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Bloggingheads 12-25-2010 04:53 AM

Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 

MikeH 12-25-2010 08:02 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Thanks Guys!

Starwatcher162536 12-25-2010 11:27 AM

Is the world population growth taking care of itself?
 
Is the world population growth taking care of itself? No. China & India both, a portion of the world where a significant (plurality?) portion of population growth was predicted to take place, have both taken strong measures to slow the growth of their populations.

Is world population growth a problem, even though most growth is taking place in the developing world where each person consumes very little resources? Yes!. Why? The transitional period. Once a country's mortality rate falls due to industrialization there is a lag before this newly developed country's birth rate's fall. A country's population explodes during this lag time! The people who say population growth in developing countries isn't a problem are people who are condemning the third world to perpetual poverty.

themightypuck 12-25-2010 11:33 AM

Nice Christmas Present
 
Awesome dvlog as always and especially so for being under the bloggintree Xmas morning. Only downside was GJ missing a huge "that's what she said" opportunity near the end.

That's what she said.

Starwatcher162536 12-25-2010 11:33 AM

The climate change debate
 
The climate change debate is nothing but the latest iteration of the culture war. There is nothing that cannot be dragged into this gaping maw.

Simon Willard 12-25-2010 12:26 PM

Dyson
 
Here's a link to the Atlantic article by Brower on Freeman Dyson:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...c-genius/8306/

Mannish Boy 12-25-2010 12:45 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
The culmative number of humans who have ever lived shocked me at first (I had guessed the same number as John for 1AD, actually), but it makes sense when you think about it. Early humans would have had virtually no birth control and would have birth rates far higher than modern first world humans, but they would have had a far, far higher death rate. So even though the populations of societies such as Ancient Egypt or the Roman Empire might seem low compared to modern times, there was a huge amount of turnover in the individuals who lived in those societies, adding up to a gigantic number of those who had lived culmatively.

Ocean 12-25-2010 12:57 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Nice talk for a holiday morning. It may have been over an hour, but the conversation was so entertaining that it felt shorter.

John commented on a couple of movies he's watched in recent days. He found a topic which he calls "dark" and goes on to describe movies that contain some variation of mental illness. I haven't watched any of those movies, but I think he refers to the always successful argument of presenting a story that walks the thin line between sanity and madness. It does tap on our inner fear of insanity. Our ties to reality are so central to psychological survival, that any threat, real or imagined can become the most salient event. And that's exactly what movie makers want, their audience's full attention, heightened by questioning the ability to discern between reality and insanity. Remember the classic movie Gaslight? Notice here the agonizing state of anxiety that Ingrid Bergman goes into when Charles Boyer plays another trick on her. He masters the combination of unexplained events (the missing picture, which creates a cognitive dissonance and uncertainty), his display of disapproval towards her (eroding her self esteem and confidence), and interrupting a cheerful moment (turns a moment of shared happiness into emotional rejection and doubt).

In reference to Jesse Bering and his incident in Ireland, I can only say that even research psychologists can benefit from therapy.

Susan Blackmore's book the Meme Machine is an excellent one and gives a very comprehensive description of memes and how they operate. Here the discussion was about her change in opinion about whether the religion meme plexus, is a mostly negative one or positive. It's the well known topic about whether religion is positive or negative for society. John talked about Susan now admitting to positive effects of religion, including the fact that they reproduce more and there are studies that show that religious people are happier. George pointed out how some of the effects in terms of creating a cohesive group would also be positive from a group selection perspective. There wasn't much depth to the discussion. I would only point out that the effects of religion can only be interpreted in a historical context. The effects of religion, such as creating a bond between members of a group, imparting unequivocal moral values with built in consequences, can be positive in a variety of contexts. However, the same characteristics can be extremely counterproductive when they are applied in the context of rivalry with another group that may have a different set of values. Religious wars being the best known detrimental effect.


Towards the end John and George revisit the topic of population growth and cumulative population numbers (number of people that have ever lived). The numbers do sound somewhat wrong. I tried to find out more about it by doing some internet searches, and the number that came up in a couple of places is that the total number of people that has lived to the present is about 110 Billion. George says that his facts tell 107 Trillion. He was surprised about it and contacted the organization from which he got the data (Population Research Bureau) and they confirmed the number. I don't know what's accurate and what not, but at least I can tell that a possible source of confusion could come from the different meaning of billion and trillion in different parts of the world.

Thank you both, and have a wonderful holiday season, and merry Christmas too!

George Johnson 12-25-2010 01:15 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Merry Christmas, all. My link to the population study didn't get posted:


How Many People Have Ever Lived?
http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/How...edonEarth.aspx

Also I mistakenly called Kenneth Brower "David" -- his father's name.

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

George Johnson 12-25-2010 01:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 193024)
Towards the end John and George revisit the topic of population growth and cumulative population numbers (number of people that have ever lived). The numbers do sound somewhat wrong. I tried to find out more about it by doing some internet searches, and the number that came up in a couple of places is that the total number of people that has lived to the present is about 110 Billion.

Thanks, as always, for watching. Do you have a link for the 110 billion figure?

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

Ocean 12-25-2010 02:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by George Johnson (Post 193026)
Thanks, as always, for watching. Do you have a link for the 110 billion figure?

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

George, the source you cite indicates that the total number until 2002 was about 106 Billion (106,456,367,669). The number for 1A.D. is, as you reported, around 46 Billion. The error was about the cumulative number until the present time.

Thank you for the link. The numbers I had found were mostly in forum discussions or pages like this one. As I said, I didn't find any authoritative data.

George Johnson 12-25-2010 08:17 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 193027)
George, the source you cite indicates that the total number until 2002 was about 106 Billion (106,456,367,669). The number for 1A.D. is, as you reported, around 46 Billion. The error was about the cumulative number until the present time.

Thank you for the link. The numbers I had found were mostly in forum discussions or pages like this one. As I said, I didn't find any authoritative data.

Right you are about the second number. There I misspoke.

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

Ocean 12-25-2010 09:05 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by George Johnson (Post 193031)
Right you are about the second number. There I misspoke.

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

Countless the times that it's happened to any of us. :)

rpauli 12-25-2010 10:15 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Yawn,

Wow, how did you guys let the subject of global warming slip into your discussion? Bloggingheads has effectively avoided the subject completely... It is really significant when you do start to talk about it...not to worry - your discussion was tepid and lame - confining yourselves to perpetuating a debate, promoting false controversy and commenting on the style of a few books.

George and John manage to comment without enthusiasm on the perhaps the most important story of all times. I want to blame the ownership of Bloggingheads - the NYTimes for avoiding any substantive or even exciting discussion of this issue.

Simon Willard 12-25-2010 10:54 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rpauli (Post 193033)
Wow, how did you guys let the subject of global warming slip into your discussion? Bloggingheads has effectively avoided the subject completely...

George and John manage to comment without enthusiasm on the perhaps the most important story of all times.

I would love to hear a vigorous debate between knowledgeable scientists about whether global warming is the most important story of all time, or just a minor annoyance. This means no wild-eyed environmentalists and no global warming deniers. Something like Hansen's position vs. Dyson's position is what I have in mind.

AemJeff 12-26-2010 12:44 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rpauli (Post 193033)
Yawn,

Wow, how did you guys let the subject of global warming slip into your discussion? Bloggingheads has effectively avoided the subject completely... It is really significant when you do start to talk about it...not to worry - your discussion was tepid and lame - confining yourselves to perpetuating a debate, promoting false controversy and commenting on the style of a few books.

George and John manage to comment without enthusiasm on the perhaps the most important story of all times. I want to blame the ownership of Bloggingheads - the NYTimes for avoiding any substantive or even exciting discussion of this issue.

I haven't had the opportunity to watch this yet, but Horgan and Johnson have not, up 'til now, ever been tepid or lame here, IMHO. In regard to the topic of AGW, it was taken on pretty directly in a diavlog one year ago: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24530

Wonderment 12-26-2010 01:22 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

...whether global warming is the most important story of all time, or just a minor annoyance.
Or somewhere in between. Nooooo, I suppose that's out of the question.

bkjazfan 12-26-2010 10:16 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Short reviews on the movies mentioned by John Horgan:

"Black Swan" - A newly anointed Swan Queen goes absolutely nuts in this ballad of blood, sex, and halluciation.

"Somewhere" - A hard driving Hollywood actor re-examines his life after his 11 year old daughter surprises him with a visit.

My take on two movies seen on DVD:

"The Killer Inside Me" - The second remake of a film taken from a book by noted pulp noir author Jim Thompson. It is about a somewhat low-key sheriff's deputy in smalltown West Texas who commits over the top graphic violence against women he's intimately involved with for reasons that escape me.

"The Trial" - The tragedy of a losing his wife and two sons in an auto accident has forced a lawyer overcome by grief to abandon his practrice and was brought to the precipice of suicide. Fortunately, he gets back to work, redeems himself through faith, and and successfully defends a young man wrongfully accused of murder.

John

T.G.G.P 12-26-2010 04:56 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Pi is indeed a good film, but it would be wrong to say the protagonist is obsessed with the Kabbalah. He's irreligious and ignorant of the mystic tradition as the film begins. The kaballah sect who think he can discover the lost true name of God serve in the movie as a counterweight to the Wall Street goons that are trying to get him to reveal patterns in the stock market. Max does eventually declare to the kaballists that he alone has been chosen to know the true name (which of course they don't consider acceptable).

Razib says Religious people have more children because they’re more traditional.

I'm more enthusiastic about Vermont secession/militias. Remember that in the war of 1812 the militia refused to invade Canada, as they were only interested in defending their homes. Things didn't turn out well when the national army invaded. If we were still relying on militias we wouldn't be occupying countries far away.

Olavus 12-27-2010 05:18 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
The Finnish Meteorological Institute ("climate theologians") have their headquarters in Kumpula (Helsinki). One of their favorite mantra has been "no more snowy winters". And the snowiest place in Finland is... Kumpula (27.6"), almost the local record of recorded snow-history.

Safer to talk about "global climate change". Then no one can't argue about
uncalibrated thermometers or messy Fortran code.

What's in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/fea...ther_name.html

Bima 12-27-2010 10:51 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
FYI WolframAlpha.com is a good site to find answers to these types of questions. A number I keep in mind is that ~ 6.5% of the people whoever llived are alive today.

badhatharry 12-27-2010 11:42 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 193034)
I would love to hear a vigorous debate between knowledgeable scientists about whether global warming is the most important story of all time, or just a minor annoyance. This means no wild-eyed environmentalists and no global warming deniers. Something like Hansen's position vs. Dyson's position is what I have in mind.

Surely there is quite a difference between the story and the occurrence.

badhatharry 12-27-2010 11:44 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Christmas Optimism Edition (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rpauli (Post 193033)
Yawn,

Wow, how did you guys let the subject of global warming slip into your discussion? Bloggingheads has effectively avoided the subject completely... It is really significant when you do start to talk about it...not to worry - your discussion was tepid and lame - confining yourselves to perpetuating a debate, promoting false controversy and commenting on the style of a few books.

George and John manage to comment without enthusiasm on the perhaps the most important story of all times. I want to blame the ownership of Bloggingheads - the NYTimes for avoiding any substantive or even exciting discussion of this issue.

I think Fox News is really the one to blame.


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