Medical Stunt Tells BoJob his Hospital Visit is a Publicity Stunt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 7:06am in

As Mike posted a few days ago, BoJob was booed out of Addenbrook’s hospital in Cambridge, when he turned up for a visit. And one medical student, Julia Simons, was so disgusted by this blatant piece of electioneering that she confronted him with it. This video from the Groaniad shows her trying to question our disaster of a PM as he walks out of the hospital to his limo surrounded by his bodyguards and minders, pointedly refusing to answer her questions. She also gives a brief interview explaining her attempt to confront him to the Groan’s reporter afterward.

She asks him, ‘I’d also like to ask you about your awareness of the health crisis and the climate crisis? I won’t be working in a system like the one today … Have you read the IPCC report? Do you understand that? Have you read it? Do you understand the IPCC report?’

She gets no answer, and slams the car door shut.

She says to the reporter afterward:

Basically, I just came out of clinic and I was told that Boris Johnson was coming, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness’, like as a normal person you never get that opportunity to say something to someone like that. I really want to ask him, ‘What’s next?’ And I was told I wasn’t allowed to ask him any questions. Which is a really good sign, I think, that this is a PR stunt. People who work in this hospital know the reality of cuts, like I’m a medical student, I don’t know the cuts in the way these people do. They were all really angry to hear he’s coming here for a PR stunt, ’cause we know what cuts have done to our NHS. We know the NHS is being privatised even if it’s not explained in explicit terms.   

The reporter asks ‘What’s the mood among the staff at the hospital having had Boris Johnson come in?’

She replies

Oooh, we weren’t told he was coming, which is a really big sign. As a Prime Minister you should be proud of how you’re leading your country. We were told that we weren’t allowed to know he was here. But I think it’s one of frustration because, as doctors we practice evidence-based medicine and politics should be evidence-based too. And yet the health outcomes from his policy changes evidence-wise, that doesn’t work and we shouldn’t keep doing that. And he’s too much of a coward to talk to any real members of staff rather than some random medical student, who happened to get in front of some cameras about the reality of those cuts.

Very well said!

Of course it was a publicity stunt, just as all the Tories’ visits to hospitals and doctors’ surgeries have been. And I’m not surprised that the staff were told to keep schtumm. They know perfectly well that the Health Service is being privatised, and that it is all driven by ideology. The neurosurgeon, Humanist and philosopher Ray Tallis and Jackie Davis make this absolutely clear in their book, NHS-SOS. Despite all the verbiage about introducing private sector discipline and skills into the NHS, the reality is that private medicine and hospitals actually provide a poorer service than state medicine. But Tory ideology, plus their class interest as people with private business interests themselves mean that they are promoting the privatisation of the NHS for all they and their backers in private healthcare companies can get.

When Simons talks about evidence-based medicine, she means, of course, treatment that has been subject to thorough scientific testing and proper statistical analysis. But these are alien to the Tories, who lie through their teeth and won’t release proper statistics on anything whatsoever, because in healthcare, and so often generally, the proper stats flatly contradict their lies. See Mike’s experience of how Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP tried everything they could to refuse him the stats for the number of people, who had died after being declared fit for work by Atos, then handling the fitness to work tests.

Julie Simons is obviously an extremely conscientious student, who cares deeply for the NHS and the care it provides. She should make an extremely good doctor. She also joins a long line of other doctors, surgeons and medical professionals, who’ve also tried to confront the Tories about the catastrophic effect their vile policies are having.

But I am also afraid that, by daring to confront BoJob, she will also have her card marked as a troublemaker and will be subject to some of the appalling harassment and abuse that the Tories and their troll army have inflicted on others, who have confronted them like this.

The only politician and party that will keep the NHS publicly owned, providing free medicine at the point of use, is Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. Vote for them, and get the Tories and Lib Dems out.

Formal Methods in Philosophy: Initial Thoughts and an Interactive Event (guest post by Liam Kofi Bright)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 9:21pm in

Plausible answers as to the nature of our mission as philosophy educators gives us no unique reason to focus on logic as the mathematical tool of interest to philosophers.

The following is a guest post* by Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics) about the justifications philosophers offer for requiring their students to have instruction in logic, over other formal methods, and about his role facilitating worldwide participation in an upcoming event on this topic.

Mario Merz, Untitled (A Real Sum is a Sum of People)

Formal Methods in Philosophy
by Liam Kofi Bright

Every year a great many philosophy departments force both graduate and undergraduate students to learn at least some mathematical logic. For these departments, some basic ability to deploy mathematical reasoning is part of the normatively expected skill set of the philosopher. What is more, we do not tend to insist on knowledge of other formal theories in the same way—logic is picked out as an especially relevant branch of mathematics. Why is that? There are two things I want to suggest about this. First, the justifications I have heard of for this would mandate making instruction in other formal tools or theories besides just logic obligatory. Second, the available justifications for this reflect deep and abiding disagreements concerning what constitutes good philosophy.

The first and most frequent justification one hears for our logic teaching is that we are bound to carry on the philosophical tradition wherein logic has played a big role. What’s more, given the realities of bureaucratic institutional inertia, probably this tradition does indeed have an outsized causal role in ensuring logic still gets taught. It is certainly true that logic has a long and storied history in philosophy, with logical traditions found not just among the Aristotelians and the Stoics but also sophisticated theories of argumentation developed in classical Indian and ancient Mohist philosophy.

However, the philosophical tradition also contains much reasoning in and about geometry (at least since the Meno!) and—since developments in early modern European philosophy—has contained plenty of probabilistic theorizing, too. If we are willing to bring the boundaries of the tradition closer to the present, then at least in the analytic tradition one may say that decision theory can fairly be traced back to pioneers of that tradition. Even setting that aside, if we assume that Plato and Pascal are firmly established in the philosophical tradition, it is not obvious that logic should get pride of place above these other mathematical fields. At the least, our focus on teaching logic as the one expected formal field of training in philosophy represents an elevation of some aspects of our tradition over others, and we might reasonably wonder why this is.

Another argument one often hears is that logic is an unusually useful field. Sometimes the claim is that logic is marketable in some broad sense: it looks good to employers, or draws in students from other departments, or trains people to recognize fallacies and so makes them better citizens. But sometimes the claim is that it is useful to philosophy more particularly: in philosophy we must offer arguments, and logic trains the mind to do this well.

With all such purported pragmatic benefits of logic, I see them more often asserted than proven; but even setting that aside, it is not clear why an emphasis on usefulness picks out logic in particular, for either philosophical specifically or broader marketability. Actual arguments one encounters in both philosophy and broader life, and the sort of mathematical skills which it is useful to have both as citizen and employee, are frequently probabilistic or inductive rather than strictly deductive. It is very rare thing indeed that philosophers establish arguments which are sufficiently complex that formal logical training might be useful for understanding them, yet which at the same time even purport to be deductively valid arguments. Much more often we are in the business of offering suggestive considerations, or amalgamating assorted facts which together render plausible one’s conclusion. These are more naturally read as probabilistic or inductive arguments than deductive ones, and where they suggest some practical course of action they are perhaps most naturally analyzed with the tools of decision theory. In life beyond academic philosophy, it will frequently be claims couched in statistical garb that one will encounter in the newspapers and the workplace. If we want to help students understand and construct the sort of arguments we actually make and encounter, they need to know more than just deductive logic.

Finally, people sometimes pick out logic as being especially generative of deep philosophical issues. It connects up naturally to questions about the nature of truth and rationality, for instance, as well as coming with a host of paradoxes to sink one’s teeth into. While there might inevitably be a subjective element to such judgments of interestingness, it is once again not clear that logic is alone in this. Probability theory may claim a similar intellectual worthiness, given the connection to deep philosophical questions mentioned above, and has its own paradoxes (e.g.) to play around with.

What is more, on reflection each of these answers hooks up rather naturally to a theory of what it is we are trying to do as philosophy educators. Maybe you think we are custodians of a tradition seeking to pass on knowledge of a canon; in that case, logic’s place in the tradition will seem salient to you. Or if what you instead think we do is provide people with intellectual tools, the utility of logic will seem the more natural thing to emphasize. Or finally maybe you think we are just folk with some interesting or deep issues that we can encourage students to think through and maybe even point towards good answers thereto. Then logic being a source of such questions will be what one wishes to highlight. Of course there is no suggestion that these are exhaustive options; I only wish to point out that these are not merely ad hoc claims about what we might do with logic. They tie in to deep theories about what it is we are doing in philosophy. Hence it seems that some plausible answers as to the nature of our mission as philosophy educators gives us no unique reason to focus on logic as the mathematical tool of interest to philosophers.

These are only hastily sketched answers to some difficult questions about the place and role of formal methods in philosophy. What raised them to salience for me is an upcoming event. Samuel C. Fletcher (University of Minnesota) has organized a two-day workshop that will “bring together diverse philosophers into conversation about the present and future status of formal and mathematical methods in philosophy, their institutionalization in graduate (and undergraduate) pedagogy, and how these changes now reflect and will engender evolving relationships between philosophy and other disciplines”.  You can check out the details here.

At this workshop, which begins tomorrow, September 20th, participants will be going into far greater depth about what it is we hope to achieve with formal methods and what their role is or should be in philosophy. My part in all this will be to play the hype man, with live tweets on my feed and retrospective blog posts to continue the discussion. In fact, my hope is that if anybody finds the topics interesting as I live tweet them, they can suggest questions to me on Twitter that I will ask the speaker and on which they can give real-time feedback! So if you would like to know just why it is we teach logic, and whether we ought perhaps to update or augment this focus with other formal tools, then I hope you will join in the conversation over the next few days, and check out the forthcoming blog posts.

Related: “Formal Methods Training for Philosophy Graduate Students“, “Stats Courses For Philosophers“, “What Should Philosophers Teach in Quantitative Reasoning Courses?“, “New Open Access Text On Probability & Decision

The post Formal Methods in Philosophy: Initial Thoughts and an Interactive Event (guest post by Liam Kofi Bright) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Joe on Boris’ Johnson’s Massive Failure as Mayor of London

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/07/2019 - 4:28am in

Boris Johnson and fans prepare for government.

This is another video from JOE, a YouTuber who’s made a number of videos parodying and criticising Boris and the rest of the Tories. In this one he uses Boris’ colossal failure as mayor of London, and particularly his wretched vanity projects, to show what we can expect from the Eton educated blond moron if he got into power. Which he now has, thanks to all his single-helix inbred mutoid followers. Joe walks around the capital as he talks, showing Johnson’s various projects.

Joe begins by asking if, despite his cartoon clownish exterior, Boris can take power seriously. His legacy in London has been to turn it into a playground for the rich. When Johnson announced his candidacy for Prime Minister, he mentioned his record as mayor on poverty, crime, affordable housing and road deaths. But the statistics he used were difficult to source and, at times, exaggerated. Which is why Joe talks about his physical legacy in London’s built environment. These include the conversion of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham’s football ground, at the cost of hundreds of millions of public money and the Arcemittal Orbit, which features the world’s longest tunnel slide. That was Boris’ idea, and was meant to raise £1.2 million a year to help pay for the upkeep of the Olympic park. It instead cost the taxpayer £10,000 a week because entrance to the Park was less than half of what was expected.

There’s also the fleet of new buses Boris ordered, modelled on the classic ‘Routemaster’ design of the 1960s. However, Transport for London was forced to recall them and retrofit them, because the windows on the top deck didn’t open. Because of this the Routemasters were nicknamed ‘roastmasters’ and in one bus, the temperature a 41° C was recorded. This is higher than the permitted temperature for transporting cattle. The changes cost £2 million, and it wasn’t the first redesign. The buses were originally to have a hop-on, hop-off open back and a conductor, but they were phased out because of expense.

And then there’s the Emirate’s Airline, which was supposed to ferry commuters between Greenwich and the Royal Docks. In 2012 the number of people using the cable car was 16. In 2015, nobody used them. The airline initially believed 70,000 people a week would use it. That’s now dipped to 20,000 and its estimated to cost the taxpayer £50,000 every week. It is the most expensive urban cable car in the world.

Boris also intended to build a garden bridge, somewhere between Waterloo and Blackfriars. But this never got beyond the conceptual stage, and cost Britain £43 million.

Joe then appears on the Tube, saying to the camera, ‘He had nothing to do with the Tube. The Tube’s pretty good’.

He then goes on to talk about Boris’ most significant contribution to London – cycling, including his ‘Boris bikes’. The scheme now covers most of the centre of London. It was supposed to cost the taxpayer nothing, but the public ended up spending over £200 million for it over the course of Johnson’s period as mayor. This makes it the most expensive of its kind in the whole world. Johnson’s dedicated cycle lanes increased congestion while he halved the area of the congestion zone.

Then there’s the Peckham Peace Wall. After the 2011 riots, people wrote messages of love on post-it notes and put them on the plywood boards covering Poundland’s smashed windows. After the damage was repaired, the residents didn’t want to lose this record, and so it became a mural. But at the time London was engulfed in rioting, Boris was on holiday in Canada. It took him three days to decide whether or not to come home.

And that, concludes Joe, is London’s legacy and Britain’s future.

The video then ends with a few more shots of London, accompanied by a piece of Jazz-Blues, and couple of out-takes.

Yep, this is the man the Tories have just decided should be our prime minister. And his record as a government minister has been just as abysmal, as various other bloggers and YouTubers are showing.

As the Ferengi used to say on Star Trek, ‘Ugleee! Very ugleeee!’




Philosophy on Twitter & YouTube – Quarterly Update

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 10:46pm in

Here’s the “Philosophy on Twitter & YouTube” Quarterly Update from Kelly Truelove of TrueSciPhi.

Philosophy on Twitter & YouTube – Quarterly Update (Q2 2019)
by Kelly Truelove features a variety of lists and statistics regarding philosophy communities on social media including Twitter, podcasts, and YouTube. For project background, please see the previous quarterly update. This update focuses on philosophers & philosophy organizations on Twitter.

Twitter Follower Growth

The TrueSciPhi site tracks over 500 philosophers on Twitter who each have over 1,000 followers. Lists of those who have gained the most followers (on a percentage basis) in the past week, month, quarter, and year can be found here. The top gainers in Q2:

1K-10K followers
10K+ followers











None of the accounts in the 1K-10K tier were on the equivalent list for Q1. In contrast, six of the accounts in the 10K+ tier are making repeat appearances (@jasonintrator, @Docstockk, @Roger_Scruton, @kate_manne, @ ShaikhaBinjasim, and @BenceNanay), and a seventh (@christapeterso) previously was on the 1K-10K tier list. Tiering accounts in this way compensates for the fact that, in general, it is easier to obtain a larger percentage increase when starting from a smaller base.

As can be seen in the charts below which cover both Q1 and Q2, some accounts arrive on these lists due to isolated events, while others rely more on steady growth across the quarter:

Figure 1: Top gainers in Q2 in 1K-10K followers tier

Figure 2: Top gainers in Q2 in 10K+ followers tier

Often, jumps in followers are due to viral tweets. Two examples:

Daniel Silvermint (Assistant Professor in Philosophy & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut) more than doubled his following with this thread on Game of Thrones, which thus far has 17.5K retweets and 37.5K likes:

Aaron Paul Sullivan (PhD student in Philosophy & Linguistics at the University of Missouri-Columbia) jumped from 1,100 to over 2,500 followers with this humorous tweet, which thus far has 17.4K retweets and 66.8K likes:

Twitter Networks

Who follows whom among philosophers on Twitter?  The graph below depicts “follow” relationships between philosophers who have over 10,000 followers. (The social network graphs in this section were created using features of the Wolfram Language.)

Figure 3: Connections between philosophers on Twitter with over 10,000 followers

[click image and zoom to explore, or go to full-size image]


The position of a given node in this graph reflects how tightly connected it is to the others. An effect of the positioning algorithm is to draw a distinction between a small number of Spanish and French philosophers at left in the graph vs. the bulk of the network, mostly anglophone, to the right.

In addition, the size of a given node reflects a metric known as Page Rank centrality, which (simplistically) is the probability that following a series of randomly selected connections in the graph will lead to the node. The accounts in this graph with the highest PageRank centrality are @philosophybites, @GreggDCaruso, @danieldennett, @kate_manne, and @briandavidearp.

Lowering the threshold to look at philosophers who have over 7,000 followers leads to a denser graph and a slightly different list of PageRank centrality leaders, as @SkyeCleary (at 9,029 followers, below the minimum for the first graph) appears at #4 ahead of @kate_manne at #5.

Figure 4: Connections between philosophers on Twitter with over 7,000 followers

[click image and zoom to explore, or go to full-size image]


The TrueSciPhi site also presents a list of philosophy organizations that have over 500 Twitter followers. From the graph below of connections between organizations with over 3,000 followers, it is apparent that this set of institutional accounts tend to follow each other to a greater degree than the individual accounts in the previous graphs do, and the PageRank centrality metric is not so sharply peaked in a small number of accounts.

Figure 5: Connections between philosophy organizations on Twitter with over 3,000 followers

[click image and zoom to explore, or go to full-size image]


Twitter & Podcasts

There are numerous philosophy-related podcasts, and tracking three dozen reveals they collectively have published over 1,100 episodes just in the trailing twelve months. A simple chronological episode list such as found in a podcast application is worthwhile, but other useful orderings incorporating metrics regarding episodes or whole series can be imagined.

It would be fascinating to know which episodes, or at least which series, are most listened to by philosophers, but such data generally are not available. As a poor approximation to that, however, it is possible to consider how many philosophers follow the Twitter account of a given philosophy podcast (or its creator, if there is not a distinct account for the podcast itself). The Philosophy Podcast Episodes (Ranked) list does just this. It is assembled starting from a purely chronological list and then weighting each series by the number of philosophers (listed here) following the podcast’s account. The result is an episode list on which the episodes within a series are ordered from newest to oldest, but the weighting often results in older episodes of a highly followed series rising above newer episodes from less-followed series.

Figure 6: Top 10 episodes in TrueSciPhi Twitter-weighted podcast episode list as of July 1, 2019


Daily Nous on Twitter

The post Philosophy on Twitter & YouTube – Quarterly Update appeared first on Daily Nous.

Cultural Donations on the Rise

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/02/2015 - 10:17am in