Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Tenzing_Shaw

  1. I think the crucial thing to remember here is that this experiment really tests low-level perceptual brain function rather than high-level concept formation. Since chimps live in the wild, they need to be able to perceive and react to observations very quickly. I am guessing that the chimp's brain provides faster reaction time, as well as a more vivid "after-image", which explains the animal's success at this game. What you have to do to test for a true conceptual faculty is overload the creature's perceptual faculty: give it far too many things to keep in its consciousness simultaneously. For example, imagine that the chimp and the man are given the numbers from 1 to 100 on the screen. Both are given several hours to look at the screen before the symbols are obscured. I am betting that the chimp would be overwhelmed in this case, whereas a (clever) human would use memory tricks to get at least most of it right. In the given test, I think a professional athlete would make a better match for the chimp than, say, a professional mathematician. Edit: looks like freestyle beat me too it with some of these observations.
  2. I agree. I am not very knowledgeable about architecture, but those look like very well-designed houses.
  3. I think this quote covers most of what people today call "luck" very well. In competitive chess, there is a similar saying which I really like: "The stronger player is always lucky".
  4. Now that you put it that way, this certainly makes sense to me. I maintain my position regarding the full-spectrum lighting, however. See the "Full-spectrum light sources and health" section from an article produced by Rensselaer's Lighting Research Center: http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/nlpip/lightingAnswers/fullSpectrum/claims.asp
  5. I think the answer is that value is objective. Thus, the key part of the (bad) definition you cited is "considered as having a higher or more pressing claim". "Considered" by whom and for what purpose? If the answer is anything other than "by the actor" and "to enhance his own life", then the action is a sacrifice; otherwise, it is a favorable tradeoff (i.e. a profit). The definition from dictionary.com is bad because it does not explicitly distinguish a sacrifice from a profit, and yet these two concepts are obviously very different (you don't need a dictionary to know that). Instead of being made explicit, the distinction is buried in the interpretation of the part of the definition I quoted above.
  6. From what I saw of the sources you provided regarding the effects of sunlight on mood, you have missed my point. This effect is well known and not controversial to my knowledge. However, the use of artificial "full-spectrum" lighting devices to produce the same effect requires more proof than pointing out this fact. Basically, these devices assume that it is the specific solar frequency spectrum that counts, and not the intensity of the light (note that sunlight is typically vastly more intense than most artificial lights). In fact, the sources you cite seem to correlate serotonin levels with the intensity of sunlight, without making a comparison with other spectral distributions at similar overall intensities. In any case, the point is that the OP should be aware that these devices are controversial before spending money on them. Regarding vitamin supplements: I have no medical training, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that the body needs a certain amount of each vitamin, and that more is not "extra good" in any sense. Judging from the OP's description about his diet, getting this required amount may indeed be a problem, but I would guess that the solution is a better diet, and not vitamin supplements (unless prescribed by a physician). My point here is the same; the OP should know that vitamin supplements not intended to treat any specific deficiency are controversial, so that he does not leap into taking them and simply assume they will help. Edit: you say that you are not talking about supplements, and are concerned that the OP may be malnourished; in that case, I have no problem with your suggestion as such, although I think it might be easier (and likely cheaper) to adopt a better diet in the first place. I would be happy to continue this discussion, but if you wish to do so, I would suggest splitting it into a different thread so as not to hijack this one.
  7. Beware: full-spectrum lighting is probably pseudo-scientific. See the Independent Verification section in the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-spectrum_light#Independent_verification. I have also heard that the benefits of vitamin supplements are questionable, so I would look for a credible scientific/medical source which can verify their usefulness before trying them. Just a caveat; I have no objection to the rest of your advice/observations.
  8. The following two dialogues from The Wrath of Khan show why James Kirk is one of my favorite movie characters of all time: [After allowing the simulated Enterprise to be destroyed.] Saavik: "Permission to speak freely, sir?" Kirk: "Granted." Saavik: "I do not believe this was a fair test of my command abilities." Kirk: "And why not?" Saavik: "Because... there was no way to win." Kirk: "A no-win situation is a possibility every commander may face. Has that never occurred to you?" Saavik: "No sir, it has not." Kirk: "How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?" Saavik: "As I indicated, Admiral, that thought had not occurred to me." Kirk: "Well, now you have something new to think about. Carry on." Later: Saavik: "Admiral, may I ask you a question?" Kirk: "What's on your mind, Lieutenant?" Saavik: "The Kobayashi Maru, sir." Kirk: "Are you asking me if we're playing out that scenario now?" Saavik: "On the test, sir. Will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know." McCoy: "Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who ever beat the no-win scenario." Saavik: "How?" Kirk: "I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship." Saavik: "What?" David Marcus: "He cheated." Kirk: "I changed the conditions of the test. I got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose." Saavik: "Then you never faced that situation. Faced death." Kirk: "I don't believe in the no-win scenario."
  9. From High Noon: "You're a good looking boy, you have big broad shoulders, but he is a man. It takes more than big broad shoulders to make a man, Harvey, and you have a long way to go. You know something? I don't think you will ever make it." -Helen Ramirez to Harvey Pell, contrasting Harvey to the hero, Marshal Will Kane
  10. Very well said indeed. Last one to Alpha Centauri is a rotten egg!
  11. By the way, if you are looking for engineering schools with very practical curricula, there are a few I have heard of which strive for this explicitly. One I visited (when deciding where to transfer to for engineering) is Rensselaer in New York (I was impressed with what I saw there, but ultimately chose UIUC).
  12. I would just like to point out that most engineering graduate programs do not require subject based tests (typically only the general GRE), so GPA will be particularly important in the case of the OP.
  13. This (the union of theory and practice) is certainly one of the most important aspects of an engineering curriculum. I have mostly been very impressed by the department here in this regard. Most of the core classes involve significant and challenging lab/design exercises. To give you an example, I took a robotics class in which we applied inverse kinematics and simple computer vision techniques to program manipulators to move blocks around on a table; I thought this produced a near perfect combination of theory and practice. There have been a few courses (maybe 1 in 5) which I felt could have used a stronger practical component, but this is the exception rather than the rule in my opinion. I have heard that it is difficult for international students to get much financial aid at public universities, but I have no direct experience with this, and I don't want to give you misinformation. I would suggest asking your contact here about this. That is the correct page, but make sure you click on "All" to see all course offerings (not just the ones for any given semester). I took a quick look at the link you provided, and I would say that the coverage is comparable, but it seems somewhat broader than the courses here; we have separate courses in ASP, DSP, and image processing. What really matters, or course, are things like the quality/difficulty of the homework assignments, and I don't know how this compares (I tried to access your assignments, but they are password protected). I know very little about telecommunications/electromagnetics, but I would say yes, there are many courses in all the areas you mentioned. You might look at the descriptions (from the page you linked to) of ECE410, ECE420, and ECE418 among others. Yes, ECE445, our senior project lab (in which Yang and I were lab partners, incidentally) is like this. We also have a core digital systems lab which is strictly design/experiment based, and one is required to take at least two additional classes with large lab components (most people would take more).
  14. As Yang said, I studied Electrical Engineering with him at UIUC. I actually came here after transferring from a liberal arts college where I studied physics for three years. My college had an agreement with UIUC to the effect that they will "usually" accept transfer students, and I had no trouble getting accepted given my academic record. Regarding costs, tuition was very expensive for me (more precisely, for my parents), since I was "out of state". After three semesters and summer school, I was able to enter graduate school here, and get a tuition waver/stipend (pretty much guaranteed for all graduate students in ECE), so costs are no longer a problem for me. As for the program here, I absolutely love the ECE department and every course I have taken in it, almost without exception. Classes are challenging (I think Yang can also attest to this!), but my technical skills are incomparably better than they were three years ago when I arrived. Also, if you do very well (3.90+) in the undergraduate program, you are "invited" to stay for graduate school (with only a formal application required), which is very convenient. I am not too knowledgeable about financial issues, but if you want to know more about the ECE program itself, I would be glad to answer any questions (I have specialized in image processing, so I know the most about signal processing type courses).
  15. I read Ishmael many years ago. I was troubled by it even then, and after learning about Objectivism, I now consider it to be perhaps the most evil book I have ever read. It could be considered a sort of manifesto for modern radical environmentalism. As I recall, it quite plainly advocates that man should attempt to live like a nonrational animal.
  16. Thank you for the clarification; I learned Japanese when I was young, and have never studied it formally.
  17. I like this one also. With people who understand it, I also like the Japanese word "Gambatte", which means close to the same thing (interestingly, the use of this word in Japanese is approximately analogous to the use of "good luck" in English).
  18. Yes, really. Please contain the sarcasm/innuendo. If you insist on brining the discussion to that level, then don't expect me to participate. If you have any serious arguments, please make them.
  19. I'm not sure about this reasoning. Suppose I agree to pay some individual $1000 as a gift (i.e. in exchange for nothing), on a certain date (perhaps even with a written agreement signed by both parties). If I fail to pay on the appointed date, should the courts force me to do so, and why?
  20. To themadkat: I missed your post while I was composing my last one, but I think my response to Grames also addresses most of your points. I would like to answer a few of them specifically, however: Do you agree that people in, say, the United States today are much freer than almost any tribals were in the past? If so, note that this is the heart of the current discussion: I am attempting to argue that yes, they have much more freedom. I think you may be missing my point to some extent: violence as such is not so much the issue here necessarily, although some tribes were certainly very violent. The issue is deeper than that, and involves things like a lack of privacy in everyday life, and an absence of the rule of law to protect individuals from each other and from their leadership. Also, the reason we have more freedom is not primarily because of the division of labor, but because of the rational ideas present in our culture. It is primarily rational ideas that cause freedom and prosperity. Freedom also does cause prosperity to a significant extent, but I think the argument that prosperity causes freedom either ignores a common cause or reverses cause and effect. I find the claim about there having been little intra-tribal strife to be very hard to believe. Are you saying that people within a tribe initiated force against one another less than people do today? If so, what is the evidence, and the proposed explanation? Of course, people could not simply kill their fellow tribals at will, since this would weaken the tribe and decrease their own chances of survival. Also, punishments may have been very harsh for the same reason. However, what would have stopped, for example, a physically powerful individual with a substantial number of followers from simply taking over the tribe by force, or from having his way with weaker individuals?
  21. Your sarcasm notwithstanding, here is one quote from Wikipedia: From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism. Here are some quotes from an article which (ironically) seems to be largely sympathetic to Native American practices: From http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs...ans_slavery.htm. I am not interested in debating the specific merits of any given tribe. The principle is that in the absence of reason, brute force is the only recourse. If this principle is true, then history will reflect this fact (which, from all the evidence I have seen, it does). As I said, relatively better conditions in a specific tribe are possible, but are largely a matter of luck.
  22. I guess I will enter the discussion, since I at least agree with David's point that there can be no contract to duel. If a clown does not show up to a birthday party at which he has been hired to entertain, then there are damages, because an agreement was made to trade values (presumably, the entertainment for a fee). If the fee has already been paid, the clown certainly must compensate his customer by at least this much. Not knowing any specifics of contract law, I assume the customer could also obtain additional compensation from the clown, because the clown's absence denied him the chance to hire alternative entertainment. In the case of a duel, there are no values being traded. Hence, one party not dueling does not harm the other party in any objectively definable way (one could even argue that the opposite is true). Now, if one party had paid the other a fee to participate in the duel, the fee would have to be returned. David: please correct me if this is inconsistent with what you have been arguing.
  23. And this is precisely what is not possible, in almost any aspect of one's life, in a primitive society. Typically, a tribal would not be able to choose such important things as his occupation, or his mate(s). If the superstitious beliefs of his tribe happen to call for a sacrifice from him, perhaps involving a painful ceremony or even his death, he will not be able to refuse. If his tribe goes to war, he will not have a choice about whether to fight. If the tribal leader makes a decision which he knows is irrational and will doom the tribe, he will not be able to follow his own judgment instead. Since there is likely no system of property, he will be able to keep any value he produces only as long as the tribal leadership does not demand that he hand it over. If he is unhappy about the tribal leadership, he cannot simply leave the tribe (since this would mean almost sure death whether by nature or another tribe) and it is likely that his only options will be unquestioning submission or violent overthrow. Since there is no system of objective law, he may not even be protected against other members of the tribe who are not part of the leadership, and who decide to initiate force against him. If any of the things I have mentioned does not apply to a specific tribe, it is likely because of the specific nature of their arbitrary superstitions, over which the tribal has no control, and which can change at any time by random chance or the decree of a witch doctor. In the end, the only things the tribal may reliably have control over are some of the details of his everyday life. This is precisely the situation of a citizen of a modern slave state also, except that the modern man will almost certainly have a greater degree of privacy in his everyday life.
  • Create New...