Links 6/3/16

Links for you. Science:

The False Promise of DNA Testing: The forensic technique is becoming ever more common—and ever less reliable
The empty brain. Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer
Do medical errors really kill a quarter of a million people a year in the US?
Trees, grass and gas: the battle for dominance in Africa
Why we shouldn’t call it ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’

Other:

Why a social media fight between Campbell Brown and her critics matters
A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
How 3 top New Orleans public schools keep students out
The Federal Government Must Stop Catholic Hospitals From Harming More Women
Refinancing is dead: a generation of Hard Times will continue until secularly real wages improve (most U.S.-ians are tapped out)
Corey Feldman’s Claims Show Why Sex Crimes Should Have No Statute of Limitations
Memorial Day 2016
The Elites and the Rise of Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton is not very good at running for president. In the end, it probably won’t matter.
The few who shoot: In Chattanooga, the same people are often on different sides of the gun
Behind Long Airport Lines, a Chain of T.S.A. Cuts, Missteps and Crises
Va. prosecutors seek names of restored felons who may now be jurors, but McAuliffe refuses
DC Metro Rape Highlights Why Women Are Always Aware of Rape
Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home (hypervigillance has always been a problem; good to see it getting noticed)
Citizen Khan
Post-It War Between Two Office Buildings Ends With Epic Finale
Clinton’s Hawk-in-Waiting: If Hillary wins the White House, expect Victoria Nuland to be at her side

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2 Responses to Links 6/3/16

  1. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    The empty brain. Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

    For a different view, check out Jeffrey Shallit:
    Yes, Your Brain Certainly Is a Computer

    • Min says:

      Epstein may be right, according to his understanding of the terms he uses, but he is late to the game. The brain is not a computer in the sense of an electronic gadget such as the one I am writing on right now. Nor does it store or retrieve information in the same localized way. Nor does it have a central processing unit. It is possible to understand the term, computer, in a broader way than that, but Epstein does not. OK. When I say that he is late to the game, I mean that the metaphor of brain as computer (in the narrow sense) has been passe for some time, among theorists and researchers if not the general public. Freud thought that memories were indelibly etched into the brain, even if they were repressed, and Bartlett demonstrated soon afterwards that memories were reconstructed. But Freud’s idea has persisted, at least into the “recovered memory” craze of not long ago.

      I do not know how Epstein understands the term, information, but ever since Shannon it has been understood quite generally, even in psychology, which is Epstein’s field. The brain certainly processes information. A good example of how the brain might process distributed (not localized) information is given by the linguist Sydney Lamb, in his book, “Pathways of the brain” (1999). And, as Shallit indicates, computer scientists have reversed the metaphor in artificial “neural networks”, utilizing the idea of the computer as a brain. This year a program utilizing neural networks, AlphaGo, defeated one of the world’s to go players in a five game match.

      It is important to debunk the popular notion that the brain records and retrieves information like a digital camera does, but Epstein goes too far.

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