Trusting Providers

Corporatism favors the rights of corporations ahead of those of their customers; right now we’re in the middle of a complex shouting-match regarding what companies like Facebook can decide to provide to marketing partners; are we trusting them too much with our data? Are they going to handle it responsibly? What makes people imagine that companies are not going to immediately have a strategy meeting and ask, “what is the worst thing we can do with our customer data? Because: let’s do that!”

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Generalizing Behavior Between Species – Part 1

Observe the dog; it enjoys bacon. We might be able to conclude that a wolf would enjoy bacon, too. But “might” is the key word, there – can we really? I’d say it’s highly likely, but that’s based on my knowing other things already about wolves and dogs – namely that they are omnivores.

Why, then, might I run a complex and abusive experiment to determine if dogs like bacon? That would be a waste of time, right?

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Drool, Drool

[Warning: Disturbing Pseudo-science Medical Experiments]

Pavlov’s apparatus sounded suspiciously sketchy, to me. Maybe that’s because I’ve gotten used to measuring things like a machinist: “15 drops” is not precise enough, I’d expect accurate measures to 1/10,000th of a drop. The illustrations we see of “Pavlov’s Dogs” are an approximation, but there’s already too much hose and surface; you’d lose a couple drops (at least) and I don’t think that the difference between unstimulated dog drool quantity and stimulated dog drool quantity is going to be dramatic.

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Problematic Conclusions

There’s an old joke I heard from one of my psychology professors at Johns Hopkins: “A psychologist is studying a frog. He puts it on a table near a yard-stick and says ‘JUMP!’ and the frog jumps a foot. The psychologist notes this down in his lab book and cuts one of the frog’s legs off, then puts it back in its starting position and says ‘JUMP!’. The frog jumps – not as well – 8 inches. The psychologist notes this down and removes another leg. The frog manages to jump 4 inches. With only one leg remaining, the frog is ordered to JUMP! and it manages to sort of shift its weight, painfully. The psychologist records 1/4 inch. When the psychologist removes the frog’s remaining leg, the frog just sits there, and the psychologist writes in his lab book: frog with legs removed loses its hearing.”

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