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Comment Re: It's not about the crime (Score 1) 71

people get tried as adults as young as 10 now for crimes

at 18 you can buy smokes but not beer, you can get shot at in war

21 you can finally buy beer, but still cant rent a car

25 you can finally rent a car

they made the word "adult" a useless word years ago

Comment Re:A simple test is in order (Score 1) 343

Well, this is a bit like parents who take their kids to get vaccinated and a few hours later that kid exhibits the first signs of autism. It's an immensely compelling coincidence. You'd have to (a) know that autism symptoms often have a rapid onset and (b) realize that when they do they can follow any commonplace childhood event. Even if you did it'd still be hard to shake the suspicion if it happened to your kid.

Somebody points a IR remote at your friend; he gets up and has a brief moment of orthostatic hypotension -- also known as a "dizzy spell" brought on by a sudden drop in blood pressure -- just at the moment the guy pushes the button. Orthostatic hypotension can happen to anyone, but if your friend isn't otherwise prone to it that can be a very compelling coincidence; and many of the symptoms of hypotension can be reproduced by psychological stress.

If something like that happens to you people will say, "oh, it's all in your head," but the thing is that all suffering is inside peoples' heads. One of the worst kinds of pain you can have is passing a kidney stone, but if you happen to be in a coma at the time you won't feel a thing. Distress produced within the brain is indistinguishable to the subject from distress produced outside the brain. Having an external explanation for that distress can make someone feel like they have some control over what is a disturbing experience, and shooting holes in that explanation isn't going to help unless you can offer them a better handle on it.

Sometimes I think we'd be better off if we just brought back shamans and witch doctors.

Comment Re:Mirrors (Score 2) 113

I don't think you could make the reflective surface perfect enough to make the drone positively laser-proof, but I think a reflective coating would certainly reduce the laser's effective range. Analogously you can't nuke-proof an aircraft, but in the Cold War they were often painted "anti-flash white" to help them survive a bit closer to a detonation.

Comment Re:Which is why (Score 1) 234

Well, as far as Atkins is concerned, diet research is really, really hard and expensive to do right. I know because when I was an MIT student one of my jobs was office boy in the Food and Nutrition group, and I saw how hard it was. In one of the studies, research subjects were given a duffle bag from which all the input to their digest systems came, and into which all the output from the same went, for six bloody months.

Of course not every study needs to be that rigorous, but diet is one of those areas where the public needs lots of informed opinion but the funding for research is grossly inadequate to meet that need.

By the way, the current state of research seems to be that carbohydrate restricted diets work well in the short term but have only modest success in the long term.

Comment Which is why (Score 2) 234

... you don't make any important decisions based on a single paper. That's true for hard sciences as well as social sciences.

Science by its very nature deals in contradictory evidence. I'd argue that openness to contradictory evidence is the distinguishing characteristic of science. A and not A cannot be true at the same time, but their can be, and normally is, evidence for both positions. So that means science often generates contradictory papers.

What you need to do is read the literature in a field widely so you can see the pattern of evidence, not just a single point. Or, if you aren't willing to invest the time for that you can find what's called a review paper in a high-impact factor journal. A review paper is supposed to be a fair summary of recent evidence on a question by someone working in the field. For bonus points read follow-up letters to that paper. Review papers are not infallible, but they're a heck of a lot more comprehensive than any other source of information.

Comment Re:That would be penny wise and pound foolish (Score 1) 341

Well, a lot depends on how your actions fit into your long term vision, if anything. "We'll just rebuild this neighborhood and everything will be hunky-dory" is obviously not a long term plan.

The reason the Netherlands flood control makes sense is that the value of 25% of their country's land area far outweighs the cost of reclaiming it, as simple as that. When the net present value of keeping the flood waters off a piece ofland exceeds the net present value of the use you'll get from it, then it's time to abandon piece of land.

Comment Re:Exaggeration is not Necessary (Score 1) 341

Well, if you *insist* on being pedantic, what they mean is "It's not going to stop before it causes a degree havoc most people would find inconceivable."

I think they kind of expect people to understand they're not claiming that the water levels will rise, drowning the Moon, inundating the Sun, and eventually filling up the entire universe.

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 4, Insightful) 341

Sure. Or sooner if you are economically tied to businesses or people near the coast; or businesses or people not near the coast; or businesses or people not near the coast but dependant on others that are. That's the downside of living in a modern economy. I didn't hold any toxic mortgage backed financial instruments, but I sure felt the pain when the capital markets went tits up in 08.

Comment Re: No one should *ever* wonder why... (Score 1) 273

The lack of understanding what a conservative is on slashdot never ceases to amaze me. Its called smaller government and enforce laws that are already on the books instead of creating new ones.

There you go, you explained your own mystification away. You define the conservative program by what conservatives want. Everyone else defines it by what the people conservatives vote for do when they get into office, which is spend money and make government even more intrusive.

Comment I propose a solution. (Score 1) 234

Any time the cops stop an autonomous car they have to pay the owner of that car $1000, no matter what the reason for the stop. Compared to the legal costs of what comes after a legitimate stop, that's nothing. But it would dissuade police from developing a pattern of frivolous stops.

Comment Re:No one should *ever* wonder why... (Score 3, Interesting) 273

Well, I agree government is dangerous -- so is anything that is powerful. Max Weber defined the state as the organization that has a monopoly on violence.

But the blame isn't with the liberals, or the conservative libertarians, neither of whom want this kind of data collection. It's with the conservative authoritarians who want to expand the power of the police.

"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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