a small point

I just wanted to make a quick point about this TED talk business. Since Chris Anderson responded, some have claimed that the case is closed and that the talk simply wasn’t published because it wasn’t of high enough quality. Take, for example, libertarian grumbler Julian Sanchez:

First, it’s generally a really dumb idea to take a self-interested party’s word, uncritically, when they’ve been criticized. Of course Anderson is going to say that the problem with the talk was its quality. He’s the one getting criticized! More to the point, we don’t only have his word. We have his email, a private email, sent before there was any controversy at all. And he said, himself, “even if the talk was rated a home run, we couldn’t release it, because it would be unquestionably regarded as out and out political.” There it is, in black and white. He said it himself: the problem is the politics. As if a series of koffee klatsches where rich techies shine each other on and trade regard for each other could be anything but political.

Look, I’ll be honest: I think TED talks are the worst example of modern faux-intellectualism. Audience flattering, based on ego and personality, dripping with self-congratulation, they contribute to one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms. The reality is that progress is hard, that knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog, and that when ideas and solutions appear pat, cute, easy, or triumphant, they’re almost certainly wrong. So, like I said. I’m not unbiased.

But, then again, I’m also not a libertarian looking to excuse the silencing of a left-wing argument.

266 replies
  1. 1
    eric says:

    rule 1: never offend your donor base or funding source. it is that simple. the selection of appropriate topics for polite company has always been the way america’s rhetorical paradigm has been defined. why dont you see more pro-union or pro-worker pieces on the networks and in the newspapers? perhaps we should ask their anti-union management. You will see corruption stories whenever appropriate because there is a belief in polite company that the time for collective bargaining has come and gone. Here, the TED folks did not want to make their $$$$ think that TED was formenting a belief structure that would undermine the socio-economic paradigm that has made them all so wealthy.

  2. 2
    elm says:

    Recycling a comment from from yesterday:

    It’s acceptable to discuss inequality if you act like the presenters in yesterday’s TED blog post. It’s titled Playlist: The roots — and effects — of income equality. It has 4 totebagger-friendly videos that (blog post title notwithstanding) studiously avoid discussing the roots of income inequality.

    It’s unacceptable to talk about meaningful ways to change things. Just describe how bad things are, so the rich folks in the audience can tut-tut about how awful it all is and mutter about how nice it would be if things were otherwise and then go have a nice champagne and caviar reception.

    Spolier to the videos: Being poor sucks and they should garden more.

  3. 3
    srv says:

    If it’s not entertaining, it’s not good science or politics.

  4. 4
    Mark S. says:

    The irony is that a ton more people are aware of this talk than if TED had just posted it.

  5. 5
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Mark S.: Maybe they can invite Barbara Streisand to come and give a speech about how that works.

  6. 6
    Comrade Mary says:

    I haven’t watched any TED talks for ages, and the last one I saw that actually taught me something was Bonnie Bassler’s presentation on bacteria communication.

  7. 7
    eric says:

    @elm: but not even how “bad” it really is. you hear generalities, but nothing like what you can read in Nickle and Dimed. I happened upon the undercover boss show once and what struck me was how “ordinary” people’s difficulties were. Not ordinary in the sense that they should be ok with it, but ordinary in the sense that their tribulations were on a par with most workers that I know and the fact that the show generates favorable sentiment to these specific workers is not translated into a larger point about workers more generally and the very real struggles people have with their children’s health and education on the one end and their parent’s end of life health care and living arrangements. It can never be a systemic indictment because that is just….well, taht would require sacrifice and commitement to change from the ones who benefit most and that aint gonna happen without pitchforks

  8. 8
    jibeaux says:

    one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms. The reality is that progress is hard, that knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog, and that when ideas and solutions appear pat, cute, easy, or triumphant, they’re almost certainly wrong.

    Lighten up, Francis.

  9. 9
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    I’ve studied quorum sensing with some depth in microbiology. It’s relatively new (my best friend is a doctor fresh out of his residency and into his professional work and he didn’t know about it).

    It’s pretty promising area of research. We block the quorum sensing by blocking the receptors and we can give the immune system time to destroy the cells.

  10. 10
    srv says:

    TED Talks are the new Facebook.

  11. 11
    superking says:

    This:

    I think TED talks are the worst example of modern faux-intellectualism. Audience flattering, based on ego and personality, dripping with self-congratulation, they contribute to one of the great lies of our time,

  12. 12
    Egg Berry says:

    I have never quite understood the appeal of TED talks. People pay $7000 to attend a conference and watch high-end bread and circuses?

    It really is a part of the Davos-Aspen circuit, isn’t it?

    Oh, but us proles can watch for free on the Internet.

  13. 13
    Thom Tobiason says:

    Thought experiment:
    Which treatment would cause the greatest amount of comment or buzz?
    1) allowing the talk to be post normally
    2) banning the talk because it is “too political”

    I’m not sure.

  14. 14
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Question: What is TED, I haven’t heard a single talk. I have seen them linked though, all over the place. Is it research presented in a more digestible format, than scholarly articles and doesn’t PBS already this?

  15. 15
    jibeaux says:

    If knowledge is a long and dispiriting slog, then probably you won’t be interested in world champion whistlers or Mary Roach talking about orgasms, but those were TED talks. By all means, slog along.

  16. 16
    eric says:

    @Egg Berry: in the olden days, people just bought the collected works of shakespeare beethoven’s symphonies for their home libraries to show their intellectual weight, but that just aint showy enough…so, voila, TED…

  17. 17
    jibeaux says:

    Hell, I even liked the Bobby McFerrin one. Seriously, it’s charming.

  18. 18
    mistermix says:

    You’re right about Anderson’s after the fact spin.

    I think you’re a bit tough on TED talks in general. A lot of them are designed to give people enough information to explain why something is interesting and then look into it further. If you leave the talk with the feeling that you’ve learned a lot about a given subject, you’re doing it wrong.

  19. 19
    Jeff Spender says:

    @superking:

    Some TED talks are actually worthwhile. You just have to weed your way through all of the chaff. I like Brian Greene’s videos about superstring theory because they explain complex physics to people who don’t have the background (though, to be sure, it’s simplistic as hell).

    There are some things that are worthwhile.

  20. 20
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Jeff Spender: I’m envious!

    For those of you who want to dig deeper and have a couple of hours to spare:

    Bassler lecture part 1

    Bassler lecture part 2

  21. 21

    Freddie, thank for articulating what I’ve been stumbling to (the only part of me that functions on sleep deprivation and and coffee is my brain stem). I can’t stand TED talks and it irks me when quasi tech-intellectuals (a.k.a. wannabe Zuckerbergs) point to a TED talk as if just listening to the ideas is like absorbing genius via osmosis. I even like many of the individual speakers, but as a concept, TED talks are a massive circle-jerk.

  22. 22
    deep says:

    I FORESEE A DAY IN THE DISTANT FUTURE WHEN TED TALKS WILL BECOME AWESOME:

    http://www.whompcomic.com/2012.....he-future/

  23. 23
    mclaren says:

    Look, I’ll be honest: I think TED talks are the worst example of modern faux-intellectualism. Audience flattering, based on ego and personality, dripping with self-congratulation, they contribute to one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms. The reality is that progress is hard, that knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog, and that when ideas and solutions appear pat, cute, easy, or triumphant, they’re almost certainly wrong.

    Those words should be engraved on a mountain in letters a mile tall and lit with floodlights.

    Moreover, take a look at the audience for TED talks. It consists of people so wealthy they can afford to pay $7,500 to listen to some people speak.

    That ain’t you ‘n me, folks. That’s not an audience of scientists and scholars. That’s not even an audience of interested college students.

    That’s an audience made up of the superwealthy. “The haves, and the have-mores,” to quote a certain famous drunk-driving C student. So of course when you give a talk to the superwealthy, you cannot tell ’em that they’re not the be-all and the end-all of the universe, kings of the world, the crown of creation, the magnificent flower and endpoint apotheosis to which the entire 4.5-billion-year process of evolution of life on earth has led.

    The problem with that banned TED talk wasn’t the politics, it was that the talk bitch-slaps the superwealthy greedheads in the audience and tells ’em point blank “You’re a bunch of lucky assholes, not Galtian geniuses, and our society needs to stop treating you as though you were Galtian geniuses.”

    That’s a hangin’ offense around TED parts, buckaroo. Say anything you want at a TED talk…as long as you flatter and caress and ass-kiss the superwealthy airheads who make up the audience.

    Naturally the TED talk got pulled! Whaddaya expect? Telling a bunch of privileged smugly self-congratulatory rich people in the audience that they’re nothing special is bound to go over about as well as announcing the grand opening of a kill-it-yourself meat palace at a vegetarian convention.

  24. 24
    eric says:

    @Comrade Mary: i am writing off the next two hours at work…you are to blame for the nation’s decrease in productivity

  25. 25
    Mark S. says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Maybe I’m dumb, but I don’t get the reference to Streisand.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Lee says:

    I guess they are not doctrinaire enough for Freddie, so he can’t support them.

    If you actually watched the video, the fellow giving the speech got a standing ovation at the end. Even the king of geeks, Bill Gates, does not get one at the end of his.

  28. 28
    patrick II says:

    @ Freddie

    …one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms.

    As opposed to blog posts, which are also entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized ready-to-read aphorisms.

    And, in spite of your disdain, sometimes stating essentially true aphorisms, while not containing the depth and detail of a seldom read professional journal article, have a positive effects. I appreciated Mr. Hanauer’s presentation.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    jibeaux says:

    Look, I’m not a modern faux-intellectualist, I don’t do things in order to show off knowledge about anything, but I’m curious about lots of things that I don’t know anything about. If I had the time, I would pretty much take continuing education classes in random things nonstop. Since I don’t, I read blogs and listen to podcasts. In the rotation with Stuff You Should Know and Nerdist and so forth are TED talks, some of them are more interesting than others, but maybe I learn something neat about how babies absorb language or what the latest developments in prosthetics are for amputees. Now I’m going to try the Brian Greene videos. If it’s not for you then it’s not for you but it’s not like it’s David Brooks giving a seminar at the Aspen Institute or anything. And yes I think he gave a TED talk but I fucking SKIPPED it like a normal person.

  31. 31
    Lee says:

    I’m cracking up at all the hate for TED talks.

    Apparently most of you have not actually listened to them. My self-selecting sample that I have listened to are actually fairly liberal in their bent.

  32. 32
    mclaren says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    I like Brian Greene’s videos about superstring theory…

    Oh, boy.

    Dude, superstring “theory” isn’t even a theory. That mess of vacuous (all puns intended) numerological bullshit does not even make any predictions that can be tested in a laboratory.

    If there’s a poster boy for what’s wrong with TED talks, it’s Brian Greene’s numerological horseshit.

    Don’t believe me?

    Here’s Peter Woit on the continuing degeneration and collapse of the intellectual embarrassment known as string “theory”:

    The implications of the failure to find SUSY at the LHC are beginning to sink into the particle physics community: the paradigm that dominated the subject for the past 30 years has collapsed in the face of experimental (non)-evidence, threatening to take down the life’s work of hundreds if not thousands of theorists. (..) By now a significant number of SUSY analyses of the full 2011 dataset have been completed, with negative results. By the end of the year there will be more data, but just a factor of 2-3 more, at about 14% higher energy. To believe that these sorts of increases will turn no signal into a signal requires a willingness to engage in a rather large amount of wishful thinking.

    Con artists like Brian Greene should get drummed out of the HEP community and sent out to some community college to teach remedial trig to football jocks.

  33. 33

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about TED in general.

    On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with ~20 minute talks, given by domain experts, on potentially interesting subjects. And while people do exist who declare themselves an expert on a subject after hearing a single TED talk, that’s more a reflection on them than on the speaker(s). You’ll see the same phenomena at any high-profile conference.

    On the other hand, the “E” aspect of TED has always bothered me. It presents itself as this mostly-technical conference so important that you have to be invited to buy that $7000 ticket… and yet there’s (just for example) Meg Ryan or Kevin Costner out there in the audience, nodding their heads.

    No offense to Hollywood, but is that really the best use of scarce seating?

  34. 34
    elm says:

    @Jeff Spender: I very much like Richard Feynman’s presentations on Quantum Physics. There’s about 5 hours of video there, but he covers the material in a way that gives you a genuine idea of what it’s about without oversimplifying or going into the weeds of the detailed mathematics.

  35. 35
    SatanicPanic says:

    The first time I saw TED it was someone posting some deficit harangue to their facebook. Some rich jackass was giving a lecture on how our kids are going to be paying off the debt. Apparently that lecture was OK.

    There are a few good TED talks but there’s an awful lot of talks that just prove that being an expert in one thing doesn’t make you an expert in everything.

  36. 36
    Comrade Mary says:

    @eric: Heh. It’s all part of a cunning Canadian plan to take you all down.

  37. 37
    redshirt says:

    What happened to Toco Loko Chan?

  38. 38
    Comrade Mary says:

    @elm: You have just killed Canada. You bastard!

  39. 39
    cokane says:

    http://techpresident.com/news/.....-some-dont

    good post about the blatant hypocrisy in this. Gates’ talk is way more political too.

  40. 40
    jibeaux says:

    Now that mclaren’s anti-endorsed it, I am definitely going to check out those particular TED talks.

  41. 41
    Joey Maloney says:

    My personal favorite is Dr. Jill Boalt-Taylor (sp? too lazy to look it up), a neurologist who wrote a book describing, minute by minute, the experience of the first hour of undergoing a devastating stroke (from which she eventually made a full recovery). I especially like the way she uses an actual human brain and spinal cord for a visual aid.

    I mean, yes, it’s an elitist pursuit but when did that become a bad thing? What makes the talks compelling is they get people who are passionate about their subject matter. Even if it’s not something I find interesting myself, I learn what it is about it that makes it interesting to someone else.

  42. 42
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    I have to say I think Freddie is totally off base on the TED talks. They’re not intended to be an academic conference. Not everything can be serious scholarship–a pretty critical part of education is cheerleading sprinkled with a bit of valuable info or insight.

  43. 43
    Mark S. says:

    @elm: @Joey Maloney:

    Ha!

    Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, “Image 3850” had been downloaded from Adelman’s website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand’s attorneys. As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially; more than 420,000 people visited the site over the following month.

    Yeah, that’s a pretty good example.

  44. 44
    elm says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    I mean, yes, it’s an elitist pursuit but when did that become a bad thing?

    It became a bad thing the moment that their curator decided to separate Ideas Worth Spreading and Ideas Worth Suppressing based on whether or not they would hurt the feelings of elitists.

  45. 45
    jibeaux says:

    @Joey Maloney: That one sounds good too, thanks. I think I’ve heard of her.
    And seriously, if it’s elitist to have intellectual curiosity rather than watching the Kardashians then I’m sticking with the goddamn elitists.

  46. 46
    mclaren says:

    @jibeaux:

    Make sure you brush up on astrology and psychic surgery while you’re at it. Those disciplines have as much experimentally verifiable scientific content as string “theory.”

  47. 47
    chopper says:

    @jibeaux:

    that wasn’t mclaren, that was actually his supersymmetry partner ‘smclaren’. look out, that one’s hate is an order of magnitude bigger.

  48. 48
    jibeaux says:

    @mclaren: Your handle is an overpriced stroller and you have no discernible sense of humor.

  49. 49
    elm says:

    @Comrade Mary: You can stop watching any time you want :).

  50. 50
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Joey Maloney: That’s a great one. There’s lots of good ones, there’s a lot of wankery too. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you get intellectual types together.

  51. 51
    chopper says:

    @YoohooCthulhu:

    that’s the thing. it isn’t an academic conference, you don’t have to be an academic to go. you just have to have money, so you can throw down 7500 clams to go and pretend you’re an academic at an academic conference.

    it’s like some rich dude throwing down 10 million to take a quick ride on a russian rocket so he can call himself an astronaut.

  52. 52
    chopper says:

    @jibeaux:

    wait til the wheels come off, as always does with a mclaren.

  53. 53
    RalfW says:

    Saying that consumer spending creates jobs is not a left wing argument. I’d suggest that even saying a marginal increase in taxes on high incomes is not a left-wing argument.

    Wow has the overton window moved if Clinton-era tax rates – rates far below the Nixon regime – are left-wing. Clinton was a triangulating centrist extraordinare.

    Argh.

  54. 54
    jibeaux says:

    @chopper: But I think for most or all of us here, the TED talks are something free that you can watch online or just listen to as a podcast. If there are chumps paying the fair market value of dinner with George Clooney to see it, then they’re chumps and that’s weird, but I’m not looking at in a context of actually attending the things.

  55. 55
    Todd Linder Floman says:

    Thanks for this, Freddie. So many folks on the tubes have missed the self-interestedness (and falseness) of Anderson’s reply.

  56. 56
    Jeff Spender says:

    @elm:

    I’ll look into those. You know what else was good was PBS’s NOVA series called “The Fabric of the Cosmos.” It’s hosted by Brian Greene and it’s really quite informative.

    @mclaren:

    I don’t give a shit what you think. I look at as much information as I can. My mind is open and generally pretty malleable. I like to look at new theories and will think of the possibilities until they’re proven wrong.

    I had a pretty interesting discussion about superstring theory with my girlfriend’s dad, who holds a PhD in Physics, specializing in optics.

    Long story short: I haven’t seen enough information yet to completely discredit string theory in my mind.

  57. 57
    eric says:

    @chopper: I believe it was the Boggs Moron. ;)

  58. 58
    chopper says:

    @eric:

    i was going to say a Bozon, but yeah

  59. 59
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RalfW: I was just going to say the same thing! This isn’t even a liberal argument, unless you mean that in that economic sense “liberal” also has, having to do with open markets and so forth. You can be politically way off to the right and still believe every word of the talk. Modern-day “conservatives” happen to believe something inimical to really basic vanilla economics, to wit, that giving already rich people more money drives employment up.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Anderston’s been caught red handed as a craven cowardly cur.

    Too bad for him.

  61. 61
    mclaren says:

    @elm:

    Also, the issue isn’t whether it’s an “elitist pursuit.” The real issue here is whether TED talks accurately portray the state of cutting-edge science.

    I keep up the edges of science in several disciplines, and lemme tell ya, the real cutting-edge stuff ain’t on TED.

    Where are all the talks about epigenetics?

    Where are the talks about how we’re hitting the wall in supercomputing and need a paradigm shift to get past the exaflop barrier to the zettaflop plateau?

    Where are the talks about the latest advances in computational prediction of protein folding?

    Where are the talks about brain-machine interfaces like this mind-controlled robot arm?

    Instead, TED talks tend to involve trendy trivia that flatter the mostly-wealthy audience’s preconceptions but have little to do with serious current scientific or engineering breakthroughs, and misrepresent to a significant extent much of the current science and engineering they do discuss.

    TED talks have the same problem as PBS specials on the “latest science” — it’s not the latest, and often it caricatures and badly misrepresents the science. You watch a TED talk and think you’ve come away learning something edgy and new about science. Well, chances are it’s going to be info that’s 20 years old, not new, and it often so simplifies the science that what you’re learning is worse that not knowing anything about the subject in the first place. Jibeaux’s arrogant pride in his own ignorance about high-energy physics is exhibit A on that score. In fact, you can sum up most of what’s wrong with Shithole America in Jibeaux’s boast that now that someone has pointed him to a respected scientist who cites the evidence that a scientific claim is horseshit, boy, jibeaux needs to go listen to that horseshit and imbibe more of it!

    Isn’t that exactly what the Republican party is doing? “Now that the Democrats have anti-endorsed global cooling, we need to learn more about this wonderful new cutting-edge scientific theory!” Or: “Now that biologists have decried Intelligent Design, we need to learn more about this fascinating new area of science!”

    Holy fuck.

    That’s no-neck anti-intellectual Uh-muh-ruh-cuh right there, folks, in a nutshell.

  62. 62
    karen marie says:

    I have greatly appreciated this whole kerfluffle, for a couple reasons.

    When it first started, I was irritated by what I saw as hysterical poutrage (‎”Groups like TED making plutocracy the default”). It just seemed so over the top. And then, of course, the video became available, which I had figured would happen, but I was following the comment thread here.

    Today I recognize this for a true learning moment. Turns out, there is no question that TED is helping to make plutocracy the default.

    This episode lifted the skirt just high enough that the hardware of the game-rigging is able to be seen.

    I hope more people understand what just happened here. I’m sure glad I do. Thanks, Balloon Juice kids!

  63. 63
    eric says:

    @chopper: ::golf clap::

  64. 64
    geg6 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    That would be my question. I’ve avoided any TED links simply because I know its aimed at IT and Silicon Valley types and the libertarian stupid is too, too, too strong in that segment of the population. There is literally nothing they tout that I am remotely interested in or, if I actually am interested, that I cannot find in a better format than their short “talks” with an audience full of Ron Paul freaks.

  65. 65
    jibeaux says:

    @mclaren: I’m a lady. We’re the things with boobs. You might’ve seen pictures.

  66. 66

    And I’m really disappointed in Sanchez because I read him often and while in general think Libertarians are morons, he’s one of the few who I regarded as somewhat intellectually honest, even when I don’t agree with him.

    But, fool me once …

  67. 67
    eric says:

    @jibeaux: chris christie is a girl? who knew

  68. 68
    Amir Khalid says:

    @redshirt:
    The one you speak of hath uttered in comments words against the race of her fellow commentors that were beyond forgiving. For her sin, the Blog Lord John Cole smote her with the Banhammer. This came to pass some weeks ago, and forsooth she hath not since been seen this way again.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @geg6:

    the libertarian stupid is too, too, too strong in that segment of the population

    An entire sector of the economy that would not exist without massive government subsidy of R&D over 50 odd years during the 20th Century, from the Mark I computer to the Internet itself.

    None of this would exist without government spurring on, without government necessity spurring on the invention. The private sector simply would not have created a demand nor would it have provided the resources to make computing as we know it to day happen.

    These IT people are allegedly educated, but it’s clear they spent all their time in the Ivory Tower playing Asteroids or something, and not learning about cause and effect.

  70. 70
    artem1s says:

    @chopper:

    it’s like some rich dude throwing down 10 million to take a quick ride on a russian rocket so he can call himself an astronaut. form a super PAC so he can buy himself a Senate seat.

  71. 71
    karen marie says:

    @Mark S.: Not only aware of it but actually understand better WTF is going on.

  72. 72
    sharl says:

    I think there is much good to be found within the collection of TED talks, based on the few I’ve seen. But I also think that there’s something to the criticisms voiced here, and by Felix Salmon, who addressed the “culture of TED” in a post criticizing Mike Daisey (the storyteller who embellished/lied-about his accounts of his visits to Chinese electronics manufacturing sites):

    In any case, it’s clear that theatrical events are bad places to look for unvarnished truth. And in the set of “theatrical events” I absolutely include things like TED talks. Many people have asked, of the hilarious TED 2012 autotune remix, whether it’s parody or not. The answer is that it’s not parody at all. Rather, it’s the work of someone who has been entranced by TED’s theater, and who hasn’t yet woken up to realize that statements like “we can change the world if we defy the impossible” are less stirring than they are just plain stupid.
    __
    Real life is messy. And as a general rule, the more theatrical the story you hear, and the more it divides the world into goodies vs baddies, the less reliable that story is going to be.

  73. 73
    jibeaux says:

    @eric: (Note to readers: If you have not seen pictures of boobs, do not start by googling Chris Christie’s.)

  74. 74
    elm says:

    @mclaren: I don’t think talks need to be cutting-edge to be interesting or informative. Feynman delivered the lectures I linked back in 1979 and QED wasn’t cutting edge even then. Nonetheless, they’re informative (not over-simplified) and well presented.

    Cutting-edge or not, there are influences with TED that prevent their talks from being accurate. In this instance, they declined to publish a video because it may offend their sponsors, in others they have talks from outright quacks (like Deepak Chopra), and in other cases the requirement for presentations just don’t let you do much.

  75. 75
    redshirt says:

    @Amir Khalid: Verily, ye speak the truth. But it has been said in ages past that struck down, she quickly returns in different, though equally horrid form.

  76. 76

    @eric: I really hate that aspect of Undercover Boss. It’s pretty well part of the show’s standard template that the boss gives a windfall to a single employee who’s having a hard time. That’s nice, but what is this suggesting? That a good boss should pay off every employee’s mortgage, or give them a car or a new camera? How is that supposed to scale?

    I mean, I’ll take the free car if that’s what we wanna do, but I think my boss’s primary responsibility is to address systemic problems in the organization, and make it a good working environment for everybody.

  77. 77
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Usually PBS science programming also leaves me cold, it is too simplistic. I haven’t heard Greene’s talks on TED, but if his PBS shows are anything to go by, you are wasting your time. You cannot explain physics at that level without the math, animation is not enough. It just seems to me that he must be better at marketing himself than the other high energy folks.

  78. 78
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    In fact, you can sum up most of what’s wrong with Shithole America in Jibneaux’s boast that now that someone has pointed him to a respected scientist who cites the evidence that a scientific claim is horseshit, boy, jibeaux needs to go listen to that horseshit and imbibe more of it!

    einstein spent half his professional life screaming about how QM was horseshit and many pointed to him as an example of ‘a respected scientist’ in opposition. doesn’t mean he was right, or more importantly that QM wasn’t worth studying.

    maybe all the scientists working in string theory or supergravity will end up being right, maybe they’ll end up being wrong, but they (and you) will never know if they all up and quit today because you think it’s horseshit.

  79. 79
    geg6 says:

    @jibeaux:

    And seriously, if it’s elitist to have intellectual curiosity rather than watching the Kardashians then I’m sticking with the goddamn elitists.

    Lotta bullshit in that sentence, gotta say. Why is it that you think you have to love TED talks in order to have intellectual curiosity? And what makes you think having some justifiable contempt for these talks given to the extremely wealthy and most likely libertarian audience for $7000 a pop means you must do nothing but watch the Kardashians?

    The first time I ever heard of TED talks was when Michelle Rhee gave one. If listening to that idiot grifter talk means you have intellectual curiosity and would never in a million years watch anything other than the Kardashians, I’d rather be stupid and subscribe to People magazine.

  80. 80
    redshirt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: So if you can’t understand Grad level physics equations, no sense in learning about it?

  81. 81
    Jeff Spender says:

    @elm:

    I agree with this.

    More to the point, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a scientist–one who holds an actual PhD (I know a few) who would claim that mclaren was making any sense.

    They’d rather you pick up a textbook and learn from that, but I think they also understand (well, a good deal of them) that not everyone has the ability to understand how complex physics actually is. So they’ll endorse PBS Nova and other such things for people who are interested but not planning to be scientists.

  82. 82
    Andrey says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Whoa there. As an “IT person”, I object to such a broad brush. We have more libertarians than most sections, but I’m pretty sure we still have way more liberals than libertarians.

  83. 83
    mclaren says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    I look at as much information as I can. My mind is open and generally pretty malleable.

    It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” ― Carl Sagan

    The evidence against supersymmetry is in. Stick a fork in it; it’s done.

    The LHC is being advertised as a discovery tool but most of all it is a killing machine. The purpose of the LHC is to destroy… no, not the life on Earth… to destroy the profusion of theories that particles theorists have created during the last 40 years. Of course, the general schemes like supersymmetry, composite Higgs, or extra dimensions will probably never be completely eradicated thanks to their amazing adaptation skills. However, many specific models yielding well-defined predictions can be shot down when confronted against the LHC data. In fact, the 7 TeV run of the LHC has already brought first casualties.

    I’ve now pointed you people to specific sites run by scientists containing links to the detailed results from the LHC debunking the various claims you people are making about supersymmetry. Of course, because SUSY has so many adjustable parameters such as Calabi-Yau compactification and the number of dimensions (10? 12? Take your pick), you can keep fiddling and twiddling with the numerology to crank up the mass of the particles to the point where no collider you can build will produce energies high enough to detect the resulting particles. But of course, that’s not science — that’s an hypothesis which cannot be disproven.

    If you can never disprove an hypothesis, the rule of thumb is that it’s void of scientific content.

    I’m really fascinated, though, not so much by the resistance on this forum by supposedly hard-headed pragmatic liberals who pride themselves on their “reality-based” view to acknowleding basic observable fact.

    It’s a basic observable fact that the LHC has already shot down a bunch of SUSY models. It’s a basic observable fact that absolutely zero testable predictions have come out of string theory (which is something different from SUSY) over the last 40 years. It’s a basic observable fact that the total number of string “theory” hires last year by all American universities for tenure-track positions was…zero.

    That’s not a living growing thriving area of science. That’s a degenerating research paradigm, like alchemy or the luminferous ether or good old-fashioned `hard’ AI.

    Yet the supposedly tough-minded pragmatic reality-based crew on this forum absolutely will not acknowledge or accept these basic observable facts.

    It really gives you pause. You begin to understand why America has done nothing about global warming, why America has done nothing to prepare for Peak Oil, why America has nothing about the number one problem of our time, runaway global population growth.

    You people call yourselves liberals and claim you’re “reality-based” but the brutal truth is, liberal Democrats don’t have any more interest in scientific data that contradicts your pet prejudices than the global-warming-denying and evolution-denouncing conservative Republicans.

  84. 84
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @redshirt: There is a lot of sense in learning phyiscs, but an hour long TV program or a twenty minute talk is not really going to help you understand anything, it will just give you an illusion of having done so.

  85. 85
    jibeaux says:

    @geg6: I didn’t say that, and I don’t see how there’s bullshit in a statement of preferences. I didn’t say you had to love TED talks and as I said before, I’m not looking at them in a context of attending the damn things, I’m listening to them for free. I have no idea what it costs to attend them and I don’t care, because I’m not going to them. I’m defending the idea that one of the reasons you might listen to TED talks is not because you’re a faux-intellectual or because you want to congratulate yourself, as Freddie implied, but because you’re actually curious about topics that you don’t know anything about. And as I painstakingly illustrated some of those topics that I’ve enjoyed and as you’ve stated that you’ve never heard them, I am unclear as to why my opinion of them is bullshit and your opinion of them is superior.

  86. 86
    Jeff Spender says:

    @chopper:

    maybe all the scientists working in string theory or supergravity will end up being right, maybe they’ll end up being wrong, but they (and you) will never know if they all up and quit today because you think it’s horseshit.

    QFT.

    If Einstein had his way, Quantum Mechanics wouldn’t have ever been developed. All of our electronic technology is based on what we understand of quantum mechanics.

    Hell, look at quantum computing. A lot of these things would be possible without QM.

  87. 87
    karen marie says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Remember “consumer-driven economy”? Yeah, that’s what we used to have, and it was all the rage! With the advent of the Bush administration you never heard that phrase any more, it was “job creators” all the time.

    Who coined the phrase, I wonder.

  88. 88
    chopper says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    what made feynman so great was his ability to explain things in a more common-sense manner, which not only helped the layman understand it, but helped physics students immensely.

  89. 89
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @chopper: Brian Greene is no Feynman.

  90. 90
    Jeff Spender says:

    @mclaren:

    Oh my.

    I daresay I shall now have to defer to your sage wisdom, O All-Knowing Internet Prophet.

    Your rants are getting more disconnected and incoherent. Get off your high horse and practice your people skills.

  91. 91
    Davis X. Machina says:

    We have TED talks only because no one today can spell “Chautauqua“.

    Unfortunately, in education reform circles “TED said it, that settles it, I believe it” is the rule.

  92. 92
    chopper says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    OTOH bohr was a d-bag. his way of dealing with any and all opposition to copenhagen was to shout it down, even guys like schrodinger who created the backbone of QM. the next generation of physics which came up with newer more common-sense theoretical frameworks for physical reality got off the ground way later because of his insistence on copenhagen.

  93. 93
    Jeff Spender says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Admittedly, he’s not.

    Still, his theories are interesting.

    I’ll be the first to admit that my fantastical nature allows me to make startling leaps of faith in ideas which seem quite improbable.

    But I’m also a fiction writer. I like to live in a world full of mystery and fantasy.

    That colors my perspective and why I like superstring theory. If the final nail is ever put in its coffin, I’ll admit defeat. But I’m not really willing to.

    We live in an awfully large universe, you know.

  94. 94
    eric says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: with all due respect, that is nonsense. I can take 10 minutes to explain particle double slit diffraction patterns without any math and make the point that it is one of the most unexpected and important results of any experiment in the history of science. the same is true for explaining how we can prove that time slows at the speed at light by explaining how radioactive decay of near-light moving particles takes longer than expected in our world than in the world of the moving particle. Again, unexpected and vitally important, but no math. the true gift of teaching is culling out the concepts that matter and explaining why they matter. I needn’t show you the formula that calculates the time dilation to make that point.

  95. 95
    karen marie says:

    This is the oldest reference I can find to the phrase “job creator.”

    Who wants to bet against ALEC?

  96. 96
    chopper says:

    @eric:

    the same is true for explaining how we can prove that time slows at the speed at light by explaining how radioactive decay of near-light moving particles takes longer than expected in our world than in the world of the moving particle.

    indeed, before i ever had to grind out the math on muon decay in the atmosphere a simple drawing of it in a textbook explained the gist of it.

  97. 97
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Andrey:

    I know that. Some of my best friends are libertarian disdaining IT types, who are distressed at the pure cluelessness of libertarian IT types, particularly since they would be asking “do you want fries with that” if it wasn’t for the evil government confiscating the money of productive strivers to waste it on crazy ideas like computers talking to each other over telephone lines.

  98. 98
    jncc says:

    Not high enough quality?

    I recently saw a TED talk published on youtube that was some guy showing how to properly dry your hands with only one paper towel.

    Some real disruptive thinking there.

  99. 99

    @eric: Very well said. While schrodinger’s cat is right that understanding the underlying math is critical to understanding the physics, there’s a question of what level of “understanding” we’re talking about.

    Watching an animation on PBS isn’t going to qualify you for laboratory work, but that’s not its intent. You bet you need some higher mathematics to do any real work in physics. But I’m not trying to do any work in it, I’m just trying to get an idea of what they’re working on.

  100. 100
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @eric: OK I see your point, and I probably shouldn’t have made a blanket statement like the one earlier. One can explain concepts in physics without the math. The math, I think just makes it easier. For example, calculus makes introductory physics easier to understand and explain not harder.

  101. 101
    slag says:

    @jibeaux: I’m with you. Totally. Also, I generally prefer Mac to PC, Google to Bing, and Radio Lab to To the Best of Our Knowledge. Judge me if you dare, you fuckers.

    Beyond which, what TED did here doesn’t even pass the sniff test. I’ve seen lots of TED talks that were unconvincing, under-informative, and just straight up boring. And I’ve seen them all on TED’s website.

    Mr. Anderson is telling lies–to himself, to us, or both. The guy needs to get over himself. As does Freddie, in this instance. There’s way to much self-importance going on all around regarding this topic.

  102. 102

    Typing that last comment makes me realize, TED talks are the equivalent of the “high-level overview” that you are supposed to present to your supervisor’s supervisor. The managers don’t want implementation details, and they sure don’t want to look at code. They want bullet points and progress reports.

    The TED audience is a crowd of middle managers.

  103. 103
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    einstein spent half his professional life screaming about how QM was horseshit…

    Sorry, that’s a false analogy. This is something I know in some detail. Einstein did not point to specific laboratory results showing that quantum mechanics was “horseshit.” To the contrary: Einstein objected to QM on basic principles, and he kept trying to devise thought experiments to show that there was something wrong with quantum mechanics.

    But every single time Einstein came up with a thought experiment that created problems for quantum mechanics, experimental physicists punched a hole in his gedankexperiments with real data from real experiments in the lab.

    A good example is “spooky action at a distance,” AKA quantum entanglement. Einstein thought this weird behavior would make quantum mechanics so unappealing that theorists would have to abandon it. Instead, experimental physicists succeeded in producing quantum entanglement in the laboratory. In fact, Chinese researchers recently demonstrated quantum entanglement over a distance of 60 miles! That’s damn sure spooky action at a distance, and it’s weird as hell, but since the experimental data from the laboratory show it’s real, we have to believe it.

    maybe all the scientists working in string theory or supergravity will end up being right, maybe they’ll end up being wrong

    Sorry, but in this case quite a few specific scientists have already made predictions and they are specifically and provably wrong about supersymmetry. Let me give some very specific examples: Nima Arkani-Hamed claimed in back in 2005 (see his talk at the conference Strings 2005) that we would know whether supersymmetry solves the hierarchy problem within a year or so of first collisions at the LHC (then scheduled for summer 2007).

    Well, guess what? Now the initial results from the LHC are in. And there is no evidence of supersymmetry. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. No squarks. No photinos. No superpartners. Nothing.

    …but they (and you) will never know if they all up and quit today because you think it’s horseshit.

    One again, a logical fallacy. No, we already know that at least some of the claims by SUSY boosters like Arkani-Hamed are dead wrong. And we know because of the experimental results from the LHC. Not “because [I} think it’s horseshit.”

    Doesn’t matter a damn what I think — look at the data! Just look at the data coming off the LHC! It’s all over the web. Look at the graphs. You won’t see any bumps where the SUSY guys claim there should be bumps. No superpartners there, no technicolor processes, nothing where all those guys predicted we’d see bumps in the graphs.

    You don’t have to know shit-all about physics, just look at the graphs. It’s like the goddamn global warming graphs, just look at the data. Look at the smoothed data over the past 70 years and you can see the global temperature trend. You can’t miss it.

    This ain’t hard, folks.

    I mean, look, here is the raw data. Here are the charts. You can google this stuff yourself, but here is a simple direct link. In this “roundup of new physics revealed by the LHC,” the lecturer winds up saying that basically, there are no new physics revealed by the LHC. No extra dimensions. No supersymmetric particles. No leptoquarks. No string resonances. No diquarks. No colorons. No excited quarks. Nada. Zip. Diddly. Squat. Bupkiss. Nothing. So far, it’s all the Standard Model as far as the eye can see.

    If we get to higher energies, will we suddenly start to see new physics? Maybe. But at this point, that’s looking about as credible as the claim that “maybe if we add more RAM and a faster CPU, we’ll get true hard AI!”

    There’s exciting genuine science going on out there…but string “theory” ain’t it. Dark energy? Dark matter? The Majorana particle? Yeah, that’s real cutting-edge science, and it’s exciting, and it’s got a wealth of experimental data to back it up. String “theory”? Not so much.

  104. 104
    slag says:

    @jncc:

    I recently saw a TED talk published on youtube that was some guy showing how to properly dry your hands with only one paper towel.

    Good for that guy! I’m often surprised at how many people need to learn how to do that. Those things come from trees, you know.

  105. 105
    RSA says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    There is a lot of sense in learning phyiscs, but an hour long TV program or a twenty minute talk is not really going to help you understand anything, it will just give you an illusion of having done so.

    I’ve also found this about astronomy on TV. I mean, it’s great entertainment, flying around among celestial objects, but it doesn’t go anywhere beneath the conceptual surface.

    These shows have value, though, in getting people interested in the topic, even if people don’t learn very much from watching.

  106. 106
    eric says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: i understand your point as well. I say this as someone who ALWAYS gets frustrated with the following claim: when we try to combine quantum and relativistic theories, the math breaks down into absurdities (i.e., infinities, I believe), but it is never even explained. i suspect it is because the math is hard and highly conceptual, but since this is a major point, I would not mind seeing someone trying to explain it to me.

    Also, I think that math and formulas matter when explaining how constants work, which themselves are very interesting topics (the notion of constancy).

  107. 107
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @chopper:Drawings and diagrams are quite helpful, for understanding physics, freebody diagrams, Feynman diagrams are good examples. I just found Brian Greene’s PBS show a bit too gimmicky. YMMV.

  108. 108

    I’m actually enjoying reading mclaren’s exasperated rant against SUSY, and am even willing to say I’ve learned something from it, even if he’s an enormous asshole.

  109. 109
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    Very well said. While schrodinger’s cat is right that understanding the underlying math is critical to understanding the physics, there’s a question of what level of “understanding” we’re talking about.

    Watching an animation on PBS isn’t going to qualify you for laboratory work, but that’s not its intent. You bet you need some higher mathematics to do any real work in physics. But I’m not trying to do any work in it, I’m just trying to get an idea of what they’re working on.

    I think this is vital. I’m not interested in pursuing a career in physics, nor am I that interested in getting too deep into the mathematics. I have an intense fascination with science, but it’s not my passion.

    These shows are useful because they can introduce me to new ideas that I can follow up on, and they’re good ways to introduce other people to the concepts. You can have amateur discussions and–really, there’s not a better way for people who aren’t experts to develop an interest in the sciences.

    I mean, I haven’t ever watched a science show and then come out thinking I was an expert.

  110. 110
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    At this point I’m just trolling him because I really don’t care what he has to say. Superstring is fun. It might not explain what they think it does, but it has made breakthroughs in math and other areas of physics.

    I hasn’t been a waste of time. I don’t think any scientific pursuit is, even if it has been proving to be lacking.

  111. 111
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Jeff Spender: I think books are a better medium than TV or a talk, there are a lot of good books written for lay people.

  112. 112
    eric says:

    here is another guy stupid enough to buy into string theory…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25haxRuZQUk

    moran.

  113. 113
    elm says:

    @Cris (without an H): Reading mclaren’s posts suggests that standard text formatting options aren’t sufficient.

    Bold, and italics are nice as far as they go, but they can’t capture what mclaren’s post would look like on paper.

    I humbly suggest the following formatting options:

    * <triple-underlined>
    * <spittle-flecked>
    * <cheeto-stained>
    * <pen-ripped-through-paper>
    * <indecipherable-scribble>
    * <soaked-in-tears-of-rage>

  114. 114
    Jeff Spender says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I won’t argue with that. Usually I watch the science shows when I’m with other people and want to generate discussions about science-related topics.

    Besides my doctor friend, we’re all humanities majors. I’m moving into a master of science program to get into medicine, but that’s mostly just introductory physics mixed with a lot of chemistry and a lot of biology.

    I think I’m more interested in biology than anything else, to be honest.

  115. 115
    geg6 says:

    @jibeaux:

    I don’t know about you but if I want to learn about things I don’t know, I generally pick up a book, not a twenty minute talk given by someone who may or may not have any authority on the subject. Hell, in the case of Michelle Rhee, you could listen to her talk for three weeks and she still isn’t going to know a damn thing about education or how to reform it.

  116. 116
    eric says:

    @geg6: i go to you tube. there is a ton of stuff out there. I look for videos of stuff so taht my daughter can see answers to her questions graphically while i explain the substance (e.g., how the tides work or how the earth formed from the accretion of small and large “rocks” and why those rocks hittin gthe earth today provide insight into what the earth was formed of. I find it very enganging to offer visual accompanyment

  117. 117
    mclaren says:

    @eric:

    I say this as someone who ALWAYS gets frustrated with the following claim: when we try to combine quantum and relativistic theories, the math breaks down into absurdities (i.e., infinities, I believe), but it is never even explained. i suspect it is because the math is hard and highly conceptual, but since this is a major point, I would not mind seeing someone trying to explain it to me.

    No no no no no no! This is simple. It’s grade-school math.

    Look, the basic claim is this: if you get to really small distances, you can no longer measure anything because the particles you try to bounce off the stuff you want to measure turn into black holes. A black hole is a singularity, a hole punched through space-time, a region with zero width and infinite density. You can’t get information out of a black hole because even light can’t escape it.

    There’s a specific distance involved below which everything turns into a black hole, and it’s called the Planck length. It’s given by the following simple grade-school equation:

    L (Planck length) = square root of ( [(Planck’s constant)/2*pi)*Gravitational constant)/c^3)]) where c = the speed of light.

    This is simple high school stuff, a square root and something taken to the third power. Not high-powered math. That’s all there is to it.

    Below that length, which is really really small, you would need particles of such high energy to investigate that they’d turn into black holes and you wouldn’t get any information out. Shoot a black hole at something and you don’t get scattering, which would give you information out — instead, the black hole swallows up whatever you shoot it at. That’s what happens when you get to super-small length.

    Einstein pointed out in 1905 that the energy of any radiation is just E = hv where h is Planck’s constant and v is the frequency. (Particles have frequencies too because waves act like particles and particles act like waves, so this applies to particles as well as quanta of radiation.)
    So the higher the frequency, the higher the energy. And wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency.

    So this just means that to investigate really really small distances, you need radiation with a really really small wavelength, or particles or very very high energy. Either way, when you get to distances small enough, the particles or radiation quanta you would need to bounce off the really really small object turn into black holes, and that means you can’t investigate anything smaller than that distance.

    That’s all there is to it.

    There’s nothing more to the claim that when you try to combine QM and general relativity, the physics blow up. Black holes have zero width and infinite density. That’s your infinity.

    This is simple grade school math and the concepts are easy.

  118. 118
    jibeaux says:

    @geg6: I don’t think books and podcasts are mutually exclusive. I don’t have time to read a book about everything I might be interested in, either.

  119. 119
    eric says:

    @mclaren: i thought the current trend is to accept that information is conserved at the surface of black holes…

  120. 120
    jibeaux says:

    @elm: Something tells me his speed dates last even less than six minutes.

  121. 121
    TooManyJens says:

    I’m starting to feel like the prevailing opinion here is, “If you can’t be fucked to take a course on a subject, or at least read a book or two, you shouldn’t have any curiosity about it at all.” OK, great, that’ll work out really well in a culture where everybody has to work 50-hour weeks or more to get by.

    TED talks are dipping your toes in the water of a subject. I’ve watched a lot of them, and been inspired by a few to go learn more about the subject. Would you prefer that I’d never watched them and thus never gotten that inspiration? You really think that’s better? Yeah, somebody who watches a TED talk and thinks they’re an authority on a subject is an idiot, but so what? There’s no shortage of jackasses willing to proclaim themselves experts on shit they know nothing about — just read any blog comments section ever. That’s not the fault of the talks themselves.

  122. 122
    Jeff Spender says:

    @mclaren:

    This is simple grade school math and the concepts are easy.

    See, this is why I think you’re a pompous ass who has nothing interesting to say.

    Intelligence is an extremely variable thing. I’ve met people who could compose beautiful music that couldn’t wrap their mind around simple physics properties.

    These concepts aren’t exactly easy for me to grasp when it boils down to math and formulas. It’s not the way my mind works.

    My mind is more geared toward abstract thinking. It’s why I’m so ready to have an open mind about these things. Other people understand them better than me, so I let them do what they do.

    I really don’t have a dog in this race. I find it all fascinating.

  123. 123
    mclaren says:

    @eric:

    Citing presitigious people who believe in something is “the argument from authority.”

    Didn’t the 2003 Iraq invasion and the 2007 collapse of the global economy teach you that the argument from authority is a very poor kind of argument?

    A parade of exerienced foreign policy experts with PhDs (Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.) claimed the Iraq war would pay for itself, the population of Iraq would greet us with candy and flowers, blah blah blah. Look what happened.

    Tons and tons of economic experts with PhDs (Ben Bernanke, et al.) claimed that there was no housing bubble, that the world economy was robust and huge economic crises like the Great Depression were a thing of the past, blah blah blah. Look what happened.

    For somebody to dredge up a maneuver as discredited as the argument from authority after all the goddamn experts we’ve seen go down in flames over the past 10 years…boy, that’s chutzpah.

    Forget about authorities, forget about credentials, forget about reputations. Just look at the data.

  124. 124
    eric says:

    @mclaren: my point is that Brian greene is not a fool for believing what he does, even if he is ultimately wrong. My point in citing suskind is not as evidence that string theory is correct, but that acceptance of string theory is not evidence of a priori stupidity

  125. 125
    Jeff Spender says:

    @mclaren:

    One of the things I learned as an English major was how to manipulate people with data.

    You’re not going to really go anywhere with that argument.

  126. 126
    mclaren says:

    @eric:

    You’re talking about Hawking radiation. The plain fact of the matter is that if you fire black holes at a particle, you don’t get scattering. Scattering is the basic way you get information from any particle collision.

  127. 127
    jibeaux says:

    @TooManyJens: I’m with you. When a post starts with

    knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog

    , well, it’s just not winning me over. I’m not disputing that research or academia might be that, but if you’re just a regular person who likes to learn new things and you find learning long and dispiriting, ur doin it rong.

  128. 128
    mclaren says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    One of the things I learned as an English major was how to manipulate people with data.

    Ohhhhhhhhhkay.

    So talking about the actual data is worthless, because it can be used “to manipulate people.”

    Data is a proxy here for observable reality. You are suggesting we should throw out observable reality when we discuss the world.

    And we should susbstitute…what, exactly?

    It cannot have escaped your notice that this kind of “ignore the data” argument is exactly the kind of reasoning Republicans use to dismiss evidence that CO2 is causing global warming, that the fossil record provides evidence for evolution, that the economic data disprove the claim that cutting taxes on the wealthy always raises GDP, etc.

  129. 129
    slag says:

    @geg6: And yet, when Michelle Rhee writes a book, you’ll have to shun the entire format for all time. I see nothing but hieroglyphs and musical water glasses in your future. Unless Michelle Rhee gets there first, of course.

  130. 130
    mclaren says:

    @jibeaux:

    More logical fallacies. The process of actually finding out anything valid and verifiably accurate for the first time is a long hard slog.

    Once that hard-won knowledge has been discovered for the first time by a scientist or mathematician and verified, however, it’s often very easy to communicate. And often fun to learn.

  131. 131
    mclaren says:

    @slag:

    Oh, come on, that’s such an absurd application of the “excluded middle” fallacy not even you can be serious in expecting us to buy that one.

    geg6 didn’t say he was abandoning all TED talks or that all videos on the web are worthless. He simply pointed out (accurately) that the signal-to-noise ratio of TED talks is low. I mean, they’ve had crap con artists like the `inspirational speaker’ Tony Robbins on TED. This guy bills himself as a “life coach.”

    “Inspirational speaker” and “life coach” are code words for: grifter.

  132. 132
    mclaren says:

    @eric:

    You’re attributing to me here claims I never made. If you check, I don’t believe I ever said that Brian Greene was a fool. He has spent his professional life as a theoretical physicist doing work on an area of high-energy physics (string theory) that has never made any testable predictions that can be checked in the lab. That’s all I said.

    I don’t believe I ever said that Brian Greene was stupid, either. If it makes you feel better, I’ll happily admit that Brian Greene is orders of magnitude smarter than I am (because that’s true).

    Smart != correct. Spending years producing a mathematical framework that doesn’t turn out to be valid != being a fool.

    In fact, if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of science, a whole lot of very smart people spend their lives working very hard to come up with theories, and most of those theories are wrong. Most physicists who work out mathematical theories wind up either duplicating someone else’s work inadvertently, or coming up with a prediction that turns out to be disconfirmed by the data.

    That’s just life. Science advances very slowly, one small step at a time, and most of the super-smart people who do science wind up making hypotheses that turn out to be wrong.

    If you’re a scientist, and you spend years coming up with a theory that’s wrong, that doesn’t make you stupid or a fool. That makes you someone who has advanced human knowledge in a small way, because in science even a negative result is valuable. Now we know what isn’t true about the world.

    When the Michael-Morley experiments showed us that there was no luminiferous ether, it didn’t prove that those scientists were fools or idiots. It told us something valuable about the world.

    String “theory” has made no prediction anyone can test. That’s my criticism of that particular endeavour.

  133. 133
    eric says:

    @mclaren: i suggest to you that there is a clear implication in this line “If there’s a poster boy for what’s wrong with TED talks, it’s Brian Greene’s numerological horseshit” is that Greene is full of it. you also used the word “vacuous”

    If you want to say that the relative scientific merits of string theory are unproven and greatly exaggerated, that puts you in a class with Feynman and I would have no objection to that point. The choice of terms you employed suggested that you believe that Greene is not a good/smart physicist.

  134. 134
    slag says:

    @mclaren: Let’s go to the record, shall we?

    I don’t know about you but if I want to learn about things I don’t know, I generally pick up a book, not a twenty minute talk given by someone who may or may not have any authority on the subject.

    I see. Are we to assume that spending hours reading a book by someone “who may or may not have any authority on the subject” is superior to spending twenty minutes listening to a person of similar authority? Or are we to assume that people who write books (aka authors) have authority and, therefore, our time reading would be better spent?

    What exactly is the signal-to-noise ratio in the world of the written word as opposed to that of the spoken? I’m seriously asking. You seem to have some authority on the subject, so I thought you would know.

    ETA For your edification, here’s Tony Robbins’ Amazon books page: http://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Robbins/e/B000APAMSK

  135. 135
    No One of Consequence says:

    @elm:

    Love me some Feynman. Thank you Elm! Will watch those this weekend!

    – NOoC

  136. 136
    mclaren says:

    @eric:

    The choice of terms you employed suggested that you believe that Greene is not a good/smart physicist.

    Alas, even damn good/smart physicists are apt to spout horseshit. In fact, the better they are, the crazier the horseshit they spout, as a rule of thumb.

    Examples?

    Isaac Newton spent most of his life numerologically decrypting the Bible. By measuring the tenth horn of the beast in the Book of Relevations, Newton thought he had figured out the exact date of the end of the world. Newton was spewing numerological horseshit, and it was vacuous.

    In the late 1940s Thomas Gold, Fred Hoyle and Hermann Bodi came up with the steady-state theory of the universe. It was numerological horseshit, and vacuous. These were not stupid guys, but excellent astrophysicists who made major contributions to science in other areas. Fred Hoyle explained, for example, why life on earth is based on carbon and why carbon is so common (it turns out there’s an unexected nuclear resonance for carbon in nucleosynthesis in stellar cores).

    Lord Kelvin calculated at the end of the 19th century that the age of the earth couldn’t possibly be greater than 100 million years. He based his calculations on the amount of heating the earth would experience as a result of gravitational collapse from a cloud of debris into a solid sphere. His calculations were numerological horseshit, and they were vacuous. Lord Kelvin made huge contributions in other areas and was one of the greatest scientists of all time.

    One of the peculiar things about science is that the best scientists tend to come up with the craziest and most bullshit ideas, and very often, if they’re not right, it’s because they’re not crazy enough.

  137. 137
    mclaren says:

    @slag:

    Yes, let’s go to the record.

    You’ve just incorrectly attributed to me something posted by geg6.

    This places your reading comprehension skills in doubt. At this point, your best move is to gracefully concede the debate and stop posting.

  138. 138
    Riilism says:

    As a professional dilettante, I wholeheartedly endorse TED. I must say that I am particularly enamored of TED’s recently adopted policy of sifting through the less than desirable “talks” and removing those that may offend my delicate sensibilities. It has certainly made my “job” less strenuous…

    Perhaps TED should consider a complete paradigm shift and offer a more user-friendly means to exclude these more controversial discussions, preemptively limiting the likelihood that these vicious attacks on preordained privilege unsavory exercises in free thought will sully the inquisitive yet fragile minds of individuals, such as myself. They could refer to these new and improved and most importantly safe conferences as “TEDexpress”…

    Oh my, with those last two sentences I believe I may have inadvertently saved the world…

  139. 139
    slag says:

    @mclaren: I’m sorry. I thought you were speaking for geg6:

    geg6 didn’t say he was abandoning all TED talks or that all videos on the web are worthless. He simply pointed out (accurately) that the signal-to-noise ratio of TED talks is low. I mean, they’ve had crap con artists like the `inspirational speaker’ Tony Robbins on TED. This guy bills himself as a “life coach.”

    You’re right. I guess I should concede the debate. Is QED what I would say to do that? I’m seriously asking since you seem to be the authority on so many subjects, so I thought you would know.

  140. 140
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Amir Khalid: (Shatner-mode) Dammit! Why the hell aren’t I notified about these things!?!(/Shatner-mode)

  141. 141
    Jebediah says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I was going to go with:

    EXT. Cave – Day

    Tokolokomoko: This one time, at banned camp…

    But I like yours.

  142. 142
    replicnt6 says:

    @mclaren:

    Yet the supposedly tough-minded pragmatic reality-based crew on this forum absolutely will not acknowledge or accept these basic observable facts.
    It really gives you pause. You begin to understand why America has done nothing about global warming, why America has done nothing to prepare for Peak Oil, why America has nothing about the number one problem of our time, runaway global population growth.
    You people call yourselves liberals and claim you’re “reality-based” but the brutal truth is, liberal Democrats don’t have any more interest in scientific data that contradicts your pet prejudices than the global-warming-denying and evolution-denouncing conservative Republicans.

    Yeah, it’s critically important that we all have an opinion on whether String Theory is even a Theory. I mean, the fate of the world depends on it. This has truly important policy implications. Just like AGW. The sooner we can get everyone on the same page understanding that String Theory is mental masturbation, the sooner we can…. wait, what?

    Shorter mclaren:

    WAKE UP SHEEPLES!! STRING THEORY ISN’T EVEN WRONG!!!

  143. 143
    Barry says:

    @Jeff Spender: “Long story short: I haven’t seen enough information yet to completely discredit string theory in my mind.”

    Has there been any significant evidence in favor of string theory?

  144. 144
    Barry says:

    @Southern Beale: In the end Julian works for CATO, and CATO has certain foundational beliefs. There’s room for disagreement on non-foundations, but the foundations are not to be questioned.

  145. 145
    SectarianSofa says:

    Has anyone chimed in with “TED talks used to be good before they got popular”? Caffeine level too low to read entire thread at the moment.

  146. 146
    SectarianSofa says:

    @Barry:

    @Southern Beale: In the end Julian works for CATO, and CATO has certain foundational beliefs. There’s room for disagreement on non-foundations, but the foundations are not to be questioned.

    This is the definition of “principled libertarian” I’ve been looking for. I read Julian Sanchez for a few days in a row once, but it seemed like he was writing one of those blogs where everyone already agreed with him, so he didn’t feel it was necessary to put forth actual arguments. I’m sure he did eventually, right?

  147. 147
    Riilism says:

    @SectarianSofa: I believe you are the first. Let me be the first to say that I only watch TED talks ironically….

  148. 148
    grass says:

    Have to say I’ve been quite disappointed with how most of this blog has latched onto hating TED because one millionaire got snubbed – simply because we like his politics. A private institution having editorial control over it’s website! OUTRAGEOUS!

  149. 149
    mclaren says:

    Thank you for conceding, slag.

    We’ve gotten fairly far away from Freddy deBoer’s implicit point, though. It boils down to the classic quote:

    If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
    ― Malcolm X

    I think one of the most important points Freddy was getting at in his post is that the TED talks are really just the kinder gentler version of cops blasting pepper spray in Occupy protesters’ mouths.

    TED talks play the good cop, the goons in riot gear with truncheons play the bad cop. The whole point is to discredit anyone who challenges the propaganda vomited out by America’s elite. I.e., the economy is made vibrant by Galtian geniuses whose creativity gets hamstrung by gummint regulations, we need tax cuts for the rich because they’re job creators, the whole nine yards.

    When some guy comes along and says, “Hey! Looka here! These so-called `job creators’ don’t do shit, it’s the working stiff who makes all the products that the parasite Galtian supermen just repackage and resell,’ welllllllllllllllllllll, that’s not just going to go down well with the superwealthy elite for whom TED talks represents one tiny cog in the propaganda machine. The Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Fox News, the Washington Post op-ed page, TED talks, all part of the same propaganda mill. America is the greatest-country-in-the-world, the rich are rich because they’re smarter and more talented than you (not because they’re thieving scamming con artists, or because they just got lucky, or because they were born rich), the truth is always in the middle between the two extremes and is always uncontroversial.

    The David Brooks/Tom Friedman funhouse-mirror version of reality, basically. Or, as billmon put it in 2010:

    For some years now, I’ve been morbidly fascinated by the political dark arts — especially the very dark art of disinformation: the systematic creation and dissemination of false narratives designed to discredit your opponents and/or drive undecided audiences away from their cause.

    The difference between disinformation and just plain lying is in the scope of the enterprise: A lie is intended to conceal a specific truth (e.g. “I did not have sex with that woman”). Disinformation, on the other hand, is aimed at constructing an entire alternative reality — one in which the truth can find no foothold because it conflicts just not with a specific falsehood, but with the entire fabric of the false reality that has been created. It puts the “big” in big lie, in other words.

    “Spock With A Beard: The Sequel,” billmon, DailyKos, 25 March 2010.

  150. 150
    mclaren says:

    @Barry:

    Has there been any significant evidence in favor of string theory?

    By definition there can’t be, since string theory has never made any testable predictions.

  151. 151
    grass says:

    @mclaren:

    TED talks play the good cop, the goons in riot gear with truncheons play the bad cop. The whole point is to discredit anyone who challenges the propaganda vomited out by America’s elite. I.e., the economy is made vibrant by Galtian geniuses whose creativity gets hamstrung by gummint regulations, we need tax cuts for the rich because they’re job creators, the whole nine yards.

    Some of the most hysterical bullshit I’ve read.

  152. 152
    Lesley says:

    @TooManyJens: I agree. This whole discussion reminds me of when I lived in Portland at worked at a collective. There was a constant sense of trying to be more enlightened than everyone else. You couldn’t enjoy anything if you found it didn’t pass the purity test. I understand what’s being said about the general atmosphere/leadership of TED but to lump all the talks, to dismiss all of it as middlebrow and not smart enough is weird. There’s a heck of a lot of good stuff on there. I’ve watched many deep sea videos that have no political bent- or maybe a liberal one given the environmental warnings. Watch the ones you want, ignore the others. I think a more nuanced approach works here.

  153. 153
    mclaren says:

    @replicnt6:

    Shorter replicnt6: “Reality can’t be taken seriously because it has a well-known liberal bias.”

    The sooner we stop arguing about stuff which can never been proven or disproven like string “theory” or the claim that no matter how much you cut taxes for the rich the economy will take off like a rocket and if it doesn’t it’s because you haven’t cut taxes for the rich enough, the sooner we can get back to dealing with observable reality where we’ve got some real serious problems facing us. Problems like global warming, Peak Oil, overpopulation, a slide towards totalitarianism in America and the abandonment of the rule of law, a grossly dysfunctional economy where 93% of the gains from the growth of the economy in 2010 went to the top 1% of the population. That sort of stuff.

  154. 154
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    Einstein did not point to specific laboratory results showing that quantum mechanics was “horseshit.”

    and your scientist isn’t pointing to laboratory results showing string theory or supersymmetry to be horseshit either. he’s not pointing to results that falsify SUSY, he’s pointing to a lack so far of results that support it.

    i mean, we haven’t found the higgs yet, and more and more of the energy spectrum is being excluded every year by results. that isn’t data showing higgs theory to be ‘horseshit’, and it doesn’t mean they should fuckin drop the search right now before it’s done.

    but i get it, i get it, you read shit on the internet so you’re clearly the smartest person in the room.

  155. 155
    replicnt6 says:

    @mclaren:

    The sooner we stop arguing about stuff which can never been proven or disproven like string “theory” …

    My point is: I don’t give a shit about the validity or not-even-validity of String Theory. At worst, it’s an interesting mathematical exercise to keep physicists off the street. Sooner or later someone will come up with a strong theory with some testable predictions. It’s simply not a life or death issue what the relative merits are of various attempts at Theories of Everything.

    Global warming, peak oil, etc, etc, etc, are important. They are life or death issues. This is why I’m wondering why you’re in such a rage about String Theory and Brian Greene.

    Someone here enjoyed Brian Greene’s TED lectures. You lost your shit. I’m mocking you for losing your shit.

  156. 156
    mclaren says:

    @Lesley:

    You’ve got a point when you say you’ve seen some good TED talks. So have I.

    Still, it seems to me that dismissing criticisms of the overall impression that the TED talks intentionally give because “there are some good TED talks” misses the point.

    TED talks as a whole represent part of what Herbert Marcuse discussed when he identifies “repressive sublimation.” Marcuse pointed out that one form of repression by which oppressive societies maintain control is to give the downtrodden portion of the population something to project their frustrations onto and relieve their tensions — TED talks serve this function, as do blockbuster science fiction films, military science fiction novels, video games, and so on.

    All these parts of American culture portray this fabulous exciting future in which everything is getting better and better. The world is fabulous! Techno-paradise is just around the corner! Soon we’ll live in a mind-downloading flying-car post-scarcity economy made possible by asteroid mining and genetic engineering!

    It’s nothing but an updated version of the repressive sublimation practiced for centuries by the Catholic Church. Don’t worry about your miserable rotten life as a peasant in 15th century France, soon you’ll die and go to heaven! And life will be fabulous! Paradise is just around the corner! When you go to heaven you’ll live in a land of milk and honey!

    Pie in the sky bye and bye, after you die.

    Repressive sublimation works. TED talks represent one facet of it, IMHO.

  157. 157
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    Well, guess what? Now the initial results from the LHC are in. And there is no evidence of supersymmetry. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. No squarks. No photinos. No superpartners. Nothing.

    LHC aint even up to full power yet, bucko. let’s wait until the fuckin thing actually works as designed before we start lining physicists up against the wall blindfolded, shall we?

  158. 158
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    i mean, we haven’t found the higgs yet

    Actually, we have. We’ve got a 4 sigma Higgs signal at 125 GeV.

    And the important point about string “theory” is that it’s not even a scientific theory, since it makes no predictions which can be tested.

  159. 159
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    No, let’s not wait, because full power gives us only 14% more range. This dog won’t hunt, buckaroo.

  160. 160
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    when we try to combine quantum and relativistic theories, the math breaks down into absurdities (i.e., infinities, I believe), but it is never even explained. i suspect it is because the math is hard and highly conceptual, but since this is a major point, I would not mind seeing someone trying to explain it to me.

    No no no no no no! This is simple. It’s grade-school math.

    lol, renormalization is grade school math.

  161. 161
    mclaren says:

    @replicnt6:

    And I’m mocking you for not caring about observable reality. We’ve had 8 long years of that shite under Bush. Enough.

  162. 162
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    You don’t need to do renormalization to put numbers into the equation for the Planck length and get out a number. The Planck length could be (and was) calculated long before quantum chromodynamics was ever invented.

  163. 163
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    how about we do wait. it’s generally a good idea to wait until your system is actually finished and working fully before throwing your concept away.

    or did your dissertation cut off abruptly at page 10? “a longitudinal analysis was planned but then well, we were halfway through data collection when i figured fuck it, i don’t think the fucker’s gonna work.”

    thank god science isn’t as ADD as you appear to be.

  164. 164
    replicnt6 says:

    @mclaren: I see. So not being up in arms in a frothing rage about physicists playing with complicated math that may have no bearing on reality implies not caring about reality. Interesting.

    I assume you’re a physicist, and I assume you’re pissed because String Theorists get more money than people in whatever your subfield is. That’s frustrating. But it’s not something I personally have to get up in arms about. I was never particularly thrilled with what got funding in my own field, Computer Science, but I really wouldn’t expect you to give a shit. But then I guess since physics is the most important field of all, everyone should have a position on what gets funding.

  165. 165
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    renormalization was worked out originally by feynman and his friends to fix problems in QED, not QCD. secondly renormalization was worked out to fix infinities not over the planck length being the lower bound on distance (not that that’s an automatic fix for relativistic mechanics as there’s no such requirement there). it was worked out to fix infinities that arose in perturbation theory from higher-order and self interactions.

    original renormalization was a cheat involving fixing a charged particle’s ‘shell’ mass as negative to remove infinities in classical electrodynamics.

  166. 166
    mclaren says:

    @replicnt6:

    Where’s the evidence for my “frothing rage”? I pointed out that string “theory” is numerology that qualifies as bullshit. This is uncontroversial. A lot of people have been saying that for a long time.

  167. 167
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    that isn’t firm evidence of the higgs. sorry. you seem big on making conclusions before the experiments are really all done.

  168. 168
    mclaren says:

    @replicnt6:

    As far as hard AI getting disproportionate amounts of funding, that’s also a scandal. In fact, there’s a broad general pathology in the hard sciences that non-disprovable crap tends to get more funding that the stuff that can be tested.

    Good old fashioned “hard” AI is non-disprovable because its proponents always claim, when you get dismal results like this year’s Loebner Prize, where the chatbots degenerating into talking about people’s dragons, that it’s because the CPUs aren’t fast enough and the machines don’t have enough RAM.

  169. 169
    chopper says:

    @replicnt6:

    Yeah, it’s critically important that we all have an opinion on whether String Theory is even a Theory. I mean, the fate of the world depends on it. This has truly important policy implications. Just like AGW. The sooner we can get everyone on the same page understanding that String Theory is mental masturbation, the sooner we can…. wait, what?

    you don’t understand, string theory is currently, as we speak, stealing our precious bodily fluids. continuing to allow physics departments everywhere to study it is just like war in the mid east or doing nothing about climate change.

  170. 170
    chopper says:

    @replicnt6:

    the funny thing is, i brought up bohr earlier and his penchant for being a self-satisfied douchebag about his interpretation of physics. his extreme orthodoxy re: copenhagen really did put the brakes on new work in QM. slowed down theoretical physics for a generation by shutting down any new ideas or diverging paths. sound like the attitude of anyone here?

  171. 171
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    that isn’t firm evidence of the higgs.

    Now you’re just making shit up. Put all the results together and we’ve got a 4 sigma signal. The 5 sigma requirement is mainly cultural, not scientific.

    I predict when all the experiments are finished and enough data has been collected to get to 5 sigma, we’ll see a Higgs in the 125 GeV range. Check back and verify whether I’m right.

  172. 172
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    It’s not clear what the original poster meant when he complained about the math blowing up into infinities. So I went with the simplest explanation.

    If you want a simple explanation of renormalization, well, you’re on your own. Can’t help you there.

  173. 173
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    sound like the attitude of anyone here?

    If you’re comparing me with Niels Bohr, thanks for the compliment! But it’s undeserved. I’m not nearly that smart.

    LOL. Only on this forum would a poster try to insult you by comparing you with…Niels Bohr. :-)

  174. 174
    SectarianSofa says:

    Why is everyone hating on mclaren? Clearly, Brian Greene is too much of smooth talker, and too popular, to be right.

  175. 175
    replicnt6 says:

    @mclaren: When you accuse the entire commentariat of being unconcerned with observable reality because someone enjoyed a Brian Greene lecture and others aren’t yet ready to throw in the towel on SUSY and String Theory, well, let’s just say, I’m picturing a spittle-flecked monitor and a keyboard crying out for relief. But, of course, I don’t have strong evidence for that. For all I know you’re a bot.

  176. 176
    Jeff Spender says:

    @mclaren:

    It cannot have escaped your notice that this kind of “ignore the data” argument is exactly the kind of reasoning Republicans use to dismiss evidence that CO2 is causing global warming, that the fossil record provides evidence for evolution, that the economic data disprove the claim that cutting taxes on the wealthy always raises GDP, etc.

    Nope. It didn’t.

    I was just fucking with you. It’s fun. You take yourself way too seriously and it’s so much fun to poke you with a stick to see how you’ll react.

    That’s pretty much it.

    My point is that I’m not a scientist. I admire and respect what scientists do. But you’re an ass. It’s really that simple.

    You’ve basically done nothing to prove your right except bold some text and and throw out some data that supposedly disproves superstring theory. Which it really doesn’t, because the LHC isn’t even fully functional yet (and, really, who can say if this data is actually valid because they may have a wire loose somewhere that might, say, show that neutrinos move faster than light).

  177. 177
    Soonergrunt says:

    @mclaren:

    i brought up bohr earlier and his penchant for being a self-satisfied douchebag

    That’s the only aspect of Bohr to which he’s comparing you. You ought to think about that for a minute.

  178. 178
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    yeah, i think it went over your head.

  179. 179
    mclaren says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    The guy who applauds Obama ordering the murder of a U.S. citizen without even charging him with a crime is now telling me to think about things for a minute?

    Good one. Go back to cheerleading America’s endless unwinnable wars and torture and murder of its own citizens, you’re out of place here.

  180. 180
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    forcing relativistic mechanics to be limited by the planck length isn’t a fix. relativistic mechanics is, by its nature, continuous. quantizing it blows it up. we’ve known that since the first physicists tried to put them together and found huge divergences.

    the reason string theory became so big is, the only real way to work out a system of quantum gravity necessarily involves a massless spin 2 gauge boson, the graviton. string theory not only requires such a particle, it just pops out of the equations on it’s own, essentially. it may not be pretty, but it’s one of the best ways we have of trying to get quantum mechanics and relativistic mechanics to get along.

  181. 181
    mclaren says:

    @replicnt6:

    When you accuse the entire commentariat of being unconcerned with observable reality because someone enjoyed a Brian Greene lecture and others aren’t yet ready to throw in the towel on SUSY and String Theory…

    Sounds like a plan. I’ll double down on that attitude. America has a serious problem with refusing to accept observable reality. We’re denying global warming, we’re acting as though Peak Oil doesn’t exist, we’re ignoring runaway growth of a global population already beyond our planet’s carrying capacity, Americans are systematically ignoring our broken dysfunctional military’s inability to accomplish anything other than raping 1/3 of the women in our armed forces, we’re ignoring our broken collapsing medical-industrial complex, we’re ignoring our broken unsustainable higher education system + undischargable education loan system, we’re ignoring our massively trainwrecked political system, we’re ignoring the disappearance of the middle class and the offshoring/outsourcing/automation of essentially all middle-class jobs. Yep, hitting America hard for buying into non-disprovable junk science like string theory is valid. It’s one small piece of evidence of America’s ongoing flight from observable reality and contempt and disdain for verifiable evidence.

    As the blogger Fabius Maximus memorably remarked:

    “America is at war with reality. And we’re losing.”

  182. 182
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    yeah, if you back the killing of al-awlaki you don’t belong in a physics discussion! that makes perfect sense!

  183. 183
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    the reason string theory became so big is, the only real way to work out a system of quantum gravity necessarily involves a massless spin 2 gauge boson, the graviton. string theory not only requires such a particle, it just pops out of the equations on it’s own, essentially. it may not be pretty, but it’s one of the best ways we have of trying to get quantum mechanics and relativistic mechanics to get along.

    Well, this is disingenuous, because the massless spin 2 gauge boson you’re talking about is a graviton, and no one has detected gravitons yet. Experimentalists have been looking for gravitons for 40 years now and no one’s gotten a signal yet.

    “It may not be pretty” is also highly disinegnuous. The mathematical contortions through which you have to force yourself to get this stuff to appear have now become spectacularly convoluted and ugly. So the claim “it just pops out” is also fudging. You have to go up to 12 dimensions just to unify 5 different flavors of string `theory,’ so that’s light-years away from “just popping out.”

    And this only covers your claim that the graviton “just pops out.” That’s not enough to make testable prediction. Low-energy supersymmetry is the smoking gun. You have to decouple from gravity to make any predictions we can test. If you can’t decouple from gravity, what you get depends on the details of the fluxes and the Calabi-Yau manifold and blah blah blah. You get the landscape problem and 10^500 vacua.

    And where’s the evidence for low-energy SUSY? Nowhere. Nothing. What you’re saying is that “string `theory’ has become popular because the math is pretty.” Great. How does that connect with the fact that string `theory’ hasn’t yet made a prediction anyone can test?

    Your entire post is an exercise in smoke and mirrors. It reads like Ben Bernanke’s testimony after the 2008 global financial collapse.

  184. 184
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chopper: Look, mate, unless you are simply poking mclaren with a stick to get a reaction because you are bored, you are setting yourself up for a world of crazy. I am not qualified to judge the quality of her physics arguments, but I would not be particularly surprised if it mirrors her legal arguments in its lack of logical construction, seizing of spurious connections, and citing of inapposite cases merely because they contain a phrase she likes. Then again, it is Friday afternoon and everyone deserves a hobby.

  185. 185
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    …legal arguments in its lack of logical construction, seizing of spurious connections, and citing of inapposite cases merely because they contain a phrase she likes.

    United States Constitution, Amendment 5:

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Go ahead. Explain the “lack of logical construction” and “spurious connections” and “inapposite cases” that justify the president of the united states ordering a U.S. citizen murdered without even charging him with a crime.

    Which word of the phrase “without due process of law” is unclear to you in this part the constitution?

  186. 186
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    because the massless spin 2 gauge boson you’re talking about is a graviton,

    yeah, i know, that’s why i mentioned it.

    You have to go up to 12 dimensions just to unify 5 different flavors of string `theory,’ so that’s light-years away from “just popping out.”

    actually it’s 11, but who’s counting when you’re the smartest guy in the room. amirite?

    What you’re saying is that “string `theory’ has become popular because the math is pretty.”

    no, i’m saying that it became well known because it inherently contains a feature, the graviton, which has long been considered a key to helping unify relativistic mechanics and QM. at the time it was considered our best shot at unification. and it’s still very interesting and worth pursuing. i know, it’s worse than hitler.

  187. 187
    Soonergrunt says:

    @mclaren: Oh, look! Irrelevant AND wrong. How very efficient of you. And sadly, entirely expected.
    I would suggest that you try to learn the difference between war powers and police powers, and the different legal and national and international arenas in which they may be used, but that would require you to not engage in misguided, spittle-flecked, irrelevant, and wrong analyses, and since misguided, spittle-flecked, irrelevant, and wrong analyses are your shtick, I know it’s a losing proposition.

  188. 188
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Different conversation, dear. Moreover, the Constitution is a starting point for legal argument. There have been years of cases interpreting the document and applying it to specific factual situations. Until and unless you are willing to recognize that fact, your contributions to any discussion of law are simply not germane.

  189. 189
    chopper says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    hey, personally i prefer loop gravity. fewer dimensions, less trickery. of course it’s still ugly as hell math. spin networks suck to work on.

    i don’t understand the ragging on extra dimensions tho. what kaluza and klein proposed was sublime.

  190. 190
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chopper: If you say so…

  191. 191
    mclaren says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Shorter soonergrunt: “Murdering American citizens without a trial or charges is DA BOMB!”

    If you hate the constitution so much, buddy, emigrate to North Korea. The U.S. constitution: love it or leave it.

  192. 192
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    i don’t understand the ragging on extra dimensions tho.

    No experiment in the entire history of physics has provided evidence for the existence of any dimensions beyond 3 spatial and one time dimension.

    Next question?

  193. 193
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m waiting for mclaren to tell us again that giving someone money and materials to commit a crime isn’t actually a crime, it’s just free speech, so al-Alwaki was, like, totally innocent!

    That’s probably my favorite claim of all time.

  194. 194
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You really have to love a guy who dismisses objection to murdering U.S. citizens without charges or a trial by remarking that the constitution of the united states is “simply not germane.”

    Future generations will look back at statements like that by people like Omnes Omnibus and say to themselves, “Yes, that’s when America finally lost its shit completely.”

  195. 195
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Okay, I did not say that the Constitution was not germane. I said that your contributions were not germane. Also too, please not that the 6th Amendment refers to persons not citizens. Why are you bringing citizenship into it? Based on your reasoning, should we have arrested bin Laden?

    ETA: Reading comprehension really isn’t your bag, is it?

  196. 196
    eemom says:

    @mclaren:

    late to the par-tay, but that is very likely the only sentence on the innertubz in which the nym “Omnes Omnibus” coincides with “lost shit.”

    mclaren + lost shit, on the other hand? Crashes teh google.

  197. 197
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Okay, I did not say that the Constitution was not germane.

    Sure you did. You said my “contributions were not germane.”

    My sole contribution was to quote the fifth amendment of the constitution in its entirely.

    Elementary logic, kiddo:

    Major premise: “mclaren’s contributions on this subject are not germane.”

    Minor premise: My contribution consisted of citing the 5th amendment of the constitution.

    Conclusion: Therefore, the constitution is not germane.

  198. 198
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Did you read the part where I said that the Constitution is a starting point for legal reasoning and that there are 200+ years of cases interpreting it? No, you skipped right over it. Every word of that Amendment has been subjected to judicial interpretation. Hell, pretty much any combination of words in it has been. Until you can acknowledge that, your contribution to any discussion about law is meaningless. It is as if I walked into a discussion about physics and shouted “Particle!”

  199. 199
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    no experiment has ever shown that molecules look like balls and sticks either, but it’s a useful way of doing chemistry. no experiment has ever demonstrated that gravity acts like a big rubber sheet, but it was still an imaginitive way of looking at it imagining an extra dimension allowed electromagnetism and gravity to be combined into a single set of equations. I’ve never met a single physicist who didn’t think that was beautiful.

    einstein’s greatest asset was his imagination and curiosity. his entire physics was based on thought experiments that could never have been performed. if you were around in his time you’d be telling him to go eat a bag of dicks because ‘you can’t make a train go at light speed’.

  200. 200
    eemom says:

    @mclaren:

    Wrong, psycho-troll: he pointed out the fact that nobody but an ignorant simpleton such as yourself believes that any provision of the Constitution, original text, applies to ANY situation in a vacuum and without reference to 230+ years of judicial construction.

    IOW, as a Constitutional advocate, you flunk kindergarten. Therefore it’s a safe and eminently logical bet that your comments on the matter are not, in fact, germane to any intelligent discussion of a Constitutional issue.

  201. 201
    chopper says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    it’s like in a discussion about a specific gun case and some choad just quotes the second amendment. well hurp dee fuckin durp.

  202. 202
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh s/he comprehends just fine. But what you said is not what s/he needed you to say, so voila! That’s how you go from saying her contribution was not germane to him/her claiming you said the constitution is not germane.

    It’s as disingenuous and dishonest as his/her usual contributions are irrelevant and wrong.

  203. 203
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: Stop explaining so clearly. It makes poking the troll harder.

    @chopper: That too. Of course, mclaren would do exactly that so there you have it. Nucleus!

  204. 204
    eemom says:

    @mclaren:

    …..that being said, you ARE in good company. There are some gentlemen by the names of Scalia and Thomas who would kill to get away with the “fuck precedent” doctrine.

  205. 205
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: Ha!

  206. 206
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It is as if I walked into a discussion about physics and shouted “Particle!”

    Given his/her history of confusing spittle-flecked irrelevancies and fallacious assertions for truth in a variety of subjects, there’s a nonzero chance that his/her assertions with respect to physics are of the same value as that.

  207. 207
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: Yeah, I agree. I just don’t have the physics knowledge to judge. Of course, I am willing to say that.

  208. 208
    Gromit says:

    @SectarianSofa:

    Has anyone chimed in with “TED talks used to be good before they got popular”? Caffeine level too low to read entire thread at the moment.

    You’ve more or less got the gist of it. Though I did learn from reading this thread that the charming TED talk given by a guy who makes intricated wind-powered mechanical “animals” out of soda bottles and PVC conduit is really just the softer side of pepper-spraying student protesters in the face, and I’m a pseudo-intellectual tool of our Galtian overlords for thinking it was amazing enough to show it to my wife.

  209. 209
    mclaren says:

    @eemom:

    Spoken like an ignorant crank. There’s no way anyone can extrajudicial murder of a U.S. citizen without trial or charges with the requirement “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

    Your so-called “reasoning” is what we’d expect from a sociopath. You’d fit in well on the Roberts court. “The hell with the law, let’s make decisions depending on our political prejudices.”

    Oh, but be sure to call your personal crackpot political prejudices “230+ years of judicial construction.”

    I look forward to seeing you cite some relevant federal cases providing precedent for extrajudicial murder of a U.S. citizen without charges or trial. Since you’re so big on “230+ years of judicial construction,” let’s see those citations.

    …Still waiting.

    Tick…tick…tick…

  210. 210
    mclaren says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Shorter Soonergrunt: “I’m too ignorant to know whether mclaren is correct or not, but I’m sure he’s not.”

    Spoken like a true low-information voter.

  211. 211
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: How about you show where the Amendment says anything about US citizens? Also, please define murder. Words have meaning and legal terms of art have very specific meanings.

  212. 212
    eemom says:

    @mclaren:

    You will have noticed — or more likely not, who am I kidding — that I haven’t “reasoned” or argued for ANY conclusion about how the question at issue comes out when measured against the Constitutional text and the 230+ years of precedent.

    All that I, echoing Omnes, said was that it makes no sense to assert that the challenged actions of the administration violate the text you quote with ZERO knowledge of what those 230 years of precedent contain, because that’s just not how Constitutional law works in this country — much, again, to the chagrin of your fellow simple-minded ideologues on the Supreme bench.

    If it were that easy, any brain-dead moron like you could argue a case. As it is however, if you want to make this argument, it’s YOUR job to analyze the precedents first.

  213. 213
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    Major logic failure. This is the syllogistic fallacy of negative conclusions from affirmative premises.

    Example:

    Premise: All spaniels are dogs.
    Premise: All dogs are mammals.
    Conclusion: Therefore, no spaniels are mammals.

    The constitution specifically allows the possession of firearms in the second amendment. You can argue about which firearms or how many.

    When the constitution specifically bans a practice, you can’t argue about which practice it bans or how often. It’s a specific ban. Period.

    So you can’t make an analogy between arguments about the two situations. That’s reasoning on a bacterial level.

    There’s room for argument about what conditions the constitution allows something that’s permitted. There’s no room for argument about what conditions under which the consitution allows something that banned.

    That’s why your analogy is invalid, meaningless, and absurdly foolish.

    With this kind of garbled reasoning and scrambled reasoning, you should really be working for the Republicans producing campaign ads. You’d fit right in.

    “Serious Republican economists argue today about how to deal with our economic crisis and some choad named Obama just quoted John Maynard Keynes. Well herp dee fuckin derp.”

    That’ll go over big with low-information voters like soonergrunt and sociopaths like eemom and omnes omnibus.

    It’s almost as impressively dumb and arrogant as G. W. Bush’s smirking dismissal of Al Gore’s rebuttals to Bush’s proposed tax cuts for the rich with the sneer “Well, I don’t have my calculator right now, heh-heh-heh, but those figures just don’t sound right.”

  214. 214
    mclaren says:

    @eemom:

    Shorter eemom:

    You will have noticed…that I haven’t “reasoned”…

    Indeed we have.

    Oh, indeed, as Omar was wont to say in The Wire.

  215. 215
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t either (s/he may be the next Hawking for all I know about physics) but past behavior is not encouraging.

  216. 216
    eemom says:

    Meh, I guess we should be glad she is fixated on delusions of Constitutional scholarship for the moment. There are many scarier manifestations in which free-ranging psychosis can present.

  217. 217
    Soonergrunt says:

    @mclaren: So you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about outside of your narrow sphere of experience and training. I’m glad you’ve realized that.

  218. 218
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Now you’ve descended to the level of verbal calisthenics. Since you’re now making shit up and redefining the meaning of words to mean whatever you like, fine. Let’s go there.

    Since you’ve admitted to setting cats on fire for fun, the decent thing for you do right now is to turn yourself in to the police, plead guilty, and seek counseling.

    What’s that?

    You say you haven’t admitted to setting cats on fire for fun?

    Oh, didn’t you know that we’re now redefining the words “How about you show where the Amendment says anything about US citizens?” to mean “I admit I set cats on fire for fun.”

    He who lives by the sword, buckaroo… When you start playing word games and redefining words to mean whatever you want, others can do the same. And you won’t like the results.

    (Incidentally, you’re so stupid that you appear not to have realized that if the constitution applies to people who are not U.S. citizens, then my conclusions are not only necessarily true, but necessarily true of an even larger group of people than would be the case if you’re right.)

    So if I’m right that the constitution applies only to U.S. citizens, then my conclusions are correct for all U.S. citizens. And if I’m wrong and the constitution applies to non-U.S. citizens, then my conclusions are correct for an even larger group of people, namely people who might be targeted for extrajudicial murder by a sitting president but who are not U.S. citizens.

    As for your demand that I define “murder,” the fifth amendment doesn’t use that word. I’ll cite the fifth amendment once again, since you don’t seem to be able to read it:

    [No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

    Please entertain us by using your infantile verbal calisthenics to explain how blowing a U.S. citizen up and killing him with a hellfire missile fired by a UAV drone without charging him with a crime or holding a trial is not depriving that person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

  219. 219
    eemom says:

    When the constitution specifically bans a practice, you can’t argue about which practice it bans or how often. It’s a specific ban. Period.

    omg, she’s RIGHT.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    No argument there, a-nope. Never has been, never will.

  220. 220
    Egg Berry says:

    Wow. Just, wow.

  221. 221
    Soonergrunt says:

    @eemom: Well, somebody did put the idea of gun in his* head and given the ragegasms to which he is prone, you might want to stay more that 1000 yards from water towers and such like.
    Of course, since high-deflection long range marksmanship is a skill developed over years of practice, he’ll treat it like every other subject, get a brief gloss-over, and then decide that he’s mastered it. His accuracy with the rifle will be like his rhetorical accuracy here, which is to say a matter of dumb luck. So we’re all reasonably safe.

    *he referred to himself in the third person in #210, so I’m going with that.

  222. 222
    mclaren says:

    @eemom:

    As John Cole pointed out a while ago, eemom is a classic sociopathic troll.

    In fact, she’s probably a bot. The kneejerk insults and incoherent rants don’t sound as though they’re constructed by a human. It’s more along the lines of what you’d expect from a chatbot programmed to vomit out insults:

    Wrong, psycho-troll

    CHATBOT CODE:

    INSERT RANDOM INSULT #1

    he pointed out the fact that nobody but an ignorant simpleton such as yourself believes

    INSERT RANDOM INSULT #2

    that any provision of the Constitution, original text, applies to ANY situation in a vacuum and without reference to 230+ years of judicial construction.

    QUOTE PART OF PREVIOUS EXCHANGE TO CREATE THE ILLUSION OF SENTIENCE.

    IOW, as a Constitutional advocate, you flunk kindergarten.

    INSERT RANDOM INSULT #3

    Therefore it’s a safe and eminently logical bet that your comments on the matter are not, in fact

    INSERT RANDOM DENIAL

    in fact, germane to any intelligent discussion of a Constitutional issue.

    INSERT PREVIOUS QUOTE FROM THE DISCUSSION TO CREATE ILLUSION OF SENTIENCE.

    C’mon, now…come clean. You’re really a chatbot programmed with random insults attached to random previous quotes from the discussion, right?

  223. 223
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    oh, bless your heart. the fifth amendment doesn’t wholesale ban anything except double jeapordy and forcible self incrimination. it requires due process, which the constitution does not define.

  224. 224
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: And this is why you should never speak about law. You are the one who finds U.S. citizenship so important in this context. I asked earlier if you thought bin Laden should have been arrested. You didn’t bother to answer. In addition, you referred to an “extrajudicial murder;” that is, you first mentioned the word. A murder is a killing, but not all killings are murder. Oh, yeah, were the German and Japanese soldiers killed by US forces during WWII victims of extrajudicial murder? Just trying to catch hold the nuances of your argument here….

  225. 225
    mclaren says:

    @eemom:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    No argument there, a-nope. Never has been, never will.

    More logic failure, more false analogies. Chopper claimed that citing the constitution in a case like that was foolish and the act of a “choad” and “herp dee fuckin derp.”

    In fact, as you’ll discover if you read the case law on the establishment clause of the first amendment, people cite the specific language of that amendment all the time.

    And the judges who hear those cases, not being complete fools, don’t dismiss such arguments by shouting “well, herp dee fuckin’ derp! Case dismissed!”

    So thank you for making my point that chopper’s analogy is grotesquely stupid and utterly foolish.

  226. 226
  227. 227
    Egg Berry says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think mclaren also might define this clause, “… except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;”

  228. 228
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    if you read the case law regarding the establishment clause, you’ll find that people’s contribution doesn’t begin and end with citing the first amendment.

  229. 229
    Soonergrunt says:

    @eemom:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Let’s see here. I’m not a lawyer, so I probably can’t refute mclaren’s statement

    When the constitution specifically bans a practice, you can’t argue about which practice it bans or how often. It’s a specific ban. Period.

    Schenck v. United States allowed the federal government to censor some forms of speech under the Espionage Act of 1917
    Polygamy is unlawful in the US, even if it is required or allowed by a person’s religion.
    Lying to a federal agent is specifically illegal. Military personnel cannot defame the President or many other persons.
    speech or press action that is specifically false and presented for the intent of defaming or libeling a person is sanctionable under the law.
    So, I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but even five minutes with google gives me enough information to know that mclaren is a fucking moron.

  230. 230
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren:

    In fact, as you’ll discover if you read the case law on the establishment clause of the first amendment, people cite the specific language of that amendment all the time.

    Yes, they do. They then cite cases interpreting the amendment and apply the reasoning and interpretation from those cases to the fact of the case at bar. You cite the text of the Amendment and then stop – as though the text itself is a talisman – and magically expect everyone to bow down to your reasoning. Quoting a text at someone does not constitute reasoning.

    Hey, are you familiar with the term shibboleth?

  231. 231
    mclaren says:

    @chopper:

    oh, bless your heart. the fifth amendment doesn’t wholesale ban anything except double jeapordy and forcible self incrimination. it requires due process, which the constitution does not define.

    You really truly can’t read.

    No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

    That’s a ban. I understand that you’re frantically trying to claim that when the constitution explicitly prohibits something like the government killing a person without charges or trial, that’s not really what the constitution is doing. You’re going to try to twist the language around using some convoluted verbal gymanstics: perhaps you’ll claim “the constitution doesn’t actually prohibit the goverment from killing people summarily without a trial, it merely allows the government not to kill people without a trial” and so forth and so on. Insert verbal diarhhea here.

    This kind of infantile sophistry is exactly what we’d expect someone who has no interest in the actual meaning of words. You’ll do well in the new authoritarian order of police state America, where American citizens aren’t kidnapped by the government without charges, they experience “extraordinary rendition.” And where American citizens aren’t tortured, they under “enhanced interrogation.” And where rich people don’t bribe politicans, they use “money as a form of political speech.”

    “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.” — George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

  232. 232
    Egg Berry says:

    @mclaren:

    No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law… That’s a ban.

    you really can’t see that “except …” clause, can you?

  233. 233
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Just trying to catch hold the nuances of your argument here….

    You do realize that one cannot catch that which does not exist?

  234. 234
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: “… without due process of law…” What does that phrase mean? What process is due? Must it be a trial? Show me the case law that says it must. Make an actual argument.

  235. 235
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: “Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.”

    — Miyagi-san

  236. 236
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    it’s not a wholesale ban, dummy. ‘without due process’ means people can be deprived under certain conditions, which of course the constitution doesn’t specify.

  237. 237
    mclaren says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    How are your citations even relevant? You’re now acting like a chatbot, and who knows…you may be one too.

    Schenck v. United States allowed the federal government to censor some forms of speech under the Espionage Act of 1917

    how is this even relevant to what I said? People don’t argue about what the constitution bans, they argue about whether it’s speech.

    That’s completely different from killing a U.S. citizen with a hellfire missile and then trying to argue that you haven’t deprived him or life, liberty or property without due process of law.

    You’re spewing out insults and dumping in meaningless irrelevant text from the web, but there’s no evidence of a person behind the gobs of text you post. I’m guessing you’re a chatbot too programmed with random insults and programmed to quote random blocks of previous text to create the illusion of sentience.

    Polygamy is unlawful in the US, even if it is required or allowed by a person’s religion.

    In actual fact, there are a number of places in Utah where polygamy is openly practiced. In several counties in Utah, the sheriff is a polygamist, so this law isn’t enforced there. This is what’s known as a “dead letter law” because it isn’t being enforced.

    Lying to a federal agent is specifically illegal. Military personnel cannot defame the President or many other persons.

    So what? There’s no argument about what’s banned. The only argument is whether someone lied or whether the statement was defamatory. No judge tries to argue “Sure, this military officer urged that Obama be assassinated, but you merely quoted the establishment clause of the first amendement, so herp dee fuckin’ derp! Case dismissed!”

    That’s my point.

    But since you’re a chatbot programmed with random insults, you don’t realize that.

    speech or press action that is specifically false and presented for the intent of defaming or libeling a person is sanctionable under the law.

    If you were a human instead of a chatbot, you’d realize that “sanctionable under the law” here refers to civil penalties, not criminal ones. A person who is libeled can bring a lawsuit and get civil damages, but in America can’t demand that the authorities arrest and criminally prosecute the accused for libel. Here in America, libel is a civil offense, not a criminal one.

    We’re talking about criminal offenses. Specifically, the government imprisoning or killing people. That doesn’t apply to libel, as any human would realize — but, since you’re a chatbot programmed with random insults, you don’t know that.

    So, I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but even five minutes with google gives me enough information to know that mclaren is a fucking moron.

    INSERT RANDOM INSULT HERE.

    Talking to Soonergrunt is like talking to Eliza, if Eliza were programmed with f-words and random insults.

  238. 238
    chopper says:

    herp: gee mcderp, you got caught fucking a child, what are you going to tell the judge?

    mcderp: i’ll just say my personal religion says fucking children is okay, and that since the establishment clause is a ban, when the constitution specifically bans a practice, you can’t argue about which practice it bans or how often. it’s a specific ban. period. derpderpderp!

  239. 239
    mclaren says:

    @Egg Berry:

    except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger

    The `except’ clause doesn’t apply here because Anwar Al-Awlaki is not in the American armed forces or militia.

    Really, you can’t be that stupid, can you?

    Are you really seriously trying to claim that Anwar Al-Awlaki was in the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Army or the Marine Corps or the National Guard?

    Really…?

  240. 240
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    People don’t argue about what the constitution bans, they argue about whether it’s speech.

    constitution doesn’t define ‘speech’. of course, it doesn’t define ‘due process of law’ either. derpderpderp.

  241. 241
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There was a term crawling around the back of my head. It was really nagging at me. I couldn’t quite grasp it until just now.
    “Barracks Lawyer”

  242. 242
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: Barracks lawyers have a better command of legal argument, but you are more or less on track.

  243. 243
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @mclaren: No, he was in the militia of a group we are at war with.

  244. 244
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    “… without due process of law…” What does that phrase mean? What process is due? Must it be a trial? Show me the case law that says it must. Make an actual argument.

    Now we know you’ve found a home. You’re channeling Attorney General Eric Holder. You’ve decided to make up the meaning of words.

    Due process means whatever you want it to mean. Eric Holder claimed in a speech recently that “due process of law” means firing a hellfire missile at someone and killing him without charging him with a crime and without indicting him or arraigning him.

    Well, okay then!

    “Due process of law” can mean whatever we want it to mean! A police officer goes into a restaurant and says “I’m having a real bad day” and takes out his gun and shoot a guy in the head.

    Not to worry. It’s “due process of law”!

    That’s the kind of society Omnes Omnibus wants to live in.

    Good luck with that one, buckaroo. That’s Pol Pot’s Year Zero.

    Every sane person knows that “due process of law” means you have to arraign someone and charge them with a crime and have a trial before a jury of his or her peers, unless the person chooses to plead guilty. There just isn’t any argument about the broad outlines of this, except from people fundamentally hostile to the rule of law and democracy, like soonergrunt and you and eemom and other sociopaths who feel more comfortable in a society like North Korea.

    Of course you’ll deny this and play more word games.

    That’s why America is sliding so rapidly down the slippery slope into a police state where accusation = guilt and guilt = punishment.

    The irony here of course is that we ought to be discussing the smoothly polished slickness with which operations like TED conveniently present only one perspective — the view of the rich American elite. When some guy like Nick Hanauer says things like

    “the superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades’ gains”

    he gets smeared by guys like Anderson who ooze out boilerplate like “we have a general policy to avoid talks that are overtly partisan.”

    Part and parcel of the kind of bully-worshiping sociopathy and hysterical insults we’re seeing here, on this forum, right now.

    Anderson smears Hanauer’s statement of documented facts about income inequality over the past 3 decades in America as “overtly partisan,” I get smeared as a “moron” and someone has “failed kindergarten” and so on when I point out that it’s grossly unconstitutional for the president of the united states to order the killing of a citizen without charges or a trial.

    You people are really well prepared to become serfs in the new American police state. You’ve learned the art of genuflecting before the rich and powerful very, very well.

  245. 245
    Egg Berry says:

    @mclaren: So you aren’t going to answer the question.

  246. 246
    eemom says:

    As John Cole pointed out a while ago, eemom is a classic sociopathic troll.
    In fact, she’s probably a bot.

    Oh shit, she’s onto me.

    Danger! Danger!

  247. 247
    Egg Berry says:

    mclaren, you are just as bad as a “Founding Father” originalist Tea Party patriot.

  248. 248
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: So you aren’t going to answer the question and you aren’t going to make an actual argument. Fine.

  249. 249
    mclaren says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    “Barracks lawyer.”

    This describes you very well. You’re trying to argue that the president of the united states ordering a U.S. citizen killed without trial and without charging him with a crime is somehow legal despite the fifth amendement and the sixth amendement, and you do it by playing word games and hurling F-words.

    That one won’t fly, kiddo.

    Same deal as Anderson trying to argue that Nick Hanauer’s statement of documented facts about the income distribution in the United States over the last 30 years is somehow “overtly partisan.”

    Bow down before the one your serve
    You’re going to get what you deserve
    –Nine Inch Nails, “Head Like A Hole”

  250. 250
    eemom says:

    There just isn’t any argument about the broad outlines of this, except from people fundamentally hostile to the rule of law and democracy, like soonergrunt and you and eemom and other sociopaths who feel more comfortable in a society like North Korea.

    You know what, you pig-shit ignorant lunatic? Out of all the millions of words you’ve uttered of whose meaning you haven’t the remotest scintilla of an understanding, that is where I draw the line.

    Go read up on the kind of “society” North Korea is and then come back here and toss those words around, asshole.

  251. 251
    Soonergrunt says:

    @mclaren: So you don’t know what you’re talking about. Got it.

  252. 252
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: The fun is going out of this. I am starting to feel as though I was teasing a mentally ill homeless person. Doesn’t seem right.

  253. 253
    Soonergrunt says:

    mclaren is the black knight.

  254. 254
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Does Yutz know you’re cheating on him with Soonergrunt?
    For shame!

  255. 255
    Matt McIrvin says:

    they contribute to one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms. The reality is that progress is hard, that knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog, and that when ideas and solutions appear pat, cute, easy, or triumphant, they’re almost certainly wrong. So, like I said. I’m not unbiased.

    You know, I’m not a huge fan of TED talks just because I’m impatient with watching videos of people lecturing about stuff; I’d rather read text. But this statement really bothers me. It asserts too much. It’s a preemptive denial of all intellectual outreach aimed at the general public, and probably all education of young children as well.

    Progress is hard, very hard, and easy solutions to complicated problems are usually too simple. But that doesn’t mean that every simple exposition of an important idea is a lie. You ought to be able to distill the essential ideas you get out of your search for knowledge down to something that can be simply explained. If you can’t, there are probably still bits of it you’re still missing. The aforementioned Richard Feynman said that in various ways decades ago, and I still think it’s true.

  256. 256
    Corner Stone says:

    I’ve been questioning TED talks here for some time now. They long ago transitioned from informational to VC cesspools long ago.
    Another Cannes.

  257. 257
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Ever get tired of being a total dick? Just wondering.

  258. 258
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: “When you get caught between the moon and New York City
    I know it’s crazy but it’s true
    If you get caught between the moon and New York City
    The best that you can do (the best that you can do)
    The best that you can do is fall in love”

  259. 259
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: In other words, no. And, my god, your taste in mocking music is execrable.

  260. 260
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Didn’t think you’d be down with Crowbar’s “All I Had I gave”.

  261. 261
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: And those were your options? Christ, one would expect more creativity out of you. You disappoint me. I know you say you don’t care, but seriously? Is this the best you can do?

  262. 262
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I like Crowbar. Now, if I had cited Tool as the instrument of my mockery of your pathetic self and you tried this weak shit on I would’ve found your pasty ass in Northern Fascistan and we’d be having words.
    Poetry slam, bitchez!

  263. 263
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Dude, à chacun son goût.

  264. 264
    chopper says:

    @mclaren:

    “Due process of law” can mean whatever we want it to mean! A police officer goes into a restaurant and says “I’m having a real bad day” and takes out his gun and shoot a guy in the head.
    Not to worry. It’s “due process of law”!
    That’s the kind of society Omnes Omnibus wants to live in.
    Good luck with that one, buckaroo. That’s Pol Pot’s Year Zero.

    that’s some cask-strength projection right there. OO is talking about precedent and hundreds of years of jurisprudence for the purposes of determining what ‘due process’ means, rather than blanket quoting the 5th amendment. you, OTOH, are avoiding that point and just saying the amendment means just what it means. aka ‘whatever you want it to mean’.

  265. 265
    chopper says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    but she did quote a nine inch nails song. you know those self-absorbed douchebags that like to insert pithy quotes from songs at the end of some stupid screed about how everyone else is worse than hitler?

  266. 266
    Adolfo Neto says:

    Did you know that Nassim Nicholas Taleb TED Talk was also censored?

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