Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Tale of Madness

It was first reported in the papers of some minor nation, and even then it was treated as a matter of trifling importance; A man wielding two blood-soaked cleavers was seen walking down the major shopping district, muttering "This is a boring day."

What historical records remain note that his final words were "Tomorrow will be more exciting."

A lot of tomorrows later, there were many who looked similar to the Man. These creatures had a brain, 2 ears, a mouth and a pairs of eyes - furiously, furiously bloodshot. And in fervor they rampaged.

The world seemed doomed. They were everywhere. But one day, a solitary hero, one man by himself, stood up to these creatures. The final battle was in a large gorge. No one truly knows what happened, but it is rumored that a loud bellow was heard echoing from the valley.... "I LOVE PEACE !!!"


A button was punched on an unimpressive looking outdated Nokia handphone. As a monophonic ringtone played, a flurry of warheads freed themselves from their respective pads scattered across the globe.

Then it rained drizzles of missiles and nuclear clouds bloomed everywhere one after another in the unfolding of the last day of Mankind of Earth.

Pilfered from a collaborative story with an incredibly insane inkblot.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bamboo Charcoal

A friend recently expressed his interest in buying a bamboo charcoal product, which was said to be able to reduce electromagnetic waves and radiation emitted from daily electronic products such as monitors. I gave him a dressing down.

It is pseudoscience, I said. It only requires a basic understanding of physics to know that the product cannot achieve what it pretends to do. Buy a lead sheet, and that would be more effective at blocking radiation.

A simple test for detecting pseudoscience products is to ask whether there is a plausible mechanism for action. If the action of the product cannot be explained, that it is no different from a magic bauble. If one thinks that a bag of bamboo charcoal, placed somewhere near the monitor, is somehow able to attract and absorb the electromagnetic radiation, then one must either presume that the bamboo charcoal is a black hole, hence bending local space to redirect the path of radiation, or has an immense electromagnetic field by which to alter the waves. This does not seem sound.

It might improve health, or at least the perception of health, by the placebo effect. But then again, after my cruel lecture, even that effect may be lost.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Page Flipping in the Lecture Halls

One lecturer likes to provide lecture notes consisting of many slides. As it is costly to print out that many number of pages, most students fit multiple slides onto a single page to reduce the number of pages needed.

A useful consequence of fitting multiple slides on one page is that one only needs to flip the page every X slides, where X is the number of slides on one page. This itself leads to the interesting phenomenon of there being a loud series of page flipping sounds every X slides, since most students need to flip the page to get to the next slide.

One day, I fell asleep during the lecture. I was awoken by the sound of page flipping. Apparently, the lecturer had just advanced past a slide. No worries, time to pay attention. The lecturer continued to teach, and slowly finished two more slides. Another loud series of page flipping sounds echoed through the lecture hall. Then he taught another slide, and when he was done many students began flipping their pages as well.

Glancing about myself, I suddenly realized that students tended to fit 4, 6, and 9 pages onto a slide. And, knowing that the lecturer had not taught past slide 50, I was able to deduce which slide the lecturer was on when I woke up.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Requirements of Knowledge

I have made several mistakes in my thinking. Perhaps the arguments do not seem wrong, but that itself is irrelevant, for one does not need to be correct to seem correct; sufficient style is often able to make up for substance insufficient.

The key error is that my arguments follow from my position. If so, reason serves not to seek the truth, but to support whatever stand that has been chosen. This is not correct. Instead, the reverse method should be adopted, and a position decided based upon facts and reason.

To increase objectivity even for subjective affairs, I propose to first define a set of criteria by which one would be convinced or doubtful of a certain position. Often it is too easy to be mired in a debate where both sides have reasonable but not fully convincing arguments, where it is difficult to objectively and consistently weight both sides.