March 2006

Controversial The Stranger Cover

by Limbic on March 4, 2006


Click image for story

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From One Man Hacking: The Importance of Having Friends Who Disagree

Paul Graham says, in one of his essays (emphasis mine) “….Why do you need other people? Can’t you just think of new ideas yourself? The empirical answer is: no. Even Einstein needed people to bounce ideas off. Ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person. You need that resistance, just as a carver needs the resistance of the wood.

This is one reason Y Combinator has a rule against investing in startups with only one founder. Practically every successful company has at least two. And because startup founders work under great pressure, it’s critical they be friends…..”

In my experience, this need for “friendly resistance” extends to far more than creating startups. Every time you have a new idea, you need people you can bounce it off. To get any real benefit out of this process you need people with a complex combination of characteristics.

They should:

* have firm (but not rigid) opinions on their own
* have logical reasons for those beliefs and be able to articulate them clearly
* are driven by ideas and not ideology
* not attach their egos to their opinions.
* be willing to concede a valid argument even if it forces them to possibly re-examine their beliefs
* know how to listen

Given all that, it is extremely difficult to find such “friends who disagree”.

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A Clash of Mentalities

by Limbic on March 4, 2006

Via The Huge Entity come “A Clash of Mentalities: Al-Jazeera Intoxicates”:

The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete…” – Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan

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New Underwater scooter shipping

by Limbic on March 4, 2006

Impact Lab – ScubaDoo – The Underwater Scooter

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Occam's Butterknife

by Limbic on March 3, 2006

“Occam’s Butterknife says that the guy with the most convoluted argument wins” Steve Sailer from Did Legalizing Abortion Cut Crime? The Levitt Freakonomics theory critically analyzed

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Battling Bad Behaviour

by Limbic on March 3, 2006

From The Scientist magazine

Many of society’s most vexing problems – the rise of antibiotic resistance, the current epidemic of obesity, armed conflicts that leave both sides worse off – have their roots in the suboptimal and often puzzling actions of individuals. At times conflicting self-interests power such behavior; the best solutions from a collective perspective fail due to the nature of individual payoffs.1 In other situations, however, people simply fail to do what is best even for themselves, in the face of good, freely available information. Despite stern warnings and mountains of strong evidence, some people continue to take up smoking. They overeat, overindulge in alcohol, and refuse to wear seatbelts or bicycle helmets. Informed by their doctors that antibiotics will do nothing for a viral infection, people demand them anyway, and knowing the larger dangers involved, physicians still prescribe them. Why do human beings often behave in such counterproductive and potentially self-destructive ways? What factors determine how information spreads and whether or not it will guide behavior?

Superb article, highly recommended.

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A teacher is in trouble in the states for ranting to his class about President Bush. One of his students recorded the statements and passed them on to authorities because he was sick of the teachers biased comments.

I was initially glad someone had struck back at the bias in American schools and universities where students are heavily indoctrinated (see Brainwashing 101 for an excellent example of what mean). Then I read that at the end of his tirade the man had said this:

“”I’m not in anyway implying that you should agree with me, I don’t even know if I’m necessarily taking a position. But what I’m trying to get you to do is to think about these issues more in depth and not to just take things from the surface.”

Now this is an appeal to critical thinking and as such I fully support it.

I think that teachers ought to be able to express their opinions as long as they are broadly speaking fair, allow dissent and have provisos like the one above expressing the students’ right to free thought and opinion.

[UPDATE: I heard the whole rant and it is completely over the top. I hope he is fired and his professional institutions punish him. Links to audio here.]

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Snog that schweizer

by Limbic on March 1, 2006

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