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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

Geoffrey.landis Re:Different subjects (408 comments)

Doctors will also be told to warn patients of possible interactions between alternative and conventional medicines.

Obviously not talking about homeopathy anymore. Water won't interact with real medicine.

Not all homeopathic remedies are diluted down to zero concentration. Also, most homeopathic practicioners also use a variety of other alternative treatments, including herbs, vitamins, juices of various kinds of tropical berries, foot reflexology, mineral supplements, chakra alignment, herbal baths, salt from Tibet, and other things.

about two weeks ago
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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

Geoffrey.landis Placebo [Re:The spokesman for the AHA said...] (408 comments)

I did not know that medicine was about believing...

It's called the placebo effect, and it's quite unreasonably effective.

So, I'll start believing that i do not have the flu. Let's see if this works.

It will! That's an effect called regression to the mean.

Firmly believing you don't have the flu will, in all likelihood, cure your flu in two days to two weeks!

about two weeks ago
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NASA Laying Foundation For Jupiter Moon Space Mission

Geoffrey.landis Jupiter is hard [Re:What's been the hold up????] (100 comments)

Exactly. Why has NASA been dragging their feet? They have been studying this mission for 10 years at least without funding it.

It gets proposed, but every time a proposal takes a serious look at how expensive it would be, the funding isn't there, and they are asked to scale back.

Jupiter is hard. Jupiter is nearly a billion kilometers away-- Mars is hard, but even at its furthest, it's only a quarter billion kilometers distant. Compared to Jupiter, Mars is easy. Jupiter also has a huge gravitational potential (which makes it hard to stop when you get there), and that doesn't even get to the issue of landing on Europa once you get there (no aerobraking nor parachutes for Europa!) and the difficulty of penetrating the ice.

Clearly the first thing needed is just a probe that can take a deep penetrating radar to the system and find out just how thick the ice over the interior ocean of Europa is, and whether there are places that are thinner than others, and whether cracks go down all the way to make an easier route to the interior. That would be a lot easier than actually trying to land, much less access the ocean... but even that is not at all easy. When you're in Jupiter orbit you're having to operate in a ferocious radiation environment.

about two weeks ago
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It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

Geoffrey.landis Citation [Re:No problem!] (163 comments)

This is exactly the kind of subject never to trust Wikipedia about.

The useful thing about Wikipedia is that it cites references.

It's wise not to "trust" Wikipedia-- or any single source-- but it is a good first place to go to look up references.

about two weeks ago
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It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

Geoffrey.landis Re:No problem! (163 comments)

The system is running fine, now that the hangover from regulation has cleared.

The system is running fine, now that Enron is out of business and the top con men put in jail or (in the case of Lay) dead. (Not for defrauding the people of California-- that's not a crime-- but for defrauding their own company as well, resulting in crash of value of the stock.

about two weeks ago
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P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe

Geoffrey.landis Thus I refute Berkeley [Re:Computable? Simulat...] (199 comments)

I remember one of the smart but more humanities oriented friends of mine tried to engage the AP Physics teacher in a debate about whether the world really exists or could be a simulation/fantasy/etc. At the first posing of the question, the teacher immediately turned and flung himself bodily against the wall and exclaimed that it seemed pretty real to him.

The physics teacher was quoting Samuel Johnson, who kicked a rock and stated "Thus I refute Berkeley" (who had argued that we can't know whether any material objects actually exist) : http://www.samueljohnson.com/r...

It's not clear what Johnson thought he'd proved by that.

about two weeks ago
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P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe

Geoffrey.landis Re:!P is not NP and NP-Hard is not NP-Complete (199 comments)

Yes, the paper is meaningless. A very well-argued brand of meaningless-- but still. "Efficiency" of computation doesn't matter. It's also a slick glide from saying that a problem is soluble in polynomial time to saying it's easy. No. That's computer speak. Polynomial time is not defined as "easy;" it's not even necessarily fast. (It deals more with the scale-up than with the actual difficulty).

The Schrödinger equation is a differential equation-- that means, the solution at any given point in time and space depends on the fields and wave function, and the derivatives of the fields and wave function at that point-- it's local. So, the universe doesn't have to "solve" the Schrödinger equation; it only has to solve the equation for time t + epsilon, given the initial condition of the solution at time t. This is NOT a polynomial-time problem. If the universe is twice as big, it has twice as many calculations to do... and twice as much "stuff" to do it with. It's local.

The difficulty is that wave-function collapse is not local. This is inherent in the mathematical logic of quantum mechanics. It's not a matter of how hard it is to compute.

about two weeks ago
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NYU Group Says Its Scheme Makes Cracking Individual Passwords Impossible

Geoffrey.landis Re:WTF? (277 comments)

To be useful, the system still needs to be able to tell whether a single user password is correct (and needs to do so reasonably efficiently). So if someone has a 6 character password (which is dumb) you can just try all possible passwords (there isn't that many possible 6 realistic character passwords). Either lots of them work (which would a problem) or you found the password.

No, as I understand it from the article, you can't tell if a single user password is correct, because you don't have a measure for "correct"-- all that you check whether that password points to the same place (in a multidimensional phase space) that other passwords project to. (It does seems to only work is you can assuming that all, or at least "most," of the other passwords people enter are correct).

about two weeks ago
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60 Minutes Dubbed Engines Noise Over Tesla Model S

Geoffrey.landis Re:Lies (544 comments)

I would hope that an editor for a NEWS SERVICE would have more sense than that.

You would hope, but you would be disappointed. Ever seen a news report where something blows up? Have you ever, even once, seen that clip shown on TV where the sound comes after the visible explosion?

about two weeks ago
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ZunZuneo: USAID Funded 'Cuban Twitter' To Undermine Communist Regime

Geoffrey.landis Renegotiation [Re:USAID is not a NGO (173 comments)

it seems to say that the USAID helped set up social networks in Cuba that weren't controlled by the government. That sounds like a good thing to me. I'm puzzled why any /. readers would object to this.

Because the goal isn't to set up social networks, it's to start a violent coup and ultimately reinstall a U.S. puppet government in Cuba. These social networks are just a means to a slimy end.

Why do I care about the purported goal-- what we should care about is what they were actually doing, which was setting up a social network independent of the Cuban government. That's a good thing.

The stated goal, in any case, was not "to start a violent coup." I don't know if the US government even knows what it wants (Cuban policy seems to nearly zero priority in the US, outside of south Florida)-- but the quote from the article was "its stated goal was 'renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society' ".

Rephrasing that to make it say "let's start a violent coup" is rather distorting. "Renegotating the balance of power between state and society" sounds like a good thing-- in the US, too.

about two weeks ago
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ZunZuneo: USAID Funded 'Cuban Twitter' To Undermine Communist Regime

Geoffrey.landis USAID is not a NGO (173 comments)

USAID is suppose to be an aide organization.

Like many U.S. NGO's, it's a front...

NGO stands for "Non Government Organization". USAID is not a NGO.

http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-ar...

As I read the article, it seems to say that the USAID helped set up social networks in Cuba that weren't controlled by the government. That sounds like a good thing to me. I'm puzzled why any /. readers would object to this.

about two weeks ago
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How Far Will You Go For Highest Speed Internet?

Geoffrey.landis Becoming content (142 comments)

Becoming content is the first step to becoming complacent.

How do you become content?

I've heard about providing content, but becoming content? Is that, like, entering the matrix?

about two weeks ago
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Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds

Geoffrey.landis Different power sources have differences (179 comments)

It turns out that natural gas and renewable energy are making a lot of nuclear plants uneconomic.

Not really. Nuclear and renewable cover different portions of the demand curve. Nuclear is good for baseline power-- 24 hours a day. Renewable (other than hydro) tends to be a variable power source. Solar, in particular, is a good source for daytime peaking power, particularly in summer. Valuable-- but a different portion of the demand curve

Natural gas is indeed changing the structure of the electrical power market. One significant reason it's changing it is because gas turbines can vary output rapidly. They're good for load variations, where nuclear is best for baseline.

Different power sources have different characteristics, and serve different segments of the market.

about two weeks ago
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Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds

Geoffrey.landis Negative subsidy [Re:subsidy] (179 comments)

Neither to the extent, nor in the manner of nuclear. Other industries get tax breaks, free use of government research, etc.

It's worth pointing out that nuclear power actually gets a negative subsidy. They have been charged a fee for nuclear waste disposal... but the nuclear waste disposal program was cancelled, and there is no replacement plan.

The fee was suspended by court order last November... but the money collected has not been refunded.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11...

about two weeks ago
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Continued Rise In Autism Diagnoses Puzzles Researchers, Galvanizes Advocates

Geoffrey.landis Misleading graph (558 comments)

The graph in the article is misleading. 1 in 68 should be twice as high as 1 in136, but instead it's well more than twice as high as the 1 in 125 point.

about three weeks ago
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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

Geoffrey.landis Start at perihelion (224 comments)

Might make sense to start the year at Earth's perihelion, and hence reference it to the orbit, and not to the axial tilt.

Perihelion is, coincidentally, also very close to when the current year starts (Jan 4, this year).

about three weeks ago
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Could Earth's Infrared Emissions Be a New Renewable Energy Source?

Geoffrey.landis Re:The efficency is indeed terrible. (78 comments)

I never get why people are so set on Solar-> Electricity.

Solar -> Heat is a lot more efficient and takes a lot less technology.

Absolutely. Solar heating (and hot water) is low tech, and easy to do-- it's been cost effective for quite a while.

about a month ago
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Could Earth's Infrared Emissions Be a New Renewable Energy Source?

Geoffrey.landis A stupid idea. (78 comments)

Correct: it's a mostly useless idea.

The problem really is in the laws of thermodynamics.

The total energy radiated is indeed equal to the sunlight energy (although the power density is less by a factor of 4: the Earth absorbs sunlight on an area pi r^2, but radiates heat over an area 4 pi r^2)-- but usable energy is produced not by a heat source, but by the transfer of energy from a heat source to a heat sink-- the Carnot efficiency. The difficulty is that in intercepting the outgoing radiation, you necessarily put a thermal resistor into the circuit. Basically, they end up converting at efficiency characterized by the difference in temperatures of daytime and nighttime. The efficiency is terrible.

about a month ago

Submissions

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A Playlist for Comet Ison

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  about 5 months ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "As comet ISON made its perilous perihelion pass, I decided that ISON needed a theme song, but as the nature of its journey became evident, shattering in the sunlight, I realized that ISON needs an entire playlist. So, for your entertainment, here's my comet ISON playlist. Comments? "
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Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  about a year ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "The historical period that we call the dark ages, from perhaps 600 to 1200 AD, was the golden age of Islamic science, when great advances in science and technology were taking place in the middle east. But somehow, as the west experienced its renaissance, the blossoming of the age of science, and the founding of the modern technological world, the Arabic world instead turned away from science. Muslim countries have nine scientists, engineers, and technicians per thousand people, compared with a world average of forty-one, and of roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, only two scientists from Muslim countries have won Nobel Prizes in science. Why? In an article "Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science" in The New Atlantis, Hillel Ofek examines both the reasons why Islamic science flourished, and why it failed. Are we turning the same way, with a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and dogma shouting down the culture of inquiry and free thinking needed for scientific advances? Perhaps we should be looking at the decline of Islamic science as a cautionary tale."
Link to Original Source
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The Election Map, as a Cartogram

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "By now we've all seen those maps of the US colored red and blue for which presidential candidate won a particular state. Those maps are a bit misleading, though, since vast areas of America have very low population. Mark Newman, of the University of Michigan, shows variant ways of mapping the election, with the maps distorted to un-distort the data."
Link to Original Source
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Harrassment of Climate Scientists is Unique to America

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "In the United States, climate scientists are subject to significant amounts of harassment , including "torrents of freedom of information requests, hate mail and even death threats from skeptics"-- but this phenomenon seems to be happening only in America. In other countries, climate scientists are mostly free to work without fear.

"The harassment has an intimidating effect—especially on young scientists," according to Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said he sees the attacks on scientists in the United States as "very disconcerting." Last year, AAAS released a statement condemning the harassment. "The incidents reflect two unfortunate things," Leshner said in an interview, "we live in a society where ideologies trump our willingness to hear what science says, and in a country where free speech is so widely valued, people are being attacked."

The only other country in which climate scientists routinely face harassment and death threats is Australia, which is the largest exporter of coal in the world. Coal industry groups in Australia have sought to cast doubt on climate science and have lobbied against carbon emission limits."

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Majority of Americans Think Obama Is Better Suited to Handle an Alien Invasion

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  about 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "At last, a public opinion poll that gets the opinions of ordinary Americans on the issues that matter! Apparently, two thirds of Americans polled think that Barrack Obama is better suited to defend against an alien invasion than Mitt Romney, according to a survey from National Geographic Channel, done to tout their upcoming TV series "chasing UFOs".
In follow-up questioning, Americans would rather call on the Hulk (21%) than either Batman (12%) or Spiderman (8%) to step to save the day.
No word on which candidate is most fit to defend America against shambling hordes of undead seeking to destroy civilization in the zombie apocalypse (perhaps that will be brought out in the debates)."

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Photographing police: Deletion is not forever

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "The courts have now ruled that the public has the right to videotape the police in the performance of their duties. Of course, that doesn't stop the police from harrassing people who do so, even journalists, not to mention confiscating their cameras.
As it turns out, though, they're not always very knowledgable about how deletion works.
I would say that erasing, or attempting to erase, a video of police arresting somebody illegally (How can a journalist be charged with "resisting arrest" when he was not being arrested for anything other than resisting arrest?) is a clear case of destruction of evidence by the officers. Destroying evidence is obstruction of justice. That's illegal. Why haven't these police officers been arrested?"

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Is the creative class engine sputtering?

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "The "creative class" was supposed to be the new engine of the United States economy, but--according to Scott Timberg, writing in Salon-- that engine is sputtering. While a very few technologists have become very wealthy, for most creative workers, the rise of amateurs and enthusiasts means that few are actually making a living. The new economy is good for the elite who own the servers, but, for most, "the dream of a laptop-powered 'knowledge class' is dead," he says."
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Neal Stephenson on "Innovation Starvation"

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "In an essay discussing the space program, author Neal Stephenson suggests that the decline of the space program "might be symptomatic of a general failure of our society to get big things done." He suggests that we may be suffering from innovation starvation:
"Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-20th century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable.""

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Conservative means accepting science

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "Recently, it has seemed that it is a requirements of being a conservative to deny the accuracy of climate science and cast aspersions on the motives of scientists, regardless of any evidence offered. So it's a little refreshing to see a Republican weighing in on the side of science, saying that conservatives should deal in facts, and "base policies on science, not sentiment.""
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Loan to Solyndra pushed by both sides

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis writes "I haven't been paying much attention to the bankruptcy of solar array manufacturer Solyndra-- they were pushing a technology I don't find terribly exciting. Still, it's interesting how the recent spin has called it as a failure of the Obama energy initiatives. In fact, as a recent timeline shows, the loan guarantees for renewable energy came from the Energy Policy Act of 2005-- and the particular loan to Solyndra was fast-tracked by the Bush administration, in an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy.

alternate URL: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/13/317594/timeline-bush-administration-solyndra-loan-guarantee/"

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What to Know if you're Filming the TSA

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "CNN posts a brief article "Shooting video at a TSA checkpoint? Here's what you should know, explaining your rights in shooting video of TSA screenings. First, she notes (from an article on the TSA blog last year) that the TSA doesn't forbid photography, as long as you don't film those monitors showing nude passengers:

"We don't prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you're not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors."

--the article does go on to note that state laws or local ordinances may prohibit filming.

And then she posts advice from Ms. Smith's "Privacy and Security Fanatic," which is that

"if you do videotape TSA checkpoints, then you should have the TSA public affairs (TSA's Office of Strategic Communications) number plugged into your phone: (571) 227-2829. Another important phone number to have with you is the TSA's Office of Civil Rights at (571) 227-1917."

Ms. Smith goes on to tell some stories of people who have been challenged at airport screening stations for shooting video. Important note, it's probably wise not to take off your pants except your underwear while doing this.

So, go ahead, and video, but know your rights and "stay calm and polite at all times." You could be the next You-tube sensation."

Link to Original Source

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Lawsuit shows Dell hid extent of computer flaws

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "According to an article in the New York Times, documents revealed in a lawsuit against Dell show that the computer maker hid the extent of possible damages due to a faulty capacitor in the ocmputers it shipped from 2003 to 2005. Dell employees were told "Don’t bring this to customer’s attention proactively” and “emphasize uncertainty.”
"As it tried to deal with the mounting issues, Dell began ranking customers by importance, putting first those who might move their accounts to another PC maker, followed by those who might curtail sales and giving the lowest priority to those who were bothered but still willing to stick with Dell."

--in other words, the most loyal customers got shafted first."

Link to Original Source
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US says Genes should not be patentable

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "A friend-of-the-court brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice says that genes should not be patentable.

“We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” they wrote.

The argument that genes in themselves (as opposed to, say, tests made from genetic information, or drugs that act on proteins made by genes) should be patentable is that "genes isolated from the body are chemicals that are different from those found in the body" and therefore are eligible for patents. This argument is, of course, completely silly, and apparently the U.S. government may now actually realize that."

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A New Species of Patent Troll

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "From the Wall Street Journal, there's an article warning that there's a new species of patent troll out there. These sue companies that sell products with an expired patent number on them. That's right, it's against the law to sell a product that's marked with an expired patent number. The potential fine? $500. Per violation-- and some of the companies have patent numbers on old plastic molds that have made literally billions of copies. Using whistle-blower laws, "anyone can file a claim on behalf of the government, and plaintiffs must split any fine award evenly with it."
You've been warned."

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E=mc^2 is a liberal conspiracy

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes ""Conservapedia," was founded to be a conservative-tilted alternative to Wikipedia.
From the article: "To many conservatives, almost everything is a secret liberal plot: from fluoride in the water to medicare reimbursements for end-of-life planning with your doctor to efforts to teach evolution in schools. But Conservapedia founder and Eagle Forum University instructor Andy Schlafly — Phyllis Schlafly's son — has found one more liberal plot: the theory of relativity."
Yes, that's right: relativity is apparently a liberal plot. No doubt, the atomic bomb is a hoax, just like the moon landing and global warming."

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Man buys the police website to complain

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "When a Tennessee police department let its website expire, the site was purchased by a man who uses it to complain about the traffic cameras that gave him a $90 speeding ticket.
The bluffcitypd.com site now shows a cartoon police badge clutching a handful of money and smiling.
Also reported in other places, such as the Chicago Tribune and USA Today"

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George W. Bush embraces alternative energy

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "It's hard to believe, but former Texas oilman George W. Bush just came out in favor of alternate energy sources. At the American Wind Energy Association conference in Dallas, Bush said: "It's in our economic interests that we diversify away from oil. It's in our environmental interest. And, finally, it's in our national security interest." More details are on the green blog:

He had said in a State of the Union address that America was addicted to oil. "If you’re a guy from Texas and you say America is addicted to oil, it's a surprising moment," Mr. Bush said... These days, the former president said, "The overall trend in my judgment is that new technologies will find new ways to power our lives. I fully believe that hybrid plug-ins will be a transition to electric cars," he said, and that new ways to generate electricity will be needed.

In a time when climate-warming-deniers are screaming that shifting to alternate energy sources is going to destroy America's economy, it's amazing to see the former number-one Republican actually say that moving to alternate energy is in our economic interest, and new ways to generate electricity are needed Now if we could only get the ones who are still in power to understand this..."
Link to Original Source

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Why do people believe weird things

Geoffrey.landis Geoffrey.landis writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "New Scientist asks, why do people discredit science, and instead believe weird conspiracy theories? The belief that vaccines don't stop diseases; AIDS is not caused by a virus, and a dozen or more theories that ignore the clear evidence of science are believed by millions. Richard Littlemore, pointing out how corporations manufacture doubt, suggests that maybe it has something to do with the multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns to discredit science. It worked for the tobacco industry... for a while, anyway. In 1972, Tobacco Institute vice-president Fred Panzer outlined his industry's "brilliantly executed" defence strategy. A key tactic was "creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it" while "encouraging objective scientific research." In this case "objective," meant "supporting the belief that tobacco is harmless." And the tactic has been picked up by a host of other corporations, each with their own billion-dollar profits to defend by "creating doubt."

Debora MacKenzie, on the other hand, asking "Why sensible people reject the truth?" points out that although many denialist movements originate as cynical efforts by corporations to cast doubt on findings that threaten their bottom line,, the people who subscribe to denialism utilize what she calls "everyday reasoning" (which can rather fail in dealing with scientific evidence). But it is, she suggest, a sense of loss of control that really matters. Many people prefer to reject expert evidence in favour of alternative explanations that promise to hand control back to them, even if those explanations are not supported by evidence

"This is not necessarily malicious, or even explicitly anti-science. Indeed, the alternative explanations are usually portrayed as scientific. Nor is it willfully dishonest. It only requires people to think the way most people do: in terms of anecdote, emotion and cognitive short cuts. Denialist explanations may be couched in sciency language, but they rest on anecdotal evidence and the emotional appeal of regaining control."

And then again, skeptic Michael Shermer suggests that it's simple: denial is typically driven by ideology or religious belief, where the commitment to the belief takes precedence over the evidence."

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