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Do We Need a Longer School Year?

cappp Re:Alternate hypothesis (729 comments)

The articles themselves pretty much cede that point.

During the school year, disadvantaged children manage to catch up somewhat to more advantaged students. But during the summer, they lose those gains while their more advantaged peers -- whose parents can afford to arrange for summer enriching activities -- maintain theirs.

Moreover, they note that the issue is more complicated than just throwing a couple of extra days into the mix.

We should note, however, that a long school year tends to go part and parcel with several other policies, such as a longer school day and Saturday school, and this should make us cautious about assigning too much importance to a longer school year in and of itself. A more conservative conclusion would be to think of the package of the three policies having a positive association with student achievement.

about 2 years ago
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Kaspersky Says Lack of Digital Voting Will Be Democracy's Downfall

cappp Stats disagree (388 comments)

The official stats seem to disagree, or at least suggest that there's more to consider than just age/membership in a wired generation.

Consider for instance the breakdown in voting participation over the last 4 presidential elections (.pdf warning) - voter participation of those between 18 and 34 (what I would consider to be the net generation) has increased, in many cases markedly. Consider for instance that 18 to 20 year olds in 1996 had a 31.2% rate, 2000 saw a 28.4, 2004 had a 41% and 2008 had 41%. Similarly 21 to 24 saw 33.4, 35.4, 42.5, and 46.6. Similarly overall participation has increased across the board - 50.3% in 2000 to 57.1 in 2008.

If anything one could argue that the rise of the internet has increased participation through the development of targeted demographic outreach like that popularly attributed to Obama's campaign success. Combine that with the ready stream of polarising online news, politicised communities, and use of social media and you've got a recipe for maximum outreach with minimum investment.

more than 2 years ago
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Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

cappp Re:Asking the wrong question. (223 comments)

It remains to be seen if this sort of interactive technology is beneficial in the classroom. A previous comment from a couple of months ago gives a few handy links to stories suggesting the benefits, if they exist, are limited.

That being said, a recent story in the NYT paints a more positive picture.

Many studies have found that technology has helped individual classrooms, schools or districts. For instance, researchers found that writing scores improved for eighth-graders in Maine after they were all issued laptops in 2002. The same researchers, from the University of Southern Maine, found that math performance picked up among seventh- and eighth-graders after teachers in the state were trained in using the laptops to teach. A question plaguing many education researchers is how to draw broader inferences from such case studies, which can have serious limitations. For instance, in the Maine math study, it is hard to separate the effect of the laptops from the effect of the teacher training.

The whole article is worth reading if you have the time but a few take away comments include:

Some classroom studies show that math scores rise among students using instructional software, while others show that scores actually fall....

One broad analysis of laptop programs like the one in Maine, for example, found that such programs are not a major factor in student performance.

“Rather than being a cure-all or silver bullet, one-to-one laptop programs may simply amplify what’s already occurring — for better or worse,”

A review by the Education Department in 2009 of research on online courses — which more than one million K-12 students are taking — found that few rigorous studies had been done and that policy makers “lack scientific evidence” of their effectiveness.. A division of the Education Department that rates classroom curriculums has found that much educational software is not an improvement over textbooks.

Belated long story short – the evidence is contradictory and more study is needed.

more than 2 years ago
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Mexican Cartel Beheads Another Blogger

cappp Possibly not (536 comments)

Wired updated their story with an important caveat

Our original report named “Rascatripas” as a forum moderator for Nuevo Laredo in Vivo. That’s now appears to be off-base. At least one local reporter says there’s “no proof” yet that the decapitated man found Wednesday was actually murdered for his online activity. And administrators for Nuevo Laredo en Vivo now say that “Rascatripas” wasn’t one of theirs. “Negative,” they tweet (thanks to Xeni Jardin for the translation, and for the tip). “He was not our partner, he is confirmed to have been a scapegoat to scare others. The person executed is not a collaborator with our site, but this was without doubt an attempt to silence the voices of Nuevo Laredo.”

more than 2 years ago
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Proposed UK Online Libel Rules Would Restrict Anonymous Posting

cappp Re:Anyone Surprised? (219 comments)

Read the proposal itself, you might be somewhat comforted. I think TFA is specifically referring to section 3 where they state

we recommend that any material written by an unidentified person should be taken down by the host or service provider upon receipt of complaint, unless the author promptly responds positively to a request to identify themselves, in which case a notice of complaint should be attached. If the internet service provider believes that there are significant reasons of public interest that justify publishing the unidentified material—for example, if a whistle-blower is the source—it should have the right to apply to a judge for an exemption from the take-down procedure and secure a "leave-up" order.[170] We do not believe that the host or service provider should be liable for anonymous material provided it has complied with the above requirements...Any host or service provider who refuses to take-down anonymous material should be treated as its publisher and face the risk of libel proceedings, subject to the standard defences and our proposals relating to leave up orders. It is for the Government to make clear in the Bill any exceptional circumstances in which unidentified material should have evidential value for the purposes of defamation proceedings.

I'm not sure how I feel about the proposals themselves but they're still in the consultation phase - if you disagree, call your Member's number.

more than 2 years ago
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NY Senators Want To Make Free Speech A Privilege

cappp Re:Bullshit (624 comments)

The section you're citing to reads

PROPONENTS OF FREE SPEECH HAVE LONG ARGUED THAT A SOCIETY THAT PUTS PEOPLE ON TRIAL FOR THINGS THEY HAVE WRITTEN OR SAID IS NO LONGER A TRULY DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. THE POWER OF THE WORD HAS BEEN UNDISPUTABLE; IT HAS BEEN ESSENTIAL TO PRESERVING DEMOCRACY AND, IN FACT, ITS FOUNDING PREMISE WAS TO PRESERVE THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS: A “MARKET PLACE” WHERE CITIZENS COULD SORT THROUGH BELIEFS AND IDEAS WHICH BEST RESONATED WITH THEM AND DISCARD THOSE THAT DID NOT,74 THEREBY ALLOWING FOR THE CREATION OF AN EVER-EVOLVING, OPEN SOCIETY. MOREOVER, THEY CONTEND THAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS RECOGNIZED AS A HUMAN RIGHT UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS,75 SO IT CANNOT AND MUST NOT BE LIMITED. AND YET, PROPONENTS OF A MORE REFINED FIRST AMENDMENT ARGUE THAT THIS FREEDOM SHOULD BE TREATED NOT AS A RIGHT BUT AS A PRIVILEGE – A SPECIAL ENTITLEMENT GRANTED BY THE STATE ON A CONDITIONAL BASIS THAT CAN BE REVOKED IF IT IS EVER ABUSED OR MALTREATED. BRITISH PHILOSOPHER JOHN STUART MILL LONG ARGUED THAT “THE ONLY PURPOSE FOR WHICH POWER CAN BE RIGHTFULLY EXERCISED OVER ANY MEMBER OF A CIVILIZED COMMUNITY, AGAINST HIS WILL, IS TO PREVENT HARM FROM OTHERS.”76 HIS “HARM PRINCIPLE” WAS ARTICULATED IN AN ANALOGY BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR. (1841-1935), AND STILL HOLDS TRUE TODAY: “THE RIGHT TO SWING MY FIST ENDS WHERE THE OTHER MAN’S NOSE BEGINS,” OR, A PERSON’S RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH ENDS WHEN IT SEVERELY INFRINGES UPON THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF ANOTHER. 74

It's not an argument one way or the other. It's merely a statement of two differing stances. The report also notes that the First Amendment has never been absolute, an important fact that a lot of people don't seem to realize. Nothing is being thrown under the bus, these are basic legal principles that exist in the law anyway.

more than 2 years ago
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NY Senators Want To Make Free Speech A Privilege

cappp Re:Bullshit (624 comments)

But it is out of context. The paper uses a basic rhetorical device: some people say X, some people say Y, we say blah blah blah. It's not advocating the stated positions at all, and if the entire thing is taken as a whole it makes a compelling legal argument for the protection of the first amendment in an area that is otherwise pushing in the opposite direction. We can argue about if it's a necissary expansion of the law, I would argue that it's codifying principles that already exist throughout anyway, and we can argue about the validity of the conditions and standards applied; but what we shouldn't do is cherry pick a sentance, divorce it from the context in which is sat, and then make hyperbolic statements.

Some people think the death penalty is flawed, some people think that the death penalty is a good idea. Headline: Cappp says the death penalty is a good idea!

more than 2 years ago
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NY Senators Want To Make Free Speech A Privilege

cappp Re:Bullshit (624 comments)

The First Amendment has never been absolute. Years of case law and precident demonstate this - shouting fire in a crowded theatre blah blah blah.

This report in no way seeks to undermine the rights of speech, infact they go out of their way to avoid it. What is suggested is two changes to current laws (stalking and manslaughter specifically) to faciliate prosecution of malicious internet communications. This is already a crime in every other medium.

A PERSON IS GUILTY OF STALKING IN THE THIRD DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE INTENTIONALLY, AND FOR NO LEGITIMATE PURPOSE, ENGAGES IN A COURSE OF CONDUCT USING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DIRECTED AT A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF TWENTY-ONE YEARS, AND KNOWS OR REASONABLY KNOW THAT SUCH CONDUCT:
A) IS LIKELY TO CAUSE REASONABLE FEAR OF MATERIAL HARM TO THE PHYSICAL HEALTH, SAFETY OR PROPERTY OF SUCH CHILD; OR
B) CAUSES MATERIAL HARM TO THE MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL HEALTH, SAFETY OR PROPERTY OF SUCH CHILD

This is merely updating the laws to better reflect today's means of communication - the content of said law already exists. You're not allowed to intentially cause fear in othe people, nor cause material harm. Those principles already exist in the law.

I should have used the earlier post to elaborate more on the point and apologise for that failure. The proposed changes are not about stiffling free speech, as the report if read in it's entirety makes clear, but rather about updating current laws to reflect technological realities. This is not new content nor judicial reaching, it's whats already on the books merely applied to a new medium.

more than 2 years ago
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NY Senators Want To Make Free Speech A Privilege

cappp Bullshit (624 comments)

Only thats not at all what's written. Read the entire report for yourself, you'll be pleasantly suprised.
The quote given is taken completely out of context, infacT the report notes on the page previous that

THE CHALLENGE LIES IN PROTECTING TEENAGERS FROM CYBERBULLYING WITHOUT TRAMPLING ON THE FREE SPEECH PROTECTIONS AFFORDED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT. THIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION ACCOMPLISHES THAT IN THE FOLLOWING WAY:

The report has some fairly decently nuanced considerations and is being damned by a single, out of context quote. Hell read onto the next page if you like

IN SUMMARY, ALTHOUGH SPEECH IS GENERALLY PROTECTED UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THERE ARE INSTANCES IN WHICH RESTRICTIONS ARE WARRANTED. IN

HOLY SHIT, THEYRE CONSIDERING THE LAW AS IT'S WRITTEN AND APPLIED IN THE REAL WORLD, NOT MY IDEOLOGICAL BUNKER!!!!!

more than 2 years ago
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China Praises UK Internet Censorship Plan

cappp Re:Hyperbole (355 comments)

Censorship with qualifiers is good, yes. Society recognizes through the law that sometimes speech has to be restricted no matter how horrifying that concept is to you or I. The important thing is to ensure that governments censor only so much speech as is absolutely necissary, and not a syllable more.

Consider that restraining orders are government sanctioned, and enforced censorship. As are all the laws related to slander and libel. Pretty much all the fraud laws too. And anything related to trade secrets. Or laws protecting privacy. So on and so forth. My point is that there are types of speech that society has recognized as necessitating some degree of restriction. What those kinds of speech are is up for debate, as is our right. That those kinds of speech exist at all is also worth discussing. But jumping to hyperbole short-circuits that conversation, and that undermines fundamental aspects of democracy as an expression of informed decision.

more than 3 years ago
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China Praises UK Internet Censorship Plan

cappp Re:Hyperbole (355 comments)

Which is somewhat my point. What provisions? None have been proposed. None. What we have here is a comment made in a speech. Not a policy paper. Not a proposal. A comment.

That comment has in turn lead to claims of fascism, censorship et al. How can we expect rational debate and careful consideration of complicated issues if we all jump to extreme reactions even at the slighest provocation. In this specific case those claims are, as yet, unwarranted. By all means freak out when there's a law being proposed - exercise your considerable civil liberties to their utmost - but at this point, with the information and contect, it's unwarranted.

more than 3 years ago
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China Praises UK Internet Censorship Plan

cappp Hyperbole (355 comments)

The Chinese seem to be enjoying the fine tradition of internet hyperbole moreso than usual. The PM did not in fact suggest there was any plan to shut off social media whatsoever. What he did say was

Mr. Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck- will be struck by how they were organized via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services, and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people from communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

Notice the important qualifiers there. They're looking at whether it would be right. They're also specifically considering those communications used to support violence, disorder, or criminal behavior.

We can, and should, debate the legitimacy of what is being considered but the conversation is underminded when we allow ourselves the thrill of shrill, non-factual, accusations.

more than 3 years ago
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Bing More Effective Than Google?

cappp Re:Well there's your problem (385 comments)

The report can be found here. They dont provide details about how they monitor the click-through but you raise a great point.

My last 5 searches didnt' end in going to a website - all the info was put right there on the google searchpage. Checked the weather, the address of a local business, definition of a word, spelling of a word, and looked at a few *images*. Never left google for any of that.

more than 3 years ago
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Average Gamer Is 37 Years Old

cappp Re:its only the beginning (295 comments)

The report itself can be found here(pdf). If you look on page 2 you'll see that they claim 29% are over the age of 50 - a demographic that dwarfs the 18% under 18.

I would however take the numbers with a grain, or truckload, of salt. The report nicely avoids explaining it's methodology and likely uses a broad definition of games (Farmville and minesweeper anyone?) and gamers (usually based on the age of the person doing the buying). Moreover it's an industry study which has an interest in projecting the idea of a mature audiance given certain legislative and legal challenges on the horizon.

more than 3 years ago
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Poland's Prime Minister Goes For Open Government

cappp Re:Bullshit (80 comments)

Moreover, the translation suggests his statement was made with significant caveats. TFA's third paragraph suggests that info funded by public sources is public...unless it's not in the best interests of the state, or is defined as classified – the example given is of treasury and economic research. The guy is talking about creating a category of free information, not making everything publically available as the summary claims. Seems it’s about moving Poland towards the position already occupied by the rest of the EU, not barrelling past it.

If I’m reading the translation wrong, and to be fair it’s a little hard on the eyes as it stands, I’d appreciate Polish speakers pointing it out.

more than 3 years ago
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Can Egypt's Telecom Giants Be Sued In the US?

cappp Re:They can (105 comments)

Obtaining justice in their own system is likely to be really, really hard. I don't know for certain but I would imagine that in Egyptian Law the telecom companies would be able to successfully argue that they were merely following governmental orders, and the government will claim some kind of perogative to act - probably grounded in some kind of martial law rights. The problem is that the law as it stood both reflected and enable a specifically ordered power structure - the law would give deference to the government in many areas.

So you're stuck with the hope that the law would be adapted, a process that takes a lot of time and negotiation, and protections for civil society added. Problem - a lot of states forbid ex post facto prosecution. Egypt is a signatory to the Arab Charter on Human Rights which specifically states that

o crime and no penalty can be established without a prior provision of the law. In all circumstances, the law most favorable to the defendant shall be applied.

. So the only option is likely to be appeals to international courts. Using the courts as they stand in Egypt is likely to be futile at present, and in the future they'll be unable to claim for injuries suffered prior to the adoption of new laws. It's a difficult situation to be in.

Moreover, there's a lot of reasons to make an international case here - and most of them are rooted in good ol' money and politics.

more than 3 years ago
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Can Egypt's Telecom Giants Be Sued In the US?

cappp They can (105 comments)

As provided by TFA, the Alien’s Action for Tort is the relevent statute and states

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

There's some decent caselaw and precedent if anyone's intersted - Wiki has a little summary that shouldn't take too long to browse through. Long story short, it's certainly possible but there are some pretty high barriers to use (see specifically the ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum [pdf]). It's a lot easier if its person on person, moreso if one of those is physically in the US, but it extends to corporations and non-residents as well.

more than 3 years ago
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YouTube, Gaming and Social Networking Busting TV's Chops

cappp Australian Effect? (118 comments)

I wonder if this is some kind of regional effect, or perhaps a little hyperbole designed to keep things interesting. The most recent numbers I could find note that in the UK

"Viewers watched an average of three hours and 45 minutes of television a day in 2009, 3% more than in 2004, according to research published today by the media regulator Ofcom"

If there was some generational effect going on (the article does note that the elderly watch more than the average) it would be somewhat mitigated by the Economist's finding that

"In December 2009, Nielsen estimated that 34% of internet users had the television on while surfing the net. But when tuning in for a programme, television-watchers used the internet only about 3% of the time"

US numbers show a similar trend -

"the average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, a 1.2% increase from last year"

Those who are interested should check out the American Time Use Survey - it has some rather interesting content (for instance: 15 to 19 read for an average of 5 minutes per weekend day while spending 1.0 hour playing games or using a computer for leisure. )
Taking the two pieces together it would seem we're watching more TV in general, and when we're online we have the TV on anyway. Hardly seems worth pounding the drums of the apocalypse over.

more than 3 years ago
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Dutch Court Rules WiFi Hacking Not a Criminal Offense

cappp Re:Where is the line? (234 comments)

The court's ruling itself can be found here. It's a little wonky linguistically and the frames are messy, but scroll down and you'll find some really interesting details. For your question it seems the court considered two factors - was it a computerised device (which the translation makes difficult to establish...seemingly could be read either way) and second, was there an intrusion which exposed personal data. Since the latter didn't occur it doesn't matter if the former is true.

As for other details, the case involves a guy posting a threat - on 4chan - to commit a school shooting and apparantly hacked the Wifi as a little camo'.

more than 3 years ago
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US Military Commissions Sock Puppet Program

cappp Re:I, for one, salute our new sock-puppet overlord (217 comments)

Personally I think it's a fantastic idea, clearly indicative of a government that loves and cares for its people.

Cappp...translate this into Farsi when you get a chance please.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Voting Machine Errors Highlight Urgent Need

cappp cappp writes  |  about 4 years ago

cappp (1822388) writes ""In 2008 in Ohio, election officials discovered that voting systems made by Premier Election Solutions dropped at least 1,000 votes in 9 county elections — Premier’s voting system had experienced a similar problem in 2004 in Illinois. In 2002 New Mexico officials discovered they’d also been kept in the dark about a known issue with their machines, after their voting system appeared to drop some 12,000 ballots

These are two of more than a dozen examples cited in a new report arguing for the federal government to establish a public clearinghouse to track voting machine problems nationwide and ensure that voters are not disenfranchised by faulty systems.

The report, by the Brennan Center for Justice, calls on Congress to provide authority for some agency to establish and maintain a publicly searchable database and to require voting machine vendors to report problems to the database so election officials can take steps to prevent failures from repeating. The clearinghouse would be similar to ones maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, which collect and make publicly available information from consumers, health-care providers and others about problems encountered with consumer products and drugs.""

Link to Original Source
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UK 'misled' on broadband speeds, says gov' report

cappp cappp writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cappp (1822388) writes "Britons are not getting the broadband services they are being sold — Ofcom's analysis of broadband speeds in the UK shows that, for some services, 97% of consumers do not get the advertised speed. It also shows a growing gap between the claims ISPs make for broadband and the speed being delivered.

The regulator's survey shows that the average residential broadband speed in the UK has risen in the last 12 months from 4.1Megabits per second (Mbps) to 5.2Mbps. The report also revealed the changing nature of UK broadband. Now 65% of UK homes have fixed line broadband and 24% of those users are on services sold as being able to support 10Mbps or more. By contrast in April 2009, only 8% of homes had signed up for such a service. In 2009, he said, when actual speeds for broadband were 4.1mbps, the average that those services were being advertised for stood at 7.1Mbps. In 2010, when people are generally getting 5.2Mbps out of their broadband, ISPs are claiming they will support speeds up to 11.5Mbps.

The survey found that on DSL services advertised as being "up to" 20Mbps only 2% of customers got speeds in the range of 14-20Mbps. Of the others, 32% were getting a 8-14Mbps service and 65%, 8Mbps or less. In an attempt to improve how broadband is sold, Ofcom has been pushing ISPs to adopt a new code of practice, which will mean consumers get more information about speed as they sign up for a new provider. The code is due to come in over the next 12 months and all the UK's larger ISPs have signed up for it."

Link to Original Source
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Taking away Dell's cookie jar

cappp cappp writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cappp (1822388) writes "On July 22nd Dell agreed to pay a $100m penalty to settle allegations by America’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that, in the SEC’s words, the company had “manipulated its accounting over an extended period to project financial results that the company wished it had achieved.” According to the commission, Dell would have missed analysts’ earnings expectations in every quarter between 2002 and 2006 were it not for accounting shenanigans. This involved a deal with Intel under which Dell agreed to use Intel's CPU's exclusively in its computers in return for a series of undisclosed payments, locking out AMD (Intel is expected to settle a long-running anti-trust case that has highlighted these payments in the next couple of weeks.) The SEC says that the company should have disclosed to investors that it was drawing on these reserves, but did not. And it claims that, at their peak, the exclusivity payments from Intel represented 76% of Dell’s quarterly operating income."
Link to Original Source
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Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Genetic Testing

cappp cappp writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cappp (1822388) writes "This week Berkeley will mail saliva sample kits to every incoming freshman and transfer student. Students can choose to use the kits to submit their DNA for genetic analysis, as part of an orientation program on the topic of personalized medicine. But U.C. Berkeley isn't the only university offering its students genetic testing. Stanford University's summer session started two weeks ago, including a class on personal genomics that gives medical and graduate students the chance to sequence their genotypes and study the results.

Berkeley's project is essentially a modified version of the summer homework many colleges assign to new students in an attempt to foster intellectual discussion and class cohesion. Berkeley sent approximately 5,500 incoming freshmen and transfer students DNA sampling kits. The hope is to spark discussion during orientation on how genetic testing works, the results of the students' tests and their decisions on whether or not to participate.

Stanford's project, in contrast, is only open to medical and graduate students in the form of an eight-week elective summer class called "Genetics 210: Genomics and Personalized Medicine," in which about 50 students have enrolled, with a dozen more auditing. Students in the class can choose to have their genotype analyzed by Navigenics or 23andMe—personal genomics companies that provide individualized risks for various health conditions and sensitivity to drugs (23andMe also provides additional information about ancestry). The results of their tests will be incorporated into the class curriculum, although students can also opt to study publicly available genetic data in lieu of analyzing their own. Professors will not know what decision the students make."

Link to Original Source

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