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Madelaine McMasters

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Posts posted by Madelaine McMasters

  1. 5 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

    Is that related to this phenomenon?

     When I close my eyes and try to block my mind so I'm not thinking of either word, I get "brainstorm".

    It is related. The general idea is that our auditory perception is conditioned by our visual perception.

    Here's another example...


    • Like 2
  2. 1 hour ago, Aethelwine said:

    "just let me staple the vicar" from "we are family"


    Aeth, notice that Peter primes the audience by reciting the misheard lyric before he plays the tune. He also sometimes mouths his misheard version while the song plays, to elicit the McGurk Effect.


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  3. 7 hours ago, Arielle Popstar said:

    The moral of the story seems to be that when things are explained properly and honestly, people tend to stop assuming conspiracies. 

    That might be the moral of your story, but it certainly isn't the moral of mine. My neighbor was given an explanation by someone he's known for decades and called upon for help for years. He knows I'm the electrical engineer daughter of a mechanical engineer and I know my stuff. Still, he believes his new HVAC system was designed to funnel money out of his pocket and into some mysterious cabal. I imagine he finds confirmation of his suspicions in his monthly utility bill, too. There's a bogeyman in every closet.

    Last year, he ranted to me about how John McCain killed 134 sailors by hot-dogging with his jet on the USS Forrestal in 1967 and that he should have been tried and executed for his crime. It took me less than an hour  to find refuting evidence that he himself could verify. He'd been a mechanic in the Navy and was familiar with the basics of jets. I brought him the evidence and allowed him to debunk the hoax using his own expertise. He was quite happy that he'd been able to pierce through the deception with his own personal, specialized knowledge.

    It's a year later and he's back to believing the conspiracy theory and calling for any honors McCain received during his life to be stripped from him posthumously. When I reminded him of the special expertise he'd use to reveal the truth of the Forrestal story, he said "yeah, all that stuff they taught me about the jets was probably wrong, too."

    I recently heard part of an interview of Robert Kennedy Jr. on NPR. He was citing the damage done by organized religion while waxing rhapsodic about Catholicism, apparently blind to the abuses of that organized religion (Watch "Spotlight" or "Mea Maxima Culpa").  At some point, the interviewer seemed to spot that inconsistency and asked Kennedy if his skepticism covered "everything". Kennedy responded "Oh yes, we should question everything, absolutely everything. God gave us a brain so we could question things". That self contradiction was eye rolling enough, but yesterday I learned that Kennedy is an anti-vaxxer. There is more nuance to "question everything" than Kennedy's brain can comprehend.

    All that said, I am not immune.

    • Like 1
  4. 1 hour ago, Ceka Cianci said:

    I thought it was going to take 4 weeks to do the job..

    I could understand 4 weeks for them to make it out there, but 4 weeks to do a job, unless there is some specialty things that they have to wait on to come in..

    Maybe I read it wrong or something..

    My tile guy can only work weekends. He's already put in four of them since the end of July and has four more to go. I expect him to finish in October. I can't build the vanity until the tile is done. That will take me a few days. Then I can order the countertop, that's 3-4 weeks. Then I install the final trim woodwork and paint, that's another couple days. I hope to be using the bathroom by Christmas.

    Before Covid I had two choices for the remodel, pay for a contractor to do all of it in an estimated 4-6 weeks, or contract/do it myself. I estimated that would take three months and cost 1/4 the price. Covid messed up the schedule, but I'm still on budget!

  5. 2 hours ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

    Thermometer placement during the 19th century was quite erratic. A researcher did testing over 61-year period and discovered that the older protocols for measuring temperature tended to read about 1 degree high.


    I've a neighbor who, twice in the last two decades, ranted to me about the left-wing conspiracy to alter the historical temperature record to make it appear Earth is warming. I've been unable to explain to him that recalibration of historical data is routine and necessary, as we discover errors in individual measurements, or measurement methods. These errors are sometimes detected when discrepancies in what should be identical measurements arise from those measurements being made via different methods, or when measurement points are modified or moved.

    The most recent recalibration I read about concerned ocean surface temperature readings taken by cargo ships, which use seawater to cool the engines and measure both inlet and outlet temperatures for use by the engine control systems. Certain classes of ships locate the inlet sensor closer to the engine room than others, elevating inlet temperatures above actual ocean temperatures. Once enough confidence was obtained in the magnitude and consistency of the measurement bias in various kinds of ships, the bias was removed from the historical record. I haven't read the following paper, but I imagine it details some of the thinking. https://os.copernicus.org/articles/9/683/2013/os-9-683-2013.pdf

    He would have none of my explanations.

    He recently had a new HVAC system installed in his home, and soon claimed the system was defective because he had to constantly adjust his thermostat during the day to stay comfortable. I bought over two precision thermometers and verified that his home was within 0.5F of the indicated thermostat temperature, at the thermostat. The thermostat is in a new location, exposed to the morning sun. I did not reveal this observation at first, preferring (as I do) to have a little fun with my secret knowledge. I looked at the weather forecast and saw several overcast/rainy days ahead. I did a spooky incantation over the thermostat and proclaimed that, in a day or two, it would settle down. It did. Looking at the forecast again a few days later, I told him my spell would wear off the next day, and he would have to adjust his thermostat again. It did, and he did.

    "What's going on Maddy?"

    "Your furnace is part of a conspiracy to drive you nuts, though I think you're already there."

    "Ha ha. No really, what do you think is going on?"

    "Your thermostat was moved from the north facing wall of your hallway to the east facing wall of your kitchen, probably because you told the installers it would be easier for you to adjust from there. That wall gets morning sun, which warms the thermostat and causes it to cool the house. You have just experienced data-discontinuity caused by a sensor and sensor location change. Forevermore, you will either have to adjust the thermostat on every sunny day, or move it back to the hallway. This is precisely the kind of problem that modern researchers deal with when looking at historical temperature records that don't line up with other measurements."

    "No, this nothing like that Maddy and you know it."

    The installers moved his thermostat back to the hallway wall and now he claims they did something wrong. Though he no longer has to adjust the thermostat on sunny mornings, he must set it two degrees cooler than the old system to stay comfortable, and that's "costing him a lot for electricity". I reminded him that I verified the accuracy of the new thermostat and suggested he should correct his memory of the last twenty years to account for the error in the old thermostat.

    He's still not buying any of it, the new thermostat and my two precision thermometers must be defective.

    I will not tell him there's a way to offset the measurement in his new thermostat to match the error in his old one. I prefer to be a part of the conspiracy.

    • Like 5
  6. Sitting in church as a child, listening to the last of the "old school" priests doddering on about fire and brimstone while watching parishioners nod off, I wondered...

    "What if these people around me are only 'being' good because they fear retribution in the hereafter?"

    Believing that would require me to think less of them and even more less (?!) of the priest. It seemed a better bet for me to continue seeing promise in the parishioners (I knew many of them) and discount the priest to fire-sale value.

    What a joy to see people behaving well for the pleasure that brings them now, not for the avoidance of pain in some imagined afterlife.

    • Like 1
  7. 2 hours ago, Gatogateau said:

    Let's see if I can get this right...

    You got pretty close. It's not the push-pull of photons that makes things "solid", it's the push-push of electrons...


    30 minutes ago, Gatogateau said:

    (And now... The news more serious response)

    And I'm not saying YOU said this, but there is once again that nasty thing of a false dichotomy for many people that one either believes in Science! or God!

    I'm still studying (and hope I always will be able to, on any subject) this whole monotheistic version of stuff. My jury is still out. However, that being said, I see nothing that says "it" has to be one or the other. Why wouldn't a god create things, that with some digging and poking by some species here or there, be found to follow this or that principle or law? Evolution can happen, Big Bangs can happen, etc.

    If it HAD to be one or the other, then I would prefer a universe with science and no god, versus one with a god and no science. Luckily it isn't necessary to make that choice (despite what some folks believe).

    And going tangential to go back to the OP: If one defines god as Love, that doesn't mean one believes that god is out there throwing Valentine's Day cards at one group of people while smiting another over some interpretation of what the definition of "is" is. That doesn't mean that the tornado saved this one trailer, owned by Myrtle, while leveling the other trailers because Myrtle is somehow superior to the others in the trailer court. (In fact, rumor has it that Myrtle...) Love is sometimes defined as the creative force, or Creative Force, as the case may be, with no more anthropomorphizing than that.  We are just limited in vocabulary and insight: The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao , etc.


    My Father took Pascal's Wager. Though he could never find specific evidence for God's handiwork, he "felt" there must be something "more". He was raised by his grandfather who, though also skeptical of organized religion, saw God's handwork all about him. I suppose I'm just continuing a long family tradition of growing patience for answers. I see no particular evidence for God's handiwork and I don't feel the need for there to be something more.

    If there is, so be it. If there isn't, so be it.


    • Like 1
  8. 6 minutes ago, Gatogateau said:

    Why would I want to disprove this fact? Going back into the ancient history of the Forum, I believe at one point in time it was well known that there were only two people posting the whole time: me and Pep. (And I once "won" a write like Pep challenge and threw shadow on even whether Pep was a separate entity.) 

    The best arguments (as in debates) are the ones in which I win, and I am legion.

    How do you know I'm not Pep, the other believer that this is all neurochemistry?

    • Confused 1
  9. 2 minutes ago, Gatogateau said:

    (emphasis mine, above) And yet, Maddy, I would say that everything you wrote above (and previously) does mean we are all cosmically connected! With or without a notion of a god (or gods), the connection is kind of irrefutable. :)

    If you mean that we are all descended from that singularity 13.7 billion years ago, sure. If you mean that something I do or think, here and now, has an effect in some remote place, perhaps halfway across the observable universe, or that something you think, absent my knowledge of it (from your writing it here) has an effect on me, here and now? That's not my current belief.

    • Like 1
  10. 2 hours ago, Luna Bliss said:
    2 hours ago, Luna Bliss said:
    3 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

    Growing in size and complexity
    living things
    masses of atoms
    DNA, protein
    dancing a pattern ever more intricate

    I wonder why they grow in complexity when they could have just as easily....not.  Do you have any ideas on this interesting phenomenon?

    I'm imagining Madelaine is contemplating this, or hoping, but why do think,  @TDD123 ,  that the basic elements of existence grew in complexity when they could have just as easily stayed simple?

    The rise of increasing complexity has been a stumbling block for believers of "intelligent design". They'll claim that increasing complexity violates the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, which requires that everything tend towards disorder. While that's true for the entirety of any closed system, the law says nothing about the inner workings of those systems. So long as a closed system has some initial energy, it is entirely legal for that energy to drive increased complexity in subsets of the system.

    The singularity of the Big Bang contained more than enough energy to drive the nuclear processes that formed quarks from strings, neutrons and protons from quarks, then atoms and eventually molecules. At each of those steps, the increased complexity of the new building block was made possible by the enormous energy available at the beginning. Though all that energy started out in one place (which maybe shouldn't be called a place, since it had no size), it expanded unevenly. In those regions of the universe lucky enough to coalesce, there is still plenty of leftover energy to drive the fight against entropy. Most of the universe is already where the rest of the universe is headed, a cold, blank void.

    We have a pretty good understanding of the creation of hydrogen and the gravitational coalescence of that into stars, from which are produced the heavy elements that form planets and us. We also know that our planet is bathed in energy from the Sun, enough to overcome entropy in endless ways. The trick now is to understand the ways that produced the complexity of "life" here. You said...

    "the basic elements of existence grew in complexity when they could have just as easily stayed simple?"

    This exposes the unavoidable problem we face in trying to understand entropy. The increasing complexity of the things we see actually IS the easiest way. Nuclear and chemical systems generally "prefer" the lowest energy state (that entropy thing). But if you toss a bunch of energy at them, they can be "forced" to a very energetic form of chaos that "settles" into a less energetic form of complexity. This is a vast oversimplification of the enormous diversity of nuclear and chemical processes at work, but it gets at the basic idea.

    On a macro scale, evolution well explains that a billion years of wandering aimlessly can explain the myriad creatures we know about. What's still eluding us is the first few steps, during which some form of self replication "happened" into existence. When I was young, that was thought to be the "missing link" from inorganic to organic. Now, though we still don't know just what that link is, there seems to be evidence that there might be more than one. Similarly, we once thought that structures like eyes were a one off development. Now we see evidence of such structures arising, vanishing, arising again, vanishing again, and arising in quite separate regions of the world, independently.

    I have hope that we'll eventually figure this stuff out. Though the day-to-day advance of our understanding of this seems like a drunkard's walk, the overall trend has been forward, and accelerating.

    Back to the larger topic philosophical scope...

    I am not spiritual, yet I do experience the feelings of connectedness described by spiritual people. I like to imagine that feeling emanating from the big bang. But, I don't imagine it in the way that spiritual people do. I do not believe in some cosmic thread binding all things here and now. Rather, I think of the entire chain of events, from the Big Bang to me typing at the keyboard, trading energy for complexity as the whole circus slowly winds down. I like to think I have feelings of connectedness and a sense of wonder because those ancients before me who thought as I do were better able to survive than those that didn't. That doesn't mean we're all cosmically connected, just that wondering about it makes us better survivors.

    And so... here we are, the survivors, wondering about it all.

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