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Comment: Re:Took me a bit to find this (Score 1) 395

Three decades, not four, but your point is valid. I'm not really trying to defend them. I do think the location and era (largely Jim Crow) influenced this more than a general lack of medical ethics; it's a lot easier to justify atrocities when you don't see your subjects as truly human. Think less "conspiracy of unscrupulous doctors" and more "complete inability to see members of another race as people".

Comment: Re:Took me a bit to find this (Score 4, Informative) 395

They weren't deliberately infected, they weren't soldiers,

Everyone knows the Tuskegee Blacks were in the military. They were airmen.

You're confusing the Tuskegee airmen with the Tuskegee syphilis experiments. They have nothing in common besides being trained (the airmen) and conducted (the experiments) in proximity to Tuskegee, AL. Tuskegee is an almost exclusively Black/African American city, so most things that are associated with Tuskegee are also associated with black people.

(they were sharecroppers, and they were provided with free medical cares,

What good is "medical care" when there's a deliberate lie about the care?

If you read another sentence or two, you'd note that there was no verified treatment for syphilis for the first decade of the experiments. Providing palliative care to those with incurable diseases is a net good; there are legitimate philosophical arguments over how much information a doctor should provide when the information cannot be understood or acted upon in a meaningful way.

Clearly this was unethical, but recall, this was Jim Crow era. A lot of people considered black people sub-human. Sure, the doctors didn't tell them they had syphilis. But the South made it nigh impossible for them to vote, hold elected office, get a meaningful education, buy property, use public services, receive a fair trial, etc. We were kind of awful in general; the Tuskegee experiments weren't that much more awful when compared to everything else we did.

Comment: Re:Took me a bit to find this (Score 4, Informative) 395

They weren't deliberately infected, they weren't soldiers, (they were sharecroppers, and they were provided with free medical cares, meals and burial insurance as compensation), and for the first decade of the study, there was no verified cure for syphilis (the efficacy of penicillin wasn't verified until the 1940s; the study began in 1932). It's hard to blame the architects of the study for studying an incurable disease to chart its progress, though obviously their successors lacked any moral compass.

The facts of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment were bad enough, but you're making it seem even worse. This is the part of the problem. Actual malfeasance gets exaggerated even further; it changes from failure to take action (treat patients like they should have) to deliberate malevolence (intentionally infecting patients). If you reinterpret the world as one in which everything is explained by deliberate malice, of course you'll believe in conspiracy theories.

Sadly, in this particular case, despite being completely off base about Tuskegee, there were in fact acts of active evil perpetrated in Guatemala. Unlike Tuskegee, the experiments weren't on U.S. citizens, only lasted three years, not forty, and the subjects were treated for the conditions they were infected with (though some still died). Doesn't excuse it, but again, it's not a good basis for proving the existence of long term, actively malevolent policies.

Comment: Apple and Email (Score 1) 184

by ShadowRangerRIT (#46311345) Attached to: Steve Jobs To Appear On US Postage Stamp

The profitable first class mail business has been decimated by email over the past decade, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Steve Jobs and Apple

Huh? What the hell did Apple do for e-mail (beyond what every OS/application developer has done)? "OMG, they make computers, therefore, all things done on computers are their responsibility!"


A Mathematical Proof Too Long To Check 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the which-this-margin-is-too-narrow-to-contain dept.
mikejuk writes "Mathematicians have generally gotten over their unease with computer-assisted proofs. But in the case of a new proof from researchers at the University of Liverpool, we may have crossed a line. The proof is currently contained within a 13 GB file — more space than is required to hold the entirety of Wikipedia. Its size makes it unlikely that humans will be able to check and confirm the proof. The theorem that has been proved is in connection with a long running conjecture of Paul Erdos in 1930. Discrepancy theory is about how possible it is to distribute something evenly. It occurs in lots of different forms and even has a connection with cryptography. In 1993 it was proved that an infinite series cannot have a discrepancy of 1 or less. This proved the theorem for C=1. The recent progress, which pushes C up to 2, was made possible by a clever idea of using a SAT solver — a program that finds values that make an expression true. Things went well up to length 1160, which was proved to have discrepancy 2, but at length 1161 the SAT returned the result that there was no assignment. The negative result generated an unsatisfiability certificate: the proof that a sequence of length 1161 has no subsequence with discrepancy 2 requires over 13 gigabytes of data. As the authors of the paper write: '[it] probably one of longest proofs of a non-trivial mathematical result ever produced. ... one may have doubts about to which degree this can be accepted as a proof of a mathematical statement.' Does this matter? Probably not — as long as other programs can check the result and the program itself has to be considered part of the proof."

Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 2) 1038

Remember, we already spent more money dealing with the mandatory appeals required for death penalty cases than it would cost to imprison him for life (which doesn't have the same mandatory appeals process). Had we just sent him to prison for life without parole, it would have been cheaper. The death penalty is not a cost saving measure.

Comment: Re:If that wasn't crueal and unreasonable... (Score 4, Insightful) 1038

On the other hand, their refusal to provide drugs for executions has *stopped* many executions that would have otherwise happened. Those are direct effects. The suffering of this man was an indirect effect; only Ohio is to blame for his torture and death.

Comment: Re:If they're concerned on picking winners or lose (Score 1) 1030

by ShadowRangerRIT (#45497725) Attached to: A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

Tax "breaks" as you refer to them (also known as tax expenditures) are equivalent to a subsidy. If the U.S. government sends you $10,000, or they craft a special tax credit that only benefits you, reducing the taxes you pay by $10,000, the net effect is the same. Either way, they could have charged everyone a little less in taxes by not sending you that money/arbitrarily letting you pay less taxes than everyone else.

On page 7 alone, there are tax breaks so targeted that they clearly exist only to send money to oil and coal companies, e.g.

Credit for Production of Nonconventional Fuels ($14,097) - IRC Section 45K. This provision provides a tax credit for the production of certain fuels. Qualifying fuels include: oil from shale, tar sands; gas from geopressurized brine, Devonian shale, coal seams, tight formations, biomass, and coal-based synthetic fuels. This credit has historically primarily benefited coal producers.

BTW, the dollar figures are in millions, so that one credit, by itself, is a $14 billion giveaway to people who are producing the dirtiest fuels possible; aside from biomass and fracking for natural gas (the latter being arguable), every other entry listed there is far worse for the environment than the energy sources we used even a decade ago. And we gave them $14 billion dollars to encourage this behavior.

Comment: Combining information from other posts (Score 2) 375

by ShadowRangerRIT (#45363003) Attached to: Third Tesla Fire Means Feds To Begin Review
In the U.K., there are 15,000 car fires per year, and ~28.7 million cars on the road. Tesla has had 3 car fires out of 21,500 cars on the road. The fires:car ratio is about 4:1 overall:Model S. That said, most of the Model S's haven't been on the road a full year, but if we assume they've been in service an average of the three months, then the overall rate of combustion is essentially identical.

Comment: Re:Napping Will Rot Your Brain (Score 4, Insightful) 39

by ShadowRangerRIT (#44943161) Attached to: Naps Nurture Growing Brains
The article you link reverses the cause and effect you claim; the assumption is that excessive napping is an early indicator of dementia, not the cause of it. And the research itself appears to take no stand on the matter; it established a correlation with no actual evidence for which way (if any) the causation arrow goes.

Comment: Re:The emperor has no clothes (Score 2) 526

You're off by roughly a factor of 4. Prior to the printing press, the number of bibles produced yearly would have been trivial. Printing of the Bible from non-movable type woodcuts preceded the Gutenberg press by a century (give or take), but prior to movable type, the numbers were still fairly trivial. During the early years of movable type (1475-1500) only 20 million books were printed total, less than a million a year (source). So in order to hit 6B, you'd be dividing (roughly) over the last 500 years, not 2000. So the yearly print runs would be over 10 million, and probably 2-3x that recently (given that the rate of production would surely be much higher now than it was in 1500-1800).

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum