What is Intelligence Anyway?

May 30th, 2006

So, the following is a conversation I had with a linguistic software AI last night. The lucidity at moments is almost frightening, but bearable because of the humorous gems that pop up throughout. Enjoy the read.

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Ants in Your Pants

May 23rd, 2006

Some people do really cool things… I’m sure this isn’t new (in fact the article I’ll send you to is from 2001), but how cool to actually be able to see the structure of ant colonies. Walter R. Tschinkel pours orthodontal cement into colonies and digs out the hardened molds to view the beautiful structural creations.

See here and here.

Envirovideo’s Galore

May 23rd, 2006

With all the extreme views on both sides of the issue, it’s a miracle anyone can make sense out of the information about global warming being forced down people’s throats. I’ve swiped a few videos from YouTube that held side to side really demonstrate the the obsurdity of the situation playing itself out on our televisions. But, thank goodness for the rise of the internet as a way to disseminate information. Hopefully, people will be able to use this rapidly developing medium to properly educate themselves enough to separate the chaff from the wheat. There is so much potential for a re-emergence of popular intelligence from behind the soporific curtain of mass media. I can’t wait to see how the world changes.

Take a look for yourself…

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Braniacs Unite!

May 16th, 2006

Is it really true that science is under attack? There are the vocal religious opponents out there who in the name of the almighty debate scientific findings that support the theory of evolution or the use of stem cells. But, that opposition is the minority, and with education science can find a solid base of support. There is a quiet storm out there filled with all the people who have yet to make up their minds on the issues that are under such religious scrutiny. These people simply need to be educated before they will feel comfortable making a decision that they will take with them to the polls. However, the trick will be convincing them that science is interesting, and that they will “get it” if they only take a bit of time to listen. I truly believe that it is the job of scientists to reach out to these silent individuals. Science in this country will be up against the wall unless scientists don’t change the way that they think about educating the public.

Here’s a great, eye-opening article from the Public Library of Science that discusses many of these ideas in greater detail.

Lewis Carroll Gets Scienced

May 15th, 2006

Oh, dear. A couple of great finds today. Some days I find little, others are a treasure trove waiting for me to happen upon it accidentally.

First, a link from Boing-boing that is absolutely fabulous. I wish I were still teaching intro bio just so I could show this video to a class of unsuspecting freshmen. Welcome to science in the ’70’s kids…

Second, an article I happened upon in Eurekalert today asserts that Jon Stewart and the Daily Show may have detrimental effects upon “young Americans’ political views.” Apparently a study was released in the journal American Politics Research by two politcal scientists from East Carolina University that compared how college kids reacted to Bush and Kerry after viewing video clips from the 2004 Presidential Election that had aired on the Daily Show and CBS Evening News. I took a look at the paper, and it is pretty interesting. According to the paper (a lengthy tome aptly entitled “The Daily Show: Candidate Evaluations, Efficacy, and American Youth”), watching The Daily Show makes you more likely to take a negative view of politicians, to be more cynical of the mainstream news media and about the political process as a whole, and to generate self-confidence in your ability to understand the political system.

Uh… yea. Gee, we should really be careful about letting people watch that show. They might actually start to think for themselves or something.

My favorite part of the research article is in the discussion where they bring up Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire, a real news program by the way, in which he absolutely berates the host for serving slop to the public in the guise of actual news because “it’s hurting America.”

The article authors suggest that Jon “should not be so quick to cast stones.” The negative impact that The Daily Show’s brand of political humor has on the youth of today could affect future elections. If viewers learn of the candidates for the upcoming presidential election from Jon Stewart, the authors say that “it is possible that unfavorable impressions of both parties nominees could form.” Additionally, they conclude that this kind of perception could lead to distrust in national leaders, which in turn could “perpetuate a more dysfunctional political system.”

Hell. Maybe we need a little dysfunction just to shake things up a bit. I’m a little tired of the apathy thing, myself.

I can’t wait to see if Stewart and his writers get ahold of this article. I know they will have fun with it if they do.