Sunday, 15 November 2009

Gut Feelings - Gerd Gigerenzer

Lessons and examples:
  • Gaze heuristic.
  • Desire also indicated by gaze
  • Limit choice/options to 6-7.
  • Advertising - males use one argument, women use multiple arguments/views.
  • First choices are often best.
Team building:
  • Everyone on the same plane - single floor.
  • Start on an equal footing.
  • Daily informal social gatherings.
  • Shared success.
  • Open door management.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Blind Faith – Ben Elton

This is perhaps the most deeply disturbing book I have read in a long while. It almost gave me a sleepless night after I finished it quite late. As always Elton finishes on a low dark and cynical tone but this time it is particularly bleak and an especially dark look at the human character. As usual it is also well observed and as a reader you can see enough of the world about you for it to feel credible, maybe not to this extreme but something like it might just happen. There is not a Brave New World there is only a future of horrors.

"I mean wouldn't faith be more valuable if it was arrived at through question and doubt? What's the use of blind faith? Seriously, it's not difficult saying you have faith if the alternative is being burned alive. But does that mean that you really have faith? That man this evening, that Chris-lam. He had faith."

"Trafford he nearly got beaten to death. You want to get us both beaten to death? Is that it? That man was mad."

"Of course he was mad to do what he did. To risk dying for his faith. You wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that. Faith to us is anything we are told to believe. If Confessor Bailey told us that a cherry alcopop represented the blood of Diana we'd worship it without a single thought. But that man tonight –"

"Who could have been killed -"

"That man had arrived at his faith despite what he has been told. His faith is personal. He'd thought about something and decided to act upon the conclusions he'd drawn. I'd like to do that."


"You say that evolutionary theory is a faith because you believe it." She wore a sly expression. "Why do you believe it?"

"Because it's beautiful, it's logical and it can be proved. It is the only, and I mean only, satisfactory explanation for the emergence of l life on Earth! Every shred of evidence thus far discovered on Earth fits it, while not one shred of evidence has been found to show that the universe was made in a week and man in a day. Man did not emerge in a day! Whatever it was that brought him about, be it God or some cosmic coincidence that can be called God, it did not happen in a day! I happened over millions and millions of years."

"So you say that the ideas of the monkey men can be proved?" the lawyer asked.

"Yes, if not absolutely then certainly beyond reasonable doubt."

"A ha!" Poledance cried triumphantly. "Then it cannot be a faith."


"A faith is something in which a man must believe. Something in which he must put his trust, his faith. If it can be proved then it's fact and a fact requires no faith to believe in it. Thus your ideas have no protection under the law."


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Next World War - James Adams

Hackers claim they can make a HERF (High Energy Radio Frequency) gun for $300. p151

Instruction manuals show how to penetrate a company's PBX telephone system of voice mail system and make free long distance calls; how to hack into computer systems from outside a building, using what is known as the Williams Van Eck system. p159

In a startling investigation into the vulnerability of FLAG, writers Neal Stephenson and Peter Leyden of Wired discovered that FLAG and four other truck cables, SEA-ME-WE 1,2 and 3, and AFRICA 1, will eevntually pass through a dilapidated old building within a stone's throw of the site of the Great Library of Alexandria. Clearly a strategically placed bomb could cause havoc with global communications. It is to be hoped that backup and redundancy will minimize the future threat. p173

In 1994 the New York Stock Exchange asked a German hacker to demonstrate how an attack could affect its systems. To its amazement, it was not the Exchange's "secure" systems he tried to invade, but the computers that controlled the air conditioning in the system's rooms. Having gained control of those he then had the power to raise the temperature to the point where machines would start to crash and the trading systems fail. p175

Monday, 26 January 2009

The Poverty of Historicism - Karl Popper

Thus in order to understand social life, we must go beyond the mere analysis of factual causes and effects, i.e. of motives, interests, and reactions caused by actions: we have to understand every event as playing a certain characteristic part within the whole. The event gains its significance from its influence upon the whole, and its significance is therefore in part determined by the whole.

But can there be a law of evolution? Can these be a scientific law in the sense intended by T.H. Huxley when he wrote : "... he must be a half-hearted philosopher who ... doubts that science will sooner or later ... become possessed of the law of evolution of organic forms - of the unvarying order of that great chain of modern causes and effects of which all organic forms, ancient and modern, are the links ..."?

I believe that the answer to this question must be "No", and that the search for the law of the "unvarying order" in evolution cannot possibly fall within the scope of scientific method, whether in biology or in sociology. My reasons are very simple. The evolution of life on earth, or of human society, is a unique historical process. Such a process, we may assume, proceeds in accordance with all kinds of causal laws, for example the laws of mechanics, of chemistry, of heredity and segregation, of natural selection, etc. Its description, however is not a law, but only a singular historical statement.

while we may base scientific predictions on laws, we cannot (as every cautious statistician knows) base them merely on the existence of trends. A trend (we may again take population growth as an example) which has persisted for hundreds or even thousands of years may change within a decade, or even more rapidly than that.

The poverty of historicism, we might say, is a poverty of imagination. The historicist continuously upbraids those who cannot imagine a change in their little worlds; yet it seems that the historicist is himself deficient in imagination, for he cannot imagine a change in the conditions of change.

What the "sociology of knowledge" overlooks is just the sociology of knowledge - the social or public character of science. It overlooks the fact that it is the public character of science and of its institutions which impose a mental discipline upon the individual scientist, and which preserves the objectivity of science and its tradition of critically discussing new ideas.
p144 (rubbish)