Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012

2012 in review

by Neil Rickert

[I don’t know whether readers will find this useful.  It is the annual report on the blog generated by wordpress.]

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2012

by Neil Rickert

I have not yet posted anything on Sandy Hook. This poem says it all, better than I could.

Rebecca Rose Poetry

The world was saddened and horrified by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The NRA’s response? Put more guns in schools.


The Price of Safety

The NRA says lots of guns will help to keep us safe!
Fill our homes and church and school, and arm the office place!
To protect his family, fathers stockpile guns of every size,
And women fill their purses up with pistols, as is wise.
There are crazy people out there. You never know just who.
So all the neighbors hurry out, and they buy weapons, too.

And teachers carry rifles to defend the school hall;
And shoppers strap their pistols on ‘fore heading to the mall;
And waitresses wear handguns as they work at the café;
And parents pack revolvers to the soccer field each day;
Ministers give sermons proudly sporting guns on hips,
And rejoice to see…

View original post 285 more words

December 30, 2012

Today’s weather report

by Neil Rickert

Looking at today’s report for Geneva, IL on Yahoo, I see it reporting:

Current temperature 13F

High for the day 26F

Low for the day 24F

A desktop weather applet (in KDE, using data from NOAA at DuPage airport) says about the same, though it gives a little more precision (12.9F for the current temperature).

Perhaps this is the “new math” version of weather reporting.

Best wishes for the new year, everybody.

December 25, 2012

Mathematics and logic

by Neil Rickert

Yesterday, Massimo Pigliucci posted on the relation between mathematics and logic:

so I though I would offer my opinion on that topic.  I see things differently from Massimo, but that’s probably just the different perspective as see by a mathematician (me) and a philosopher.

Massimo cites Peter Cameron (a mathematician) and Sharon Berry (a philosopher – actually a student of philosophy of mathematics).  Check Massimo’s post for the links.

read more »

December 24, 2012

It’s off the cliff we go

by Neil Rickert

It is not yet quite certain, but with the recent turmoil in Washington, it seems almost inevitable that there will not be an agreement in time to avoid the fiscal cliff.

In my earlier short post on this topic, a commenter asked:

Why are Republicans considered to be digging in their heels on taxes (which is true), but nobody talks about the Democrats digging in their heels on spending?

I want to say a little on that topic.

read more »

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December 21, 2012

Season’s greetings

by Neil Rickert

‘Tis the holiday season, so I will delay any future posts on perception or on how science works, until January.  I may still post on other current topics, such as the fiscal cliff.


  • Merry Christmas
  • Happy Holidays
  • Tasty Noodling
  • Enjoy the Mayan apocalypse
  • etc, etc, etc

I hope I haven’t left anybody out.  I’m not sure why some people take offense at neutral expressions such as “happy holidays”, but if they get their enjoyment out of indulging in a persecution complex, then best wishes to them.

It has long seemed to me that Christmas time is really an orgy of celebration for America’s true god, The Almighty Dollar.

December 19, 2012

Perception – direct perception and philosophy

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I wrote “a proper understanding of direct perception actually tends to undermine both traditional epistemology and traditional philosophy of mind.”  Today, I want to expand on that.

Both traditional epistemology and traditional philosophy of mind assume that humans are rational agents.  So let’s take a look at what is a rational agent.

Rational agents

An account of the basic ideas of rational agency can be found in the Wikipedia entry, or in the Stanford encyclopedia.

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December 11, 2012

World views

by Neil Rickert
  • conservative: things were better back in the good old days;
  • progressive: for all of our problems, life today is better than it ever was;
  • centrist: the more things change, the more they stay the same.


December 9, 2012

Perception – direct vs. representational

by Neil Rickert

The two most important theories of perception are representationalism on the one hand, and direct perception on the other.  There are probably many versions of each of those, and there are some other theories which I see as less important.  By far, the dominant theory — the one most widely accepted — is representationalism.  However, as mentioned in the previous post in this series on perception, I happen to prefer the idea of direct perception.

In this post, I plan to do to things:

  • I will briefly describe both representationalism and direct perception, and their disagreements;
  • I shall try to address some of the misconceptions about direct perception that seem to crop up.

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December 9, 2012

Perception – an introduction

by Neil Rickert

I am starting a series of posts on perception.  I will mainly be discussing my own ideas about perception.  If you are looking for the conventional wisdom on perception, then this is the wrong place.

Note that I will also be continuing my discussion of how science works in other posts.

What is perception?

I will be roughly following J.J. Gibson’s view of what is perception.  That is to say, I consider perception to be a process whereby we — or, more generally, cognitive agents — obtain information about the environment.  Gibson distinguished between perception and sensation, where “sensation” refers to the particular experience that we have of the environment, what some consider to be a kind of internal picture.

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