1520: Degree-Off

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speising
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby speising » Mon May 04, 2015 8:15 pm UTC

LockeZ wrote:So who are the horsemen now? What do you call the nuclear horseman? Mutation? Annihilation? I guess Decay sounds right.

I'm not sure who replaced Famine.

Fast food, according to Good Omens.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby moody7277 » Mon May 04, 2015 8:51 pm UTC

I kind of liked Matt Frewer, he was funny. Sad to hear he's dead.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby lorb » Mon May 04, 2015 9:38 pm UTC

LockeZ wrote:I'm not sure who replaced Famine. Uh. Global warming maybe? That's mostly predictions of future bad stuff, at this point. We should probably wait until it actually causes more bad stuff than tornados before calling it apocalyptic. Whatever. I guess we're still accepting resumes for the black rider's replacement.


How about people starving because of global warming? Weather in parts of the world has turned more extreme. East africa has more droughts and also more torrential rain which makes agriculture a lot harder. There are already _a lot_ of people dying from the effects of global warming.

(Some source)
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Blake'sTiger » Mon May 04, 2015 11:00 pm UTC

speising wrote:
LockeZ wrote:So who are the horsemen now? What do you call the nuclear horseman? Mutation? Annihilation? I guess Decay sounds right.

I'm not sure who replaced Famine.

Fast food, according to Good Omens.


More precisely, according to Pratchett and Gaiman (The Old Firm), Famine adapted, and went into the diet industry. Pestilence was the one who was replaced (after he quit, muttering something about penicillin,) by Pollution.
Last edited by Blake'sTiger on Tue May 05, 2015 12:44 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Heimhenge
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Heimhenge » Mon May 04, 2015 11:36 pm UTC

Come on everyone ... we all know what the hierarchy is:

Logic
Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Anatomy
Psychology
Sociology
Political Science
Theology
Philosophy
Sophistry :)

There's the range of "degrees" for you. Randal could have done a LOT more with #1520.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby rmsgrey » Mon May 04, 2015 11:41 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:Come on everyone ... we all know what the hierarchy is:

Logic
Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Anatomy
Psychology
Sociology
Political Science
Theology
Philosophy
Sophistry :)

There's the range of "degrees" for you. Randal could have done a LOT more with #1520.


Except logic is a subset of philosophy...

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon May 04, 2015 11:57 pm UTC

LockeZ wrote:I'm not sure who replaced Famine. Uh. Global warming maybe?

Global warming's biggest direct impact on human suffering is likely going to be precisely famine. All our fancy agriculture won't mean shit if the arable land decreases too much or just changes too quickly for us to relocate our farms to Russia and Canada.
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ManaUser
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby ManaUser » Tue May 05, 2015 1:14 am UTC

Alright, so we've got claims of defeating Pestilence, Famine and even War. Who's going to take on the big guy?
Image

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Blake'sTiger » Tue May 05, 2015 1:57 am UTC

ManaUser wrote:Alright, so we've got claims of defeating Pestilence, Famine and even War. Who's going to take on the big guy?
Image



Computer scientists and neurologists in the (relatively) short term. No one in the long run, I'd wager. (Five dollars, payable to whatever intelligence survives the heat death of the universe)

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Mirkwood » Tue May 05, 2015 2:39 am UTC

airdrik wrote:
Mirkwood wrote:Political Science: We helped create institutions that have preservedredefined war such that we can say that we've had "world peace" despite there being war-like "armed conflicts" almost continually for the longest time in modern history! And we're pretty sure it'll all collapse some day, but we're not sure when, so until then we call it a victory.

ftfy.


Well, when I say "world peace" I mean there hasn't been a Great War between the major powers of the world (since 1945), or even a bloody civil war in a major country (China until 1949). Whereas in the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries the great powers regularly went to war and the international political system often collapsed. And before that, near-constant large-scale warfare is just spread more thinly among more states and nations.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Who » Tue May 05, 2015 3:32 am UTC

InfamousAnarchist wrote:I gotta say, I'm pretty enamored of the notion of slaying one of the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Maybe I gotta change fields. I don't know that math has ever done that.

Math doesn't dabble in the affairs of the horsemen. Math is God. It exists outside of the horsemen, beyond the horsemen, with no concern for such trivial matters.

johnfrye3 wrote:Is anyone else mildly annoyed by the line-up of the representatives being "Physics-Biology-Chemistry" instead of "Physics-Chemistry-Biology"? (Regardless of the order in which they actually defend their degrees/fields)

Yes.

Mirkwood wrote:
airdrik wrote:
Mirkwood wrote:Political Science: We helped create institutions that have preservedredefined war such that we can say that we've had "world peace" despite there being war-like "armed conflicts" almost continually for the longest time in modern history! And we're pretty sure it'll all collapse some day, but we're not sure when, so until then we call it a victory.

ftfy.


Well, when I say "world peace" I mean there hasn't been a Great War between the major powers of the world (since 1945), or even a bloody civil war in a major country (China until 1949). Whereas in the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries the great powers regularly went to war and the international political system often collapsed. And before that, near-constant large-scale warfare is just spread more thinly among more states and nations.

But is that political science, or physics? If the atomic bomb hadn't been a thing, the cold war would not have been so cold.
ManaUser wrote:Who's going to take on the big guy?
Image

I'll get around to it at some point.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Kit. » Tue May 05, 2015 5:29 am UTC

ps.02 wrote:Did the physics guy really not have a better defense of his degree than the alleged awesomeness of one self-consciously quirky dude and his wacky hijinks?

That was an American "physics guy".

An European one would probably have started with Galileo.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Tub » Tue May 05, 2015 7:06 am UTC

For those wondering about the death peak around ~1920, explainxkcd has traced the graph back to its source, which says:
The decline was interrupted by a sharp spike in mortality caused by the 1918 influenza epidemic.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Sofie » Tue May 05, 2015 7:20 am UTC

keithl wrote:
Sofie wrote:
Garnasha wrote:In principle, they also slew Famine
Nah, population follows food supply. The best you can do vs famine is to make the food supply as steady as possible, and that's basically the opposite of what agriculture does.
So few words, so many differences from actual fact - at least for the last century.

Well yeah, anything is sustainable for a short enough period of time :) The green revolution requires fossil fuels & phosphorous, and those along with topsoil & water reservoirs are getting depleted. We won't be feeding the world that way in another century. We'd need another "win" in the food race, with the current one already causing a mass extinction - the consequences of that would likely be even worse.

Having kids has always been a choice, for the individual. Some would leave their infants out to die, others hold on to them no matter what. But as a society, the individual variation cancels out and it becomes about cost vs benefit, how easily you can supply the resources for a kid. It's true food doesn't have to be the limiting factor, but it usually is, since it's usually the most difficult to obtain. Globalization means you have to look at the world as a whole.

I'm not Malthusian, at all. He got it backwards - saying population always increases exponentially (how?) while food production increases linearly (why?). I'm saying that humans, like all other species, are made out of food, and use the resources available. Being able to increase our food supply doesn't make us exempt from that. It just means that, again thanks to competition, we have to keep increasing it until we can't anymore - and then the horsemen return with a vengeance.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby niauropsaka » Tue May 05, 2015 7:24 am UTC

keithl wrote:Rather than spreading discredited fables (Malthus never bothered with facts), some of us are busting our asses to push towards improvement as fast as we can. Fewer children die every day of famine and war, but thousands still do, and even one is too many.

Malthus didn't actually need a lot of empirical statistical data, although he had a sufficient amount for his needs; he was arguing from mathematical logic. I don't have to do engage in a Bayesian analysis to know that 3 * 3 > 3 + 3.

The science of engineers (and their biotechnology and agriculture cousins) will always be incomplete and reckless without the empirical work of historians, economists, ecologists, and, well, hard-headed mathematicians.

Your techno-utopianism ignores the imminent global fisheries collapse; the reliance of high-yield agriculture on fossil water, fossil fuels, and even fossil phosphate; and the current extinction event wiping out insect and mollusc species due to (among other causes) agricultural pollution.

But yes, you might have as many as ten more years of cheap North American GMO corn infused with both plant and animal poisons before those crops become significantly more expensive if not economically non-viable due to a shortage of phosphate for fertilizer. Granted, it won't be in the present North American breadbasket, since the concentrated animal feeding operations plundered the fossil water reserves that were being used to produce all that subsidized maize, rice, and soy. In two years, there will be zero rice cultivation in California. High-yield agriculture in the Great Plains may not last much longer.

Meanwhile, insect-pollinated crops are becoming harder to grow due to multiple wild bee extinctions.

Since you like facts.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Wee Red Bird » Tue May 05, 2015 1:32 pm UTC

Did anyone else read the Biologist's lines in the voice of Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory?

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Sonic# » Tue May 05, 2015 4:26 pm UTC

How about English? Certainly the scientific community benefits from being able to communicate both to its own members and to members of the public.

At the very least I would put English at the top of a second major degree-off. If asked to clarify, I'd put technical writing and rhetoric on top for immediate utility, with literature somewhere close below because it adds value to good reading practices.

Other viable double majors might deal with rigorous thought or the ethics of research - I'd put Philosophy up there too, and History or Religious Studies next to them.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby mathmannix » Tue May 05, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

Wee Red Bird wrote:Did anyone else read the Biologist's lines in the voice of Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory?

Well, now I do. Oh, that's much better.
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby *** » Tue May 05, 2015 6:03 pm UTC

ManaUser wrote:Alright, so we've got claims of defeating Pestilence, Famine and even War. Who's going to take on the big guy?
Image


Wasn't Clint Eastwood the Pale Horseman? Can't we just wait him out?
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby TrueNarnian » Tue May 05, 2015 7:07 pm UTC

I hope we get a sequel to this comic. I could watch "Degree-Off" for hours. Also, I want to hear what the Chemist has to say.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Jorpho » Wed May 06, 2015 1:22 am UTC

niauropsaka wrote:Your techno-utopianism ignores the imminent global fisheries collapse; the reliance of high-yield agriculture on fossil water, fossil fuels, and even fossil phosphate; and the current extinction event wiping out insect and mollusc species due to (among other causes) agricultural pollution.

But yes, you might have as many as ten more years of cheap North American GMO corn infused with both plant and animal poisons before those crops become significantly more expensive if not economically non-viable due to a shortage of phosphate for fertilizer. Granted, it won't be in the present North American breadbasket, since the concentrated animal feeding operations plundered the fossil water reserves that were being used to produce all that subsidized maize, rice, and soy. In two years, there will be zero rice cultivation in California. High-yield agriculture in the Great Plains may not last much longer.

Meanwhile, insect-pollinated crops are becoming harder to grow due to multiple wild bee extinctions.

Since you like facts.
Well, crap. I hope someone's working on that.

TrueNarnian wrote:I hope we get a sequel to this comic. I could watch "Degree-Off" for hours. Also, I want to hear what the Chemist has to say.

What would Hatguy do?

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby signal11 » Wed May 06, 2015 1:27 am UTC

The heroes of Bio are engineers?

In the grand scheme of the public health triad that actually brought down the CDR from those heights - hygiene and sanitation (of primarily water), vaccination and antibiotics - the effect of clean municipal water is on a completely different order of magnitude from the others.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Consumatopia » Wed May 06, 2015 3:48 am UTC

Physics might have to share the industrial revolution with Chemistry. But at least Physics gets to claim electricity.

That might not seem comparable to saving lives taken by infectious disease, but note that infectious disease is a much larger cause of death in poorer countries. If we knew about vaccination/antibiotics/sanitation, but we still had 1900's per capita GDP, would we have had the same success in lowering our death rate?

Of course, Biology gets to claim a share of GDP growth as well. But probably more from the subfield of agriculture than from medicine.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Angua » Wed May 06, 2015 6:52 am UTC

signal11 wrote:The heroes of Bio are engineers?

In the grand scheme of the public health triad that actually brought down the CDR from those heights - hygiene and sanitation (of primarily water), vaccination and antibiotics - the effect of clean municipal water is on a completely different order of magnitude from the others.

It wasn't an engineer who worked out why you needed clean water though.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby CigarDoug » Wed May 06, 2015 11:34 am UTC

A well-rounded man is versed in all seven liberal arts and sciences:

    Grammar
    Rhetoric
    Logic
    Arithmetic
    Geometry
    Music
    Astronomy

As Heinlein said, Specialization is for Insects.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed May 06, 2015 12:09 pm UTC

Specialization is usefull because it takes time to learn something and we're not immortal.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby orthogon » Wed May 06, 2015 1:04 pm UTC

Angua wrote:It wasn't an engineer who worked out why you needed clean water though.

Sort-of this: see below.

fest3er wrote:Since the discovery of fire, the greatest scientists have been ... cooks and bakers. Their applied chemistry has fed--and continues to feed--billions of people.


In a recent thread I tried to make a distinction between technology and engineering. Technology as I define it is a broader term, and includes any clever way to exploit the natural world to our benefit. Engineering (or Applied Science if you prefer) is specifically the application of Science to Technology. In these terms, Baking is definitely a technology, and a crucially important one at that, but for most of its history it wasn't Applied Science. For sure, perfecting the process involved experimentation: trying different temperatures, baking and proving times, types of flour etc. But these experiments are essentially a matter of finding out about the best way to make bread by trying different ways of making bread. The conclusions of these experiments don't represent theories with any great amount of predictive power; nor are they particularly explanatory. Some of the conclusions might not even be conscious: they are part of the "craft" of bread-making that's passed down through the generations and learned by doing. As a result there's the likelihood that there will be vestigial elements to the process: practices that don't serve any purpose but that nobody has bothered to question, or even which have been "baked in" (sorry) to the received wisdom and are hard to challenge. The belief that corks are better than screw-caps on wine bottles is an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about. Baking became applied science at the point where we understood enough about the biology of yeast, the chemical properties of flour, the gas laws, heat transfer and so on to be able to explain from more fundamental principles how bread-making works. Armed with this knowledge we can make predictions, optimise processes and potentially invent new kinds of bread, genetically engineer yeast and flour so as to improve efficiency and productivity. YMMV on whether this is a good thing or not.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Kit. » Wed May 06, 2015 1:31 pm UTC

Angua wrote:It wasn't an engineer who worked out why you needed clean water though.

Was it John Snow or do you think of someone else?

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby orthogon » Wed May 06, 2015 5:23 pm UTC

Obviously this kind of debate is a terrible way of comparing the merits of different disciplines, even supposing such a comparison were in any way meaningful. In my opinion, it's also a terrible way of comparing the merits of different presidential or prime-ministerial candidates. That's another thing we should have left safely the other side of the ocean, but sadly there's no going back now for the UK.

Also, "a degree-off" is not to be confused with "a degree off", which is what you don't want to be if you're heading for Mars, or you'd miss by a million kilometres.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby operagost » Wed May 06, 2015 8:40 pm UTC

Garnasha wrote:In principle, they also slew Famine (with some help from the chemists), except we're really bad at distributing food(and wealth in general, but the point here is food),

May government always fail at distributing wealth.

If all have food, shelter, and clothing, there is no need for wealth.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 06, 2015 9:12 pm UTC

Most people (in the first world at least, I kind of wonder about the third) do not "have" shelter. They borrow it. And without a constant influx of wealth to pay to borrow it, they lose it.

Also more on the topic at hand, food is kind of intrinsically that way. You constantly need more of it no matter what, that's how food works, and you have to trade wealth to get it unless you're one of the few who makes it yourself (in which regard, see above about borrowing real property, only this time to farm instead of to live on), so you need a constant influx of wealth with which to pay for food.

"Wealth" does not mean "luxuries".
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Flumble » Wed May 06, 2015 9:17 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:Specialization is usefull[sic] because it takes time to learn something and we're not immortal.

[citation needed]

But yeah, it's a shame that we're so slow at learning.
If everyone the average Joe could just learn biology (most notably human physiology), computer science**, sociology, economics, philosophy and physics* before they turn 10, the world would be a much better place.

*we need a lot more people to understand QM and GR if we ever want to realise a GUT
**this is going (relatively) great though: more and more schools (in the Netherlands and I assume abroad too) introduce kids to actual programming at a young age. I hope I still have job security in 20 years. :roll:

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Invertin » Thu May 07, 2015 4:26 pm UTC

philip1201 wrote:Has anyone actually plotted deaths by war (per capita) versus time? I'm fairly sure that those physicists did not create a new horseman, but 'slew' war by realising Nobel's dream of a weapon so terrible that we refuse to use it.


I'd say it's more like they sealed it away. There's a lot of security but someone can still unleash it and that particular horseman used that time in prison to get buff as hell cuz damn.

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby PinkShinyRose » Thu May 07, 2015 9:23 pm UTC

Sonic# wrote:How about English? Certainly the scientific community benefits from being able to communicate both to its own members and to members of the public.

At the very least I would put English at the top of a second major degree-off. If asked to clarify, I'd put technical writing and rhetoric on top for immediate utility, with literature somewhere close below because it adds value to good reading practices.

Other viable double majors might deal with rigorous thought or the ethics of research - I'd put Philosophy up there too, and History or Religious Studies next to them.

I don't follow, wouldn't Latin, Arabic, Classical Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Hakka, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, German, Russian, Japanese, Armenian, Welsh, French, Spanish, Hindi, Romansh, Phoenician, Punic, Dutch, Esperanto, Persian, Proto-Germanic, Finnish, Estonian, Swahili or Gaelic (or many other languages) work just as well for the purpose of communication?

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby elig » Fri May 08, 2015 4:02 am UTC

BUT WHAT DID THE CHEMIST SAY? WHAT DID THE CHEMIST SAY?!

You can't just leave me in suspense like this :(

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Sonic# » Fri May 08, 2015 7:15 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
Sonic# wrote:How about English? Certainly the scientific community benefits from being able to communicate both to its own members and to members of the public.

At the very least I would put English at the top of a second major degree-off. If asked to clarify, I'd put technical writing and rhetoric on top for immediate utility, with literature somewhere close below because it adds value to good reading practices.

Other viable double majors might deal with rigorous thought or the ethics of research - I'd put Philosophy up there too, and History or Religious Studies next to them.

I don't follow, wouldn't Latin, Arabic, Classical Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Hakka, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, German, Russian, Japanese, Armenian, Welsh, French, Spanish, Hindi, Romansh, Phoenician, Punic, Dutch, Esperanto, Persian, Proto-Germanic, Finnish, Estonian, Swahili or Gaelic (or many other languages) work just as well for the purpose of communication?


Yes, and I'd put the study of many languages up there too. English is predominant in many forms of research though, and Randall's comic is written in English, implying an Anglophone audience.
"Stars, I have seen them fall,

But when they drop and die

No star is lost at all

From all the star-sown sky.

The toil of all that be

Helps not the primal fault;

It rains into the sea

And still the sea is salt."

~A.E. Housman

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby P13808 » Fri May 08, 2015 11:06 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:Come on everyone ... we all know what the hierarchy is:

Logic
Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Anatomy
Psychology
Sociology
Political Science
Theology
Philosophy
Sophistry :)

There's the range of "degrees" for you. Randal could have done a LOT more with #1520.

Wait, is this supposed to be a purity gradation? Because logic is part of philosophy. Hell, philosophy is prior to all of these for any meaningful deduction (i.e. not just observation).

Philosophy
Logic
Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Anatomy
Psychology
Sociology
Political Science

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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri May 08, 2015 11:31 pm UTC

Logic is equally philosophy and math, I'd say the intersection between them in fact, and I would put those two and art (or "art criticism", the abstract evaluative aspect of art more than the practical technique) together as the roots of all the rest; with philosophy being something like the intersection between math and art, and what all the physical sciences hinge upon.

The physical sciences don't stack perfectly though: physics is at the root yes, but on physics directly rest not only chemistry but also astronomy; and on chemistry (and the underlying physics) rest not only biology but also geology; and so on. Engineering in turn is a superfield unto itself with many subfields, and all of them collectively rest upon the physical sciences collectively. Technological disciplines in turn rest collectively on engineering collectively. (Compare IT to SE to CS; or your car mechanic, to the guy who designed your car's engine, to the guys who discovered things like the Carnot cycle).

And there's a whole separate branch we haven't even considered, separate from the natural sciences and engineering and technology; going back up the opposite direction, business administration relies on things entrepreneurs create the way technological administration relies on things engineers create, and the latter in turn (the entrepreneurs, not the engineers) could do well to be guided by something analogous to the physical sciences; something a cross between sociology and market research, employing the more prescriptive (in contrast to descriptive) aspects of fields like economics and political science (and subdisciplines like game theory and rational choice theory) and the kind of research tools found in fields like anthropology, and all of it grounded in philosophical principles analogous to (but distinct from) the scientific method; what you might call ethical sciences, in contrast to physical ones, which are at present terrible non-cohesive and unorganized, but all the ingredients are there.
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

Kit.
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby Kit. » Sat May 09, 2015 10:51 am UTC

I'd say that logic that is a part of philosophy is a different thing than logic that is a part of math.

Further, I would consider fields of human knowledge activity to be showing some degrees of involvement of the following attributes (the names are, well, nominal):
1. "Art" (looking for the ways to appeal to human intuition);
2. "Law" (making frameworks of strict rules that could be followed mechanically);
3. "Science" (matching formal models with factual data, selecting the best matching models);
4. "Engineering" (using knowledge in order to change factual data);
...maybe more.

In this sense, logic in philosophy is mostly "Art", with little of "Law". Logic in math is mostly "Law", with little of "Art". And physics likely has the most solid "Law" component from all the fields that have a considerable "Science" component.

lorb
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Re: 1520: Degree-Off

Postby lorb » Sat May 09, 2015 12:54 pm UTC

Did you ever visit a philosophy course on logic?
It is actually a lot more about how to properly connect what you call "Art" to what you call "Law".
Please be gracious in judging my english. (I am not a native speaker/writer.)
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