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Author Topic:   Trump and Trump supporters keep using the Y2K Fallacy, and it is driving me crazy
Percy
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Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(3)
Message 60 of 190 (886022)
05-02-2021 4:41 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by Sarah Bellum
05-01-2021 9:35 AM


This reply is mostly just reminiscences, but my impression is that you've been far too quick and far too anecdotal in being dismissive.

Five years before Y2K there was a similar circumstance known as the Pentium FDIV bug - Wikipedia (it wasn't called that at the time - I forget what we called it then). It affected the FPU. Depending upon the required precision and how you did your math (some approaches are more prone to accumulating error than others) the bug either was or wasn't serious. If you were flying spacecraft or designing bridges it was serious. Very serious.

Ten years before in the mid-80's I worked for one of the two major workstation companies, and we suffered our own version of the Y2K problem because we used the Motorola 68000 family of microprocessors which in 1987 (or thereabouts) released a faulty new generation (I no longer recall any details). This hardware bug got very little attention, as did my own suggestions to upper management that we take it very seriously in case, God forbid, someone used our workstations to design spacecraft. Nothing bad ever happened and the problem was fixed after about six months. I can find no mention online today of this bug.

To err is human, and mistakes are inevitable in any human endeavor. Some mistakes end up having no severe consequences, but that doesn't mean the dangers and risks were not very, very real. Most of the time the care and precautions we take are sufficient and things work out, but sometimes they don't, and then astronauts die and bridges collapse and buildings topple and oil platforms sink and so forth.

My group had software in the field the night of Y2K. My company knew how exposed all our software was and we had done our best to fix it, but across the entire company we had millions of lines of code, and the possibility that we hadn't fixed it in some crucial place was gut-wrenchingly clear. It was a great relief when morning came and the phone had not rung.

When you roll the dice and don't throw craps that doesn't mean the risk that you could have thrown craps wasn't very, very real. Roll the dice often enough and they will eventually come up craps.

Back around 1986 there was a book that received a great deal of attention in software quality circles whose author and title I no longer remember. The book argued that software companies were paying far too little attention to quality and that it would eventually have dire consequences. The book anticipated that in the future some programs would have extremely high numbers of installations and described disastrous scenarios of companies releasing buggy software and then receiving millions of bug reports, refund demands, and lawsuits.

What the book didn't anticipate but that became clear within a decade was that extremely high quality software often isn't needed because in most circumstances "good enough" software will do. And that's what we mostly have today, as any user of cell phones and websites can attest. Most people not in the industry blame themselves when they can't get a cell phone or website to work, which works in the industry's favor.

Companies today with large software distributions often protect themselves from dealing with run-of-the-mill bugs by making bug reporting extremely difficult or even impossible. I probably file bug reports on some piece of software about once every couple months or so, and I never hear back from anyone, other than a "thank you" type message, and maybe a reference number. For many companies I can't even figure out how to file a bug report. An insurance company I use provides no way to file bug reports or give feedback about their website, just one of the bugs I wish I could tell them about. Of course, they probably consider it a feature.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by Sarah Bellum, posted 05-01-2021 9:35 AM Sarah Bellum has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(1)
Message 107 of 190 (887461)
08-04-2021 12:19 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by Sarah Bellum
07-11-2021 5:19 PM


I wasn't able to trace back to where the disagreement began, so I'll just respond to this:

Sarah Bellum writes:

But those predictions of fusion power bringing electricity too cheap to meter...

I think the general consensus on fusion power has been the same for a long time, often ironically expressed as, "Fusion is the power of the future and always will be." Fusion has its enthusiastic proponents, and the possibility of cheap and clean power continues to fuel the construction of experimental reactors, but the general consensus on fusion as a power source within even our longterm engineering capabilities has been strong skepticism for a long time.

If it were possible to take a one cubic millimeter sample of the sun's core, how would we contain it? That's analogous to the problem fusion scientists are trying to solve.

...don't matter as much as the predictions made in the 1980s the Maldives would be underwater within 30 years or predictions in the 1980s that New York City's West Side Highway would be submerged within 30 years or predictions at the turn of the century that within a few years children in the UK wouldn't know what snow is....

I'll just assume that some actual scientists offered these odd predictions, but they were never the consensus.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Sarah Bellum, posted 07-11-2021 5:19 PM Sarah Bellum has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 122 by Sarah Bellum, posted 09-05-2021 12:01 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 126 of 190 (888142)
09-06-2021 10:14 AM
Reply to: Message 122 by Sarah Bellum
09-05-2021 12:01 PM


Sarah Bellum writes:

if you're going to try to persuade people to do something about the environment...it helps if you're accurate, rather than hyperbolic.

I think what you said earlier in Message 118 applies better:

Well, people can't be reasoned out of ideas they weren't reasoned into in the first place.

For those who are unaffected by facts and rational arguments, what's the right approach? If there's an approach that would convince them to do the right thing, would it be okay to use it even if it were totally untrue?

It feels unethical, but if they're doing the wrong thing for untrue reasons, would it really be wrong to convince them to do the right thing for untrue reasons? Or do ethical considerations override?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 122 by Sarah Bellum, posted 09-05-2021 12:01 PM Sarah Bellum has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 129 by Sarah Bellum, posted 11-21-2021 1:30 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(3)
Message 134 of 190 (889388)
11-23-2021 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 129 by Sarah Bellum
11-21-2021 1:30 PM


Sarah Bellum writes:

If it feels unethical, it probably is.

Well of course it's unethical - that was how I framed the question. I posed a conundrum of how you justify doing good unethically, especially when battling the unethical and unscrupulous.

Besides, crying wolf (which is what inaccurate predictions are, really) is unlikely to convince anyone, isn't it?

What planet are you from? Anyway, welcome to Earth. More than half of Republicans believe Trump won the election, and a third of Americans believe Biden won through voter fraud. Trump supporting lawyers cried wolf in 60 courtrooms, Trump cried wolf to anyone who would listen, Republican enablers repeated the message ad infinitum, and it helped convince tons of people. Trump's favorite way of beginning a sentence is, "They're saying...", as in (paraphrasing) "They're saying tens of thousands of ballots were dumped in Philadelphia." Another Trump favorite is just flat out lying, as in "We were winning this election, and then the Democrats got to work and stole it from us."

So in the face of this level of unethical behavior, what is the right response? As the saying goes, a lie circles the globe six times while the truth is still lacing its shoes. "This election was stolen from us," really gets people's blood boiling and travels fast, while, "This was one of the most well-run elections in our country's history," is soporific. And, "This video shows election workers just pulling boxes of ballots out from hiding places beneath tables," sounds very disturbing and draws a great deal of concern, while explaining that the boxes were the standard secure boxes for holding ballots until counted and that election workers were following standard procedures gets a big yawn.

It was a hypothetical, and in reality probably not possible. I can't think of a way, ethically or not, to make an honest election sound more exciting than a stolen one.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 129 by Sarah Bellum, posted 11-21-2021 1:30 PM Sarah Bellum has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 146 by Sarah Bellum, posted 12-27-2021 6:45 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(6)
Message 138 of 190 (889393)
11-23-2021 4:18 PM
Reply to: Message 127 by Sarah Bellum
11-21-2021 1:26 PM


Sarah Bellum writes:

As far as I can see, the "fact-checking" in both places consists of some posters looking at other peoples' posts and doing some research (or not, as the case may be) before making replies to dispute (or agree with) those posts.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts."

Some opinions are supported by unequivocal facts and therefore carry great weight. Then there's a whole spectrum of lesser opinion ranging all the way down to baseless speculation. We'll be suffering for years to come from the Trump years of alternative facts. A generation of Republican politicians have learned that to many people facts don't matter, and they're unscrupulous enough to take advantage of it. Democrats haven't a chance.

Everyone from all points of the political spectrum should be very concerned about the Republicans not for political reasons but because facts matter.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 127 by Sarah Bellum, posted 11-21-2021 1:26 PM Sarah Bellum has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 139 by xongsmith, posted 11-24-2021 9:13 AM Percy has seen this message but not replied
 Message 148 by Sarah Bellum, posted 12-27-2021 6:49 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(2)
Message 140 of 190 (889471)
11-28-2021 11:25 PM


Movie Quote
From an old movie called Born Yesterday: A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous to live in.

—Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 141 by Tanypteryx, posted 11-29-2021 11:11 AM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(6)
Message 164 of 190 (891622)
02-05-2022 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by Sarah Bellum
12-27-2021 6:45 PM


Sarah Bellum writes:

I think this started with a discussion about global warming predictions that turned out to be inaccurate.

How accurate do you want your predictions of future world disaster to be? If they're off by 20% or 30%, is that good enough? And does the direction of error matter? If the error is that it happens sooner will you accept the prediction despite the error, while if the error is that it happens later will you feel free to ignore it?

And what if they're off by 50% or 75%? "Gee, our portion of the country won't be uninhabitable while we're still alive, so we can ignore it." "There won't be global famine while we're still alive, so we can ignore it." "People being forced out of their homelands and causing global war won't happen while we're still alive, so we can ignore it."

If you want to know if climate change is real, ask real estate brokers in Miami. A significant factor in the value of property there now is ground level elevation, the higher the better. I can just hear the sales pitch for the higher elevations: "Eventually it will be your own private island!"

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by Sarah Bellum, posted 12-27-2021 6:45 PM Sarah Bellum has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 168 by Sarah Bellum, posted 03-05-2022 3:52 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(1)
Message 174 of 190 (893010)
03-22-2022 5:39 PM
Reply to: Message 168 by Sarah Bellum
03-05-2022 3:52 PM


Missed this somehow when you first posted this, just now noticed it while cleaning up my "New Replies" list.

Sarah Bellum writes:

...so I'm not sure how "If you want to know if climate change is real, ask real estate brokers in Miami . . . " is likely to persuade anyone.

Determination to remain ignorant won't hep you. Florida Sees Signals of a Climate-Driven Housing Crisis (Published 2020) is an article from the New York Times:

quote:

Florida Sees Signals of a Climate-Driven Housing Crisis

Home sales in areas most vulnerable to sea-level rise began falling around 2013, researchers found. Now, prices are following a similar downward path.

If rising seas cause America’s coastal housing market to dive — or, as many economists warn, when — the beginning might look a little like what’s happening in the tiny town of Bal Harbour, a glittering community on the northernmost tip of Miami Beach.

With single-family homes selling for an average of $3.6 million, Bal Harbour epitomizes high-end Florida waterfront property. But around 2013, something started to change: The annual number of homes sales began to drop — tumbling by half by 2018 — a sign that fewer people wanted to buy.

Prices eventually followed, falling 7.6 percent from 2016 to 2020, according to data from Zillow, the real estate data company.

All across Florida’s low-lying areas, it’s a similar story, according to research published Monday. The authors argue that not only is climate change eroding one of the most vibrant real estate markets in the country, it has quietly been doing so for nearly a decade.

“The downturn started in 2013, and no one noticed,” said Benjamin Keys, the paper’s lead author and a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “It means that coastal housing is in more distress than we thought.”

The researchers identified a decline in sales in low-lying coastal areas beginning in 2013, followed a few years later by a drop in prices compared with safer areas. On less vulnerable land, sales and prices continued to grow.

<article continues>


If you do a Google search for "real estate prices florida climate change" you can dozens and dozens of such articles.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 168 by Sarah Bellum, posted 03-05-2022 3:52 PM Sarah Bellum has seen this message but not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 175 by kjsimons, posted 03-22-2022 6:01 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied
 Message 176 by dwise1, posted 03-22-2022 6:01 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 180 of 190 (893731)
04-19-2022 9:57 AM
Reply to: Message 178 by Tanypteryx
04-18-2022 11:50 AM


Independent of the rant characterization, I think Sarah Bellum's actual argument was that she never said scientists shouldn't extrapolate from their data, but that you claimed she'd implied that and then ridiculed her.

But if you go back to her Message 167 what she did imply is not that different, namely that past investigatory efforts that reached conclusions later proved wrong invalidate future efforts. I'm sure she understands how science actually works, but she's apparently willing to ignore what she knows to be true about science when it serves her purposes.

I'm sure she knows these things: a) The further back you trace in time the less of a consensus there was - if she goes back 30 or 40 years she can pick among plenty of forecasts that turned out to be wrong; b) Science is a process that leads toward more and more accurate understandings of the world around us, not a mathematical proof; c) If we should ignore every person or group that was ever wrong, then she should be ignored more than most here.

It's also important to understand why science was wrong when it was wrong. For decades many scientists downplayed the dangers of smoking? Why? Because scientists are human, and the tobacco industry paid them money to arrive at certain conclusions. Because their livelihood was dependent upon it they found ways to arrive at those conclusions.

Why did it take so long for a consensus on climate change to emerge? Certainly the fossil fuel industry's funding of science played a role.

Presumably everyone's heard of Lysenko, but for those who haven't, he was a Soviet scientist who supported Lamarckism (as opposed to Mendelian genetics), and because Lamarckism was seen by the communist party as consistent with communism the Soviet government put him in charge of their genetics programs, in effect elevating Lamarckism to government mandated dogma and setting Soviet genetics research back decades.

Science is carried out by imperfect humans whose mere intellectual lapses can cause enough damage, but scientists are also heir to all other human foibles, and those play a role in science as well. That's why a consensus is so important - the foibles average out.

Some may remember past discussions here about Halton Arp, who at the time was still engaged in research attempting to disprove the Hubble universe. Who knows his motivation, but he used his immense intellect to find ways to ignore data that contradicted what he already believed, and his work was hugely helpful to creationist efforts. He's apparently been rehabilitated. He was cited in a Scientific American article a few months ago for his work on the origin of galaxies.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 178 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-18-2022 11:50 AM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 181 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 11:15 AM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(3)
Message 182 of 190 (893734)
04-19-2022 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 181 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 11:15 AM


I screwed up agreeing with you. Ridicule is the only response left when nonsense is persistent. The start of my post was just saying that I thought she was saying something slightly different than what you ridiculed her for, but closely related and still pretty bad. Then I added that I think she's aware of the abuses she's committing, but when confronted with a choice between intellectual integrity and cherished beliefs, she chooses the latter.

Then I meandered onto things that called to mind.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 181 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 11:15 AM Tanypteryx has not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


(4)
Message 186 of 190 (893844)
04-21-2022 10:01 AM
Reply to: Message 183 by Sarah Bellum
04-21-2022 8:55 AM


Sarah Bellum writes:

I think "modifying" predictions after they fail to come to pass rather misses the point, don't you?

If you mean this in the manner of cult leaders continually moving back the date of the predicted apocalypse, then no. You should be looking at evidence-based consensuses. The only consensus of note on climate change over the past century is a growing one that climate change is man-made and pushing rapidly toward a tipping point beyond which it cannot be stopped.

Certainly it happens in science (and everywhere predictions are made),...

Instead of listening to scientists who make "predictions" you should be listening to scientists who make forward looking projections of currently available data using the best models. Ignore the scientists, especially the lone ones, making predictions to the media.

...but the global warming crisis is especially fraught: if you're caught crying wolf, even unintentionally, the consequences could be problematic.

The only thing working scientists can do is apply the best currently available data to the best models to produce quality forecasts around which a consensus can be constructed.

Climate deniers have centered their efforts on sowing doubt and confusion about the science, for instance, by characterizing past efforts as lacking scientific discipline. Because there's no actual scientific controversy one must be manufactured. The ultimate driving force behind climate denial, though they try hard to hide it, is the fossil fuel industry, using the same playbook as big tobacco.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 183 by Sarah Bellum, posted 04-21-2022 8:55 AM Sarah Bellum has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 189 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-21-2022 11:05 AM Percy has not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20961
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 187 of 190 (893845)
04-21-2022 10:14 AM
Reply to: Message 185 by Sarah Bellum
04-21-2022 9:57 AM


Sarah Bellum writes:

I can only refer you back to Message 91.

I can only refer you back to all the responses to your Message 91:


--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 185 by Sarah Bellum, posted 04-21-2022 9:57 AM Sarah Bellum has not replied

  
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