Monthly Archives: December 2012

Henri 5, “The Worst Noël”


The Weekly Gnuz & Lynx Roundup for 12/29/2012


Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, my family was able to see The Hobbit on Christmas Eve, or this Newtonmas, or Festivus, or Saturnalia, or Yule, or whatever else your favorite holiday this year would be… The kitties are doing well, and I’ve been poking around a bit online for tidbits of information, like research on the ancient Indian Gupta empire and its leading intellectual achievers, particularly the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata, who is said to have invented the concept of zero and hypothesized that the Earth went around the Sun. Here’s hoping that you are all snug and warm, with lots of cool things to do. ^(;,,;)^

——————–Bloggy Lynx——————-

——————–Sciencey Gnuz & Lynx——————–

——————–Strange Gnuz & Lynx——————–

——————–Bloggy Stats———————

  • 120,423 steely gazes cast,
  • 1667 comments approved,
  • 1940 posts published, including this one,
  • 179 WordPress subscribers,
  • 1887 Twitter fellows,
  • 13 on Facebook,
  • 213 Tumblr fellows,

Lawrence Krauss: Our Godless Universe is Precious

Fractals of the Week: Mad, Mad Mandelbulbs for the Call’s 4th Bloggoversary


G’day….This week I had completely forgotten that this day marks the fourth year of this blog, originally founded in December 28 of 2008. This is really my third blog, with the first a WordPress site titled Troythulu’s Log, now extinct, and this site’s closer in time Blogger sister site The Collect Call of Troythulu. This site does predate I am Troythulu, but not by much. It’s been a long, wild ride, and I hope it gets wilder still. Thank you all who’ve motivated, corrected, admonished, and inspired me this whole time. There was much fooling with MB3D during this week and last, and here are some results of that bit of fractal lunacy, with a couple of wallpapers at the bottom for good measure. Despite the occasional slow rendering time, this app is incredibly rewarding.

Thank you, and enjoy the coming year!

i76rok7dkudtyytktd2

Atop the Mountains Shorn

kumyfkuyfkukffd76ed72

Crucible Blu

muyfkuydfk,uydku,d2

Atop Blood Mountain

kuyfliuyflyufluyflyffffddc2

Crucible Frost

Crucible Red

Crucible Red

kuyfkutdfktirtd765e65ew6

Crucible Electrum

All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author,created by

way of XaoS, Mandelbulber or Fractal Domains, and are copyright 2012 by Troy Loy.

Post Hoc Reasoning, Special Pleading, and Ad Hoc Hypotheses


The powers of the paranormal, if they exist, cannot be very great if they are so easily thwarted by mere doubt. It seems as though, in the world of supernatural claims, doubt is the strongest magic of all. It can cancel anything, except science, which actually needs it to work. At least, this is the impression I get from the claims of paranormal believers when attempts to replicate initially successful parapsychology studies fail. And fail they have once the controls of the initial study are improved, reducing statistical significance closer to chance levels and shrinking effect-size to zero.

It seems to me that even with perfect methodology there would still be a chance for false-positive results, and that what these studies show is not what they are claimed to — only that something other than chance may be at work, and giving no indication of what that may actually be. It could be due to poor experimental design, inappropriate use of statistics, errors in reasoning, bad data collection, and rarely, but often enough to taint the entire field of study, fraud.

One thing never fails, though, and that’s the rationalizations offered for this failure to replicate. This post deals with a species of error in reasoning: Special Pleading, the Post Hoc [after this, or "after the fact"]fallacy, or Ad Hoc [for this (only)]hypothesis, and sometimes just “covering your ass by making shit up.” I also aim to show that it is not always a fallacy under the right circumstances.

This fallacy, regardless of its name, is an attempt to rescue a claim from disproof by inventing special reasons why it should be exempt from the usual standards of evidence, to deflect criticism without demonstrating that these alleged reasons are in fact true or actually exist apart from the claim they attempt to defend. Every attempt has been made to boil the following examples of its use down to their essence and to avoid committing straw-persons:

Psi phenomena are shy, or jealous. They do not work in the presence of skeptics. Skeptical doubt cancels them.

What about this one?

Successful replications do occur, but the doubt of skeptics reading the journals they are published in reaches back through time, retroactively changing the experiment and causing it to fail.

Or…

Psi is elusive and a delicate phenomenon. Imposing excessively strict controls (read: adequate ones) in a study impedes Psi’s natural functioning in a sterile laboratory setting.

What I find interesting about this sort of reasoning in its fallacious form is that it is considered acceptable in some circles.

Never mind that many of the replications are attempted by other believers and by those without an apparent bias against the paranormal, and another such rationalization goes something like:

They (believers or neutral parties who don’t get results) are burdened with a repressed skepticism that causes their replication attempts to fail, no matter what belief or neutrality they claim to have. These hidden attitudes unconsciously sabotage their efforts.

Never mind the fact that this argument is made on the basis of mere supposition and absent the use of a valid psychological test. Those who reason thus are essentially claiming to be able to read minds, the very thing that some of these replication attempts have failed to demonstrate.

This phenomenon, the success of some to get positive results in their studies and others to get negative results based on their belief systems, is in parapsychology known variously as the Shyness Effect, the Wiseman Effect, or, in a form broadly applying to any field of science where attitudes may unconsciously influence results, the Experimenter Effect, or Observer-expectancy effect, and this is one of the reasons for double-blinding studies and other forms of experimental controls.

A good example was a series of medical studies for a procedure known as the portacaval shunt, and in the analysis of these studies, it was discovered that those who were more enthusiastic about the procedure tended to get false-positive results more often than those not so inclined. And this was from a study assessing an experimental surgical method, not magic mind-powers.

Above were some examples of this form of argument used as a fallacy, but are Ad Hoc hypotheses always and everywhere bad reasoning?

Fortunately, no.

This can be a perfectly good way of reasoning, as long as at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • The reason for failure to demonstrate something has already been shown, or can be, to exist independently of the hypothesis it is used to support. There must be valid evidence that it is true and relevant as a viable supporting reason.
  • The Ad Hoc hypothesis is both interesting and fruitful in predicting new phenomena that could in principle be tested even without being true or existing itself. The key point is that it must be testable, whether by verification or falsification if a general or a particular claim.
  • The Post Hoc reasoning is used to invent new and creative ways to test a claim, and as long as it is used to further inquiry and not merely to thwart the goal of critical reasoning by making up silly excuses as needed.

A good example of an Ad Hoc hypothesis that was both interesting and fruitful was Einstein’s addition to General relativity of the Cosmological Constant, which though he later rejected it and called it his “greatest blunder” has shown to be useful today in the concept of Dark Energy to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe. Another would be the the Lorentz contraction offered to explain the failure of the  Michelson-Morley experiment to detect the Earth’s motion through the Ether, later incorporated into Einstein’s Special relativity.

One thing to note about many forms of argument used as fallacies:

Philosophers and communications specialists may differ on this, but informal fallacies are not so much violations of argument form as they are violations of argument procedure, as attempts to subvert the rules and goals of constructive argument and critical discussion. In this sense, they are abused, often out of ignorance but sometimes out of intellectual dishonesty, as rhetorical devices masking themselves as cogent arguments when they are not. For ethical, productive argumentation, try to keep this in mind and avoid this yourself whenever possible. Happy debating.

“The Face of Creation” — Higgs Remix


HotDog on ACID

Comics and Doodles

Rare Horror

We provide reviews and recommendations for all things horror. We are particularly fond of 80s, foreign, independent, cult and B horror movies. Please use the menu on the top left of the screen to view our archives or to learn more about us.

Michelle M. Welch

author of speculative fiction

Poetgeneral

In the world of Literature, Anything Is possible. Poetry/ literature is the express expression of the heart and soul.

Write With Warnimont

Write for fun. Write to inspire. Write to change the world.

Echo LaVeaux

...mystical musings from a magical mind...

dpapa

Living a flip flop life!

randommusings

"Everything you can imagine is real." - Pablo Picasso.

DARK MATTER SPACE

Seeing Future in Space

BOOKS (UN)LIMITED

(im)personal book store for you

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

jhgoodglass

80's Revivalists UNITE!

Storiform.com

Writing Popular Fiction

Sharmishtha Basu

paintings, poems and thoughts

Realm of Empress Musie

Sharmishtha Basu's poetries

"songbird sings to sun" ebook in amazon

Colours and words two muses dancing together

Thoughts

Realm of Musie (my muse)

Marianne Talbot Philosophy

Marianne is Director Of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education

La Audacia de Aquiles

El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto

Optimal Human Modulation

Your Space to Defrag

Words on a blackboard

In a world of poems, words steal love and put it on a blackboard

Math Outlet

Math Resources For Elementary Teachers

Kurt Brindley

WRITE EDIT WRITE

Author -Carole Parkes

Psychological, thriller, mystery, secrets, betrayal, adoption, romance, poetry, art

Some Bad Plankton

creative outlet plugged in

kvm88

I don't want believe I want to know. - Carl Sagan

Physics and Art

The strange case of Dr. August and Mr. von Orth.

Charlotte Cuevas, Author

Current writing projects: 52 Flashes of Fiction & The 365 Poetry Project: Year 2

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Deidra Alexander's Blog

I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.

lalocabrujita

Zingendewoorden

Riley Amos Westbook

A fantasy Author with too much free time on his hands.

Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf

My ramblings about books and other random things.

Radhika Mukherjee

Writer. Editor. Dreamer. Eco-Feminist.

The Nerd Nebula

The Nucleus of the Universe for all Nerd Hacks!

The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Sucheta the Scribbler

Random. Purely Random. And then some more...

Eric Ian Huffman

I've come to Write.

Markovich Universe

The Bliss of Reality

Woodland Rambles

A writer, a dog, and miles of trails

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

Sausey is Sexy...

Humor, Dating, Sex, and a Whole bunch of Sause...

bdhesse

A writing WordPress.com site

1 SIGFRIDSSON

ON = TIME

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

Mik Mob's Music Mass

share your favourite tunes with The Mob

Something Like a Storybook

This is where Morgan Bradham shares stuff.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,160 other followers

%d bloggers like this: