I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

January 14, 2016 - 2:41 p.m.

Why Does Johnny Hate Science

I've made it through to the other side of yesterday's dark patch. How far can you walk into depression? Halfway after that you are walking out. What did I do to snap out of it? Pretty much nothing, I didn't listen to Hedwig or watch classic Doctor Who. I didn't talk to anyone, I was going to say literally but I talk to a check out person and my landlady. But I don't suffer from clinical depression, I was just depressed, so my mind regressed to the mean. Oh and I just got happier, I remembered what I wanted to write about. I had this planned last night and of course didn't write it down because I'm an idiot. Let's see if I can remember it till after I write my recap of the day and get to the part where I want to write it. I was just totally distracted by Facebook so this just got harder.

After writing my last entry I finished preparing the play list for my guest DJ gig Tuesday on Brian's radio show, It's All About the Music. That's on WFDU. If you follow the link you can listen online. This was an easy show to put together as it is my Best Albums of the year show and I just followed the list I gave here, Best Albums of 2015. OK it wasn't that easy as I had to choose a song from each album. Unless an album had a super standout song I tried to not play any songs that I had played before. I just realized I didn't do that on the first song I'm playing. Oh well, maybe I'll go back and change that.

I told you that my space heater broke and that my room was freezing. I spent most of the day freezing then in the evening I got up the energy to go to Target to get a new one. I checked online and they had one for $20 that got good customer reviews. Now it's happily warming my room. I should have gone $10 more and gotten one with a thermostat, this just has low and high and never cuts off. But it does give off a lot of heat, it's a little tiny thing and keeps my room toasty., without it it's somewhere in the 50s. Toasty is the mid to high 60s. I like to wear a hoodie and slipper socks all the time.

For dinner I planned making sweet garlic chicken, I haven't made that in a while. But when I went to make it I found that my garlic had gone bad; it was soft and squishy and one clove had sprouted. I usually go through it so fast that doesn't happen. So I vamped and made jerk garlic chicken. The garlic was garlic powder. I had already put olive oil in the pan to sauté the garlic so I fried it instead of my usually pan grilling. It came out great. You should try my chicken; it might be a revelation. Most people overcook it. Chicken should not be dry. You can tell it's done by looking at it. Once it's not translucent stop cooking.

For dessert I had my amazing hot chocolate and it was cold enough to drink it. I'm just about out. That's sad. The only place I can buy it now is online. I still have my Land O' Lakes which is one of the best supermarket brands and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. If you can find the Cold Stone Creamery hot chocolate get it.

OK I still remember what I wanted to write. Lauren said on Facebook

I'll be totally honest; I don't even understand how anyone could hate science. I don't understand the hatred of any subject. History is awesome. Art is amazing. Literature is inspiring. Math is puzzling (in a good way). How do you even get through life if you hate to learn?
Lena has been posting about people believing quack medicine. I of course often write about how people believe what they want to believe so I'm going to come at this again from another angle and more detail.

There are a number of reasons people hate science. One is right at the top of this page, Russell's quote, "Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so." I don't know why people hate to think but as a teacher I can tell you that many do. When I tell them that to solve a problem you have to think about it and find the best method they hate that. They would rather do five times as much work than think about it for a minute. Science is all thinking about things.

Some people think science is dictatorial and undemocratic. They are right it is undemocratic and it's dictated by reality. Science doesn't care what you want. You walk off a cliff and you are going to fall whether you want to or not. On a less extreme level while there are often multiple ways to solve a problem in science that work many more don't. You can't do things the way you feel comfortable with. Sometimes you just have to solve a partial differential equation whether you want to or not.

Science is not always intuitive, and it often goes against naïve intuition. You learn to have your intuition adjust to reality as you learn. My first physics prof like to point out that Aristotle is probably smarter than anyone you ever met but was totally wrong about the way objects moved. Why? He didn't have science just reasoning. He thought the world should work the way that seemed natural to him. Too bad even if you are a genius the world doesn't change to fit what seems right to you. In some sense that makes you less important than you feel, it's an assault on the ego.

In most fields people can debate a point, it's the essence of politics. In formal debating you have to be prepared to take either side of an argument as there is no objective right and wrong. You can't do that in science. Sure there are debates on the edges and on interpretations but there is also much settled science. And when it isn't settled there are rules on how you argue, rules that aren't imposed by people, but my trying to make theory fit the facts. It often seems to me that the right can't accept that, they think you should be able to decide on the truth of global warming based on how well it fits your political philosophy. That's true but it's not just the right that does it. The Communists did it for sure. People felt obliged to explain how their theory jibed with Dialectic Materialism. And it was a part of leftist thought in Europe in the late sixties and seventies. Alexander Dubček felt that science was just a social convention and insisting on it was Western imperialism.

I had two students that felt that it was terrible that (A+B)2 does not equal A2+B2. "But why?" They'd ask. I had already showed them why but they couldn’t accept it. Science is an entire course that involves things like that as is math which people hate even more.

Carl Sagan used to feel that interest in astrology showed that there was inherent interest in astronomy and that people are just not exposed to it. He was wrong. People get exposed to astronomy and other sciences but it's not what they want. Sure they love looking at pictures form Hubble. They get excited by black holes and maybe even the ominously named dark energy. But that's not science. That's words and pictures we learned about through science. Science is a method and a process that most people don't like. Sagan also pointed to science fiction as showing people love science. But the science in science fiction, especially TV and movies is usually all wrong. They have no notions of what things mean, just the words. I enjoyed Stargate but it had obvious total misunderstandings of science at its core. One is so common that I think more people think it than the truth. They said that the Ancients were the first case of humans evolving in our galaxy. They later spoke of an Ancient gene that just now was appearing in humans as we evolve just as the Ancients did. The idea that there's a preordained path to evolution is the exact opposite of Darwin's idea of natural selection. Natural selection is Darwin's great idea, not evolution that others thought of before him. It's the mechanism of evolution. More properly a mechanism, it doesn't exclude others. But the point is there's no direction of evolution. Organisms differentially survive and reproduce in response to current conditions. It's impossible to say what any species will look like in the future as we don't know what changes in the environment that they will be responding too. We wouldn't get a gene because it was time to get the gene. It would appear by random mutation then spread because it is beneficial.

There was that horrible Barbie Doll that said, "Math is hard, let's go shopping." Unfortunately what's horrible about that is that Ken didn't also say "Math is hard let's watch football." It was sexist but an accurate depiction of the way people think. By the way I was just sexist for the sake of brevity but I can't leave it like that. It might very well be the case that Barbie wants to watch football and Ken wants to go shopping.

OMG it's 2:36. I want to eat breakfast so I better post this.





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile January 14, 2016
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