Thursday, February 11, 2016

We have no religion

Professor Roddam Narasimha (a Caltecher, by the way) points out that the Kannada word that is used for "religion" in the "what is your religion?" question is "mat" (Devanagari: मत ) which is the same word for the vote. "Mat" means "opinion" or "view".  Anyone who tells you religion is just an opinion or a view, analogous to a vote is simply wrong.  "Religion", even after a millenium of exposure to Islam,  and centuries of exposure to Christianity, simply is not a native Indian concept.

With that,  perhaps this description Kalavai Venkat gives of himself, "a Silicon Valley-based writer, an atheist, a practicing orthodox Hindu" might become a little closer to comprehensible to those from the Western cultures grounded in religion.


How Free Speech Actually Works

Begin at 12:08, for how free speech actually works.  Rajiv Malhotra takes on American academic Sheldon Pollock and the response is to try to stop the publication of his book through "informal" methods.  However, when someone moves the court (e.g., with respect to Doniger's book) that is gross intolerance.



Friday, January 29, 2016

Artificial Intelligence is not yet ready to take over the world

Per Yoshio Bengio, the fears that Artificial Intelligence is on the threshold of taking over the world are misplaced.

I'd also add that a real AI, if asked to take over the world, will probably politely decline.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

R1a1: Z93 and Z280

An intriguing paper by G. Lucotte:
In the present study we have extended the field of detection of haplotype XI/haplogroup R1a subject to other countries previously uncovered in our preceding articles [9,10]: these countries are mainly Northern Europe, Georgia and Armenia, Near/Middle East, North-Africa, Iran and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. We found high haplotype XI frequencies values in Afghanistan (18.4%), in Iran (26.5%), in Pakistan (28% and 30.4%) and in India; in this last sub-continent, the maximal value of 61.3% was found in Punjab.

We have refound in our samples the clear distinction initially established by Pamjav et al. [21] between Indian Z93 populations and European Z280 populations: all our South Asian populations are Z93, while almost all our European populations are Z280. Datations show that the Z93 Pakistan Indian group is the most ancient (about 15.5 K years); in Europe, the Eastern populations are the most ancient (about 12.5 K years) and the Northern ones the most recent (about 6.9 Kyears).
Like a whole lot of other genetics papers, I am told it puts paid to the idea that there was a significant Y-chromosome influx into India 4.5 Kyears ago (which supposedly introduced Indo-European languages to India).

Some stronger conclusions are derived here.

When you see papers like this one, I have been told (I haven't read that one myself) that: "this paper takes only the Z280 and M458 marker found only in Europe and leaves out the much older Z93 branch".

PS: the reason for associating R1a genetics with Indo-European linguistics is, IMO, motivated by the prevailing theories of linguistic history and prehistory.   This map, from the Lucotte paper, which would seem to show some correlation between presence of R1a with the extent of the Indo-European language family, is an example.


PS:  I venture that the linguists see an Indo-European language tree because of the extremely low resolution of the linguistic data that they have, e.g., from a previous post of mine, even the human evolutionary tree is not a tree; and this is visible because of the very high resolution that DNA affords.  For languages, if we really had century-by-century evidence of the form languages took, we would deduce a dense network of cross-connections, so much so that the tree would vanish.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lincoln and Euclid

Blatantly copied from: http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/08/16/lincoln-and-euclid/. 
I learned of the Lincoln's love of Euclid from Stepanov's recorded lectures; and the link above was a good written source of what Stepanov mentioned.

Abraham Lincoln was not an especially well-read man, but what he read he retained, thought about and frequently used.  One author he was fond of was the Greek mathematician Euclid.  His law partner Billy Herndon relates how Lincoln studied Euclid’s Elements:
He studied and nearly mastered the Six-books of Euclid (geometry) since he was a member of Congress. He began a course of rigid mental discipline with the intent to improve his faculties, especially his powers of logic and language. Hence his fondness for Euclid, which he carried with him on the circuit till he could demonstrate with ease all the propositions in the six books; often studying far into the night, with a candle near his pillow, while his fellow-lawyers, half a dozen in a room, filled the air with interminable snoring.
Lincoln wrote about why he decided to study Euclid:
In the course of my law reading I constantly came upon the word “demonstrate”. I thought at first that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not. I said to myself, What do I do when I demonstrate more than when I reason or prove? How does demonstration differ from any other proof? I consulted Webster’s Dictionary. They told of ‘certain proof,’ ‘proof beyond the possibility of doubt’; but I could form no idea of what sort of proof that was. I thought a great many things were proved beyond the possibility of doubt, without recourse to any such extraordinary process of reasoning as I understood demonstration to be. I consulted all the dictionaries and books of reference I could find, but with no better results. You might as well have defined blue to a blind man.
At last I said,- Lincoln, you never can make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means; and I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father’s house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what demonstrate means, and went back to my law studies.
In the fourth Lincoln Douglas debate Lincoln used Euclid to illustrate a point:
If you have ever studied geometry, you remember that by a course of reasoning, Euclid proves that all the angles in a triangle are equal to two right angles. Euclid has shown you how to work it out. Now, if you undertake to disprove that proposition, and to show that it is erroneous, would you prove it to be false by calling Euclid a liar?
In a speech in Columbus, Ohio in 1860, Euclid came up again:
There are two ways of establishing a proposition. One is by trying to demonstrate it upon reason, and the other is, to show that great men in former times have thought so and so, and thus to pass it by the weight of pure authority. Now, if Judge Douglas will demonstrate somehow that this is popular sovereignty,—the right of one man to make a slave of another, without any right in that other, or anyone else to object,—demonstrate it as Euclid demonstrated propositions,—there is no objection. But when he comes forward, seeking to carry a principle by bringing it to the authority of men who themselves utterly repudiate that principle, I ask that he shall not be permitted to do it.
However Lincoln did not merely cite Euclid in speeches, but used him in his private thoughts about slavery.  In an unpublished note from 1854 on slavery:
If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. — why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?– You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly?–You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.
Lincoln throughout his life was fascinated by logic and mathematics.  In considering him as a thinker, it is always best to keep this in mind when looking at his thought processes as reflected in his writings and his speeches.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dr. A.G. Bhat: Tolerance on the Foundations of Intolerance

A very good essay by Dr. Ajakkala Girisha Bhat.  It is worth it, IMO, if only the reader understands the full import of these two sentences:
Two: Hindus believe that they should offer Pooja to the created as well as the Creator. (Amir Khan’s film PK miserably fails to understand the Indian context when the hero says that all other numbers except that of the Creator -God- are wrong numbers).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Aatish Taseer talks

"The guest for the first edition was author and journalist Aatish Taseer, who joined us for a lively discussion about one of the more incendiary topics in Indian politics: the elite of Delhi."

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Ancient Heliobacter Pylori

About the Heliobacter pylori found in “Otzi,” the 5,300-year-old frozen iceman found in the southern Alps:  (this news is likely to give some people ulcers :) )
Today, roughly half of all people worldwide are infected by H. pylori, which lives in the acidic human stomach and about 10% of the time causes ulcers. Varied strains of the bacteria are tied to populations across the world, with modern-day Europeans afflicted by a unique one that appears to be a mixture of older African and Asian ones.

But not Otzi, according to the new study, published in the journal Science. The complete genetic map, or genome, of the H. pylori bacteria found in his frozen stomach shows it belongs to an Asian strain of bacteria now largely confined to the guts of people living in northern India.

That suggests the north Indian strain once belonged to most prehistoric Europeans, prior to an influx of farmers from the Middle East into the continent more than 4,000 years ago. Those new arrivals likely carried the African H. pylori strain that mixed with the older Asian one to produce today’s signature European H. pylori bugs.
What this means is that fresh H. pylori strains that might have entered India, with the supposed migrating/invading Aryans some 2000 years after Otzi did not change the make up of H. pylori in India as much as the subsequent incursions of humans into Europe changed H. pylori in Europe.