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Video of the Week #020

The video for this week returns to the subject of language. Human beings communicate in a variety of ways. This is not just spoken methods but written, drawn and expressed in the likes of rope tying. Languages also vary in the concepts being conveyed as well. In the case of the Hopi, we see how different the concept of time is addressed.

Activites
I have decided to give you some activities again this week in order to demonstrate the concept of time. This is in the form of questions.

  • What is time?
  • What methods do you use to track time?
  • How does the passage of time affect how you perceive and interact with the world?
  • Consider how time is conveyed in any of the languages that you are familiar with. How do they compare to the few examples given in the Hopi consideration of time?
  • Grab an ice-cube from the freezer and place it in a clear receptacle. Observe and time the process using the method of your choice, documenting factors such as temperature, humidity and wind chill factor. Be mindful of how you felt at different points: 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 melt. How long did it take to completely melt? How did you feel at the various stages of the melting process? Was there a point where it felt like it was dragging out significantly longer than you would like? What other emotions did you feel about the process? Now explain it in 200 words, being sure to indicate your state of mind going into the experiment. Now repeat this experiment under three more different conditions: A strong taste in your mouth, Mozart playing in the background, play footage of a sport that you enjoy in sight. Compare the four conditions.

You can find the NativLang channel here.


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Video of the Week #019

A bit happened since the last post. Life has taken odd twists and turns. I decided to do a bit more study on top of my French lessons and occasional research online. I started a course on Storytelling by Pixar over at Khan Academy which has turned out to be pretty good so far. I’ll likely review this before the end of next week in order to share what I thought of the materials.
Lifelong learning of a wide range of areas is important as it builds upon what you’ve already learnt over the span of one’s lifetime. It can also have knock-on effects as well for creativity and innovation, allowing us to draw from different fields in order to develop an idea, solve a specific problem and meet specific objectives. If you are currently learning something, feel free to share in the comments section.

This week, I am posting an explanation of Bayesian Thinking by Julia Galef. Bayesian thinking is a way to weigh the evidence for a conclusion. It is by no means the only method for considering premises, as we have the language of Logic. Logic is an interesting subject in of itself and I might share some videos on the subject in the near future.
Back to Bayesian thinking, note that the formula that Julia Galef discusses considers two pieces of data which are given mathematical value. This limits the use of this form of Bayesian logic to a certain degree as there are often situations where you have more than two pieces of information to consider. The formula is pretty simple overall and I highly recommend that folks consider learning more about the method.

Activities

Below is a list of activities to help folks think about Bayesian logic and evaluating evidence in general. I have decided to add these

  • What method or methods do you use for evaluating the weight of evidence for specific conclusions? If you use more than one method, how do you determine which method to use?
  • In your opinion, what are the merits and flaws of this method?
  • Consider situations where you can apply the Bayesian thinking method in your own life.
  • Which areas where Bayesian thinking is better left out of decision-making.

You can find Julia’s channel here.


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Video of the Week #018

This week’s post will be a bit different than normal as it relates to part of my personal worldview. I have decided to begin by giving a bit of background and a teensy explanation of some of my “beliefs”. I hope that folks do not mind. If any of you want clarification about certain things, feel free to drop me a line via PM or by leaving a message in the comments section. Please note ahead of time, that I am focusing on ideologies rather than people.

As some of you already know, I am an Atheist that used to be a Christian. For many, their faith or lack of faith is a strong part of what motivates their actions. I am not unusual in this regard and I don’t consider myself special. However, I do find the notion of holding to a belief that doesn’t hold up to evidence and logic as not being exactly helpful in dealing with the root causes of the numerous problems of the world. As some of you are aware, religion is sometimes the cause of strife in certain regions of the world. We’ve also seen acts of terrorism, abuse of human beings and animal abuse as a result of certain scripture throughout the spectrum of different belief systems.
When I was still a Christian in an evangelical church, I recall meeting people from other denominations and the topic of evolution sometimes came up. For many theists, evolution is an assault of sorts upon their faith as many believe that their scripture offers a blow-by-blow account of the origins and rules of the universe. I recall a few religious publications, including Creation Ex Nihilo, being marketed to Christians, as well as numerous short films making various claims about the history and science of evolution.
It feels very strange looking back at that time. I remember perusing the pages of an issue of Creation Ex Nihilo at the local Christian bookstore and I remember watching at least one of the video “documentaries” on the subject of Charles Darwin. Looking back, it was an exercise in confirmation bias as I never really read outside of the filter of material made by religious people that genuinely believed that what they asserted was true but it really didn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny.
As soon as I started reading outside of the materials offered by people whose religious bias led to some of these conclusions, I began to realise that many of these assertions were false as they didn’t line up with what the field of science was saying, nor was it reflective of history. It was a case of, “Science says that we came from monkeys but why are there still monkeys?!!!” when science says that the process is a lot more complex than that somewhat shoddy attempt at a rebuttal.
Over time, we’ve seen arguments asserting that the easily debunked dating methods should be pushed as some sort of rebuttal to evolution in science classes. We have also seen some Christian science teachers stand up and shake their heads, saying, “No, we don’t find this material to be anything other than a tool for indoctrination.” Many of us are at least aware of the Texas School Board debacle a decade or so ago, wherein a man championed for specific Christian and Creationist-friendly content to be added to school science textbooks. Whilst many of these people deeply believe what they say, it doesn’t make what they say right or appropriate to be taught as science if it doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. This doesn’t mean that an individual or group is “silenced” or “discriminated against”. If such statements can be easily debunked, then why allow it to be added? If folks want it to be taught, then teach it in a different class on the history of the evolution of scientific thought rather than actually teaching it as fact?
We’ve also seen the resurgence of “flat-Earthers” and “Young Earth Creationists“, an example being Magic Johnson that recently “came out” as a flat-Earther. Many of these folks receive a certain amount of ridicule for making crappy arguments. Laws are now being made to protect certain religious beliefs from criticism as well. The world has always been a bit topsy-turvy but to me, no ideology, religious or otherwise, should be “protected” from criticism especially when many make big claims about reality and lead to laws that can potentially lead to people getting harmed. These laws often show preferential treatment to specific groups as well, which seems like an odd choice given that in the same breath many say that they are pushing for a just and equal society.

I could waffle on and rant about this stuff for ages. However, I have to sum up how this ties in with the video of the week. Claims about truth and reality usually stem from deeply-held beliefs. Many of us listen to other people for our information but never wonder where the idea came from in the first place. If there is evidence to suggest that something is false, then it is fair to say that we should change our opinion according to the available information. We should also admit when we do not know something rather than fill in the gaps with something else. It is a move towards an open and honest life.
And yet, change isn’t easy. We have to deal with a lot of baggage and habits developed over time. If it is related to an ideology, we also have to negotiate what is and is not true or useful from that ideology. We have to admit that not all ideas and concepts need to be cast aside if they have value and are backed up by evidence. There will also have to be a point where you reject enough of an ideology to no longer consider themselves a worshipper or practitioner.
Accept the good ideas and reject the bad ones. And this is quite true of the concept of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This idea has value and is closer to the egalitarian mindset. It is a simple concept that rejects the notion of favouritism in how we treat each other. This also means that a person should be honest with others if they do not wish to be lied to, having their worldview be based on evidence and truth rather than misrepresentation and lies. And therein lies the reason for sharing the following video.

This week’s video relates to the many myths surrounding Charles Darwin. Quite a few people that push many of the myths mentioned in this week’s video do not realise that they are myths. It is by no means exhaustive but I do think that it covers a LOT of the big claims made by those that do not believe in the easily-observable process known as evolution. It delivers the list with citations to sources as well so that folks can read the material for themselves for the sake of verification.

You can find the TodayIFoundOut channel here.


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Video of the Week #016

It is that time of the week again where I share another video that I find worthy of sharing. I considered posting another video on linguistics or something about gardening but decided on the following because when I watched the video months ago, it struck me as a pretty neat point in history. Curious Droid’s video of the Sea Dragon remains one of my more repeated videos on his channel because I can’t help but find his discussion of the rocket to complete kick ass. If you are like me, you will find it especially interesting given the recent resurgence in the discussion of space exploration and colonisation of other planets.

You can find the Curious Droid channel here.


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Video of the Week #014

This week’s video of the week focuses on photovoltaics. For those that aren’t aware, that is the more technical term for the science of producing energy using solar power. Many of us already see the benefit of the technology as most of us live in regions where the sun is out for long periods of time. In spite of the benefits of solar, we also see people that still think that energy produced by fossil fuels are the better option overall. The video does a great job of debunking naysayers whilst focusing on the current state of the technology and historical trends. I only had issues with one of the solar cell examples given due to the output of the cell compared to what is needed to recharge mobile devices.

You can find the ColdFusion channel here.