Meedya is the muddle

Pondering the following quote which I saw on Facebook today. The irony of that sentence isn’t lost on me :)

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” – Marshall McLuhan.

It puzzles me that many otherwise intelligent people argue that the Internet has democratised media and so the above could not be true in the current age.  In reality, media companies are aggregated and conglomerated like never before – they are owned by rich media czars. It’s certainly true that the mechanisms for news distribution have been democratised and are now much more affordable thanks to social media and web publishing software. However, what people talk about is determined by mainstream media. We retweet, repost, add colour to and debate the topics that we’re encouraged to believe are important. Whether’s it’s “shirt gate” or Adele not singing on Bandaid30, it’s all such rubbish. Often mesmerisingly trivial banalities dressed up with complicated ideological arguments to suggest it’s something more important.

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Revising Milgram’s conclusion is a waste of time.

I noticed this article in the Independent today about a new interpretation of the Milgram Experiment.

The article is typical of newspaper’s treatment of scientific research as a set of competing conjectures which are deemed true based on the authority that said them and when they were said. In Newspaper Science, you can undo Einsteinian special relativity simply by saying it doesn’t exist and having the perceived authority to do so. The actual science bit, the essence of the scientific method is often poorly reported, misunderstood or swept under the carpet as ideological nuisance.

The problem with the famous electric shock experiment of Stanley Milgram is that it challenges the perception that humans have innate goodness. This is a philosophical position with theological origins. Mankind is simply wired up to need to justify their actions by assuming moral correctness.  Moral ambivalence is viewed as a disorder, implying we assume that psychological normalcy involves engagement with questions as to the morality of one’s actions. Mankind also needs to feel good about itself. Avoidant-attachment disorder,  Schizoid Personality Disorder, Depressive disorders. When we label those as disorders, we’re saying something about an outlook that regards not feeling good about oneself as being wrong, again against the normalcy that we’d like to believe exists.

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Aniseikonia, the serious vision problem nobody seems to know about

I’ve had dry eye for a few years and have posted quite a bit about my problems focussing on images on a computer screen for hours on end.  What I didn’t know is that there is a scientifically accepted reason why some patients can’t adjust properly to glasses but can see significantly better with contact lenses.

The condition is known as Aniseikonia.

“Aniseikonia is an ocular condition where there is a significant difference in the perceived size of images. It can occur as an overall difference between the two eyes, or as a difference in a particular meridian “

There are 2 kinds of aniseikonia, static and dynamic. Static is observable when we focus on an object while dynamic is observed when we try to move our eyes to focus on a moving object or parse text, for instance. See here for more information and some explanatory graphics. Continue reading

Shane Dempsey muses on Life and Technology

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