Caturday’s Astrophenia | Winter’s Linguistic Blues

Namaskar. Slamalaikum. Vanakkam. Namaste. Ikktighar furiit. Greetings. This week, a little heads up on things going on from yours truly! Study has gone well despite the almost painful slowness of progress in Bengali, at least on understanding and reading. My penmanship still annoys me, and I’m still hesitant to speak the language with any real confidence, but I’m on the 18th unit of the text (Teach Yourself Complete Bengali) out of 35, and well underway to completing Part 2 of the text within the next four months, up to Unit 26. Then begins a more intense regimen of practicing what I’ve learned to date. After that, I’ll be studying Tamil for the following six months before focusing on Hindi for the first six months of 2019, then Bengali again. I’m also listening to Bangla podcasts, Bangla online radio broadcasts (There’s a station out of Dhaka I listen to a lot.), so I’m getting some practice even now. I’m more than halfway through Algebra II, reviewing practice exercises from Algebra I, and will start Precalculus and Geometry beginning in July. That language study has been slow no longer bothers me. Bangla is NOT an easy language, and learning it with two other languages, all with significant differences to each other, merely compounds the effort. But I’m learning at my own pace and minding my mental health in the process, so there’s really no problem. I must persist. The cats are doing well, with Eccles and Ricky behaving themselves fairly well after the last time they caused mischief during an attack of the zoomies on morning last month. Gorgeous, well she’s being Gorgeous, and still patient to young Eccles despite her age. Family life is kinda so-so, nothing particularly noteworthy to mention. Over all, things are going well, though how long that lasts remains to be seen.

Stay warm, or cool, according to your preference in your latitude and hemisphere of residence, and thank you for clicking on this blog!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in Light and Sound

Colorful Airglow Bands Surround the Milky Way

Arcs, Jets, and Shocks near NGC 1999

Cyclones at Jupiter’s North Pole

Horsehead: A Wider View

Phases of the Moon

The Astrognuz:

A New Planetary System Has Been Found with Two Super Earths

A Star is About to Plunge into a Monster Black Hole, Scientists are Ready to Watch

Computers Could Help in Assessing Asteroid Threats

360 Video: Tour A Mars Robot Test Lab

Jupiter’s Mysterious Geometric Polar Storms

An Asteroid is About to Embark on an Interstellar Journey

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Space: Why Go There?

Space Images | Glare on the Window

Logico Fractatus | Here There Be Fractals #001

Here’s my first fractal slide show video. I own the copyrights to the images, and the music is my own, created via GarageBand. Video editing and composition is via iMovie. No Maine Coon cats or fractal dust mastodons were harmed in the making of this video.

MetaCognitions | Staycation’s End: 2018

Ikktighar furiit – Greetings. It’s been a while. For the almost the whole of this month, and ending yesterday, I’ve been on staycation at home with the cats, while family is out of town for a break from Norfolk life. And each time, since there’s none but myself here to do housework and feed the cats, it’s consistently the nearest thing to solitude I’ve ever experienced. Much of that solitude is spent on writing, study, and practice of exercises from workbooks when not doing housework. So that being said, even with my time management skills, there’s precious little time to blog. I’m currently working on my next book, a nonfiction work to be published in e-format when complete and ready, and I’ll keep you up to date as I go. But with family back, maybe a little more of that time can be used to update this blog. I’d like that. I can’t promise regular posting, but I will post when I have something ready, and that’s well within my ability to fulfill.

Thanks to all of you who visit and follow this blog. You’re all brilliant, absolutely brilliant in your ways. And that’s no mere platitude: every one of you, without a doubt, knows something I don’t. And you’ve been so patient with my constant experimentation with different scheduling methods over the years, many ultimately unsustainable with my health needs and study requirements to consider. It’s time for Troythulu to roll up his eldritch tentacled sleeves and get to work, both online and off.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Ubi dubium… | Credulity, Skepticism, Cynicism, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

A while back, Steven Novella [Here] had posted some really good thoughts on the difference between effective, intellectually honest skepticism and cheap, lazy, cynical denialism, and on the importance of cultivating the former and avoiding the latter.

In the past, I’ve attempted to describe a belief spectrum from absolute credulity to definitive denial, but I currently think that’s an erroneous concept.

For as has often been pointed out by Stephanie Zvan, except for some rare cases of neurological dysfunction, nobody is totally credulous or completely cynical about everything, but somewhere between them in more of a rock-strewn landscape of belief with surer, safer footing nearer the center than at the edges, to paraphrase her analogy.

But in the comment thread of Steve’s post, one of the commenters [Starting Here] tries very hard to prove the very thesis of cynicism the post addresses in a classic and blatant display of the Dunning-Kruger effect, by conspiracy mongering, in dishonestly ignoring or dismissing all counterarguments, attempting to assert intellectual superiority by evading questions and repeating the same talking points using glaring errors in reasoning apparent to nearly everyone else in the thread, and especially obvious to Dr. Novella.

Despite suggestions from the others, and better arguments offered by same, at no point does the offending commenter get a clue as to his own incompetence in reasoning, and repeatedly sticks to 20-30 years out-of-date books and documentaries as proof positive of his claims of evil government conspiracies in a manner that seems a bit too uncritically cynical, arrogant, and condescending for one claiming to be the better skeptic.

Exactly what was described in Steve’s main post. To a tee.

The commenter is content to claim the moral and intellectual high-ground, and not once does he note the irony of his factual errors, illogical statements and attempts to shift the burden of proof onto the other commenters, thinking his own arguments absolutely steel-girded and views flawlessly correct.

I’m going to say something I rarely feel a need to: Incompetence leads to more of the same. Some people are too clueless to notice or too resentful to acknowledge their own lack of ability and project it onto others to protect their fragile egos and rice-paper thin skins.

I for one am skeptical of his claims, as I hear the same sort of absurd arguments from people whose only criticisms of science are based upon casting aspersions of motive and vested interest, thus showing quite nicely that they really don’t understand science.

As noted with the Dunning-Kruger effect, There’s an enormous difference between self-reporting how well-informed one is about something, and really being as well-informed as one claims: It’s an inverse relationship between how unduly confident one is about their understanding and how much they actually understand, ego and self-esteem aside.

People who really do know more probably tend to be more introspective and self-critical thinkers and are more aware of their own intellectual shortcomings and biases than incurious types who don’t think deeply enough to question the limits of their understanding and of their own subjective but real weaknesses.

Mr. Eccles Presents | The Big Picture: From the Big Bang to the Meaning of Life (Sean Carroll)

“Award-winning scientist and writer Sean Carroll ties together the fundamental laws of physics governing the workings of the cosmos with the everyday human experience we all share.
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The talk, given at the Royal Institution in October 2016, will take us on a breath-taking journey from the origin of the Universe, through the evolution of life and consciousness, to the eternal question of what it all really means.

Dr Sean Carroll is an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology. He has written a variety of popular science books along with textbooks and has long been interested in the biggest questions in astronomy: Where does probability come from? How does time work? What is dark matter and dark energy?”

Watch the Q&A: