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Submission + - Neck Pain Can Be Changed Through Altered Visual Feedback

sys64764 writes: Using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Our findings show that the brain does not need danger messages coming from the tissues of the body in order to generate pain in that body part — sensable and reliable cues that predict impending pain are enough to produce the experience of pain,” says researcher G. Lorimer Moseley of the University of South Australia. “These results suggest a new approach to developing treatments for pain that are based on separating the non-danger messages from the danger messages associated with a movement.”

Pretty soon we'll all be going to the gym wearing VR headsets while running appropriate programs and that sore neck or aching back won't mean a thing anymore!

Submission + - White House issues veto threat as House prepares to vote on EPA 'secret science' (

sciencehabit writes: The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as this week to approve two controversial, Republican-backed bills that would change how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses science and scientific advice to inform its policies. Many Democrats, scientific organizations, and environmental groups are pushing back, calling the bills thinly veiled attempts to weaken future regulations and favor industry. White House advisors today announced that they will recommend that President Barack Obama veto the bills if they reach his desk in their current form.

Submission + - Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality (

itwbennett writes: A team of researchers in Sri Lanka set out to test whether common refactoring techniques resulted in measurable improvements in software quality, both externally (e.g., Is the code more maintainable?) and internally (e.g., Number of lines of code). Here's the tl;dr version of their findings: Refactoring doesn’t make code easier to analyze or change; it doesn't make code run faster; and it doesn't doesn’t result in lower resource utilization. But it may make code more maintainable.

Submission + - Use astrology to save Britain's health system says MP (

An anonymous reader writes: An MP from the governing Conservative Party has said that using astrology could radically improve the performance of Britain's National Health Service and that it's opponents are "racially prejudiced" and, errr, driven by "superstition, ignorance and prejudice". David Treddinick even claims he has "helped" fellow legislators through astrology.

Submission + - For Brits it's back to base 12 (

00_NOP writes: British schoolchildren used to be regularly taught multiplication tables up to 12 — because until 1971 the country had a currency based on 12 pennies to a shilling. More recently teaching has been limited to 1 — 10. Now the Conservative education secretary is demanding that the country — or at least England — return to teaching the "12 times tables". But wouldn't 16 make more sense (if it makes any sense) in this day and age?

Submission + - Scottish Parliament asked to treat creationism as equal to science (

00_NOP writes: John Mason, a legislator from the governing Scottish National Party, has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament demanding that creationist theories be given credence in schools because scientists "cannot disprove" their validity. Mason made his move after it was revealed that the education authority (the equivalent of a school board in the US) in one of Scotland's biggest areas are to set down new rules for religious education in schools after reports of Christian fundamentalist influence over the teaching of science.

Submission + - How bad does a CompSci book have to be? (

00_NOP writes: Computer Scientists are not novelists or journalists but surely that does not excuse them from being to write sentences that at least follow the basic grammatical rules. Nor does it mean that their publishers should get away with seliing extremely badly written works to what are often close-to-captive audiences in Universities and similar institutions. Yet that happens all the time. Recently I bought a Computer Science book — aimed at researchers and specialist engineers that retails for over £70 (approx $105) and yet was written in such poor English that a 10-year-old school child would be failed on work of that standard. It's probably the worst I have seen, but it's not the only one — how do they get away with it?

Submission + - David Cameron says Brits should be taught Imperial measures (

00_NOP writes: Children in the UK have been taught in metric measures in school since (at least) 1972, but yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that they should actually be taught in Imperial measures (which are still in use officially to measure road distances and speeds but not really anywhere else). Is this because he has not got a clue about science or because he is trying to buy off his right wing fringe (who object to "metrication") or because he might be a bit stupid, Oxford degree not withstanding?

Comment Re:warming is Good! (Score 1) 619

No extra cost to warming [...] Sea level is rising as we warm up from the little ice age, and much land is subsiding.

Whatever the cause, we would need to mitigate sea level rises with measures such as relocation or sea walls, all of which are costly. The best available science points to AGW as the cause of the rise, and therefore it makes sense to pay for the mitigation with AGW sources.

it benefits agriculture and humans do well in warmth, much better than cold.

The problem is that the "warming" is an average of far wilder fluctuations in weather. The earth doesn't just get uniformly a bit warmer, and the localized effects can be devastating. More importantly, even if a bit of warming is beneficial on the average, continuing the trend - especially past a certain threshold into a feedback loop of uncontrollable warming - is obviously foolish. Unless you claim to know exactly how much greenhouse gasses we can release into the atmosphere for best effect, it would be prudent to not find out the hard way.

Pollution from cars--hmm, not much lately since the advent of catalytic converters.

"Today’s on-road vehicles produce over a third of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in our atmosphere", says the Union of Concerned Scientists. The bottom of that article discusses the pollution's effects on public health.

Comment Re:Good! (Score 5, Insightful) 619

Because a good deal of the cost of gasoline has been externalized. Below are some examples:

  1. The efforts of the US Navy to maintain peace in the middle east shipping lanes. The US consumed some 134 billion gallons of gasoline in 2013, and the budget of the US Navy is about $150 billion. It's reasonable to assume that a few cents per gallon should be charged to help pay for the Navy.
  2. The increased incidences of respiratory diseases due to air pollution. Medical care is expensive in the US, and things that harm public health should at the very least help pay for it.
  3. The costs of global warming.

Obviously, gasoline is not the sole driver of these, but it makes sense to better account for the true cost of using gasoline. Note that the gasoline tax has not changed in absolute terms since 1993, which means it's lost about 40% of its value to inflation.

This isn't to say that the 12 cent proposal is fair, or that sharply increasing gasoline prices is wise, but that a gradual increase to match its true cost is sensible.

Submission + - More evidence for the Chomskian hierarchy (

00_NOP writes: A small thought experiment you can try seems to suggest that the Chomskian theory of humans' innate linguistic ability is correct and maybe that means there will be limits to the success of big data based machine translation.

Submission + - It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience into the Science Classroom

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: “Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception,” wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review. “Roughly one in five believes in witches, astrology, clairvoyance, and communication with the dead (PDF). Three quarters hold at least one of these beliefs, and a third has four distinct pseudoscientific beliefs.” Now Steven Ross Pomeroy writes in Forbes Magazine that it’s time to bring pseudoscience into public schools and universities. “By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims,” say Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld.

According to Schmaltz and Lilienfeld, there are 7 clear signs that show something to be pseudoscientific: 1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner. 2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence. 3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence. 4. Claims which cannot be proven false. 5. Claims that counter established scientific fact. 6. Absence of adequate peer review. 7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted. Schmaltz and Lilienfeld recommend incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures and contrasting them with legitimate, groundbreaking scientific findings. For example, professors can expound upon psychics and the tricks they use to fool people or use resources such as the Penn & Teller program "Bullshit".

But teachers need to be careful or their worthy efforts to instill critical thinking could backfire. Prior research has shown that repeating myths on public fliers, even with the intention of dispelling them, can actually perpetuate misinformation. “The goal of using pseudoscientific examples is to create skeptical, not cynical, thinkers. As skeptical thinkers, students should be urged to remain open-minded,” say Schmaltz and Lilienfeld. "By directly addressing and then refuting non-scientific claims, science educators can dispel pseudoscience (PDF) and promote scientific skepticism, while avoiding the unhealthy extremes of either uncritical acceptance or cynicism."

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