This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

sirmailbox's Profile

sirmailbox's Avatar Joined almost 5 years ago
Gender: Male

Latest Discussions Started by sirmailbox

More Discussions by sirmailbox

Latest Comments by sirmailbox

Go to: Human Rights Watch – You are Disgusting!

sirmailbox's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by sirmailbox

Oye. I've watched over the years as the users of this website have shifted further and further away from reasonableness. It used to be a forum. Now it's an echo chamber. I'm not trolling anyone. I'm seriously, seriously just disappointed. If you read what HRW said, they're telling western nations to pressure Islamist groups to grant basic rights, but respect the democratic process. And the reaction is what--outrage. Total outrage. HRW is called disgusting, and a user pledges to never make another donation.

I'm sure I'll just get insulted for saying this--but that's really the problem, isn't it? Remember that the core value that we're supposed to embrace is skepticism. But all I see is dismissive attitudes, quick judgment, easy partitions of people into categories of "with us" or "against us". Generalizations, oversimplifications.. it just sucks. I wish this forum were as it used to be.

Edit: There are some users to whom this definitely doesn't apply. Like Steve Zara for example. His post was excellent. I'm probably generalizing myself, but my overall impression remains the same.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 03:31:46 UTC | #910839

Go to: UPDATE: 3 days to stop Murdoch's media takeover

sirmailbox's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by sirmailbox

Grave news indeed. I can't speak for the UK, but in the US the spectrum of opinion represented in most media is extremely narrow, with what are essentially moderate Republicans being called the "left". Diversity of media ownership is no guarantee of better representation, but it's a step in the right direction. Let this example serve to disentangle unbridled capitalism from democracy.

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 16:29:08 UTC | #846482

Go to: [Update - comments by AC Grayling] British academics launch £18,000 college in London

sirmailbox's Avatar Jump to comment 130 by sirmailbox

Mmurray, you're absolutely correct. I didn't for a moment mean to imply that money (let alone large amounts of it) is awarded for research, though in retrospect that is unfortunately how my post reads. What I SHOULD have said was:

"You're this reclusive, undiscovered prodigy devouring grad level mathematics books and developing a new theory of physics that is held down by the evil universities and bitter journal refs and prohibitive costs etc. etc., but if it weren't for them you'd be this superstar of physics. So why don't you just go and post your work on the freaking internet and get your brilliant work noticed and collect all your well deserved accolades, you Grigori Perelman, you."

And that's the tone in which I meant to invoke Perelman. Anyway, I appreciate the slowness of the publishing process, the nitpicking, the insignificant things that can prevent a paper from going through, insufficient funds, and all of the things that could very well be happening to Wilkinson. But after reading his ridiculous statements about universities (academics are con men conspiring to persuade employers to require degrees), I just felt like being a dismissive prick was the appropriate response. You yourself just mentioned the immense crackpottery that pervades "amateur physics" (hypergeometric universe and its ilk), and I couldn't help but think "this guy is just another crackpot."

Wilkinson, if you're genuinely competent to conduct this research, are familiar with the relevant literature, and have crafted a serious body of work worthy of publication, I sincerely apologize. And even if those criteria aren't satisfied, I still apologize for having mocked someone who is genuinely pursuing intellectual goals in an unconventional way. But your prior statements irritated me, and you must understand why I would be so dismissive. You must acknowledge the tremendous amount of nonsensical "new theories" that "lay physicists" pump out over the internet, and my deep suspicion that yours falls into that category.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 00:20:34 UTC | #634509

Go to: [Update - comments by AC Grayling] British academics launch £18,000 college in London

sirmailbox's Avatar Jump to comment 119 by sirmailbox

Wilkinson,

Of course I might be wrong, and shame on me if I am. But I think you're full of shit. You've got PhD quality research under your belt, but just can't afford to publish it? Bullshit. Perelman casually posted his proof of the Poincare conjecture on the internet and was subsequently offered a million dollars. I think you're got delusions of grandeur. Well, maybe you could offer some evidence that you are what you say.

Sun, 05 Jun 2011 23:02:07 UTC | #634484

Go to: [Update - comments by AC Grayling] British academics launch £18,000 college in London

sirmailbox's Avatar Jump to comment 99 by sirmailbox

Erm--the disdain that I've seen for universities from a couple of people is bewildering. The online courses for mathematics are severely limited, only covering what a mathematics student would learn in the first year or two as an undergraduate. As far as I am aware, advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses are almost completely unavailable in any kind of video format.

Now, you will say, "ah, but you can learn it from a book!" Nonsense. This is true only if you are a prodigy, okay? Every serious math student I know is easily in the 99th percentile of the general population with regard to intelligence--brilliant people are a dime a dozen in math departments. They're very, very smart. But damn near NONE of them could get through a serious graduate text on their own. I mean, take Lang for example--without lectures this is an impenetrable book to almost everyone. You are simply fooling yourself if you think you're going to reach that level without any outside help. Only geniuses do that. If you're a genius, good for you. For the rest of the world, universities are necessary.

And there are a dozen other reasons, but I don't feel like going into it.

Sun, 05 Jun 2011 22:00:28 UTC | #634451

More Comments by sirmailbox