Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Rationality Quotes 7 · 2008-01-27T04:50:35.000Z · LW · GW

"Open Source Software: There are days when I can't figure out whether I'm living in a Socialist utopia or a Libertarian one." -- Alex Future Bokov

I suspect the answer is "neither."

Libertarianism and Socialism are about (electoral) politics and government. Open Source Software is about voluntary co-operation.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Hug the Query · 2007-12-15T04:34:51.000Z · LW · GW


I agree.

Which is why, since we have the evidence of the background radiation found by Wilson and Penzias and the evidene of the current state of the universe (and since no one has shown me any counter evidence) I no longer believe in the "heat death of the universe" and neither should anyone else.

Evidence before authority.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on No Evolutions for Corporations or Nanodevices · 2007-11-18T22:51:12.000Z · LW · GW

George Weinberg,

Am I correct in assuming that you have neither followed nor studied the efforts of W. Edwards Deming and other practitioners of statistical quality control to introduce those methods into American manufacturing companies from the 1930s through the mid 1980s? That you do not know how few companies have adopted them even after the Baldrige award was established in 1987?

That you do not know how few managers (of manufacturing or anything else) even know that there is such a thing as design of experiments?

You may have experienced only the best of management and have participated in successful introductions into your organization of practices believed to account for the success of others.

If this is so, let me assure you that you have had extraordinarily rare experiences and have been either exceptionally lucky or exceptionally wise in your choice of place or places to work.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on No Evolutions for Corporations or Nanodevices · 2007-11-18T15:23:38.000Z · LW · GW


The mechanisms of cosmological, biological, and organizational evolution are as dissimilar as the mechanisms of artistic (paint on canvass), photographic, and mental image making.

An artist uses a brush to paint a picture. Even though both make images, we don't expect to find a brush painting the paper or the chip inside a camera.

Corporations change. That the word evolution can be used to refer to such changes does not mean the changes are similar to the changes in stars or amoebae.

Is that what you are saying?


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on No Evolutions for Corporations or Nanodevices · 2007-11-17T04:21:38.000Z · LW · GW


The theory of change in stars over time that I am familiar with says that early stars were nearly pure hydrogen. Heavier elements were formed in them as they burned and when they became nova. Subsequent stars created and were composed of increasing concentrations of increasingly heavy elements. Did this not change the life span of stars? Did I misunderstand your point?

Also, is there an equation that is claimed to describe the change in the entropy of the universe?

Can it be used to figure out if the increase in entropy caused by a star going nova would cause an increase in entropy in the universe as a whole? If one nova is insufficient, how many would have to go nova simultaneously to cause an increase? How long would the increase last?


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on The Wonder of Evolution · 2007-11-02T22:31:04.000Z · LW · GW


Could you -- perhaps in another thread -- discuss how "The Evolution of Cooperation" (as Robert Axelrod put it) fits or does not fit with Huxley's comment. Can Axelrod and Huxley both be right?


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on How to Seem (and Be) Deep · 2007-10-15T01:52:41.000Z · LW · GW


Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.

The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. --Andrew Marvell


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on A Priori · 2007-10-10T18:03:57.000Z · LW · GW

"--" should have been "Shakespeare's Fool" John

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on A Priori · 2007-10-10T18:01:43.000Z · LW · GW

Tom McCabe, Thank you for the comment. You have started me thinking about the differences between Occam's Razor and Einstein's "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." John

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on A Priori · 2007-10-09T03:37:17.000Z · LW · GW

I am not sure if my understanding of Occam’s Razor matches Eliezer Yudkowsky’s.

I understand it more as (to use a mechanical analogy) “don’t add any more parts to a machine than are needed to make it work properly.”

This seems to fit Occam’s Razor if I take it to be a guide, not a prediction or a law. It does not say that the theory with the fewest parts is more likely to be correct. It just reminds us to take out anything that is unnecessary.

If scientists have often found that theories with more parts are less often correct, that may further encourage us to look for and test the simpler theories first. But it does not tell us that they are more likely to be correct only because they are simpler.

As soon as I try an aesthetic analogy “strip the iPod down to its essential features” (and make them easy to use), I run into trouble. There is no agreement on what the essential features are or on what is easiest to use. (1)

Perhaps Occam works best with a certain type of simplicity. F=MA being much simpler than the Mac OS. Even if it did require a different genius to discover it.


(1) I realize that in order to make the mechanical analogy work we need to know what the machine is before we apply Occam’s Razor. Once we start improving the product (replacing the stick shift with automatic transmission, adding air conditioning) we are into feature wars. It is not possible to know in advance what customers will find essential.

But even then we would not want unnecessary parts in the transmission or the air conditioner.

Still, taking out all unnecessary parts won’t guarantee that the machinery will work properly any more than removing unnecessary parts of a theory will guarantee the correctness of the theory.

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Recommended Rationalist Reading · 2007-10-02T04:38:48.000Z · LW · GW

I have been looking for 2 texts on the design of experiments. One that can be used by non-statisticians like graduate students in physics, chemistry, economics and the like. Another to introduce the non-mathematical to the field. One group who I think could benefit from the design and analysis of experiments are some people I know who run microcredit operations. Any suggestions? John

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Einstein's Arrogance · 2007-09-27T14:30:05.000Z · LW · GW

Abraham Pais, one of Einstein's many friends, has said that Einstein loved to joke. Are you sure his "sorry for the good Lord" wasn't a bit of humor?

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Planning Fallacy · 2007-09-17T12:54:36.000Z · LW · GW

In Boston we have heard many reporters claim that the delays in the Big Dig (the highways tunneled under the city and the harbor) were increased by contractors stretching out the work to increase their incomes. This suggests that there are strong incentives, particularly in projects paid for through government, to over promise (underbid) and under deliver (negotiate higher pay when work is under way).

Not so much a planning bias as a pocket book bias.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Applause Lights · 2007-09-12T04:12:13.000Z · LW · GW


Thank you for the quotation:

"We believe that we are already living in a democracy, although some factors are still missing, such as the expression of the people's will"

I hope someone can tell us who said it.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Guessing the Teacher's Password · 2007-08-22T21:44:09.000Z · LW · GW


School is all about words?

In shop class if the pieces didn't fit together, weren't sanded down smooth, or the contraption didn't work, you flunked the course.

In chemistry lab, if you didn't measure the pH right, same problem.

In physics if your measurements of waves or acceleration down the inclined plane were wrong down went your grade.

Guess we must have gone to different schools.


Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Fake Explanations · 2007-08-22T02:43:27.000Z · LW · GW

A student who said it was done by magic would, of course, have been correct. Because it was done by magic.

The teacher moved the plate when the audience wasn't looking. That is one of the ways magicians perform their tricks.

If they had used words such as "supernatural," "miracle," or "paranormal," then they would not have been discussing physics.

But good magicians are the best practical physicists.

Comment by shakespeare-s_fool on Think Like Reality · 2007-05-02T21:03:38.000Z · LW · GW

If Richard Feynman can say:

What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it. ... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.

then it may be strange to the point of being beyond understanding.

(Nobel Lecture, 1966, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)