Knowledge, Climate Statistics, Afghanistan, Computer Culture

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It’s Good To Be Wrong

David Deutsch | Nautilus | 15th January 2015

Mind-bending essay on the fallibility of knowledge and the paradoxes to which it gives rise. You cannot accept the claims of another to infallibility unless you already have infallible means of identifying an infallible authority. "Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found" (3,250 words)

Was 2014 The Warmest Year?

John Kennedy | Diagram Monkey | 30th January 2015

Well, it wasn't the warmest year ever; that one happened back when the earth was a fireball. But was 2014 the warmest year since modern records began — which is to say, since the mid-nineteenth century? The best one can say is: Maybe. No other year has a stronger claim to the title. But allowing for the uncertainties of the measuring process, the probability that 2014 was the warmest year on record is less than 50% (1,830 words)

What If America Had Never Invaded Afghanistan?

Richard Grenier | Atlantic | 1st February 2015

In the weeks after 9/11 the CIA station chief in Islamabad, Richard Grenier, urged a Taliban general, Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Osmani, to overthrow Mullah Omar and expel Osama bin Laden. That might be enough, said Grenier, to forestall a US invasion of Afghanistan. We know the outcome; which takes much of the tension out of the story; but it's interesting to learn more about how these things work (3,360 words)

Cultures Of Code

Brian Hayes | American Scientist | 1st February 2015

Software developers write computer software; computational scientists use computers for scientific modelling; computer scientists study the computing process itself. They belong to different cultures, go to different conferences, read different publications. Wouldn't it be better if they talked from time to time? It would save reinventing the wheel. "Calls for unification go back at least 45 years, but the estrangement continues" (2,720 words)

Video of the day: Time Travel Paradoxes

What to expect: Bootstrap paradox, Predestination paradox, Grandfather paradox explained (5'22")

Thought for the day

One starts to get young at 60, and then it's too late
Pablo Picasso

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