Archive for April, 2011

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Power Balance Bands

April 28, 2011

I’ve been pimping the Placebo Bands for a while, as a sarcastic alternative to the Power Balance bracelets.  However, in the circle of people I usually associate with, I meet relatively few people who actually believe that the Power Balance bands actually work.  Until recently.  By pure coincidence I’ve bumped into maybe 6 or 8 people in the past couple of weeks who have “drunk the Kool-Aid”, so to speak.  In the ensuing discussions, I have completely failed to eloquently voice my  point of view.  What follows is my attempt to re-evaluate what I think about the Power Balance bands, and put it all into words.

The Power Balance bands are silicone bracelets with embedded holograms.  They are supposed to increase balance, strength, and flexibility.  Their web site used to say that the band worked by resonating with the bodies natural frequency of 7.something Hz.  Now their web site says, “The thin polyester film hologram is programmed through a proprietary process, which is designed to mimic Eastern philosophies that have been around for hundreds of years.Read the rest of this entry ?

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Faith Is Irrational

April 20, 2011

Faith in God is irrational.  There I said it…  Now take a deep breath, and relax…  It’ll all be OK.  Breath in.  Breath out…  Good.

Now that you got past my somewhat sensationalistic first sentence, let me be upfront about what this blog post is NOT about.  It’s not about God’s existence and it’s not about Christian vs. Atheist.  The goal is not to convince someone to change their belief system.  I’m hoping that this article will shed some insight on something that Christians take for granted, and therefore tend to loose perspective on.  While primarily written for Christians, even Atheists might learn a thing or two.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines faith as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”, and this is my preferred definition.  I think that most of us would accept that definition, but disagree on what constitutes proof.  After all, what convinces one person might not convince another.

What constitutes proof for me lies in the Scientific Method.  In a nutshell, the Scientific Method is a way to prove a hypothesis in a way that’s immune from human interference.  In a previous post, Bad Witness! No Cookie!, I talked about how the human brain and senses can mess with what we think is the truth.  This makes anecdotal evidence very untrustworthy.  Using the Scientific Method is the best way to avoid human error in generating and interpreting data– thus solidly proving or disproving a hypothesis. Read the rest of this entry ?

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What would it take…

April 7, 2011

Let’s say that you get into a debate on the benefits of light bulbs.  You like lights, the other guy believes that they are bad.  What would it take for you to change your mind?  What kind of evidence would you require?

Would you need to see a scientific study showing the negative effects to the environment?  How about a study on the negative effects to our sleep patterns?  Or the detrimental effects of light pollution to astronomers?   Would it take just one study?  Five?  A thousand?

The Author Acting Irrationally

The Author Acting Irrationally

It’s worth asking yourself this question.  It forces us to reevaluate our own logic and reasoning and can uncover irrational thinking. It gives us insight in how stable our claims are.  It can also remind us about why we believe in certain things.

It’s also worth asking the person you’re debating the same question.  If the person you’re debating says, “there is nothing that can convince me otherwise”, then it’s probably time to walk away.  They are not being rational.  It doesn’t matter if they are correct since even the irrational are correct once in a while.  You can’t expect an irrational person to have a rational discussion.

But what if you ask yourself what it would take, and your answer is, “there is nothing that can convince me otherwise”?  Well then, you have a serious problem!

This might not matter when it comes to light bulbs, but there are many more important questions:  Is there a God?  Should I have this medical operation?  Who is the greater evil– Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz?

The God question is a good one to think about.  It doesn’t matter if you believe or not (in the context of this blog post).  What’s important is that you are rational and know what it would take to change your mind.

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I Art Ejumikated

April 2, 2011

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been going over resumes for an entry-level Electrical Engineering position.  I am saddened and amused by what I’ve seen.   These resumes have come from students at University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines as well as DeVry University.

For those who don’t know, University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines are relatively big technical schools with good engineering and science programs.  They are well respected.  DeVry is a chain of “vocational schools”, with 90+ campuses  spread across the US and Canada.  And DeVry is not well respected.

An Electrical Engineering student of a big school will spend their first two or three years taking “core classes”:  math, science, etc.  And it is not until their third year will they take any classes relevant to their EE degree.  Even then, their EE classes are not quite to the nuts and bolts of electronics.  The net result is that someone in their third year of working on their EE bachelors degree probably has not picked up a soldering iron, or can identify components on a circuit board.  By the time they graduate they are not much better off.

DeVry students, on a whole, have a lot more practical, hands-on experience.  They can solder.  Know their basic electronic components.  Etc.  In terms of hitting the ground running, DeVry students are much better off than their big school counterparts.

Of course, DeVry students have a down side too.  There are some very good students, and some very bad students.   Some are “from the wrong side of the tracks”, and I mean that in a mental state kind of way– not a social class kind of way.  But even these have more hand-on practical experience than the big school people.

As someone who is hiring, it’s a tough call on who to pick.  In the short term, DeVry people are on average better.  In the long term, maybe the big school students are better but there is certainly nothing in their resume that would indicate that.  But either way, I definitely don’t think that DeVry deserves the stereotype that they have.

What makes me worried is that the cost of a college degree is super high, and getting higher.  Several Colorado universities are raising their rates 20% this year!   More and more employers are requiring a degree to even apply.  Yet the knowledge learned in these schools is getting less and less relevant to the actual job market.  This has got to stop.  My prediction is that the college degree market is going to collapse once everyone wises up to the fact that we’re paying more and more for less and less.  It might take 10 or 20 years, but it’ll happen.