Monday, June 30, 2014

Disease Codes -- the ICD

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, usually called by the short-form name International Classification of Diseases (ICD), is the international "standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes".  The ICD is maintained by the World Health Organization, the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations System.  The ICD is designed as a health care classification system, providing a system of diagnostic codes for classifying diseases, including nuanced classifications of a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or disease. This system is designed to map health conditions to corresponding generic categories together with specific variations, assigning for these a designated code, up to six characters long. Thus, major categories are designed to include a set of similar diseases.

The International Classification of Diseases is published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and used worldwide for morbidity and mortality statistics, reimbursement systems, and automated decision support in health care.  This system is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of these statistics. As in the case of the analogous (but limited to mental and behavioral disorders) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, currently in version 5), the ICD is a major project to statistically classify health disorders, and provide diagnostic assistance. The ICD is a core statistically-based classificatory diagnostic system for health care related issues of the WHO Family of International Classifications (WHO-FIC).

The ICD is revised periodically and is currently in its tenth revision. The ICD-10, as it is therefore known, was developed in 1992 to track health statistics. ICD-11 is planned for 2017. As of 2007, development plans included using Web 2.0 principles to support detailed revision.  Annual minor updates and triennial major updates are published by the WHO.  The ICD is part of a "family" of guides that can be used to complement each other, including also the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health which focuses on the domains of functioning (disability) associated with health conditions, from both medical and social perspectives.

History and usage in the United States

In the United States, the U.S. Public Health Service published The International Classification of Diseases, Adapted for Indexing of Hospital Records and Operation Classification (ICDA), completed in 1962 and expanding the ICD-7 in a number of areas to more completely meet the indexing needs of hospitals. The U.S. Public Health Service later published the Eighth Revision, International Classification of Diseases, Adapted for Use in the United States, commonly referred to as ICDA-8, for official national morbidity and mortality statistics. This was followed by the ICD, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification, known as ICD-9-CM, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and used by hospitals and other healthcare facilities to better describe the clinical picture of the patient. The diagnosis component of ICD-9-CM is completely consistent with ICD-9 codes, and remains the data standard for reporting morbidity. National adaptations of the ICD-10 progressed to incorporate both clinical code (ICD-10-CM) and procedure code (ICD-10-PCS) with the revisions completed in 2003. In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would begin using ICD-10 on April 1, 2010, with full compliance by all involved parties by 2013.

Mental and behavioral disorders

The ICD includes a section classifying mental and behavioral disorders (Chapter V). This has developed alongside the American Psychiatric Associations’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the two manuals seek to use the same codes. There are significant differences, however, such as the ICD including personality disorders in the same way as other mental disorders, while the DSM-IV-TR lists them on a separate 'axis'. The WHO is revising their classifications in these sections as part the development of the ICD-11 (scheduled for 2015), and an "International Advisory Group" has been established to guide this.  An international survey of psychiatrists in 66 countries comparing use of the ICD-10 and DSM-IV found that the former was more often used for clinical diagnosis while the latter was more valued for research.  The ICD is actually the official system for the US, although many mental health professionals do not realize this due to the dominance of the DSM. The US is due to adopt a modified version of the ICD-10 in 2013. Psychologists state, "Serious problems with the clinical utility of both the ICD and the DSM are widely acknowledged."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Frederic Bastiat and His Ideas

Claude Frédéric Bastiat, 30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept of opportunity cost, and for penning the influential Parable of the Broken Window. His ideas have gone on to provide a foundational basis for libertarian and the Austrian schools of thought.


Bastiat was the author of many works on economics and political economy, generally characterized by their clear organization, forceful argumentation, and acerbic wit. Economist Murray Rothbard wrote that "Bastiat was indeed a lucid and superb writer, whose brilliant and witty essays and fables to this day are remarkable and devastating demolitions of protectionism and of all forms of government subsidy and control. He was a truly scintillating advocate of an unrestricted free market." 
 On the other hand, Bastiat himself declared that subsidy should be available, but limited: "under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the State should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions."  Among his better known works is Economic Sophisms, which contains many strongly worded attacks on statist policies. Bastiat wrote the work while living in England to advise the shapers of the French Republic on pitfalls to avoid.

The Law (1850)

Bastiat's most famous work, however, is The Law, originally published as a pamphlet in 1850. It defines, through development, a just system of laws and then demonstrates how such law facilitates a free society.

In The Law, he wrote that everyone has a right to protect "his person, his liberty, and his property". The State should be only a "substitution of a common force for individual forces" to defend this right. "Justice" (defense of one's life, liberty, property) has precise limits, but if government power extends further, into philanthropic endeavors, government becomes so limitless that it can grow endlessly. The resulting statism is "based on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator." The public then becomes socially-engineered by the legislator and must bend to the legislators' will "like the clay to the potter":

"I do not dispute their right to invent social combinations, to advertise them, to advocate them, and to try them upon themselves, at their own expense and risk. But I do dispute their right to impose these plans upon us by law – by force – and to compel us to pay for them with our taxes".

Bastiat posits that the law becomes perverted when it punishes one's right to self-defense (of his life, liberty, and property) in favor of another's right to "legalized plunder," which he defines as: "if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."  Bastiat was thus against redistribution.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Review of Bastiat’s The Law from

By Penfist VINE VOICE on January 31, 2006

What book is is important enough that I read it once a year? The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Written in 1848 as a response to socialism in France, this book essay is just as relevant today as it was then.

"What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right-from God-to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all."

My copy of The Law is filled with highlighted yellow phrases. Among them:

"But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.

Every legislator should be forced to read Bastiat's The Law once a month for their entire term and write a synopsis of how they have upheld the ideas contained within it. The tome should be taught in our school systems. It should be drilled into every citizen's head from birth until death."

When he was alive, Bastiat called the United States the one nation in the world that came close to applying law in a just manner. If he could visit us today, he would puke all over the steps of Congress. He would barf in the halls of the White House. He would upchuck in lobbyists offices all over Washington, D.C. When he was done throwing up, I do believe Bastiat would start a revolution.

He would definitely take on our current system of governance because we're turning into Socialism Lite 'Less Filling, More Taxes.'

"Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside to experiment upon. The popular idea of trying all systems is well known. And one socialist leader has been known seriously to demand that the Constituent Assembly give him a small district with all its inhabitants, to try his experiments upon.

In the same manner, an inventor makes a model before he constructs the full-sized machine; the chemist wastes some chemicals - the farmer wastes some seeds and land - to try out an idea.

But what a difference there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same difference between him and mankind!

It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator's genius. This idea - the fruit of classical education - has taken possession of all the intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.

Moreover, even where they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man - and a principle of discernment in man's intellect - they have considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange."

Read The Law. It will change all your assumptions about what the role of government should be in your life in only 76 pages. When you're done, make your friends read The Law. If they won't, stop being friends with them. Send a copy to your Representatives and Congressmen and ask them what the hell they think they're doing with this country of ours.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sailors Defined [Rated R]

The sailors of the United States Navy are among the most disciplined, devoted, and well-trained fighting men the world has ever known. They drink gasoline and piss fire, They spit bullets and shit bombs, and will swim across the ocean with a knife in their teeth just for the chance to carve up those that threaten their homeland.

Modern day sailors leave wakes of dead bodies or smoldering craters wherever they go. They are sneaky sons of bitches, and usually the only thing that lets you know they are present is the earsplitting howl of an incoming tomahawk missile, or the cold steel of an oil-slick blade slicing through your throat.

Rumor has it that sailors are rowdy drunks. This is absolutely true. No other branch of the service can stand up to the fury of a US sailor's binge drinking. The Coast Guard spills their wine, the Air Force wets themselves, the Army passes out, and the Marine Corps bitterly sit alone at the bar muttering bad gay jokes to themselves.

There is a rivalry between the US Marine Corps and the US Navy. This is the result of the quantity of beautiful exotic women that sailors make love to every time they pull into a foreign port. The Marines are jealous of this, because they only get to fuck Ali-Babba and his goats. There are no fine women out in the desert. The Marines spread lies about sailors, calling them cowardly or homosexual, but never to their faces, that is unwise.

Don't fuck with US Navy Sailors.


Foreigner one: Hey! An American warship ship just pulled into port!

Foreigner two: Oh shit, sailors! Hide the women and the booze!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Inventor Philo Farnsworth

Philo Taylor Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) was an American inventor and television pioneer.  He made many contributions that were crucial to the early development of all-electronic television.  He is perhaps best known for inventing the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), the "image dissector", as well as the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system. He was also the first person to demonstrate such a system to the public. Farnsworth developed a television system complete with receiver and camera, which he produced commercially in the firm of the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation, from 1938 to 1951.

In later life, Farnsworth invented a small nuclear fusion device, the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor, or simply "fusor", employing inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC). Although not a practical device for generating nuclear energy, the fusor serves as a viable source of neutrons.  The design of this device has been the acknowledged inspiration for other fusion approaches including the Polywell reactor concept in terms of a general approach to fusion design.  Farnsworth held 165 patents, mostly in radio and television.

In 1924 he applied to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he was recruited after he earned the nation's second highest score on academy tests.  However, he was already thinking ahead to his television projects and, upon learning the government would own his patents if he stayed in the military, he sought and received an honorable discharge, returning to Utah to continue to help support his mother.


Philo worked while his sister Agnes, the older of the two sisters, took charge of the family home and the second-floor boarding house (with the help of a cousin then living with the family). The Farnsworths later moved into half of a duplex, with family friends the Gardners moving into the other side when it became vacant.  Philo developed a close friendship with Cliff Gardner, who shared Farnsworth's interest in electronics. The two moved to Salt Lake City to start a radio repair business.

The business failed and Gardner returned to Provo. Farnsworth remained in Salt Lake City, and through enrollment in a University of Utah job-placement service became acquainted with Leslie Gorrell and George Everson, a pair of San Francisco philanthropists who were then conducting a Salt Lake City Community Chest fundraising campaign.

They agreed to fund Farnsworth's early television research with an initial $6,000 in backing, and set up a laboratory in Los Angeles for Farnsworth to carry out his experiments.  Before relocating to California, Farnsworth married Gardner's sister, Elma “Pem” Gardner Farnsworth (February 25, 1908 – April 27, 2006), in May 1926, and the two traveled to the West Coast in a Pullman coach.


A few months after arriving in California, Farnsworth was prepared to show his models and drawings to a patent attorney who was nationally recognized as an authority on electrophysics. Everson and Gorrell agreed that Farnsworth should apply for patents for his designs, a decision which proved crucial in later disputes with RCA.  Most television systems in use at the time used image scanning devices ("rasterizers") employing rotating "Nipkow disks" comprising lenses arranged in spiral patterns such that they swept across an image in a succession of short arcs while focusing the light they captured on photosensitive elements, thus producing a varying electrical signal corresponding to the variations in light intensity.  Farnsworth recognized the limitations of the mechanical systems, and that an all-electronic scanning system could produce a superior image for transmission to a receiving device.

On September 7, 1927, Farnsworth's image dissector camera tube transmitted its first image, a simple straight line, to a receiver in another room of his laboratory at 202 Green Street in San Francisco. Pem Farnsworth recalled in 1985 that her husband broke the stunned silence of his lab assistants by saying, "There you are — electronic television!" The source of the image was a glass slide, backlit by an arc lamp. An extremely bright source was required because of the low light sensitivity of the design. By 1928, Farnsworth had developed the system sufficiently to hold a demonstration for the press.  His backers had demanded to know when they would see dollars from the invention, so the first image shown was, appropriately, a dollar sign. In 1929, the design was further improved by elimination of a motor-generator, so the television system now had no mechanical parts. That year, Farnsworth transmitted the first live human images using his television system, including a three and a half-inch image of his wife Pem with her eyes closed because of the blinding light required.

Many inventors had built electromechanical television systems before Farnsworth's seminal contribution, but Farnsworth designed and built the world's first working all-electronic television system, employing electronic scanning in both the pickup and display devices. He first demonstrated his system to the press on September 3, 1928, and to the public at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on August 25, 1934.

In 1931, David Sarnoff of RCA offered to buy Farnsworth's patents for US $100,000, with the stipulation that he become an employee of RCA, but Farnsworth refused.  In June of that year, Farnsworth joined the Philco company and moved to Philadelphia along with his wife and two children.  RCA would later file an interference suit against Farnsworth, claiming Zworykin's 1923 patent had priority over Farnsworth's design, despite the fact it could present no evidence that Zworykin had actually produced a functioning transmitter tube before 1931. Farnsworth had lost two interference claims to Zworykin in 1928, but this time he prevailed and the U.S. Patent Office rendered a decision in 1934 awarding priority of the invention of the image dissector to Farnsworth. RCA lost a subsequent appeal, but litigation over a variety of issues continued for several years with Sarnoff finally agreeing to pay Farnsworth royalties.  Zworykin received a patent in 1928 for a color transmission version of his 1923 patent application; he also divided his original application in 1931, receiving a patent in 1935, while a second one was eventually issued in 1938 by the Court of Appeals on a non-Farnsworth-related interference case, and over the objection of the Patent Office.

In March 1932, Philco denied Farnsworth time to travel to Utah to bury his young son Kenny, placing a strain on Farnsworth's marriage, and possibly marking the beginning of his struggle with depression.  In May 1933, the Philco Corporation severed their relationship with Farnsworth because, in George Everson's words, "it [had] become apparent that Philo's aim at establishing a broad patent structure through research [was] not identical with the production program of Philco."  Many sources paint this breakup as Philco's idea, but in Everson's view the decision was mutual and amicable.

Farnsworth returned to his laboratory, and by 1936 his company was regularly transmitting entertainment programs on an experimental basis.  That same year, while working with University of Pennsylvania biologists, Farnsworth developed a process to sterilize milk using radio waves.  He also invented a fog-penetrating beam for ships and airplanes.

In 1936 he attracted the attention of Collier’s Weekly, which described his work in glowing terms. "One of those amazing facts of modern life that just don't seem possible – namely, electrically scanned television that seems destined to reach your home next year, was largely given to the world by a nineteen-year-old boy from Utah ... Today, barely thirty years old he is setting the specialized world of science on its ears."

In 1938, Farnsworth established the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with E. A. Nicholas as president and himself as director of research.  In September 1939, after a more than decade-long legal battle, RCA finally conceded to a multi-year licensing agreement concerning Farnsworth's 1927 patent for television totaling $1 million. RCA was then free, after showcasing electronic television at New York World’s Fair on April 20, 1939, to sell electronic television cameras to the public.

Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation was purchased by International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) in 1951. During his time at ITT, Farnsworth worked in a basement laboratory known as "the cave" on Pontiac Street in Fort Wayne. From there he introduced a number of breakthrough concepts, including a defense early warning signal, submarine detection devices, radar calibration equipment and an infared telescope.  "Philo was a very deep person – tough to engage in conversation, because he was always thinking about what he could do next," said Art Resler, an ITT photographer who documented Farnsworth’s work in pictures.  One of Farnsworth's most significant contributions at ITT was the PPI Projector, an enhancement on the iconic "circular sweep" radar display, which allowed safe air traffic control from the ground. This system developed in the 1950s was the forerunner of today’s air traffic control systems.

In addition to his electronics research, ITT management agreed to nominally fund Farnsworth's nuclear fusion research. He and staff members invented and refined a series of fusion reaction tubes called "fusors". For scientific reasons unknown to Farnsworth and his staff, the necessary reactions lasted no longer than thirty seconds. In December 1965, ITT came under pressure from its board of directors to terminate the expensive project and sell the Farnsworth subsidiary. It was only due to the urging of president Harold Geneen that the 1966 budget was accepted, extending ITT's fusion research for an additional year. The stress associated with this managerial ultimatum, however, caused Farnsworth to suffer a relapse. A year later he was terminated and eventually allowed medical retirement.

Farnsworth's wife Elma Gardner "Pem" Farnsworth fought for decades after his death to assure his place in history. Farnsworth always gave her equal credit for creating television, saying, "my wife and I started this TV." She died on April 27, 2006, at age 98. The inventor and wife were survived by two sons, Russell (then living in New York), and Kent (then living in Fort Wayne, Indiana).

In 1999, Time magazine included Farnsworth in the "Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century".

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cancer Is Very Ancient

Cancer: The roots of evil go deep in time
Discovery of a primordial cancer in a primitive animal

Every year around 450,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer. Each one of them dreams of a victory in the battle against it. But can cancer ever be completely defeated? Researchers at Kiel University (CAU) have now reached a sobering conclusion: “cancer is as old as multi-cellular life on earth and will probably never be completely eradicated”, says Professor Thomas Bosch in his latest research results. The study by an international team led by Bosch was published today (Monday, June 24) in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications.

The so-called cancer genes are ancient

The causes of tumours are the so-called cancer genes. As from when evolution started producing tumours is an issue that the scientists Tomislav Domazet-Lošo and Diethard Tautz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön have been investigating for several years, using bio-informational methods and databases that they have developed in-house. “During the search for the origin of the cancer gene, we unexpectedly made a discovery in the ancient group of animals”, explains Domazet-Lošo. He is one of the authors of the present study and is currently working at the Ruder Bošković Institute and the Catholic University of Croatia in Zagreb. “Our data predicted that the first multi-cellular animals already had most of the genes which can cause cancer in humans.” What was missing until now was, on the one hand, evidence that these animals can actually suffer from tumours and, on the other, the molecular understanding of the mechanisms of tumour formation in these simple animals.

Cause of tumours: error in the programming of cell death

The research team led by the evolutionary biologist Professor Thomas Bosch from the Zoological Institute of Kiel University have now achieved an impressive understanding of the roots of cancer. Bosch has been investigating stem cells and the regulation of tissue growth in Hydra, a phylogenetic old polyp, for many years. “Now we have discovered tumour-bearing polyps in two different species of Hydra, an organism very similar to corals”, emphasises Bosch regarding the first result of the new study. This provides proof that tumours indeed exist in primitive and evolutionary old animals.

The team also tracked down the cellular cause of the tumours along the entire body axis. For the first time they were able to show that the stem cells, which are programmed for sex differentiation, accumulate in large quantities and are not removed naturally by programmed cell death. Interestingly, these tumours affect only female Hydra polyps and resemble ovarian cancers in humans.

“When undertaking more detailed molecular analyses of the tumours we found a gene that becomes active dramatically in tumour tissue and that normally prevents the programmed cell death”, explains Alexander Klimovich, a scholarship student at the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation at the Zoological Institute of Kiel University and co-lead author of the current study regarding the second finding of the study. “As a non-functioning cell death mechanism is also made responsible for the growth and spread of tumours in many types of human cancer, striking similarities appear here to cancer in humans”, continues Klimovich.

The third finding of the scientists was to show that tumour cells are invasive. This means that if tumour cells are introduced into a healthy organism, they can trigger tumour growth there. Therefore Bosch reaches the following conclusion from his research into Hydra species: “The invasive characteristic of cancer cells is also an evolutionary old feature.”

Tumours have deep roots in evolution

The funds that are being deployed throughout the world in the campaign against cancer are enormous. It was estimated that in the US alone, more than 500 billion dollars were invested in cancer research by 2012. The worldwide research has led to improved preventative, diagnostic and treatment methods, which can definitely record successes. However it is precisely as far as some frequent tumours are concerned where only slow progress has been achieved. Every second person affected by cancer still succumbs to the disease today. In Germany alone every fourth person dies of cancer and this trend is rising. (World Cancer Report 2014) These figures were an incentive for the National Institute of Health in the US to launch a network of Physical Science-Oncology Centers, a new initiative that seeks to bridge intellectual barriers between diverse scientific disciplines. Paul Davies, a well-known theoretical physicist and popular science writer who now leads one such center in Phoenix, Arizona, recently concluded: “Clearly, we will fully understand cancer only in the context of biological history.” (The Guardian, 2012)

According to the research team led by Bosch, the findings of primordial tumours in Hydra are a breakthrough step in that direction: “Our research reconfirms that primordial animals such as Hydra polyps provide an enormous amount of information to help us understand such complex problems as ‘cancer’. Our study also makes it unlikely that the ‘War on Cancer’ proclaimed in the 1970s can ever be won. However, knowing your enemy from it origins is the best way to fight it, and win many battles”, says Bosch.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Internal Revenue Service Is Rotting

Please read the link below, the best editorial of the year – a flawless classical liberal criticism of the misuse of the IRS by modern liberals.  This is the same rabid, crazy IRS that has been empowered with enforcing universal, mediocre, inefficient centralized health care…

Monday, June 23, 2014

Avoid Internet Use During Class

Surfing the Web in class? Bad idea
Michigan State University, June 17, 2014

Even the smartest college students suffer academically when they use the Internet in class for non-academic purposes, finds new research by Michigan State University scholars.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, speaks to typical lecture-hall culture in which professors compete for students’ attention with laptops and smartphones.

“Students of all intellectual abilities should be responsible for not letting themselves be distracted by use of the Internet,” said Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology and lead investigator on the study.

Ravizza and colleagues studied non-academic Internet use in an introductory psychology class at MSU with 500 students. The working theory: Heavy Internet users with lower intellectual abilities – determined by ACT scores – would perform worse on exams. Past research suggests smarter people are better at multitasking and filtering out distractions.

But surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. All students, regardless of intellectual ability, had lower exam scores the more they used the Internet for non-academic purposes such as reading the news, sending emails and posting Facebook updates.

Ravizza said that might be because Internet use is a different type of multitasking, in that it can be so engaging.

The study also showed students discounted the effects of Internet use on academic performance, reinforcing past findings that students have poor awareness of how their smartphones and laptops affect learning.

Ravizza said it would be nearly impossible to attempt to ban smartphones or other electronic devices from lecture halls. “What would you do, have hundreds of people put their cell phones in a pile and pick them up after class?” Such a ban might also be a safety issue, since cell phones have become a primary source of receiving emergency messages.

The study appears in the online version of the journal Computers & Education. Researchers Zach Hambrick and Kimberly Fenn, both from MSU’s Department of Psychology, were co-authors. –

See more at:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Progressives Prefer Stagnation

Progressives Are Too Conservative to Like Capitalism

December 11, 2004 by Warren Meyer at his Coyote Blog

Many in the left to far-left eschew the liberal title nowadays (since they consider liberals now to be wimps and too moderate, like that Clinton guy) in favor of the term "progressive".  This term has gone in and out of favor for over a century, from the populists of the early 1900's to the socialists of the more modern era.

Most "progressives" (meaning those on the left to far left who prefer that term) would freak if they were called conservative, but what I mean by conservative in this context is not donate-to-Jesse-Helms capital-C Conservative but fearful of change and uncomfortable with uncertainty conservative. 

OK, most of you are looking at this askance - aren't progressives always trying to overthrow the government or something?  Aren't they out starting riots at G7 talks?  The answer is yes, sure, but what motivates many of them, at least where it comes to capitalism, is a deep-seated conservatism. 

Before I continue to support this argument, I must say that on a number of issues, particularly related to civil liberties and social issues, I call progressives my allies.  On social issues, progressives, like I do, generally support an individual's right to make decisions for themselves, as long as those decisions don't harm others. 

However, when we move to fields such as commerce, progressives stop trusting individual decision-making.  Progressives who support the right to a person making unfettered choices in sexual partners don't trust people to make their own choice on seat belt use.  Progressives who support the right of fifteen year old girls to make decisions about abortion without parental notification do not trust these same girls later in life to make their own investment choices with their Social Security funds.  And, Progressives who support the right of third worlders to strap on a backpack of TNT and explode themselves in the public market don't trust these same third worlders to make the right decision in choosing to work in the local Nike shoe plant.

Beyond just the concept of individual decision-making, progressives are hugely uncomfortable with capitalism.  Ironically, though progressives want to posture as being "dynamic", the fact is that capitalism is in fact too dynamic for them.  Industries rise and fall, jobs are won and lost, recessions give way to booms.  Progressives want comfort and certainty.  They want to lock things down the way they are. They want to know that such and such job will be there tomorrow and next decade, and will always pay at least X amount.  That is why, in the end, progressives are all statists, because, to paraphrase Hayek, only a government with totalitarian powers can bring the order and certainty and control of individual decision-making that they crave.

Progressive elements in this country have always tried to freeze commerce, to lock this country's economy down in its then-current patterns.  Progressives in the late 19th century were terrified the American economy was shifting from agriculture to industry.  They wanted to stop this, to cement in place patterns where 80-90% of Americans worked on farms.  I, for one, am glad they failed, since for all of the soft glow we have in this country around our description of the family farmer, farming was and can still be a brutal, dawn to dusk endeavor that never really rewards the work people put into it. 

This story of progressives trying to stop history has continued to repeat itself through the generations.  In the seventies and eighties, progressives tried to maintain the traditional dominance of heavy industry like steel and automotive, and to prevent the shift of these industries overseas in favor of more service-oriented industries.  Just like the passing of agriculture to industry a century ago inflamed progressives, so too does the current passing of heavy industry to services.

In fact, here is a sure fire test for a progressive.  If given a choice between two worlds:

  1. A capitalist society where the overall levels of wealth and technology continue to increase, though in a pattern that is dynamic, chaotic, generally unpredictable, and whose rewards are unevenly distributed, or...
  2. A "progressive" society where everyone is poorer, but income is generally more evenly distributed.  In this society, jobs and pay and industries change only very slowly, and people have good assurances that they will continue to have what they have today, with little downside but also with very little upside.

Progressives will choose #2.  Even if it means everyone is poorer.  Even if it cuts off any future improvements we might gain in technology or wealth or lifespan or whatever.  They want to take what we have today, divide it up more equally, and then live to eternity with just that.   Progressives want #2 today, and they wanted it just as much in 1900 (just think about if they had been successful -- as just one example, if you are over 44, you would have a 50/50 chance of being dead now). 

Don't believe that this is what they would answer?  Well, first, this question has been asked and answered a number of times in surveys, and it always comes out this way.  Second, just look at any policy issue today.  Take prescription drugs in the US - isn't it pretty clear that the progressive position is that they would be willing to pretty much gut incentives for any future drug innovations in trade for having a system in place that guaranteed everyone minimum access to what exists today?  Or take the welfare state in Continental Europe -- isn't it clear that a generation of workers/voters chose certainty over growth and improvement?  That workers 30 years ago voted themselves jobs for life, but at the cost of tremendous unemployment amongst the succeeding generations?

More recently, progressives have turned their economic attention to lesser developed nations.  Progressives go nuts on the topic of Globalization.  Without tight security, G7 and IMF conferences have and would devolve into riots and destruction at the hands of progressives, as happened famously in Seattle.  Analyzing the Globalization movement is a bit hard, as rational discourse is not always a huge part of the "scene", and what is said is not always logical or internally consistent.  The one thing I can make of this is that progressives intensely dislike the change that is occurring rapidly in third world economies, particularly since these changes are often driven by commerce and capitalists.

Progressives do not like American factories appearing in third world countries, paying locals wages progressives feel are too low, and disrupting agrarian economies with which progressives were more comfortable.  But these changes are all the sum of actions by individuals, so it is illustrative to think about what is going on in these countries at the individual level. 

One morning, a rice farmer in southeast Asia might faces a choice.  He can continue a life of brutal, back-breaking labor from dawn to dusk for what is essentially subsistence earnings.  He can continue to see a large number of his children die young from malnutrition and disease.  He can continue a lifestyle so static, so devoid of opportunity for advancement, that it is nearly identical to the life led by his ancestors in the same spot a thousand years ago.

Or, he can go to the local Nike factory, work long hours (but certainly no longer than he worked in the field) for low pay (but certainly more than he was making subsistence farming) and take a shot at changing his life.  And you know what, many men (and women) in his position choose the Nike factory.  And progressives hate this.  They distrust this choice.  They distrust the change.  And, at its heart, that is what the opposition to globalization is all about - a deep seated conservatism that distrusts the decision-making of individuals and fears change, change that ironically might finally pull people out of untold generations of utter poverty.

In fact, over the last 20 or so years, progressives have become surprisingly mute on repression and totalitarianism the world over.  In the 1970's, progressives criticized the US (rightly, I think) for not doing more to challenge the totalitarian impulses of its allies (the Shah of Iran comes to mind in particular) and not doing enough to end totalitarianism and repression in other nations (e.g. South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc etc) 

Today, progressives have become oddly conservative about challenging totalitarian nations.  By embracing the "peace at any cost" mantra, they have essentially said that they can live with anything, reconcile anything, as long as things remain nominally peaceful (ie, no battles show up on the network news).  Beyond just a strong anti-Americanism, the peace movement today reflects a strong conservatism -- they want to just leave everyone alone, no matter how horrible or repressive, and hope that they will in turn leave us alone.  They fear any change that would stir things up.

There are any number of other examples of the strong conservative streak in the progressive movement.  Here are a few more that come to mind:

  • Despite at least 40 years of failure in the public schools, progressives vociferously oppose any radical changes to the public education system.  In particular, they resist any program involving school choice, as they are totally condescending in their utter lack of faith in the average parent's ability to make the right choice for their family.
  • Progressives refuse to even consider the possibility that individuals should be trusted to make their own decisions regarding some portion of their Social Security retirement funds.  They can couch their opposition in a lot of fear talk about benefit cuts, but at the end of the day (and take this from someone who has had this argument with numerous liberals and progressives)  the argument always boils down to "we don't trust people to make investment decisions that are as good as the ones we would make for them".

Well, I have again written too long, and I'm tired.  If you are not ready to rush to defend the barricades of capitalism, you might read my post from last week called "60 Second Refutation of Socialiam While Sitting at the Beach" [online at this link: ]

.  Most of what I have written here has been said far more eloquently by others.  Of recent writers, Virginia Postrel, in The Future and its Enemies  has written a whole book on not just capitalism but dynamism and progress in general, and why people of all political persuasions tend to be scared by it.  Brink Lindsey addressed many of these same issues as well in his book Against the Dead Hand.  Of course, the Godfather of individual choice and societal dynamism is Friedrich Hayek.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1976 film "Obsession"

Obsession is a 1976 psychological thriller/mystery directed by Brian De Palma, starring Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold, John Lithgow and Stocker Fontelieu.  The screenplay was by Paul Schrader, from a story by De Palma and Schrader.  Bernard Herrmann provided the film's soundtrack. The story is about a New Orleans businessman who is haunted by guilt following the death of his wife and daughter during a kidnapping-rescue attempt. Years after the tragedy, he meets and falls in love with a young woman who is the exact look-alike of his long dead wife.

Both De Palma and Schrader have pointed to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) as the major inspiration for Obsession's narrative and thematic concerns. Schrader's script was extensively rewritten and pared down by De Palma prior to shooting, causing the screenwriter to proclaim a complete lack of interest in the film's subsequent production and release. Completed in 1975, Columbia Pictures picked up the distribution rights but demanded that minor changes be made to reduce potentially controversial aspects of the plot. When finally released in the late summer of 1976, it became De Palma's first substantial box office success and received a mixed response from critics.


De Palma and Schrader devised a story with a narrative clearly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, a film that both of them admired. Schrader's original screenplay, titled Déjà Vu, was reportedly much longer than the final film, with a coda that extended another ten years beyond where the film now ends. De Palma ultimately found Schrader's screenplay unfilmable due to its length, and rewrote and condensed the finale himself after Schrader refused to make the requested changes. According to De Palma, "Paul Schrader's ending actually went on for another act of obsession. I felt it was much too complicated, and wouldn't sustain, so I abbreviated it."  The film's composer, Bernard Herrmann, agreed that the original ending should be jettisoned, telling De Palma, after reading Schrader's version, "Get rid of it — that'll never work".  Schrader remained resentful of De Palma's rewrite for years, and claimed to have lost all interest in the project once the change was made. De Palma said, "It made Schrader very unhappy: he thought I'd truncated his masterpiece. He's never been the same since." 

After the film was completed, Columbia executives expressed unease over the incest theme, especially as it was portrayed in such a heavily romanticized manner. Consequently, a few minor changes were made to a pivotal sequence between Robertson and Bujold, in which dissolves and visual "ripples" were inserted in order to suggest that the consummation of their marriage was in fact simply a dream. The film's editor, Paul Hirsch, agreed with the decision to obscure the incest theme, noting, "I thought it was a mistake to drag incest into what was basically a romantic mystery, so I suggested to Brian, 'What if it never happened? What if instead of having them get married, Michael only dreams of getting married? We have this shot of Cliff Robertson asleep. We could use that and then cut to the wedding sequence.' And that's what we did. It became a projection of his desires rather than actual fact."

Friday, June 20, 2014

High Speed Space Messages

A Laser Message from Space
By Dr. Tony Phillips

NASA-- June 18, 2014:  Anyone who remembers dialup internet can sympathize with the plight of NASA mission controllers.  Waiting for images to arrive from deep space, slowly downloading line by line, can be a little like the World Wide Web of the 1990s.  Patience is required.

A laser on the International Space Station (ISS) could change all that.  On June 5th, 2014, the ISS passed over the Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California, and beamed an HD video to researchers waiting below.  Unlike normal data transmissions, which are encoded in radio waves, this one came to Earth on a beam of light.

"It was incredible to see this magnificent beam of light arriving from our tiny payload on the space station," says Matt Abrahamson, who manages the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Better known as "OPALS," the experimental laser device was launched to the space station onboard a Space-X Dragon spacecraft in the spring of 2014.  Its goal is to explore the possibility of high-bandwidth space communications using light instead of radio waves.  If successful, researchers say OPALS would be like an upgrade from dial-up to DSL, achieving data rates 10 to 1,000 times higher than current space communications.

So far so good.

The entire transmission on June 5th lasted 148 seconds and achieved a maximum data rate of 50 megabits per second. It took OPALS 3.5 seconds to transmit a single copy of the video message, which would have taken more than 10 minutes using traditional downlink methods. The message was sent multiple times during the transmission.

Abrahamson says "the video is an homage to the first output of any standard computer program: 'Hello, World.'"

Because the space station whips around Earth at 17,500 mph, "laser-tagging" a telescope on the fast-moving ground below can be tricky.  To accomplish the precision tag-up, a laser at the ground station illuminated the station.  OPALS responded by sending its own 2.5 watt encoded laser signal right back in the same direction, carrying the HD video. During the 148-second transmission, OPALS maintained pointing to the ground station within 0.01 degrees while tracking at speeds up to 1 degree per second.

"NASA missions collect an enormous amount of data out in space," says Abrahamson. "Laser communications is a faster alternative for getting those data to the ground."

"With this demonstration, we're paving the way for the future of communications to and from space."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Startlingly Unique Meteor Pebble

I’ve said this before, but there’s a lot of bad science out there, from “global warming” [itself a fatally flawed long-term forecast] to the “social sciences,” which haven’t been invented yet.

I think this point is well-made by showing an example of genuinely great “hard” science. Please make yourself some coffee or tea and slowly read this fabulous, true story about a pebble unlike any other anywhere on earth – itself a masterpiece of inorganic chemistry.  Be very, very ashamed of yourself if you are bored by this brilliant research.

This link offers an example of a naturally occurring example of “Penrose tiling” as described in yesterday’s blog posting.  It also offers startling geological evidence about the violence of our early solar system.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Penrose Tiling

A Penrose tiling is a non-periodic tiling generated by an aperiodic set of prototiles. Penrose tilings are named after mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose, who investigated these sets in the 1970s. The aperiodicity of the Penrose prototiles implies that a shifted copy of a Penrose tiling will never match the original. A Penrose tiling may be constructed so as to exhibit both reflection symmetry and fivefold rotational symmetry.

A Penrose tiling has many remarkable properties, most notably:

  • It is non-periodic, which means that it lacks any translational symmetry.
  • It is self-similar, so the same patterns occur at larger and larger scales. Thus, the tiling can be obtained through "inflation" (or "deflation") and any finite patch from the tiling occurs infinitely many times.
  • It is a quasicrystal; implemented as a physical structure a Penrose tiling will produce Bragg diffraction and its diffractogram reveals both the fivefold symmetry and the underlying long range order.

Various methods to construct Penrose tilings have been discovered, including matching rules, substitution tiling or subdivision rule, cut and project schemes and coverings.

Periodic and Aperiodic Tilings

Penrose tilings are simple examples of aperiodic tilings of the plane.  A tiling is a covering of the plane by tiles with no overlaps or gaps; the tiles normally have a finite number of shapes, called prototiles, and a set of prototiles is said to admit a tiling or tile the plane if there is a tiling of the plane using only tiles congruent to these prototiles. The most familiar tilings (e.g., by squares or triangles) are periodic: a perfect copy of the tiling can be obtained by translating all of the tiles by a fixed distance in a given direction. Such a translation is called a period of the tiling; more informally, this means that a finite region of the tiling repeats itself in periodic intervals. If a tiling has no periods it is said to be non-periodic. A set of prototiles is said to be aperiodic if it tiles the plane, but every such tiling is non-periodic; tilings by aperiodic sets of prototiles are called aperiodic tilings.

Penrose Tilings and Art

The aesthetic value of tilings has long been appreciated, and remains a source of interest in them; here the visual appearance (rather than the formal defining properties) of Penrose tilings has attracted attention. The similarity with some decorativer patterns used in the Middle East has been noted and Lu and Steinhardt have presented evidence that a Penrose tiling underlies some examples of medieval Islamic art.

Drop City artist Clark Richert used Penrose rhombs in artwork in 1970. Art historian Martin Kemp has observed that Albrecht Durer sketched similar motifs of a rhombus tiling.

San Francisco’s new $4.2 billion Transbay Transit Center is planning to perforate its exterior's undulating white metal skin with the Penrose pattern.

The floor of the atrium of the Molecular and Chemical Sciences Building at the University of Western Australia is tiled with Penrose Tiles.

The Andrew Wiles Building, the location of the Mathematics Department at the University of Oxford as of October 2013 includes a section of Penrose tiling as the paving of its entrance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rick Dees -- America's Best Disk Jockey

Rigdon Osmond "Rick" Dees III (born March 14, 1950) is an American radio personality, stand-up comedian, actor, and voice artist, best known for his internationally-syndicated radio show The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown and for the 1976 novelty song "Disco Duck."

Dees is a People’s Choice Award recipient, a Grammy-nominated performing artist, and Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee. He wrote two songs that appear in the film Saturday Night Fever, plus performed the title song for the film Meatballs. Dees is also co-founder of the E. W. Scripps television network, Fine Living Network, and has been the host of the Rick Dees in the Morning show at Hot 92.3 in Los Angeles, California, as well as his own syndicated daily radio show The Daily Dees.

The success of Dees at their Memphis radio station, combined with his TV appearances and hit music, motivated station owner RKO General to offer Rick the morning radio show in Los Angeles at 93KHJ AM. Dees helped their ratings, but AM music radio was rapidly losing ground to FM. When KHJ switched to country music, Rick Dees left KHJ, taking a morning position at KIIS-FM in July 1981. In a short time, he turned KIIS-FM into the #1 revenue-generating radio station in America, with an asset value approaching half a billion dollars. Dees garnered many accolades, including Billboard Radio Personality of the Year for ten years in a row.

He began his Weekly Top 40 countdown program, still currently in syndication, in September 1983; the show was created after Dees' station KIIS lost American Top 40 to a rival station over the playing of network commercials. The Weekly Top 40 has been heard each weekend in over 200 cities worldwide and the Armed Forces Radio Network. It is distributed domestically by Dial Global and internationally by Dees Entertainment International (through Radio Express). In December 2008, the Weekly Top 40 became the first English-speaking radio show to air in China. The Countdown is available in two different versions: Hit Radio (for contemporary hit radio stations), and Hot Adult (hot adult contemporary radio stations), both of which are accessible for online streaming on his official website, RICK.COM.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Study Examines Political Gridlock

Task Force on Negotiating Agreement in Politics

The breakdown of political negotiation within Congress today is puzzling in several important respects. The United States used to be viewed as a land of broad consensus and pragmatic politics in which sharp ideological differences were largely absent; yet, today, politics is dominated by intense party polarization and limited agreement among representatives on policy problems and solutions. Americans pride themselves on their community spirit, civic engagement, and dynamic society, yet we are handicapped by our national political institutions, which often-but not always-stifle the popular desire for policy innovation and political reforms. The separation of powers helps to explain why Congress has a difficult time taking action, but many countries that have severe institutional hurdles to easy majoritarian rule still produce political deals.

This report explores the problems of political negotiation in the United States, provides lessons from success stories in political negotiation, and offers practical advice for how diverse interests might overcome their narrow disagreements to negotiate win-win solutions.

Executive Summary

Negotiating Agreement in Politics

The breakdown of political negotiation within Congress today is puzzling in several important
respects. The United States used to be viewed as a land of broad consensus and pragmatic politics
in which sharp ideological differences were largely absent; yet, today, politics is dominated by
intense party polarization and limited agreement among representatives on policy problems
and solutions. Americans pride themselves on their community spirit, civic engagement, and
dynamic society, yet we are handicapped by our national political institutions, which often—but
not always—stifle the popular desire for policy innovation and political reforms. The separation
of powers helps to explain why Congress has a difficult time taking action, but many countries
that have severe institutional hurdles to easy majoritarian rule still produce political negotiations
that encompass the interests and values of broad majorities.

This report explores the problems of political negotiation in the United States, provides
lessons from success stories in political negotiation, and offers practical advice for how diverse
interests might overcome their narrow disagreements to negotiate win-win solutions.
We suggest that political negotiation is often essential to democratic rule, yet negotiating
is difficult to do. First, the human brain makes mistakes that stymie even good-faith efforts.
Second, our own Congress today faces greater structural obstacles to successful negotiation than
at any time in the past century. Members of Congress themselves have identified many of the
reforms within Congress that would produce such joint gains. We support those proposals with
data from studies of the Congress, from Europe, from international relations, and from cognitive

The Human Brain

Our analysis throughout this report applies only to “tractable” situations in which both or all
parties to a negotiation could gain. We use the term negotiation myopia to describe the inability to see these available joint gains. Chapter 4, titled “Negotiation Myopia,” focuses on the two main cognitive mistakes that interfere with the parties seeing and realizing all that they could from their interaction. Drawing from almost a half -century’s worth of scholarship on negotiation and recent work in cognitive psychology, the chapter shows how fixed-pie bias can blind up to 60% of participants to the possible gains in a negotiation, and it shows how self-serving bias often produces impasse even when both parties can gain from agreement.

More (including diagrams) at the “Executive Summary” pdf file from:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Turing Test for A.I.

The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. In the original illustrative example, a human judge engages in natural language conversations with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give the correct answer to questions; it checks how closely the answer resembles typical human answers. The conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so that the result is not dependent on the machine's ability to render words into audio.

The test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," which opens with the words: "I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'" Because "thinking" is difficult to define, Turing chooses to "replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words."  Turing's new question is: "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"  This question, Turing believed, is one that can actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that "machines can think".

In the years since 1950, the test has proven to be both highly influential and widely criticized, and it is an essential concept in the philosophy of artificial intelligence.

Alan Turing

Researchers in the United Kingdom had been exploring "machine intelligence" for up to ten years prior to the founding of the field of AI research in 1956.  It was a common topic among the members of the Ratio Club, who were an informal group of British cybernetics and electronics researchers that included Alan Turing, after whom the test is named.

Turing, in particular, had been tackling the notion of machine intelligence since at least 1941 and one of the earliest-known mentions of "computer intelligence" was made by him in 1947.  In Turing's report, "Intelligent Machinery", he investigated "the question of whether or not it is possible for machinery to show intelligent behaviour" and, as part of that investigation, proposed what may be considered the forerunner to his later tests:

It is not difficult to devise a paper machine which will play a not very bad game of chess. Now get three men as subjects for the experiment. A, B and C. A and C are to be rather poor chess players, B is the operator who works the paper machine. ... Two rooms are used with some arrangement for communicating moves, and a game is played between C and either A or the paper machine. C may find it quite difficult to tell which he is playing.

"Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950) was the first published paper by Turing to focus exclusively on machine intelligence. Turing begins the 1950 paper with the claim, "I propose to consider the question 'Can machines think?'"  As he highlights, the traditional approach to such a question is to start with definitions, defining both the terms "machine" and "intelligence". Turing chooses not to do so; instead he replaces the question with a new one, "which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words." In essence he proposes to change the question from "Can machines think?" to "Can machines do what we (as thinking entities) can do?" The advantage of the new question, Turing argues, is that it draws "a fairly sharp line between the physical and intellectual capacities of a man."


In 1966, Joseph Weizenbaum created a program which appeared to pass the Turing test. The program, known as ELIZA, worked by examining a user's typed comments for keywords. If a keyword is found, a rule that transforms the user's comments is applied, and the resulting sentence is returned. If a keyword is not found, ELIZA responds either with a generic riposte or by repeating one of the earlier comments.  In addition, Weizenbaum developed ELIZA to replicate the behaviour of a Rogerian psychotherapist, allowing ELIZA to be "free to assume the pose of knowing almost nothing of the real world." With these techniques, Weizenbaum's program was able to fool some people into believing that they were talking to a real person, with some subjects being "very hard to convince that ELIZA [...] is not human." Thus, ELIZA is claimed by some to be one of the programs (perhaps the first) able to pass the Turing Test, even though this view is highly contentious.

Kenneth Colby created PARRY in 1972, a program described as "ELIZA with attitude". It attempted to model the behaviour of a paranoid schizophrenic, using a similar (if more advanced) approach to that employed by Weizenbaum. In order to validate the work, PARRY was tested in the early 1970s using a variation of the Turing Test. A group of experienced psychiatrists analysed a combination of real patients and computers running PARRY through teleprinters. Another group of 33 psychiatrists were shown transcripts of the conversations. The two groups were then asked to identify which of the "patients" were human and which were computer programs. The psychiatrists were able to make the correct identification only 48 percent of the time — a figure consistent with random guessing.

In the 21st century, versions of these programs (now known as "chatterbots") continue to fool people. "CyberLover", a malware program, preys on Internet users by convincing them to "reveal information about their identities or to lead them to visit a web site that will deliver malicious content to their computers". The program has emerged as a "Valentine-risk" flirting with people "seeking relationships online in order to collect their personal data".

Some human behavior is unintelligent

The Turing test requires that the machine be able to execute all human behaviors, regardless of whether they are intelligent. It even tests for behaviors that we may not consider intelligent at all, such as the susceptibility to insults, the temptation to lie or, simply, a high frequency of typing mistakes. If a machine cannot imitate these unintelligent behaviors in detail it fails the test.

This objection was raised by The Economist, in an article entitled "Artificial Stupidity" published shortly after the first Loebner prize competition in 1992. The article noted that the first Loebner winner's victory was due, at least in part, to its ability to "imitate human typing errors."  Turing himself had suggested that programs add errors into their output, so as to be better "players" of the game.

Some intelligent behavior is inhuman

The Turing test does not test for highly intelligent behaviors, such as the ability to solve difficult problems or come up with original insights. In fact, it specifically requires deception on the part of the machine: if the machine is more intelligent than a human being it must deliberately avoid appearing too intelligent. If it were to solve a computational problem that is practically impossible for a human to solve, then the interrogator would know the program is not human, and the machine would fail the test.

Because it cannot measure intelligence that is beyond the ability of humans, the test cannot be used in order to build or evaluate systems that are more intelligent than humans. Because of this, several test alternatives that would be able to evaluate superintelligent systems have been proposed.