Sunday reading

I think this is interesting. While not discouraging innovation and invention, it would be sensible to improve what we have to make them function optimally than to hype things that will never be. Or even if they can be, there are ethical concerns that are not easily surmountable.

The example that has got me thinking seriously is digitizing medical records and its effects on doctor patient relations. This reminds me of my friends who have complained about going to see a doc who is glued to the computer while you narrate your problems.

Did the one way trip to Mars take off already? There was a lot of talk about Mars One at some point I think some folk were even applying to be in the payload leaving for Mars.

What are your thoughts on the subject?


The most important invention in your lifetime is…

But I know you will say mobile phones and I will agree. But I don’t care. Cell phones are great. They have enabled so many things. Anyone can become a news reporter if they have a phone with a good camera, data and a Facebook page. And your can friends whom you agreed to meet with can tell you we are here but they haven’t left the house yet. But this is not interesting. This blog only deals with interesting stuff.

I want to start this post with an apology. I know. I know. It is coming too late already but bear with me for a while. The reason I making the apology is because this post is unlikely to be coherent and if it is, that will be by accident and not design. It will start with a story, not a long one though and unrelated to inventions or our lifetimes.

A few years ago, maybe three of four, I can’t recall exactly, Rem Koolhas, the 2000 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laurate was in my alma mater to share with the university community and the department especially his then ongoing research in Africa where he was documenting vernacular architecture. The reason why vernacular is in bold will become apparent very shortly. In architecture school, we had a class on history of architecture and in these classes we studied Egyptian architecture, Greek and then Roman in that order- ranked in terms of age. Of course we studied mordernist, post-modernist, Bahaus and everything in between but I don’t recall mention of African architecture as a proper school of study. I know Egyptian architecture is African but that’s not the debate I want to get into, Africa is bigger than Egypt, you see and there must have been some architecture going on. My problem with the usage of vernacular in the work by Koolhas reminds me of the anthropologists of yore who came to Africa right on the heels of the colonizers and how practices in Africa were deemed primitive while their counterparts in Europe or wherever their homes were was deemed civilized.

This brings me to the next interesting debate that is tangentially related to this. I declare I am not a historian of any stripe. I am only a curious unwilling traveller on this stone moving in space around a star and you know the rest. The tangential discussion is about what for lack of a better word we will call western science. The more interesting commentary can be found here and here and I recommend you read them if you have a few minutes to spare.

Now, that was enough time to read them and get back. Why didn’t the rest of the world develop science as we attempt* to practice it today? While we are mulling over this question, I want to draw attention to a research paradigm commonly referred to as The Critical Paradigm/Transformative Paradigm which situates its research in social justice issues and seeks to address the political, social and economic issues, which lead to social oppression, conflict, struggle, and power structures at whatever levels these
might occur. The interested reader is invited to read on the characteristics of this research paradigm. Why I mention this, it informs research by feminists, critical race theory- which has become such a divisive topic in the US of A between those who don’t know shit about it and those who say theirs is a genuine academic pursuit.

I find such comments

One of the many foundational aspects of science which leads to outside criticism is the contentious, argumentative, rude nature of a skeptical scientific community which sifts out error. Non-scientific modes of knowledge tend to be based on authority and respect — and that includes respect for “lived experience.” If it can’t be replicated, can’t be tested, and can’t convince those who aren’t already open and willing to be convinced, then it’s not reliable enough to count. This infuriates people who aren’t being believed. It’s a resentment which I think lies at the heart of much of the ultra-progressive push back against science, and resembles the ultra-enlightened pushback against science.

to actually miss the point on some of the critique being raised. Unless the author is committed to saying social science research isn’t science, then part of the comment above ought to be re-written. The results of ethnographic studies are unlikely to be replicated, only the methods. And in such study, scientific rigor, validity and reliability will be measured not through test-retest but through other methodologies.

This other portion of a different comment left me in stitches as I couldn’t stop laughing.

………Okay, so where are their great mathematical and scientific accomplishments? Where is the African, Asian, Polynesian, or Amerindian Euclid, Gauss, Newton, Déscartes, Galois, and so on? Who among them probed the secrets of chemistry, medicine, or physics as deeply? I’m not saying they can’t make great accomplishments or that they aren’t doing so today. I’m saying that as a simple historical fact they didn’t seem to be doing nearly so much as Europe was in the 800 or so years prior to the 20th century. That’s the history that the decolonizers want to decolonize. And pointing to a few pre-European roots is not going to dissuade them.

It is undeniable fact that Asians, Africans or Polynesians of yore had their own methods of treating maladies. The fact that we can only name a few individuals even among Europeans should be cause for reflection and maybe humility. That nature only produces a few innovators, inventors or pathfinders. The greatest majority of humanity are just followers. So I will celebrate Galton, Yara Yakob, Newton as being the giants on whose shoulders we all must stand on to see into the future. No need to be smug about it. I don’t know the agenda of decolonizers. I have seen a lot of journals on decolonization- from the works of Philosophers and novelists such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o and others whose core argument, if I am not mistaken, is that the main colonial coup was that of the mind, not physical colonialism. Frantz Fanon in his book Black Skin, White Masks attempts to address this issue of the black man who is neither black nor white: rejected by both sides.

The next comment is interesting too. One would almost think all research is geared towards building computer chips and that our commenter has built many such. There is a lot of exploratory research that has no immediate use except extending human knowledge. There is research in economics, in neuroscience that isn’t aimed at building computers but understanding the human mind. Some people have such limited views and they don’t know it.

To the critical theory idiots, go do science with your deconstructionist non-repeatable experiments based on black lives matter. Build a better computer chip with your intersectional non-binary genderism. Fill your boots.

Maybe, just maybe, it would be important to engage critically with some of the work written under the banner of decolonization. But don’t get me wrong. I am alive to the fact that there is a craziness in the US that is not happening elsewhere in the world.

Or maybe, I am mistaken in all this and I have played with fire or maybe I have kicked a hornets’ nest and I am about to be stung real bad. Either way, bring it on,

*refer to the post about antiPopperism in science.

Anti-Popperism in business management research

Karl Popper’s contributions to science are many, but of the most important is the requirement for verifiability. He required of scientists and researchers to try time and again that we are wrong. But Wittelston (2016) thinks this is not happening and that the scientific community is plagued by at least 5 related biases that frustrate the process of falsification of study results. He discerned the verification bias, novelty bias, normal science, evidence and market biases as the five biases affecting research.

On verification bias, he writes that researchers are obsessively focused on the verification principle, that is, on trying to prove they are right be generating positives. This process involves HARKing where you develop hypotheses after the fact which is so anti-Popperian. Even unethical. He faults many journal editors who may reject or advise a change when the data doesn’t prove the hypothesis.

The demand for novelty by journals he posits is a second problem. This demand for ground breaking research, breaking new ground and all ignores the fact that most research is incremental. Ground breaking research is rare. He argues there are 3 good reasons to encourage ground laying or incremental research. One is that we don’t know a priori what research will turn out to be cutting edge, the second reason is that groundlaying contributions produce the building blocks for cutting edge research that enters this new ground and finally, the third reason is the role of replication studies both failed and successful ones.

He identified the normal science bias where results that seriously challenge the prevailing paradigm are not welcomed as a step toward further progress, but rather are put aside as mistakes of the scholar. While admitting that normal science practices are not entirely dysfunctional, they end up restricting out of the box thinking.

If only results with positive outcomes are published, then we are certain false positives will get published. This, he names the evidence bias. To treat this bias, he suggests for example a journal of replications where even failed studies will be published.

The desire for impact among top journals leads to the last bias; market bias. The commercial drive that is associated with impact means no journal editor wants to publish journals where the data do not support theory or where replication studies fail to prove the earlier reported results.

He proposes seven solutions to this problem and I will just copy and paste them here

  1. editorial policies might dispose of their current overly dominant pronovelty and pro-positives biases, and explicitly encourage the publication of replication studies, including failed and unsuccessful ones that report null and negative findings.
  2. an option is to stimulate pre-reviewing/pre-publishing of a study’s theory and design,
  3. open access publication by funding agencies and research institutes of all work produced prior to journal submission could provide access to studies not published in journals.
  4. all raw data, protocols and data analysis codes of accepted journal articles should be made available to the journal (which may collaborate with an established archive consortium) in order to make the execution of independent replication studies a way easier endeavor.
  5. a tradition of meta-analyses that correct for publication bias has to be established, similar to that in Medicine.
  6. reporting significance only is inadequate, as the p-statistic is anything but uncontroversial….. Additionally, therefore, I would support Hubbard and Armstrong’s (1997, p. 337) earlier plea for “reporting effect sizes and confidence intervals […] If statistical tests are used, power tests should accompany them.”
  7. journals may appoint a replication section editor

What do you fellows think and I am looking at you, Mike and Neil.

Why is time such an interesting thing of study

Maybe only next to space. This article talks about how we define time and how man made it is

In other news, we should be having elections in another 8 days. And one of the candidates seems to have gotten afoul with some religious groups. I hear he said, there is a colonial ideology in Kenya that elevated Christianity above all other religions. My government will end that. Kenya is a secular society and we will respect all regions.

To any reasonable individual, this statement is non controversial. But not to our Christ cultists. They read it as Raila is against Christianity and wants to end it.

And lastly, I generally don’t listen to podcasts but I found one that I like. It’s called Cautionary Tales by Tim Harford. He has some very interesting episodes, some remind me of seconds from disaster that is on NatGeo.

I know I haven’t reported on by cycling for ages. I have been trying to ride 100 miles in under 5 hrs and managed this yesterday during my 183km ride.

Have a pleasant Sunday everyone.

Without apology: the abortion struggle now

Is a short book by Jenny Brown, that is free to download ( for now) on verso that speaks to the question of abortion in quite a very powerful way. In it she links the abortion rights issue to the reproductive rights debate, in a way that is both convincing and powerful.

Some light bulb moment for me was to learn that some phrases that i use often have their beginnings in feminist organising. ‘The personal is political’, ‘consciousness raising’ among others.

It also does seem that capitalism is antithetical to women reproductive rights. That whenever countries become more capitalist, the more restrictive their reproductive laws.

Ain’t it absurd that a country as the Uneducated States of A would ban distribution of sex ed, birth control and other material on reproductive health to women while expecting cases of unwanted pregnancies to go down.

One other thing to note is what Brown calls the feminism of 1%. The pro-choice feminism. If you get pregnant its your choice and you should deal with it as being inimical to the overall struggle of the women. Something which i have read somewhere else.

If you have two hours on the train, or at home after mowing the lawn or doing dishes, pick this book. You will be the better for it.

Why we sleep

Because if we don’t, we die. I found the article quite interesting and you can either read it or listen to it. I know from personal experience that the days I don’t sleep well, my athletic performance is reduced. It is like there is no proper recovery. And after a good night’s sleep, I wake up ready to go.

And when I read the article about sleep and the gut, it made so much sense at once. I have such a bad feeling in my digestive track when I don’t sleep enough. I feel like I need to leak tonnes of sugar just to get back.

Read it and tell me what you think. Then have a good night’s sleep,

Making America great again

The covid vaccine way.

The US and a few other wealthy nations have announced intentions to give booster shots to their fully inoculated citizens from September in a bid to improve their immunity. This is at at time when about 5 billion humans are yet to receive the vaccine and there are people who believe this is a moral outrage.

Let’s pretend for a moment you were the policy maker and is intent on vaccine uptake at home and elsewhere, especially faced with a situation where there are vaccine skeptics, would you encourage a booster shot for the fully inoculated or would you persuade the unvaccinated to get their shots thus improving the chances of the community?

In the meantime, keep safe. And if you can, avoid staying in crowded places for long, among many other things you can do to protect yourself.

An example of misinformation

Being perpetrated online on Covid-19 and the responses by many leave me worried for some.

And it seems some section of the population is going berserk. There are at least 10 or so vaccines that are mandatory that I believe, unless you live in a cave, we have all received before age 5 and only few people refuse to get them & usually evidence is required when you start school. Now that several places are asking for evidence for covid vaccination, there are suits in courts about my body my choice freedom which I find interesting.

Anyway, I hope vaccine nationalism will pave way to universal access 😀 especially as I have heard prices of the vaccines have gone up by between a quarter and a tenth. I think so far only the J& J or Astra Zeneca shots are available here. I will wait for the more expensive jabs n tell you all how it goes.

Meanwhile keep safe everyone.

On the trans debate

Those of you not living under a rock, like say, Ark, know the 2020 Tokyo Olympics extravaganza ends today and it has had some great performances and tear inducing moments such as the athletes who agreed to share gold among others. But on the sidelines, there are issues of mental health that were also brought to light. But all these are for another time and day.

What interests me is this question about these two women/ girls from Namibia being able to participate in future games because of naturally occurring testosterone. What is the fair thing to do? And this is where the trans matters come in. These males have a history of high testosterone and I guess with hormone inhibitors, their range would still be higher than that of the average woman( I may be wrong). Should they compete with women? Should we not have, as we discussed in the previous post, have their own categories?

What are your thoughts?