I just want to mention that a friend is coming out with a book soon which many readers might find of great use (I’ve checked out some of the drafts), Bioinformatics Data Skills: Reproducible and Robust Research with Open Source Tools. Talking to some of my colleagues it’s obvious that 10-20 years from now so many of “best practices” will be established, and we’ll laugh at the ad hoc scripting which is so common today. There are some pipelines which are so difficult to implement that I’ve ended up writing my code own code, because I anticipate that it won’t take as much time.
In other news, my post on the Islamic State has been widely distributed, including being referenced in Ross Douthat’s column. I would have chosen a better title if I had known how it would blow up, but who knows such things. Most of the reaction has been positive, but a few have come up with this sort of feedback:
The ease with which the author rationalizes ISIS' genocidal ways has left me pretty much speechless! http://t.co/1tMxmpTO5s
The post was long, so this individual may not have read it in full. Or, they may have some issues with reading comprehension, I’m not the clearest writer sometimes (though often it is by design because sometimes I don’t want to be explicit about secondary or sideline issues). But it’s not an uncommon response over the years when I talk about controversial or difficult things. There are several definitions of rationalize, but the key is that often I write in a somewhat bloodless and detached manner about topics which people are emotional about. The problem here is with people who are emotional and allow their emotions to cloud all ability to reason. To understand something you need to engage in Epoche, detach yourself from your conventional perspective and attempt to fly over the landscape. Those who lack emotional self control can’t comprehend that sort of self control in others, and so impute emotional motives. This is unfortunate, since it helps turn everything into screaming match. On the other hand, I do agree with David Hume that reason serves emotions. But that service of reason is rendered null if the two aspects are muddled.