Monday, 24 March 2014

Ten Lessons in Theory

I've come to this listing of ten lessons....over theory.  This means....without any proof, substance, evidence or reality....we tend to accept these things and just move on.  The problem is....they just lack a heck of a lot in truth or actuality.

1.  If you take four hundred data sets of evidence that fit your projected outcome....for some reason, your model will come to agree amazingly with your theory or projection.  Yeah, I know....it's amazing.  If you tossed in six conflicting statistical listings....it'd be like a ninety-eight percent agreement, which still looks pretty good.  Obviously, cherry-picking data.....is a good talent to develop in college or university.

2.  The more conflicting evidence tossed onto a theory....usually results in a theory that doesn't hold much water, and is usually marginally accepted.  Hence, we try to avoid conflicting data whenever possible.  Not that it's important or anything....after all....you wouldn't publish a theory that wasn't able to stand (at least marginally).  That'd be a waste of time....obviously.

3.  For some reason, it's helpful if you avoid history, when talking science.  For example, you don't want tree-rings in a study where it says terrible things happen 1,800 years ago....much worse than today.  So if you need correct tree-rings.....you shop around.  I'm not saying E-Bay or such.....but you need to find data that avoids historical data comparisons.

4.  If you build a study that a certain average of one percent of society is crazy and capable of killing you with only a marginal amount of meth in their system....what are the odds that you might have twenty of these guys in your study audience on the night that you hand out surveys?  Statistically, things like this could occur, but there's the element of luck that you simply picked one hundred Catholic bishops instead to collect against.

5.  You find a hundred planets with anticipated human beings on them.  So you tend to automatically use some theory that says they are all like you and would be real friendly when your George Clooney-character astronaut lands on one of them.  Six hours upon landing on one, you learn that this theory was kinda wrong, and your one friendly astronaut insulted the queen gal.  He was killed six seconds after the insult.

6.  Data sets are collected by guys with agendas.  So you go out and collect seventy data collections, assuming that these seventy groups were all kinda honest.  Four years later, you learn that eighteen of the groups provided fairly false data, and twelve other groups had some pieces that were marginally inaccurate.  You've wasted a fair amount of time and research money, and wonder if you ought to just pursue the original goal, stick with bad data, and publish on time with a fraud of a study.

7.  Data is sometimes collected via a measurement system or device.  You assume from day one....that your $75,000 device is fairly accurate.  Somewhere around day 128, you suddenly find that your device isn't as accurate as assumed, and your entire study is questionable in terms of a conclusion and factual data.  Rather than beg for more research money and admit failure.....you tend to view the chaos involved and the money already spent, and you determine to produce something....whether factual or not.

8. If the foundation or university has kinda instructed you to forgo the line of typical Socratic questioning....you might want to pause and wonder why.  Typically, Socrates asked two logical questions when noting a theory.

The questions are simple.  First, what is it that you know, and what is it that you don't know?  Maybe there is something that you know, but can't logically explain why or the precise reason for what you know.  The unknown is usually what you desire to develop a concrete theory on.

Second, as the lead on the study....what are the in-depth questions revolving around, and how can you improve your questions?  If your foundation says that everything on the table is enough, and there's no further need of questions or peer review....then you are committed to a fake theory or a empty theory.  Neither one is worth much in reality.

9.  Theories revolve around questions.  If you start with an illogical question....there is only one usual outcome.

10.  Finally, sadly....theories come and go.  Einstein has been proven wrong on some things, and there are probably over a hundred million theories which have gone onto theory trash heap.  Don't anticipate you have a remarkable theory which will outlive eternity.

Mountebanks

Montebanks?

Yeah, an odd word.  It used to along in descriptions of wizards, quacks and phonies.

If you lived 1660s England, you faced a barrage of these characters on a daily basis.  Because of the plague....folks got real hyper about preventing or curing the disease....so you could step up on the street with some type of lucky charm, special amulet, toxic potion, or pilter (magic liquid which usually had mercury, cow urine, or swamp water in it), and deceive people left and right.

You have to remember the crowd.  They are generally uneducated.  Their weekly dose of Sunday sermon via some minister or priest or bishop....is the general only way of knowing anything.

A pretender could easily stand up in the crowd of fifty people....announcing himself as doctor so-and-so, with a small bottle of tonic which would prevent you from getting the plague.  Naturally, whatever it costs.....you'd pay.  The smaller the bottle....the longer you survived....the more you bought off onto the story and continued to look up your savior each week that you had any extra money left.

Bleeding the community dry?  Probably so.

What historians will generally admit to....is that around 100,000 residents of London and it's community died between 1665 and 1666.  The plague will only end....when London burns to the ground (strangely enough).

What historians generally miss out on.....is that the original plague (the Black Death) started up around 1348, and made a resurfacing routine about every twenty-to-thirty years.  Massive death count in 1348 and 1666?  Yes.  But if you read down into yearly accounts and look at what minimum statistics exist....there was a "fever" of sorts to make the rounds on a routine basis.  What the locals eventually got around to saying about the more modern (1660-era) disease....was that the distemper situation was the final stage of death.

You can imagine pets with distemper today and note the loss of reality and such with the "fever".

There is one other odd feature of the plague and the mountebanks....from this list of deaths....one cannot be sure of those who died from the plague or from some toxic formula sold to them with high concentrations of mercury.  Also, based on the massive rules that came out for the 1666 plague....once your house got closed off and you were quarantined.....your food and water supply was questionable.  Of the hundred thousand in London who died....how many simply starved to death or died from a lack of water?  It's hard to say.

Without the Great Fire of London?  Well....one might envision a continual trend of plagues and fevers for another century.

For me?  All of this matters in some way....because some ancestor of mine made a move from a small rural town on the east coast of England....to London.  In some period later (months or years or decades)....in 1666....with disease sweeping the region....he made some fateful decision to pack up and leave England forever.

So, it's interesting for me.....to pick up the topic of the plague, the word mountebanks, and look through a very tough period for any person trying to survive.  You had to have enough common sense to avoid the quacks....enough intelligence to walk around the infected folks....enough wit to avoid toxic drinks with mercury.....and enough courage to board some vessel to some bold new land with Indians lurking around every tree to kill you.  Yet, things kinda worked out.  Yeah, we had to be a bit optimistic....more than the regular guy.

Common Whatever

I sat and spent an hour or two this weekend....looking at Common Core....this new educational method sweeping across America.  Personally, I would agree.....the teaching system is screwed up and I would be in favor of some changes.  Common Core?  Well....it's like some change-the-change-to-the-change-of-the-change manager working in some government agency.  Here is an actual note sent by a teacher to parents, to help them understand this change and what it all means.

What you notice here....is that there is a "new" language and a "old" language.  Basically, it means the same thing.  Then you look at the subtract/add problem given as an example.  If you've sat in a class where the Chinese abacus was demonstrated...you'd note the same method here.

Along about my fourth grade of school....the teacher dragged out an abacus and spent about an hour demonstrating how you'd use it.  At the time, I just sat there and felt like it was a waste, but it was something from China....so it must be significant if a bunch of Chinese guys use it.  For the remaining eight years?  It was never brought back up, and the two classes I had in college.....never mentioned the abacus or it's methods.

Add and subtract gone?  Increase and decrease now the standard words?  Oh my.

For some reason, knowing how American kids think....I suspect that three or four kids in every class are uttering "add" and "subtract" on a hourly basis, and kinda refuse to play the game.  Same for the loss of the word 'more-than' or 'less-than'.  Common Core is simply change.  Doing something different, for the sake of change.

Somewhere in this mix....if you think about it.....there are certification specialists, special classes, and foundations which are charging school districts and university programs money.....to get them lined up with the new 'change-agenda'.

Improving things?  If this math problem was an example....I'd say nothing really has changed....except changing terms and making things look different.  In the end.....whatever expectations of improvement you had....probably by 2018....will show that nothing on scores really moved up or down more than a point or two.  All of this argument?  Mostly wasted chatter.

Over the last five years I served in the Air Force (retiring in 1999)....we had these change-players arrive.  In the beginning, it was all pretty acceptable, and we had hopes of some final dramatic positive change (we actually needed something to happen).  After a while, we came to realize that the changes had little value, no improvement to the system, no morale boost except for a momentary thing, and within months.....another change-philosophy would arrive....dictating more change.

My guess is that the change-philosophy is simply a gimmick....geared to get a mass movement going.  If you can turn a herd of cattle to the west....they generally will all walk the same direction....and when you turn the head cow east.....they will all turn generally east.  Course, after a while, you will stand in the field and note that you are pretty much where you started, with nothing to show.

Maybe Common Core will come to politics one day.  Just to make things a little bit interesting and give people the thrill of change, without anything really changing.  Well....you can dream that little dream.

My Malaysia Flight 370 Scenario

On most big event situations.....I always tend to wait a few days to a week....before I began to see the "real" story.  It's been a while for Malaysian flight 370 being lost, and two events occurred over the weekend....which get me to my scenario.

First, they kinda admitted that one phone call to the pilot (55-year old guy) a couple of hours prior to take-off.  They had gone through his calls and apparently.....this one brief two-minute call lingered.

Strange episode.  They know the phone chip for this cellphone was sold recently.  But the lady listed down on the number doesn't answer.  The address?  Bogus.

So they visit the phone sales point.  The guy has the paperwork, but it was all given with a bogus ID.  After 9-11...it was generally policy in the world.....no more sales of cellphones without a valid ID.  Well....this gal presented one....but it was bogus.

The authorities don't say anything, but I get the impression that the chip was bought....never put into the phone....then suddenly gets put in....one call made to the pilot for two minutes....and then the phone is dead.  Bought for roughly $30....used one time only and tossed? They will search the records and figure the nearest tower from where this call came from.....my guess is a hotel or public area.

What this says....is a conspiracy.  More than one person.  It's not a suicide.  But it is a plan to hijack and take the plane.

The second thing of the weekend?  There's some debris and imagery indicating it ditched way southwest of Australia....in the middle of nowhere.  For a search plane to even get there.....it's a three hour flight.  No ship has arrived yet, and I suspect that more will be found this week.

So, my scenario.

The pilot was recruited over the past year or two.  The original plan was to take the plane...pretend to have the passengers as hostages perhaps (even if they are dead)....and refix the plane as a weapon.  It has big positives because of cargo size and the flight capability.  The deal was simple.....move to the plane to some airport in Pakistan or the "Stan" republics, wait a few weeks to months, and then launch the weapon against some massive target.

The pilot got the go-ahead via the cellphone call.  Somewhere in the first twenty minutes of the flight.....he's starting his game.  He will turn off the CAIRs reporting device.  Now he confronts the co-pilot.  He is holding a weapon against the guy, and ordering him to type in some coordinates for the auto-pilot system (the way-points).

I'm guessing that he's grinning and really peppy about this whole thing....not paying attention.  The co-pilot?  Young and cocky.....maybe smart.  He's typing in the way-points and direction.....but on the last one....he types south, instead of north.  The idiot pilot doesn't catch that.

At some point, the control system in Malaysia is handing the plane off.  There's been chatter back and forth.  The expected chat is "Tower, flight such-and-such, what is your altitude?"  Then the plane should respond: "Flight such-and-such, we are at 30,000 feet".

One notes themselves and asks a question....the other notes themselves and answers the question.  That is pilot rules 101.  Throughout the world....it's the way that pilots communicate and chat.

For some reason, on this last chat between the two.....the co-pilot is the one answering, and he simply says: "All right, good night".  No note of who he is or the comeback to the control statement.  It means.....he had problems going on.

Shortly after this chat.....I think the pilot and co-pilot got into a fight....a knife or gun was used.  The co-pilot is likely dead or dying.  The pilot is laying there....in bad shape....and probably can't stand or get into his seat.

The plane?  On auto-pilot.  It will turn....climb to 45,000 feet....and everyone will die....including the pilot.  The plane will make its turn and twists.....based on the route by the co-pilot.

The jihad team waiting at the runway for the plane to land a couple hours later?  Once the plane is an hour late....they are worried.  By the second hour of waiting....they are asking themselves what could have gone wrong.  By the end of three hours....they pile into their cars and leave.....mostly out of fear that the pilot was caught alive and will give away the plan.

The plane heads south instead of north.  If you find the plane and figure the exact point where it landed/crashed....you can plot the route north instead and likely come within ten miles of the intended airport.

Why no one says anything or brags?  I think the jihad guys have a four-star plan and will attempt it again.  Since no one has found out the whole game.....wait a year or two and recruit again.  This whole 'take-a-plane' gimmick will occur again.

Defeating this?  Well....a secret transponder on each plane might be an answer.....until the pilots figure this out.  Arming some guy to sit on the plane?  Well....by the time he figures out what happened...it's likely too late.  So, there is no solution to this type of plan.  Sadly.

Note: I should add....the target of the aircraft after they pulled out the bodies and loaded it with their 'weapon'?  Strangely enough, this week....the President goes to Europe and Russia.  He has to stay at hotels....and radar might...or might not pick up this aircraft at 5,000 feet....until it's within ten minutes of the target.  I'm only taking a guess....but by landing in the 'Stan' republics....it would have the range and ability to reach all of Russia, and into Europe.  Just my humble guess.