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Comment Re:Oh really? (Score 0) 414

Homeopathic medicine is fucking water, that's it, plain old water.

I know.

You may get some minor placebo benefits from drinking magic water,

Or major placebo effects.

but literally ANYTHING (including real medicine) can act as a placebo if the patient has blind faith it will work

The thing is that some people tend to place way more faith into magic water than in real medicine :) In particular if real medicine hasn't worked for treating their symptoms (for whatever reason).

The problem here is that the vast majority of politicians do not understand how to research an everyday scientific question

The problem here is that a bunch of people are throwing a hissy fit because some consistently leftwing backbencher managed to get elected as president of the previous mirror image of the Conservative party, and they're pulling out the stops on all fronts. I mean, Slashdot as a platform to wage a campaign against the leader of the UK Labour Party, really?

Look at the actual letter the guy signed. What they mention there does make sense. They don't argue in favour of placebos as cancer or pneumonia treatments, but rather as an aid for treating things that are hard to treat using traditional medicine (probably exactly because they may often primarily be the result of things wrong "in the head" rather than of infections or other identifiable, medicine-treatable causes). And to be clear, with "in the head" I don't mean "mentally ill", because e.g. chronic and phantom limb pain have nothing to do with mental illness and are very real, but can also be treated sometimes by tricking the brain.

Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 3, Informative) 257

In spite of the gut feeling of the submitter, it's not much better in at least computer science: http://reproducibility.cs.ariz...

And to clarify: they only checked for what they call "weak repeatability": was it possible to get the code from the original researchers and if yes, was it possible to build it (or did the author at least explain how he himself managed to build it). They did not even investigate whether they could replicate the reported results with the the code that built.

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 1) 755

No, I'm saying that running a social experiment 9 times and getting the same result (which you don't like), running it a 10th time is unlikely to get you a different result.

You really can't compare forced labour in a totalitarian state and an associated egalitarian income with a basic income in a (reasonably) free society, whereby you can earn as much on top as you want and are free to do whatever you want.

I'm predominantly Libertarian, and I'm all for a UBI -- and not because it makes the people more independent (although that may, in fact, have been what the documentarians wanted to hear in order to be willing to put a Libertarian on camera).

All the people they interviewed were people who have been studying or have been involved for basic income projects for years, and those people explained their reasons for why they thought it was a good idea. They didn't go to libertarian people to ask them what they think about it.

That said, I don't think any of them were predominantly libertarian, it was just one line of arguments that they used in favour. Others included

  • necessity: due to automated production and gradual/"natural" concentration of capital, you need a different system to redistribute wealth
  • mental health: more and more people get burnouts and depressions due to work and income related stress, to the point that their productivity reduces drastically or even become completely unable to work
  • removing the welfare trap: if you are on welfare and start part time working, you may earn less than if staying 100% on welfare, or the added income is not seen as worth it
  • getting rid of ridiculous situations and useless jobs: paying public servants to check that other people are /not/ working
  • creating an actually functioning job market: right now, employers generally have much more bargaining power than employees
  • giving people time and opportunities to do what they want and be creative

I'm doubting the veracity of the statement that it's resulted in more people working,

The most striking example is Otjivero, a ethnically diverse Namibian town in the middle of the desert. Before the basic income project, almost no one had a job. Virtually everyone survived on porridge made from corn flour donated by the government. With the basic income, pretty much everyone started their own business, because the basic income created a lot of local demand for goods and services. If people have money, they can spend it. If there is demand, supply will come.

and I'm doubting the speculation about the total job availability numbers, given that we are already in massive unemployment, according to World Bank numbers, since the U.S. Department of Labor only tracks eligible workers (those workers who are displaced, and eligible for unemployment benefits, whether or not they are receiving them).

I completely agree with you that there is a massive employment crisis almost everywhere, and that the actual numbers are worse than the ones reported due to the reasons you mention. The reason there are no jobs, is because many companies don't need more labour due to technical advances (fewer labourers needed for the same output) and lack of growing demand.

Basic income can increase demand in many ways, and not just from established companies. If people have more time (because they don't have to work two jobs to make ends meet) and more time, they have more money and time to spend. It's a bit like reinstating the Henry Ford model, but at a larger scale.

Don't get me wrong: I have *no problem whatsoever* with people on UBI *not* working. We have a looming "end to human labor" problem, and I don't think having a bunch of Unhappy Campers(tm), with nothing better to do with their time than smash things, is a sterling idea.

We agree that a UBI stopgaps that problem.

I think it may even be more than a stopgap. Several people have developed models on how to make a basic income sustainable in various countries. Of course, they still all need to be verified in practice, and many things can (and probably will at various points) go wrong there.

Where we disagree is whether all the economically disenfranchised people receiving UBI will rush out and work a bunch of non-existent jobs, or whether they're going to stay home with their cable TV, bong, and X-Box 360. I'm personally *fine* with them doing that; you don't have to make up happy little stories of them working jobs in order to satisfy the Libertarian in me. I'm not going to buy hat you're selling anyway, and you already have my vote in favor of a UBI, so you really need to stop trying so hard to make stuff up to get me on your side.

I'm just saying what the experiments in practice until now have shown. I don't know whether any of them included large communities of couch surfers, but several of them did include poor and disenfranchised people. I'm not trying to sell anything, just parroting what I saw and read (although maybe that's worse :)

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 1) 755

In every experiment they've tried until now

Does that include the soviet union? While it wasn't called basic income, it was a guaranteed unfireable for life job with a paycheck.

That's like someone saying "getting food for free is nice", and someone else asking "does that include the geese that get stuffed for fois gras production? While it's of course force-feeding, they still get fed all of their life and don't have to do anything for it".

One of the tenets of basic income is that it must serve to increase people's liberty. Guaranteeing people an income in a totalitarian police state without any room for personal initiative indeed doesn't solve anything. The problem may lie more with the totalitarian regime than with the guaranteed income though.

Moreover, I haven't heard any proponents claim that a basic income by itself would solve all (or even most) problems. Many see it as a necessary step due to various evolutions, such as technology starting to destroy more jobs than it creates, and the insanity of creating jobs that pay people to check on other people to make sure they are not working (allowance qualification). Just watch the documentary I linked, it's a nice introduction to the subject (it was for me, anyway).

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 1) 755

In every experiment they've tried until now, it actually causes more people to start working rather than fewer.

Is this why the Soviet Union won the cold war, and the former United States has broken itself up into small nations, with no one wanting to get everyone back together but Massachusetts and their insane dictator?

I'm not sure, but are you arguing that a basic income would automatically lead to a totalitarian militarised police state? Several proponents in the documentary I linked actually argue for it from a libertarian point of view, because a basic income (as a fundamental right, rather than as pork granted by the state to specific interest or pressure groups) makes the people as a whole much more independent.

It really has nothing to do with communism. Nothing gets nationalised and people are still free (and in fact encouraged) to be individually enterprising.

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 3, Interesting) 755

In every experiment they've tried until now, it actually causes more people to start working rather than fewer. There was a very interesting documentary about it by the Flemish public broadcaster, and it's available with English subtitles (if that doesn't play, there's a lower quality copy on Youtube). It does cause more people to become self-employed though, because they're less afraid of failure and hence are less likely to take on a job they don't like but accept anyway to have income security. And interestingly, those self-employed endeavours turn out to be often quite successful, simply because people are doing something like doing.

Comment Re:Similar issues in other fields, not a perfect f (Score 1) 118

It's the same in computer science. Many measurement methodologies are plain wrong or misleading. And in many cases, the source code of what people did is not available, so independent evaluation is not possible (someone also published a paper about that, where the author couldn't even get the code in many cases after explicitly asking for it, but I forgot the title). It's not just a problem of alpha sciences.

Comment Re: So much stupid (Score 3, Insightful) 111

I was just challenging a completely unsupported conclusion of someone trying to make people look through that skin colour lens.

Of course you have to look at the wider picture, and of course the cases of unjustified police violence garner the most public attention. Given that even when looking only at unarmed victims getting shot, black people appear to be 3 times as likely to be a victim as white people, your '"they end up having to use force" may rather be "they end up using force" though. And you also have to widen the picture even further, looking at why those particular neighbourhoods suffer so much from those issues in the first place, etc.

Comment Re: So much stupid (Score 4, Insightful) 111

Using murder rate of population as a metric for danger to cops, in death by cop whites are overrepresented and latinos and blacks are underrepresented.

Did you read the entire article till the end? It concludes with

“The odds that a black man will be shot and killed by a police officer is about 1 in 60,000. For a white man those odds are 1 in 200,000.”

In absolute numbers, more white people are shot by police than black people, but the former also make up a significantly larger chunk of the population (63% white vs 12% black). What I find disturbing about the guy presenting those numbers is that he thinks those are very low chances, while I think that both are way too high.

The insets in the article pointing to "PHOTOS: 21 best guns for home protection" and "PHOTOS: Bang for your buck: Best handguns under $500" are also rather surreal to me in that context (but that's probably just me).

Comment Re:Holy buckets! (Score 2) 146

And guess what: if you search either for the politician or his son, the article is still found (first hit on the BBC site, in fact):

So neither the politician nor his son had the search results removed. Although if it had been removed when searching for the son's name, I would understand it. While politicians are public figures and cannot have such search results removed under the ruling (because there is a public interest in those results), I'm not sure the same holds for their family (it's not the son's choice that his father is a politician).

"Live or die, I'll make a million." -- Reebus Kneebus, before his jump to the center of the earth, Firesign Theater