Author Topic: Episode #686  (Read 6884 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #686
« on: September 01, 2018, 07:50:56 AM »
NECSS Private Show with George Hrab and Hai Ting
News Items: Why We Yawn, Motivated Reasoning vs Lazy Thinking, Isreali Moon Probe
Questions from George
Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
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Offline Ted Apelt

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2018, 01:26:36 PM »
A two-year-old's solution to the trolley problem

"Often, people cling all the harder to an idea precisely because the reality is so different and becoming more different."
Richard Wolff quoting his wife

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2018, 07:18:56 PM »
Cara is spot-on regarding the cockamamy idea of a Mars colony.

I'd rather do without heating & A/C than without the internet. If I move to Maui I'll be fine. You hardly ever need either heat or A/C there as it's 80° F. year 'round.

I'd rather lose my photos than my money. I have enough money to have a lot of fun but my photos are mostly crap. (Though I can't believe Cara was not backing up her laptop's hard drive!)

I'd rather be loved by my family and friends. Most other people don't like me anyway.

I don't think knowing either my time or my method of death would be the least bit useful, because what matters to me is not merely being alive, but being fit and healthy enough to have fun. Maybe they tell me I won't die until I'm 109. But if I become incapacitated tomorrow, all those years won't do me any good. Or maybe they tell me I'll die in my sleep, but then it turns out I get a lingering illness that leaves me in horrible pain for ten years before i die in my sleep.

There's a story about a guy who could become invisible. So he snuck into the sultan's harem. It was pitch black but the guard heard the noise he made and decapitated him.

The superpower I want is to be able to play Bach on the violin as well as Hilary Hahn, or on the organ as well as Katja Sager, or on the clavichord as well as Wim Winters, or on the harpsichord as well as Masaaki Suzuki.
Daniel
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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2018, 07:34:26 PM »
Cara is spot-on regarding the cockamamy idea of a Mars colony.
I don't think we have strong enough anti-depressants for anyone to spend much time on Mars.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2018, 07:35:19 PM »
A two-year-old's solution to the trolley problem



Very interesting video. But what's it got to do with the trolly problem or a two-year-old?
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2018, 07:36:39 PM »
Cara is spot-on regarding the cockamamy idea of a Mars colony.
I don't think we have strong enough anti-depressants for anyone to spend much time on Mars.

I don't think we have strong enough shielding from cosmic rays for anyone to get to Mars alive.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline Monkey_boy

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2018, 01:09:55 AM »
I get the idea of wanting to explore space and especially a local planet like Mars. However sending humans on a one way trip to Mars will change the way we view that planet. Especially if they perish there. Without a hope of return this is not a moral scienctific exploration path that the human race should consider. We should wait until we have engineered a way of returning humans back to earth after a Mars visit. The risks are high in space travel but knowingly sending volunteers to their eventual demise on a far away planet, in my opinion, should not be considered.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2018, 09:06:06 AM »
Welcome to the SGU forums, Monkey_boy.

BTW, I think NASA wants to send people and bring them back. (Which would cost more than I feel can be justified, and have an unacceptable level of risk.)

There is what I call the Star-Trek Syndrome at work here. A lot of fans of that show hold the philosophy that anything someone can imagine, science can accomplish. In the real world there are laws of physics and facts of economics to contend with.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2018, 03:04:03 PM »
I think everyone should have the right to choose to die, with or without a terminal illness. As long as they know what they're doing.

If someone wants to attempt to go to Mars, knowing all the risks, I don't have a problem with them going. But the people investing in it will probably want to get to a point where it's very likely that they'll survive for a long time, because them dying isn't the point of it.

Offline Skepmic

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2018, 05:04:19 PM »
Overhead pressing is a perfectly fine exercise. Resistance training is pretty safe compared to other sporting endeavours when comparing injury rates (that's true even if you include the foolishness that is Crossfit!).

On the topic of Mars I have to side with Cara. I never got the fetishizing that happens around putting people on Moon/Mars/take your pick. I'm all for bombarding the place with robots though.

Offline brilligtove

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2018, 06:46:45 PM »
Daniel, I'm addressing this to you because we have talked about this sort of thing before, and you no I'm not trying to insult or belittle or such. The quotes are not in the original order.

There is what I call the Star-Trek Syndrome at work here. A lot of fans of that show hold the philosophy that anything someone can imagine, science can accomplish.

The track record for scientists, engineers, and artist turning imagination into reality is pretty damn good so far. Getting humans to Mars and keeping them alive there is a daunting challenge, but unlike magic and FTL there is no law of nature that would be contradicted by doing so. Note that I am not arguing that we should transmogrify any particular imaginings into reality. I'm just saying that I don't think your Star-Trek Syndrome is a compelling argument, at least as stated here.

In the real world there are laws of physics and facts of economics to contend with.

This is always true for all human endeavours. As such is not a strong argument for or against any particular position.

BTW, I think NASA wants to send people and bring them back. (Which would cost more than I feel can be justified, and have an unacceptable level of risk.)

Whether a Mars mission is worth it is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact. Certainly, our opinions are based in facts - facts we largely agree on. When we disagree on whether a live-person mission to mars is something we should do neither of us is correct or incorrect. We are evaluating the situation differently because we have different values and beliefs. This is reflected in the use of words like 'justified' and 'unacceptable'.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2018, 07:33:56 PM »
Daniel, I'm addressing this to you because we have talked about this sort of thing before, and you no I'm not trying to insult or belittle or such. The quotes are not in the original order.

There is what I call the Star-Trek Syndrome at work here. A lot of fans of that show hold the philosophy that anything someone can imagine, science can accomplish.

The track record for scientists, engineers, and artist turning imagination into reality is pretty damn good so far. Getting humans to Mars and keeping them alive there is a daunting challenge, but unlike magic and FTL there is no law of nature that would be contradicted by doing so. Note that I am not arguing that we should transmogrify any particular imaginings into reality. I'm just saying that I don't think your Star-Trek Syndrome is a compelling argument, at least as stated here.

In the real world there are laws of physics and facts of economics to contend with.

This is always true for all human endeavours. As such is not a strong argument for or against any particular position.

BTW, I think NASA wants to send people and bring them back. (Which would cost more than I feel can be justified, and have an unacceptable level of risk.)

Whether a Mars mission is worth it is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact. Certainly, our opinions are based in facts - facts we largely agree on. When we disagree on whether a live-person mission to mars is something we should do neither of us is correct or incorrect. We are evaluating the situation differently because we have different values and beliefs. This is reflected in the use of words like 'justified' and 'unacceptable'.


It is true that engineers are in the business of using science to turn imagination into reality. But the "Star Trek syndrome" I am referring to is the belief (which some friends of mine have categorically asserted) that everything we can imagine is possible. And this is simply incorrect. We can imagine instantaneous communication across the galaxy (which I think ST calls "sub-space" radio or "sub-ether" radio, or something of the sort) even though we know from Relativity that there is no such thing as the "same" time at widely separated points. A Mars colony would violate no laws of physics, but as a practical matter there are difficulties in keeping the astronauts alive that might be possible to overcome, but it is perilously close to religion to assert without adequate information it will be possible to overcome.

And yes, it is a value judgement whether it would be worth the expense, and should be obvious that I am merely giving my own opinion when I say that I do not regard the cost as worth it. It's also a value judgement whether or not it's a good thing to keep the human race going by colonizing another planet. Given our track record of greed and war and hatred and bigotry and environmental destruction, I (personal opinion here, obviously) don't regard that as a good thing. Species come and species go. No matter how much we want to maintain the human race, in a geological eyeblink we'll have gone extinct or evolved into something entirely different. And a colony on Mars isolated from Earth by the hypothetical disaster the fear of which makes some folks want to establish that colony, would soon evolve into an entirely different species if it survived at all. We are not God's gift to the universe. I'd rather we use our resources to keep the Earth habitable than squander them on the pipe dream of making the human race eternal.

People talk about terraforming Mars when we can't even figure out how to stop un-terraforming the Earth. It is my opinion that the project of a Mars colony is a waste of resources, is in itself undesirable, probably would cost more money than is actually available, and might not even be possible to achieve, given the obstacles for which we presently have no solution, such as the nine months of cosmic ray exposure or the psychology of confining a group of people in a small space for the years and years it would take to get there and construct a larger habitation.

These are my opinions. But it is fact that reality is more limited than our imagination, and that while engineers can accomplish wonderful things, they cannot accomplish everything a science fiction writer can imagine.
Daniel
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-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline brilligtove

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2018, 09:49:33 PM »
Thanks for the clarifications and expansions. I said a Mars mission is "...unlike magic and FTL [because] there is no law of nature that would be contradicted by doing so." I think anyone asserting that anything imaginable is or can be real is nuts.

Ok, they're making an absurd claim.

Off the top of my head I don't recall the philosopher who claimed that the capacity to imagine god meant god was perfect and real... I'm pretty sure there are some false assumptions in there somewhere. Perhaps a label like "Star Trek Syndrome" is appropriate for people who buy into that kind of woo.

I am being critical of your arguments in this instance but it is a pattern of conflation I see a lot. I don't want to be unfair in my critiques, but I also can't note every instance where I see someone commingle value judgements with facts. With Mars that may not be your intent and I may well be misreading. At some point I think you've gone from "I disagree with your opinion because..." to "You're wrong." You're a pretty upstanding and intellectually honest person from what I've seen here. I raise this because I think it's the kind of feedback you have mentioned appeciating in the past.

As for Mars exploration and colonization itself: we agree on a several things. Terraforming is almost certainly a waste of time, especially because Mars has no significant magnetic field. Saying that it's a bad idea there because we can't get our shit together here isn't a strong argument though. They are largely separate issues.

In terms of a survivable habitat, I think the ISS tells us that we can create a human-livable habitat that works for decades. The logistics of keeping a Mars habitat supplied are immense compared to keeping the IIS going, no question. On the other hand, we have logistical delivery technologies now that were almost unimaginable five years ago. The $ROI on space tends to be more than 10:1 overall, so my guess is that $100B spent on getting people to Mars and keeping them alive would have a huge dividend. The government(s) funding the mission(s) would get indirect benefits. Their economies would see the direct benefits.

I also think the social ROI on inspirational exploration is easy to underestimate. ST:TNG inspired several of my high school friends to careers in science and engineering (including a nuclear engineer and a rocket scientist). They definitely don't suffer STS. :)
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2018, 10:29:06 AM »
The power of literature to inspire is undisputed. But there's a big difference between spending a few bucks for books that entertain and inspire, and spending trillions of dollars on a Mars mission. Because I disagree with your figure of $100B, and I disagree that there would be any ROI from sending people to Mars. The ROI for "space" is because of the high value of communications, navigation, and observation satellites. Astronauts come back to Earth after a year in the ISS and in spite of rigorous exercise programs they are crippled by the effects of microgravity. And although they are confined, they have the psychological benefit of knowing that in an emergency they can be back on the Earth in a matter of hours.

There's also the opportunity cost. Yes, all research yields benefits. But those trillions spent on a Mars mission could have been spent on other kinds of basic research, such as understanding our own planet and how to avoid, or at least postpone, a disaster of our own making.

I do try to distinguish between my opinions regarding the desirability of allocating resources, and facts such as the extreme hostility of Mars and the high cost of life support. Maybe I err in assuming that it will be understood when a statement is an opinion and when it's an assertion of fact.

Here's an idea: Why don't we send a dead guy to Mars? It won't be hard to find someone who wants to be disposed of there, and we won't need any life support. Space is cold enough it will be easy to keep him frozen. And then robots can do the actual exploration. ;D
Daniel
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #686
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2018, 11:05:27 AM »
A human with a camera, a hammer and a bag could outdo in a couple of hours everything that all our rovers have accomplished in the last two decades.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

 

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