Scientists Can Be Inept Philosophers

first_imgAn undergrad philosopher could make mince meat out of some scientists’ claims.They used to be called natural philosophers. Now, oftentimes, “scientists” (a label concocted by William Whewell) learn little about philosophy in their training. Science is supposed to restrict itself to observable, testable phenomena in nature. Like everyone else, though, individual scientists develop strong opinions about things, leading some of them to go far afield of observation. Scientists need to be careful with their pronouncements, because they speak with the presumptive authority of science. Here are some recent news items that illustrate the problem.Will the Great Attractor destroy us? (Live Science). Listed under “Expert Voices,” this article lets astrophysicist Paul Sutter speculate about the fate of the Earth in the far distant future. After discussing observations of the Great Attractor (a massive structure made of clusters of galaxies), he says this:The Great Attractor won’t stay that Great for long. In fact, we’ll never reach it. Before we do, dark energy will rip the Norma Cluster away from us. Clusters will stay like they are, but superclusters will never live up to their names. So take comfort in that: we have nothing to fear from the Great Attractor.Philosophers could point out that Sutter and all his listeners will be long dead before his prophecy could be tested or falsified. That being so, a Socratic gadfly could ask whether his “expert” or “scientific” opinion has any more merit than a given religious apocalypse narrative.Is Earthly Life Premature from a Cosmic Perspective? (Astrobiology Magazine). NASA reprinted this story from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, unquestionably an institution of respectable eggheads (usually). A moment of reflection, however, reveals that no one could possibly know the answer to such a question. Harvard guru Avi Loeb let his assumptions launch him far afield of his observational platform:“If you ask, ‘When is life most likely to emerge?’ you might naively say, ‘Now,’” says lead author Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “But we find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future.“Once again, Dr. Loeb and his readers will be long gone before his opinion could be tested. So who “naively” stated a claim? See also Space.com., which quotes him saying that “alien life will be more common in the far future” (long after he is dead).Belief in a deity helps humans cooperate and live in large groups, studies say (PhysOrg). Philosophers have no patience with self-refuting propositions. Joseph Henrich, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, seems oblivious to the fact that he fell into that trap. With his Yoda Complex in full operation, Henrich speculated that natural selection produced cooperation.“We have evolved some basic cognitive abilities that allow us to represent and understand these supernatural beings,” Henrich said. “Cultural evolution can then shape the details of what those gods care about and how powerful they are.”But unless Henrich excludes himself from evolutionary forces by some unnatural (supernatural) ability, his proposition implodes. He himself becomes a product of the blind, aimless forces of evolution. A gadfly could joke that to become the fittest, he should believe in a powerful deity himself—not in evolution.Uncalculating cooperation is used to signal trustworthiness (PNAS). Falling into the same trap, psychologists from Harvard and Yale try to account for the “evolutionary puzzle” of human prosociality (altruism) using evolutionary game theory. But if trustworthiness is a product of blind, amoral forces of selection, on what basis do they assert that their own paper is trustworthy? Unless they can argue how they should be exempted from the inexorable forces of natural evolution, maybe their selfish genes are just playing games with the readers’ credulity.Humans artificially drive evolution of new species (Science Daily). It may be demonstrably true that human beings are causing genetic variations among their fellow creatures. But artificial “anything” involves intelligent design. Unless the evolutionists from the University of Copenhagen can make a distinction between artificial and natural causes of variation, they have no basis for calling the effects “unnatural” — as they do. To be consistent, they would have to state that people are just responding to forces of natural selection that produced humans. Consequently, they lose any foundation of moral urgency on which to urge their fellow man to conserve the alleged “natural” species:Although tempting to conclude that human activities thus benefit as well as deplete global biodiversity, the authors stress that extinct wild species cannot simply be replaced with newly evolved ones, and that nature conservation remains just as urgent.If we ever came across aliens, would we be able to understand them? (The Conversation). Maybe James Carney, a psychologist at Lancaster University, should wait till he has some subject matter before speculating about such things. Whales are not aliens; they are earthlings. Carney cannot assume they evolved intelligence that seems “alien” to humans without assuming the thing he needs to prove: evolution.Can we expect to learn such an alien language? The first hurdle would be its medium. Humans communicate in a 85-255Hz frequency range of sound and in the 430-770 THz frequency range of light. This is unlikely to be true of aliens, who will have evolved differently. Nevertheless, the problem is largely a technical one. Speeded up whale songs that are otherwise inaudible to humans, for instance, show that it is relatively easy to map “alien” stimuli into forms that humans can perceive.What does your poop say about your evolution? (PhysOrg). Pardon the disgusting subject matter, but this article seriously contends that your dietary downloads are storytellers about your distant past. The subject matter is observable and repeatable, surely, but the larger claim is not. Perhaps poop to an evolutionist is like a liver to an ancient Babylonian priest, providing a medium for his assumptions to employ, giving quasi-empirical cover for divination rites promising to deliver insight into the nature of unobservable realities.Orangutan ‘copies human speech’ (BBC News). Rocky the orangutan can mimic hundreds of human syllables. This is quite a feat, but parrots have similar abilities, and yet are not considered ancestors of human language. The observation does not justify the conclusion a scientist is drawing:It had been thought these great apes were unable to do this and, since human speech is a learned behaviour, it could not have originated from them.Study lead Dr Adriano Lameira said this “notion” could now be thrown “into the trash can”.Dr Lameira just changed the question. If it’s about the production of sounds with a larynx and mouth, then yes; humans and orangutans share some traits. But now he is asserting that human speech, including convictions of the mind, originated from ape speech. If he really believes his own mental communications came from orangutans, then we can logically throw his belief into the trash can, too. Why? Darwin himself had a “horrid doubt” about whether his own convictions which, if derived from a monkey’s mind, “are of any value or at all trustworthy” (letter to William Graham, 1881).A new design for psychotherapy trials (Medical Xpress). Our last example reveals that psychotherapy, for decades an “official” treatment for mental illness, has lacked evidence for its efficacy. A team of psychologists confessed “it is surprising how little we know about both their naturalistic course and their long-term outcome after psychotherapy.” The situation is almost criminal:One of the main reasons for this gap may be that examining long-term effects in a controlled way is difficult, expensive and bears ethical and methodological risks. For example, treatment responders are often overrepresented in follow-ups while non-responders are lost to attrition or not followed up systematically. This may result in an overestimation of treatment effects. Related to this is the problem of differential retention, which occurs when high-risk patients are systematically excluded from one treatment condition, hereby subverting the effects of initial randomization of patients to treatment arms and again leading to distorted results. Adequate intent-to-treat analyses can partly solve these problems; however, non-responders are still lost.Indeed, “Focusing on these issues is crucial for patients and clinicians to know whether treatments recommended by official guidelines can be expected to have long-lasting effects and what evidence-based options exist in case a treatment fails.” But as psychologists themselves, are they foxes guarding the henhouse? Would they be likely to recommend so-called “faith-based” solutions (such as Biblical counseling by a pastor) instead of psychological treatments? Why wouldn’t randomized trials include those, if there is evidence for their efficacy? And how do the measurements of results take into account the null hypothesis that a certain number of patients might get better on their own?We all need to learn to ask the right questions. Think of these entries as training exercises in how to question scientific claims. Many scientists do not realize that their work is a form of logic. Invested with public trust, wearing their PhDs like miter caps of a priesthood, they make pronouncements that go far beyond what they know. Anyone can make observations and jot them down in a lab book. Interpreting what they mean is a logical endeavor. Unfortunately, science education either fails to recognize or underplays the logical aspects of scientific work. Logic is not a domain of science. It’s a domain of philosophy.Philosophy is unavoidable. Scientific conclusions do not pop out of a test tube or telescope. It takes a mind thinking clearly to understand what’s going on, and what it means. Recognition of logical fallacies can avoid some common pitfalls, but the worldview foundations of good scientific thinking are frequently overlooked. As we try to show, logic cannot be derived from the evolutionary worldview. Only the Biblical worldview of a Creator making man in the image of God can sustain the reasoning necessary to do good science. That’s why many a Christian founder of science followed Kepler’s lead of “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” That worldview can lead to trustworthy, but not exhaustive, science.(Visited 46 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Women’s Month gets under way

first_img1 August 2014South Africa’s national Women’s Month, which got under way on Thursday, will see the launch of a new women’s housing project, a new mobile application for pregnant women, and the start of construction on a centre of remembrance for Sara Baartman.Speaking to journalists in Pretoria on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women Susan Shabangu said women from across the continent and the Diaspora would come together this month to launch the Pan African Women’s Organisation.On Monday, she said, the Department of Human Settlements will launch its annual Women’s Build Project, which will see the building of almost 2 000 houses in each province.And on 21 August, the Department of Health will launch a mobile phone based application called MomConnect, which will register pregnant women across the country in order to assist them through pregnancy and child birth.Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, also addressing journalists on Thursday, announced that a centre of remembrance for Sara Baartman – a Khoi woman who was displayed as a sideshow attraction in 19th century Europe under the name “Hottentot Venus” – would be built in the Eastern Cape.Mthethwa said the story of South Africa’s liberation could be told without sharing the story of people like Sarah Baartman. “People must know them as they know other leaders of women, who contributed much earlier than the 1950s,” he said.On 9 August, national Women’s Day, President Jacob Zuma will deliver a keynote address during the main national celebration in KwaZulu-Natal, where various South African artists will feature on a cultural programme honouring the resilience of women.Shabangu said that August was a special month for South African men and women alike. “On 9 August, we remember and celebrate the resilience and vanguard of our women in fighting institutional racism and apartheid oppression,” she said.“This is not an ordinary public holiday – this is a day that has its roots in the committed and principled political activism of women who defied their personal circumstances to take up their rightful place in the struggle for freedom.”Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

6 Signs Yahoo May Actually Get It (Finally)

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… taylor hatmaker Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Disclosure: I used to work with Yahoo in my two years as an editor for the website Tecca. While I was never on Yahoo’s payroll, our companies had a close content partnership and some leadership overlap. (It’s complicated.)Yahoo is a strange, many-headed beast. Not often commended for its corporate vision, cohesive net of products… or anything else, really, maybe it’s time to give the Web’s most excited (!) megalith a break. When the company ousted compromised CEO Scott Thompson and poached Google’s Marissa Mayer last year, the Web was heartened – maybe Yahoo gets it, after all these years!By 2012, it seems, the Web’s wary denizens were busy mistrusting Google and Facebook. Yahoo, still a giant by any other gauge, was starting to look like an underdog.As the legend goes, Yahoo was founded in the 1994, a relative dark age of the Web. The company was originally a hierarchical Web directory, not even a search engine, though it quickly added that and other functions to become a full-featured Web portalBut over time, scrappier, savvier upstarts like Google and Facebook became the new online titans. By that time, Yahoo, having already enjoyed its era at the top, could only lumber on toward a social/mobile future it didn’t seem to quite understand.Add a remarkable run of executive-level churn and an ensuing identity crisis to the mix, and you’ve got a snapshot of the challenge Marissa Mayer signed up to tackle. But less than a year after her sparkling indoctrination into the folds of the world’s biggest corporation with a punctuation mark, Yahoo looks more alive than it has since… well, let’s just say it’s been a while.Here are 6 reasons we think that Yahoo could finally be poised for a comeback. 1. Mayer Understands What’s BrokenMayer gets Yahoo’s history – and, as she tells Bloomberg Television, she understands the long game.“You know the first wave really was Yahoo itself, you know the directory, there are these pages out there, how do you organize them? And then the Web got so large that the directory model broke down and gave to search. And then the next wave that came was social, and now I think we’re on the mobile wave. And so if you think about that, that’s all happened in about 15 years. We’ve gone through four major technology shifts in terms of who the main players really are. And so I think there is always opportunity for new disruption.” 2. Yahoo’s Product Draft Is Well UnderwayYahoo just bought Snip.it, a Pinterest-esque Web clipper. Last year it launched Axis, an experimental mobile browser that most people actually liked. And it revamped Yahoo Mail, with apps to boot. Just like Mayer planned, Yahoo is on the prowl to bolster its product roster with companies that fit into Yahoo’s (newly) mobile vision. Look for Yahoo to make more small, interesting acquisitions this year as it continues to quietly build itself back up.3. Mobile And Social: The Missing Puzzle PiecesMobile and social are music to the ears of anyone waiting for Yahoo’s second coming. Mayer put it this way:“I definitely think with the Web becoming so vast – there is a much content and social context and now with mobile, there is so much location and activity context. How do you pull all that together? …It brings Yahoo back to its roots. It used to be that that’s what Yahoo was. It took the Internet and ordered it up.Now it’s so vast that you can’t just categorize it anymore. But could we provide a feed information that is ordered, a Web ordered for you, and is also available on your mobile phone.” A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 4. The Flickr Case StudyWhen the great Instagram Terms of Service freak out went down late in 2012, Yahoo got lucky. Flickr, still one of its best-loved products, had just released an app update to rave reviews. Defectors wary of Facebook’s hand in the future of their filtered photos were poised to leap into Yahoo’s arms. Suddenly Yahoo had a golden opportunity to prove that it could be agile, mobile and social at once.Call it good timing, but Yahoo didn’t altogether fumble the aftermath, even running a promo for Flickr Pro accounts. Building back a beloved, long-neglected product is a welcome sign that the big Y! is getting back int he game.5. Yahoo Throws Its Doors Wide OpenFacebook and Twitter are throwing punches. Samsung and Apple’s holy war over patents will go down in history. Everyone wants to take down Google, with good reason. But Yahoo? Yahoo just wants to make friends.“Our focus, in addition to technology, but also on media, it means there is an opportunity for strong partnerships. That is what we will be focused on. We work with Apple and Google in terms of the operating system. In terms of social network, we have a strong partnership with Facebook. We’re able to work with some of these players that have a lot of strength in order to bolster our user experience that we offer on the Yahoo site.”6. In Yahoo We Trust (For Some Reason)The most underrated thing that bodes well for Yahoo is that we’re rooting for it. Tired of Apple, Google and Facebook duking it out, many people want to see Yahoo make a comeback. It’s an era of deep distrust of big companies commanding big data for big money, but Yahoo has been down for so long there’s an undercurrent of Web users who inexplicably want to see it get back up. There are plenty of other things to consider. Yahoo pulled in more than $7 billion from selling off a chunk of its stake in Chinese online marketplace Alibaba, and its stock enjoyed a nice run up toward the end of 2012. But Yahoo still faces many challenges – it’s long term success is far from assured. We’ll have more information when Yahoo announces its fourth quarter earnings on January 28. You can find Bloomberg’s full interview with Mayer embedded below.Image via Flickr user Adam Tinworth, interview via Bloomberg Television Tags:#business#mobile#social#Yahoo last_img read more

LOOK: Mayweather says he’ll party all week leading to McGregor fight

first_imgEthel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ With such an extended period of time away from professional competition, many thought the seasoned boxer would require a stricter training camp to make up for his long absence. Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters MOST READ LATEST STORIES Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo SEA Games: Kayla Richardson skips 100m dash, targets 200m gold Instead, the ever-brash undefeated fighter recently invited his fans on social media to party with him at his own strip club, ahead of the monumental fight.“Come hang out with me Tonight at “GIRL COLLECTION” and ask me anything you want, live & in person!” he wrote, adding he’d be at the venue on Aug. 17 until the 28th.Just to make sure there was no error there, Mayweather clarified that he was indeed praying the whole week before his next fight.“That’s right… I’m partying the entire week before my fight all the way through to next Monday following my fight ONLY at Girl Collection!!!!” his message read.His opponent, McGregor, on the other hand, hasn’t been too modest either, claiming the undefeated fighter won’t  even get past the first round. /raADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim RELATED STORY:Mayweather warns of hefty fine if McGregor kicks him in their fightSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul pic.twitter.com/NxOyccIS2A— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) August 19, 2017At 40, returning boxing pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have diminished skills, but his confidence remains as high as ever.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingComing off an almost two-year layoff from the sport, “Money” is making a comeback to the ring next week against Irish superstar and UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor in a crossover match for the ages at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

Listen: Brandon Harris’ High School Coach Wants Him To Transfer From LSU

first_imgLSU fans wait in line outside Tiger Stadium.BATON ROUGE, LA – SEPTEMBER 19: Fans wait outside of Tiger Stadium to watch the football team arrive between the Louisiana State University Tigers and the University of Louisiana-Lafatette Ragin’ Cajuns at Tiger Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)Freshman quarterback Brandon Harris had a shot to win the quarterback job at LSU this season. After promising performances against Mississippi State and New Mexico State, Harris had a putrid game in the Tigers’ loss to Auburn, completing just 3-of-14 throws for 58 yards in a 41-7 loss. Harris threw just one more pass on the season, an interception against Kentucky. Harris’ high school coach David Feaster doesn’t believe that his former player got a fair shot in Baton Rouge, and encouraged him to transfer to JuCo and eventually another Division I program.Feaster: I tried to talk Brandon Harris into transferring at the break. Since he qualified, he could go JUCO, play 1 yr., go elsewhere— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015Feaster: LSU had worst passing game and best QB on the bench— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015Feaster: Brandon is dedicated to LSU. He really wants to make it work— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015You’re not biased towards your kid or another but you KNOW when an athlete could play in the collegiate level. -Wilson— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015Apparently LSU is still telling WR recruits that “you’re QB, you know, Brandon Harris.”— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015Feaster said he was sick of LSU telling lies to the public.— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015If Feaster were Anthony Jennings dad, he’d be upset with Miles for saying this year was a disappointing QB year.— TheTimFletcherShow (@FletchWorldWide) January 28, 2015Between the lack of faith in both Harris and Anthony Jennings, and the fact that LSU has reportedly had contact with potential transfers like Everett Golson and Braxton Miller, Feaster has a point. However, we totally understand why Harris would want to stick it out at a program like LSU.[247Sports]last_img read more

West Virginia’s Bob Huggins Takes A Shot At The NCAA For Tournament Game Starting At 11 P.M.

first_imgBob Huggins at an NCAA Tournament press conference.Friday night’s NCAA Tournament Second Round game in Columbus between No. 6 Providence and No. 11 Dayton started at roughly 11 p.m. E.T. The game was scheduled to tip off at about 10 p.m. E.T., but due to the previous two games – West Virginia-Buffalo and Maryland-Valparaiso -at the site running long, the tip time between the Friars and the Flyers was delayed. Cleveland.com has a lengthier explanation on the situation. Saturday afternoon, Mountaineers’ coach Bob Huggins was asked about the late tip time. He gave a pretty sarcastic response. Bob Huggins, on playing tourney games til 1 am: “It’s all about the betterment of the student athlete….It just tickles me to death.”— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) March 21, 2015The game was played on a Friday night, so it’s not like the student-athletes had classes to wake up for the following morning – and, really, what college student goes to be before midnight, anyway? – but the NCAA clearly could have done a better job scheduling.last_img read more

BC ACTORS APPROVE NEW CONTRACT THAT INCLUDES ANTIHARASSMENT MEASURES

first_imgMembers of the Union of British Columbia Performers have voted in favour of a contract that includes strong language against sexual harassment. (Shutterstock) Advertisement Advertisement The union says the new sexual harassment language in the B.C. contract represents the most up-to-date provisions negotiated into any performer collective agreement.Dozens of women have come forward alleging sexual assault and harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)Ninety-four per cent of Union of B.C. Performers members voted in favour of the three-year contract, which takes effect in April 2018 and includes a nine per cent wage increase over the life of the deal.Union president Alvin Sanders says the anti-harassment wording is a significant first step.“With this agreement, we’ve raised the bar when it comes to protecting performers from sexual harassment,” he said in the release.Sanders added the contract ensures performers will be fairly compensated for productions made for digital platforms and it includes better protection for performers who experience fatigue at the end of their work day.Actor K.J. Apa plays Archie Andrews in ‘Riverdale,’ which is shot in Vancouver. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)Riverdale star K.J. Apa, who plays Archie in the Warner Bros. production being shot in Vancouver, was injured in a crash in September when he apparently fell asleep while driving home from a late-night shoot.The Union of British Columbia Performers is an autonomous branch of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, a 22,000-member national organization of professional performers working in English-language recorded media.The contract, which expires in 2021, was negotiated with the Canadian affiliates of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association — B.C. Producers Branch.© The Canadian Press, 2017 Advertisement The latest contract covering performers in British Columbia contains what the actors union says is precedent-setting language against sexual harassment.Members of the Union of B.C. Performers voted strongly in favour of the deal, which reflects the powerful social media movement that sprang up following sexual assault and harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.A statement from the union says the contract includes wording that prohibits auditions or meetings in hotels or private residences where the performer is alone with a representative of production, such as a director or producer.center_img Facebook Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitterlast_img read more

The Scoring For The Decathlon And Heptathlon Favors Running Over Throwing

How do you think the decathlon and heptathlon are scored?Take a moment. OK, do you have your answer? It’s probably wrong. It also probably makes at least as much sense as — and possibly a good deal more than — the method used by modern track and field.Decathlon, which at the Olympics is a men’s event, is composed of 10 events: the 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500 meters. Heptathlon, a women’s event at the Olympics, has seven events: the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meters, long jump, javelin throw and 800 meters.To tally these diverse events, which are measured in seconds, meters and centimeters, into a single overall score, the metrics for each event are fed into a series of equations. However, any scoring system for a multidiscipline competition will by definition have value judgments baked into it. In the case of the decathlon and heptathlon, that has resulted in decades of undervaluing throwing while overvaluing short-distance running, which in turn has resulted in top decathletes and heptathletes all converging around a certain kind of skill set and physique. It doesn’t have to be that way.As it stands, each event’s equation has three unique constants — AA, BB and CC 1Here are tables showing those constants for each event in the decathlon and heptathlon. (Opens PDF.)— to go along with individual performance, PP. For running events, in which competitors are aiming for lower times, this equation is: A⋅(B–P)CA⋅(B–P)C, where PP is measured in seconds. For field events, in which competitors are aiming for greater distances or heights, the formula is flipped in the middle: A⋅(P–B)CA⋅(P–B)C, where PP is measured in meters for throwing events and centimeters for jumping and pole vault.BB is effectively a baseline threshold at which an athlete begins scoring positive points. For performances worse than that threshold, an athlete receives zero points. 2Strictly adhering to the formulas, athletes who don’t meet the threshold technically score a set of complex numbers with an imaginary component.The AA, BB and CC constants vary by event and by gender. All events have a CC parameter (the exponent) between 1 and 2, making the scoring system progressive. In track and field, that means that as an athlete performs better, he or she is rewarded increasingly generously. A progressive system thus especially rewards standout performances rather than a consistently good performance across events.For example, the 100 meters formula for points is 25.4347⋅(18–time)1.8125.4347⋅(18–time)1.81. A 0.75-second improvement from 11.50 to 10.75 would yield 165 additional points. However, another 0.75-second improvement from 10.75 to 10.00 seconds would yield 179 additional points.This scoring philosophy wasn’t always in place. Early systems in the late 19th century merely ranked competitors in each event and summed those ranks. The first points-based system based on magnitude of results rather than relative rank came from the U.S. in 1884, but continued to award points on a linear scale — making a one-second improvement on a slow time as valuable as the same gain on a world record. Next came a Finnish table introduced in 1931 and formally adopted by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 1934, which acknowledged that performance is increasingly difficult to improve at higher levels because of natural limits of the body, and further improvements at those extremes should be rewarded more.The first IAAF international women’s tables arrived in 1954, for which officials used principles of physics to devise the formulas. Unfortunately, the science was bunk, because it falsely assumed that velocity, rather than kinetic energy — which is proportional to the square of velocity — was the output of human work. This velocity-based system heavily discounted throwing events, which awarded points at a decreasing rate with higher performance. Points effectively stalled out after throwing a certain distance. Those calculations were soon adopted for men and remained in practice until 1984, when mounting pressure about the system’s lack of incentive to further improve throwing performance beyond a certain point pushed through reform.3In addition, a new high jump form and better technology in vaulting poles threw off many of the table’s underlying premises.The 1984 tables used the principle that the world record performances of each event at the time should have roughly equal scores but haven’t been updated since. Because world records for different events progress at different rates, today these targets for WR performances significantly differ between events. For example, Jürgen Schult’s 1986 discus throw of 74.08 meters would today score the most decathlon points, at 1,384, while Usain Bolt’s 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds would notch “just” 1,203 points. For women, Natalya Lisovskaya’s 22.63 shot put world record in 1987 would tally the most heptathlon points, at 1,379, while Jarmila Kratochvílová’s 1983 WR in the 800 meters still anchors the lowest WR points, at 1,224.The 1984 change also made all parameters progressive, and targets of 8,500 and 6,500 were set for top overall scores for the men and women respectively.4At the 1984 Olympics, still contested under the old scoring system, the U.K.’s Daley Thompson missed breaking the decathlon world record by a single point. After the IAAF’s formal adoption of the new rules, though, his score increased enough to retroactively break the world record, breaking his tie with West German Jürgen Hingsen, a tie Thompson had also retroactively earned after an IAAF investigation revealed Thompson had been mistimed in the 110-meter hurdles as one one-hundredth of a second slower than his actual time.After decades of tumultuous modification in decathlon and heptathlon scoring, the tables set in 1984 are still in place. However, standout performances still earn more in certain events than they do in others: The system has a clear bias toward short-distance running events. This is in large part due to these running events having C (exponent) parameters all north of 1.8, significantly higher than throwing ones, which are between 1.0 and 1.1. It’s no surprise, then, that those who excel at decathlon/heptathlon specialize in sprinting, and their performances in those events closely mirror those of the specialists competing in the same individual events detached from the decathlon.The average top 10 decathlete/heptathlete generalist in running events performs at something around 90 percent of the average medal-winning specialists. However, in throwing events, the generalists’ distances are only roughly 70 percent of the average medal-winning specialists’.One might assume from these charts that top decathlete/heptathletes are uniformly tall, lean speed machines rather than brawny powerhouses that can hurl an object far distances, but the data suggests otherwise.The correlation between BMI (body mass index) and overall points for men and women is indeed negative, but only -0.060 and -0.109, respectively.Anecdotal evidence also doesn’t align with the notion that there’s a tradeoff between throwing strength and skill in other events: The winner of the competition has often been the best shot-putter in the field. But athletes are well aware of the minutiae and incentives of the scoring system before competing and train their bodies in such a way as to maximize points according to that system long before they hit the track. Thus, it’s likely that some stronger, heavier athletes simply decided before the competition either to slim down or not to compete.There are strong positive correlations between better performance in each of the short-distance running events and long jump5The correlations between the long jump and running events are technically negative, but running events aim for lower numbers– as in times — so in this sense, I’m calling them “positive.” (all of which heavily rely on flat-out sprinting speed). There’s also positive correlation between the shot put and discus throw (though the other throwing event, javelin, has little correlation with those two). All other events have only small correlations between them.Comparing which events correlate best to overall points, the men are highly correlated with long jump (0.74), while shot put, pole vault, discus throw and 1,500 meters each have correlations less than 0.50. For women, long jump (0.72) also correlates best with overall points, while javelin throw only correlates at 0.30. These findings corroborate research that shows that in the heptathlon, performance in speed events is overwhelmingly the biggest determinant in predicting overall success, dwarfing the importance of the strength and endurance events.After 30-plus years of scoring table peace, is there still room for reform?We don’t lack for options. John Barrow, a professor of mathematical sciences in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, has proposed a physics-based system akin to the flawed 1954 model, but this time getting the science correct by using proportions based on kinetic energy. Another method, proposed by Wim Westera, a professor of digital media at the Open University of the Netherlands with a background in physics and math, attempts to construct a points model based on the frequency of performances. Also, researchers at Saarland University and the University of Kaiserslautern suggest a system based on standard deviations.Perhaps another way to tweak the system would be to award outlier performances even more generously. Such a system might diversify competitor body types by creating different “paths” one could take to decathlon/heptathlon glory. As of now, most competitors earn roughly 700-1,000 points per event across the board. But a highly progressive system would create larger disparities in where an athlete derives his or her points. Faster athletes would focus on the running cluster of events and rack up the majority of their points there, while stronger athletes could aim to take the throwing path to gold.Of course, none of these alternative scoring systems tackle the largest factor determining scores: the events themselves. The fact that the sprinting events and long jump so well correlate with each other puts a large premium on athletes who can reach top speeds.Another way of adjusting for this imbalance is possibly removing a speed-based event from the decathlon to make the enneathlon. Or adding another strength-focused event (e.g., hammer throw) to form the hendecathlon. Women could go down to the hexathlon or up to the octathlon. These charts unambiguously show where an athlete gets the best point return on performance, short-distance running, and it’s clear they’re investing their training accordingly. read more

Ohio State mens lacrosses Logan Schuss named ECAC Offensive Player of the

Ohio State senior attacker Logan Schuss was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (ECAC) Offensive Player of the Week Tuesday. “It’s a nice honor, it goes to show all the hard work that’s being put into the offense,” Schuss said. “Guys are working hard to get me the ball and I’ve just got to do my job putting it in the net.” The senior captain scored a career-high 10 points in the season opener against Detroit, tallying seven goals and three assists, and followed it up with three points in the Moe’s Southwest Grill Classic against Jacksonville on Sunday. “It wasn’t my best performance,” Schuss said Tuesday about the Jacksonville game. “I think I rushed a couple of shots, they were doing some different things on defense against me matching up. I think I’m going to work on a new game plan going into next week and see if we can get the offense clicking.” Schuss, who was named the ECAC Offensive Player of the Year last season, was drafted No. 11 overall in the Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft by the Ohio Machine in the offseason. Fellow captain and senior midfielder Dominique Alexander and senior midfielder Kevin Mack were also drafted by the Ohio Machine. Schuss looks to continue his hot streak against Marquette on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. read more