James Heaps-Nelson

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Posts posted by James Heaps-Nelson

  1. LOL, Jonathan. Objectivism, even in the open form has lost its innovation. People keep huddling around the dying embers of things done in the 50's, 60's, 80's and 90's. Time to pour cold water on the campfire and start off in new directions.


  2. Death Wish,

    Just use tensorial calculus and talk about what you are trying to do. It's not like it's only used in General Relativity. Tensor Matrices are extensively used in Materials Engineering and other technical disciplines. Trust me, plenty of people here can handle that kind of math more easily than a presentation of functional topology from first principles or maybe I'm not "highly advanced" enough, LOL.


  3. He wrote a 140 PAGE document. Are you kidding me?? The video is just bizarre. There he is, in one of the nicest areas of the country, in a nice car. Instead of this, he could have done just about anything else. Some people are just wired wrong.


  4. Brant,

    I don't think the problem for either Rand or Branden would be finding someone smarter, the problem would have been finding someone smarter in their work domains. Rand was contemporary with Einstein. Branden was contemporary with double Nobel Prize winner Frederick Sanger (developer of synthetic insulin and chain termination DNA sequencing). Almost everyone can find someone smarter. Einstein was a contemporary of J.W. Gibbs and John Von Neumann and was actually quite collaborative with the brilliant German mathematician David Hilbert.


  5. Brant,

    You might find this site interesting. Stuart Kauffman argues that autocatalytic activity led to the development of nucleic acids. Not a mainstream view, but Kauffman is a well-respected gadfly associated with the Santa Fe Institute. His book At Home in the Universe was interesting. I haven't yet had time to read Origins of Order.



    Many more words than facts to go with them. Interesting enough, though.


    where's his laboratory?

    He's a professor at the University of Calgary and originally did a bunch of biochemistry work at the university of Pennsylvania.

  6. Ellen,

    I don't feel that way about David and this isn't a letdown for me. I think this is an opportunity. For induction we have to go back to Rand's basic question in IOE: what is cognition? Rand concerned herself with universals of cognition: concept formation, recognizing similarity and difference, measurement omission and abstraction. Induction involves some of these universal processes, but it also involves very individual processes such as visualization, pattern recognition and synthesis. All humans do these things to some degree, but the rich tapestries of induction by individuals are not merely the formalism of Mill's Methods or the validation of some particular inductive framework.

    I like Damasio's framework that thinking is a narrative of mental images. Induction involves manipulating and constructing these these mental images, combining them with existing concepts and coming up with new syntheses. It can't be captured in philosophy cleanly the way Rand captured deduction, abstraction and concept formation. The power of Rand's epistemological approach was that it captured aspects of what humans actually do cognitively. We need to do the same thing with induction, but it is a multidisciplinary process and differs widely from domain to domain.


  7. The ironic thing is that a large majority of the environmental disasters have happened under socialism. Poverty beyond the stage of cave-dwelling is the ultimate cause for environmental damage. People that have money do something about air and water pollution and take safety safeguards that avoid Chernobyls. There are accidents in capitalist societies but they are not a permanent feature of the economic system. People that want to make a difference in the environment and not just talk about it will take their activism to China and India where the problems are.


  8. I couldn't resist making a comment about the scientific controversy about which I know the least. Serves me right. One thing I do know is that is that if environmentalists are serious about reducing atmospheric CO2 levels, they would be pro-nuclear, pro-natural gas development and pro-GM crops. The cheap availability of natural gas means that there really shouldn't be a very big difference between the technologies championed by people on either side of the AGW debate.


  9. Ellen,

    I probably should have worded it differently. McCaskey provided constructive feedback for the book in as mild a manner as possible. If that betrayed a fundamental disagreement with Peikoff, well that was because Peikoff is wrong :-). In any case, if you invite book criticism, you should be prepared that it might not be in line with what you expect.


  10. Hi Michael :-) I just got done with my full time MBA and application season before that so I haven't had time to post in a little under three years. If we were arguing about anything before, I have completely forgotten it. In the meantime, I may be the only one on the site that thinks that pumping increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere is not a good idea, but I'll see how that goes :-). Good to see you again.


  11. I think that Harriman invitation is strange from Harriman's side, not TAS's. I'm encouraged Harriman is going to show up at an open forum like TAS, but this only a couple of years removed from John McCaskey being ridden out of ARI about minor debates concerning Harriman and Peikoff's book. The fact that Harriman is speaking at TAS indicates to me that he thought the scope of McCaskey's dissent was legitimate. If so, Harriman owes McCaskey an apology for not saying something at the time, but that's on him not TAS.

    Harriman's book is more problematic, but not fundamentally that much more problematic than the dominant Objectivist movement approach to science in general. There is significant support in the movement for a weird skepticism about quantum mechanics, general relativity and other topics that are uncontroversial in the scientific community and as well validated as any theories we have. Will Thomas' reply also indicates a problem. There is not and never will be a foolproof method of induction. For one thing, quantum mechanics, radioactive decay, the standard model and chaos theory all indicate that there are things in the universe that are fundamentally statistical, uncertain and unpredictable. I am grateful, however, that he pointed to David Ross' terrific sidebar on Newton and quantum mechanics.

    I think it is too late for the Objectivist movement to take a reasonable approach to science. It is too far behind and the people who could provide the best guidance in this regard reasonably find it not worth their while. There is a whole terrific body of knowledge in the mainstream scientific community for those with the patience, sense of intellectual adventure and openness to find it. But I am preaching to the scientific choir. Some of the best scientific thinkers in the movement Stephen Boydstun, Bob Kolker and Ellen Stuttle are members here.


  12. The tremendous decrease in childhood mortality came about because of gross improvements in public sanitation and understanding of the germ theory of disease. Other big advances in medicine came from smallpox, tetanus, and polio vaccinations, anesthesia, insulin injections and the use of DDT and antibiotics. There have been no relatively significant advances since Salk and Sabin over 50 years ago save for the cultural excoriation of smoking and people taking more responsibility for their health as with diet and exercise, and not letting doctors play God with them. The biggest negative is government and third-party payer generally.


    Americans have a notoriously bad diet and we've also come to a place where there is a divergence of outcomes in medicine. Many multi-system diseases have symptoms that can be treated while still getting the root cause wrong.


  13. Excellent spokesperson. Sharp, well spoken and attractive.

    These are the people who Jack Welch warns the Republican Party not to alienate. As the ex CEO of GE and a person who understands how to lead, he brings good ideas to light for the idiots in the Republican Party.

    Despite calling for Dr. Paul to drop out of the race, he also calls for the Republican Party to incorporate him, his message and his followers into the party.

    “You know, Ron Paul’s followers are not party regulars. He’s not a party regular. He really has these very, very impassioned followers. All four of our children are huge Ron Paul followers,” Suzy, [his wife] acknowledged. “So we’re living with this.”

    This is another conundrum for a Party headed for the shoals of stupidity.

    I do not think that the Republican Party's "establishment" has a clue as to how to handle the Tea Party, Dr. Paul's troops, or, the Conservatives and their troops.

    This is a re-run, structurally, of the Goldwater and Reagan uprisings.


    I think young people supporting Ron Paul is a combination of the lack of seriousness of major party candidates on the debt which will disproportionately affect them and the fact that many of them have friends or know people coming back from the interminable wars or multiple deployments. They know our young soldiers have gotten the shaft, just like Vietnam.


  14. Folks:

    The real story in this Florida primary is that the turnout was significantly lower than the 2008 turnout.

    Attributing the cause and what effect that it will have on this critical state for the 2012 election is now a hot discussion in the political community.


    My guess is that in 2008 seniors saw McCain as a candidate they could rally behind. Also, the negative ads probably turned some people off.


  15. Look at that primary/caucus calendar. Newt better win Florida because he's not going to get very much else for a while. Nevada and Arizona are Mormon heavy states. Minnesota, Maine and Michigan should go to Romney.



    I am not so sure about that assumption.

    • Newt Gingrich 30.75%
    • Mitt Romney 28.74%
    • Ron Paul 7.47%
    • Michele Bachmann 6.32%
    • Jon Huntsman 4.02%
    • Rick Santorum 3.16%
    • Rick Perry 2.59%
    • Undecided 16.95

    Survey of likely Republican primary voters was conducted December 8, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points. Party ID: 68% Republican; 32% Independent. Results from the poll conducted

    I know that polls can come and go and momentum will help, but that calendar is not in Newt's favor. I'm assuming he'll win Florida and that will put a big dent in Romney, he'll have to weather the next storm after that. Newt's best chance would be to win both Missouri and Colorado on Feb.7 which is doable but it looks tough.