Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reality: Where hast thou gone?

This Ben Stein "interview" on "Fox News" about his "documentary" can be depressing for a bit. Ben Stein is in the 21st century what a flat earth promoter was during the Enlightenment: Thinking provincial. Also note the Faux subtitles: Freedom of Science? Intelligent Design Shunned.
And Evolution vs. Design: Debate in the Scientific Community, was also a bit of a depression. This from the makers of such wonderful running titles such as Give War a Chance.
For recovering, maybe this makes you feel better: Stork Theory -- Teach the Controversy! Or this: Why do people laugh at creationists? Yeah, and people do get expelled: Teacher Expelled Over Religion.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bad Acronym Day: SYSMS (Start Your Sundays More Secure)

What better than a Sunday to think big thoughts: The purpose of life and all that. Ok, how about Saturdays? Yes, and Fridays. ANYWAYS: I enjoyed how this fellow is trying to place a safe bet to maximize his chances in the (some say overrated) afterlife: Enjoy the Sunday Sermonette!! It nicely highlights some of the practical challenges in implementing Pascal's Wager. Of course you can also try play Pascal's Roulette wager: On what numbers do you put your jetons? Faites vos jeux! .... Rien ne va plus ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Biosphere's Tale -- An Information Flow Abstraction

Genes flow from parents to children.

Memes flow from parents to children,
From preachers to their flock,
From teachers to their students,
Some flow back and forth,
And then some more.

Riding along: Genes and Memes.

The trace of the former is called the Tree of Life.
(Not really a tree: the Graph of Life ...)
Traces of the latter are found in the literature.
In both cases: Information Flows.

Giving rise to,
The Great Provenance Graph of Life on Earth, and:
The Biosphere's Tale (a Pale Blue Dot Production).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Phylomemetic Analysis of Cell Phones!?

Is this memes gone wild or what? Certainly the English language is evolving and devolving as is evident from these articles.

Visualizing the Phylomemetic Tree: Innovation as Evolutionary Process

Abstract. The Innovation of Artifacts is somewhat can be seen as a process of evolution. The paper presents an endeavor to view the evolution of artifact by using evolutionary concept of memetics. We showed the ways to build a phlyomemetic tree based on memes constituting an artifact to infer or estimate the evolutionary history and relationship between artifacts. UPGMA algorithm and the Shortest Tree Method using Minimum Spanning Tree (MST) techniques are presented to construct the phylomemetic tree of innovation. To show an implementation, we use innovation of cellphone as an example.
Keywords: artifact, innovation, evolution, memetic, phylomemetic tree

Innovation as Evolution: Case Study: Phylomemetic of Cellphone Designs
Abstract: Cellular phone is one of the most developing technological artifacts today. The evolution occurs through random innovation. Our effort is trying to view the evolution of this artifact from memetics. By constructing a phylomemetic tree based on cellular phone memes to infer or estimate the evolutionary history and relationship among cellular phone. We adopt several methods, which are commonly used in constructing phylogenetic tree, they are UPGMA algorithm and Parsimony Maximum algorithm to construct cellphone phylomemetic tree. Therefore we compare with the innovation tree, which is based on serial number and their appearance time. From phylomemetic tree, we then analyze the process of a cellular phone innovation through looking out on the cellular phone type lies in the same cluster. The comparison of the simulation tree result shows a generally different branching pattern, giving a presumption that innovation in cellular phone is not really relating with their serial number, but occurs merely because of random mutation of allomeme design and competes with its technological development.

What can I say... Curiouser and Curiouser...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

All models are wrong, but some are useful. Sort of ...

George Box said:
All models are wrong, but some are useful.
To which I say:
All religions are wrong, but some are useful.
To which Richard Dawkins might add:
Useful yes, but for whom?

Sincerely Yours,
A Selfish Meme

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Occam's Relativized Razor

Occam's razor favors simple explanations over complex ones, specifically, minimizing the number of assumptions necessary to explain a phenomenon. A catch is that when comparing the complexity of explanations, there might not be an obvious measure. What looks simple to some (God did it) might look complex to others (Which God? Where From? How?), and vice versa, i.e. what might look complex to some (details of adaptation, "irreducible complexity", chicken-and-egg, etc.) is in fact simple to explain for those in the know (e.g. those who understand how evolution through natural selection works). So while objectively natural explanations trump supernatural ones every time, very much in line with Occam's razor, the perceived complexity by individuals might yield a non-parsimonious outcome ("God did it") that's considered simple by the individual.
According to our complexity-based theory of beauty [15, 17, 25], the agent's currently achieved compression performance corresponds to subjectively perceived beauty: among several sub-patterns classified as 'comparable' by a given observer, the subjectively most beautiful is the one with the simplest (shortest) description, given the observer's particular method for encoding and memorizing it.

Similarly, from the abstract:

I postulate that human or other intelligent agents function or should function as follows. They store all sensory observations as they come - the data is holy. At any time, given some agent's current coding capabilities, part of the data is compressible by a short and hopefully fast program / description / explanation / world model. In the agent's subjective eyes, such data is more regular and more "beautiful" than other data. It is well-known that knowledge of regularity and repeatability may improve the agent's ability to plan actions leading to external rewards. In absence of such rewards, however, known beauty is boring. Then "interestingness" becomes the first derivative of subjective beauty: as the learning agent improves its compression algorithm, formerly apparently random data parts become subjectively more regular and beautiful.

Science v.s. Religion, knowing to the best of our abilities v.s. believing against all reason: Which one thrives as we increase our knowledge and understanding of the world, and which one tries to preserve the "old ways" and needs "patching up" as real-word observations shake the man-made self-delusion?


by Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915

FISH (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat'ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.

Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!

One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.

We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud! -- Death eddies near --
Not here the appointed End, not here!

But somewhere, beyond Space and Time.
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,

Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.

Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;

Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.

And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.