Wednesday, February 25, 2004

odds and what looked like ends


philosoraptor: "In many ways, I'm basically a libertarian who happens to have been born without an undying faith in the free market."

Theresa Nielsen Hayden:
I frequently see denunciations from writers who say an editor can't possibly judge their novel from three chapters and an outline. Sure we can, even if the chapters are short and the first one's atypical. In many cases, three pages are enough. You don't have to drink the entire carton of milk in order to tell that it's gone bad.
Google is an intellectual amplifier: it makes smart people smarter, but it also makes dumb people dumber, since a naive Google search can easily lead you to information that's actually less useful than knowing nothing.
Being addicted to mediation and fairness, to exploration of complexity, is actually pretty exhausting. You get a lot of [fecal material] from everyone in all directions, and very little thanks for it.
...It would be liberating to stop bothering to instruct, cajole, plead, work with, mediate and persuade, to worry about nothing but one's own blazing righteousness and care little for the consequences or the results. That's rather like voting for Nader.
(Also, Nader's birthday cake)

ogmb in BDL comments:
"Is democracy possible?"

Yes if you believe in the drunken bicyclist theory of elected leaders which states that democracies are not inherently better at picking qualified leaders than oligarchic systems, they're just quicker to replace them with someone who will yank the handlebar around so that the bike veers over to the other side. And if you ever rode a bicycle drunk you know that this makes all the difference.

Update on the post below: I wuz wrong, or political pressure was subsequently applied*: the study's authors say calm down - "both the Emeryville futurologists and Pentagon officials stress the report's scary-sounding projections are highly improbable and extremely unlikely..."

(* It does sound like the latter - "uncertain and quite possibly small" becoming "highly improbable"
MSNBC reported 'This report suggests that because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change - although uncertain and quite possibly small - should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern,' they wrote..."

My question - when speculating on the likelihood of a given occurrence, why don't people go out on a limb and guesstimate just how likely they DO think it is, and with what confidence? Then after a while they'd have accumulated a track record and you'd be able to know how much weight to put on what they say.
And, if they won't volunteer to go there, why can't the press badger them into it?

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