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Sascha VongehrRSS Feed of this column.

Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory) at Sussex University, UK, and subsequently researched... Read More »

Looking at suchlike:

Can somebody explain "Black Friday" in scientifically satisfying ways (read: leave your party book out of it)?  What is this seemingly dramatic drop in prices that is adjusted so to endanger public safety rather than to ensure a more "rational" adjustment over longer times that perhaps "naive capitalistic" models predict to be more lucrative for all (consumer, seller, society that ensures the marketplace)?

Einstein infamously said, and he said so many times, that god does not play dice.  He said this in order to refute indeterminism, and therefore, we cannot say that he was correct:  The meaning he intended to communicate was probably wrong (depending on your definition of “god”).  However, the most relevant meaning of his statement is self-evidently true:  Randomness (indeterminism) is not satisfyingly explained by merely postulating some more mystical randomness (god’s dice).

Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers in America!  There is something that should have been done a long time ago and that would help all drivers and of course their "victims".  We don’t do it, because people are afraid to doubt their own agency and rationality.  Benjamin Libet’s research is not difficult but people refuse to accept the science.  The pet assumption in this case?  That you are consciously aware of what you are doing at the time you are doing it, which you* are not!  Libet’s research [1, 2] quantified how large the problem is, and it is huge when sitting in a ton of metal bolting down a busy street.

"China’s Openness no One-Way Alley" highlights a revealing and shameful situation: Most of those who pretend to support a larger role for science, secular politics, and society’s rational managing of existential threats like overpopulation, are not just silent, but outright dismissive about the very country where science, secularism, and rational sociology are taken most seriously.

Emergence, for example emergent gravity, implies a lower stratum from which something emerges. “Fundamental emergence” is the idea that all can or must be described as emergent, without however there being a full explanation of lower layers. A lowest fundamental layer may be inconsistent almost by definition (certainly if there is any "ontological commitment") and never more than what the emergence-description must assume. This is non-reductive, since the reduction into a lowest foundation, the resting on the bottom, works only because the bottom "hangs from the top", or better, the whole "floats".

A court in L'Aquila, Italy, handed six-year-prison sentences to members of a national "Great Risks Commission". Residents noticed increased seismic activity. They were used to tremors, because L’Aquila sits on a major fault line, and they clearly noticed differences. Despite the increase in both size and frequency of the tremors, the scientists rejected the possibility of a major earthquake:

“It is unlikely that an earthquake like the one in 1703 could occur in the short term, …”

Six days later, the disaster struck. The L'Aquila 2009 earthquake killed over 300 people and left 1,500 injured.