Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Magnets In Large Hadron Collider Disrupt Moral Compass

Magnets change your morals.The surpising side effect following yesterdays particle collision experiments has been confirmed by Dr Liane Young of the Massechusetts Insititute of Technology.

In a recent paper reported by the The BBC titled Magnets Can Modify Our Morality Dr Young is quoted as saying: "To be able to apply a magnetic field to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing"

Worryingly the massive power of the LHC magnets have a huge effect on people working on the project. It seems the magnets 'pull' peoples moral compass away from their typical disposition making them see the ethical consequences of what they are doing in very different ways.

It is claimed that what started as a project seeking ways to improve knowledge about particle physics has for some become a race to create the first so called Particle Weapon capable of launching mini black holes at their targets and blasting them to oblivion. Not even their final screams escape the gravitational pull of the singularity.

Others who were previously staunch rationalists and who have been standing close to the LHC magnets have become highly spiritual and believe they are seeing the mind of God.

Normal morality is typically recovered after a short break away from the LHC. Although scientists are advised to avoid Las Vegas due to the 'top up' effects of the weak magnetic fields that exist around the thousands of slot machines.

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Bloggers Tale

The old blogger pointed to the vast unexplored horizon. The boys were gripped by his every word. "Out there are the people of the world. Out there are they are waiting to hear from you. Out there they are looking for you!" Excited, they urged the old blogger on. "What can we write?, why would anyone listen to us?" they asked. The old blogger stopped. Mindful of his experiences he knew he had raised their expectations. A blistered blog writer for many years he new the dangers and dissapointments that awaited them.  Thinking carefully about what he was going to say he knew there was every chance that what he knew could put the off writing a blog...for ever!

"Out there is danger!" His eyes looked deep into their searching for their fears. "You can put your heart and soul into a post and you might get nothing in return." The boys looked back in disbelief. "You mean we can write our very best and no one cares?" they asked. "It's possible" he said his voice dropping to a secretive hush. The boys continued to be held in the rheumy gaze of the old blogger. They could see his thoughts drifting back to posts of old. The popular ones, the ones with authority, posts that grabbed attention across the whole world.

"You have to do because you want to do it boys. Don't go expecting riches and fame. That's a fools errand". The old blogger knew. He was their age when he put finger to keyboard. I can influence the world he thought, the people of the world will laugh and cry over what I write, they'll be inspired and I will transform their lives. He saw the same beliefs in the boys that sat in front of him.

"We'll write and write and write and write" the boys implored. "The people of the world will hear our stories. They'll laugh and cry over what we'll write. We'll change the world!"

The old blogger got up. "Time to leave now boys. Over there is your destiny. Out there are people you touch and people that can't be touched, people you'll reach and people who can't be reached. Out there are people who will never be your friends"

As the old blogger walked away down the shore line the boys looked out. Their eyes began to see the stumps and rotting frames of old discarded blogs. Not one, not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of fillling the sea before them. An ocean of sunken words lost for ever.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Byers Hoon and Hewitt Suckered

Justice Minister Jack Straw said earlier today "It appears that former cabinet ministers are putting making money ahead of meeting their constituents...There's anger... and incredulity about their stupidity... getting suckered by a sting like this." He's refering to the Dispatches Channel 4 programme, but Hoon, Byers and Hewitt who have been suspended pending investigations have denied any wrong-doing. The decision to suspend them was taken after they were shown being approached by a fictional US firm looking to hire them for lobbying work.

The reason for this is strong evidence of Gullibility. As Barnum alledgedly said There's a Sucker Born Every Minute and it looks like high ranking government ministers are no exception. There is of course the issue of 'intention' and also 'permissable practice'. That aside to even touch this issue given the political climate over the last couple of years must rank a gross stupidity and lack of judgement.

Talk about shooting yourslef in the foot and giving the initiative to the opposition. Labour party HQ must be fuming. £3000 a day for using your position of access to wield social influence. Nice work if you can get it. Nice work if you can get it whilst being paid to represent local constituents. Nice work if you can get it when thousands of other in country can't.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Myth of Blog Credibility

With so much energy being expended on technologies that supposedly help us decide which blogs have credibility, perhaps its time to air the blogosphere's dirty little secret. The fact is that the whole notion of authority and credibility rating is based on the mistaken notion that there is some objective standard of truth that can be achieved in the social world. Come on folks the clue is in the title - social media and networking- we are not dealing with natural science here no matter how far the The technological determinists try to push us in that direction. We have to take responsibility for determining the credibility of the stuff we read. There is no independent arbiter.

Humans make use of a range of social techniques for sussing the veracity of other people. Face to face means we can check body language, listen to the tone of voice, see who hangs around with who and so on. On-line its trickier. Word of Mouth is one way to make a judgement. The initial encounter for someone is always a risk though. The blogosphere is an 'advice rich'/'repercussion poor' environment in many respects. Unless your business or profession depends on it and you need to protect your reputation you can say most anything you want regardless of how true it might be.

Perhaps the biggest error of judgement in using opinion and information on the Internet is to assume that it is somehow 'separate' from other forms of social interaction and knowledge gathering. It is simply an additional dimension to the ways that humans have evolved their social judgement. All texts are 'testimony' all texts are the voice of the author. Despite claims of objectivity every single piece of writing is governed by prior beliefs and therefore biased.

The credibility of a blog is a form of reaching for a consensus about its truthfulness. That's why SEO and the other alogrithmic ways of 'counting' authority are inherently flawed as indicators of credibility because they are a technical solution to the social problem of authenticity. Just because many people read a blog, link to a blog, comment on a blog it can in no way whatsoever be taken as an indication of the veracity of the content. Example? This post. I imagine circa 50 people will read it per day. Not the big league by any stretch. The number however can shed no light whatsoever on the credibility of the content - high or low.