Friday, January 21, 2022

Repeats of Older Ideas

Because both of these came up today, and though alone I was cursing audibly.

Whatever advantage Celsius/Centigrade has for scientific and international purposes, it is inferior to Fahrenheit for everyday use. Anything below 0° is Too Damn Cold.  Anything above 100° is Too Damn Hot. The rest is commentary.

The right wing radicals are primarily defensive, not only threatening to hole up with lots of weapons, daring the ATF and Biden to come after them but actually doing it. You can hear them say some truly frightening things about the race war that they have been sure is coming for thirty years or more and how ready they are for that. They shrug at the idea that they might have to shoot some people. But of the ones I have met here in NH, none have said "I'm gonna go down to Concuhd oah Manchestah and look foah some o' them radicals and blow theah fuckin'  heads off." It just doesn't happen, and nationwide this seems to hold as well. They are serious.  But they are staying home protecting their stuff. The left wing radicals are absolutely willing to go downtown everywhere and be aggressive, lighting things on fire or taking over buildings or neighborhoods or looting. But there is (was) a reluctance to even talk about shooting people. Each feeds the paranoia of the other by the limitation they don't care much about.  The right wing looks at itself and knows it would not go out on offense unless they really felt the Republic was in danger today; the left wing believes that actually going after human beings is a bridge they will not cross. (There have always been exceptions to both, but...)

My fear is that both limitations are breaking down, both fences have been breached. The generation one down from me seems mostly okay on both sides, with worrisome features.  The next generation after that does not adhere to those norms, left and right.


Douglas2 said...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In physiology, psychology, or psychophysics, a limen or a liminal point is a sensory threshold of a physiological or psychological response. It is the boundary of perception. On one side of a limen (or threshold) a stimulus is perceivable, on the other side it is not.

This work was not sponsored or supported by any granting agency. It arose from being unable to get comfortable in a rental-car on a long trip.

When I've searched the academic literature for the just-noticeable difference in cutaneous sensation of temperature around normal comfort levels in air, all I've found is stuff from research about HVAC systems saying that no good references exist. Lots about how we know we might freeze or be burned, but not much in the middle.

So I had to do my own experiments.

I found by having my subject sit in a chamber and adjust the temperature by small changes over several minutes so that they were conscious of it being "just right", then with any temperature change up or down applied that exceeded 0.55°C, they would soon say "now it is too warm" or "now it is too cool".

In this range a Δ° of 0.55°C is a Δ° of 1°F, so any less of a change than 1° we don't perceive, while any change more than 1° we can sense, with greater probability of sensation the greater the difference.

So if a contemporary “human factors” scientist was developing a temperature scale for use in climate control systems, I’ve no doubt the units would be about Fahrenheit in size, and I've also no doubt that the range from 0° to 100° would be about what we've got in Fahrenheit, for the reasons you say.

As a result of the research above, when I find myself with a rental car in Europe/Canada/ROW that does not allow choosing the target temperature for the HVAC by infinite dial or in 0.5°C increments -- only full 1°C increments being available on some models -- I find the menu option that allows me to choose Fahrenheit. The increment of 0.55°C is exactly what is optimal, any smaller is not additionally useful, and any larger risks having an increment where one option is too cold but the next higher option is too warm.


Grim said...


Timothy Williamson, in Knowledge and its Limits, uses a very similar temperature experiment to underline some of the limits of what we are able to know. Of course, being a philosopher, he did this as a thought experiment rather than actually putting anyone in a slightly-warming (or cooling) room. I'm interested to hear that someone actually did the thing.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Grim, read it again. I think he means driving in his rental car and playing with the dials

Grim said...

I understood that rental cars were involved somehow, but I'm not sure exactly how. Still, if the dials are in fact precise enough to do a degree F or a half degree C, they might serve as a practical comparison with Williamson's thought experiment.

Williamson's argument is that knowledge has stages, and sometimes they're vague. So when it's 30 degrees F, we are cold and we know that we are cold and we know that we know that we are cold. At some point, we may still in some sense know that we are cold, but we lose the hard know that we know sense; and at some point, we may be cold but no longer really know that we are cold anymore. And then at some point we aren't cold, but comfortable; and then maybe warm (but unaware that we are warm). Then we later know we are warm, but it may not be something we could reflect upon; and finally, at 100 F, we know that we know that we are not just warm but hot.

I don't know if Douglas2's experiment disproves that account; it may just mean that the process happens at finer grades than a degree F. But if in fact a single shift produces knowledge -- and reflective knowledge -- that we are too hot or too cold, then it could be that Williamson's plausible thought experiment fails to be replicable in practical reality.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Good point - I think there are two sorts going here. If I am the one adjusting the dial then I am sensitised to the change and may be more aware of it. In fact, I am almost certainly more aware. If it is happening behind my back, as it were, then it may be some time before I notice it, and the level of my distraction may be contingent on how engrossed I am. At more extreme temperatures, actual pain may intervene enough that I cannot become immersed in a project. Although...I recall when i used to be a skier that I put myself in some danger a few times because I did not pay good attention to how cold it was getting, and once got frostbite on a little toe that I did not notice until we were riding home. As a frostbitten part of your body is forever more susceptible to cold, that had permanent consequences.

But usually, it is only the contrast between having nothing musch to do around the house and finding oneself browsing for a snack at 10AM versus realising at 2:55pm on a day with an engaging house project that you have had only water plus a warm beer when you came in to go to the bathroom all day. What was the temperature? Who knows?

Douglas2 said...

I think he means driving in his rental car and playing with the dials

In kindergarten I would stack blocks and think "I wonder what will happen if I add one hanging half-off the tower, will the tower stay up or fall over?"

In completing my PhD, it was much the same, only the reporting requirements were more rigorous and formulaic.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

One of the great all-time comments here.

Christopher B said...

Linking this post to one at Grims "Patriot Front" are a Federal Mousetrap for your discussion of how right wing groups act differently than left wing ones.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, this distinction occurred to me while reading his analysis there. You have to really push those on the right to go out to another place to protest. Kyle Rittenhouse went downtown eight miles away because he considered it at some level his neighborhood, his area, but even that was unusual, perhaps because he is part of a younger generation.

Aggie said...

Cain't do Kelvin if ya cain't do Celsius