Saturday, July 1, 2017

THE BALONEY DETECTION KIT


The late,, great Carl Sagan came up with this list of tools to use to try to separate truth from idiocy. Too bad there isn't another term to use. Real baloney (the lunch meat) has it's uses. 

The Baloney Detection Kit

Apart from pointing out these common fallacies, Sagan makes a few suggestions about the "tools" a skeptic should keep ready in their Baloney Detection Kit. These are not merely measures to identify bad arguments, but constructive ideas about how to come up with better alternatives:
  • Seek independent confirmation of alleged facts.
  • Encourage an open debate about the issue and the available evidence.
  • "In science, there are no authorities. At most, there are experts."
  • Come up with a variety of competing hypotheses explaining a given outcome. Considering many different explanations will lower the risk of confirmation bias.
  • Don't get too attached to your own ideas, lest you get reluctant to reject them even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
  • Quantify whenever possible, allowing for easier comparisons between hypotheses' relative explanatory power.
  • Every step in an argument must be logically sound; a single weak link can doom the entire chain.
  • When the evidence is inconclusive, use Occam's Razor to discriminate between hypotheses.
  • Pay attention to falsifiability. Science does not concern itself with unfalsifiable propositions.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

HER NAME WAS EDITH

This post was prompted by this article  and I will tell what I know of her story as often as I can.

This is about a great aunt I never knew. We were doing the Memorial Day flower round when I noticed a very small grave marker near other family graves. I guess it caught my eye because her name was the same as my grandma Parks. Edith. Checking out the dates on the marker was obvious that she died way too soon. It didn't take long for mom to tell me what she knew of her story.

Edith Freeman was her married name. Mom didn't remember her family name. If she ever knew it. And isn't that a kick. Try tracing the maternal sides of your family tree and like as not you'll keep running into brick walls.

She and my not so great uncle lived in a tiny little town in the foot hills of the Oregon Cascades. The nearest town with a hospital was over an hour away over a gravel road. As mom remembers it there was one family in town with a car.

 It was during the depression. They were dirt poor. She already had three small children and I'd be surprised to find out that the oldest was already in primary school. I don't know what she used but she tried to end her pregnancy herself. The owner of that only car tried to get her to that hospital. She never made it. She bled to death.. I'll repeat that.SHE BLED TO DEATH. She died in a car on a gravel road with only the driver for company.

That's her story. What I know of it. I'm guessing that there are a lot of stories just like hers. Her name was Edith and I will keep telling her story whenever and wherever I can.

INTENDED CONSEQUENSES

Or how to use fear and prejudice to make a profit;

Ran across the term BLOCKBUSTER today under the subject of housing segregation in the Los Angeles area in the forties thru the sixties.

Realtors would target a block or part of a neighborhood buy a piece of property and then resell or rent to a minority family. Often African American. Then wait for prejudice to take its course; make offers to buy at the lowest price possible. Then turn around and resell the property minority families looking for a piece of the American Dream. At a much higher price of course.

Of course this couldn't work in neighborhoods that had restrictive covenants in the purchase contracts. But it did work often enough to make the practice very, very profitable.

Ah, good old American Free Enterprise. Gotta love it. NOT.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES PART ONE

Sorry for the weird spacing. This started as post of FB that got too long.

Now that I have more than three brain cells firing at the same time it might be time to revive this tired,old blog. The title would be "The the Law of Unintended Consequences.

With no overseas competition corporate America exploded after WWII. Between the bottled up consumerism in the US and the need to rebuild a shattered Europe those were the Golden Years for American business. It will never come again.

Business expanded. Corporations asked their execs to move to California or Seattle or Houston or Atlanta leaving their extended families behind. The older generation said to hell with the frozen winters of Wisconsin and New York and moved to Florida. Fortunes were made in real estate and construction. The old neighborhoods withered. Those who couldn't afford to move or compete for the new jobs got left behind.

Farmers sold their fields. The first out went because they wanted to. Many of the others sold up because it became too expensive to grow potatoes as land values and taxes skyrocketed Those fields sported a new crop. Houses instead of potatoes. Just houses. No stores. None of the other businesses that crowded the streets of the Bronx or Queens. And many of those went out of business when the customers who could afford to got the heck out of Dodge.

We passed laws making it possible for minority groups to live anywhere they could afford to live. Those new subdivisions for example. Those that could got the hell out of their segregated neighborhoods. Taking the doctors, the lawyers, the business leaders; the human infrastructure needed to keep cities and neighborhoods alive.

Who was left behind? The people who couldn't afford to move because they were too old, too poor, unskilled.


Friday, January 13, 2017

SOMEBODY THROW ME A ROPE

We all could use a lifeline before we drown in a sea of personal and political idiocy. 

Comment I left over on Coming to Terms.  More later. Some of  this has been kicking around in the old brain box for a week or so. 

When Harry Truman was fighting for his second term he got on a train and went whistle stopping. I've heard that there were times they had to do a whip round the train to keep it going since he was getting almost no support from the party. If he wanted to win he had to get out and TALK to people. Big people, little people, the people in what we call the "fly over" part of the country. 

And the era of social media only makes it worse. The keyboard fanatics seem to forget that there are a lot of people who don't own computers or use them the way some of the rest of us do. These people and their opinions are invisible to too many of us. 

There's a story knocking around about the first nation wide political poll using telephones. I BELIEVE it was when FDR was running for his second term. According to the poll the Republicans were going to win. Trouble is, many of the folks who were likely to vote for Roosevelt didn't have telephones!

And too many of us on both sides are willing to believe the worst without doing some investigating of our own. How many liberals laughed at the birthers, truthers, the Obama is a secret Muslim, the folks who claimed that Hillery was running a trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor. And how many liberals have jumped on the allegations about Trump and Russian "golden showers." It may be true, but good Lord the man has enough baggage that we know to be true without drooling over what amounts to political porn?

We are better than this time to prove it. Thanks for letting me bend your ear. So to speak.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Comment on the thread started by another Face Booker recommending flying the flag at half staff on inauguration day. Well, one commenter was correct usually we fly the flag for death. For distress you fly the flag upside down. But hey, I wasn't going to argue with her.

Anyway this commenter who shall remain nameless genderless was quite free with his/hers opinions. Didn't much want to hear ours and was totally puzzled when I commented that I had visited the FB page trying to get a feel of where they were coming from. 

"Why did she visit my page? I don't know her!" Well you apparently believe that YOU can go on the site of a someone I assume is a total stranger to you and offer your unsolicited opinion. Unless you've taken your page private that's a risk you take while apparently not realizing how clueless that comment sounds. Specks in eyes vs two by fours and all that. 

In what I assume was a blast intended to silence the rest of us the following statement was posted. "I'm a Christian conservative and that's all you need to know." 

Too dense to realize that the statement tells us everything and nothing. Christianity is a hodge podge of often conflicting beliefs ranging from the Amish to the Unitarian Universalists with Lutherans, Presbyterians, several flavors of Methodists, Quakers and seemingly endless tribes of Baptists. As for the conservative claim. That's almost meaningless too.  Conservatives have a spectrum ranging from  old style Eisenhower Republicans (almost extinct) to the followers of Ayn Rand. 

That you voted for Trump and want to America Great Again without explaining what isn't great now and what you support to make us "great" again tells me more than you probably want me to know.

And I almost forgot the little statement that you had put everything in the hands of a higher power and Trump won, So it must be God's will. Ran across the same claims about Bush II. Which leaves us with President Obama. Either it was God's will that HE also be elected president or you are full of it.

God or Goddess must get awfully tired being left holding the bag all the time.