How to spot and avoid the "No True Scotsman" fallacy

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When your identity becomes intertwined with your definitions, you can easily fall victim to something called The No True Scotsman Fallacy.

It often appears during a dilemma: What do you do when a member of a group to which you belong acts in a way that you feel is in opposition to your values? Do you denounce the group, or do you redefine the boundaries of membership?

In this episode, you will learn from three experts in logic and argumentation how to identify, defend against, and avoid deploying this strange thinking quirk that leads to schisms and stasis in groups both big and small.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the third in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

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This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Read the rest

Tailender

hersonnisos
A short story about self-satisfaction, nerdcrime, and the 2008 economic meltdown. [5 min read]

What is the celebrity uncertainty principle?

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

If Werner Heisenberg were still alive, at 114 years old, by now the German physicist would surely have developed his celebrity uncertainty principle.

Put simply, a celebrity cannot be observed and accurately reported simultaneously. The act of observing a celebrity makes accuracy impossible, and conversely getting to the truth of a celebrity makes observation impossible, most likely because they’re locked behind closed doors.

This week's peer-reviewed scientific journals known as the supermarket tabloids and celebrity magazines ably demonstrate Heisenberg’s celebrity uncertainty principle in action. The stars are just like us, proclaims Us magazine: they ride bikes, go shopping and eat snacks at L.A. Clipper games (though I can’t remember the last time I had courtside seats, to be honest.). But the act of observation has changed these celebrities: they have dressed with care, brushed their hair, and take each step in public knowing that they may be stalked by paparazzi. Actress Minka Kelly, seen walking her dogs in Us mag, has donned her tightest body-hugging leggings and hidden her eyes behind sunglasses knowing that photographers lurk.

When Taylor Swift tells Us mag “25 things you don’t know about me” spread over two vacuous pages, revealing that she kept hermit crabs as childhood pets, has double-jointed elbows and can’t spin cartwheels, she exposes nothing of herself, aware that she is under observation. Read the rest

Why human brains are prone to the black and white fallacy

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Why do you try to drain the world of color when backed into a rhetorical corner?

Why do you have such a hard time realizing that you have suggested the world is devoid of nuance when you are in the heat of an argument, reducing all every wavelength to black and white, and all choices to A or B?

In this episode, you’ll learn from three experts in logic and arguing why human brains are prone to the black and white fallacy and the false dichotomies it generates. You’ll learn how to spot this fallacy, what to do when someone uses it against you, and how to avoid committing it yourself.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the third in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Read the rest

All aboard the railroad at Tokyo Disneyland!

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While the railroad at Disneyland in Anaheim, California is out of service for a year and a half while the route is being changed and “The Star Wars Experience” is being built, I thought it might be fun to take you for a ride on The Western River Railroad at Tokyo Disneyland, which remains exactly the same as it was on park opening in 1983.

While the railroads at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris run around the perimeter of the parks and are a both a method of transportation as well as an attraction (the latter at some parks more than others), the railroad at Tokyo Disneyland is something else entirely.

Because of burdensome government regulations regarding railroad operation which would have prevented a typical Disney-style railroad that circled the park with multiple stations, the executives at The Oriental Land Company (a consortium of well-known Japanese corporations formed specifically to build and operate the Tokyo Disney park) and Walt Disney Imagineering cleverly decided to do something different.

Called “The Western River Railroad,” the attraction has four steam powered trains: The Colorado, The Mississippi, The Missouri, and The Rio Grande. There is only one station, which sits atop the entrance to The Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. It functions solely as an attraction, and so there’s a lot more to see (particularly after the subsequent construction of some major attractions after the park opened).

From the station, the train runs around the perimeter of the Jungle Cruise and then past a small scenic station called Stillwater Junction. Read the rest

How would you explain the difference between war and terrorism to a space alien?

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Author and former CIA officer Barry Eisler spoke at the Association of Former Intelligence Officers opposite ex-CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden on Monday. In front of about a hundred former CIA, FBI, and NSA operatives, Eisler talked about bulk surveillance, whistleblowing, and why intelligence professionals need to take especially great care not to let propaganda pervert their intelligence.

Read the rest

Some ad-blockers are tracking you, shaking down publishers, and showing you ads

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The ad-subsidized Web is at a crossroads: faced with pressure from social media platform, publishers are accepting ever-more-intrusive ads, which combine with the mounting public concern over privacy and tracking to encourage ad-blocking, which, in turn, makes publishers more desperate and more biddable to the darkest surveillance and pop-up desires of advertisers. Read the rest

CIA recruited a hooker to kill Scalia: National Enquirer

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was “murdered by a hooker,” reports the National Enquirer, while Robert Wagner finally gave a “murder confession” admitting to slaying Natalie Wood, according to the Globe.

Only one small detail is missing from these stories. Facts.

They have as much plausibility as the two women who tell this week's Enquirer that they had babies following sex romps with space aliens (expect Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to call for the infants’ deportation), and the 17th century English prophet Thomas Totney’s predictions of space travel reported (belatedly, some might say) in the Examiner.

The facts: Scalia suffered from coronary artery disease, diabetes and other ailments, routinely slept with a breathing apparatus and was propped up on three pillows when he died, according to his family and police, who found Scalia's bedsheets crisp with no sign of a struggle, though a pillow had slipped down over the top of his head, but not enough to obstruct his airway.

But because Scalia’s family rejected an autopsy the Enquirer assumes a cover-up, reporting that a “2,000-a-night” prostitute employed by the CIA "injected Scalia with a needle filled with poison in his buttocks” in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court. Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: Bob Dylan and the First Published News Photo of a Burning American Flag

Bob Dylan by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall
A reminiscence of the Bitter End cafe, followed by a trip to Jim Haynes in Paris. From John Wilcock, New York Years.

Unicorn vs. Goblins: the third amazing, hilarious Phoebe and her Unicorn collection!

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When my daughter Poesy discovered the first Phoebe and Her Unicorn book, it was love at first sight. When I pried the book out of her hands, I was also addicted, and just as delighted with book two. Book three is out today, and I'm so immensely excited to announce that my daughter and I co-wrote the introduction!

Wanting it badly isn't enough: backdoors and weakened crypto threaten the net

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As you know, Apple just said no to the FBI's request for a backdoor in the iPhone, bringing more public attention to the already hot discussion on encryption, civil liberties, and whether “those in authority” should have the ability to see private content and communications -- what's referred to as “exceptional access.”[1]

Ultra-coordinated motherfuckery

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In 2013, a hacktivist group calling itself Konstant kOS raided one of the government’s most secure computer networks. Their target was a list of more than a million American citizens monitored as potential terrorist threats. The list was classified because it was feared that making it public could result in widespread violence.

Konstant kOS, on other hand, believed information needed to be free. They thought citizens should know about potential terrorists amongst them. Also, they thought stealing and publishing the list would be fun. Marcus Sakey's Written in Fire is available from Amazon.

So they did. As a result, thousands of innocents were assaulted or even murdered.

This didn’t happen, of course; it’s a small detail in my novel Written in Fire, the final book in the Brilliance Trilogy. The premise of the series is that since 1980, 1% of people have been born with extraordinary gifts, essentially a form of savantism that lets them see patterns the rest of us can’t. Some spot rhythms in the stock market and amass vast fortunes; others read body language so minutely they can intuit your thoughts and fears. The stolen data was a nearly complete list of these “brilliants.”

While Konstant kOS is my invention, they’re obviously based on hacker collectives like Anonymous, which fascinate me. Shadowy organizations of rogue anarchists waging private wars resulting in everything from surreal silliness to rough justice to reprehensible and mistargeted damage? Tell me more.

At this point, I should say that while I’m tech-savvy, by the standards of this fine publication, I’m at best a journeyman. Read the rest

A Happy Mutant’s Home Office

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Boing Boing is proudly sponsored by HP’s newest Color LaserJet Pro, the MFP M477!

Boing Boing is a truly distributed company. Each member of the team maintains a separate office, or lair, from which they work. Our Publisher, Jason, shares his home office with his two dogs, a cat, a lot of books, guitars, and a bunch of toys. In typical Happy Mutant style, Jason combines functional efficiency with his own offbeat aesthetic to create a space from which to publish Boing Boing.

Here are a few things that help make his office great:

Jason likes to have a lot of desk space, but physically can’t sit down for extended periods. He needed a very large standup desk. They don’t make them. As an aficionado of classic mid-century furnishings, he thought a mechanical Hamilton drafting table would do the trick. It did! By depressing a pedal with his foot, Jason adjusts the height of his work surface from sitting to standing and between. Swinging a lever lets him adjust the angle of the desktop from horizontal to vertical, transforming the surface into a whiteboard as needed.

Space is another huge consideration for Jason. His office is packed with musical instruments, props for various magic tricks, and a lot of books. The devices he needs to conduct business, like a printer, must be very carefully chosen. Through this course of this program, HP sent Jason an amazing new Color LaserJet, the MFP M477, to replace a seriously outdated C series inkjet. Read the rest

Daniel Clowes remembers publisher Alvin Buenaventura

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[I received the sad and shocking news this morning that Alvin Buenaventura died in his home in Oakland, California last week. Alvin was a publisher and promoter of cartoonists I love, including Dan Clowes and Charles Burns. He was always very helpful when I had questions about how to get in touch with a particular cartoonist, and in recent weeks he was helping me find a printer for a magazine project I'm working on. I can't believe he's gone – I was selfishly counting on Alvin to publish many more years' worth of great books and comics. Cartoonist Daniel Clowes was very close with Alvin, and considered him to be a member of his family. Here's what he wrote about Alvin. -- Mark]

Alvin Buenaventura was the most important person in my life outside my immediate family. He was, to me, among many other things, an art representative, a production assistant, an archivist, a monographer, a tireless advocate and champion, a media representative, a technical advisor, a troubleshooter; but far beyond than that, he was my dear and beloved friend, a daily, constant, essential presence in my life.

I said this to anybody who asked about the mysterious Alvin: he was inexplicable, the most singular human being I've ever met. There's nobody else in the world even remotely like him. He can't ever be replaced in any way. He was born into a nondescript suburban So. Cal. army-brat childhood that could have in no way indicated his future, magically gifted with what can only be described as a perfect eye. Read the rest

Queen Elizabeth orders Prince William to get hair transplants, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Proving that the tabloids have more to offer than just Bat Boy and alien abductions, this week’s masters of stretched plausibility plunge into American politics with their traditional commitment to accuracy and credibility.

The U.S. presidential race in the eyes of the National Enquirer is reduced to a series of dubious allegations: Marco Rubio was busted by police at a “notorious ‘cruising’ spot for gay guys” when 18, and partied in an all-male “foam party.” Bernie Sanders in his youth wrote questionable sexual fiction about “a woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.” Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi was once picked up by police sitting “with her head in her hands” feet from a Texas expressway, where officers feared “she was a danger to herself.” Hillary Clinton “turned a blind eye” when her husband sexually assaulted other women (Well, that’s certainly a revelation.)

And what shocking scandal has the Enquirer unearthed about Donald Trump?

“Donald Trump has been hiding a secret,” it declares. “He has even greater support and popularity than even he’s admitted to!”

Their investigative team must have dug really deep for that insight, though it’s hard to imagine that Trump could ever be accused of underestimating his own popularity. Read the rest

Matt Ruff's "Lovecraft Country," where the horror is racism (not racist)

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Matt Ruff is a spectacular and versatile science fiction writer who is perhaps most commonly considered an absurdist, thanks to his outstanding 1988 debut Fool on the Hill, but whose more recent works have highlighted his ability to walk the fine line between funny-ha-ha and funny-holy-shit. The Mirage was one such novel, but as brilliant as it was (and it was), it was only a warm-up for this book, Lovecraft Country, a book that takes a run at the most problematic writer in today's pop culture canon and blasts right through him. Read the rest

Skyjacker D.B. Cooper living like royalty in Nepal, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Princess Diana was assassinated with a lethal injection administered by a British agent on the orders of Prince Charles, who could face murder charges, concludes an “explosive new autopsy” conducted “after her body was exhumed last year,” reports the Globe.

Only one problem with the story. Diana’s body has never been exhumed. So there’s no new autopsy report, and no murder charges. In fact, her grave has been allowed to grow over with foliage and return to nature, giving the lie to any “secret” exhumation.

The Globe's laissez-faire attitude to facts is summed up in its story on the CIA’s “X-Files” allegedly proving that “UFOs are visiting Earth.” Tucked away in the final paragraph is a so-called "intelligence insider” saying: “While these reports don’t actually confirm the sightings - they sure don’t disprove them either.”

It’s a philosophy evident in the Globe's “world exclusive” interview with fugitive jet hijacker D. B. Cooper, missing for 44 years since he parachuted from a plane over Oregon with $200,000 in ransom money. Read the rest

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