The principles of science (v7.5)

The principles of science

Every day, numerous statements about how things relate to each other can be seen and heard everywhere. Science is normally thought of as the way of conduct that provides certainty about such relationships. However, beliefs and unsubstantiated statements can often be seen, also within science.

So, what are the principles of science then?
It is hard to say, as a well-defined set of principles for science does not seem to be readily available.

That position is supported by the following quote from National Academy of Sciences:
“The basic and particular principles that guide scientific research practices exist primarily in an unwritten code of ethics. Although some have proposed that these principles should be written down and formalised, the principles and traditions of science are, for the most part, conveyed to successive generations of scientists through example, discussion, and informal education.”
Ref.: Responsible Science, Volume I: Ensuring the Integrity of the…

View original post 4,335 more words

Nano-nonsense: 25 years of charlatanry

Locklin on science

I used to work next to the center for nanotechnology. The first indication I had that there was something wrong with the discipline of “nanotechnology” is I noticed that the people who worked there were the same people who used to do chemistry and material science. It appeared to be a more fashionable label for these subjects. Really “material science” was a sort of fancy label for the chemistry of things we use to build other things. OK, new name for “chemist.” Hopefully it ups the funding. Good for you guys.

Later on, I actually read Drexler’s Ph.D. thesis which invented the subject. I can sum it up thusly:

  • Behold, the Schroedinger equation!

  • With this mighty equation we may go forth and invent an entirely new form of chemistry, with which we may create new and superior forms of life which are mechanical in their form, rather than squishy inefficient…

View original post 1,182 more words

Backward Causality and the Current Year

The Mitrailleuse

One of the best things about getting older is that the “amusement quotient” increases, almost geometrically.

So now the “1900s” is so  long ago that it’s not really relevant to 2017, which presumably sprang sui generis from the Womyn’s Studies department of a $50,000 a year liberal arts college.

View original post 296 more words

Days of Rage

Status 451

“People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.” — Max Noel, FBI (ret.)

Recently, I had my head torn off by a book: Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage, about the 1970s underground. It’s the most important book I’ve read in a year. So I did a series of running tweetstorms about it, and Clark asked me if he could collect them for posterity. I’ve edited them slightly for editorial coherence.

Days of Rage is important, because this stuff is forgotten and it shouldn’t be. The 1970s underground wasn’t small. It was hundreds of people becoming urban guerrillas. Bombing buildings: the Pentagon, the Capitol, courthouses, restaurants, corporations. Robbing banks. Assassinating police. People really thought that revolution was imminent, and thought violence would bring it about.

One thing that Burrough returns to in Days of Rage, over and over and…

View original post 13,072 more words

The Four Blind Men, the Elephant, and Alan Kay

Status 451

First off, a brief apology. I made a New Year’s resolution to finish at least one post a month, and, well, you can see how well that ended up. Back in January, I changed jobs, and I’m now CTO of a company that’s building a platform for digital cash as humanitarian aid. I wasn’t expecting my available Copious Free Time to increase, exactly, but I was sort of hoping it wouldn’t be quite so much of a Major Life Transition. Ha ha!

People will tell you that managing engineers is nothing like being an engineer oneself. This is mostly true, but like most important career lessons, the ways in which it’sunnamed obviously true are its least interesting aspects. Management is, more than anything else, a change in perspective. As an engineer, you’re behind the wheel of your project, and it’s your job to get it to the finish line. As a manager…

View original post 2,007 more words

The Backchannel is the Message

Status 451

chinese-whispersThere’s a pernicious problem in rule making: it is much easier to introduce a rule than to remove it. To borrow a phrase from Pascal, “if I had had more time, I would have written a shorter rulebook,” and this applies just the same whether those rules are meant for computers or for people. The fewer parts there are, the less they can interact in surprising ways.

If we lose sight of this in our rule making, we invite the same kinds of pathology we see more readily with technology. We suffer exploits due to unforeseen consequences, and we are prevented from fixing them due to an ever growing maintenance overhead. Rather than try to untangle the resulting monolith of interactions, often the only compassionate action is to take it out back and put it out of its misery. If too many people are invested, though, this rarely happens, and we…

View original post 1,502 more words