Thought Experiments and Hypotheticals

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it  ~ Aristotle, circa 350 BCE.
I like to conduct thought experiments because they are useful to understand how people think. But, almost always, I am disappointed because people get defensive and refuse to engage.

Perfectly understandable and often frustrating, but it does not faze me, I'll keep trying.

One way to conduct a thought experiment is to use a hypothetical situation. A key requirement for such is that the participant provisionally accepts the premise(s) and then reasons out the rest.

Albert Einstein used thought experiments a lot. They were useful to him to explain complex phenomena and to gain insight into them.  His book, Relativity, is filled with such. As an example, they shed light on how the same object falling from a moving train appears to take a different path depending on whether the observer is watching from the stationary platform, or from the train itself.

Such experimen…

Weekend good mood music

In a few weeks Canada will kick off its Awesome Music Project and related book launch with an evening of "songs, stories, and science" whose aim is to explore the emotionally healing power of music.
The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs of Hope and Happiness brings you behind-the-scenes glimpses into the music lives of a diverse array of Canadians. Olympic skier Jennifer Heil reveals the soundtrack that brought her the gold medal in Torino; singer-songwriter Michael Bublé celebrates the way music cemented his bond with his grandfather; and mental health advocate Eric Windeler shares the poignant song that helped him through the devastating loss of his son to suicide.  These and other inspiring tales fill this beautifully illustrated tribute to the songs, musicians, and composers that comfort us, move us, and life our spirits. Rounding out The Awesome Music Project Canada are descriptions of the neurological research confirming the ways in which music is good for us. It imp…

Common Sense

I only wish it were not so common. That probably disappoints a lot of you, maybe even makes you wonder if I am being satirical.

Most assuredly, I am not. Plus, this is my second rodeo on common sense. I am not as certain that people will take it any more seriously, but I do hope that they'll.  It may be written rather flippantly, but I am completely serious.

Common sense usually serves as a proxy for obvious solutions to easy problems. Which then prompts people to recommend commonsense solutions to all problems. Consider some that you might have heard:

"If only we had some common-sense gun laws, we would not have these mass shootings.""Our healthcare system is far too complicated. What we need is to replace it with some common-sense solutions.""People losing their retirement savings in the financial crisis was sad. If only these investors had exercised some common sense and not bought houses they could not afford!""You do not need a Ph. D. to f…

Happy weekend, all!

Hi Cult friends!
Sorry we haven't been around much this week - a lot going on irl. This will be an open chat so please feel free to share music, comments, and gifs.

I'd like to share a couple topics I've been learning about online security. I know this can be a boring subject but it's VERY important, so I hope you'll read this and check the links when you have time. I'm not an expert but if anyone has questions I'll try to help in the comments.

First we'll talk about 2FA (two-factor authentication) and then a related topic involving a growing scam putting our mobile numbers at risk.

2FA is an additional login step after your username and password. The idea is that if your user and password are compromised, the hacker still has to enter a one-time code sent either to your phone by SMS, email, or an authenticator app.

(SMS isn't the best way to do this, but it's still worth doing - we'll talk about that in a minute.)

Here's a gif showin…

National Read a Book Day: "It took me years to write..."

Hi Cult friends,
How about a books and music discussion?

In recognition of National Read a Book Day in the US (Sep. 6) Newsweek lists the top ten books of 2019 so far. Post any songs you can think of about books or reading- and writing-related subjects and we'll listen while we discuss.

Have you read any of the Newsweek books, or want to? What else have you read lately that you liked or disliked?

What makes you decide on reading a certain book? For example, how important is the cover illustration or the title? Do you read both fiction and non-fiction? Both ebooks and paper?

I'm a little superstitious when I borrow books from the library. When I start browsing the first book I pick up often seems to be a clue about how I'll do that time. If I end up liking it I usually find more, and I go home with an armful (or a full e-basket). But if I don't like the first one I often end up not finding anything else either.

When you start a book and don't like it, do you finish …

When the Lights Go Down On Disqus Channels


The Voight-Kampff Tests

Given that people's memories are short, and Tom Cruise even shorter, it wouldn't hurt if I  rebooted some of the old previously read articles. A new venue for a classic channel demands nothing less.

Roy Batty has been on my mind lately, and if you have not noticed, the default avatar for the Cult is a classic Roy Batty image.
[At this point some of you are wondering, "Just who the heck is Roy Batty, and why do I care?"]

Watching Blade Runner is required homework for the Cult, especially because they do not make sci-fi quite like that anymore.  Besides, it is a great movie—you'll just have to take my word for it. After that, you'll need to look up Rutger Hauer on your own.

The movie plot goes something like this: It's the future, and a tech company has created replicants—androids that are almost human—and they have replaced or augmented humans in hazardous work environments (like mining), entertainment, and yes, pleasure. Things, however, go wrong and the …