Thursday, January 29, 2009

Physics envy?: Oh, don't bother being so envious. It is apparently not as good as you think

Due to a relative's recent acute illness, I have been slow blogging, and thanks to all for any patience offered, and special thanks to generous PayPal donors.

Friend Rob Sheldon writes to say, regarding the excellent Sharon Begley's comments about some scientists' affliction with physics envy:
... , your comment about voodoo fMRI ended with a comment about "physics envy". But Physicists play these same games!

I once taught physics in the University and sat on a PhD defense in which the advisor was disturbed that his student found only a 0.07 correlation between the advisor's theory and the data. So he told the student to rebin the 200 data points into 3 bins and then fit the theory to these bins. Lo-and-behold, the correlation coefficient went up to 0.98. The professor was pleased, and told me that he was gratified to see his theory vindicated.

I objected on the grounds that if he had used 2 bins, he would have achieved 100% correlation, and that such work would make him the laughingstock of the community. He huffily replied that it had been already published in the most prestigious journal of our field (Journal of Geophysical Research).

He then made sure I lost my job before accepting a chairmanship elsewhere.

It's a truly weird world, and there is no normal.
Okay, Rob, it is indeed a truly weird world. The reason I disabled all comments at all my personal blogs (you asked about that) is this: The Canadian government actually has employees who can go to a blog and post a comment and, if someone deems it offensive, the blogger can be charged.

Welcome to the Nanny State. Now get out quick, if you have a brain. I can't leave because I was born and raised here.

What was once proudly the True North strong and free! is, for better or worse, my "home and native land," - and my family has lived here for three centuries. My father (about ninety), who fought in World War II, wonders now why he bothered.

Never fear. We WILL take our country back from the despicable weasels who have insinuated themselves into our system of government, undermining our ancient system of justice that has been hailed as exemplary throughout the world! The presumption of innocence is the "golden thread" that runs through it!

One consequence of the egregious government intervention is that we have no idea how much "hate" there is (or isn't) in Canada. Probably not that much among the native-born population.

Most of us are preoccupied with making a living during the current depression and - oh, yeah - ploughing and shovelling snow. Amazing amount of snow this year. I guess global warming hasn't hit Toronto yet. Perhaps I just need more faith, and then I would, like, "see" it.