Dear Wikileaks


My Dear Wikileaks,

 

I very much appreciate you efforts to improve transparency [1], but do you really believe I’m interested to learn from your website that our Prime Minister is called an a.hole. As a matter of fact, an a.hole he is.

I feel sympathy for all people who declare this. I honestly admire an open society that makes possible the publication of such insight.

But more interested I’m what those politicians in undemocratic nations talk about.

1. Scott Shane und Andrew W. Lehren, “WikiLeaks Archive — Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy,” The New York Times, November 28, 2010, Abschn. World, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?_r=1&hp.

.

Advertisements

Evolutionary Plasticity – an Other Word Monster

A new BMC Biology comment titled A climate for contemporary evolution tackles the problem what is evolution and is plasticity in evolution.
Well some time ago I explained this problem by providing new (fauceir theory based) definitions of evolution and adaptation in this blog post. In more detail and examples this was explained in an article submitted to this very online journal. That paper was turned down without giving a note, without even answering any requests. This fact illustrates how fiercely the protagonists of the classical evolutionary theory fight every new idea.
And by seeking support for their outdated theory they get more and more entangled into contradictions and anti-parsimonious term minting. As old evolutionary biologists cannot properly discriminate between evolution and adaptation they created plasticity. The term plasticity is offered as a way out, but it is nothing more but a clumsy attempt to deny the obvious fact that as well as adaptation can happen in genetic material evolution may occur in non genetic systems. This is the most parsimonious explanation and plasticity may be reserved for other phenomena.

Anyway, I’m impressed with plasticity and watch out for more such word monsters.

Logical Fallacies—Assets and Impediments—the Fauceir Stance

post hoc-propter hoc fallacy

Logical fallacies are a typical example of fauceirs as they clearly embrace the dualism of information and control, and as such they are not simply good for cheating or bad for rational discussions. They have evolved and carved out a niche for themselves in communication and decision making, so a rational analysis of logical fallacies has to set off advantages and drawbacks. I’m well aware about fierce protests of those who deny any usefulness in the realm of rationality, but please allow to explain my point in further detail.

As discussed before, two aspects of fauceirs may be analysed separately:
1.the impact on the signaling cascade
2.the imprecision that is added to this signaling cascade

ad 1) The impact on the signaling cascade is that the so called logical fallacies significantly reduce and improve the signaling cascade by abridging complex evaluations.
For illustration the post-hoc-propter-hoc fallacy. As our experiences show that in many cases the sequence of events also signifies causality, for some decisions, it is enough to know the sequence and not the causality. For instance, if the administration of a new medication is followed by serious complications, we would be much more careful to administer it again even if unaware about the causality.
Next illustration the appeal-to-authority fallacy. Nobody is capable to muster all the scientific evidence, so we have to rely on experts of some sort.

Ad 2) Abridging complex evaluations might be useful in some instances, but can lead to wrong conclusions elsewhere. Examples are abundant when doctrines have been used to misguide people. Some are listed here, but we have to be aware that almost every faith is misusable that way.

Finally, someone may counter that the term logical fallacy is reserved for cheating on logical discussions only. I generally agree, but my intention was to make clear that this cheating is rooted in useful developments of our thinking. Cheating is a natural by-product of every fauceir’s imprecision.

Grant application cheating

Once upon a time, there was a rule that someone can further his or her career by inventing something important and selling it for a proper price. The income enabled to expand research and to create more income that meant more research and so on. If applied properly, this principle favored the gifted and pooled resources in the hands of those who were the most capable and could make the most of it.

This method had its drawbacks of course. In fauceir analysis, we have to discriminate two sorts of drawback

  1. the interrupted signaling cascade
  2. imprecision that in the worst case leads to cheating

ad 1) If the inventor was not a talented entrepreneur at the same time, this control loop didn’t work and the inventor did not got the necessary resources to proceed his research. The history is plenty of destinies like this one, the inventor of a sewing machine who died in absolute poverty, because he failed to properly sell his invetion.
Ad 2) Of course, cheating happened too. People who were so talented to convince customers to bye some crap for an exorbitant price, became rich without advancing science or technology.

Therefore in the middle of the last century an other principle to select gifted scientists and to focus money in their hands evolved. The grant application system. As discussed before, this system is far from perfect too. Though it diminishes the failure of the interrupted signaling cascade in one place (entrepreneurial skills are no longer necessary) it it created an other problem. A brilliant scientist is not necessarily a successful application writer. And imprecision and cheating become more evident these days. As this article demonstrates, it is no longer legitimate to assume an application contains only trustworthy information. Instead, a convoluted system interconnected criteria evolved that makes an application difficult to validate, and furthermore as these application, predominantly contain secondary criteria such as published papers and grants received before, the grant driven research is veering off practicability and usefulness. Grant industry favors research that is easy to apply for and not what is useful.

I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth returning to the former rule.

Being consistently rational

Being consistently rational includes being an atheist—right. Next, the most forceful atheists are heretics who cling to demons or aliens—plausible as this has also been propagated by theists for centuries. Therefore pagans worshipping the devil consider themselves rational, though they are the most irrational of all.

Just an other example. Rationalists favour Darwinian evolutionary theory. The most fervent proponents bitterly fight creationism and any other deviations thereby denying that some thousand years ago the idea that the world has been created was a great achievement compared to what existed before, and they also deny that Dawins’s theory already became out-dated, and in doing so they deny evolution of human thoughts and ideas—an irrational position again.

Conclusion. Being rational is the attitude to permanently question the own position in the light of new evidence and to be tolerant of other people’s believes even if they are not. It is being like Jesus has been some 2000 years ago. Oh, I know it appears to be a blaspheming position to all faithful though irrational rationalists.

Cladistics confirms evolution

… Cladists say. I wonder if this assertion contains a great deal of circular reasoning as cladists only consider shared derived traits as valuable to cladistic analysis. They deliberately eliminate traits that don’t fit into the evolutionary picture. They make cladistic analysis so close to phylogeny that they even call their analysis phylogenetic.

Saprophytic flowering plant

Saprophytic flowering plant

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, there is evolution and traits physically represent fauceirs that have evolved and therefore a cladogram roughly mirrors fauceir’s hierarchy and nested structure, but if we switch our fauceir perspective from genetic history to ecological requirements, traits that cladists intentionally ignore as homologous or converged become important. For instance, this saprophytic flowering plant rather competes with fungi than with chlorophyll plants for its ecological niche. The same holds true for some species of fish and dolphins. Conclusively, in fauceir analysis it is sometimes more important to analyze the actual fauceir context and not the mere history.