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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
   ―  Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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On This Day In:
2017 Next Cell
2016 Important Knowledge
2015 Are You Still The Exception?
2014 In Answer
Days Are Passing
2013 Opportunity
2012 Appropriate Qualities
2011 A Place To Hang My Hat
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As it turns out, however, to make sense of new and strange phenomena, one must be prepared to play with ideas.  And I use the word “play” advisedly: dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else.
   —  Paul Krugman
From the introduction to his book: “The Return of Depression Economics
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On This Day In:
2016 And Fathers, Sons
2015 My Suspect Confidence
2014 Disguised Blessings
2013 Be
2012 The Only Way to Win
2011 Honest Writing

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 There’s no universal way to think about things, so I can’t claim that someone else is thinking about something wrongly if they don’t think about it the way I do.
   —  Donald E. Knuth
From the book: “The Essential Knuth
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On This Day In:
2016 Supervise The Results
2015 Just Magic!
2014 It Lies Ahead…
2013 At Least One Difference
2012 Are We, Are We?
On Not Playing The Game
Scale
2011 Nutcracker And Nooks
Seeing Differences

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Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
  ―  Aldous Huxley
From:  Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
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On This Day In:
2016 Starting To Stumble
2015 Begin Combat
I Am A Runner
2014 Just Dig ‘N It, Why?
2013 Additions
The Object Of Instruction
2012 Telling Her
2011 On Torture

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Walden Two”  (1948©, 1976©)  —  book review
This is another “classic” book (novel) I’ve wanted to read for some time.  No, it’s not the original “Walden Or Life In The Woods“, by Thoreau, or its sequel.  It is the fictional description of a “scientifically” created utopian community used by the author (B. F. Skinner) to promote his theories about (what is now known as) applied behavioral analysis.  It was Skinner’s belief that most of an individual’s actions (and cultural preferences) are determined by the environmental factors / variables / cultural norms one is exposed to.  While Skinner did not start the nature vs. nurture debate, he did go some distance in promoting his side (nurture) of the argument.
Basically, the novel revolves around an academic who is approached by two students to find out if stories about Utopia’s are real or even possible.  They have heard of one (in the professor’s class) and wonder if the professor would approach the person who organized it (the utopian society) so they could visit it.  The professor writes to his old friend who agrees to host them (the visitors) for a time.  The group of visitors ends up being the original professor, another academic / current friend, the two students and their two girl-friends.  The visit is to “Walden Two” – a play on Thoreau’s Walden which uses the sequence / numeric (two) instead of the “also” (too).  In other words, “we follow, but we are not the same.”
The “visit” allows the author to present his theories about how to “properly” arrange a society so it can maximize leisure time as well as efficient productivity to generate just enough to cover more than what the society needs, but never to exceed requirements so much that people do not have time to be and to become themselves.  As an example, everyone is “expected” to do a certain amount of work / chores, and you receive “credits” for the time spent doing them.  The “jobs” average to four hours per day and the remainder of the time is yours to use any way you see fit – eat, sleep, art, play, whatever…  The job credits are scored based on the number of staff who want to do the job, which presumes fewer folks want to do “harder”, “more tedious”, or “dirtier” jobs.  This, in turn, means you can earn your four hours of credit in less than four hours of work.  The “science” comes from the statistical analysis of how many folks ask to do the job.  Of course, the majority of jobs are also shifted periodically (again using analysis) to even out the more favorable jobs, too.  For those, you have to work more than four hours to get the four hours of credit.  The “surplus” generated by efficient productivity is used to deal with external entities – to pay taxes and for buying supplies which cannot be generated within the society.
This pretty much covers the general economics of the utopia.  The social engineering and politics are also covered and they are what was found so objectionable about the book that it was banned in some places.
Can man play God?  Can we make life so pleasant that free will becomes a lost / legacy concept?  Can we eliminate greed and/or the desire to rule others?  I don’t know.  My instinct is to say “no”.  And if we could do any of these things, is it a society I would want to live in?  Again, I don’t know…  But the book sure did make it sound appealing.  What happens to the six visitors?  I’m afraid  that would be telling, so you have to read the book to find out…
Final recommendation:  highly recommended!  This is a book which made me think about my own values and what I’d be willing to give up in my “society” to have a civilization where wealth was not the “be-all / end-all”.  If nothing else, that (“it made me think”) is a pretty good description of a “classic”.  …And, of course, quotes / excerpts will follow in good time.  (LOL)
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On This Day In:
2016 Learning Subtle Differences
2015 Dog Eat Dog World?
2014 And Sometimes Blogs About It
2013 Outside-In
2012 They Are All Perfect
2011 Delegation – The “How-To’s”
2009 Diet Update and Other Bits & Bobs…

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And yet, it’s a happier fact of human behavior that all tribes are separated less by walls than by membranes, and those membranes can break and the tribes combine as easily as two raindrops running down a windshield that need merely touch to merge.  But something must make the touching happen — and not many things can.
And if it made us small?  If it made us feel that we are of less consequence, less magnitude, than we usually think we are?  Well, good.  Humility was part of the veil of peace that was drawn over the country on Aug. 21.  So was community.  And so, it would be nice to think, was gratitude.
   —  Jeffrey Kluger
From his article: “Mother Nature, the uniter, briefly eclipses the nation’s divisions
Describing the 21 August 2017, totality eclipse for Time Magazine dtd: 4 September 2017
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On This Day In:
2016 Obstacles
Election + 2 Weeks
2015 Done What You Could
2014 Impossible To Other Men
2013 Just In Case
2012 Isn’t This Just Pleasant?
2011 No Void In Sight

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Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.
   —  Bertrand Russell
Sometimes I think we’re alone.  Sometimes I think we’re not.  In either case, the thought is staggering.
   —  Buckminster Fuller
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On This Day In:
2016 And Bloggers?
2015 Ethical Energy
2014 Are You Likely To Defend It?
2013 Might As Well
2012 The Long And Short Of It
2011 Bravery

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