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  #1  
Old 09-05-2009, 01:53 AM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made (Robert Wright & George Johnson)

Note from Robert Wright:

My apologies to viewers who were hoping for a classic Science Saturday, complete with discussion of actual science. But I felt that, given the controversy involving two recent diavlogs that featured either a creationist or an adherent of intelligent design, I should try to explain (a) how those diavlogs came to be and (b) what our policy on discussing creationism and intelligent design will be going forward. I’m not sure how successful this diavlog was in that regard, and I’m not sure how many viewers want to hear as much of the inside story as I presented. For the benefit of those who would just as soon skip the director’s cut, and those who watched it but found it lacking in pith, let me try to provide something like a bottom line:

1) Prior to this controversy I had failed to clearly articulate an editorial policy that would cover diavlogs of this sort. This became particularly problematic as I delegated more authority to staffers who arrange diavlogs, and ceased to personally approve all pairings involving newcomers to the site. One result was this controversy, which has prompted me to clarify our editorial policy and take measures to ensure adherence to it.

2) I don’t have any intellectual sympathy for creationism or intelligent design, as this piece I wrote for Slate in 2001 shows. But I don’t exclude the possibility of featuring creationists and/or adherents of intelligent design on the site--though perhaps not under the Science Saturday rubric--in the future. At the same time, if the conversation they’re involved in is a discussion of the scientific merits of their position, then the diavlog would have to meet strict criteria. For one thing, the person they’re conversing with would have to be expert in relevant subject areas. And since these areas tend to be arcane, the person they’re conversing with would have to be a superb communicator, lest the conversation be inaccessible to our mainly lay audience. In addition, we’d prefer that the conversation involve genuinely new and unresolved issues, not a rehashing of issues that have already been effectively addressed in other venues, including the academic literature. These guidelines (with which the Behe-McWhorter diavlog, in particular, was inconsistent) make it unlikely that diavlogs on the merits of intelligent design will appear with much frequency in the future.

3) If, on the other hand, the discussion is about something other than the scientific merits of intelligent design, the criteria would be less hard to meet. For example, I personally have an interest in theology, and I can imagine interviewing an intelligent design proponent who believes that evolution happened but with some sort of divine assistance; the interview would be not about the scientific merits of this belief but about its theological aspects. (Obviously, this diavlog wouldn’t appear on Science Saturday.) Bloggingheads.tv, while generally focusing on politics and policy, also covers intellectual discourse broadly, and theology is part of intellectual discourse.

For a more general statement of our philosophy regarding diavlogs that appear on BhTV, click here.

One nagging afterthought: My offhand reference in this diavlog to "humanizing" creationists didn't, of course, mean that I consider them inhuman. The reference was to depicting them in a way that would make them seem more acceptable to their intellectual opponents.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, George Johnson and John Horgan will be here next week for a real Science Saturday.

Last edited by David; 09-05-2009 at 10:17 AM..
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:15 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

I gotta get a copy of George's conspiracy theory book, Architects Of Fear ... hey, it's out of print! Arrg.
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  #3  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:16 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
I gotta get a copy of George's conspiracy theory book, Architects Of Fear ... hey, it's out of print! Arrg.
17 used from $25.41.
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  #4  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:42 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default second edition!

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
I ain't paying $25 for a used book! I'm checking it out from the library.

Come to think of it, given the sudden Republican/Tea-Party/Obama-Hitler/LaRouche convergence, George ought to write a new chapter and get that back into print.
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:45 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Kumbaya

How could you guys NOT name this diavlog Kumbaya in honor of Joan Baez, who is John Baez's first cousin?


Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
O Lord, kumbaya
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:53 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Kumbaya

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
How could you guys NOT name this diavlog Kumbaya in honor of Joan Baez, who is John Baez's first cousin?


Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
O Lord, kumbaya
Heheh. At least George and Bob are getting some laughs out of this. It is pretty funny.

I'm 45 minutes into this and I don't think Bob's mentioned the Templeton deal, his book, or his recent NYT op-ed, which together with Nelson and Behe add up to a lot of something.
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  #7  
Old 09-05-2009, 03:00 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Kumbaya

Quote:
I'm 45 minutes into this and I don't think Bob's mentioned the Templeton deal, his book, or his recent NYT op-ed, which together with Nelson and Behe add up to a lot of something.
Just you wait! He's about to cover that AND play the Daniel Dennett card (Jesus, Bob, give that a rest, por favor!)
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  #8  
Old 09-05-2009, 06:22 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Kumbaya

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
... AND play the Daniel Dennett card (Jesus, Bob, give that a rest, por favor!)
Second that.
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  #9  
Old 09-05-2009, 03:30 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

The sidebar link to Bob's response to Coyne is bad.
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  #10  
Old 09-05-2009, 06:26 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
The sidebar link to Bob's response to Coyne is bad.
Yes. It looks like it's missing an http:// at the beginning.

Here is the correct URL.

Also: the link in Bob's response to Coyne's piece in TNR is broken (I think TNR recently did a(nother) site redesign). Here is an updated link to Coyne's piece.
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  #11  
Old 09-05-2009, 07:02 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

First, thanks for Bob for making such a sincere effort to clear the air/inform the audience/call it what you like, and thanks to George for sitting there and helping to move things along. Kudos and more thanks to George for not budging on creationism = ID.

Second, I said in another thread, probably the Behe one, that I thought McWhorter -- and by extension, any single diavlogger -- should have the right to ask to have a diavlog pulled. Bob convinced me in this diavlog to change my mind on that. I now agree that it is in principle unfair to the other person. (I suppose it would be different if both asked to have a diavlog pulled, but that's not at issue here.)

On a related note, I still think it would be good for John McWhorter to write something up, describing everything that went through his mind from the time he first got the idea to do a diavlog with Behe up through his asking to have it pulled. (So far, there's nothing here.) To my mind, his credibility has taken a fairly severe hit in connection with all this, and staying silent and hoping it will go away (which is what it looks like, anyway) is just making matters worse. Bob and George: I urge you to urge John to come clean.

Third, Bob made a point when talking about not wanting to promise a zero crackpot policy from here on out that sounded pretty good; e.g., that certain people think neocons have been so discredited that they shouldn't be given a platform. (There were other examples that didn't stick in my memory.) I don't have a good crisp rebuttal, but for the record, as much as that idea of one person's controversial figure is another person's thoroughly discredited bundle of noise sounds good, I don't agree with it. I tried to sketch this out, again, probably in the Behe thread, that there is something fundamentally different about a political position compared to creationism. Loosely speaking -- since I don't want to get into what it means to prove something strictly speaking -- creationism can be said to be provably not science. (And for those who insist on making a distinction, ditto ID.) These people have been thoroughly exposed by scientists and the legal system as purveyors of nonsense, and in many cases, as charlatans who are not honest about their real agenda, and on every point where science could weigh in, their claims have been shown to be incorrect. Often, laughably so.

The best that can be said for a guy like Behe, which Bob did more or less say, is that his attempt to find examples to support his "irreducible complexity" nonsense is that he has stimulated others to do some useful work in real biology. Now, were Behe to portray himself as a self-appointed gadfly, and make some statement along the lines of "I think people are embracing evolutionary theory too much too soon, so I'm going to make it my business to hold up loose ends for the sake of tightening up the science," that would be one thing. But that's not his approach. He takes money from the Discovery Institute, he abets and encourages the whole religious persecution complex, and he at best silently stands by while the real foamers at the mouth hurl out everything they can think of, not least of which equates Darwin with Hitler.

Point is, Bob, there actually are crackpots where near-unanimity about the labeling obtains, and if you consider only the opinions of those who actually have a decent amount of scientific training, this is the view of Behe. For this reason, and for the "provability" one mentioned above, I believe there is a qualitative difference between someone holding political views that a majority view as discredited, and someone holding pseudoscientific views that virtually everyone qualified to say views as nonsense. And indeed, lies. So, while I can understand your reluctance to make too sweeping a No Crackpots policy, I'd like you to bear this particular kind in mind.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 09-05-2009 at 07:08 AM..
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  #12  
Old 09-05-2009, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Brendan,

I think you are the right person to answer this totally unrelated to the diavlog question: where does the word "provability" come from?

Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same. But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?

Wonderment may also know about this (?).

I apologize in advance for my OCD attack...
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  #13  
Old 09-05-2009, 10:21 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Brendan,

I think you are the right person to answer this totally unrelated to the diavlog question: where does the word "provability" come from?
Nothing as sophisticated as you go on to hypothesize, unless my nether region can be said to be sophisticated.

I never knew any of this ...

Quote:
Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same.
... so, thanks.

Quote:
But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?
I would say that I extrapolated it (prove + ability, and then dropping the e), and then noted with surprise that the spell-checker did not give me the red underline.

Quote:
Wonderment may also know about this (?).
Let's hope.

Quote:
I apologize in advance for my OCD attack...
Nothing to apologize for, but wouldn't you say this was more of an OED attack?
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  #14  
Old 09-05-2009, 10:29 AM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Thank you for your response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post

Nothing to apologize for, but wouldn't you say this was more of an OED attack?
As for this part, I thought you were Teh Official OED proxy...no?
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  #15  
Old 09-05-2009, 12:20 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
As for this part, I thought you were Teh Official OED proxy...no?
Heh, thanks for the compliment, but no.

Besides, the OED sometimes makes me impatient. It's like the Bible -- you can use it to support any point you want. There's always some citation from 1347 or something where one guy used some word in some weird way that no one has since, and this will count as "correct" to some people.
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  #16  
Old 09-05-2009, 11:47 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Brendan,

I think you are the right person to answer this totally unrelated to the diavlog question: where does the word "provability" come from?

Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same. But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?

Wonderment may also know about this (?).

I apologize in advance for my OCD attack...
I had never heard that word until I took courses in formal logic and theory of computer science. It still only seems to come up in that context - my guess is that it was a bit of technical jargon invented by some mathematician, Frege or Boole or somebody like that.
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
I had never heard that word until I took courses in formal logic and theory of computer science. It still only seems to come up in that context - my guess is that it was a bit of technical jargon invented by some mathematician, Frege or Boole or somebody like that.
Yes, again, I think it's one of those situations when a more subtle second meaning attached to a word deserves a different spelling. The alternative would have been "probability" but it doesn't capture the exact same meaning. Thanks.
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  #18  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:04 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
I had never heard that word until I took courses in formal logic and theory of computer science. It still only seems to come up in that context - my guess is that it was a bit of technical jargon invented by some mathematician, Frege or Boole or somebody like that.
Have you ever seen The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? They first introduce assignment (as in "x = 12") about 150 pages into the book, and with they do it's with handwringing because at that point it becomes too hard to prove that your programs are correct. It's a hoot.

Last edited by claymisher; 09-05-2009 at 02:07 PM..
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  #19  
Old 09-05-2009, 02:18 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Have you ever seen The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? They first introduce assignment (as in "x = 12") about 150 pages into the book, and with they do it's with handwringing because at that point it becomes too hard to prove that your programs are correct. It's a hoot.
The publishing date puts that almost twenty years too recent for me too have seen it in school. I honestly couldn't even name the texts we used at this point. Too bad it can't be had on Amazon for less than forty bucks.
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Brendan,

I think you are the right person to answer this totally unrelated to the diavlog question: where does the word "provability" come from?

Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same. But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?

Wonderment may also know about this (?).

I apologize in advance for my OCD attack...
In mathematics (and mathematical logic), the issue is whether a problem is decidable. Courtesy of Kurt Godel and his Incompleteness Theorems. Rather than trying to explain it, read the Wikipedia entry Undecidable problem.

Quote:
A decision problem A is called decidable or effectively solvable if A is a recursive set. A problem is called partially decidable, semidecidable, solvable, or provable if A is a recursively enumerable set. Partially decidable problems and any other problems that are not decidable are called undecidable.
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:46 PM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by thprop View Post
In mathematics (and mathematical logic), the issue is whether a problem is decidable. Courtesy of Kurt Godel and his Incompleteness Theorems. Rather than trying to explain it, read the Wikipedia entry Undecidable problem.
Undoubtedly clear now. Thanks.
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  #22  
Old 09-05-2009, 04:23 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same. But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?

Wonderment may also know about this (?).
They all come from the same roots. It's just that spelling conventions get things confused as they pass from French and other languages to Spanish and English. Vs and Bs get mixed up and pronounced differently. That's why in Spanish we can only make one SOUND out of what are two words in English: provable and probable are pronounced identically in Spanish.

Como tú saves, Ocean, las bes y las ves en español son idénticas. Te lo boy a comproVar en esta oración, pero como bos sos terca, es provavle que no me creas.

Es como la "h". No tiene función en español. Es simplemente un vestigio de las normas ortográficas de otras lenguas.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
They all come from the same roots. It's just that spelling conventions get things confused as they pass from French and other languages to Spanish and English. Vs and Bs get mixed up and pronounced differently. That's why in Spanish we can only make one SOUND out of what are two words in English: provable and probable are pronounced identically in Spanish.
The equivalents of "provable" and "probable" are the same in Spanish : probable.

Quote:
Como tú saves, Ocean, las bes y las ves en español son idénticas. Te lo boy a comproVar en esta oración, pero como bos sos terca, es provavle que no me creas.
¿Cómo que soy terca? ¿Quién te dijo? No es berdad.

Quote:
Es como la "h". No tiene función en español. Es simplemente un vestigio de las normas ortográficas de otras lenguas.
Podríamos decir que es un vestigio de la "f", por lo menos en algunos casos. Y en otros casos son los errores de traducción o de incorporación de palabras originadas en otros idiomas.
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:50 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
The equivalents of "provable" and "probable" are the same in Spanish : probable.

¿Cómo que soy terca? ¿Quién te dijo? No es berdad.

Podríamos decir que es un vestigio de la "f", por lo menos en algunos casos. Y en otros casos son los errores de traducción o de incorporación de palabras originadas en otros idiomas.
Niños, paz en la tierra, por favor.
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by SkepticDoc View Post
Niños, paz en la tierra, por favor.
Gracias por lo de niños. Y se dice: "que haya paz en la tierra para todos los hombres (y mujeres) de buena voluntad".
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Old 09-05-2009, 06:26 PM
thprop thprop is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Brendan,

I think you are the right person to answer this totally unrelated to the diavlog question: where does the word "provability" come from?

Here is the reason I ask: "to prove", as far as I know, comes from the Latin word "probare". Note that the English version substitutes the "b" for a "v". However, another word also derived from the same root is "probability". In this case, for some odd reason, the "b" was kept the same. But now there is this other spelling "provability". I do understand that it may have a different connotation as a result of making each of the meanings more specific, but does the word exist? or are we (you) making it up?

Wonderment may also know about this (?).

I apologize in advance for my OCD attack...
If this helps, from the Oxford Dictionary of English (note - no entry for provable or provability) -

Quote:
prove /pru:v/

→ verb (past participle proved or proven /'pru:v()n, 'pr-/)
1. [with obj.] demonstrate the truth or existence of (something) by evidence or argument: the concept is difficult to prove | [as adj.] (proven) a proven ability to work hard.

• ( (US) prove something up ) (Law) establish the genuineness and validity of (a will).
2. [with obj. and complement] demonstrate to be the specified thing by evidence or argument: if they are proved guilty we won't trade with them.

• [no obj., with complement] be seen or found to be: the scheme has proved a great success. • (prove oneself) demonstrate one's abilities or courage. • [with obj.] (rare) test the accuracy of (a mathematical calculation). • [with obj.] subject (a gun) to a testing process.
3. [no obj.] (of bread dough) become aerated by the action of yeast; rise.



not proven (Scots Law) a verdict that there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt or innocence.
- DERIVATIVES provability noun provable adjective provably adverb prover noun .
- ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French prover, from Latin probare ‘test, approve, demonstrate’, from probus ‘good’.
(USAGE For complex historical reasons, prove developed two past participles: proved and proven. Both are correct and can be used more or less interchangeably (this hasn't been proved yet; this hasn't been proven yet). In British English proved is more common, with the exception that proven is always used when the word is an adjective coming before the noun: a proven talent, not a proved talent.)
Quote:
probable

→ adjective
[often with clause] likely to happen or be the case: it is probable that the economic situation will deteriorate further | the probable consequences of his action.

→ noun
(Brit.) a person who is likely to become or do something, especially one who is likely to be chosen for a team: Merson and Wright are probables.
- ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense ‘worthy of belief’): via Old French from Latin probabilis, from probare ‘to test, demonstrate’.
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  #27  
Old 09-05-2009, 11:52 AM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

a "free" definition:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/provability
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  #28  
Old 09-05-2009, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvantony View Post
I don't know where it comes from, but here's one context in which it's used.
Yes, thanks. I was wondering about its etymology...
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  #29  
Old 09-05-2009, 04:08 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Moral criteria for appearing on the site

Quote:
Third, Bob made a point when talking about not wanting to promise a zero crackpot policy from here on out that sounded pretty good; e.g., that certain people think neocons have been so discredited that they shouldn't be given a platform.
Is there any moral criterion for not appearing on the site besides being a creationist, and if so why wouldn't it apply to people complicit in war crimes?

I'm not taking a point of view on this subject, but presumably Dick Cheney John Bolton and David Frum are welcome here, for example, but not a Jihadi suicide bomber or David Duke.

There is plenty of moral outrage about Behe;he has been shunned as though he were a child molester. McWhorter is disgraced just for talking to him.

But the criteria employed to banish people are not clear at all.

I don't see any real clarity coming from your remarks, Brendan (or Bob's or George's, although John Horgan took a nice chunk of the apple in his piece). I think you raise the right questions, but the right answer is up for grabs.

I'm inclined to support Bob's defense of his position (to be flexible and not to ban anyone) because it's probably impossible to spell out ANY coherent policy. Remember that the problem with creationists was not that one was on the site; it was that two were on the site in the context of Bob's God book and the Templeton sponsorship. A pattern was emerging. It was not a case of one instance causing a violation, but rather one straw finally breaking the camel's back. Which is exactly how my back feels after a few days of being crushed under the criminal weight of right-wing warmongers like Frum and Kagan.
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  #30  
Old 09-05-2009, 04:21 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

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I'm inclined to support Bob's defense of his position (to be flexible and not to ban anyone) because it's probably impossible to spell out ANY coherent policy. Remember that the problem with creationists was not that one was on the site; it was that two were on the site in the context of Bob's God book and the Templeton sponsorship. A pattern was emerging. It was not a case of one instance causing a violation, but rather one straw finally breaking the camel's back.
This sums up what I think.


Quote:
Is there any moral criterion for not appearing on the site besides being a creationist, and if so why wouldn't it apply to people complicit in war crimes?

I'm not taking a point of view on this subject, but presumably Dick Cheney John Bolton and David Frum are welcome here, for example, but not a Jihadi suicide bomber or David Duke.
These are examples of why you can't have black and white rules. It will always be gray areas and someone's best judgment (unless they are in a Buddhist retreat, of course).

Can we send a letter (or electronic substitute) to Carl and Sean and tell them we want them back? It looks like George could also mediate diplomatically.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:29 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

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These are examples of why you can't have black and white rules. It will always be gray areas and someone's best judgment (unless they are in a Buddhist retreat, of course).
I thought Uncle George was the Buddhist when Bob was practically screaming and George admonished him to "calm down."

Pobrecito de Bob. I really did feel sorry for him there. I almost called you up (telepathically, of course) to prescribe some Xanax.

I would sign the petition to Sean and Carl, but alas I suspect the mistrust may be too great at this point for that kind of "let's just forget about it" reconciliation.
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  #32  
Old 09-05-2009, 04:39 PM
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I thought Uncle George was the Buddhist when Bob was practically screaming and George admonished him to "calm down."
Yes, George shows some good skills there.

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Pobrecito de Bob. I really did feel sorry for him there. I almost called you up (telepathically, of course) to prescribe some Xanax.
Xanax! Nope, not even for "pobrecito" Bob...

You should have called me telepathically though. I'd love to see (?) that!

Quote:
I would sign the petition to Sean and Carl, but alas I suspect the mistrust may be too great at this point for that kind of "let's just forget about it" reconciliation.
There's a time for "let's just forget about it", a time for re-negotiation, or whatever. I don't know the people involved or their level of trust/mistrust, so I can only suggest.
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  #33  
Old 09-05-2009, 09:16 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

Both have blogs, and if I recall correctly both have comment sections. Anyone interested could surely go to those sites and present any ideas or feelings about them coming back.
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  #34  
Old 09-06-2009, 06:38 PM
osmium osmium is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

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Can we send a letter (or electronic substitute) to Carl and Sean and tell them we want them back? It looks like George could also mediate diplomatically.
I actually went looking a bit for Sean's email address, to send a brief, polite message that I wish he would come back. I didn't immediately find it. I would participate in any joint effort. (Sean, please!) Carl, ditto. Please!
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  #35  
Old 09-06-2009, 07:09 PM
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I actually went looking a bit for Sean's email address, to send a brief, polite message that I wish he would come back. I didn't immediately find it. I would participate in any joint effort. (Sean, please!) Carl, ditto. Please!
I left a comment in Sean's blog and I'll do the same in Carl's. Better late than never...
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Old 09-05-2009, 06:26 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

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Is there any moral criterion for not appearing on the site besides being a creationist, and if so why wouldn't it apply to people complicit in war crimes?
Sure, and you give a couple of potential examples ...

Quote:
I'm not taking a point of view on this subject, but presumably Dick Cheney John Bolton and David Frum are welcome here, for example, but not a Jihadi suicide bomber or David Duke.
... although I guarantee you Bob would put Cheney or Bolton on in an instant.

Hard to think an actual suicide bomber would be able to speak much. ;^)

Actually, if we had an opportunity to hear from a suicide bomber who was prevented from acting, or withdrew from the mission for some reason, I'd be interested in hearing from him or her, unless it was just going to be the same old "death to the infidels" sloganeering.

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There is plenty of moral outrage about Behe;he has been shunned as though he were a child molester. McWhorter is disgraced just for talking to him.
As far as moral criteria go, the only one I really care about for Bh.tv is intellectual honesty. Thus, I am as appalled that Althouse, McArdle, and Jonah Goldberg are given regular slots, and that Corsi was allowed on, as I was by the creationists and McWhorter's fluffing of Behe.

But for me, the morality is not so much a consideration as is the plausibility of the ideas themselves, and all I can do is repeat that, in my judgment, creationism has been shown to be a crock, objectively. (And when it's called ID, it's wrapped in a dishonest debating approach, which makes it intellectually dishonest, to boot.) By contrast, there is no clear verdict on the political attitudes of the neocons -- right-wingers that you and I consider contemptible are still admired/respected by a large fraction of the population, even if we consider only the well-informed portion.

[Added: I don't agree with your characterizations here, by the way. The child molester part is an exaggeration and the reason McWhorter was disgraced was not that he talked to Behe at all, but because he did so in such a clueless and fawning fashion.]

Quote:
But the criteria employed to banish people are not clear at all.
Agreed. I'm not sure how to specify clear criteria beyond what I've said about the difference between science and politics, or else I would have offered more suggestions.

Quote:
I don't see any real clarity coming from your remarks, Brendan ...
Sorry.

Quote:
... (or Bob's or George's, although John Horgan took a nice chunk of the apple in his piece). I think you raise the right questions, but the right answer is up for grabs.

I'm inclined to support Bob's defense of his position (to be flexible and not to ban anyone) because it's probably impossible to spell out ANY coherent policy.
Agreed, although I think we can say that creationists ought not be allowed on under any circumstances, by the standards I have in mind. (Obviously, many will disagree with the standards I set or how I've defined them.)

Quote:
Remember that the problem with creationists was not that one was on the site; it was that two were on the site in the context of Bob's God book and the Templeton sponsorship. A pattern was emerging. It was not a case of one instance causing a violation, but rather one straw finally breaking the camel's back.
Disagree. As far as I was concerned, the first creationist all by himself, on Science Saturday, was a disgrace. I know that some other regular commenters felt the same way, and both Sean and Carl are now known to have expressed the same reaction.

I felt allowing Behe in particular on was a disgrace, as was the failure to pair him with someone who could engage him critically, as was his being booked in the face of apparent assurances given after the Nelson appearance.

I grant that others saw a possible pattern or trend, but I did not share that view.

Quote:
Which is exactly how my back feels after a few days of being crushed under the criminal weight of right-wing warmongers like Frum and Kagan.
Sorry, but there's clearly nothing to be done about that, for reasons I listed above. All I can tell you is to skip their diavlogs, same as I skip the diavloggers who bother me the most. And, I suppose, to keep registering your discontent. You never know.
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  #37  
Old 09-05-2009, 07:11 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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As far as moral criteria go, the only one I really care about for Bh.tv is intellectual honesty.
We've probably covered this as much as we can, but I'll give it one more approach: What do you think is more intellectually dishonest...?

A) Distorting science for theological purposes or

B) Concocting a pack of lies in order to kill tens of thousands of civilians?

If there is no dispute about creationism and ID being false then there is also no (serious) dispute that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Powell lied to invade Iraq and were facilitated in doing so by hired guns like frequent Bheads guest David Frum (among others).

Many of the criminal lies are set out here.

In both cases of intellectual dishonesty you have people making claims they know are false.

In the first case, the result is the spread of rather easily refuted misinformation and religious propaganda. By no stretch of the imagination is a crime committed.

In the second case, the result is mass murder and all the immense suffering that is the consequence of an entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable war. If our system worked properly, the perps would be in jail for crimes against humanity.

In the first case, the victims can grow up, read books and change their minds; or simply go on in a deluded state, perhaps influencing other to believe dumb stuff.

In the second case, the victims are dead, disabled, displaced and severely traumatized.
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  #38  
Old 09-05-2009, 07:47 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Moral criteria for appearing on the site

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
We've probably covered this as much as we can, but I'll give it one more approach: What do you think is more intellectually dishonest...?

A) Distorting science for theological purposes or

B) Concocting a pack of lies in order to kill tens of thousands of civilians?
I think the intellectual dishonesty is equivalently bad in the two cases. Obviously, I think (b) is more reprehensible, but for other reasons. (The consequences, largely.)

Quote:
If there is no dispute about creationism and ID being false then there is also no (serious) dispute that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Powell lied to invade Iraq and were facilitated in doing so by hired guns like frequent Bheads guest David Frum (among others).
I do not believe that Frum can be said to have blood on his hands to the degree that the other four do. His judgment in working for the Bush Administration was bad, and I think it's contemptible that he hasn't apologized for the contributions he made to the selling of the war in light of additional information that has come to light, but I cannot call him a criminal for what he did. I don't even think that he was willfully dishonest, because I doubt he had full access to all the intelligence when he was a speechwriter.

Quote:
Many of the criminal lies are set out here.

In both cases of intellectual dishonesty you have people making claims they know are false.
I agree as far as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell go. (Add in Rice, Tenet, Rove, and probably some others, too.) But I don't agree when it comes to people at the level of Frum. Or, at least, I don't know that about Frum.

Quote:
In the first case, the result is the spread of rather easily refuted misinformation and religious propaganda.
I don't at all agree that these are easily refuted. You have only to look at the many commenters here who do not agree with my outlook that creationists should not be considered worthwhile guests and/or who think that Sean and Carl made a bad decision to cut ties. And certainly, these are not easily refuted on the population scale. (cf.)

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By no stretch of the imagination is a crime committed.
Legally, agreed. Morally, disagreed.

Quote:
In the second case, the result is mass murder and all the immense suffering that is the consequence of an entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable war. If our system worked properly, the perps would be in jail for crimes against humanity.
Agreed.

Quote:
In the first case, the victims can grow up, read books and change their minds; or simply go on in a deluded state, perhaps influencing other to believe dumb stuff.
Yup. And unfortunately, the latter is more often the case. See above "cf."

Quote:
In the second case, the victims are dead, disabled, displaced and severely traumatized.
Agreed.

But once again, I am going to maintain that the perpetuation of creationism as an "equally good" idea is part of sustaining a larger mindset that also can be more easily fooled into swallowing lies like those sold by the Bush Administration. And once again, I am going to state that however much you and I view the invasion of Iraq as a war crime, there is no getting away from the reality that our view is not the overwhelming majority view, even among people best qualified to judge.

Maybe it comes down not only to my seeing creationism as more provably wrong, and more proven wrong, but also to (1) a "pick your battles" sense and (2) the view that what we can have an effect on are decisions to be made in the future, and not what's already done.
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  #39  
Old 09-05-2009, 07:14 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

Oh, and on the diavlog title? I can't let it go by without sharing one of my favorite neologisms of all time. William Schneider called "mistakes were made" an example of a new grammatical tense: the past exonerative.

==========

[Added] It just occurred to me that I got another new (to me) piece of information from this diavlog. I did not know that the Templeton Foundation had made a clear statement about ID. Here's an excerpt from their page on it, for anyone who's interested:

Quote:
Does the Foundation support I.D.?

No. We do not support the political movement known as “Intelligent Design.” This is for three reasons 1) we do not believe the science underpinning the “Intelligent Design” movement is sound, 2) we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and 3) the Foundation is a non-political entity and does not engage in, or support, political movements.

It is important to note that in the past we have given grants to scientists who have gone on to identify themselves as members of the Intelligent Design community. We understand that this could be misconstrued by some to suggest that we implicitly support the Intelligent Design movement, but, as outlined above, this was not our intention at the time nor is it today.
Here's the Wikipedia entry on the controversy that likely caused the above policy to be published.
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  #40  
Old 09-05-2009, 11:57 AM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Mistakes Were Made

There is a book:

http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-.../dp/0151010986

promotional podcast:

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/carol_...kes_were_made/
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