What he notes is that science is really strange if you observe it proceeding without any priors. Basically, a big group of people use a bunch of animals and chemicals and technical devices to produce beakers of fluids and points on curves and colored tabs. Somehow, after a great amount of informal discussion, all of these outputs are synthesized into a written article a few pages long. Perhaps, many years later, modalities about what had been written will be dropped; “X is a valid test for Y” rather than “W and Z (1967) claim that X is a valid test for Y” or even “It has been conjectured that X may be a valid test for Y”. Often, the printed literature will later change its mind; “X was once considered a valid test for Y, but that result is no longer considered convincing.” Surely no one denies that the last paragraph accurately describes how science proceeds. But recall the schoolboy description, in which there are facts in the world, and then scientists do some work and run some tests, after which a fact has been “discovered”.
When Lauren told NPR that she was the first to suggest that scientists look in rivers for evidence of lionfish, she was not being honest. Worst-case scenario, she knowingly told a lie, but even if she simply misspoke, she made a mistake. That’s what children do, and when they do, the adults in their lives are tasked with turning those mistakes into learning experiences. One can only hope that in a private conversation after that NPR interview, Lauren’s father had pointed out that, actually, the original idea for her “finding” had come from another scientist, one he’d known professionally, and that maybe they should mention Jud’s work in her next interview. However, as Lauren went on to perpetuate falsehoods in subsequent interviews, the adults in Lauren’s life seem to have fallen down on their job as teachers and role models.
could I go online, buy a book, know it came from an independent bookstore, and make sure that Amazon was not involved at all? This is both harder and easier than it sounds. It is hard to go online and just buy a book from “an independent bookstore.” AbeBooks used to be that, a clearing house for indies, but it was purchased by Amazon several years ago. Likewise Indiebound catalogues books and stores but does not make sales. In the end, after searching and asking on social media, I decided that there is no such beast, no co-op of independents that markets one website, ships books from the closest member, share profits amongst all. Maybe there should be?
Then [MH370] was taken to Holland. On the necessary day and hour, it flew out, bound for Malaysia, but inside were not live people, but corpses. The plane was flown not by real pilots; it was on autopilot. Or take-off (a complicated procedure) was executed by live pilots, who then ejected on parachutes. Then the plane flew automatically. In the necessary spot, it was blown up, without even using a surface-to-air missile. Instead the plane was packed with a bomb, just like the CIA did on 9/11.
If you’ve paid casual attention to the Edward Snowden leaks and statements by national-security officials, you might be under the impression that the Obama administration is already on record denying that this sort of spying goes on. In fact, denials about NSA spying are almost always carefully worded to address activities under particular legal authorities, like Section 215 of the Patriot Act or Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. An official will talk about what is or isn’t done “under this program,” eliding the fact that the NSA spies on Americans under numerous different programs, despite regularly claiming to be an exclusively foreign spy agency.
Corporate branding is always bullshit, but tech industry branding is a special breed of bullshit, if for no other reason than its pretentions to being something more than straight-up bullshit. Silicon Valley branding reads like the product of a mind caught between the revolutionary fervor of an alternative summer break spent digging a well in Guatemala and the WASPy reticence instilled while spending every other summer learning the value of a dollar by caddying for dad’s business partners. Everyone wants to turn a profit, but no one wants to admit it. The result is cutthroat capitalists who think they are changing the world.