Sunday, 27 September 2015

What Lay People Should Know about The Scientific Method – The Investigative Process

by Zad Datu

Preceding related article (Read first!):
What Lay People Should Know about The Scientific Method – Hypothesis vs. Conjecture

If you read the previous article, once again, I would like you to forget all scientific jargon and imagine the same scenario. If you haven't read the article, imagine the following scenario:

One night I was in the jungle and a creature of significant size attacked where I managed to escape leaving only a scratch on my shoulder. I could not identify the creature at all. The following day I hired a team of investigators to solve this mystery. Following procedures, they developed a first hypothesis, that is the creature was a large dog. They obtained a specimen (dog) of average height and weight for its breed, get it to scratch piece of animal flesh, of similar composition to my shoulder and then compare that scratch mark with the scratch mark on my shoulder. The results shows that the scratches doesn't match.

Does this prove that the creature is not a dog?

The answer is 'No'. This does not prove that the creature is not a dog. It only eliminates the hypothesis that states that the creature is a normal adult dog of that particular breed.

What needs to be done next is to test all the breeds of dogs of significant size in the same manner. In other words developing many more contradicting hypotheses then test and eliminate them one by one. Upon the tests, results for all breeds of the proved negative. Again, this doesn't eliminate that the creature isn't a dog of any breed. This only eliminates all normal sized dogs of all breeds as the possible culprit. It could be a mutant over-sized dog, but lets not go there just yet.

Moving on to the second speculation, the 'tiger-hypothesis'. Here, results proved positive - the scratch matches.

Does this prove that the creature is a tiger?

The answer is 'No', once more. This only proves that the hypothesis which states that the creature was a tiger has not been eliminated. After all, when a lion is placed to the test, the results also proved positive as expected since tigers and lions have very similar shape form and size. The creature can't be both a tiger and a lion at the same time.

Now, we have two leads to follow, and most likely other big cats of similar size would test positive as well. But before going into that, lets try to figure out how could a big cat end up in that. One possibility is through animal smuggling. To find out if this is the case, we need to investigate on the industry of animal smuggling in this area. Lets forget about this for now. Another possibility is that the big cat escaped from the nearest zoo. Easier to investigate upon and seemingly more plausible the investigators dive into this first. The investigators have discovered that there are lions and tigers in the zoo. There are no records of escaped tigers.

Does this eliminate the hypothesis that the creature is a tiger?

Again, 'No', it doesn't. It only eliminates the hypothesis that the creature is an escaped tiger from that zoo. This does not eliminate the hypothesis that the creature is a tiger from other sources, perhaps animal smuggling. On second thought, this also doesn't eliminate that the record from the zoo is incorrect. But for now let us assume that the zoo record is genuine.

The investigators then discovered that there is a record of an escaped lion. The lion escaped 7 days before the incident where I encountered the creature. The investigators would now have to consult a lion expert to find out whether an escaped lion from the zoo is likely to find its way to that jungle and how long it would take to get there. If it takes less then 7 days for the lion to reach the jungle this hypothesis still stands. Whereas if it takes more than 7 days, this hypothesis fails. To put this story to an end let us say the creature turned out to be that escaped lion and that the investigators have discovered that part of my ripped clothes were in the possession of that lion.

Now, let us restart the story all over again from where the investigators were hired. Let us say that instead of developing the 'dog' and the 'tiger' hypothesis, the first and only 'hypothesis' the came up with was that the creature is a bigfoot. This was then seconded by another member of the team, then a third. Out of anonymous decision and without further ado they pronounced the mystery solved and case closed. The creature was a bigfoot, they concluded.

Obviously, this is ridiculous. Apart from that fact, not only were they not bothered to place their 'hypothesis' to the test, they did not even bother to identify whether it is a hypothesis or a conjecture, or whether the properties of their speculation were definitive and measurable, which in this case they weren't. We can't obtain a specimen of bigfoot to put it to the test since we never caught one, hence bigfoot is an arbitrary concept. The speculation isn't hypothesis. It is a conjecture.

Even if bigfoot was a definitive and measurable property, and the speculation is a testable hypothesis. The method of how the investigators come to consensus is simply unreasonable and irrational. This isn't a reliable method to use as a source of information to confirm the credibility of one's conclusion of the incident even if the conclusion just so happen to be correct.

Though one may think that this second retelling of this investigation is ridiculous, this happens every now and then in casual conversations within many communities. When a group of people witness someone experiences mysterious symptoms upon his stay at an alleged haunted house, or when a friend claims to see things that other don't see, or perhaps when oneself see things which others don't see, it is very common for that entire group to mutually agree and conclude on single explanation without any process of investigation with a generic and arbitrary term, 'ghosts', often speaking of their conclusions as if they are as credible as proven factual information.
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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

What Lay People Should Know about The Scientific Method – Hypothesis vs. Conjecture

by Zad Datu

Forget about the term 'science' or 'scientific method for a moment'. Forget about all the scientific jargon and imagine the following scenario:

I was in a dark jungle late one night where I was attacked by a relatively large creature. I could not make out what the creature was nor its shape and form, but such size is not known to inhibit that jungle. Nevertheless, I manage to escape with only a scratch on my shoulder.

The following day I hired a team of investigators to uncover the mystery of this incident. As investigators do, they start of with speculations based on the story I told and the scratch mark on my shoulder. One speculation is that the creature was a large dog, another is that it could be a tiger, and the last speculation is that it was a bigfoot, none of which is known to inhibit the jungle.

The next stage is to see if they can put their speculation to the test. In the case of the 'dog-speculation', yes they can. They can obtain a specimen, a dog, and get it to scratch piece of animal flesh, usually that of pigs, of similar composition to my shoulder and then compare that scratch mark with the scratch mark on my shoulder.

Hence, this speculations is a Hypothesis - a testable speculation.

As of the second speculation, the 'tiger-speculation', we can also obtain a specimen and perform the same test. Both the 'dog-speculation' and 'tiger-speculation' are testable hypotheses.

How about the third speculation - bigfoot? Can we test this? Can we obtain a specimen, a bigfoot, and get it to scratch a flesh of similar composition to my shoulder and compare the results? No. Because we don't have a specimen. We never captured a live or dead bigfoot.

This speculation is a Conjecture - a non-testable speculation.

Both dogs and tigers are properties of the speculation based on discovered and studied upon life forms. The other property of the speculation, include the scratch itself which is also definitive and measurable. Hence this makes the speculation testable, a hypothesis.

Bigfoot is an alleged life form defined by the characterisation we give them as opposed to and not based on an actual captured specimen but rather on eye witness accounts and testimonies only. This makes it an arbitrary concept as opposed to a measurable definitive property. Hence this makes the speculation non-testable, a conjecture.

If something is based on an arbitrary concept, it is not testable. If it is not testable, it isn't provable. If it isn't provable, it wouldn't be reasonable give this conjecture equal credibility as proven factual information.

Those who assume that others being dismissive out of simple closed mindedness simply have not placed sufficient effort into this and other processes of reasoning.

Some seem to be quick to dismiss the credibility when others speak of arbitrary concepts such as bigfoot, ghosts, fairies, vampires, leprechauns, and so on. For some, this may be because they have placed sufficient rationalistic and reasoned thought before hand to notice the obvious, that these are conjectures and that it is unreasonable and irrational to give them equal credibility as proven factual information. Those who assume that they're being dismissive out of simple closed mindedness simply have not placed sufficient effort into this and other processes of reasoning to determine the credibility of the claims they're making.

Succeeding related article:
What Lay People Should Know about The Scientific Method – The Investigative Process
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Monday, 11 February 2013

What Lay Poeple Should Know about Synthetic Biology (video)

A short informative video about Synthetic Biology by TechNyou:

This are not my videos.
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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Random Report: ONE Fighting Championship: Return of Warriors

by Zad Datu

After returning from ONE FC: Return of the Warriors on the evening of 2nd February, its very obvious that the standard of MMA in this region of the world is still low. MMA is still very fresh in this new market, so we can’t expect much and I will be looking forward to see it grow.

Coming from an underated martial art background (depends how you look at it) where there is (or was) virtually zero commercialising, that is mainstream karate, the first thing I noticed was that the standard of showmenship of the MMA fighters when making an enterance and celebrating their wins as well as their nicknames inproportionately outclassed their standards of fighting, thanks to the generally cocky (but extremely friendly) culture of USA as they took over the lead of MMA influence from Japan replacing the culture of humble confidence with theirs.

Most of the figthers were simply good enough to not make a fool of themselves. I know how it was to start out looking foolish in fights when I was new. Not to say that I am any better than them with these comment, but I do have my oppinions. There were some interesting fights but no impressive fighters thus far. I have a suspicion that part to blame for this is that perhaps it just never does look as impressive live as it does on TV (but the odd thing is in karate bouts it seldom looks as good on video recordings as how you remembered watchign it live).

Some of the fighters started training for MMA directly, some started out as Marital Arts purist from Silat, Wushu, Muay Thai and etc. whilst some were national and even world champions of speficic marital arts. Most were Malaysians but they were some from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, USA, South Africa and Philipines (I hope I didn’t miss out on any nationalities). Surprisingly some of the standup based martial art purist entered MMA clearly didn’t prepare for ground fights or grappling fights. If they do not intend to play a ground fight, they should’ve atleast prepare to defend against ground fighters.

Anyway, on the positive side, there was a good armbar by Gianni Subba, a triangle choke which was a little hard to catch by Melvin Yeoh, a rear-naked choke by the anticipated Adam Kayoom followed by his comment on the respect which should be given to all these fighters who has sacrificed a lot and that he hasn’t seen his daughter who is only 5 months old as an example, and ended with “...we don’t need to listen to your bullshhh....” – a pre-resposne to what I’m have to say about these fighters. The most gruesome win was where Pete Davis smashed his heel against his opponent’s mouth, to be specific, who was attempting an anke lock. Leo Krishna from Indonesia ended with a chunk of his upper lip sliced appart while Pete Davis’s was heel cut open with blood gushing non-stop. Another beautiful win was a guilotine choke by Japan’s Shooto champion, Sinichi Kojima followed by a comical expression of relief and excitement during the interview in the ring just after his victory. He then snached the microphone off from Jason Chambers (yes, host of Human Weapon is a comentator here) just to say “TERIMA KASIH!”.

The final and most anticipated bout, Eric Kelly vs. Honorio Banario, turned out to be the worst of them all. Spectators couldn’t bare the the anticlimatic event as “boos” were given off here and there. They even lost interest in hooting for the ring girls up to this point. If I were to chose which match should’ve been the highlight, it would be between Sinichi’s bout and the South Africa vs USA (Vuyisile Colossa vs. Lowen Tynanes) where Tynanes submitted Colossa with a triangle choke les than 30 seconds before the end of the final round. There were good ground work in these two fights.

In the case of Kelly vs Banario, both Philipinos, they didn’t make much contact - minimal attempts to strike, minimal attempts to grapple, minimal ground game and minimal amount of exchanges. In fact, the least exchanges out of all the bouts. Just a few punches for the sake of punching and kicks for the sake of kicking. Kelly ettempted a lot of swings to the head which he clearly was doing so hoping for the luck that it would land rather than with the confidence that it would, and Banario gave a lot of leg-slaps, I would call it, rather than effective kicks. After all that, about 2 second after Banario landed a solid but not extraordinarily powerful jab to Kelly’s head without having a chance following up with more attacks, Kelly decided to slowly squat down to his but with his palm raised and open in defeat, i.e. chickend out. Not to be too critical, judgemental or to make comments of what actually went through deep inside his heart or head, but that’s what it looked like, that’s what we witnessed, and that’s what he did earning Banario the first ONE FC World Featherweight Champion.

Some are tempted to say that they both can’t fight and question how they managed to acheive the double digit professional wins and titles from other championsihps, but that obviously can’t be true. But that’s what it looks like. To add an irony, the lucky draw prize for the event was to attend 10 free lessons from the one who chickened out with a squat dow to his but and a stay away from me hand gesture. Of course, the reason of the minimal exchanges between the finalists is because they both were being cautions, familiar with eachother’s style and are of equal standards. But equal standards of high or low?

If you watched the bout, try comparing that with Asian Games Karate Event Finals Female Below 61kg bout [video above]. Yes, it’s a different game. Karate bouts are single-rounds three-minute bouts with dominantly semi-contact strikes and a some takedowns and no grapples (the screaming may be hillarious to you if you’re not familiar with kiai). But you can clearly see that they both are of equal undoubtly high standards with precision attacks, versatility of movements and striking techniques. The Malaysian kept on persuing for points delivering and receiving strikes trying her luck desperately all the way to the end as she was 4 to 5 points down  whilst the Japanese maintained her ground, composition and sharpness of techniques delivering as she recieves. This is so contrasting to the arm-swings for the sake of punching and leg-slaps for the sake of kicking as seen in the ONE FC World Featherweight Finals bout. To add to that, unlike the dramatic victory celebration of running around, jumping around, screaming and punching fists into the air after wining a lousy fight, the Japanese lady celebrated with bows after bows, smiles and open-palmed waves to the spectators as she humbly strolled off to the dressing room.

I am so tempted to introduce this video collection of North Korean ITF Taekwondo bouts [above] where the quality of speed, precision and respnose of the fighters impresses. ITF Taekwondo is another example of an underated martial art (the popular federation of Taekwondo is WTF, which is in the Olympics). I also feel the need to share a hillarious video of a muay thai match [video below]. No where did any of the fighters in ONE FC looked as foolish as the Muay Thai fighters in the video below, but these two surely can fight. The punches, kicks and knee strikes they deliver surely seems powerful, not one that anyone can take without sufferign from a concussion, and they surely can recieve them with durability as well, an so can the referee. It may seems like they lack in strategy, but not anyone would dare facing these two in a bout after witnessing thsi video.

Do you now see why I would be upset with the anticlimatic event? Neither Banario nor Kelly went anywhere near halfway of the all-way-out mark. As a fighter, that’s the mark you want to reach in every fight whether it’s against a superior opponent or inferior, and that’s exactly what the fighters in the three video I presented have done. I wouldn’t say I’m a martial art expert nor to say that I can beat these fighters up easily, and though not a MMA’s biggest fan I am a marital art enthusiast and semi-enthusiast of MMA, I do consider myself qualified to make an educated oppinion though limited.

I wish it was this fight which I watched live:

MMA bouts are as close as it gets to a 1-on-1 fight scenario in  reality and sis seen as a dream fighting competition for martial art enthusiasts like me. MMA is on a quick rise to popularity slowly taking over Pro Boxing in the field of combat entertainment. ONE FC, claimed to be the largest MMA event in Asia, is a Singapore based MMA promotion launched just in 2011. The idea of launcing such an organisation in this region of the world is just brilliant. I wish it was me who did it. Deespite of my criticisms, I have great respect for the organisation not just as a martial art organisation but also as a business. I have great respect for the fighters for what they have achieved despite my dissapointment on the match.
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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

What Lay People Should Know about Christmas and Santa Claus (videos)

Allow me to present to you a tale of myths after myths mixing, repalcing and adapting one another, rewriting cultures and beliefs hence leaving current believers and practitioners clueless about their current practices and beliefs, and what they're supposed to belive.

1) Another video by CGP Grey

2) An indpendent documentary film made to unwarp Christmas

2) History Channel

These is not my videos.
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Sunday, 16 December 2012

What Lay People Should Know about Ninjas

Does the fighting techniques taught in modern Ninjutsu schools date back to the actual teachings of the historical ninja? Or perhaps, did ninjutsu ever exist as single style of organised martial art prior to the modern ninjutsu classes we see today?

Was there ever a historical “Ninja vs. Samurai” event?

Were ninja's primarily assassins?

Did the iconic ninja suit and ninja mask really existed as a historical uniform?

Did this organised covert espionage system specialising in assassinations really first evolved in Japan?

To no surprise, since this is a What Lay People Should Know article, the answers to all the questions above are “no” or at least, bordering “no”.

Here's a short but informative 2011 documentary by HistoricalNinjutsu, featuring Anthony Cummings and James Loriega to find out what the historical ninjas really were like.

These are not my videos.
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Monday, 23 January 2012

What Lay People Should Know about Chicken Nuggets – How It's Made

by Zad Datu

“Mmmm... Chicken nuggets!” could be your first thought when you are served it. But perhaps that would all change your mind after finding out more about how they’re made and out of what.

Let us start from the outside, then we’ll slowly move to what’s inside.

On the outside we’ve got the breadcrumbs, obviously. Once fried it gets crusty and golden, easy on the eyes and interesting to munch on. Prior to frying and without the breadcrumbs you just have a patty of lumpy chicken. But before being chopped up and shaped into patties, where were they? “In ammonia”, is the answer – washed in ammonia, the were.

Ammonia!? Washed!? Why washed? To clean it of course! “You mean it’s dirty?”, you ask? Apparently so!... It’s full of artificial colouring and artificial flavouring.

What’s with the artificial colouring? Because they looked like what is shown in the image below – all pink. That is what you may have been eating all these while, whenever you stuff chicken nuggets down your throat.

This is pink stuff what turns into the nuggets you probably eat.

Why the artificial flavouring!? Shouldn’t chicken taste like chicken already?... Not if they’re not chicken.

“Not chicken!?” Well, actually it is chicken – parts of chickens, at least. But not chicken flesh. They’re called mechanically separated/reclaimed/recovered meat/poultry. They’re basically what’s left of the chicken after the meat has all been removed – the carcase – plus chicken skin ground thoroughly to smoothness and pinkness.

One Episode from The Young Turks Network:

A Scene from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution:

So what about Chicken McNuggets? As mentioned in The Young Turks Network video above, and according to the McDonald’s USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items, Chicken McNuggets are real genuine chicken meat.
Chicken McNuggets®:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil,
dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced
iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid
pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch.

Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness).
Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

You could even tell that it is chicken meat in your Chicken McNuggets from how the inside it looks. Just take a look at the photo below... You could even tell that this particular part is breast meat, if my guess is correct. I would assume that real chicken nuggets are generally made of breast meat as most customers seem to prefer and ask for the tender parts of the chicken when ordering chicken pieces (i.e. drumstick and thigh), placing the breast meat to waste, so its just logical to use the less wanted meat as chicken nuggets to reduce waste and save cost. In fact that’s exactly what using the carcase of the chicken does – reduce waste and save cost.

Photo of the inside of Chicken McNuggets

Speaking of reducing waste and saving cost, common sense tends to dictate that this just may be how chicken nuggets were invented. That perhaps a restaurant owner want to find way to save cost by using up the whole chicken as food, including the bones, so out popped the idea. If you assume that this is how chicken nuggets were invented, you should also assume that the restaurant was McDonalds in its infancy.

I say this because the invention of chicken nuggets is often wrongly accredited to McDonalds.

I can’t find info on the ingredients of KFC Chicken Nuggets, but from the looks of it, it is most likely to be real chicken meat. I’m sure big American companies like these wouldn’t be able to get away with using mechanically separated poultry as chicken nuggets especially with the power of the consumer’s rights in the US.

Here in Malaysia we have this famous chicken product brand called Ayamas (ayam translates to chicken from Malay and -mas sounds like from the word emas which translates to gold; put it together it sounds like chicken’s ass), and I can say that the insides of their chicken nugget does not at all look like chicken meat as pictured above. Again, I don’t have the ingredient list for this, so I can only speculate. In this country, consumer’s rights isn’t as in-forced as we wish it to be, so I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the local chicken nugget products are made of chicken carcase and skin. The odd thing is, every time I eat Ayamas chicken nuggets, I seem to get a temporary mild headache.

So... Feeling happy about eating Chicken McNuggets after knowing that they’re made of genuine chicken meat?... Hold on! The site of which I got the above image is from an article titled Anti-foaming agent found in Chicken McNuggets. Don’t you just hate news which brings crucial awareness? Or rather, don’t you just hate truths?...

Note: I'm sure more information could be included in this article, but there's a lot more I have to research and learn about food and diet before writing anymore on the subject.
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