Adventures in Ethics and Science

Over at The World’s Fair, David Ng dangles another meme before us:

… this meme asks that you come up with your own scientific eponym. What’s that exactly? Well, first read this excellent primer by Samuel Arbesman, which basically provides a step by step description of how to do this effectively. Then have a go at your own blog. If all goes well, I’d like to create a page at the Science Creative Quarterly, that collects (and links to) the good ones.

Since it is well known that I am a tremendous Luddite, it will come as no surprise that my scientific eponym is a measure of how tremendous a Luddite one is. I give you the Stemwedel Index of Luddite Nature:



π = the number of releases back from the most recent release of the software you use
η = the number of years elapsed that you have been aware of the existence of a keyboard shortcut in that software but have refrained from using it
ρ = the number of redundancies you put in place in case of technological failures
μ = the subjective probability you assign to those technologies actually failing
σ = the inordinate satisfaction (in arbitrary units from 0 to 10) you take in doing by hand what could be accomplished using a computer or calculator
θ = the factor by which you judge yourself more likely to learn ancient Greek than LaTex

Related content: working out the relevant definition of the adjectival form of my surname.


  1. #1 Tony P
    November 14, 2007

    I got a 9.32. I have no idea where I place on the scale of things though.

  2. #2 Phillip Alvelda
    November 15, 2007

    Now you clearly need a unit of luddititude. Luddocity? Luddiciousness?

    I hereby crown the unit of Luddocity to be the Stemwedel. Though it is likely passingly rare that so much luddocity is to be found all in one place, and so we will more commonly use the micro-Stemwedel (uSw).

    As in, “Woah! Check out the 8-track! That’s at least 15 uSw!.”

    Now on to dimensional analysis!


  3. #3 DiscoveredJoys
    November 16, 2007

    Ned Ludd (who may have been fictional) was apparently born in Anstey (curiously only a few miles from where I live).

    I therefore propose that the Stemwedel Index be calibrated in ‘Ansteys’. One Anstey is equivalent to complete destruction of a single instance of new technology (such as a PC). Formatting your hard drive (but leaving the electronics in a sound state) is probably around 0.8 Ansteys. Deleting an important document by mistake will vary from a few micro Ansteys to several hundred milli Ansteys, depending on the document’s importance.

    Presumably applying a software patch or adding new memory should be measured in negative Ansteys (unless the patch destroys your computer…)

    So, if you routinely destroy wristwatches, break PCs, and wreck cars, you will have a high Stemwedel Index of 10 or 20 Ansteys.

    I wonder what rating Global Warming merits?