Wednesday, January 30, 2013

False Analogy

An analogical argument is the use of a comparison between two things which have some similarity and from this basis inferring that they share some other property.  These kind of arguments are common in both philosophy and in everyday life.  The general form of an analogical argument is:
A has properties p, q, r
B has properties p, q, r
A has property s
Therefore B has property s

The strength or weakness of an analogical argument depends upon a number of considerations:

Similarity - Verify that the properties proposed as being shared among the comparison group do indeed exist.  As analogical arguments are rarely actually presented in the form above, it may even be necessary to first list just how it is assumed the comparison groups are similar.  Here is a simple example. "John is like Mike.  Mike is smart.  Therefore John must be smart".  In this example none of the assumed similarities between John and Mike have been presented.  Before the argument can carry any weight these similarities must be listed and verified.

Relevance - The more relevant the comparison properties are to the target properties, the stronger the argument.  Here is an example of an analogical argument which lacks relevance. "Book A and Book B both have a hardbound cover, pages, words on the pages and numbers at the bottom of the pages.  Book A is a boring story.  Therefore we can assume that Book B has a boring story."  Though I have given a number of similar properties between Book A and Book B, none of these properties are relevant and thus do nothing to increase the probability that Book B is boring.

Number - The more properties two things share in common with each other, the stronger the argument.  This is based on the notion that the more two things are alike, the more likely they also share the property stated in the conclusion.  As stated above, relevance plays a key role in determining how much weight these similarities are given.

Disanalogy - Relevant disanalogies or dissimilarities must also be considered when determining the strength or weakness of an analogy.  For example if I say, "I have known three people who have had surgery at this hospital with the same surgeon and they have all turned out successfully.  Therefore Jane's surgery will also be a success."  But what if the three success stories all had minor surgery and Jane is scheduled for a high risk procedure?  This of course would be a very relevant disanalogy.

This brings us to the somewhat misleading fallacy known as the False Analogy.  It is misleading in the sense that the wording can cause a person to think in terms of either good or bad.  Though the term False Analogy is the most popular name for this fallacy, Weak Analogy is probably a better name.  Analogies are best analysed in terms of strength or weakness.  With this in mind, a False Analogy is essentially a very weak analogical argument.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beard Illusions

Clever beard illusions floating around the blogosphere.

Here's a couple more for good measure.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I, a Rock and Roll Band

With the video of the Compressorhead's Ace of Spades making it's way through the blogosphere I thought I would put together a collection of some other cool videos of robots playing videos.


University of Pennsylvania

The Hubos



The Trons

Bonus Compressorhead

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Now you see it, now you don't: Tablet Popup Keypad

A friend posted this cool video showcasing new keypad enhancing technology by Tactus Technology.  Small bubbles seem to popup over the touchscreen when the keyboard is engaged.  When the keyboard is closed, the bubbles disappear returning the tablet to normal.  A very clever solutions for people that have difficulties typing on touchscreens.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gardens by the Bay

The next stop on my virtual travels brings me to the awe-inspiring Gardens by the Bay.  The Gardens is a 250 acre park located in southern Singapore and is one of the many recent developments to the Marina Bay area.  It is divided into three different parks: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.  Currently, the Bay South Garden is the only project which is fully complete.

Photo by Craig Sheppard

Managed by the Singapore National Park Board, this incredible project was designed by a team of two firms: landscape architects, Grant Associates and architects, Wilkinson Eyre Architects.  To date, it is estimated that the first phase of the project cost a whopping 1 billion Singapore dollars (approx. U.S. $810,000,000).

Bay South Garden, the largest of the waterfront gardens, is where you’ll find what is probably the most unique aspect of the park - the impressive Supertrees. These concrete and metal framed tree like structures are covered in bromeliads, ferns and tropical flowering climbers creating what is essentially a vertical garden.  During the day the trees will provide shade to park goers  At night they are brilliantly lit by a sophisticated lighting system.  There are eighteen Supertrees in all ranging in height between 80 to 160 feet.  They are designed and constructed with environmental technologies which are to mimic the ecological functions and abilities of trees.  To mimic how trees use photosynthesis to capture light and convert it into useful energy, eleven of the trees are embedded with photo-voltaic solar cells to help power park lights and water systems.  To represent how trees absorb, translocate, store and use water, supertrees are designed to collect and distribute rainwater to plants and fountains.

Photo by Pete Hottelet

The conservatory complex comprises two cooled conservatories – The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.

The Cloud Forest (left) and Flower Dome

Cloud Forest is a 2 acre conservatory which replicates the conditions found in tropical mountainous regions.
It features a vegetation covered 35 meter mountain from which spills what is touted as the worlds largest indoor waterfall.

Photo by Zhang Wenjie

Photo by Craig Sheppard

At a whopping 3 acres, the Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy.

Photo by Craig Sheppard

As a side note, the luxurious Marina Bay Sands is only a five minute walk from the Gardens.  From a distance the two make for a wonderful skyline scene.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Disappearing Card

Very clever card trick from Richard Wiseman.

Did it work for you?  If not, try and watch it again.  If you didn't pickup on it, here is the answer.

Change Blindness

Change blindness is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a significant change in a visual scene goes unnoticed by the observer.  Examples would include experiments such as the failure to notice changes to a photograph when the changes occurred during a brief visual disruption or failure to notice when an actor in a short film was replaced by a different actor following a camera cut.

"Successful change detection requires five distinct steps, and failure at any step leads to change blindness:
1. Direct attention to the change location.
2. Encode into memory what was at the target location before the change.
3. Encode what is at the target location after the change.
4. Compare what you represented from the target location before the change to what was there after the change.
5. Consciously recognize the discrepancy."1

Though similar to the phenomenon known as inattentional blindness, change blindness is subtly different.  Where inattentional blindness denotes the failure to report a significant item within a visual scene (presence), change blindness is the failure to report a significant changes in a visual scene (transition).  Thus the element of change seems to be the defining difference between the two.2

Bellow are some interesting videos which demonstrate change blindness

Here is a link to the original door study which the Derren Brown video above is based on

1. Change blindness and inattentional blindness
Melinda S. Jensen, Richard Yao, Whitney N. Street and Daniel J. Simons

2. When Good Observers Go Bad: Change Blindness, Inattentional Blindness, and Visual