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Mike Toliver

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About Mike Toliver

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  1. I think aesthetics is more than a search for "beauty" - either that or we should define "beautiful" more broadly. Motel "art" can be "beautiful", I suppose, in that it's pleasing to look at, but, as you've argued, it has no feeling from its creator.
  2. I'm editor of a scientific journal. We've just gone through a discussion about making papers that appear in our journal available on the web. Our conclusion was that we will make them available one year after publication. It is a matter of "self-interest" in a sense, because members of our society receive these publications as a large part of their dues - and why would they join the society if they could get our publications for free? So, it's not just the academic publishing industry that has some qualms about this. In principle, having papers immediately available seems like a good idea; but it also seems like a good idea to have viable scientific societies and there is often a conflict between those two ideas.
  3. Sorry, Tim - we lost in Vietnam. Not only that, but I think it takes a real convoluted line of reasoning to conclude that because we lost in Vietnam, we won the Cold War. If anything, our loss in 'Nam would have encouraged, not discouraged, Communist support of insurgencies. Nor can one reasonably argue that Soviet support of the North Vietnamese somehow strapped the USSR economically. We spent far more for far less result. Try as one might (and believe me, I've tried) one cannot extract any enduring value from our efforts in 'Nam. If our government had learned not to try and dictate to other countries what form of government they should have, THEN I would say we'd learned something from that experience and I could see some value for my personal sacrifice. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.
  4. Andy and John - I've been having a lot of trouble accessing the Forum using Internet Explorer. Netscape and Firefox work fine (I haven't tried Safari yet), but Internet Explorer won't let me in - or if it does there's no content visible. This is true for different computers using different ISP's. Thought you should know... Mike
  5. Gregory - I agree with your assessment - local circumstance and lawyers will determine much about what is taught in the science classroom. And don't you think that's a damn shame? Shouldn't what we teach in the science classroom be science?
  6. And it was precisely in answer to the "Argument from Design" - most recently (for Darwin) advanced by William Paley in his book "Natural Theology" - that Darwin wrote The Origin of Species. It is also why Intelligent Design is not science. Science is concerned solely with natural causation. Darwin answered the argument from design quite well, in the Origin. He even used the eye as an example, in a direct reference to Paley, who used the eye as Tim does - "it's too complicated". But Darwin showed that even incredible complex structures such as the eye can evolve in a step-by-step fashion. Teaching Intelligent Design in a science class makes as much sense as teaching Moby Dick in a math class.
  7. I have had relative few problems using Mac OS X. however, posting long posts is a problem no matter what site one is visiting. Far better to type up such a post in a word processing program, and then copy paste into the reply section. Then, if it doesn't work, you've got a copy and can easily try again.
  8. Tim - I must have mis-interpreted your intent, as you seemed to be saying "my authority is bigger than your authority". As others have noted above, science is anti-authoritarian. Physics is the realm of the "big bang". I have read some about quantum mechanics and the big bang - enough to know that what physicists postulate as the beginning is a "singularity", which is a mathematical concept - and the closest thing to "supernatural" as science gets. In any case, organic evolution really doesn't care about the big bang. Organic evolution is all about how life evolved, not the Universe. Here's the deal: science never proves anything. When you talk about "proof", you must be referring to math, because science is not engaged in a search for proof. Science can never prove anything because scientists must make 3 assumptions about the Universe in order to do science. They are: 1). We can deduce natural law from observable effects of that law. Thus, science searches for NATURAL law - not supernatural beings. We MUST do so, because otherwise how would we make predictions? "Well, God wants things to fall towards the center of the Earth today, but tomorrow - who knows?" 2). Natural law works the same way through time and space. Again, our ability to predict is based on this assumption. Intelligent design advocates presume that at "sometime" natural law was superceded by supernatural law - the Designer. 3). Our senses give us accurate information about reality. This is why science is empirical and again points out why intelligent design is outside the realm of science. We are incapable of sensing the nature of the Designer. I'll read the readings you recommend as soon as you read the Origin of Species. It's not hard - I've read it at least 15 times.
  9. Sorry - I made a mistake. It was "only" 72 Nobel Laureates who opposed the teaching of creationism (more specifically, the so-called "balanced treatment" act). Here is the link to the amicus brief they signed: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-...rd/amicus1.html In case you're interested, Tim, this is the greatest number of Nobel Laureates to speak out on a public issue, ever. And since you wonder if any of us have every read the intelligent design literature, forgive me if I ask if you've ever read The Origin of Species? Or a basic college biology text?
  10. Last time I checked, Vietnam was still a Communist country. Some "win:!
  11. Tim - The last time Creationism reared its ugly head, 82 (EIGHTY-TWO) Nobel Laureates wrote against it. If you're interested in "authority" I did my Ph.D. on evolution - your physicist friend did his in physics. I have read much of the creationist and intelligent design stuff. It is not science and doesn't belong in a science classroom. It's this simple: If one posits a supernatural explanation for observable events, one is outside the realm of science.
  12. I'm willing to give it a shot.
  13. It is a mistake to contend that "Neo-Darwinism" attributes species formation to random mutation alone. Evolution, in its modern formulation, recognizes four main forces of change: mutation (a rather ineffective force, but the source of all genetic variation, including that possessed by symbionts such as mitochondria), natural selection, genetic drift and gene flow. As to our friend George, it really doesn't matter what teachers think. What will have the greatest impact on our science classrooms is what the average joe thinks - and right now the majority think like Bush. This is why we have school boards demanding that stickers be placed in text books noting that "Evolution is only a theory" or trying to force "Intelligent Design" into science classrooms. Science is losing the public relations battle, in part because of our refusal to engage the enemy.
  14. Of course the use of the atomic bomb was a war crime. I believe the Geneva Convention expressly forbids targeting the civilian population. However, targeting civilians didn't make us stand out in a crowd. Was it necessary? Read Richard Rhodes "The Making of the Atomic Bomb". It's pretty clear from his research that the Japanese militarists were far from ready to surrender and it was only the direct intervention by the emperor that stopped them from continuing the war. There was even an attempt to bomb the ship on which the Japanese surrender was signed on Sept. 2, 1945. Clearly, the use of the atomic bomb was the deciding factor in prompting Hirohito to finally pull the plug on the militarists. One can argue that the use of the A-bomb made it clear just how horrible a weapon it was, and by extension, prevented their use in other wars (Korea for example) later on. So far so good...
  15. As one of the "few" young people who volunteered for the war, and who had first-hand experience, and who has spent much time since the war evaluating what happened, I would have to agree with Raymond and not Tim. Certainly the communists were not kind to the supporters of the Saigon regime after the war, but the outcome was our fault. Playing the "what if" game, I have to say that the correct policy would have been to support Ho Chi Minh against the French in 1945. I certainly understand why we didn't, but if we're to learn anything from our involvement in Vietnam, we have to look at what we could have done differently. I fear that folks like me will be playing this game again in 40 years looking back on Iraq.