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Everything posted by Prometheus

  1. Sure, but i'm not sure of the relevance. Every evolved thing had the external intervention of natural selection, or human selection for some animals.
  2. Although the ancient Greeks are best known for their rational approach, they had empiricists among them - the Empiric school of medicine for instance. I know Greek thought influenced early Islamic thought and science which later influenced Renaissance thought, but no idea to what degree. Is it @joigus who knows some Islamic history who can maybe comment?
  3. The counter argument is that the important dynamics occur at a different level of abstraction to the hardware. A single neural network architecture can be trained to give different outcomes, or in the case of reinforcement learning different behaviours. The difference in behaviour is due entirely to different weightings between the nodes in the network, rather than any difference in hardware. Another way of saying this is that what is analogous to neurons is not the hardware, but the nodes in the neural network. The question of evolution is slightly different, i think, but fascinating. Does sentience need to evolve or can it be entirely engineered? Tying this to what i said above, there is work in neural networks that is looking to replace back-propagation, the default mode of up-dating neural weights, with some evolutionary algorithm to search the parameter space. However, everything i'm saying is specific to neural networks, and the internet is not a neural network (but is starting to include more and more of them).
  4. Is it the system or the substrate you think not capable? Talk about pentiums suggests you think it a matter of substrate - i.e better micro-processors are needed. Inow suggests it is not so much the hardware, but how information on that hardware is organised/represented.
  5. Again depends. Statisticians would compare incidence in the active and control groups, accounting for type 1 error inflation. Doctors would follow up and assess the severity and likelihood of causal link (which is often subjective - it helps if there is some known or plausible causal pathway). But are the myocarditis cases detected during post marketing surveillance rather than clinical trials? So the adverse event wasn't detected in the clinical trials but only when it was released and used by millions. This happens with particularly rare adverse events.
  6. Depends on the phase of trial and the trial design. In phase 1 and 2 you're recruiting predominantly young healthy volunteers so you'd expect less adverse outcomes due to chance. By phase 3 you should be recruiting participants that reflect the drugs target population, but people likely to have adverse reactions are screened out.
  7. CharonY put forward a good solution a while back, i think it was missed.
  8. I watch MMA. Some women in the sport have raised concerns about transgender athletes, which is how it came to my attention. Some in the medical have put forward scientific reasons to legitimise this concern, others refute these reasons, and that debate continues within the medical community (links have been provided in the course of this thread). To have these concerns just brushed away as ridiculous, and to equate them with resistance against gay marriage is unhelpful at best. It's the sort of rhetoric that pushes people toward Trump and Brexit, as it exacerbates the us vs them attitude that precludes nuanced debate - the nuance here being that having concerns about transgender athletes does not automatically make you transphobic (although it's likely true that all transphobes oppose all trans athletes and will leverage legitimate concerns to muddy the waters). It may turn out that these concerns are unfounded, but i would hope, on a science forum of all places, that the concerns were addressed rather than being dismissed simply ridiculous. It is patronising.
  9. It's also much closer to the Chinese concept of 'dao' than just about any Western concept of God - Spinoza excepted.
  10. Anyone interested in beta reading some short stories?

    I've a number of sci-fi stories that could benefit from a good critique from a scientifically literate audience. I'll be looking to get them published in various places - Nature Futures would be the dream.

    If you're interested or have any questions ask here or PM me.

    1. Show previous comments  5 more
    2. MigL


      Could any of the shorter ones be uploaded to the blog section ?
      We could all comment, then.

    3. Prometheus


      Good idea but i just checked and the blog section is visible to search engines and so anything i put up there would be classed as published by potential publishers - writing forums get around this by having their critique sections invisible to search engines.

      I could put up a story i don't plan on publishing but then i neither need feedback nor is it an example of my best work.

      The stories range from 800 - 5000 words, and i only need feedback on some of the sci-fi ones so there won't be many.

    4. joigus


      I have more time on my hands now, and I'd be glad to help. What's your idea for sharing these samples of your work?

  11. Dawkins is arguing that we are lucky to be alive, hence we should be grateful. How does the fact of suffering make this false? And why are you talking about evidence, it's a value judgement. He could have said we are unlucky to be alive so let's just end it now. All the evidence in the world doesn't make someone's attitude true or false (maybe good or bad, but that's a different discussion). I've come across many people with similar views, but can't agree. First, understanding a thing adds beauty, not detracts. A friend of mine once said that learning to write fiction took the magic out of reading for him, because he found himself dissecting everything he read. I do the same now, but the magic of stories has simply moved from reading to writing. Second, there is so much complexity in the world that we have no idea how close we are to understanding it all. If ideas like Wolfram's computational irreducibility hold, then we'll never know it all. I don't agree science shows there is no such thing as spirituality. Just because as we dissect the universe we find no fragment that is 'spiritual', does not mean it does not exist. Rather it's an emergent property of human (and perhaps other) societies. It would be like arguing economics doesn't exist because we have observed no economic atoms. Otherwise agree.
  12. I ask because sacking someone for writing a fanciful book sounds illegal. Either there's been a miscarriage of justice, which i would have thought the author would have addresses, or something else is going on. It's not mentioned on his wikipedia entry either. Phi addressed this point. Obviously you've still not followed the link i gave regarding DMT - while admonishing others for doing the same for yours - otherwise you'd know that DMT elves have also been well documented by many medical doctors researching this drug. I know of one doctor, personally, who believes in DMT elves. Psychiatrists are a weird bunch. I've nursed maybe hundreds of people through and from death, so i'm well aware of the value of these experiences. I agree the experience of death is something most societies avoid thinking and talking about to their detriment. But the issue you have raised is using them as evidence of an afterlife, which is a different question to value. There's so much wonder and beauty in this universe, yet people still want to make up something even more wondrous, like they can't see what's before them. The Wood Sprite doesn't need to literally exist for it to imbue our world with magic.
  13. Is this true? I couldn't find any documentation. Explain to me why if these subjective experiences are to be considered serious evidence of life after death we can't also take seriously people who report the existence of DMT elves (a real community of people, not one i've just made up).
  14. Why would you think the opposite of random be intention? I don't know what you mean that total randomness is a clock-work universe. What even is total-randomness? The distinction i made between them was that one emerges from the other. I'm no physicist but entropy doesn't predict disorder, but measures it. And chaos is an entirely different phenomenon again (i.e. non-linear dynamics). I think by throwing around these terms you are only confusing yourself. We have regions of high entropy and regions of low entropy. Why would you think you need two laws of physics for this to be? By analogy you might say because there are diabetics and non-diabetics there must be two completely different laws of biology. No, diabetes and its absence occurs as a continuum in a single system.
  15. The laws of physics and the biochemical laws that emerge from them. Randomness is just one part of the evolutionary process. You also need some kind of self-replication and selection process. Evolution has never been understood as a 'completely' random process. Another factor the above quotes seem to ignore is that evolution is a cumulative process. Those probabilities refer to typing out a book from scratch. The chances would be considerably shorter if you can keep intermediary stages - so once you have the first word 'correct' you keep it (as does evolution - each new species doesn't have to go through the entire evolutionary process starting from abiogenesis, just the preceding species). The analogy between writing books and evolution breaks down here as one might ask how do we know what the 'correct' first word, or species, is. In the former case 'correct' is defined by some external criterion, but for evolution correct simply means it survives to reproduce.
  16. Why would we expect exponential growth to continue? Sounds like a mistake in extrapolation. Much more likely is logistic growth.
  17. It's a bit disingenuous to ask people to click your link when it's clear you haven't read the linked article for the counter argument. Especially when your 'evidence' is a youtube video, and the evidence you ignore is a peer reviewed academic paper in a psychology journal.
  18. People's reported experiences with DMT, and other psychedelics, are every bit as profound as as those reported during NDEs. Read the link i provided above if you're interested.
  19. The same effect can be achieved with DMT. The way clinical trials are proceeding it shouldn't be too long before it is available for a number of conditions, including depression.
  20. If you read the article you will see it quotes the scientist who published a letter in Science (the journal) arguing that 'the idea of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leaking from a lab in China must be explored more deeply'. That's the very letter that has created this round of media attention, and likely ultimately led to your current scutinity. So yes, Nature would publish it. Science certainly did. Are you going to answer me as to which of 'we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?' or 'we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?' do you think that sentence supports? Or should i stop asking? Can i just conclude it was politically motivated hyperbole?
  21. So the quote comes from some scientists. A scientific journal reporting on what some scientists say in the news section of that journal seems reasonable. Which of 'we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?' or 'we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?' do you suppose that sentence infers?
  22. Where in that article does it state that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs? Where in that article, or any other Nature article, does it imply we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?
  23. Science and morality are different disciplines - one is what we observe in the universe, the other is what we bring to it. Morality is not so straight-forward that we can afford to discard the millennia of thinking that has shaped our cultures. Instead we should be building upon that base, taking what is useful from our mythologies, and creating new ones in the shape of our aspirations. If they are such idiots why give them credence by engaging with them? Such people have the same mentality that has people believing in a flat earth and lizard people ruling the world. No one believing it will be reasoned out of it and it just raises their profile by putting them on the same platform as respected voices in science. It would be better to give a platform to reasonable people of religious leanings (yes they exist), so we can more quickly transform our mythologies and incorporate our scientific understandings. This is why i believe Sagan was the greatest communicator of science - he didn't just tear down old ideas, he offered a tangible basis for new ideas. And that basis is the same one that can be found in all spiritual traditions: wonder.
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