26 votes

What's something you wish people outside of your field knew/understood?

"Field" here can refer to career, field of study, or even identity or subculture. Really, it works for anything on which you would consider yourself an expert above the level of the larger lay population.

64 comments

  1. [8]
    Pistos
    Link
    What I'm going to say here is only anecdata based on my own limited experience in the industry. Some of it is inference on my part, without solid evidence that will allow broad generalizations,...
    • Exemplary

    What I'm going to say here is only anecdata based on my own limited experience in the industry. Some of it is inference on my part, without solid evidence that will allow broad generalizations, and without explicit statement from the affected people. But I thought I'd share so at least more people are thinking about the topic, and thinking about things from other people's perspective.

    I've done some work involving dealing with performing artists. Sometimes pop musicians or singers, sometimes actors. The kind that have performed in front of thousands, or tens of thousands. The kind that have been on TV shows or in movies that have had millions of views, been in theatres, etc.

    It's fine to be a fan of artists like this, even to be at "squee" level of fanatic, and "omg, I have bought every single one of your CDs, and been to all your concerts" level of fan. But I've come to learn that a lot of these artists also want some private time to themselves. There's a reason these artists sometimes wear super huge sunglasses, hats, and so on. To avoid attention when out in the general public. It's not that any of them want to be rude or unfriendly to anyone. Any single fan coming up to them in public asking for a picture or an autograph, in and of itself, is not a big deal, of course. But in the aggregate, when you scale that up in the case of super popular artists, it adds up to, overall, a taxing day-to-day experience for the artist.

    When these artists tour, they usually try to keep their flight itinerary from being leaked to the public, because fans go to the airports and welcome them in droves. Imagine you've just been on a flight of X hours in length, possibly during hours when you'd normally be sleeping. When you get off that flight, and still have to pick up luggage, go through customs, etc. and you really just want to get in the car and get on your way to crash on the hotel room bed ... it's tough to have to force smiles while you pose for pictures, one by one, with N fans that are waiting for you at the airpoirt.

    They also try to have their staff avoid getting the specific hotel they're staying at leaked, for much the same reasons. Fans occasionally wait in the hotel lobby, hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol, or to ask for pics and autographs. When the hotel address is leaked, they absolutely try to keep the room numbers private, lest they be "accosted" by fans as soon as they step out of their room.

    After concerts, the artists invariably leave through some obscure back or side exit, ushered by entourage and security staff, and usually get right into unassuming vehicles, to be whisked off to the hotel or wherever. They're already tired having given their all in a full concert, and so usually don't have the energy to engage with fans for an open-ended, indeterminate length of time.

    The better time to go gaga over your idol is at designated meet-and-greet sessions, CD signings, etc. The artist has consented to dedicating a block of their time (usually a couple hours) specially for engaging with their fans. Usually these are contractually obligated, actually. e.g. the artist comes to a given city as part of a concert tour, and the artist's representation and the local producer have an agreement for the artist to have a meet-and-greet after the concert as part of the overall contract. At these meet-and-greets, the artist is usually all smiles, and quite willing to chat it up (briefly) with fans, sign CDs, pose for pictures, and so on. They're aware that they have to maintain an image, a reputation. There's often a negative connotation to that, maintaining an image, as though artists are obnoxious, conceited, or otherwise bad people, but they fake it when the cameras are rolling. But there's another side to that coin.

    When an artist is stopped in a public place, when all they wanted was to go down the elevator from their hotel room hoping to grab a quick beverage and relax a bit, and zip back up before being seen, because they have a splitting headache, and they haven't slept more than 3 hours a night for 3 days straight because the concerts have been on back to back to back nights -- they must force a smile and pose for a pic or 3 anyway, because if they don't, and if they "crack" and just act the way any normal human would under those circumstances, and snap at a fan, or say something curt or rude ... that one little mistake is all over social media, and their reputation takes a hit, and the general public thinks that one bad incident is representative of their personal character as a whole.

    This comment has gotten long already, but let me just share one story: There was an artist, and she was doing a concert in a city, and one of the sponsors was a store or restaurant in the city. Separate from the concert, she was to appear at the sponsor's venue where the understanding was that she was to meet a small group of people, like just the venue ownership, and maybe a few staff members, family and friends. Well, the artist and her entourage pull up to the venue, and see a big throng of people in the restaurant and in the parking lot, etc. She, as respectfully as possible, refuses to get out of the vehicle and come into the restaurant. The fans get upset, because they were promised and hyped up by the venue owner that they'd get to meet the artist at this venue. So now, the artist is forced into a lose-lose situation by this scummy move by the venue owner. If she gets out and meets the fans, she has to engage the fans for exponentially longer than was anticipated and agreed upon, under uncertain levels of security, to say nothing of fire regulations. If she doesn't get out, then she's "the bad guy", someone who is (seemingly) breaking an agreement, who is reneging on what was promised to the fans, who is being rude and unfriendly.

    Anyway, the point is: artists are people too. Try to consider things from their perspective, and be nice to them. They're usually more than happy to be nice to you, if it's the appropriate time and place. They need their alone time, more than average people do.

    27 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I've always assumed that they would feel the way you say. I live in Los Angeles and there are celebrities everywhere around here. I don't think I've ever spoken directly to any of them because it...

      I've always assumed that they would feel the way you say. I live in Los Angeles and there are celebrities everywhere around here. I don't think I've ever spoken directly to any of them because it seems super weird to me.

      But I've also heard that sometimes they go out specifically to be seen. For example, one time my spouse and I went to a packed bar in Santa Monica for some burgers and beer. The star of a well-known TV show showed up with his spouse and sat at the table next to us. A friend told me that this is a part of their promotion of themselves as stars. Like they literally can write off the expense of going to a well-known restaurant because it is a promotional activity for them to meet people and "be seen". Do you know if there's any truth to that?

      I also used to work a block from a place where celebrities would go "to be seen". Several times when walking to lunch, paparazzi would jump out from the bushes with long lenses and take pictures of someone in front of or behind us. It was an odd experience to say the least. I can't imagine living with that on a daily basis.

      11 votes
      1. Pistos
        Link Parent
        I can't speak to these specifics, as the artists I've worked with didn't exhibit these behaviours. However, what you're saying seems very believable.

        But I've also heard that sometimes they go out specifically to be seen. For example, one time my spouse and I went to a packed bar in Santa Monica for some burgers and beer. The star of a well-known TV show showed up with his spouse and sat at the table next to us. A friend told me that this is a part of their promotion of themselves as stars. Like they literally can write off the expense of going to a well-known restaurant because it is a promotional activity for them to meet people and "be seen". Do you know if there's any truth to that?

        I can't speak to these specifics, as the artists I've worked with didn't exhibit these behaviours. However, what you're saying seems very believable.

        9 votes
    2. SuperGracchiBros
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      That reminds me of something funny that happened to me on the subway a few years ago. I was standing and facing the doors when we pulled into the station. The doors open and standing by himself...

      That reminds me of something funny that happened to me on the subway a few years ago. I was standing and facing the doors when we pulled into the station. The doors open and standing by himself was a relatively famous Twitch streamer. We locked eyes and I guess a look of recognition had flashed across my face or something because, the second he saw me, he walked over and got on a different train car.

      I hadn't done or said anything, and I wasn't offended. I always figured, like you mentioned, that he thought I would bother him, and like anybody could be, wasn't in the mood to engage in conversation.

      11 votes
    3. [2]
      swizzler
      Link Parent
      Wonder if this will be the thing that makes the whole vtuber thing that's going on in the east to take off here, the ability for a performer to do their act through an avatar, while still...

      Wonder if this will be the thing that makes the whole vtuber thing that's going on in the east to take off here, the ability for a performer to do their act through an avatar, while still remaining completely anonymous to the rest of the world. Plus no more shitty magazines writing about how your favorite celeb is getting fat or old.

      8 votes
      1. Muffin
        Link Parent
        The first season of Black Mirror had an episode about a raunchy talk show host vtuber bear. Highly recommended!

        The first season of Black Mirror had an episode about a raunchy talk show host vtuber bear. Highly recommended!

    4. [2]
      DanBC
      Link Parent
      There's an episode in Long Way Up where the fact that Ewan McGregor is in town is leaked, and it leads to the hotel being mobbed by hundreds of fans. It's not just intrusive, and he'd probably be...

      There's an episode in Long Way Up where the fact that Ewan McGregor is in town is leaked, and it leads to the hotel being mobbed by hundreds of fans.

      It's not just intrusive, and he'd probably be okay if it had only been a few people or if it had been a properly arranged me, but the fact it's ad-hoc and impromptu makes it look (and I bet feel) unsafe for him and the people he's with.

      6 votes
      1. Pistos
        Link Parent
        From what I've seen, different artists have varying levels of comfort re: physical security. Usually, though, in the concerts I've been a (working) part of, it's standard for the production team...

        From what I've seen, different artists have varying levels of comfort re: physical security. Usually, though, in the concerts I've been a (working) part of, it's standard for the production team to have dedicated security staff who will follow the artists closely if a given artist decides to come down off stage and stroll through the aisles in the audience during the concert. This staff needs to make judgement calls as to how comfortable the artist appears at any given moment re: how close fans are getting, taking selfies, etc. They can bar fans with their arms, and otherwise shield the artist, if the situation calls for it.

        It's a tough call for an artist. On the one hand, you want to make your fans happy and give a positive impression of being friendly and approachable. On the other hand, such close proximity and contact is opening yourself up to a physical attack by some crazy person.

        There's also a difference (perhaps double standard) between male stars and female stars. With male stars, fangirls are more bold and physical. It's very common for them to hook arms with the star, or put an arm around his shoulders, or hug him around the waist when taking a selfie. From time to time, a fangirl is so bold as to sneak a peck on the artist's cheek. Contrast this with female stars, and I pretty much have never seen male fans cross this kind of line in etiquette.

        8 votes
  2. [21]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [4]
      TeMPOraL
      Link Parent
      You make very good points here, but on the one I quoted above, I wish people in our industry understood more about how the legal system looks at it. It would cut down on so much talking past each...

      in a computer, a picture, sound, or movie is just a series of numbers representing color, movement, or air pressure

      You make very good points here, but on the one I quoted above, I wish people in our industry understood more about how the legal system looks at it. It would cut down on so much talking past each other in discussions around piracy and IP protection.

      The particular thing I'd wish more technologists understood is the "color of bits" - a concept introduced in a somewhat prominent blog post, "What Colour are your bits?". The key insight is that computers (and computer scientists) deal with information, while the legal system deals with humans. In context of information, that often means its provenance. How a particular piece of data came to be, and why (generalized by the aforementioned article as "colour").

      That's why "what if I pulled this copyrighted work out of /dev/urandom" isn't an argument for the legal system, because in reality you downloaded it via a torrent client. Your bits may be 1:1 identical to hypothetical RNG output, but they bear the colour "Torrented", and not the colour "independently produced via a RNG, with no causal exposure to a copyrighted work".

      There's a lot to say about whether IP laws are a good idea in their current form; myself I'm not a fan of them. But it would be easier to talk about it if we could, in tech community, stop getting tripped by questions of mathematical trickery. The law isn't interested in the value of the bits. It cares about their color.

      9 votes
      1. [3]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [2]
          Greg
          Link Parent
          It's a fiction, yes, but I think it's uncharitable to describe it as divorced from reality. It's a fiction that presents the bits as a consequence of the individual action you describe: it's a...

          It's a fiction, yes, but I think it's uncharitable to describe it as divorced from reality. It's a fiction that presents the bits as a consequence of the individual action you describe: it's a mental model that accounts for social, philosophical, and practical context. It arguably encompasses more of reality than just considering the electromechanical details would.

          Nobody is suggesting you prove where the bits came from - as you say, they came from the SSD controller, so it's a meaningless question - but the article is recognising the question as meaningless and creating a useful lens through which to construct a meaningful question.

          All that said, I do have a reasonable amount of direct experience with technical law and technical lawyers, and if I had to sum it up I would say "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". There's a near-obsessive focus on cookies, because those were named specifically in legislation long before GDPR, but a surprising ignorance of things like browser fingerprinting, for example.

          The fear here, and perhaps even part of the the reason you dislike the concept so much, is that there's every chance this would leak into law in some bastardised sense where everybody drew an understanding that colour was a real property of information, rather than an abstract model to visualise it.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. TeMPOraL
              Link Parent
              Your lack of is correct, but it's up to the people who understand this to explain it better to the people whose dayjob is dealing with Colour of things - and we can't do that if ourselves we don't...

              Your lack of is correct, but it's up to the people who understand this to explain it better to the people whose dayjob is dealing with Colour of things - and we can't do that if ourselves we don't understand the concept, and its importance to the "other side". Judging by the conversations I've been in over the years, a lot of people in tech don't understand this, hence me linking the article in this thread.

      2. NoblePath
        Link Parent
        I came here to make a related point but I’ll just add it here because I think it fits. “Ownership” is whatever the law says it is. There is no universal right to property or liberty. Once upon a...

        I came here to make a related point but I’ll just add it here because I think it fits.

        “Ownership” is whatever the law says it is. There is no universal right to property or liberty. Once upon a time, trespass simply didn’t exist in the us outside of a physical structure, everyone had a legal right to cross and hunt on your land.

        Similarly, the state says a “purchase” of a dvd is not a property transaction at all, rather you have contracted for a license (as opposed to a right) to use that dvd, including the information encoded there, for certain particularly defined purposes only.

        This may not be fair or “right” in any moral sense, but is legal and supported by deep historical precedent.

        3 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      It seems like there are two perspectives here and both are equally real, for different people? As an analogy, what a car can do depends on mechanical principles, but the mechanic's view of a car...

      It seems like there are two perspectives here and both are equally real, for different people?

      As an analogy, what a car can do depends on mechanical principles, but the mechanic's view of a car doesn't help when you're designing the UI to be helpful for people who aren't mechanics.

      For many people, if the computer doesn't actively guide them with clear instructions and good error messages, they are stuck. And you can be truly stuck even when a more knowledgeable person who knows the trick wouldn't be stuck. A more knowledgeable person might be able to get them unstuck, so often the key is willingness to ask for help.

      (Also, we should admit that knowing the trick is often a matter of doing Internet research and understanding how to piece together partial solutions, so being able to fix things depends on others too.)

      This is true for other fields as well. Being able to arrange music to your own liking in Musescore apparently looks like wizardry to someone without musical knowledge.

      A good teacher can, with patience, get people to be somewhat more self-reliant, but I think those of us with some talent for learning things in certain fields often underestimate the effort required. There are always new people who don't know stuff so the educational effort is never-ending.

      6 votes
    3. [14]
      babypuncher
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think there is a more philosophical argument to be had about how blocking advertisements violates the spirit of the transaction taking place. I agree with everything you said, but I can't shake...

      I think there is a more philosophical argument to be had about how blocking advertisements violates the spirit of the transaction taking place.

      I agree with everything you said, but I can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong with just blocking ads and demanding content for free. This has lead me to try to limit my interactions with websites that do not respect my privacy or run egregious ads with no reasonable recourse. But this attitude has the potential to further segregate the web by socioeconomic status, as it leads me to prefer paid sites and services.

      Strict regulations on what data can be gathered and how it can be used need to be put in place. Ads need to go back to just being a minor annoyance rather than the privacy nightmare they currently are.

      4 votes
      1. [12]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        That might be true if that's what were happening, but it's not. I just block ads and then access content that was made available free of charge. I'm not demanding anything. The content creator has...

        I can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong with just blocking ads and demanding content for free.

        That might be true if that's what were happening, but it's not. I just block ads and then access content that was made available free of charge. I'm not demanding anything. The content creator has put a bunch of data on a server and said anyone can access it. I do access the parts I want and don't access the parts I don't want. They are free to say they no longer like this arrangement and remove the content, charge for it, detect my ad blocker and refuse to show it to me, etc. But there is not a single thing that's wrong with blocking ads. There are other ways to monetize content than showing ads, and if none of them work for your content and ads don't work for your content because people are blocking them, then maybe your content doesn't provide any value to your audience.

        I have tried a few different ways to monetize software over the years. I've written freeware because I knew it was so niche that nobody would pay for it. I've written shareware that you could use for free but it would nag you to pay now and then. I've tried a scenario where you could use the software for free as long as you liked, but you had to go to a website to get a new 1-day unlock code every day. This allowed people with limited income to use it with a minor inconvenience. It allowed users to try it out for as long as they wanted before paying for it. And I've written fully commercial software, both for end users and for other businesses. The only people who owed me anything for my software were the people I had contracts with to write it. There were users who used my software without paying for it. That's fine. They were within their rights to do so, and there was no violation of the spirit of the transaction. It's the same with ads. Some people don't mind them and will actively read/watch/click on/interact with them. Others do mind, and anyone using ads to support their business needs to understand that. Nobody owes them anything.

        7 votes
        1. [11]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          The problem is that it is not sustainable. If everyone blocks ads, then most content on the internet would have to move behind a paywall or disappear entirely. This creates a scenario where only...

          The problem is that it is not sustainable. If everyone blocks ads, then most content on the internet would have to move behind a paywall or disappear entirely. This creates a scenario where only the privileged will have access to most of the internet.

          I don't think advertisers are necessarily victims here (they brought this on themselves with egregious tracking and obnoxious ads). I'm just pointing out that I don't think everything is completely black and white.

          3 votes
          1. [7]
            joplin
            Link Parent
            This is provably false. There are other business models besides only people who pay get content and content is free and ad supported. I mean, look at where we're writing this. Tildes does not have...

            If everyone blocks ads, then most content on the internet would have to move behind a paywall or disappear entirely.

            This is provably false. There are other business models besides only people who pay get content and content is free and ad supported. I mean, look at where we're writing this. Tildes does not have ads, most of us have not paid (I've tried and failed, but that's a different story!), and yet, here we all are discussing things together on this web site.

            7 votes
            1. [6]
              babypuncher
              Link Parent
              Tildes is very small and not run for profit. If Deimos was trying to serve 60 million users, he would need a hefty income stream just to keep it alive, even if he wasn't interested in profiting...

              Tildes is very small and not run for profit.

              If Deimos was trying to serve 60 million users, he would need a hefty income stream just to keep it alive, even if he wasn't interested in profiting off it.

              How do you think giant platforms like Twitter or YouTube would function if they could not rely on advertising revenue to keep the lights on?

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                Comment deleted by author
                Link Parent
                1. babypuncher
                  Link Parent
                  Then wouldn't it make more sense to boycott the platforms entirely? That is what I do with a number of these sites. My point is, exchanging ad views for content/services is not inherently wrong....

                  It is my sincere hope that they eventually can't keep the lights on, or change radically. Twitter and YouTube as they exist now are, overall, bad for society.

                  Then wouldn't it make more sense to boycott the platforms entirely? That is what I do with a number of these sites.

                  My point is, exchanging ad views for content/services is not inherently wrong. Facebook and YouTube aren't evil just because they serve ads.

                  The radical changes I would make to YouTube would not be the removal of advertisements as a revenue stream. I would overhaul Content ID to make it both fair and difficult to abuse, engage in much more strict moderation of pseudoscience and hateful rhetoric, and change the recommendation algorithm so that it does not push users into the negative feedback loops that have proven so detrimental to our society.

                  5 votes
              2. joplin
                Link Parent
                I never said that large web sites could work with the same model as Tildes. My point is that there are other funding models. As for Twitter or YouTube, I don't think they would survive because I...

                I never said that large web sites could work with the same model as Tildes. My point is that there are other funding models.

                As for Twitter or YouTube, I don't think they would survive because I don't think they provide much real value overall. (That's not to say there's nothing of value on them, but the majority of what they provide is not only valueless, but actually has negative value.) I think the few content creators that do provide value would provide it on different decentralized platforms like blogs. In fact, that's what they did before Twitter and YouTube existed.

                4 votes
              3. [3]
                papasquat
                Link Parent
                Yeah but like... maybe websites that try to serve 60 million users not existing wouldn't be so bad.

                If Deimos was trying to serve 60 million users, he would need a hefty income stream just to keep it alive, even if he wasn't interested in profiting off it.

                Yeah but like... maybe websites that try to serve 60 million users not existing wouldn't be so bad.

                3 votes
                1. [2]
                  Kuromantis
                  Link Parent
                  Just a question, but the amount of people that use the internet is 4 billion people and counting. With so many people using websites and apps, having at least some websites that don't serve that...

                  Just a question, but the amount of people that use the internet is 4 billion people and counting. With so many people using websites and apps, having at least some websites that don't serve that many people seems pretty unrealistic, even if you were to segregate websites by interests and languages (things I'm fine with and would support), right?

                  2 votes
                  1. papasquat
                    Link Parent
                    I don't know. I'm having a hard time thinking of a legitimate use case for extremely large websites that couldn't be better served by smaller, more focused niche sites. The two things I can really...

                    I don't know. I'm having a hard time thinking of a legitimate use case for extremely large websites that couldn't be better served by smaller, more focused niche sites. The two things I can really think of are municipal type sites that provide services (Public utilities, federal programs, etc) and sites for large companies, neither of which need to worry about monetization.

                    Like is twitter really better because there are 200 million or whatever people on it? Wouldn't a smaller site (maybe with some sort of federation with other similar sites) better serve the needs of the people on it?

                    1 vote
          2. [3]
            NoblePath
            Link Parent
            If everyone blocked ads, most commercial content would change form or disappear. This seems a desirable outcome to me. 90’s internet ftw!

            If everyone blocked ads, most commercial content would change form or disappear. This seems a desirable outcome to me. 90’s internet ftw!

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              babypuncher
              Link Parent
              Most people like commercial content. I don't see people lining up around the block to see the latest experimental student films at the movie theater.

              Most people like commercial content. I don't see people lining up around the block to see the latest experimental student films at the movie theater.

              5 votes
              1. NoblePath
                Link Parent
                I am among them. But aside from a few news sources, most of the commercial content on the web is of pretty low quality. not counting other media available through a web portal, e.g. Netflix. I...

                I am among them. But aside from a few news sources, most of the commercial content on the web is of pretty low quality. not counting other media available through a web portal, e.g. Netflix.

                I find it challenging, too,to find the various passion projects that explored the technology limits back in the day.

                As a final note, I am on tildes, reddit, etc, but with the possible exception of wikipedia, none of these are an improvement on usenet.

      2. Eric_the_Cerise
        Link Parent
        I point this out every time I see comments like this. I do not use ad blockers; I use tracker blockers. It just so happens that (almost) all of the intrusive immoral tracking online is connected...

        I think there is a more philosophical argument to be had about how blocking advertisements violates the spirit of the transaction taking place.

        I point this out every time I see comments like this.

        I do not use ad blockers; I use tracker blockers. It just so happens that (almost) all of the intrusive immoral tracking online is connected to advertising.

        I am perfectly happy to visit websites (with ads included) where the ads are just ads, describing products I might be interested in ... rather than sneakily, evilly trying to deduce all of my personal habits, traits and foibles in order to better manipulate me into buying stuff I don't actually want.

        6 votes
    4. Eric_the_Cerise
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Fellow dev here, and I broadly agree. But I want to emphasize that the IT industry has been aggressively working to hide this kind of basic knowledge from the public, and to lock out the freedom...

      Fellow dev here, and I broadly agree.

      But I want to emphasize that the IT industry has been aggressively working to hide this kind of basic knowledge from the public, and to lock out the freedom that people should have to use their own devices that they paid for.

      And this is not new. It goes back at least 40-50 years, to the birth of Microsoft and the early days of Apple. In particular, the very early Bill Gates' days of Microsoft, explicitly and aggressively fostered a business philosophy of treating their customers like proverbial mushrooms (aka, keep them in the dark and feed them shit).

      Just as one simple, clear-to-understand example ... what consumer ever proactively raised their hand and said, "please build and sell us battery-powered devices where we are unable and even, sometimes, legally not allowed to change the battery when it wears out"?

      ... and just a little side-quibble

      a computer fundamentally cannot do anything someone didn't tell it to do

      This is no longer true, except in a very general, philosophical sense. With the widespread commercial adoption of functional AI, computers now routinely do things that no human being ever told them to do. And in it's own way, recognizing this fact is at least as important as your core point is.

      ETA: A clear, simple example of this is a conversation with a chatbot. Humans programmed the chatbot to analyze sentences written by humans, and to formulate other sentences that--to humans--sounds sensible. But the chatbot has no idea what it is saying, nor what people are saying to it, and no human ever told it to say the things that it says.

      3 votes
  3. [5]
    suspended
    Link
    I've been studying academic Biblical scholarship for almost thirty years. I'd like to preface my self by saying that I do not wish to bring harm on anyone that may read the following. To be clear,...

    I've been studying academic Biblical scholarship for almost thirty years. I'd like to preface my self by saying that I do not wish to bring harm on anyone that may read the following. To be clear, my intentions have been to alleviate a great deal of misinformation that have had real negative repercussions upon life.

    I could give an enormous list of things that I wished other people understood about the Biblical texts. However, as I am the founder of r/AskBibleScholars, it would be easy for anyone to dive into the depths of that subreddit and its wikis.

    Here's my biggest take-away from my experience with this material:

    The Biblical stories are a huge library that were, eventually, written down during the Babylonian exile (generally speaking). Please, pay particular attention that I've 'bolded' stories in the previous sentence.

    We know that before the Babylonian exile, these stories were a part of some form of an oral tradition.

    So, simply put, people gathered around camp fires and told stories for several hundreds of years. These stories, naturally, changed over a great period of time.

    We have come to know this, generally, as 'tradition'. Traditions change over time.

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      As someone who was extremely religious in a past life, I've always been bothered by the misconceptions most Christians have about the bible. The most irritating thing to me has always been that...

      As someone who was extremely religious in a past life, I've always been bothered by the misconceptions most Christians have about the bible. The most irritating thing to me has always been that there are swaths of people who say that the King James Version is the only one anyone should read (for whatever reason - it's the most holy version, it's the only one with 'the truth', and things like that).

      But I must agree, the worst thing to happen to Christianity has to be the adoption of literalism and fundamentalism. It has destroyed so many relationships that I couldn't even begin to count them. And frankly, I think it's that kind of mindset, where people can take the side of an account and ignore everything else no matter how much evidence they have, that is powering the schism of society we are dealing with today..

      8 votes
      1. suspended
        Link Parent
        A while ago I asked a couple of open-ended questions here. I'll quote them below along with a very good response by another Redditor.

        A while ago I asked a couple of open-ended questions here. I'll quote them below along with a very good response by another Redditor.

        Today, why are there people that misuse the Biblical texts? For example, why are there religious fanatic self-proclaimed Christians, who are woefully ignorant of the subject matter, using the Bible to exploit others?

        You can try to use most anything authoritative to justify preconceived assumptions of your own, existing biases, bigotry— and in some cases, the authoritative source does have those things, but in others, it doesn't (or not how it's being used). So in the case of the Bible, it's... to be blunt, a hot fucking mess. You'd think that Jesus, a Jew descended from a major Jewish figure, would not be used to promote anti-Semitic ideology. But he was and he is— Matthew's line about "his blood be upon us and our children" has been used to justify the idea of deicide. Deicide here is guilt placed on Jews (typically in perpetuity) for killing God, and it's still prevalent to the extent that one of my professors had a grandparent protest his venture into Jewish studies by claiming that "the Jews killed Jesus". Likewise, John's line about them being children of the devil versus children of God has been used. Study of these texts and of the larger context would cause issue for anyone who wanted to maintain some sort of reverence for Jesus but also dislike for Jewish people as a group. But pre-existing biases, there since before Rome's control of the area and here until the present day, allow people to see what they want to see and twist the sources they have to confirm what they already believe.

        So looking at things like racism, you can see a host of different excuses for why such a mindset is valid. "The races are meant to be separate" because God created different species like birds and creatures of the water, because the sons of Noah went on to inhabit different areas. Noah's son Ham had his descendant cursed to be a slave, so this must justify the enslavement of black people. And yet there were also slave Bibles with verses stripped out so as not to provide any justification for rebellion or anti-slavery ideology. Both abolitionists and those in favor of slavery cited Philemon as well. Through the 1900s, you'd see figures like Thomas Pickens Brady, still making arguments like these. But it doesn't change the fact that the Bible had to be divested of quite a lot of its text in other times and doesn't account for certain frameworks for reading the Bible, such as looking at it from a liberation theology standpoint.

        But this is a powerful text. It belongs to the religion most common in the Western world and it is considered to be quite important to people regardless of whether they've read it with any particular study or not. That makes it a good tool for people who don't necessarily believe in it, like some fascist leaders. It makes it potentially influential on people who are inspired to do great or terrible things— MLK was a preacher. Brady was a segregationist. Some people believe what they're saying, others don't. Some have done their homework and come to conclusions that align with what the Bible is actually saying. Others haven't. But its position as an influential text means that people will try to use it even if we're able to look at it and wonder how they even tried to pull what they did. Bigotry isn't based on reason. Knowingly removing chunks of the Bible because they talk about escapes from slavery, blaming and hating Jews for the death of a Jew that apparently isn't considered Jewish, all of that— it's not reasonable. But it's not about reason, just about confirming what someone already believes.

        6 votes
    2. [2]
      soks_n_sandals
      Link Parent
      Thanks for bringing attention to this. I've really appreciated looking at the texts in the Bible recently because of exactly this framing: the Bible is like a library and one cannot read all the...

      Thanks for bringing attention to this. I've really appreciated looking at the texts in the Bible recently because of exactly this framing: the Bible is like a library and one cannot read all the stories through the same lens. They have to be given context, and in their context, their is immense value.

      4 votes
      1. Kenny
        Link Parent
        Except from a theological standpoint, there is one lens with which to view the stories in the Bible: Jesus. These ideas are quite common and are a part of the five solae - at least in protestant...

        Except from a theological standpoint, there is one lens with which to view the stories in the Bible: Jesus. These ideas are quite common and are a part of the five solae - at least in protestant circles. Things don't have to be black and white. There can be nuance. The context with which the piece is written is very important to observation and interpretation (supports the point you're making); however, that's not exclusive to the theological importance that a sovereign God inspired these works to make a common point (the same lens).

        3 votes
  4. [10]
    gpl
    Link
    Beyond basic things like "the position of the stars at your time of birth has precisely zero influence on your personality or what kind of day you're going to have", there are a few things I wish...

    Beyond basic things like "the position of the stars at your time of birth has precisely zero influence on your personality or what kind of day you're going to have", there are a few things I wish people understood about a) cosmology, b) physics, and c) science (in order of increasing generality). Some are quite specific so I understand why the general public may not care or be expected to understand, whereas some are quite general and I think it would be good for everyone to understand. Examples:

    Cosmology

    • The evidence for dark matter, at this time, far outweighs the evidence for any specific theory of modified gravity. While the latter can be interesting, we are pretty confident dark matter exists and it's not really a "placeholder" or a sign we're clueless.
    • Yes, satellite constellations really do pose a problem for ground based astronomy and it's not something that can easily be resolved by changing observing patterns, data analysis, or other "obvious" solutions.
    • Despite the nomenclature, dark energy and dark matter are almost completely separate concepts (we think), and we know a lot more about dark matter than we do dark energy.

    Physics

    • The fact that we haven't found evidence for the easiest to detect models of supersymmetry is disappoint but it doesn't mean that supersymmetry is dead, just that we may not be as lucky as we could have hoped.
    • It is extremely unlikely that faster-than-light travel will ever be possible, even accounting for exotic solutions that don't technically break the rules, like the Alcubierre drive or whatever it is called.
    • The fact that particle physics theory seems to have hit a dead end is more a consequence of lack of funding for the big experiments needed to get more data than it is anything fundamental about the theories themselves.

    Science

    • The reductionist hypothesis does not imply a constructionist one, and even if everything obeys the same fundamental rules, the changes in scale introduced by considering complex or large systems mean that it will probably not be possible, even in principle, to simulate or derive complex behavior just by simulating the basic rules. That is, we won't be able to figure out how things like solids work just by starting from quantum field theory and simulating things from there, even with an arbitrarily powerful computer. Genuinely new phenomena are introduced by complexity that would not be captured. A corollary of this is that genuinely fundamental problems exist in many fields and aren't confined to just the "basic" ones of, say, particle physics.
    • Scientific consensus is good, actually, and if you're not an expert in some field it's probably best to just listen to that consensus instead of seeking out counterpoints in the interest of "understanding the issue". It's far too easy to feel like you understand enough to distinguish between genuinely valid ideas that run contrary to the consensus, which may nonetheless be well thought out and not easily dismissed, and the pet projects of individual researchers which are not so.
    15 votes
    1. [9]
      psi
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Physics To illustrate how difficult the search could be: the supersymmetric particles (superpartners) could lie anywhere from slightly outside the range of the LHC (~10 TeV) to approximately the...

      Physics

      • The fact that we haven't found evidence for the easiest to detect models of supersymmetry is disappoint but it doesn't mean that supersymmetry is dead, just that we may not be as lucky as we could have hoped.

      To illustrate how difficult the search could be: the supersymmetric particles (superpartners) could lie anywhere from slightly outside the range of the LHC (~10 TeV) to approximately the Planck mass (~1016 TeV). If I remember correctly, you would need a collider roughly the size of solar system to probe that energy. (That said, my understanding is that the explaining power of supersymmetry, eg gauge coupling unification, is lost for extremely heavy superpartners.)


      Science

      • [C]hanges in scale introduced by considering complex or large systems mean that it will probably not be possible [...] to simulate or derive complex behavior just by simulating the basic rules.

      An example: using lattice quantum chromodynamics (lattice QCD), a version of quantum chromodynamics (basically the strong force) derived from first principles, we can simulate the process QCD vacuum -> neutron -> QCD vacuum. This requires literally the world's most performant supercomputers. With this technique (and some effective field theory), we can predict the neutron lifetime to -- wait for it -- roughly-but-not-quite experimental precision (which is useful!). Lattice QCD simulations of heavier elements (eg, iron) are effectively impossible, and that's before you even consider chemistry (molecules). You would need revolutionary improvements in quantum computing before you could dream of simulating chemistry from first principles, both in terms of theory and hardware.

      4 votes
      1. [8]
        gpl
        Link Parent
        Thanks for adding in some examples! I would add on to the second point though, as I think I might be claiming something even stronger than your example which nonetheless illustrates my point very...

        Thanks for adding in some examples! I would add on to the second point though, as I think I might be claiming something even stronger than your example which nonetheless illustrates my point very well. One could counter that, in principle, it is possible for us in the future (or some very advanced civilization now) to come up with those revolutionary improvements in quantum computing, and truly simulate complex chemistry or even biology from first principles. I personally doubt this could ever be the case, but on the other hand the past century has shown us that betting against technological improvement is usually a bad bet. What I am claiming is that even with such a powerful computer, there are phenomena that are not constructible just from the "basic rules" of QCD alone, for example.

        Phil Anderson explains the point far better than I could hope to in his essay More Is Different which I highly highly recommend. As a teaser, he claims in one part that to derive from scratch the phenomena of nuclear dipole moments:

        Starting with the fundamental laws and a computer, we would have to do two impossible things — solve a problem with infinitely many bodies, and then apply the result to a finite system — before we synthesized this behavior

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          vektor
          Link Parent
          I'm only about halfway through "More is Different", but I can't help but think that Phil Anderson has a different point than you: You say that fundamental laws and a computer can't be used to...

          I'm only about halfway through "More is Different", but I can't help but think that Phil Anderson has a different point than you: You say that fundamental laws and a computer can't be used to infer macroscopic phenomena. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe the original hypothesis of

          The reductionist hypothesis does not imply a constructionist one

          is correct, but I'm not sure that means constructionism does not work. I guess I'm just a constructionist and a computer dude at heart, so my thinking is "if we can't explain the emergent behaviours that come with scale, we do not understand the microscopic behaviour well enough." What Phil Anderson is saying, it seems to me, is that effectively, the more macroscopic layers of science demand original research in order to understand emergent behaviours. That doesn't mean the emergent behaviours don't follow from the lower levels. In other words, I understand Phil to interpret "biology is applied chemistry" as the rules underlying biology are chemical in nature. Now, that doesn't mean biology is somehow less than, because it still has phenomena that aren't described by chemistry. It's just that biology explores what happens in a subset of chemical systems on a different level of abstraction. Synthesizing the resulting behaviours into a new, useful theory is of course a science of itself and definitely not trivial. But it fundamentally derives from the layer below, even if we don't fully understand how. In other words: The mechanics are old, the phenomena new.

          It should also be noted that your teaser was introduced with the words "would have been difficult to derive". Which I agree with. It would have been tremendously difficult to derive, but that does not mean it does not follow. As yet, I fail to see an example that demonstrates that constructivism would not work. (Acknowledging of course that the inverse is true too).

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            gpl
            Link Parent
            I'll have to think about what you're saying here for a bit because I'm not sure I agree, but at the same time it's entirely possible I've drawn too strong conclusions from the argument that...

            I'll have to think about what you're saying here for a bit because I'm not sure I agree, but at the same time it's entirely possible I've drawn too strong conclusions from the argument that Anderson is making. I'll let you finish though because I do think his example of the ammonia molecule, and later of other broken symmetries, capture phenomena that don't follow just from the layer of fundamental laws. Although I might agree with your summary that "The mechanics are old, the phenomena new", provided I think about it a bit more. It's been a minute since I've read the article and it's possible I either misunderstood it originally, or else remember it to be drawing stronger conclusions than it actually does.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              vektor
              Link Parent
              I have to say though, no matter how hard it is for me to read scientific literature of a somewhat foreign field, I adore the style. The bigger-picture thoughts seem to me to not get enough...

              I have to say though, no matter how hard it is for me to read scientific literature of a somewhat foreign field, I adore the style. The bigger-picture thoughts seem to me to not get enough attention these days.

              I might also add that my "The mechanics are old, the phenomena new" of course also implies "and those phenomena are worth studying because they derive nontrivially from the mechanics", sometimes to the point of being almost impossible to study properly (i.e. to the degree of rigor we expect in the hard sciences). That does not mean economics or psychology is not a science. Quite the contrary, it is a field that demands more rigorous study from the scientist to compensate the inadequacies of empirical methods.

              (Language does funny things to the notion of science. Germans have no trouble treating mathematicians, economists and psychologists as scientists. In fact, the only differentiation between the words research, science and academics in German is usually that of non-academic (i.e. corporate) research as part of R&D. (I'm discounting the added interpretation of the word research as informal, personal research as e.g. in "I'm researching investing strategies".)

              These high-level musings of scientists, in my experience, greatly enhance inter-disciplinary thinking, by the way. I am not at all surprised that someone who preaches "don't discount biology as just applied chemistry" also sees merit in interdisciplinary research.

              In any case, I have finished the article. My original point is essentially untouched. Hit me with your conclusions, but take the time you need.

              2 votes
              1. gpl
                Link Parent
                I'll get back to you, but probably not in the immediate future. I'll have to reread that article first, but I'm definitely interested in carrying on this discussion at some point.

                I'll get back to you, but probably not in the immediate future. I'll have to reread that article first, but I'm definitely interested in carrying on this discussion at some point.

                1 vote
        2. [3]
          psi
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Hmm, that seems like a stronger statement that mine, and I'm not sure that I'd agree with it. I think most physicists probably assume there is some minimum formulation of physics such that, with...

          What I am claiming is that even with such a powerful computer, there are phenomena that are not constructible just from the "basic rules" of QCD alone, for example.

          Hmm, that seems like a stronger statement that mine, and I'm not sure that I'd agree with it. I think most physicists probably assume there is some minimum formulation of physics such that, with the right initial conditions, you could eventually reproduce the richness of the universe (assuming you had a Turing machine with infinite tape/time etc; in practice this would be futile). To give a more specific example: symmetries in a classical field theory can arise from broken symmetries in a quantum field theory (these are known as quantum anomalies). In fact, I think the examples Anderson lists work better as examples of emergence. The closing paragraph puts it nicely.

          In closing, I offer two examples from economics of what I hope to have said. Marx said that quantitative differences become qualitative ones, but a dialogue in Paris in the 1920's sums it up even more clearly:

          FITZGERALD: The rich are different from us.

          HEMINGWAY: Yes, they have more money.

          If there isn't some minimum formulation of physics from which all else follows, then that would mean something like the following.


          Alternate hypothesis 1: the universe is not fundamentally mathematical and any attempts to describe it mathematically cannot work.

          Physics is, at its core, about create models to explain physical phenomenon. And while it might seem inconceivable to separate math from physics, it's worth noting that until Galileo pronounced that the language of nature is mathematics, people generally didn't think about physics mathematically.

          And maybe there's some good reason to think the universe can't be described by math: the above lattice QCD calculation I mentioned requires months of computational time, and those calculations simulate a "universe" only about 10 times larger than a proton. Nevertheless, the universe makes similarly difficult calculations at every point in the universe simultaneously, a calculation which itself depends on the values of the quantum fields at every point in the universe. And unless the universe really is a simulation, there is no physical stratum (eg, HDD, ram, etc) on which the universe to run these calculations; the universe simply evolves.

          In some sense, I think this is the largest unanswerable question in physics. Yes, we can understand how phenomena emerge from principles; but why do those principles exist to begin with?


          Alternate hypothesis 2: there exist many different fundamental regimes.

          Let's continue with the "universe as a simulation" thought experiment. If you were to build a universe from scratch, and you wanted to simulate some particular critter (say, ants), do you really need general relativity? Sure, maybe you need general relativity sometimes -- that seems to be important for the large scale structure of the universe; and sometimes human beings like to talk about that; and sometimes when human beings are talking about general relativity, they tend to be a bit less considerate of the little critters moseying about below.

          But when we're thinking about the physical effects of general relativity on an ant, that is completely negligible; Newton's laws will suffice. One could imagine that there exist multiple regimes in which general relativity perfectly describes (non-quantum) gravity sometimes, while other times the effect of general relativity is "shut off" such that Newton's laws perfectly describes (non-quantum) gravity other times. And you could apply similar cutoffs to other fields of science: perhaps at some scale quantum effects "turn off" and animals obey purely chemical/biological axioms.


          Summary

          I think of these two alternate hypotheses (and there could be more), the first one is more appealing than the second. But regardless, I think any alternate explanation for emergence (ie why simple rules can generate complex patterns) would be less intuitive than the more straightforward explanation (sometimes simple rules have hidden secrets).

          2 votes
          1. gpl
            Link Parent
            This, combined with my discussion with @vektor, has me convinced I've gradually come to remember Anderson's arguments supporting a much stronger claim than they actually do (or else I...

            This, combined with my discussion with @vektor, has me convinced I've gradually come to remember Anderson's arguments supporting a much stronger claim than they actually do (or else I misunderstood it from the start!). Definitely going to sit down and reread it when I've got the time.

            4 votes
          2. vektor
            Link Parent
            @gpl , because they might want to have a read too. What you said about emergence in your summary, yeah. Just think of conway's game of life. Super simple rules, but super complex patterns, even if...

            @gpl , because they might want to have a read too.

            What you said about emergence in your summary, yeah. Just think of conway's game of life. Super simple rules, but super complex patterns, even if the initial conditions are random noise or simple patterns. Conway's GOL on a 3x3 board is boring, on a 1000x1000 board it is quite interesting. We did not add rules. That proves (to me anyway) that new patterns can appear out of scale, without the need to invoke additional rules. And by corollary, the complexities of biology could arise out of the rules of chemistry. Needless to say, they deserve independent study, because the terminology and methodology of quantum physics is wholly inadequate to derive and describe human psychology.

            2 votes
  5. [10]
    Wulfsta
    Link
    This is definitely a bit strange, but it would be nice if people other than mathematicians understood numbers. In particular, people take for granted just how hard it is to create the real numbers...

    This is definitely a bit strange, but it would be nice if people other than mathematicians understood numbers. In particular, people take for granted just how hard it is to create the real numbers and begin formally talking about things like square roots or pi. Unfortunately, something that sounds as simple as constructing the integers is far more difficult than someone unfamiliar with math would expect. If anyone reading has some mathematical background and doesn't already know what I'm talking about, I would recommend Landau's Foundations of Analysis.

    10 votes
    1. [6]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      It seems like this sort of foundations work has little to do with the everyday understanding of numbers, though? It’s my understanding that even mathematicians don’t necessarily deal with foundations.

      It seems like this sort of foundations work has little to do with the everyday understanding of numbers, though? It’s my understanding that even mathematicians don’t necessarily deal with foundations.

      11 votes
      1. Wulfsta
        Link Parent
        You're correct, there's very little reason to know this unless you're writing a textbook on, studying, or researching mathematics. That said, most people think that what they saw in high school or...

        You're correct, there's very little reason to know this unless you're writing a textbook on, studying, or researching mathematics. That said, most people think that what they saw in high school or the beginning of college is what math is like. Most people just think that you start at the reals without considering how strange it is to be able to say that there's no way to write pi, but we can figure out what its value is. The real numbers are weird when you get down to it.

        5 votes
      2. [4]
        bloup
        Link Parent
        It helps you become more and more able to consider more and more things to be "numbers" without it feeling weird or uncomfortable, which can really help you see "numbers" for what they really are.

        It helps you become more and more able to consider more and more things to be "numbers" without it feeling weird or uncomfortable, which can really help you see "numbers" for what they really are.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          I think there are multiple perspectives on what numbers really are. I like David Chapman's parable of the pebbles, which is closer to philosophy than math.

          I think there are multiple perspectives on what numbers really are. I like David Chapman's parable of the pebbles, which is closer to philosophy than math.

          Counting works only because we make it work.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            bloup
            Link Parent
            It's true, but how can you be sure of any of them for yourself unless you are exposed to the incredible diversity of everything that a number can be! Like numbers don't just have to represent...

            I think there are multiple perspectives on what numbers really are.

            It's true, but how can you be sure of any of them for yourself unless you are exposed to the incredible diversity of everything that a number can be! Like numbers don't just have to represent quantities, that is just the simplest most familiar use case for them!

            3 votes
            1. skybrian
              Link Parent
              This is true, but when you get too far away from quantities, maybe they should be called "values" instead, like we do in computer languages?

              This is true, but when you get too far away from quantities, maybe they should be called "values" instead, like we do in computer languages?

    2. [3]
      spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      This gets at something even deeper about math that I don't think most laypeople understand - math is constructed. The rules are arbitrary - but "arbitrary" isn't exactly the right word, because...

      something that sounds as simple as constructing the integers

      This gets at something even deeper about math that I don't think most laypeople understand - math is constructed. The rules are arbitrary - but "arbitrary" isn't exactly the right word, because that has connotations of randomness.

      Lots of people think that because there are situations in the physical world that correspond to math (you have 2 apples, and then 2 more apples, and now you have 4 apples!) that means that math is somehow connected to the physical world.

      But it's not, not really. The rules of math are completely made up. But, we've picked some made up rules, and decided they're the "standard rules" we teach everyone in school. And those rules correspond pretty well to a lot of real-world scenarios that schoolkids can understand, so it's useful to teach those rules. And crucially, they're internally self-consistent - the rules don't contradict themselves.

      For example, everyone learns "geometry" in school. But specifically they learn Euclidean geometry, which is based on some basic axioms. The geometry described by those axioms happens to be very easy to draw out on nice flat pieces of paper in classrooms, and also corresponds to the type of math you'll want to use if you're cutting wood for a birdhouse in shop class.

      There's other kinds of geometry. If you're on a sphere instead of a flat plane (or something that you can approximate as a plane) you're going to want non-Euclidean geometry. It's not better or worse than Euclidean geometry. It's just a different set of arbitrary rules (axioms) that correspond to a different set of real-world problems.

      We invented negative numbers. There's no negative numbers in the natural world. We just made them up, because they're useful. They happen to describe real world situations like "I have 4 apples, and eat 2" pretty well.

      Not just that, but we invented the idea of the square root, and then the square root of a negative number. And we call that an imaginary number. Completely removed from the natural world. But, it turns out to be an extremely useful thing to have, so we write rules about what imaginary numbers do and how they work.

      10 votes
      1. bloup
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I think it's important to really clarify what people mean when they say the rules are "arbitrary" (not that I think you don't understand yourself, you have described the nature of mathematics...

        I think it's important to really clarify what people mean when they say the rules are "arbitrary" (not that I think you don't understand yourself, you have described the nature of mathematics quite well, in my opinion). "Arbitrary" doesn't mean "random", it just means "we chose this rule freely, and we could have done a different kind of math by just making a different choice in that instance". They are arbitrary, but aren't typically chosen arbitrarily. Usually the rules were chosen for a good reason, because that's the rule that seems to reflect the apparent rules of some kind of situation we are trying to model using mathematics.

        And crucially, they're internally self-consistent - the rules don't contradict themselves.

        Actually you cannot say this for certain about any formal system that is capable of modeling basic arithmetic. This is known as Godel Incompleteness.

        This is why I actually do not tell people that math is about truth, because it's not. It's about conditional truth, contingent that the assumptions you have made are both actually true, and consistent, both of which must always be necessarily in question. And this is where I think empiricism really starts to come in handy.

        8 votes
      2. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        I was actually kind of shocked when I brought this up with a college math professor and he said he’d never thought about it.

        I was actually kind of shocked when I brought this up with a college math professor and he said he’d never thought about it.

        2 votes
  6. DanBC
    Link
    When people who know about suicide prevention talk about prevention of access to means and methods they do not mean that this is the only thing that we need to do. They mean that in the package of...

    When people who know about suicide prevention talk about prevention of access to means and methods they do not mean that this is the only thing that we need to do. They mean that in the package of measures we need to implement to reduce deaths by suicide in a population reducing access to means and methods is one important thing you can do reasonably easily.

    The other thing I'd like people to know is how deaths are counted. The method is different across countries, and often this means you can't easily compare the rate in This Country versus That Country. Some methods will undercount death. Some will slightly overcount death.

    10 votes
  7. [6]
    samueleyeam
    Link
    Might not really apply because people know to do it but they just don’t because maybe it’s become a joke in a way. But really, just reboot and if it still doesn’t work, search it. Honestly. I’m...

    Might not really apply because people know to do it but they just don’t because maybe it’s become a joke in a way. But really, just reboot and if it still doesn’t work, search it. Honestly. I’m still shocked by how many people just click over and over again and say “I don’t know, it’s just not working!” without taking 10 seconds to think and go through the goddamn basics. It’s not hard. If you search and you can’t follow the instructions on the first few links, yeah, call IT. But at least try. That’s almost all I do all day is just search computer issues. Of course over time I’ve built up a memory bank of common problems, but just because I can fix it doesn’t mean I had the fix in mind. I searched it, clicked a link, and followed the instructions. If that doesn’t work, I go onto the next link. Then if that doesn’t work, rephrase your issue and try again. Over time you’ll notice how you’ll just be able to start fixing stuff without looking it up.

    Sorry. Just at work right now and am annoyed.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. whbboyd
        Link Parent
        I've entertained the glimmers of a blog post on this topic, that I should probably flesh out and publish. Essentially: computers are hilariously user-hostile, and users are very well aware of this...

        I've entertained the glimmers of a blog post on this topic, that I should probably flesh out and publish. Essentially: computers are hilariously user-hostile, and users are very well aware of this and have developed a variety of behaviors to protect themselves. Most of the user behaviors that tech people find annoying are of this form.

        4 votes
    2. [4]
      Greg
      Link Parent
      The XKCD flowchart remains the single most useful piece of computer advice that I ever gave to my mother.

      The XKCD flowchart remains the single most useful piece of computer advice that I ever gave to my mother.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        bloup
        Link Parent
        Hey Greg, it's your mother. How do I print out a flowchart?

        Hey Greg, it's your mother. How do I print out a flowchart?

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          Eric_the_Cerise
          Link Parent
          The xkcd comics have "mouse-hover" epilogue jokes that many people miss. Your comment is the exact epilogue joke for this comic. PS: For all y'all on mobile devices, the "m.xkcd.com" version of...

          The xkcd comics have "mouse-hover" epilogue jokes that many people miss. Your comment is the exact epilogue joke for this comic.

          PS: For all y'all on mobile devices, the "m.xkcd.com" version of the site shows you those epilogue jokes w/o having to connect a mouse to your phone.

          3 votes
          1. bloup
            Link Parent
            By design, my friend!

            By design, my friend!

            5 votes
  8. mrbig
    Link
    There is no such thing as technical vs non-technical in film. People in “technical” functions are also creative professionals. And people in “non technical” creative functions also employ numerous...

    There is no such thing as technical vs non-technical in film. People in “technical” functions are also creative professionals. And people in “non technical” creative functions also employ numerous techniques.

    8 votes
  9. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
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