Monthly Archives: July 2016

Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

I posted a web comic poking fun at the irrational fear of the ocean. My carefulness last weekend maybe kept me from getting stung by jellyfish and definitely from stepping on a stingray or skate. There were no sharks that I saw. But then, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” ūüôā

Dr. Jonathan Haidt, NYU — Bob Howard, Village Square

After some comments, I eventually deleted the post because I was tired of the arguing whether fear is rational or irrational. (It is both which is why I thought the comic funny and posted it, but obviously this was not the correct audience.) I keep to myself more these days to keep from arguing about politics. There has been a temptation to leave Facebook altogether in order to get away from the madness. Something I will not tolerate is that kind of thing on my own posts. I tell people to stop and if anyone eggs it on, then I delete the post.

In Jonathan Haidt‘s Edge talk¬†A New Science of Morality (Part 1), he alerts us to:

According to Mercier and Sperber reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That’s why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. [1]

My own Confirmation Bias screams that this absolutely must be the most true thing I have read this decade. Several posts on this blog demonstrate my fascination with people trusting their ideology over the facts. But this makes sense in an environment where people are mainly looking to prove themselves correct. Someone can be completely reasonable, but if the other has made up their mind there is no changing it. The flow of information only serves to eventually serve up something that supports their view which they will seize upon.

As Behavioral Economics fanboy, I very much am all about humans are not extremely imperfect reasoners. To label anyone, even Neil deGrasse Tyson, as very rational strikes me as irrational. It will be difficult to refrain from not using reasonable as pejorative to mean someone who has stopped thinking beyond only supporting their own view.

The post Argumentative Theory of Reasoning appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Argumentative Theory of Reasoning published July 16, 2016 at 10:21AM.

Memic Straw Men

Well, calling the current political, social, or even game discourses debates is probably too generous. That implies discussion which means an attempt at listening to the other if only to hear their point of view enough to counter it. At this point, much of what I see are the use of memes to perpetuate Straw Man fallacies.

It seems like memes are perfectly positioned for this purpose. They are cute and funny. This leads to people backing the ideology in them to think of them as non-threatening so they more easily share memes. Very topical, they get across the shot at the enemy in an amusing way.

A couple examples:

Compares the Harry Potter evil character Professor Dolores Umbridge to candidate Hillary Clinton
Compares candidate Donald Trump’s hair to an ear of corn

None of this seems to be about convincing people to change their opinion so much as attacking each other. This whole thing is disappointing.

The post Memic Straw Men appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Memic Straw Men published July 15, 2016 at 07:11AM.


Received an email from a company they were using to validate my email address is the correct one. It specifically told me not to do anything if the email address is correct and to let them know if it was not.

We’re writing to confirm that this is your current email address. If this email address is still current, you don’t need to do a thing.

If you would like to change your email address, please update your information today.


I presume if the email bounced, then they have tools that noticing this would mark the email address as bad and use phone or postal mail to reach out to me. Which is fine.

But… Let’s say I stopped using this email address because it is overwhelmed with junk and am using a different one. This email gets to that address, it does not bounce because it is perfectly legitimate but I’m not reading anything sent there. I will not see this.¬†Because of their¬†“don’t do a thing,” they think I would see it in the future. Therefore, I would not have an opportunity to update my information to a better one unless I think of it myself or eventually stumble across this buried message.

Of course, this same company was pretty aggressive a couple years ago wanting my cell phone number so they could text me.

The post Confirmations appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Confirmations published July 13, 2016 at 07:51AM.

TED Talk: Let‚Äôs try emotional correctness

Sally Kohn gets an unbelievable amount of hate mail for doing her job: being a liberal pundit on Fox News. Political persuasion begins with emotional correctness: the respect and compassion we show one another.

Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us. That is emotional correctness.

Given the current climate of anger, this seemed pretty appropriate.

If the video does not load, the try Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness.

The post TED Talk: Let’s try emotional correctness appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From TED Talk: Let’s try emotional correctness published July 12, 2016 at 05:20PM.

Verification Codes

One would hope that verification codes would be extremely random. More randomness makes it harder for a malicious entity (person or computer) to guess the code. Less randomness makes it easier. With all the Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) out there, we hope there is enough randomness in these methods to make them unguessable by someone attempting to get into our accounts. But, like all security technology, the hackers get better and protections get easier to break over time.

There is a current temptation to record the codes my generators provide to see if there is a pattern. At least in the back of my head it “feels” like there might be one. My intuitions sometimes turn out true (confirmation bias) and usually do not (reality). If little ole me can see the pattern, then I am sure smarter people than I have seen it as well and maybe even have a way to anticipate the codes.

The post Verification Codes appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Verification Codes published July 11, 2016 at 07:16AM.

Outlook 2016 Appointments

I got Office 2016 at work, so I am struggling through moved cheese. The big change for me is the To-Do appointments. In 2010, it showed several days worth of items. Which is ideal for me. I do not have a ton of meetings, but I like to see a list of what is upcoming so I know to prepare for upcoming ones. It is not in my workflow to look switch over to the calendar and look ahead unless I am looking for something I think I have that is not represented in the To-Do appointments.

Office 2013 shortened the list appointments list to the current day. WTF? Apparently Microsoft recognized the problem and added back a few days ahead. I prefer getting to see at least a week ahead.

So, I looked¬†for¬†some information about the problem, but there were no configuration change to address it for me. Instead, there was an¬†Add-In called “Outlook 2013 Add-In” on CodePlex which looked promising. I installed it and am very pleased. It was to show 14 days. I might even need to switch over to the calendar even less than I did prior.

On the way to discovering the add-in, I found recommendations to use the Outlook Today feature. Unfortunately, it displays the same content as the To-Do. So not very helpful.

The post Outlook 2016 Appointments appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Outlook 2016 Appointments published July 07, 2016 at 07:01AM.

Research BEFORE reacting

A friend posted this article on Facebook, Everything wrong with this country happened this morning on my Facebook page, which showed an image with the original erroneous claim. The reactions to it were agreement with the bogus claim. Which was extremely sad because the originator of the claim now refutes it. The whole point of the article seems to be that people seem to have lost the ability to see something, research for themselves the accuracy of the information, and make a decision about it. Instead people see things which evoke a feeling and react to the emotions instead of taking the time to verify. Even when that thing is trying to point out they are falling for stupid things corrected over a decade, but the false version resonates so strongly people perpetuate it because ideology trumps facts.

You need evidence. ¬†You must go back somewhere in our objective world of definable objects and time frames and get EVIDENCE before you have an emotional reaction to something. ¬†Not ONE SINGLE PERSON went and researched. ¬†They had their opinions ready when the manufactured reality presented itself. ¬†They gained more satisfaction from expressing their world view than searching for the truth. ¬†This is the problem we’re having. ¬†This is the core of the problem America is having. ¬†If we just searched for objective truth, if we stopped our anger or our emotions for a singular second we wouldn’t have Iraq wars and Afghanistan wars and we’d have an equitable economic system that brought about prosperity to all.

I think a lot about this kind of thing. Some of my posts:

P.S. Snopes and Google are your friends.

The post Research BEFORE reacting appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Research BEFORE reacting published July 06, 2016 at 07:11AM.

TED Talk: Randall Munroe

I have followed XKCD for years. His What If? blog (and book) is really good as well. He walks step-by step through the inputs and effects of the questions. The What If for the video below is Relativistic Baseball.

If the video does not load, then try Randall Munroe: Comics That Ask What If?


The post TED Talk: Randall Munroe appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From TED Talk: Randall Munroe published July 05, 2016 at 07:41AM.


Thinking about independence since it is the Fourth of July.

Over the centuries it is amusing how close the United States has become with the United Kingdom (descendant of Great Britain). So much so that both the President of the United States and a candidate for the job both travel to the UK and talk about how the people should vote or have voted. People talk about what the Founding Fathers thought. Well, I wonder what they would have thought about the chumminess of the US and the UK, their enemy. But, the UK was also their parent in a way.

Teenagers need to learn to separate from the parent. To do things on their own. To be responsible for their own actions. While under the protection of the parent that is more difficult. So independence was good for us and ultimately probably good for the UK too.

Some American values, manners, and customs originate from the UK. In some cases they have moved on where we still adhere strongly to things as they were. In some cases we replaced them with other European, African, or Asian customs where Britain still adheres strongly to the things. Life in America necessitated a social evolution of sorts. No so much Social Darwinism, but in the early colonial period and westward expansion, the people who clung too strongly to how they grew up and failed to adapt to the new life often failed. Having the independence to adapt was good for their survival.

Yet, given the closeness of the US and UK¬†and¬†as Americans pine over the UK princes, one’s wife, and children, an interesting thought experiment is re-unification. The idea is not unprecedented.¬†In 1707 and 1800, London’s parliament agreed to an Act of Union first with Scotland and then with Ireland to establish their representation in the national government. Given these occurred both before and after the colonial independence, it seems like this is a route which could have been taken.¬†That both Scotland and Ireland had parliaments probably aided the unions. Melding the US government with the UK would be much more difficult.

The post Independence appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Independence published July 04, 2016 at 09:07AM.


Vox Hunt: All By MyselfSchr√∂dinger’s Cat is one of my favorite thought experiments. I tend not to think of things and black-and-white or not even in shades of gray but as simultaneously both. Well, I used to call¬†things as having shades of gray until I realized that was wrong. I sometimes still make that error. The better I understand quantum mechanics, the more I feel that it explains everything. Order and chaos are twin underpinnings of reality.

Am I black or white? Really, I am simultaneously both. Maybe struggling with identity plays a role in enjoying the cognitive dissonance of the world around me. People want me to choose when that is a false dichotomy.

Kind of like what makes particle versus wave experiments so cool is how small tweaks change the results. Pretty much all of existence operates this way. The right small tweaks can have giant changes in behavior that are amazing to watch. This is what makes science so much fun. Carefully control your inputs and watch the outputs come out of left field.

How we look at something is often the most important factor in observing the universe around us.

The post Nebulous appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Nebulous published July 03, 2016 at 01:46PM.