Friday, May 19, 2006

IST Results - Searching for the soul in the machine

Monday, January 09, 2006

Temperature vs. Pirates

Ed Note: I came across this FSM while out trolling today. A true 2x2 with a purpose...




I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

P.S. I have included an artistic drawing of Him creating a mountain, trees, and a midget. Remember, we are all His creatures.

Support the Cause? Sign the petition -added 11/29/05

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Price vs. Value

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth."

Saint Jerome, On the Epistle to the Ephesianschurch father & saint (374 AD - 419 AD)

Ah, tis the season of giving and receiving. With Christmas past, and the and the orgy of food and drink in its trough of disillusionment, I thought I'd take stock of gifts given, received, or just wished for...

Why do people give greeting cards? Do you really need someone else to come up with a pithy statement of sentiment or humor to convey your feelings for someone? And is it really worth $2.99 plus tax? I think the greeting card industry is a self perpetuating fraud on the American psyche. Have you noticed the growth of "Card Giving" events over the last few decades? Grandparent's Day (9/10) , National Bosses Day (10/16), Friendship Day (8/7), Administrative Professionals Day(4/26), National Mentoring Month!?

And while we are looking at gift horses, I don't really get the whole stocking-stuffer stuff. There are a thousand presents under the tree, and yet the opening can't commence until we dispose of the stockings. At my house, it seems that the stocking stuffers are getting more in quantity and expense each year. The presents under the tree are not enough; Santa has to spend 50 bones filling each of the stockings hung with care.

"The great art of giving consists in this: the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated."

Baltasar Gracian

My top three picks for gifts that packed a punch were a remote control boat that Santa gave my daughter, A copy of Food Plan Soup (which I gave myself) , and 4 bottles of Lambic Beer (props to willy78746). Food Plane Soup was recently published by a ex-coworker and tells of his wanderings following being laid-off from our last dot-bomb.

No - I did not get 5 shares of GOOG. But if I had $2100 to invest in GOOG, Id sell it short. Mark my words boys and girls, GOOG will be cheaper for Christmas 2006 than it is now.

No one gave me a trust fund either :-( I think I'll make getting one my New Year's resolution.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Size vs. Fight

"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog."

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969), speech to the Republican National Committee, January 31, 1958

[Click Image for Larger Picture]

Or, perhaps Dwight should have discussed the size of the fight in the cat. The Cat-in-the-Hat in particular. In 1997, the Cat-in-the-Hat Balloon reeked havoc on the Macy's Thanksgiving
Day Parade when he crashed into a lamp post, seriously injuring a spectator. The C-I-T-H has been, apparently, been put out to pasture at Universal Studios, but may still be a menace (as seen here with an unsuspecting tourist).

Compare the fight in that darn cat with the fight in the dog - in this case, Snoopy, and we can begin to understand where Gen E. was coming from. Yea, Snoopy took out the red baron... but what has he done lately?

And what happen to the USSR? That spot on Gorbachev's head - emperor of the largest, most powerful empire in the world, turned out to be red from embarrassment. The empire wilted away in the face of the US of A: our lethal armada and our tenacious intimidation!

And speaking of pussies: Did Kodak wave the white flag or what? The leader in film and photography - now a shell of it's former self resorting to buying cool startups (www.ofoto) to have any chance of surviving in the digital world.

Now, let's look at the "Pit Bull" quadrant: Small dog - Big fight. Here we see that big things do come in small packages. Fire Ants, HIV, and Ross Perot.

-> ->

(Increasing Lethality as "Fight" moves left to right)

Lastly, look at the little-fish-in-small-pond quadrant: Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf is know for breathless quotes like "We have them surrounded in their tanks". Priceless!

Author's Comment: Props to Squiechnoorb, proporietor of One Funny Thing, for his suggestion of this topic.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find

They're blind to own failings, others' skills
- Erica Goode, New York Times

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

"I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn't know it," Dunning said.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it," wrote Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dunning.

This deficiency in "self-monitoring skills," the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.

In a series of studies, Kruger and Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to "grossly overestimate" how well they had performed.

In all three tests, subjects' ratings of their ability were positively linked to their actual scores. But the lowest-ranked participants showed much greater distortions in their self-estimates.

Asked to evaluate their performance on the test of logical reasoning, for example, subjects who scored only in the 12th percentile guessed that they had scored in the 62nd percentile, and deemed their overall skill at logical reasoning to be at the 68th percentile.

Similarly, subjects who scored at the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves at the 67th percentile in the ability to "identify grammatically correct standard English," and estimated their test scores to be at the 61st percentile.

On the humor test, in which participants were asked to rate jokes according to their funniness (subjects' ratings were matched against those of an "expert" panel of professional comedians), low-scoring subjects were also more apt to have an inflated perception of their skill. But because humor is idiosyncratically defined, the researchers said, the results were less conclusive.

Unlike unskilled counterparts, the most able subjects in the study, Kruger and Dunning found, were likely to underestimate their competence. The researchers attributed this to the fact that, in the absence of information about how others were doing, highly competent subjects assumed that others were performing as well as they were -- a phenomenon psychologists term the "false consensus effect."

When high-scoring subjects were asked to "grade" the grammar tests of their peers, however, they quickly revised their evaluations of their own performance. In contrast, the self-assessments of those who scored badly themselves were unaffected by the experience of grading others; some subjects even further inflated their estimates of their own abilities.

"Incompetent individuals were less able to recognize competence in others," the researchers concluded.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Credibility vs. Hair

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between success and height. It turns out that we humans are predisposed to under-appreciate the vertically challenged among us. Read all about it in "Don't Want No Short Man: The Study of Height, Power, and Male Selection".

But does this correlation extend to another factor that contributes to height - Hair height? You be the judge...

The results of our study are confounding. While there does seem to be a correlation, it is not at all the one we expected. It turns out that make-believe people tend to have higher credibility than real people, regardless of hair height. This finding requires more study....

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lucky vs. Good Revisited

The NY Times today published the sad story of Lottery Winner Mack Metcalf and his estranged wife Virginia Merida. Back in 2000, they won a $34M lottery. More recently, Mack died of alcohol and Virginia died of drugs. Clearly, winning the lottery is a "Lucky" event. But being the daughter of drug dealers is even more unlucky. And having an alcohol addiction is most definitely not "Good".

"Any problems people have, money magnifies it so much", said one of Virginia's brothers. This makes me wonder if perhaps Lucky vs. Good is really just a cover for the Nature vs. Nurture debate?

Good = Nature. You are either born with the ability to be good or you are not.
Luck = Nurture. You either had the good fortune of parents who saved for your college education (definitely Lucky for you), or your folks didn't bother reading to you at night (so sorry).

The old adage is "the better you are, the luckier you get". It seems that we might need a disclaimer on Lottery ticket purchases: Warning, unless you are good, you should not play the lottery - It will bring you nothing but bad luck.

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