Science!

My roommate is taking a class at WVU this semester. Some sort of undergrad biology, as far as I know. When I saw him at work this morning, he was trying to figure out a hypothesis for his lab report. I asked him what the deal was, since he said the experiment was already done. He was trying to find a hypothesis that he could disprove, so he could write a “good lab report”.
Some background: His lab was to compare the germination times of barley seeds and establish whether applying a nutrient bath to the seeds made them sproud earlier. The orginal hypothesis was that “the seeds with nutrients would germinate earlier”. Now here’s the problem: none of the seeds germinated.
So, his point was the original hypothesis couldn’t be disproven by the data, but he was arguing that by playing linguistic games he could fashion a hypothesis that the data “disproved”.
By this point you’re probably wondering why I even give a fuck. Well, it plays back into my earlier posts about objectivity. In the study of something like biology, where the scientific method is (or at least sure as hell should be) deeply entrenched, there’s no point in trying to fake up data or a hypothesis in an attempt to make yourself look good.
But that’s essentially what he’s trying to do by finding a hypothesis that will make a “good lab report”. During our discussion, I pointed out that the entire point of a lab report is to recount the objective details of an experiment as accurately as possible. In this regard, writing a lab report that essentially says “None of our seeds germinated, and thus the experiment was inconclusive.” is not only perfectly valid, it’s the right thing to do. This would be the proverbial “good science” thing to do, given such results.
He countered that the point of the exercise isn’t “good science”, it’s “good lab report”. Now, I’m not one to advocate a “I stand by my principles unto death” approach to course work. But there’s two mitigating factors here — 1) any reasonable professor should accept the “good science” version of the lab report and 2) he’s taking this class for fun, not credit!
So I’m quite frankly baffled by his willingness to subvert reality on what is essentially a whim. If there were some significant investment on the line, and placating the professor was the only way to secure a good return on that investment, I might cut him some slack. But that simply isn’t the case.
Now, I’m sure he sees things differently than me. Maybe he has a damn good reason for doing things this way. But until I figure it out, he’s still wrong.

Freedom

The Ad Council is running a banner ad (on Dilbert, I don’t know where else) about freedom. Clicking it takes you to the Ad Council Issues – Freedom page. I thought that was pretty damn cool, until I reread the first few paragraphs. Here they are with some emphasis added:

Freedom is an important part of our everyday lives. Freedom is the foundation of America. Freedom allows us to practice our faith, read books that appeal to us, and speak out when we feel there is an injustice. Freedom is a privilege that makes our country unique. And, whether we realize it or not, our lives would be very different if we weren’t granted freedom in America so long ago.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the current war on terrorism, remembering the freedoms upon which the country was founded, and cherishing freedom is more important today, than ever.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (see below) granted America many of the freedoms that make our country so extraordinary. These are the freedoms that are at risk, and that we are fighting to protect, with the war on terrorism.

Kudos to the Ad Council for supporting freedom, but I have to disagree with what they believe about it. Freedom is not a “privilege”, or “granted”. Freedom is an inherent moral value of an individual. The entire purpose of the Bill of Rights is not to guarantee that the government will continue to grant us those rights, but to set rigid guidelines against government infringing on those rights we inherently have. How can you believe we were granted freedom “long ago” without elevating the founding fathers to the role of kings? And that’s a role that they repeatedly and explicitly denied!
I know some people see this as picking nits, but on a metaphysical issue like freedom, if you don’t have the underlying philosophy right, what do you have?

Trillian

I just finished installing and testing out Trillian. I’m not real keen on the flashiness of the default skin. However, the convenience of having all my contacts on one program is awesome. Add in the “SecureIM” functionality, and I’m definitely a convert. I’m still testing it out some, so feel free to IM me if you see me online. Aim & Yahoo!: dthvt, ICQ: 19522406.

Framed!

I finally got around to buying frames for my two pieces of Jin Wicked art. They’re both prints of black and white inkings – Autonomous Iconoclast and The Universal Turing Machine. They’re both aluminum frames, one silver with black matting and the other black with white matting. I was going to get matching frames, but there weren’t any in stock. I like how they look, so it’s all good.
I’m still debating what to do with my weekend, but I suppose I’ll probably head back to Winchester here in a little bit.

Mini-vacation

Well, I switched shifts with a guy at work, so now I have an extra three days off. Other than get the oil changed in the car and work on buying some new tires, I don’t think I have any real plans. It’s great! So updates might be light if I head out of town.