Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Imaginary Bow and Arrow Leads to Three Day Suspension

Earlier this week a number of local news outlets reported that a first grader at a local Catholic school was suspended for three days for pretending to shoot one or more other students with an imaginary bow and arrow.

According to the boy's parents, Matthew and Martha Miele, the overtly hostile threat of extreme violence happened while their son was playing a game of Power Rangers during recess. A level headed teacher witnessed the brutish intimidation and responsibly brought it to the attention of Principal Joe Crachiolo.  

That afternoon, Martha Miele said she was contacted by Principal Crachiolo regarding the matter.

"I didn't really understand. I had him on the phone for a good amount of time so he could really explain to me what he was trying to tell me. My question to him was 'Is this really necessary? Does this really need to be a three-day suspension under the circumstances that he was playing and he's 6 years old?"

It is more than apparent that the Miele's do not apprehend the seriousness of the situation. Of course all right thinking people understand that imaginary weapons can be just as dangerous as real ones and that childish horseplay is equivalent to threats of violence. Principal Crachiolo appears to understand this, based on a letter he sent to the Miele's which in part stated "I have no tolerance for any real, pretend, or imitated violence. The punishment is an out of school suspension."

So here's to you Principal Crachiolo. Kudos to your a tenacity at maintaining your belief that zero tolerance is the best policy even against the flood of evidence that it doesn't make schools safer. Good for you for ignoring the evidence that suspending kids for seemingly frivolous things increases the likelihood that they would have to repeat a grade, which in turn increases the likelihood they will drop out. It's obvious you possess superior judgement skills and the school is fortunate to have you there to keep everyone safe.

WLWT: Child pretends to shoot student with imaginary bow, suspended for 3 days
WCPO: Catholic school suspends 6-year-old for pretending to shoot imaginary bow and arrow at recess

A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools

Friday, October 9, 2015

Awaji Yumebutai

Awaji Yumebutai 100 step garden

Awaji Yumebutai is an area on the island of Awaji in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan which consists of a complex of buildings designed by architect Tadao Ando. The project was built on the remains of a hillside from which the soil had been removed and used for various projects in Osaka. In 1995, during the planning stages to restore the scarred land by turning it into a park, Awaji island was hit with a massive earthquake which claimed the lives of over 6,000 people. The devastation compelled the architect to revise his plans by turning a portion of the area into a memorial which includes the one hundred step garden (Hyakudan-en). In the words of the architect, it is "a symbol to calm the souls of those who lost their lives in the disaster."

Photo by Ken Conley

Photo by Jeffrey Friedl

Photo by Scott Hsu

Shell Garden

Shell Garden. Photo by Jack Chen via Ursula Zitting Pinterist

Shell Garden. Photo from 663highland

Photo from 663highland

Kiseki No Hoshi Greenhouse. Photo by Brodie Karel
Amphitheatre. Photo by Ken Conley

The 100 step garden at night. Photo by wata_masa

The 100 step garden
Wikipedia: Awaji Yumebutai

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Stroop Effect

A phenomenon in which individuals take longer to name the color of words printed in a non-matching color, such as the word blue printed in red ink, than when the words are printed in the same color as the word designates, such as the word blue printed in blue ink.

With the following video, try saying the color of the word, not the word that's spelled.

If the printed word and color matched, you would likely be able to say the color much faster. This is because reading words is more automatic than naming colors.

More on the Stroop effect here

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Forest Xylophone

Back in 2011 the Japanese telecom company Docomo created a large forest xylophone to promote the then new Touch Wood SH-08C cell phone. A wooden ball rolled down the steps of the instrument playing Bach's Cantata 147 as it progressed to the bottom.

The xylophone was reintroduced at the 2015 Hokkaido Garden Show where visitors could purchase a ball from a vending machine to play the instruments tune.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Denying the Antecedent

Denying the Antecedent is a formal logical fallacy which consists of a conditional premise, a second premise that denies the antecedent of the conditional and a conclusion which denies the consequent of the conditional. The general form of the argument is:

P1. If P, then Q
P2. Not P
C. Therefore, not Q

Since P was never asserted as the only sufficient condition for Q, other factors could account for Q. Therefore, the argument is deductively invalid.

For example:

P1. If Queen Elizabeth is an American citizen, then she is a human being
P2. Queen Elizabeth is not an American citizen
C. Therefore, Queen Elizabeth is not a human being

With this example, both premises are true statements yet the conclusion is false. This of course is due to the fact that being an American citizen is not the only sufficient condition for being a human being. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Affirming the Consequent

Affirming the consequent is a formal logical fallacy which consists of a conditional premise, a second premise that asserts the consequent of the conditional and a conclusion which asserts the antecedent of the conditional. The general form of the argument is:

P1. If P then Q.
P2. Q
C. Therefore P.

Since P was never asserted as the only sufficient condition for Q, other factors could account for Q. Therefore, in terms of deductive logic, the argument form is invalid.

For example:

P1. If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then he is rich.
P2. Bill Gates is rich.
C. Therefore, he owns Fort Knox.

Obviously the consequent that Gates is rich is the result of factors other than owning Fort Knox.

It is important to understand that though affirming the consequent is a fallacy in terms of deductive reasoning, it can be used as a perfectly acceptable form of inference when used inductively or abductively. This of course is due to deductive reasoning's requirement that with a valid argument, if the premises are true then the conclusion must be true. On the other hand, induction and abduction do not have this certainty requirement and instead make inferences based on probability and plausibility.

For example:
P1. If the baby is hungry she will cry
P2. The baby is crying
C. The baby is hungry

This is not deductively valid since there are other reasons the baby may be crying. Perhaps she needs a diaper change or maybe she hit her head. On the other hand, depending on the circumstances, this could be considered a strong abductive argument. If we add more information through additional premises the strength of the argument becomes less ambiguous.

P1. If the baby is hungry she will cry
P2. The baby is crying
P3. The baby eats about every three hours
P4. The baby last ate about three hours ago
P5. The baby does not have a dirty diaper
C. The baby is hungry

Wikipedia: Affirming the Consequent 09/10/15

Reasoning: K. P. Mohanan and Tara Mohanan

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ted Cruz's statement in support of Kim Davis

In regards to the arrest of Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz released an open letter declaring his support for Davis. You can read the full letter here.

Part of the letter included the following:

“For every politician — Democrat and Republican — who is tut-tutting that Davis must resign, they are defending a hypocritical standard. Where is the call for the mayor of San Francisco to resign for creating a sanctuary city — resulting in the murder of American citizens by criminal illegal aliens welcomed by his lawlessness?

"Where is the call for President Obama to resign for ignoring and defying our immigration laws, our welfare reform laws, and even his own Obamacare?

“When the mayor of San Francisco and President Obama resign, then we can talk about Kim Davis.

I believe this could be considered a version of the Tu Quoque fallacy, which essentially is an attempt to dismiss an opponent's argument by pointing out that the person or group making the argument has said or acted in a manner which is inconsistent with it. Generally, the problem with this sort of attack is that just because someone has acted hypocritically doesn't necessarily mean their argument is wrong. 

A classic example of the Tu Quoque is:

Dad: "John, you shouldn't smoke. It is very bad for your health!"
John: "I don't see how you can tell me not to smoke, when you smoke yourself."

Clearly smoking is bad for you and just because the father is being a hypocrite by smoking himself doesn't effect the truthfulness of his argument. Actually, in this particular example, the hypocrisy could serve to strengthen the fathers argument since he has personal experience dealing with addiction and the damaging effects of smoking.

Going back to the Cruz quote, he seems to be implying that if a politician didn't call for the mayor of San Francisco or President Obama to resign, then their inconsistent call for the enforcement of the rule of law should somehow invalidate their argument here. Just as smoking is bad for John's health regardless of whether his father smokes, the law should govern the nation as opposed to the arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. Whether or not a politician has consistently affirmed this principle doesn't change its rightfulness.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Best laid plans of mice and men

The phrase "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" or simply "best laid plans" is a simple proverb meaning that even carefully planned projects may sometimes still go wrong.

The saying is an adaptation from a 1785 poem by Robert Burns titled "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough." The line as originally written goes "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley." It was also used by John Steinbeck for the title of his 1937 novel "Of Mice and Men."