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Study Shows Dogs Can Sniff Out Lung Cancer

sohare Re:Not so surprising... (78 comments)

One of my dogs has, over the past six years, demonstrated an absolute 100% track record in sniffing out whether women are pregnant. He's never given a single false positive, or a false negative.

I take it you have not heard about confirmation bias, have you?

more than 2 years ago
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Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

sohare Re:Same for mathematics (1486 comments)

Advanced math is way over the head of 99.9% of the population, so in the same spirit we could say that math is based on faith for that (majority) portion of the population.

However, I'm not sure what the point of making such an observation is though, especially using the emotionally-charged term "faith" rather than the more neutral and better applicable term "trust".

Science isn't the same as religion. Science is not based on faith (or trust), but it goes without saying that if you're not smart enough to reproduce an experiment or test a theory yourself, then you do need to trust the results reported by others who are capable.

This same trust occurs even amongst experts. No mathematician has the time to verify each detail of every paper they read. For instance, we use the classification of finite simple groups all the time, but how many have read and fully understood the thousands of pages of technical arguments? That being said, it's a bit more feasible for a mathematician to check their colleagues' work than it is for, say, an experimental physicist. All the mathematician needs is a bit of time and grey matter, not fancy equipment. In this sense, the trust amongst mathematicians is even more sound.

more than 3 years ago
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Model Says Religiosity Gene Will Dominate Society

sohare Re:Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (729 comments)

I've seen kids from very religious households go in all different directions with respect to religions. It seems very unlikely that there's anything like a genetic "predisposition" to religion.

This word "predisposition"; I am not sure it means what you think it does. Considering that the biology of the brain influences a host of human emotions and inclinations, it's probably more unlikely that there isn't some genetic factor predisposing people toward superstition of one form or another. Belief in ghosts, UFO abductions, and medical pseudoscience doesn't differ substantially from religious faith; save for the fact that the latter is typically inculcated on the very impressionable minds of young children.

more than 3 years ago
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Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression

sohare Re:Content-free news (360 comments)

I'm missing the part where this study has produced anything of value.

"What is clear is that for a small subset of people, excessive use of the internet could be a warning signal for depressive tendencies."

You could just as easily say with just as much truth, "What is clear is that for a small subset of people, excessive *anything* could be a warning signal for depressive tendencies." But of course, that wouldn't produce anywhere near as much alarm and fear of the Internet.

So in order to actually study some sort of phenomenon you need to first have reasonable evidence that said phenomenon really exists. That's what correlation studies sometimes try to address. For instance, in this case maybe the researchers have the hypothesis that the internet can contribute to depression. Certainly if there were not even a correlation between internet use and depression you would not suspect the internet had much if anything to do with depression. This is what separates science from pseudoscience (such as most alternative medicine and things like parapsychology). Pseudoscience almost without fail (a) rarely demonstrates existence and (b) assumes correlation implies causation. Look at something like homeopathy. The general trend in the research is that homeopathic remedies behave exactly like water, yet homeopaths have constructed elaborate and highly implausible mechanisms for how homeopathy might work.

more than 4 years ago
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The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Car Starter

sohare Re: Idling is bad for the engine (454 comments)

My bicycle starts in all temperatures I can start in. Only sissies drive to work! :)

more than 4 years ago
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The Definitive Evisceration of The Phantom Menace *NSFW*

sohare Re:midichlorians (629 comments)

A big problem for my enjoyment was the midichlorians, the microbes that supposedly give a person control over the Force.

By making the Force scientifically explicable rather than mystical/magical, it changed the feeling of the story for me.

I can respect your point of view, but I rather liked the concept itself. Now, the fact they were only introduced after the three original films is another matter. That was certainly a botch job. Perhaps I like the midichlorians since I'm a rather skeptical person and like my sci-fi to essentially take on a materialistic perspective. It's hard for me to stomach Vitalism injected into sci-fi, since I find the idea incredibly unimaginative.

more than 4 years ago
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Squatters Abusing iPhone App Store

sohare Re:not really worse (121 comments)

Listen, let's not confuse domain squatting - the act of sitting on a company's domain name waiting for them to want to build a web site - with the legitimate secondary market for domain names.

The former was a big problem "in the old days" as companies were trying to get to the web and found someone squatting on their name. This has been largely solved in the courts now, and few companies are making their first move to the web anymore anyway.

The secondary market for domains though is completely legit. I buy domain names that I expect to have value, whether I intend to use them or not, and then sell them to others when they want to use them. It's no different than you buying a piece of land and then someday selling it to someone who wants to build a shopping mall on it. You weren't squatting on the land, you just didn't know what (if) you were going to do with it. You paid for it, paid the taxes over the years and then sold it.

That's just the free market...don't like it, don't shop there.

Not exactly sure how you were modded insightful. There is a common link between domain squatting and the secondary market. Both are purveyed by douchebags. You give any fool a day and a dictionary and they can create a program which will spit out all kinds of permutations for names of bands, albums, businesses, movies, etc. You are in a heavy metal band and like trolls and swords? Why, let's name it Trollsword and start our website. Oh, but thanks to our friendly insightful secondary market guy, the name has been registered.

The comparison of domain hoarding (which is what you refer to as the secondary market) to buying land is completely inappropriate. There is a huge difference between buying some swampland and putting the hours into coming up with a cogent plan to make it the next big yuppie vacation spot, hawking this idea to developers compared with just combining a few words from a database. If a plot of land looks like a rubbish heap it doesn't sell for much unless there is some plan to change it. You could maybe argue that domain hoarding is akin to some of the original American land barons. But they were douchebags too. Just like people who hoard water and sell it after some natural catastrophe. Douchebags. I mean a bloddy punk child can come up with these ideas to profit.

more than 4 years ago
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Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study

sohare Re:Don't forget: (258 comments)

It's also interesting that (according to the story I linked above) there has not been a placebo-controlled trial of the flu vaccine. So, anyone out there who rails against any sort of complimentary/alternative medicine and says they would never receive a treatment that can't produce placebo-controlled trials, can't get flu shots. (Of course, you also can't get surgery...)

Widespread flu shots are a great subsidy to big pharma, but as a public health measure, they're a questionable use of resources.

Utter nonsense. Unlike virtually the entirety of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vaccines work via relatively well understood mechanism. The mechanisms for most CAM modalities (such as say, homeopathy) are usually highly implausible and often would require a complete reworking of the Standard Model. Then throw in the fact that rarely is there even good scientific evidence that shows CAM modalities do anything at all and where are you left?

Moreover, there is a perfectly good reason why there is not nor will there be double-blind placebo controlled trials for vaccines. It's simply unethical. Anti-vaccine nuts love to point to the lack of placebo controlled trials for vaccines in an attempt to explain away the lack of any good evidence for their own favorite CAM modalities.

To suggest that vaccination is a plot of "Big Pharma" is to (1) have no understanding of vaccines and the incredible evidence for their general efficacy (2) have no understanding of the relationship between pharma and physicians. You are basically accusing most physicians of being corporate shills. That's a quiet a disgusting sentiment, really.

You know what the true travesty is? The fact that things like herbal supplements are more or less highly unregulated. In the USA at least we have "Big Natural" and various CAM quacks to thank for that. If you are upset about the tactics of Big Pharma I suggest you learn more about the history of the CAM movement and how exactly it has gained popularity over the last 30 years.

more than 4 years ago
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Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study

sohare Re:Don't forget: (258 comments)

Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

There is actually a good reason for healthy people to get vaccinated in general. We have been able to eradicate various viruses because enough of the population in the world gets vaccinated so that it makes it incredibly difficult for the viruses to spread. This phenomenon is called herd immunity. If you look at local populations where vaccination rates are poor (usually due to parents being duped by anti-vaccine pseudoscience) you see outbreaks of all kinds of viruses that have not been an issue since aggressive vaccination programs took effect.

more than 4 years ago
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New Comic Book About Logic, Math, and Madness

sohare Re:The ending of the strip is rather disappointing (99 comments)

Math (all useful mathematical theories, and therefore all science based on them) is one of 2 things, but not both : -> logically inconsistent -> not logically consistent*

While I am mathematician I am not a logician, but do you mean that math is either logically inconsistent or not complete? (That is just the statement of the First Incompleteness theorem). By definition, a theory is logically consistent if it does not contain a contradiction. A theory is therefor not consistent (or inconsistent) if it contains a contradiction.

Your remarks about there being no hope of proving a theory inconsistent also makes me wonder what theorem you are referencing. Certainly not the Second Incompleteness Theorem, since that explicitly does not rule out consistency proofs. Rather it says that any proof that a "sufficiently robust" theory is consistent cannot itself be formalized in that theory. For instance, Gentzen proved the consistency of first-order arithmetic using ordinal analysis. The two theories, however, are incomparable. One theory is not stronger than the other.

more than 4 years ago
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Exoplanet Has Showers of Pebbles

sohare Re:Not unusual (341 comments)

We get solid precipitation here on earth all the time.

Sometimes it's hail, sometimes sleet.

The best is frogs, though.

While the parent's post is in jest I did want to point out that it probably does not actually rain frogs or fish. It's popularly proposed that waterspouts serve as the mechanism by which frogs and fish plummet to the earth. It turns out however, that this really isn't a plausible explanation.

Waterspouts come in two basic varieties. One type is a local phenomenon similar to a dust devil on land. Such a waterspout only marginally affects a body of water's surface. The second type is a supercell tornadic waterspout. Inside such a waterspout the decreased air pressure can cause water to rise by about as much as half a meter, but no water is actually sucked up inside. The visible column of the waterspout is composed primarily of condensation. Sometimes the waterspout will pick up spray from wavelets and hurl it outward, but that's about it. There is really no mechanism for which a waterspout can transport a large column of water high into the air.

In tornadoes objects often hurl things upward and out, but how often does a tornado preserve the spatial location of a group of objects? Moreover, in most reports involving raining frogs there is rarely if ever any mention of a nearby waterspout.

Now, every spring and fall many frogs migrate from breeding ponds to deeper waters such as lakes. Since they are amphibians, a prime time to migrate is shortly after a rainstorm when everything is moist. If a day has the right conditions, you can see swarms of frogs migrating across terrain that normally sees little frog action. Let's say you look out your window during a rain storm and see thousands of frogs jumping around. It's not a far stretch to imagine that they might be falling from the sky and bouncing around. Of course, if the frogs were really falling from the sky they would probably be completely smashed. Reports of frog rain rarely involve thousands of squished frogs. All it takes to create a frog rain story is a healthy imagination and exaggerated second and third hand reports.

Fish are a slightly different matter, but not really. There are actually many species of fish which walk on land for one reason or another. In 2008 there was a report that 30 catfish emerged from a sewer after a heavy rain storm in Florida and had a merry time in the streets. Some fish even have special organs which allow them to get oxygen from air. The climbing perches of Africa and Asia are such a group. They walk using their gills, fins, and tail. If you actually saw one, however, you wouldn't think it really capable of wandering around on land. Such is the case with many walking fish. The lay person sees such a fish and automatically assumes it could not have gotten to its current dry location by its own means.

Finally, as far as we know no one has actually ever observed fish and frogs falling from the sky. What probably happens is that people see masses of frogs or fish on land and assume they fell from the sky and then tell reporters that indeed they saw the fish and frogs raining from the skies. As you can now see, though, there is a much more mundane and likely explanation.

more than 4 years ago
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New Images Reveal Pure Water Ice On Mars

sohare Re:Whoa (179 comments)

Uranium won't get us back off the planet. Solar works well enough for short-term power, even all the way out at Mars. But it's a death sentence to explore Mars without enough fuel to get us back off the ground, so if we can find something we can use/refine as return fuel, it'll make an initial trip that much more likely.

It's only a death sentence if the point of the mission to actually get back to Earth. If you consider the history of human exploration and expansion you'll realize that quiet a bit of travel was intentionally one way. People tend to conflate the Space Race with actual exploration. Probably what we'll see with Mars (though who can really say) is a number of unmanned supply ships followed by a one way manned mission to set up some sort of colony. I think you'd actually be surprised at how many people would volunteer for a one way mission.

more than 4 years ago
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Wii Gets Price Cut To $199

sohare Re:You can thank me... (320 comments)

I have a standing policy of never buying ANY console that costs more than $200. This has served me well by helping me avoid doomed, overpriced consoles like the Atari Jaguar or 3DO. Also even though consoles sometimes drop below $200 it's usually not until the end-of-life anyway. And finally, waiting ensures there will be a massive library spanning 3-4 years time. I won't get bored.

(goes off to buy a Wii)

Now I need to decide which console I want for my second console. Perhaps an Xbox360 when it drops to $150. That's how much I spent on my Gamecube last generation.

Personally I would rather just fork over an additional $50-100 for something to have it significantly earlier. There is a lot to be said about being frugal and not getting too caught up in early adoption, though. Your policy sounds like it fits with your sense of what money means, but I wouldn't start thinking it's necessarily a good strategy for people in general.

more than 4 years ago
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Honda's Answer To the Segway

sohare Re:Just what America needs! (247 comments)

Watching you argue with yourself is funny, but, downhill shouldn't really count. You're right, I'm too honest for this marketing gig. That's why I was let go from Best Buy after three months. I didn't lie about Monster cables.

I don't think that telling the truth about monster cables makes you an honest person so much as it doesn't make you intellectually dishonest. It really is the duty of any intelligent species to inform themselves and not spread dis/misinformation. The problem being, of course, that people don't know have to inform themselves. It's amazing to me that we have progressed so far as an intelligent species yet people still are convinced by a few shitty anecdotes supporting some bit of highly implausible pseudoscience (such as homeopathy).

more than 4 years ago
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Honda's Answer To the Segway

sohare Re:Good and bad, computer chair version and some b (247 comments)

Don't worry, I'm sure that when horses were first tamed someone bemoaned the loss of walking. I imagine the same thing happened when the carriage was invented, and the bicycle, and the automobile.

Nothing to worry about in that respect.

A good point, but the original bicycles actually were seen as a device that would only increase the health and mobility of the populace.

more than 4 years ago
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Honda's Answer To the Segway

sohare Re:Good and bad, computer chair version and some b (247 comments)

Lets be happy that we're probably the last generation that can watch how the beautiful girls walk on street in their red dresses and nice legs and ass. Sooner or later this will be reality, in a bad and a good way. While convenience is nice, it has bad sides too.

That being said, I would so use this. Can I get a comfortable computer chair version too, so I can get a beer easily (and one of those japanese beer serving machines please )

Are you really so sure that sooner or later this technology will be ubiquitous? Is this the same reality in which every single person has a flying car? The fact is that in very dense urban centers walking is and will probably remain the preferred method of travel. You can still move around and travel in a tightly packed crowd. On the other hand all the free-moving vehicles humans have thus far devised require some measure of space to operate. I think what we'll see more of are automated systems of travel, like the moving walkways you see in many airports. But even these will always remain relatively expensive compared to a concrete sidewalk.

more than 4 years ago
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UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food

sohare Re:so? (921 comments)

The point behind organic food is that it's better for the environment, not healthier to eat. But thanks for the useless study, UK!

I'm not so sure that's the point either. That might have been the original (if not necessarily well conceived) idea. As it stands now the point behind organic food is mark up what are essentially inferior food stuffs. I know it makes most people feel like they are doing a good deed by paying twice as much for organics, but in truth the issue is a lot more complex. You could make the case that certain types of farming which is deemed organic might locally be "better for the environment". If we assume that the types of farming deemed organic were ubiquitous, we have quite a different story on our hands.

What's perhaps more interesting about organics is how it captivates people's hearts. Indeed, many people who are otherwise skeptical tend to employ some degree of the appeal to nature fallacy.

more than 4 years ago
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Scientists Closer To Invisibility Cloak

sohare Re:Currently under "Cliche Movie Plot" (CPM) testi (308 comments)

I know everyone is making with the jokes,but I for one really don't like the idea of this. Yet again,we have scientists seeing if they CAN do something,rather than if they SHOULD do something.

Why do people always assume that scientists ignore ethics when conducting their research? If you exclude the extremely vocal nutjobs, most debate about the ethics of science comes from the practitioners. It's rare that ethics are never considered. Granted, there have been some botches in the past, but outside forces should never be the regulators of science. (Look at how the US dropped the ball on stem cell research).

more than 5 years ago

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