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Are polls lies?

The recent recent election has prompted a lot of comments like, “all polls are lies”. I disagree. Polls are a very fuzzy take on a moment in time. A poll two weeks before election day can’t tell you how the election will turn out, only how people feel about it two weeks before the event. And even for its moment in time it is fuzzy – sample size, etc. Most have a 5% margin of error. The polls, at least...

The danger of being too smart (overconfidence)

There is a fascinating article on 538 about the cognitive traps extraordinarily smart people are prone to as a result of usually knowing more than most people around them. (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/who-will-debunk-the-debunkers/ ) I suppose it is another angle on the physicists who think they can solve any problem in unrelated domains just because they are so much smarter than other people. But it turns out that...

Random notes

I was talking to my friend Stephen Usher today about the website we designed for the Austin Branch of the Anthroposophical Society. We are still trying to decide if we like the color of the background. It is nice to have a soft watercolor – it gives a bit of an ethereal feel – but it could be distracting. I brought this up after talking to Caron of Sontec Instruments, who is looking to put a website together for...

Wikipedia page views

A new beta program is going around that counts Wikipedia page views. I tried it on a really obscure page, and none the less found that the page was getting just over 1000 views per week! At first I chalked it up to theh global reach of Wikipedia. But then I started to think about it more. I have to wonder if that number doesn’t include hits from all of Wikipedia‚Äôs bots. Wikipedia employs a number of automated software...

Some product reviews I wrote over the past year

2007 was a good year, and I wrote a number of interesting product reviews. A recent article I wrote was a list of lens bargains for the Sony Alpha (formerly Minolta Maxxum) lens mount. The article was titled Sony Alpha (Minolta Maxxum mount) lens bargains. I also wrote a review of my main wide-angle lens, the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. And predictably review was titled Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Review. A couple...

How not to write occult history

The history of the occult is an interesting topic, especially for scholars of Rudolf Steiner. To someone new to esotericism who encounters Rudolf Steiner first, it may seem as if he originated everything. This is not to undervalue Steiner’s substantial original contributions; however Steiner himself was the first to acknowledge that he was working in a tradition with a long history. And Steiner made many references to...