~ Learning to transform questions into effective queries ~
Established @ searchlores
in February 2003
Learning to transform questions into effective queries
(The 7 questions: quis, quid, ubi, quibus
auxiliis, cur, quomodo,
by ~S~ fravia+,
September 2003, Version 0.31
Originally written for a London workshop of mine (28 february 2003)
Natural Language Searching
Joe User's 7 questions
1) ubi ~ the real meaning of a query
2) cur ~ knowing how to rephrase
3) quibus auxiliis ~ keeping the seeker's balance
4) quomodo ~ regional searching
5) quando ~ evaluation lore (1)
6) quis ~ evaluation lore (2)
7) quid ~ local and specialized engines
This series of small "searching snippets" plays with the old (rhetorical)
seven simple Latin questions, which made it possible to describe any event:
"quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando". I have chosen this approach
in order to (try to) show some
possibly useful paths when 'solving' common web-queries. The idea is
to demonstrate at the same time some useful searching approaches, that can be used
for all related queries, and highlight some frequent "web-pitfalls", that seekers
should learn to identify and avoid. The material presented here is still in fieri,
has been collected &
prepared for my London workshop, which will be held on 28 february 2003, and
is intended to be presented on a beamer with a quick web-connection. Suggestions, criticism and
improvement proposals are welcome.
"Natural Language Searching" was all the rage a couple of years
ago (nowadays "all the rage" is again "Inferring web communities from link topology" :-)
That 'natural language' has nothing to do with "your" cokney, mind you...
we are anyway here too far south to be in hearing distance of the bells
of St. Mary Le Bow :-) And yet, like cockney, rephrasing a question so
that it can be turned into a useful web-search requires some ingenuity.
As seekers know well, all 'ask jeeves' and similar search
engines, that blossomed in those years,
tried to "phrase web searches in the form of questions", a target deemed worthy
partly because most users
were (and are)
simply too dumb to be able to
use a correct sintax when querying ("boolean bombs"), and partly
because simplification for the end-user
is indeed --most of the time-- a correct and worthy
path to follow.
Ask jeeves was
one of the first significant deployments of natural language technology on the Internet (note that the
very good TEOMA search engines is a development
of ask jeeves).
It tried to give users the ability to question their search engines in normal English.
Here follow some specific query examples that we will examine in-depth, since
"Learning to transform questions into effective queries" is of the outmost importance
for "real", human seekers as well,
and since I believe these small, practice-oriented, examples may
shed a little light on some effective searching techniques for all those, like you, that are not (yet)
in the know.
As you will see, we are still FAR away from a "natural language searching" good algorithm...
ask jeeves just pumps a ready-made database of responses for a couple of millions
of the most
In this specific engine, moreover, the real algos for transforming on the fly a real NEW "natural language
question" into a correct set of responses are either very weak or, more probably,
next to inexistent.
We'r gonna give them some pointers to develop those algos in a correct way :-)
|Joe A. User's 7 questions |
I collected the following queries on the morning of
5 february 2003, taking them at random from Jeeves' peek,
where you can see what people are searching for on jeeves eo ipso
(many similar services are listed
on the ad hoc section of my sites).
Here we go with
7 questions (by "Joe A. User", where the A stays for 'average')
that will allow me to show you, to-day,
some searching approaches --and caveats-- you may not be aware of.
As you can see, all these questions have been presented in normal, plain English.
Now let's have a look at the answers given by "ask jeeves", at the answers
you should be able to find quickly, and at
the possible approaches to find SIMILAR answers on the web.
Let us see also wether the algorithms used by the various search engines
are good enough as they are, are miserable, could be improved,
should be ditched, or whatever.
|Where can I find the flag of the country Ireland?|
ubi ~ the real meaning of a query
Now I really do not know what this Joe User guy means with this question. And I guess no search engine's
algo will be able to
tell us that either.
|What is the real meaning behind a given query?
There are a couple of possibilities, though:
1. He wants just to find
a picture of the Irish flag, just to see what it looks like;
2. He wants to find it and know its exact colours IN ORDER TO
reproduce them (on the web or elsewhere);
3. He wants to know the history of the Irish national flag, and maybe
also of all
possible other (minor) irish flags,
the more accurate and verbose
info on this stuff and topic, the better for him.
1) In the first case:
A seeker would probably already know what the Irish flag
looks like, duh. If not he would just quickly use google
image searches and that's it.
2) In the second case we would need to find out the irish
pantone colours (for green 347, and for orange 151)
or go for a "irish flag" pantone
search, and then we would probably like to have
the best approximation, for web usage purposes,
with the pertinent "browser safe" RGB codes.
Note that the following info can be helpful for students of an university College of
"Design and Communication" as well :-)
PMS 347 RGB:0-153-102 (#009966)
PMS 151 RGB:255-102-0 (#FF6600)
Let's try a better orange with a pantone
to html converter (forgetting for the time being the 'browser safe' colors on the ranges 00/33/66/99 and
so on): in this case Pantone 151 gives a more accurate
| let's see... || ...not bad,
but the orange is not really
| let's see... ||
|| ...not bad either, and
this orange looks (slightly) more 'Irish' to me... |
In CMYK values this would be:
Green C 100 - M 0 - Y 80 - K 10
Orange C 0 - M 40 - Y 90 - K 0
3) For the third case,
now, good seekers should know, or quickly find out (which is the same),
the best places to find info on a flag would be
either a specific site, found combing, like
(where you'll see that you could search also
for "bhratach na hÉireann", the gaelic
translation of "flag of Ireland",
on some local, specific engine... of course
being aware of the relative rarity of gaelic pages on the web :-)
More simply, we could poke inside
well known 'flag' places,
like the world flags database,
the world. Of course in order to get the necessary angles you could
use a more simple approach kinda
"history of the irish flag",
or, maybe better a query that is almost "the opposite" of Joe's natural language one:
irish tricolour colours green orange history
(note that this query also eliminates all the "com" sites URLs
and all sites where the word "buy" appears somewhere in the text).
But there is no need to use a given search engine or a specific queryformat for
this specific topic in fact wherever you search, however you formulate,
you'll be on a roll with this flag:
it's clear from the beginning that this search will give
good results: the irish,
being a quite nationalistic folk for obvious historical reasons, have spread
info on their flag all over the
web: see? More than one thousand SITES (not pages, eh) with the word ireland,
and more than 1000 other sites with the word irish
on the deep deep web!
And take note of this last "netcraft search approach", because it could prove
quite useful for other
specific searches :-)
So Joe user could have even tried to guess his
target: http://www.irishflags.com/ and got
some results... but that's a "com" site, brrr, we better close it right now :-)
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
Here they are,
unfortunately, as you can see, ask jeeves, like many other engines,
still believes in the commercial nonsense, and will therefore deceive his unlucky
in the first positions links that are absolutely useless
("Virtually all country flags in stock", "for home and business").
This commercial spamming -as we will see- is here and elsewhere
a fact, which will unfortunately prove to be
globally true for ALL answers to the 7 questions listed above,
so we wont need to repeat this warning too often, hopefully :-)
If the users manage
spring down to the real answers, which are buried beneath the commercial crap,
"ask jeeves" will still give on its first positions crappy links like the
"CIA World Factbook 2002 -- Ireland" (with flag indeed, but very poor and lacklustre
commercial crap stickers, a site for an anti-racism campaign, infoplease's "countries of
the world", the CIA again (this time United Kingdom), "workers solidarity in Ireland"
and what not.
Clearly, even if --maybe-- useful in order to find some elementary notions about the
Irish flag, this ask jeeves approach would (and should)
not satisfy our average "joe User".
|Why is the sun yellow?|
cur ~ knowing how to rephrase
You might think this is a stupid question.
However, as you will see, human kind is actually still debating this point,
and a Russian (or a Japanese) would counter
you that the very question is bogus, since the
sun is obviously red, not yellow.
Anyway this seems like one of those sound questions,
that a good search engine should be able to (try to) answer automatically.
Alas, as we well know, and as we
will see now, just because you ask some legitimate question it does not
mean that there is gonna be only a single, simple answer for it (in general, historically,
mistrust --the more the better-- those who claim they
have a single simple answer to a given question :-)
Let's see how a seeker would proceed in order to deliver a good answer.
|The importance of rephrasing a query
First of all, many sites will point out that
the sun IS NOT 'just'
actually. This compels us to rephrase correctly.
The (more correct) question "What color is the Sun?"
raises an interesting issue, more closely related to biology and psychology than to physics.
Physically, sunlight is just a concoction of photons on different wavelengths, a
particular mixture with a result very close to the color we call "white" (don't get me
into color subjectivity now, please).
Yet since the temperature of the sun varies from 1.55e7 Kelvin
down to a "photosphere" value of 5800 Kelvin, scientists approximate the
radiation (light) of the sun with a theoretical model
called black body radiation,
and a simple law (Wien's law)
the black body radiation, connects
the wavelenght of the light, in micro-metre, to the temperature
in Kelvin, /\=2900/T.
Using the Sun's surface temperature we
get /\=0.5 micro-metre, which corresponds to a yellow light,
hence the Sun should be yellow, quod erat demonstrandi.
Moreover its spectral type is G2V (yellow dwarf star).
Yet... yet maybe the sun is pink!
"As shown in the table, the Sun's colour is in fact rather similar to that
of a 5780 K blackbody. It looks peach pinkish, not yellow...
It has to be emphasized that white is a relative thing, at least to a certain extent.
It is relative to the daylight spectrum (white)
that the Sun is peachy pink"
...as you know, dear future "designers and communicators",
colors seem to be pretty relative and elusive concepts :-)
Anyway you can get more info (and, especially, useful info for your future searching activities)
performing, and understanding, the following query:
color is the sun
This FAST search deserves careful evaluation... you will notice that
it must not include the terms "business" and "travel",
(always "evil terms" for any search, that deserve a good killfile, together with "porn",
"health" and so on).
Moreover the search above
should include the "edu" suffix in
the retrieved URLs, for obviously valid reasons. Note also
ALL the .com domains could and should
be mostly eliminated from your searches, with gusto and profit :-)
Finally we have excluded, also for obvious reasons,
all those crap and/or useless sites infested with
"macromedia flash" frills or with those pesky
realvideo/realaudio spywares. Yeah, that's (part of) what you can do with FAST, on the fly,
(only with fast and not if you use google): fast has an "advanced searching options"
paradise for seekers.
Back to our topic.
The color of a light emission depends on its temperature. As temperature goes up
the color goes from dull red through orange, yellow-orange, yellow, green, blue,
and then to ultraviolet and beyond. The sun's "color" is yellow-green,
corresponding to a temperature of somewhere around 5000 degrees.
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
On this query Ask jeeves will give you everything from
"Sun Dried Tomatoes" to "Sun City Yellow Pages", through "Yellow Sheer Acc".
The only (poor) related link was the following, obsolete, one:
Re: Why is the sun yellow at noon and red at sunset? Area: Physics
Posted By: Rob Jeffries, Faculty Astrophysics, Keele University
Date: Mon Jan 20 02:39:20 1997
Message ID: 851822711.Ph
even this lonely result, that looks somehow promising,
explains (poorly) just why the sun is red at sunset, and not why it is yellow (or whatever)
most of the time.
Hence the querying user would still be left with de facto no good
since MOST OF THE FOLLOWING answers are completely useless... until a
"What makes our sun yellow?" page, that appears as SECOND
result in good old (and else equally mistified) google.
(You would not believe me if I listed
the amount of: "Golden Sun 'Yellow King'" and similar crap results
offered there, so I wont do it :-)
|Where can I find information about the chemical element chlorine?|
quibus auxiliis ~ keeping the seeker's balance
This seems like a clever and clear question. The searcher here, apparently,
wants to know where he can find information about something, he does not
have that information stright away.
As seekers know, to know where
you can find something is tantamount to know something, and maybe even better, because you
do not need to take care of the updates yourself.
just let's assume this is true, for the sake of this query...
actually Joe A. USer, probably just wants some concrete and immediate
info about chlorine and just happens to have formulated
his query so to allow our interpretation :-)
Apart from an immediate 'pure chemical' quest,
any seeker will soon 'smell' something... should he not know it already.
In fact "chlorine"
is used in the production of safe drinking water the world over, is
extensively used in the production of paper products,
dye stuff, textiles, medicines, drugs, antiseptics,
solvents, paints, plastics, and foodstuffs,
and here lies the simple
problem: it's an extensively used poisonous gas.
In fact Chlorine is a greenish yellow gas (same color as the sun we have
seen before :-),
that irritates the soft tissues ("mucous membranes"). As little as 3.5 ppm can be
detected as an odour, and 1000 ppm is likely to be fatal
after a few deep breaths. It was used as a war gas in 1915.
There are moreover some quite dangerous
chlorinated chemical components: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (dioxin), to name the most (in)famous.
We may therefore infer that this user wants to know where he can
find reliable information about how
dangerous chlorine really is.
Maybe in food,
maybe in the air, as chlorine monoxide (see ozone
Well, as you will see, valuable and objective
information on these matters represents
a weak signal, in a web swamped with both conspiration theories
and multinationals' propaganda noise.
In this kind of searches the main problem is relying on your own
to maintain a seeker's perfect equilibrium that will
allow you to 'cut the web' avoiding the ever lurking risk of falling
in the simmetric pitfalls of, on one side, those who take themselves
and their causes too seriously or, on the other, of those who have some specific
economic interest to defend, with teeth and claws, or have been paid in order to
defend their master's very interests.
Where can we find some help and which help can and should we use?
Well, let's begin with the existing LAWS, that's always a sound approach.
performed on the Europa server at europa.eu.int,
will give you all possible angles to enter into the pertinent eu-law tunnels.
an interesting reading would be the
Commission Directive of 26 July 2002 "for the determination of levels of dioxins
in feedingstuffs", in the EU-Official Journal L 209 2002
As a small digression, it could be useful in Europe, for all civil society and "grass root"
organisations, actually, for anyone, to be able to check
ANY EU-Official Journal, in
ANY (EU) language 'on the fly' using the following (powerful) mask:
Fetch a OJ on the fly! ("l" or "c")
||(Build a string like 2002l209
Let's go on. Let's see what the two sides of the same coin look like.
One side will be found with this search
Note the constraints: we search for
chlorine danger hazard, the results
org in the URL, should include environment and not porn
in the text.
Now again, searching through those specific "chlorine" laws we have
found above, (and for this you will now
build your ad hoc searchstrings on your own)
we will find 'from the other side'
those that defend chlorine against the laws
("chlorine: life depends on it"), because this chemical product
allows (huge) private gains,
and hence -as usual- those that gain from something dangerous
dislike and denigrate public intervention against its use (did I say tobacco?).
Yet seekers -even when convinced- should always "run with the hare and hunt with the
hounds" just in case :-) Mor egenerally there is
always much to learn from the very structure of the
arguments of the counterpart.
Isn't such a hard
defence a little suspicious per se?
Anyway, with the help of both 'fields',
we have already found a couple of entrances to parts of the web where our user
could "find information about the chemical element chlorine",
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
A lot of periodic tables, commercial crap ("When chemistry is a Passion, anything is possible"),
chemical 'data sheets', commercial chlorine defenders, chlorine industry... you'll have a
hard time finding some objective info about the dangers of Chlorine with this search.
Maybe Joe User wanted only Chlorine's position on the periodic table, but I doubt it.
|How do I find the Italian national hymn?|
quomodo ~ regional searching
Now this is a cleverly formulated question!
Joe does not ask actually where this anthem is, he asks how to
find it. Well... "we are here for this" :-)
Let's imagine he wants 'la totale': text of the hymn, author,
mod, mp3 and history of the hymn.
How would we
In order to get the text of a song the search is trivial
any main search engine
would do, let's just use hotbot for the sake of it: italian national hymn
which has the added advantage of giving us immediately, the english search string notwithstanding,
and as first result, an italian site that will cut the mustard.
l'Italia s'è desta,
dell'elmo di Scipio
s'è cinta la testa.
Dov'è la vittoria?
Le porga la chioma,
che schiava di Roma
Iddio la creò.
The hymn is longer, and --as almost all national hymns of the world--
pretty preposterous and
warmongerish. But we have already enough angles as it is:
"inno di mameli", "fratelli d'Italia", "desta elmo cinta testa", and, if you scroll
down, more and more historical data, with even a bibliographical reference that satisfies
our evaluation strainers.
The same site offers a mid of the hymn
as well. Two pigeons, one stone.
|mp3: caveat emptor... gaudet fur :-)
In order to find any mp3 music, a seeker, even if he does not speak the local language, in this case
would immediately go regional. Mp3 searches are pro-actively
hampered on the main search engines by the long whips of the "copyright enforcers",
who -failing to be able to outlaw mp3- are swamping the web with fake 'free mp3' sites
where you will never find anyhing but commercial crap
(other methods are required to
find copyright-sensitive mp3s :-)
A national hymn shouldn't be copyright sensitive tough,
and you would be able to find
this mp3 even on google or fast.
The main italian
search engines are arianna, virgilio, google.it,
kataweb and tin. Let's use arianna. And now let's see, there is even a specific mp3
search-tag... a national hymn should not have too many copyright petty problems as we said,
so let's just input
mameli, and, loo: 15 results, with useful parameters like 'dimensione' and 'ultima verifica'.
Let's assume that for our purposes, the bigger is the better, and, therefore, let us
choose this one.
Now, that was a quick job.
But that was only ONE way of doing it. Going back to regional searching,
you can be sure that searching for mameli.htm, mameli.mp3, desta scipio cinta testa, fratelli.mp3, innonazionale.htm
(you get the hang of it) on the regional search engines may give some useful
results. The same approach would be even more important if we had searched
for a more "copyright sensitive"
target, say, Les Ketchup, aserejé on a Spanish
Let's try a couple of these approaches out:
mameli.mp3 with google.it
cinta testa with virgilio
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
For once the two first "real"
results in "ask jeeves" (after the commercial crap)
are relevant, even if
they are both pretty outdated and
not of top quality, and could help Joe User.
The rest of the links, as well as the commercial overhead, are completely useless.
|When was the battle of Kadesh fought?|
quando ~ evaluation lore (1)
This time we will proceed 'tout betement', since I confess that I do not
know really much about the ancient chariot battle of Kadesh, and surely do not remember
the date it was fought.
Let's dive together in the history of mankind
using search engines as a springboard :-)
Ok, let's simply smash When was the battle of Kadesh fought? in google,
like Joe User has done above on "ask jeeves".
And in the first result (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/7480/)
you can already start to swim in the signal (click on the triangles) and you will also
find the following snippet:
"If you want to read more about the Battle of Kadesh,
I recommend Perspectives on the Battle of Kadesh, by Hans Goedicke and
Road to Kadesh: A Historical Interpretation of the Battle Reliefs of
King SETY I at Karnak by William J. Murnane"
Woah! A loving amateur! "a senior at the University of Evansville (sic... we'll have to check if
they really have a university in that godzilla-forgotten place :-),
majoring in classical archaeology and history, with a minor in anthropology"
That's among the best findings one
can retrieve from the web, bar the real sources. He sits on google second position as well.
And in third position another amateur: andré dollinger http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/ramseskadeshcampaign.htm. Both
sites are quite useful to dive deeper,
no wonder --you may think-- google is the main search engine "of choice".
|use directories as a springboard!
But wait! Actually these two sites appear (almost) WHATEVER main search engine we use...
how comes? Does everyone have algos as good as google ones?
No. The real reason we get these two results both in google and in
most other sarch engines is that they are listed in dmoz (and
of course copied in
google's "web directory") as:
Society: History: By Time Period: Ancient: Wars and Conflicts
Which proves once more how important it is to check dmoz
"start_stations" when you begin a dive into the web :-)
Now, although these results look good and promising,
we cannot just rest there. For a start Warner (our amateur in first & second google-position) says it was fought on 1275 B.C.,
while Dollinger, at reshafim, (in third position) says 1299 B.C.. C'mon, we'r supposed to be seekers after all.
Let's do a little more and
find the real SOURCES describing the battle of Kadesh. Everytime
seekers are confronted with historical (and -come to think of it, also- non historical) queries,
they would be well advised to search for the authoritative sources for a given
Of course we would be able to find some signal with a simple query like
sources of the battle of Kadesh
(note that there are NO quotes in this case). This would
give us enough material to start our in-depth trip to the sources.
Yet, once more, there is a "simpler" springboard: dmoz again.
Note the answer: Open Directory Categories (1-2 of 2) Society: History:
By Time Period: Ancient: Wars and Conflicts correspond to our 2 previous matches...
Society: History: By Time Period: Ancient: Africa: Egypt: Texts http://www.hillsdale.edu/academics/history/War/Classical/Egypt/1294-Kadesh.htm.
latter reference is the English translation
from the egyptian hieroglyphics, taken from James Henry
Brested, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical
Documents. (Chicago: 1906), III:136-147 . The time, here,
is 1294 B.C. (and is part of the URL).
But, wait! The REAL date here is "Year 5, the second month of
the third season tenth month, on the ninth day",
plus "many days after this", not exactly 1294 B.C. in
the source, isn't it?
So let's use this very document to find more pointers,
we will extract one phrase out of it:
"When his majesty saw them, he was enraged against them, like his father, Montu"
and smash it in FAST
and in google.
Here we have another date: 1285 B.C.:
Ramesses II's Battle of Kadesh Inscriptions
There are three main sources from which the Battle of Kadesh can
1.) Egyptian reliefs from temples
of Ramesses II, especially from the Ramessium.
2.) there is an epic poem, written by an unknown
talented Egyptian scribe, that recorded most of the
events who took place in the Battle of Kadesh .
3.) Finally, there are few Hittite records which provide accurate information,
and they are not as extensive as the Egyptian records.
- Main source: James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents
(Chicago: 1906), III; §§ 306 ff.
Seems to be the definitive source authority:
editor of a specific monography on this topic:
(and, nota bene, still the best edition of these sources after more than a century!)
Epic poem: Miriam Lichtheim. Ancient Egyptian Literature: a book of readings.
Vol.3. The Late Period. Berkeley/London. 1980.
The Hittite records of the Battle of Kadesh threw a very different light
upon that skirmish than what had hitherto been understood from
the boastful accounts of Rameses II. Carved on temple walls all over Egypt
were loud declamations of how Rameses had trampled all over
the Hittites and by his personal bravery had slaughtered
his enemies in by the hundreds. Once the Hittites could present
their side of the story, however, we discovered that
the battle had been a very close run thing from the
Egyptian point of view and Rameses was lucky to get
out of it with a whole skin.
Seekers should keep in mind for historical
researches, that many sources,
were often optimally compiled (collated) a century ago or earlier,
time on this that it would be possible today, and with
a more 'broad' knowledge and MUCH less "commercial mind"
than any (eventual) more recent collections... should similar
attempts have even been made recently at all... editing ancient sources is a
lacklustre work from
the sheer commercial point of view that now rulez, and it
does not make any sense anymore, in today's
"advertisement-dictatorships". Today's "professors", even when they
know their ancient aramaic, greek or egyptian (and many do not
and read only translations) simply do
not collate sources any more,
nor --probably-- would know how to do it correctly anyway: it's the
abrupt decadence of all non immediately
"commercially rentable" arts, knowledges and lore.
As a side note, it is interesting to see that the
abzu/etana search engine
does not even seem to
mention this important battle.
So, what is the date of the battle of Kadash?
Frankly: I do not know. But if the authority on the sources
is James Henry Breasted, then let's have
a look at what HE says on these matters.
I'll leave to the reader the pleasure of
finding on line his A history of the ancient egyptians, London, Murray, 1924,
where he states: "About the end of April of his fifth year (1288 B.C.),
when the rains of Syria had ceased, Ramses marched out of Tharu....
Hence 1288 BC may be as wrong a date as anything else
proposed, yet would seem, to an evaluating seeker,
more appropriate as a result.
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
Among the first six results, all potentially relevant and useful, we find, of course, our dmoz champions
and (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/ramseskadeshcampaign.htm). Joe User would have got
his beef quickly, in this case... only he would not have had ANY CHANCE to check if the beef
was sound and if "his"
date was the correct one (and, note, exactly the same would have happened if he had used google or fast
instead (in fact if you do not learn how to evaluate, you are, on the web, a sitting duck :-)
|Who is the father of modern biotechnology?|
quis ~ evaluation lore (2)
You are in for a surprise: modern biotechnology
is a little bastard :-)
Ahi ahi... let's start:
Not bad, and it looks appropriate to me to consider
the last of this list, the criminal Burnet, as the real father
of modern biotechnology. Serves well
modern biotechnologists, who are worse than atomic bombs scientists.
After a nuclear conflict, let's say
couple of thousand years later, we still have a chance to see some trees on this planet again.
The genetically modified concoctions of these "modern biotechnologists",
will not go away until the sun dies. These de facto "mad-scientists" are
all happily working for the commercial powers that be, creating pigs with 60 ribs,
that cannot even move around, eggs more "squared" than oval,
for easy-packaging purposes, "terminator" seeds (sterile, so that you
can sell more), other "plants" that are
able to withstand lethal doses of agrotoxins aimed
at anything biological that could grow in their midst,
and "new tomatoes" as gorgeous in looking, awful in tasting
and dangerous in perspective as Sneewhite's apple.
"Louis Pasteur is regarded by many as the "father" of modern biotechnology by demonstrating microbial fermentation around 1876."
"Dr. Rathmann is acclaimed as the founding father of modern biotechnology..."
"Dr. Nathans, who was known as the father of modern biotechnology, received the 1978 Nobel Prize in medicine..."
"Robert Swanson, 1999, Father of modern biotechnology..."
Australia's revered scientist and 1960 Nobel Prize winner for
medicine Macfarlane Burnet, seen as the father of modern biotechnology, stressed the economic advantage of biological warfare:
"Its use has the tremendous advantage of not destroying the enemy's industrial potential which can then be taken over intact."
(isn't it funny what kind of people get the nobel prizes?)
Have a look at the Guidelines for Minimizing the Potential Social and Ecological Dangers of Biotechnology
to evaluate the issues at stake and find some useful links.
www.BIO.org (do not mix
it with www.bio.com) This "bio.org" Web site is
paid by the Biotechnology Industry Organization,
the trade association that lobbies for the biotech sector
in Washington, and around the world.
www.phrma.org This is the Web site for the Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade association
for the big pharma companies. This group posts
a lot of propaganda.
www.bioindustry.org The UK biotech industry is represented by
the BioIndustry Association, which sponsors this Web site
along with conferences and seminars.
www.bioventureconsultants.com BioVenture Consultants Stock Report (BVCSR)
is published on the last Friday of each month and tracks
the stock and earnings performances of the sector,
So, who is "the father" of modern biotechnology?
I would say Gregor Mendel with his studies of
the rules of trait
inheritance -how progeny inherit features from their
parents in a regulated way- with his pea plants... but I doubt
he would be as honored as the clowns (and criminals) listed above to
accept such a dubious honour.
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
Paternity testing, questia (a pay-per-article) depot aimed
at zombies incapable of finding documents on the web for free,
adobe golive and "Hands off my French fries!"... ugh! I do not think that Joe User will
really be impressed
by these results :-)
|What is the neurological condition acoustic neuroma|
quid ~ specialized engines (and evaluation again)
Let's see... "acoustic neuroma" uh?
Of course you could google "acoustic neuroma" site:edu
(with "acoustic neuroma" limited of course to edu sites). But
in these cases a seeker would use "local" (aka "specialized" or "hidden web")
Let's start with Pub Med.
Then, let's see some more examples (you will be able to dig a lot more, on your own,
with any good specialized search engine), Joe User
could go to cancerlit,
or visit the English omni
(quality Internet resources in health and medicine),
or at the
University of California, or visit
the University of York's
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (Promoting the use of research-based knowledge in health care),
this NIH consensus,
and this ARIF starting point to consider research evidence,
from where they could reach back to the previously
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination,
our searching circle is now perfectly closed.
Of course a FAR better "local" choice would be the
powerful query engine at the "Laboratoire d'Informatique Médicale" (Faculté de Médecine, Université de Rennes 1...
known as ADM),
where Joe User could input in Saisie
d'une pathologie whatever he believes to have or whatever he has to know.
Alas! In this case he should not only translate
his "acoustic neuroma" into a "névrome acoustique"
(damn die-hard French)... he should
also know how to enter a closed database
from outside! (Woah! This would bring us immediately to the next, and final, part of today's
workshop: password gathering :-)
Once more we encounter a problem of evaluation again, especially acute
in the case of medical information.
Some medical information on the web is -simply put- false, and many
sites are not updating their pages.
Moreover on the web even correct
information may be consumed "out of context": even accurate
data needs to be placed within their proper framework to be interpreted correctly.
You know how it often happens -when reading a medical book- that you just feel
to have yourself all the symptoms described for every kind of illness? Well,
imagine what people can find out on the web when looking for their own symptoms :-)
Recognizing and evaluating authors'
bias and rhetoric (being aware of fallacious arguments or manipulative reasoning),
differentiating between fact and opinion, examining assumptions
(exploring reasons and warrants),
and knowing how to individuate reputable sources are skills many
web users have not developed. These skills are especially
crucial for health information, and especially when you are
looking for answers.
You may use "the five evaluation
vowels", when checking a site:
Accuracy (of the info, checking versus other sites),
Ethics (commercial oriented sites would kill your mama for money),
Identity (of the Author, and his credentials),
text -exegesis skills would help),
Update (stale sites are not good).
"Ask Jeeves" own answers:
Here they are.
our Joe A. User be able to ignore the
commercial noise in the first positions: e.g. "The Foot Health Network Help for Foot Care"
(and such an attitude would demand an "attention span"
of more than a few seconds, which is, I fear, something
pretty rare nowadays among TV-zombies and MMS-slaves :-(
"ask jeeves" will indeed give him some signal, on the lower positions.
Alas, most of these sites are in turn
commercial perverted, praying on hypocondiac webusers.
Yet there is at least one exception:
Joe will find in prominent position the
"General Practice Notebook
seems quite promising. It
will tell Joe at once that an acoustic neuroma is "a benign neoplasm
of the Schwann cells of the eighth cranial nerve", but the very moment
Joe should want to check
"clinical features", or
"associated conditions", or
treatment, the site will ask Joe for some personal data.
Joe could give him bogus data, of course,
and slowly use the resources provided there to re-build a more correct answer,
starting a dive that would bring him to some of the results we have listed
above, yet such
an approach cannot be considered satisfactory
from a searcher point of view. In fact,
come to think of it, I do not suggest you should use "ask jeeves" at all.
And now let's move to the next, and final, part of today's
workshop: password gathering :-)
In fact we will begin with this very acoustic neuroma stuff... lea2traciffersubstitution.htm
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