psi's recent activity

  1. Comment on What's the most expensive food you splurge on to make you happy? in ~talk

    psi
    Link Parent
    Here are the ingredients in Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream: cream skim milk liquid sugar (sugar, water) water egg yolks sugar guar gum vanilla extract vanilla beans carrageenan So basically you...

    Here are the ingredients in Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream:

    • cream
    • skim milk
    • liquid sugar (sugar, water)
    • water
    • egg yolks
    • sugar
    • guar gum
    • vanilla extract
    • vanilla beans
    • carrageenan

    So basically you nailed it.

    1 vote
  2. Comment on Once a bastion of free speech, the ACLU faces an identity crisis in ~misc

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Maybe, maybe not. As you note, free speech absolutism is already unworkable since numerous types of speech have already been deemed illegal (let's not even start on obscenity), making free speech...

    That seems much more difficult to define than our current "free speech with these enumerated exceptions", though.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    As you note, free speech absolutism is already unworkable since numerous types of speech have already been deemed illegal (let's not even start on obscenity), making free speech absolutism incompatible with our current understanding of the first amendment. In that respect, I'm proposing an alternative framework for understanding the first amendment, one that displaces the problematic narrative free speech is axiomatically good with something more goal-oriented.

    Admittedly I'm not a lawyer, so democratic absolutism is only a half-baked judicial philosophy. Nevertheless, I think it's instructive for a colloquial understanding of what free speech should entail. Rather than focus on whether certain speech is legal, we should focus on whether that speech is useful. As Randall Munroe once wrote, appealing to free speech is about the worse argument you can make, as you're only contending that your speech isn't technically illegal.

    Previously I mentioned racial epithets being an example of particularly harmful speech that should be censured. But what of fact-free conspiracies like Q-anon? Free speech absolutists will defend these conspiracy theorists for their right to exist on social media, but free speech absolutists will overlook the tremendous harm these conspiracy theorists do to our democracy.

    Consider that public discourse is built on two pillars:

    1. facts, upon which arguments are based; and

    2. deductive/inductive arguments, which appeal to values.

    We can spend all day arguing about values -- do we, for example, believe that democracy is a laudable goal? -- but what we should never need to argue about are facts. And yet, we allowed Trump to promulgate baseless lies for months (consider that Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Fox News, etc have each been sued for $1+ billion by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation), eventuating in the first invasion of the US Capitol building since the war of 1812. Consider that most Republicans believe the election was stolen, and a forth of them still believe that "the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation".

    It's not just that free speech absolutism is ambivalent to improving public discourse; the movement actively undermines the effort.


    Now to address your specific inquiries.

    would that mean that say, monarchists would be barred from expressing their views?

    Monarchists (at least, the non-figurehead kinds) absolutely should be shunned from democracies, in my opinion. I mean, maybe we should have a dialogue with Putin to the extent it's necessary, but we should absolutely think less of him for being a monarchist.

    what about communists?

    Personally I'm not sure that democracy and communism are incompatible. Obviously one is reminded of the red scare as an example of government overreach. I can see how differ people might interpret democratic absolutism differently in these circumstances, but it's worth remembering that the first amendment didn't prevent the red scare, either.

    But I suppose that's a point for free speech absolutism. Still, given free speech absolutism's other drawbacks, I'd prefer to hone the definition of democratic absolutism instead.

    My big worry is that something like democratic absolutism (or anything that isn't free speech, really) could be easily construed into "support this government or else".

    I understand this concern, but if you can't trust your government, you also can't trust your constitution to protect you. If your government is equating a political party with the government, eg, then it's already behaving in a way that's undemocratic. A democratic absolutist would stand oppose this measure as much as a free speech absolutist.


    I assume the real issue here is that whenever one restricts free speech, the dividing line feels arbitrary and therefore exploitable. But there are only two options: either you have a dividing line or you don't. And almost nobody believes there shouldn't be a dividing line (if I were to write a book on this subject, I'd title it I'm Not a Free Speech Absolutist and Neither are You). The question, therefore, becomes by what principle should we draw that line? I propose democratic absolutism. What about you?

    9 votes
  3. Comment on Once a bastion of free speech, the ACLU faces an identity crisis in ~misc

    psi
    Link Parent
    I think this is the kernel of the problem. For some types, free speech absolutism is seen as a bedrock issue -- its importance is accepted almost dogmatically. But free speech, by itself, won't...
    • Exemplary

    To be a free speech absolutist is to come from a place of privilege. It means not considering the larger societal context of free speech beyond saying, “I support free speech, consequences be damned!”

    I think this is the kernel of the problem. For some types, free speech absolutism is seen as a bedrock issue -- its importance is accepted almost dogmatically. But free speech, by itself, won't provide life, liberty, and happiness. So why do people act as though free speech is the foundation for civilization?

    Let's dig a little deeper. Some free speech absolutists argue that free speech is necessary for the free exchange of ideas. But if your goal is to promote the free exchange of ideas, then why aren't you a free idea absolutist? After all, free speech works both ways: if you can use free speech to promote an idea, you can also use free speech to bully someone else from espousing theirs. Bullying impedes the free exchange of ideas.

    Others will argue that free speech is necessary for the function of democracy. Obviously it would be unacceptable for one political party to restrict speech they disagree with for purely political reasons (eg, imagine Republicans passed a law banning "Black lives matter" at rallies due to its "subversive nature"). But again, if this is your concern, then why isn't your foremost concern on maintaining a healthy democracy?

    So I propose an alternative ideal: democratic absolutism. I believe free speech is important insofar that it promotes public discourse and a more perfect union. Free speech, by itself, can't do that (what's the value of racial slurs, for example?). And unlike free speech absolutism, democratic absolutism encourages more than just talking -- it encourages action. People should play an active role in their government, and we should implement policy towards that end.

    19 votes
  4. Comment on NFL pledges to halt ‘race-norming,’ review Black claims in ~sports

    psi
    Link Parent
    I'd recommend this episode of All Lawyers are Bastards. Race-norming, as patently discriminatory as it is, has somehow just been left... unchallenged? Frankly it's absurd. Worse yet, race-norming...

    I'd recommend this episode of All Lawyers are Bastards. Race-norming, as patently discriminatory as it is, has somehow just been left... unchallenged? Frankly it's absurd.

    Worse yet, race-norming in the NFL is only the tip of the iceberg. As a more egregious hypothetical example, if a Black child is left mentally disabled after a botched operation (eg, the anesthesiologist forgets to monitor the oxygen supply), race-norming might mean a Black child is awarded significantly less damages than a white child would be under the same facts. Here an exert witness can testify that the Black child -- because they are Black -- would've been unlikely to attend college, would've had a shorter life expectancy than average, and therefore would've had a reduced future lifetime earnings compared to the average American. Consequently, that hypothetical Black, permanently disabled child might be awarded substantially less damages than a white child would've been.

    The podcast discusses some real-life examples.

    5 votes
  5. Comment on Trump blog page shuts down for good in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    On the other hand [1, 2] (emphasis added), Of course his PR person is trying to spin it positively, but nobody builds a blogging platform with the plan to abandon it within a month. I think the...

    On the other hand [1, 2] (emphasis added),

    Trump rolled out the blog last month after being absent from social media since January, but his effort to regain some of the attention he received with his headline-grabbing tweets largely failed. An adviser told The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey that the former president wanted to open a new “platform” and didn’t like that this platform was being mocked and had so few readers. The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly about Trump’s plans.

    Of course his PR person is trying to spin it positively, but nobody builds a blogging platform with the plan to abandon it within a month. I think the reason is pretty straightforward -- Trump, (rightly) perceived as an angry old man yelling at clouds, was frustrated that nobody cared about his blog.


    [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/02/joe-biden-live-updates/#link-5FSD6UI6QJCHBGDEEJURO7ZMTQ
    [2] https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/donald-trump-blog-shuttered

    6 votes
  6. Comment on I need help with a story that involves math in ~talk

    psi
    (edited )
    Link
    I think ultrafinitism would pique your interest, though you might have to restructure your story (or maybe the topic would be better left for another time). I'm not an expert on the subject, but...

    I think ultrafinitism would pique your interest, though you might have to restructure your story (or maybe the topic would be better left for another time).

    [S]ome ultrafinitists are concerned with acceptance of objects in mathematics that no one can construct in practice because of physical restrictions in constructing large finite mathematical objects. Thus some ultrafinitists will deny or refrain from accepting the existence of large numbers, for example, [...] exp(exp(exp(7))).

    I'm not an expert on the subject, but I'd imagine the problem works in reverse, too. If exp(exp(exp(7))) is impossibly large, then (probably) 1 / exp(exp(exp(7))) is impossibly small. Working off this principle, since such a small number doesn't exist, there will always be a "rounding error".

    A couple of references:

    3 votes
  7. Comment on The principle of explosion in ~humanities

    psi
    Link Parent
    I think people absolutely do use mutlivalued logic, and in fact I think they use it in much more mundane ways. For example, Bayesian probability can be thought of as an extension of classical...

    I think people absolutely do use mutlivalued logic, and in fact I think they use it in much more mundane ways.

    For example, Bayesian probability can be thought of as an extension of classical logic where propositions can have any truth value between 0 and 1 inclusive (these are often referred to as "credences"). If the weather forecaster predicts it "could" rain today (p ~ 0.5), you might prepare differently from a prediction that it "will" rain today (p ~ 0.9).

    Or just consider any game of chance (eg, Poker): if you knew everyone's cards and the order of the deck, you could win with perfect accuracy (the rules of poker follow classical logic). But since you don't, you have to make some intuitive estimate of the credences to predict whether your hand is strong or weak.


    A bit of a tangent, but if you wanted an "empirical" mathematics (ie, something more akin to science, where the "facts" are never perfectly established but you build off them anyway), I think Bayesian reasoning would need to be foundational.

    For instance, imagine if an empirical mathematician assigned all known conjectures with some credence (eg, P = NP with probability 1%). Then a proof of some seemingly unrelated conjecture could cause you to update all your credences (via Bayes theorem), and maybe you could be more (or less) confident about some other conjecture (eg, update your priors so that P=NP with probability 2%).

    I mean, in practice I think it would be a bit of a mess (scientists don't explicitly write down credences unless they're doing Bayesian statistics). And intuitively this is what mathematicians do, anyway, when they're deciding whether a conjecture is more likely to be true or false. But I wonder what math would look like if mathematicians were free to build off conjectures that hadn't been proven true.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on The principle of explosion in ~humanities

    psi
    Link Parent
    More formally, the reason "approximately equals to" behaves differently is because it's not an equivalence relation. For example, define x ~ y to mean |x - y| < 0.1. Then the transitive property...

    More formally, the reason "approximately equals to" behaves differently is because it's not an equivalence relation.

    For example, define x ~ y to mean |x - y| < 0.1. Then the transitive property doesn't hold: 0.25 ~ 0.29 and 0.29 ~ 0.33, but 0.25 ≁ 0.33.

    6 votes
  9. Comment on Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open, takes break from tennis, one day after tennis’ Grand Slams threatened disqualification or suspension if she continued to skip press conferences in ~sports

    psi
    Link Parent
    Honestly high-level athletes whining about refs transcends sport or gender. I mean, here's an entire podcast episode on the subject [1]. Even after the NBA spent 15 millions dollars to build a...

    Honestly high-level athletes whining about refs transcends sport or gender. I mean, here's an entire podcast episode on the subject [1]. Even after the NBA spent 15 millions dollars to build a replay center, players still continued to complain about referees, despite NBA referees being objectively fairer now than at any prior point in history. In fact, the most vociferous whiners are the star players, so it really shouldn't be surprising that Williams would also fit this stereotype. I won't attempt to psychoanalyze celebrity athletes except to say that some combination of hyper-competitiveness, privilege, and narcissism probably exacerbates their willingness to gracefully accept a referee's call.

    (For what it's worth, Michael Lewis refers to these NBA players as "pitching [...] hissy fits", further reinforcing that infantilizing language doesn't apply exclusively to women in this matter.)


    [1] https://atrpodcast.com/episodes/ref-you-suck-s1!c5106

    4 votes
  10. Comment on What's a cool and not-well-known thing that people can do with their phone/computer? in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    Google's astrophotography feature works slightly differently from a long exposure. A long exposure, as you said, will produce streaks. The astrophotography feature, in contrast, uses long exposure...

    Google's astrophotography feature works slightly differently from a long exposure. A long exposure, as you said, will produce streaks. The astrophotography feature, in contrast, uses long exposure plus a method borrow from astronomy known as stacking. In short, by taking multiple long exposures and lining up the brightest stars between shots, you can increase the signal-to-noise ratio of you image. Thus you get brighter stars in your photograph without streaks.

    That's also why the astrophotography feature works much better with a tripod than handheld. If you move your phone between shots, you can no longer guarantee that you'll be able to stack your exposures.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on The fight to whitewash US history: At least 15 states are trying to ban schools from teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project. The reactionary movement stretches back to the 1920s. in ~humanities

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Honestly, I don't think it is. I'm sure most conservatives have a reflexively negative view of critical race theory whereas most liberals have a reflexively positive one. But I don't expect the...

    and I believe in this case, significant reflection is deserved.

    Honestly, I don't think it is. I'm sure most conservatives have a reflexively negative view of critical race theory whereas most liberals have a reflexively positive one. But I don't expect the average person to have a nuanced opinion of critical race theory for the same reason I don't expect the average person to have a nuanced opinion of the black hole information paradox -- they lack the necessary background to engage at an academic level.

    Moreover, to the extent that there is valid criticism of critical race theory, it doesn't follow that the criticism would extend to the 1619 Project. Criticism of critical race theory is likely too general to apply here. Most who support the 1619 Project do so because it grapples with white supremacy without whitewashing history; the 1619 Project's incidental foundation in critical race theory is not what draws people in.

    Edit: Or to put it more succinctly, when conservatives and liberal argue about critical race theory, both sides have already lost. Neither side really cares about critical race theory – they care about to what extent we should (de)emphasize white supremacy in US history.

    7 votes
  12. Comment on The fight to whitewash US history: At least 15 states are trying to ban schools from teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project. The reactionary movement stretches back to the 1920s. in ~humanities

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Of course there is academic criticism to critical race theory (see /u/spit-evil-olive-tips's podcast recommendation here which covers some of that criticism). However (as you noted) conservative...

    Of course there is academic criticism to critical race theory (see /u/spit-evil-olive-tips's podcast recommendation here which covers some of that criticism). However (as you noted) conservative backlash against the 1619 Project is decidedly not based on any academic argument. In fact, I think it would be inappropriate to link their objection to the 1619 Project with critical race theory at all, considering the extent to which conservatives strawman critical race theory to begin with (as /u/Akir elaborated on above).

    8 votes
  13. Comment on It turns out, all those 'woke' White allies were lying in ~misc

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Thanks for the link. On the whole, white support for BLM has decreased since the death of George Floyd. But looking through the data, it does seem to heavily suggest white opposition to BLM is...

    Thanks for the link. On the whole, white support for BLM has decreased since the death of George Floyd. But looking through the data, it does seem to heavily suggest white opposition to BLM is almost entirely driven by Republicans (4% support/84% oppose). White independents are split on the matter, whereas white Democratic support for BLM remains strong (88% support, though it has waned slightly since last summer, as you said).

    Moreover, although 84% of Black respondents support BLM, only 20% of Black Republican respondents do. In fact, the splits between Democrat vs Republican (87% vs 5% support) or even Democrat vs Black Republican (87% vs 20% support) are noticeably greater than the split between Black vs white (84% vs 38% support).

    Basically party affiliation appears to be a much stronger predictor than race. I suspect if the respondents had instead been asked to rank their support from 1-10, white support would've been bimodal with the peaks determined by political ideology.

    12 votes
  14. Comment on Leaked emails show crime app Citizen is testing on-demand private security force in ~tech

    psi
    Link
    Is this a preview of our impending capitalist hellscape? Should we really aspire to revert once private, now public services back into private services? I mean, the history of police brutality in...

    "The broad master plan was to create a privatized secondary emergency response network," one former Citizen employee told Motherboard.

    Is this a preview of our impending capitalist hellscape? Should we really aspire to revert once private, now public services back into private services? I mean, the history of police brutality in the United States can be traced back to private police forces like slave patrols and union-busters.

    And what constitutes an "emergency response network"? Does Citizen aspire to privatize EMS and firefighting next? Were Citizen's founders inspired by Crassus's fire brigade?

    24 votes
  15. Comment on Esoteric tabletop gaming rules review in ~games.tabletop

    psi
    Link Parent
    On Nim games, I'd recommend John Conway's Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, assuming you aren't familiar with the reference already. Combinatorial game theory was my favorite course I took...

    On Nim games, I'd recommend John Conway's Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, assuming you aren't familiar with the reference already. Combinatorial game theory was my favorite course I took in college.

    1 vote
  16. Comment on The real reason UNC-Chapel Hill is withholding tenure from Nikole Hannah-Jones in ~misc

    psi
    Link
    I cannot stress enough how polticized the Board of Governors/Trustees has become. The UNC Board of Trustees (the board that denied Hannah-Jones her tenure) has 13 seats: 4 seats appointed by the...

    I cannot stress enough how polticized the Board of Governors/Trustees has become. The UNC Board of Trustees (the board that denied Hannah-Jones her tenure) has 13 seats: 4 seats appointed by the (heavily-gerrymandered, Republican) state legislature; 8 seats appointed by the NC Board of Governors (who themselves are appointed by the heavily-gerrymandered, Republican state legislature); and 1 appointed by the student body (the student body president). For those keeping score, that's 12 seats filled by political ideologues, and 1 seat filled by someone who actually has a foremost interest in student affairs; moreover, the student representative is only permitted to participate in meetings, not to vote.

    As an example of the Board of Governors/Trustees general shittiness towards the student body, consider the case of Silent Sam, a Confederate monument that stood on UNC campus until 2018. Unsurprisingly, this statue was unpopular with the student body, especially given its racist dedication in 1913, but the Board of Governors made no effort to have the statue removed (by NC law, only the Board of Governors would have been able to petition for the statue's removal from campus). In 2018, after the statue was toppled by protesters, the Board of Trustees proposed spending $5.3 million for an new campus building that would hold the (toppled) statue.

    Thankfully the Board of Governors rejected that plan, but their counter-proposal was only slightly less shitty. In 2019, a year after Silent Sam was toppled by protesters, the Board of Governors signed a settlement agreement in which they would donate the statue and a $2.5 million trust to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, a neo-confederate group. A Judge later overturned the settlement agreement, acknowledging that the Sons of the Confederate Veterans never had standing to sue in the first place.

    Mind you, throughout this entire ordeal, the insistence by both Boards to keep the statue on campus stemmed from a NC law that prevented confederate statutes from being removed unless they were relocated to a place of "equal prominence", despite the fact that the statue had already been toppled, thus likely rending the law moot.

    For what its worth, the statue still remains off-campus (likely locked-up in some warehouse). A tree has been planted in the place it once stood.


    Bonus "fun" fact: the current chairman of NC's Board of Governors, which oversees the management of the NC university system, is Randy Ramsey. Ramsey is a boat salesman who lacks even an associate degree. If that isn't an indictment of the politicization of NC higher education, I don't know what is.

    4 votes
  17. Comment on Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of May 10 in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    This sounds truly bananas. So basically anyone has standing to sue any abortion provider so long as that person suspects the abortion provider ran afoul of the heartbeat bill at some point?...

    It would be enforced by private citizens empowered to sue abortion providers and others [...].

    Those private citizens would not need to have a connection to an abortion provider or a person seeking an abortion, and would not need to reside in Texas.

    This sounds truly bananas. So basically anyone has standing to sue any abortion provider so long as that person suspects the abortion provider ran afoul of the heartbeat bill at some point? Abortion clinics (and their employees/volunteers) are going to be swamped with frivolous lawsuits.

    6 votes
  18. Comment on Is there anything considered pseudoscientific/unscientific that you suspect has some truth to it and might be re-examined in the future? in ~talk

    psi
    Link
    Moreso unscientific than pseudoscientific (in the sense that the belief's probably unfalsifiable), but I'm sympathetic to Max Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis [1] [2]. In short, it...

    Moreso unscientific than pseudoscientific (in the sense that the belief's probably unfalsifiable), but I'm sympathetic to Max Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis [1] [2]. In short, it posits that all mathematical objects physically exist. Our universe, a mathematical object described by roughly a U(1) × SU(2) × SU(3) gauge theory + gravity + initial conditions, would be one such object. On the other hand, a universe existing in some timeless space obeying the axioms of plane geometry and containing three points, thereby forming a triangle, would also exist; of course such a universe feels intuitively unphysical, but by definition such a universe would be inaccessible to us, so our intuition shouldn't be trusted anyway.

    Given that this theory of everything is unintuitive, you might wonder why I find it appealing. In my mind, if you want to explain why the universe exists, you need to explain one of two things: (1) why our universe solely exists while other conceivable universes can/do not; or (2) why multiple universes exist, including our own. A belief in (1) feels rather egotistic, and any justification for (1) feels hopelessly beyond reach. Thus (2) seems like the less presumptive approach. Of course, (2) suffers from a similar problem as (1) -- how do you decide which universes are possible and which are not? The mathematical universe hypothesis sidesteps that question. If you can describe it mathematically, then it exists. It's hard to imagine a "purer" test.


    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_universe_hypothesis
    [2] https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2019/12/02/75-max-tegmark-on-reality-simulation-and-the-multiverse/

    9 votes
  19. Comment on Is there anything considered pseudoscientific/unscientific that you suspect has some truth to it and might be re-examined in the future? in ~talk

    psi
    Link Parent
    Related article [1] and podcast [2] from the New Yorker. The article is long (maybe even too long), but the driving point is that the US government downplayed UFOs for decades, even when there...

    Related article [1] and podcast [2] from the New Yorker. The article is long (maybe even too long), but the driving point is that the US government downplayed UFOs for decades, even when there were credible observations of UFOs (eg, by the Air Force) that couldn't be satisfactorily explained-away. In fact, the US government might even be partially responsible for the fringe status of ufologists.

    [T]he C.I.A. secretly convened an advisory group of experts, led by Howard P. Robertson, a mathematical physicist from Caltech. The “Robertson panel” determined not that we were being visited by U.F.O.s but that we were being inundated with too many U.F.O. reports. This was a real problem: if notices of genuine incursions over U.S. territory could be lost in a maelstrom of kooky hallucination, there could be grave consequences for national security—for instance, Soviet spy planes could operate with impunity. The Cold War made it crucial that the U.S. government be perceived to have full control over its airspace.

    To stem the flood of reports, the panel recommended that “the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.” It also suggested that civilian U.F.O. groups be infiltrated and monitored, and enlisted the media in the debunking effort. The campaign culminated in a 1966 TV special, “UFO: Friend, Foe or Fantasy?,” in which the CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite patiently consigned U.F.O.s to the oblivion of the third category.

    To be clear, just because a UFO sighting is unexplained doesn't mean it must have an alien origin. Personally I doubt that superluminal travel is possible, which makes interstellar travel as a whole rather unfeasible, and I wouldn't even be surprised if we were the only intelligent species in the universe [3]. But the idea at least deserves consideration -- even if our priors are small, they shouldn't be 0. Simply put, starting from a conclusion -- it's not aliens -- and then searching for evidence to support that conclusion is not scientific. And yet, this is how unexplained phenomena were treated.

    In late 1966, Edward U. Condon, a physicist at the University of Colorado, was given three hundred thousand dollars [by the US government] to conduct [a study of UFO legitimacy]. The project was plagued by infighting, especially after the discovery of a memo written by a coördinator noting that a truly disinterested approach would have to allow for the fact that U.F.O.s might exist. That was out of the question—their behavior was not commensurable with our understanding of universal laws. The associated scientists, the coördinator proposed, should stress to their colleagues that they were primarily interested in the psychological and social circumstances of U.F.O. believers. In other words, sightings should be understood as metaphors—for Cold War anxiety or ambivalence about technology.
    [...]
    Condon, who announced long before the study was complete that U.F.O.s were unmitigated bunk, wrote the report’s summary and its “Conclusions and Recommendations” section. He seemed to have only a glancing familiarity with the other nine hundred pages of the report. As he put it, “Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive studies of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” Schoolchildren, he advised, should not be given credit for work involving U.F.O.s. Scientists should take their talents and their money elsewhere.


    [1] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/05/10/how-the-pentagon-started-taking-ufos-seriously
    [2] https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/are-ufos-a-national-security-threat
    [3] https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.02404

    6 votes
  20. Comment on FDA to propose ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes, with industry likely to challenge in ~health

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    All of those things would be ideal, but they're also orders of magnitude harder to achieve; substantial changes in those categories would require the action of Congress, too, not just the actions...

    Meaning, if the admin wanted to boost the health outcomes of black people in the US, why not improve healthcare, education, inequality of opportunity?

    All of those things would be ideal, but they're also orders of magnitude harder to achieve; substantial changes in those categories would require the action of Congress, too, not just the actions of this administration. In contrast, this rule change can be implemented entirely through the executive branch.

    I don't see this proposal as Why is Admin fixing X instead of Y? I see this as X is fixable. Why wouldn't Admin fix X?

    14 votes