Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Saturday, July 26, 2003:  
Science, Propaganda:
Youth spend more time on Web than TV-study (Reuters)
Teenagers and young adults spend more time on the Internet than watching television, indicating a shift in media consumption for a demographic prized by advertisers...

On average, young people said they spent nearly 17 hours online each week, not including time used to read and send electronic mail, compared with almost 14 hours spent watching television and 12 hours listening to the radio...
The findings aren't at all surprising. However, I'm very curious how such data could be gathered accurately through surveys and focus groups. Is the difference between hours online and hours watching television statistically significant? More importantly, how valid and generalizable are the results? The survey was obviously only of people with current, regular online access...

I sent an email to Yahoo asking for more details and the survey. I received a prompt reply, "The questionnaire is proprietary to Yahoo!/Carat Interactive, and at this time we are not releasing it to any external clients" and an invitation to schedule a conference call to discuss my questions. Sounds like someone in their marketing department is fishing for clients. Not surprising, since I found the executive summary as part of a Yahoo promotion.

Given that the study was conducted through online surveys followed up with focus groups, what did the study actually find? The people surveyed think they spend more time online, or want others to think so...

Web marketing sells like teen spirit (News.com) Slightly more detail.

Born To Be Wired Executive Summary (Yahoo) 1 MB PDF file.

Advertisers are working hard to find more effective means to influence this population...

    -  Ron  11:53 AM

Friday, July 25, 2003:  
Critical Thinking:
Randi on Religion (vs Science) (Swift Online. Jul 29, 2003 - James Randi)
The structure of Science itself is also in a constant state of development; ideally, it does not have an "orthodox" state into which it settles down comfortably and complacently. It only takes something like a new statistical standard or an observational innovation to change its approach to any event or decision with which it was formerly — tentatively — satisfied, but the true scientist does not regret nor refuse such improvements in approach or technique, rather embracing them and adjusting to the new-and-better understanding of the world that is now available. Religion, in contrast, is repelled by honest doubt, preferring naïve, unquestioning acceptance.

It is the willingness to adjust that provides a genuine glory to Science, in my amateur opinion. It is in distinct contrast to the axioms of religions, which proudly flaunt their inflexible "truths" to demonstrate that they "know" certain things with certainty. Yet, the Earth is round, not flat, nor is it the center of the Universe; those revelations were promptly accepted, absorbed, and applied by science — as primitive as it was at that moment in history — and no pain was felt by those who incorporated it into their world-view, though in many cases there must have been some discomfort and surprise, followed by delight.
Yes, many (most?) religions and religious beliefs can't withstand much doubt. Yes, many people feel their religious beliefs are threatened by science. Still, science has it's limits... But that doesn't mean that religion has the answers, only the opportunity...

    -  Ron  11:10 AM

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