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Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 1) 422

by CanarDuck (#48185111) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

I hold a faculty position in statistics (that's for the AC above who called me a "passer-by sitting at home in their boxers munching on Hot Pockets", so I guess I have to pull credentials, though in his defense my post sounded more dismissive than what I'd wanted).

Yes, the p-value threshold of 0.05 is considered "standard" in many applied sciences, in particular medicine. It is convenient for many of reasons that were outlined by other posters (cost, number or persons required for an experiment, ethics). It does not mean that it is intellectually satisfactory. The joke among statisticians is that this value was introduced about 100 years ago by the R.A. Fisher (one of the founding fathers of statistics) who once wrote something akin to "if we decide on a value of alpha such that the probability of falsely claiming a discovery when the null hypothesis holds seems reasonably low, say for instance, alpha=5%...", and this has somehow been engraved as gospel ever since.

The truth is, this threshold value of 5% is now considered very lax by modern statisticians, essentially because of the very large numbers of published papers reporting significant values as compared to Fisher's times. The posts of penguinoid and ras above explained it very professionally, one can also refer to "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" (Note: this was published in PLOS medicine, hardly an obscure journal)

In conclusion, my post was certainly not a defense of soda pop (there is already sufficient evidence that it is extremely damaging for your health for very clearly identified reasons), but a reminder that the specific results of this study (the effect on telomeres), though certainly not to be dismissed, should not be considered as established truth at this point, but rather pointing in a direction which should be investigated further for confirmation. That, by the way, is the actual meaning of "being skeptical", unfortunately this tends to be conflated with "being in obtuse denial" nowadays.

Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 5, Insightful) 422

by CanarDuck (#48182159) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres
A p-value of 0.04? This is a rather meager statistical significance. Mark me skeptical until the study has been reproduced independently.

For all I know they might have been looking at a lot of different nutrition factors and only reported those which appeared significant after the experiment (obligatory xkcd reference: )

Comment: Re:Slashdot comments indicative of the problem (Score 1) 1262

I think everyone but the media recognizes at this point that the Quinn scandal is about corruption in journalism.

Except it's not. If it was, where is the outrage on an even remotely comparable scale concerning the truly powerful forces of corruption in this industry -- financial pressure being exerted by publishers on gaming outlets, flow of free perks being offered to journalists, secretly sponsored Let's Play videos, etc? Even if it was actually true that Quinn's admittedly particularly shitty personal behavior was only fueled by the desire of personal gain and media exposure (for which the evidence is nonexistent if you ask me), how would that even compare in terms of leverage gained and scale to the corrupting power of money, which is pervasive in this industry?

It's not about the corruption. It's about the sex, it's about the hate of anything that says "feminism", it's about the desperate quest to find a negative poster child justifying that hate towards anyone else expressing a related opinion. Using the fight against corruption as a justification is a total delusion, yet one in which all the haters have to believe, for otherwise they could not stand to face their own cognitive dissonance.

Comment: Re:sensationalism? (Score 1) 196

by CanarDuck (#45052377) Attached to: Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills

You can solve this using Excel, but a dedicated app to to track the scenario mentioned in the original piece could be very useful to some.

As a matter of fact, it already exists: This is a free webapp developed by some people I know. Also, probably prior art or something.

Comment: Strategic analytic thinking for 4rth graders? (Score 1) 488

by CanarDuck (#40376919) Attached to: U.S. Students Struggle With Reasoning Skills

So only 1/3 of fourth graders were able to find the experimental setup to find the best fertilizer level out of nine, when you are only allowed to try six out of them.

The correct strategy consists in going in two steps, first trying out interspaced levels e.g. 2-4-6-8 then "refining" with the two remaining tries around the approximate minimum. This necessitates to model implicitly/intuitively the plant growth as a unimodal (increasing, then decreasing) function of the fertilizer level, thinking ahead with the limited tries constraint, and mentally planning different outcomes of the two steps.

I'd go contrary to the flow and say that 33% of 4rth graders solving an assignment of this difficulty is pretty darn awesome.

Comment: Re:Happened to Me (Score 1) 107

by CanarDuck (#38925367) Attached to: Researchers Feel Pressure To Cite Superfluous Papers

There is a difference between randomly sprinkling a paper with references in a superficial effort to make it look "serious" and conform to the usual academic mold; and actively researching, citing and discussing earlier relevant references in comparison to your own work in a balanced way. The latter is how good quality academic writing should be done. The former tends to give rise to papers with pointless laundry lists of citations. I hope your friends were suggesting the latter way. Even if they were not able to point to specific references because they are not specialists of the issue you are addressing, they probably know by experience that it is quite unusual that no previous relevant references exist on a given academic issue. The fact is, nothing annoys a reviewer or an editor more than someone reinventing the wheel and giving the impression of ignoring previous work out of intellectual laziness.

Where there is a clear problem is when an editor or reviewers imposes an obviously irrelevant citation for self-serving reasons.


Officials Say "Capes For the Unemployed" Plan Not Super 392 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-and-worst-laid-plans dept.
After what must have been an epic marketing meeting, a Florida unemployment agency decided to give 6,000 red capes to the jobless as part of its "Cape-A-Bility Challenge" public relations campaign. The capes cost $14,000 (not a bad price for 6k capes actually) and featured a cartoon character named "Dr. Evil Unemployment." As one might imagine, officials are calling for an investigation to be launched. It's a good thing there are an abundance of caped do-gooders without jobs in the area who should be able to help.

Google Tests Multiple Account Login 122

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yes-have-some dept.
tekgoblin noted joyous rumors for anyone forced to use multiple Google accounts "Wouldn't it be great if you could log into all of your Google accounts at the same time if you have multiple? Well it seems that Google may be implementing a way to do this in the near future. Right now it can be done with scripts such as a Greasemonkey script, but that isn't as easy as Google doing it for us. The people over at Google Operating System have had users submit a screenshot of what looks like a beta test for multiple account login. It appears that it will be available for Calendar, Code, Docs, Gmail, Reader, and Sites for the test but surely it will be across all Google apps when it's released."

Ancient Comet Fragments Found In Antarctic Snow 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the cool-and-collected dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos Magazine: "Two tiny meteorites recently recovered from Antarctic snow contain material dating back to the birth of our Solar System, and may provide clues about the delivery of organic matter to Earth. Researchers believe that these micrometeorites likely came from the cold, comet-forming outer regions of the gas and dust cloud that comprised the early Solar System, and sample its composition. Discovered in 2006, the particles measure less than 0.25 mm across and survived their journey through Earth's atmosphere relatively unscathed. More importantly, scientists found that they contain unusually high amounts of organic matter."
The Internet

Anyone Can Play Big Brother With BitTorrent 436

Posted by timothy
from the shrinking-wilderness dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I was at the 3rd USENIX Workshop on Large-Scale Exploits and Emergent Threats yesterday, and there were people from the French Institute for Computer Science who have continuously spied on most BitTorrent users on the Internet for 100 days, from a single machine. They've also identified 70% of all content providers; yes, those guys that insert the new contents into BitTorrent. As a BitTorrent user, I was shocked that anyone with a box connected to the Internet can spy on what everyone is downloading on BitTorrent."

Is the Tide Turning On Patents? 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the slowly-but-surely dept.
Glyn Moody writes "The FSF has funded a new video, 'Patent Absurdity: how software patents broke the system,' freely available (of course) in Ogg Theora format (what else?). It comes at a time when a lot is happening in the world of patents. Recent work from leading academics has called into question their basis: 'The work in this paper, and that of many others, suggests that this traditionally-struck "devil's bargain" may not be beneficial.' We recently discussed how a judge struck down Myriad Genetics's patents on two genes because they involved a law of Nature, and were thus 'improperly granted.' Meanwhile, the imminent Supreme Court ruling In re Bilski is widely expected to have negative knock-on effects for business method and software patents. Is the tide beginning to turn?"

Quantum Encryption Implementation Broken 133

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-was-a-quantum-drawing-board dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Professor Johannes Skaar's Quantum Hacking group at NTNU have found a new way to break quantum encryption. Even though quantum encryption is theoretically perfect, real hardware isn't, and they exploit these flaws. Their technique relies on a particular way of blinding the single photon detectors so that they're able to perform an intercept-resend attack and get a copy of the secret key without giving away the fact that someone is listening. This attack is not merely theoretical, either. They have built an eavesdropping device and successfully attacked their own quantum encryption hardware. More details can be found in their conference presentation."

Comment: Comments of the Nexicon CTO (Score 1) 153

by CanarDuck (#30511190) Attached to: DMCA Takedown Scandal, Part Two

I found the most fascinating part of TFA to be a link to a post by the Nexicon CTO himself in the comments of the initial article. It's 500 words of frantic, badly spelled gibberish whithout a single grammatically correct sentence and devoid of any substantial argument. You can literally see the poor man going litteraly nuts with rage while the sky is falling on his head.

Try it, it'll do you good. Seriously, I had not experienced such a powerful rush of pure, unaltered, sweet schadenfreude on the internets for a long time.


SSL Renegotiation Attack Becomes Real 97

Posted by kdawson
from the laugh-a-while-you-can dept.
rastos1 and several other readers noted that the SSL vulnerability we discussed a couple of weeks back, which some researchers had claimed was too theoretical to worry about, has now been demonstrated by exploit. The attack description is available on "A Turkish grad student has devised a serious, real-world attack on Twitter that targeted a recently discovered vulnerability in the SSL protocol. The exploit by Anil Kurmus is significant because it successfully targeted the so-called SSL renegotiation bug to steal Twitter login credentials that passed through encrypted data streams. All in all, a man in the middle is able to steal the credentials of a user authenticating himself through HTTPS to a trusted website."

"The algorithm to do that is extremely nasty. You might want to mug someone with it." -- M. Devine, Computer Science 340