produce cheap goods and services could not keep up with seemingly unquenchable American demand for low priced tchotchke's and poor quality knick-knacks. The plan to flood the streets of America with ultra cheap consumer goods was said to be modeled on the CIAs much rumored but never confirmed plan to flood the streets of the inner city with crack cocaine in the 1980s in order to suppress a rising black populace that threatened the existing white power structure. Much like the CIA's beliefs about black youths and crack cocaine, the Chinese believed that American's would quickly become addicted to cheap crap. For both the CIA and the Chinese, the first part of the plan was a smashing success, but after those initial successes, the effectiveness of each plan began to diverge. While crack addicted black youths in the urban ghettos began to commit violent crime, drop out of school, and were sent to prison in record numbers exactly as the CIA had predicted, Americans were seemingly unfazed by their addiction to low priced knock off goods with humorously translated marketing and instructional content. While American consumer debt did balloon no collapse materialized and it was the Chinese that instead found themselves in an unsustainable position, unable to meet the continuing and growing American demand. Chinese economic Vice Mininster Wjen Zhanbo, said to be the brains behind the secret war said the following during his televised speech admitting the Chinese had been defeated. "While our secret war plan was brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed we overlooked what now seems to be glaringly obvious, American's thirst for really shitty and poorly made crap is endless. Even the awesome power of the magnificent manufacturing machine that is Chinese industry was no match for American's lust for useless household goods and toys that break after thirty seconds of use. Ah well, hindsight is 20/20 they say."
So, I Moved to Mexico
Background My vast and loyal readership have been clamoring for a follow up to my award winning and much beloved story So, I'm Moving to Mexico in which I detailed the reasons for my relocation to Mexico in an interesting and informative manner, using my patented blend of homespun humor, clever wordplay, and run on sentences that seem to never end. Congratulations reader(s) as your prayer(s) have finally been answered. Below I present to you the very sequel you have been dreaming about for close to three months now, and by below I mean that in terms of the typographical layout of the article on the screen from which you are currently reading this article. Unless you are reading it hanging upside down or perhaps in outer space in which case you may not consider it 'below' but instead above depending on your frame of reference. Also, you may have printed out the article and are reading a hard copy in which case, while the 'below' remark above may have been accurate the reference to the 'the screen from which you are currently reading this article' would obviously be incorrect. Also, Sharon from accounting wanted me to remind you that the printer is meant for work and work related printing only. Personal printing must be done on personal printers. In no way is it possible that reading some dumb article by a random insane person on the internet could be considered work or work related, no matter how humorous or clever or thoughtful or well crafted or informative it was. Finally, hopefully it goes without saying that Mexico is a large and diverse country. The part of the country I live in (Baja, California) is in many ways unique and different from mainland Mexico. Obviously, my observations only apply to the tiny slice of the country I have experienced to date, and my experiences and observation are unique to me. Others may, and almost certainly will disagree and/or have different opinions.
A Terrible Person Does Terrible Things to Save Humanity from a Terrible Disease
The story of how English Physician Edward Jenner "invented" the smallpox vaccine is oft told. He noted that there was one population of persons that were never infected with smallpox, milkmaids. It turns out that the milkmaids would get infected with a different but similar virus, cowpox (cowpox virus is also referred to as Vaccinia though in truth it is only related to Vaccinia with both belonging to the Genus Orthopoxvirus), which provided protection against infection with the deadly small pox virus (Variola virus, also a member of Genus Orthopoxvirus). From this one observation came the birth of the first successfully developed vaccine. It is a vaccine which would lead to the elimination of a truly terrible disease that had been a scourge of humanity since ancient times. The first recorded smallpox epidemic occurred in 1350 B.C.E., during the Egyptian-Hittite War. In 430 B.C.E., the second year of the Peloponnesian War, smallpox hit Athens and killed more than 30,000 people, reducing the population by 20 percent. Even into modern times, before Jenner's vaccine, when a case of smallpox was discovered in a particular community, the standard operating procedure was to burn it to the ground. The disease was that feared.
The Dark Side of Personality Classification Systems
People classification systems based on some set of pyschological traits are wildly popular with the general public and mainstream psychologists alike. The reasons for their popularity are, ironically enough, rooted in psychology and the desire or need in humans for systemization/classification as a way to understand the world we live in. This is all well known, heavily studied, and much commented upon and I have nothing of value to add to that discussion. However, in those discussions, one question that is almost never asked is what is the value of such classifications. Are they on balance a net negative or net positive for humanity? It seems obvious, that for some classifications, particularly those based on scientific principles that are useful for understanding the natural world, the desire to classify has been a huge net positive. To take just one example, without the phylogenetic classification system of Linnaeus, it would have been nearly impossible to have recognized the relationships that exist between all living beings on our planet. Darwin's theory of evolution may have never come to pass. However, the value of classifications of people based on psychological traits is much less clear. Certainly, it can be fun to determine what Myers-Briggs personality type you are, and even more fun to compare it with the types of your friends and family. And, perhaps there are some relationships that have been saved when the partners both read the five love languages and finally learned the secret ways they had never known before to make their lover happy. I must say I am more than a bit skeptical about that second one but I myself have had a lot of fun with Myers-Briggs and its many offshoots. Beyond just fun, some have claimed improved employee-employer relationships have resulted when all parties in a given business took the time to assess each others personality types and then attempted to adjust behaviors and expectations to accommodate. I did search the scientific literature for a published paper actually showing this, but was unsuccessful. Most likely this is because designing a set of controlled experiments to measure something as fuzzy as "improved employee-employer relationships" is about as easy as designing a set of experiments to show that ghosts can fall in love. Essentially, it is impossible though scads of papers are still published which purportedly measure this very thing.
Be Offended - Why You Should Attack
People are not nearly ready enough to attack. Today someone on twitter said she was inexplicably blocked by an acquaintance. I replied, “Well that’s odd. I’ve never spotted you being the least bit controversial, political, or anything that might rub anyone up the wrong way. And that is why you have zero name recognition, no followers, and no options in life to get ahead. "
Attitude Not Gratitude
I recently published an article on favors here in which I suggested one "rule" of favors is that rudeness on the part of the favor receiver is not an option. Simply put, in asking for help you automatically forfeit your right to complain about the nature of the help received (assuming an honest, good faith, attempt to deliver on the help, even if it is clumsy or stupid, or poorly through through, or whatever). No matter the form the requested help takes, the only appropriate response on the part of the favored is gratitude and humility.