[Israel.pm] Top-posting, the word "evil" and Logical Induction [was Re: File::Find::Recursive]

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Thu Oct 22 00:43:03 PDT 2009

On Thursday 22 Oct 2009 07:39:41 Uri Bruck wrote:
> Shlomi Fish wrote:
> > Hi Dov!
> >
> > On Wednesday 21 Oct 2009 16:46:51 Levenglick Dov-RM07994 wrote:
> >> Hi,
> >> Thanks for the comments.
> >>
> >> 1. I will add use warnings. I don't think that it is worth the time to
> >>  investigate if it runs on 5.005 or below. I'll add that as well.
> >>  2. I am
> >>  not happy nor unhappy, just unaware.
> >> 3. I was unaware. I'll do that
> >> 4. Damn IDE!
> >> 5. The function is public and I didn't see the need to limit the user
> >> 6. Please explain. I don't understand
> >> 7. Why is regex injection bad? I use it for matching the files.
> >
> > I find it very hard to reply to that because my comments are in that
> > order in the bottom of the document quoted below, and I'll need to scroll
> > up and down or open them in a new window.
> Or copy&paste them in your reply to the place you consider most
> appropriate and then reply.
> Probably wouldn't've taken much longer than writing the reply you did
> write. Y'know, the edicai-shenal one.

Possibly, but I prefer to educate people on that so they (and the other people 
witnessing this on this list) will know better than to do it next time, and so 
I'll have an easier time next time. Teach a man to fish and all.

To quote George Bernard Shaw:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists 
in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the 
unreasonable man.

( http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pragmatism - which I admit is my creation)

Sometimes you have to be a bit stubborn.

> > This is a good proof for why top-posting is
> > evil:
> Doesn't prove a damn thing and evil is much too strong a word for this.
> A minor inconvenience for some people at worst.

Well, it may not be a proof of deduction in the mathematical sense, but it's a 
case where this was problematic, which adds to the inductive evidence against 
top-posting.[1] What if I was using a text-based mailer - mutt, pine or worse 
(?)? What if I were sight-impaired or hand-motor-impaired? I believe Omer 
(Zak) can further enlighten us on the accessibility aspects of this situation 
and I believe that in general inline posting is both more usable and more 
accessible than top-posting.

[1] - while Mathematicians tend to reject logical induction (i.e: proving a 
rule based on a lot of individual occurences) as a methodology of proof (e.g: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldbach%27s_conjecture ) , it is necessary in 
other fields of science, including Physics. We are unable to prove that the 
force of gravitation works on every two particles with masses based on more 
basic assumptions, but we have to assume that this is the case, because that's 
how we have observed it up to now.

And in some fields of science which work at a higher level of abstraction, it 
is often possible to assume that generalisations hold *in general* despite 
some evidence to the contrary. For example, we can claim that 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavioral_therapy is *generally* 
effective despite the fact that some patients were not fully helped by it.

Regarding the use of the word "evil" - I did not mean it in the traditional 
sense of being "really bad" and "anti-life" (or negating human biological 
needs as is the Neo-Tech definition), like saying that Genghis Khan was an 
evil, immoral (and unethical) man. Instead, I meant it in the following sense 
as used by Hacker:


This is similar to the fact that the word "mean" originally meant "cruel" but 
now often means something like "Don't be mean!" as for "Don't be too strict.", 
or "Please compromise a little.". Hackers sometimes say stuff like 
"XML::Simple is evil." or "Tcl's way of using strings for closures, instead of 
say S-expressions, is Evil with a capital E.".

I apologise if anyone here was too offended from me using this adjective.


	Shlomi Fish

P.S: I've got a little off-topic and carried away with this post, so feel free  
not to respond, respond in private or to a different mailing list - perhaps: 
http://www.hackers.org.il/ .

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
Funny Anti-Terrorism Story - http://shlom.in/enemy

Chuck Norris read the entire English Wikipedia in 24 hours. Twice.

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