Posts tagged ‘Michael Crichton’

12/28/2011

Gell-Mann amnesia strikes again!

by wfgodbold

In his 2002 speech* “Why Speculate?” Michael Crichton brings up an interesting effect:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

The more widespread usage of the internet becomes, the more this effect’s prevalence becomes striking; I bring it up today because of the NYT’s attempt to paint North Carolina CCW holders as criminals.

Bob Owens comes to the same conclusions as Crichton.

I can attest to the same thing (and the more I learn about varied subjects, the more obvious the lack of competence becomes). Stories about guns are rarely correct. Stories about chemical engineering are likewise badly researched (journalism majors are bad at engineering? Go figure!). Stories about Japan are sometimes correct, but more often than not have a few factual errors. Reporting on any kind of video game is laughable. And I’m sure the more I learn about the law, the more ridiculous reporting on the law will become.

If you’re not interested in something in the first place, you’re not going to bother to make sure you get everything right (especially if you’re trying to push some kind of agenda).

The more the old media continues to push this kind of easily debunked nonsense, the more they make themselves irrelevant and hasten their inevitable demise.

*The link goes to the Wayback Machine because Crichton’s website no longer makes his speeches available. If you know what you’re looking for, you can still find classics like “Aliens Cause Global Warming,” though.

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09/30/2010

So they found an “earth-like” extra-solar planet

by wfgodbold

Which of course prompts even more speculation that we’re not alone in the universe.  After all, if there are planets like this relatively close, it’s likely that there are even more like this farther away that we can’t see yet.

And thanks to that asshole Drake and his stupid equation, speculation on the likelihood of intelligent alien life is sure to follow, with most people probably concluding that aliens are out there.

There’s only one reasonable response to this news; we must immediately begin preparations to deal with the inevitable alien threat to humanity.

Some people suggest that aliens will be peaceful; I doubt it.  I think it’s far more likely that they’ll be agressive.  An aggressive species would be more likely to develop the tech needed to get into space, and would need to expand (either for more territory, or to hedge against other factions) into space eventually; I don’t know that a peaceful species would have any reason to leave their home planet.  What are they going to do, seek out new planets to be nice to everyone on them?  An aggressive species would want more resources and more territory, and if we’re going to defend ourselves against evil resource and land hungry aliens, we had better get our shit together.

I don’t much relish the idea of future humans being enslaved by a race of galactic overlords; if anyone is going to be top dog (and someone has to be; a galactic UN seems incredibly unlikely, especially given how ineffective the strictly human UN is), I’d rather it be humanity and not the lizard men from the Horsehead Nebula.

And if politicians insist on nuclear disarmament (not that there’s anything left of our nukes after the aliens took them out (see?  We need to hit them before they hit us (no, I don’t really think aliens have been deactivating our nukes)!)), we could end up facing a hostile alien race with nothing but our drive (and communications!) system for a weapon.

Disclaimer: No, I don’t think we’re in danger of imminent subjugation by evil aliens (or even by benevolent aliens), but we should be prepared at all times!

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