Dyspeptic Reader Feedback
Great news: No silly, vapid Achenchat Monday. We'll chat on an as-needed basis. I'm all in favor of reader feedback but those chats were becoming the Hour of Drivel. My fault, for lack of organization and coherence.
But! But! I shall still post your feedback to this here blog thang. Here's reader Paul Thompson responding to my "Flocks of Numbers" post (and Paul I must excerpt your email since it ran on a bit):
You would think that one, just one, journalist would attempt, just for a
minute, to distinguish between little lies and great big whoppers....This current administration has been given pass after pass by lazy incompetents like yourself. All lies are NOT created equal. Why don't you think about the difference between the tiny untruths told by Kerry and the ENORMOUS, WHOPPING lies told by this Bush during the campaign and since and continuously since 2000? It is just so very easy to say, blithely and with no thought whatsoever, something like this: "The human ability to discern patterns enables us to see that in every case the true cost of something is underreported. We get lied to. The concept of truth in advertising has yet to reach the nation's capital. Politicians of both major parties find it easy to spend money and extremely hard to raise the taxes to pay the bill..." What slothful, abysmally lazy bilge. The two parties are NOT equal. It is simply dishonesty of the MOST CRETINACIOUSLY WHORELIKE manner to state that they are. Why not attempt, just once, to tell the truth? The republicans
are lying with every figure they put out. It's Goebbels everywhere you look. The lies are told for different reasons, too. Are you able to tell the difference? Clearly not. You and the Bush suck-up
pack should just go back to publishing the RNC memos, and quit this pretence of journalism...."
Reader/journalist David Brooks (not the NYT guy) writes:
(Can I cite myself? Sure I can!) My science column in the Nashua, NH, Telegraph just discussed how to contemplate big numbers in light of budget season and a UNH research announcement, and after seeing your "Flock of Numbers" blog entry, I submit my favorite equivalences (which you probably already know): "One million seconds is slightly more than 11 days. One billion seconds is slightly more than 31 years. One trillion seconds is more than 31,000 years. In other words, confusing "million" and "billion" is like confusing a fortnight and a generation, while thinking that "billion" and "trillion" are the same is like thinking that Richard Nixon resigned at the start of the Ice Age. (Admittedly, my kids feel that's about right - but who wants to reason like a teenager?)" http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050209/COLUMNISTS03/102090041
And reader Malcolm McGowan takes my editor Tom Shroder to task for his post on "Intelligent Design":
I wonder about Tom's qualifications to act as an editor. He says that
he's "taking those folks at their word when they say that there are
highly complex structures in the human immune systems that would require
millions (or billions?) of individual mutations to come into being, yet
no amout of those mutations alone would have any adaptive value at all."
Because this very point is one of the pivotal fallacies of the
"intelligent design" argument. See Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker for a
detailed rebuttal of this point. Why is he taking "those folks" at
their word? I hope that he doesn't display equal credulity when he's
evaluating, say, a piece of reportage in the Post. If so, I may have to
accompany my daily Post with a larger dose of skepticism than I
previously believed to be necessary.
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