Thursday, April 03, 2008
Reason Blamed for Terrorism
In yesterday's post, I neglected to mention yet another blog I have recently encountered, Applying Philosophy to Life, by KM.
He recently unearthed an article in The Times of India that basically blamed a "correlation between engineering and terrorism" on the fact that engineering is a rational discipline. The passage he quotes is italicized below.
Engineers consider themselves problem solvers, and when the world seems to present a problem, they look to engineering-type solutions to solve it. Engineering, Gambetta and Hertog suggest, predisposes its votaries to absolute and non-negotiable principles, and therefore to fundamentalism; it is a short step from appreciating the predictable laws of engineering to following an ideology or a creed that is infused with its own immutable laws. It is easy for engineers to become radicalised, the researchers argue, because they are attracted by the "intellectually clean, unambiguous, and all-encompassing" solutions that both the laws of engineering and radical Islam provide.I would add only that the notion from modern philosophy that reason is incapable of providing certainty is doubtless what makes it so easy for these sociologists to regard engineering and religion as similar based on the fact that both claim to provide certainty -- despite their essential difference in method.
This is partly true and partly and viciously false. The method of engineering is the method of science. The principles and laws of science are indeed absolute and non-negotiable. But they are not just that. Unlike religious principles, they are objective, evidence-based, verifiable and demonstrably true. To the extent that an engineer is attracted to radical religion, he is denying the validity of the scientific method.
And yes, I did also remember to add a link to the right!
This week's edition is being hosted by Nick Provenzo over at Rule of Reason. Take a look!
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind
I got a kick out of this article on the technological applications of the fact that there is a range of sound frequencies that can be heard almost exclusively by teenagers and young adults.
First, someone, probably from my age bracket, realized that he could use the frequency for crowd control:
As the security device inventor contemplated the problem, he recalled from his teens the awful buzz of an ultrasound welding machine at his father's glue-plastics factory. He remembered that his complaints about the noise would be met with a quizzical look from workers: "What noise?"But kids can be pretty swift, too....
From that impulse to help rid his local market of loiterers came his invention, "the Mosquito," an electronic contraption that emits a high-pitched pulsating sound that can mostly be heard only by teens and people in their early to mid-20s. It works because an age-related hearing loss called presbycusis reduces the ability to hear high-pitched sounds after the late 20s. The device is mostly inaudible to older adults, young children and pets. [bold added]
Young people, meanwhile, have turned the table on the technology. Many have downloaded the sound onto their cell phones, creating a ring tone that they can hear but older adults can't. Teen Buzz, a short Mosquito ring tone, has become among the most downloaded ring tones worldwide. Some use it to alert high school classmates of recently sent text messages. For others, it's come in handy when parents curtail use of their cell phones. [bold added]Back in my Navy days, my hearing test results were quite impressive. Now, I'm going to have to look for that sound on the web somewhere to learn whether I am one of those rare adults who can actually hear this.
Of course, if I don't get around to it and I can hear this, I imagine I'll find out soon enough!
Amit Ghate has been posting actively over at Thrutch lately, and I found his post on gold certificates interesting. Says his co-blogger Rob Tarr, "[I]t's hard to believe [the pictured bill] existed less than 100 years ago."
My grandfather lived to be nearly a hundred, so I use him as a sort of "century-stick" to help me put that time span in human terms. If we can go away from using gold as a currency to fiat money in that time span, we can certainly return to using gold in a comparable span.
Such a goal may sound daunting, but a century is not really that long a time, and similarly great political changes for the better have been made in a similar span. After all, our nation went from having slavery to abolishing it during a similar time span. Great changes can be wrought in decades by men of principle, as I learned in Telluride.
And, by the way, his orchids are in bloom!