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Comment: Not just bold, but inaccurate (Score 1) 213

by alecwood (#31257696) Attached to: Simon Singh To Appeal In UK Court Today

I have a lot of interest in the placebo effect, dunno why, it's just one of those things that interests me

A study by a knee surgeon http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2119999.stm reported that common surgery was no better than the placebo procedure. Now while that may prove more that the surgery is often unnecessary, the reported benefits and improvements by many of the recipients of the placebo procedure surely demonstrate some effect

A recent Discovery channel series on this introduced another doctor who stated that simulating the operation with manipulation and audio recordings enhanced the statistics of the placebo group even further, but I can't find the data to cite

Comment: Re:Summary writer is a full blown moron (Score 1) 213

by alecwood (#31257636) Attached to: Simon Singh To Appeal In UK Court Today
You can't be charged with libel, it's a civil matter. Any person, or organisation, can sue for libel, and I believe the situation is the same in the US. Unfortunately here jaywalking is not an offence. Having any window shutters at all, let alone crooked ones, probably soon will be though, lest it impedes the ever increasing surveillance of us all by government

Comment: Been going on in the UK for ages (Score 1) 332

by alecwood (#31257560) Attached to: Criminals Hide Payment-Card Skimmers In Gas Pumps

Here in the UK, especially since the advent of 'Chip & Pin' security, card skimmers and other intercept methods have become increasingly common, and fuel pumps are among the most common targets of all. The reason why is ease of access. You're stood at the pump for quite a long time (in the UK you have to keep the handle squeezed to pump fuel, no latch) with noone paying any real attention to you. Since you're stood for so long you have ample opportunity to install your device, and since there are no attendants, just a couple of cashiers, the chances of detection are minimal. Since automatic number plate recognition technology was added to aid in apprehending fuel thieves, the cashiers have no reason to look at the CCTV screens either, so they don't.

I was had by just such a device a couple of years ago, but here the banks are so confident in chip and pin as a security method they weren't exactly sympathetic - and bank fraud is now a matter for the banks, not the police. It took a long struggle to get my money back, and in the end the best I could manage was about 50% of it.

Comment: Re:I Think I Know Why They Left Him Out (Score 1) 136

by alecwood (#31244090) Attached to: EU Privacy Chief Says ACTA Violates European Law

Personally I agree with the guy, and he holds a powerful position within the EU, but in reality it's not that powerful in comparison to the collective interests of the US government, the RIAA, MPAA etc

Representatives and Senators will keep big business happy, that's who puts the dollars in their campaign funds after all.

It's probable that it'll just be like all the rest of the recent "international" laws - there'll be safeguards to ensure no US citizens have to answer to any non-US IP holder, while US IP holders get free reign to stomp all over the rest of us in a similar fashion to how the USA doesn't hand over suspects wanted in other countries but on pain of sanction and embargo demands we all hand our citizens over to them without due process in their country of origin

Comment: Re:Did Singh really say anything bogus about the B (Score 1) 754

by alecwood (#29451539) Attached to: In Britain, Better Not Call It Bogus Science
As a British citizen with direct experience of two such cases, I would argue (with some degree of authority) that what's wrong with your argument is interpretation of what you've read (and the posters above too)

In the UK civil courts, both sides must prove the veracity of their arguments. Thus the plaintiff must show that the respondent's utterances were defamatory, and the respondent must must prove the veracity of his defence, by showing them to be truthful, justified or whatever defence he has chosen to employ. If you can prove the statement is true you will not be found to be guilty of defamation. The difference between the allowable and the absolute defence of truth in the UK & US courts respectively is merely this; in the US truth is an absolute defence and the justice systems explicitly forbids the court from finding in favour of the plaintiff, in the UK it is an allowable defence and historical precedence guides the court that in such cases the plaintiff cannot claim slander if the utterances were truthful.

Civil actions are not about proof as criminal cases are, they're more about putting forward a convincing argument.

Journalistic freedom is highly prized in the UK, and, though journalists' employers may run scared of litigation on occasion, it's very rare for such actions to be successful, and those which are are more often than not overturned at appeal.

The cases discussed here are viewed entirely differently (and rightly so) from the tabloid rumour-mongering which abounds in our newspaper industry

Comment: Re:No. (Score 1) 203

by alecwood (#29051567) Attached to: Can Unmanned Aircraft Mix With Commercial Planes?
Indeed, the human can think creatively. It's true a computer is faster and to a degree better in many things, but not at making creative decisions based on unforseen events. This is why I believe it won't be possible to persuade large sections of the public that autonomous aircraft are a good thing - a ground programmer is unlikely to forsee, and code solutions to, any event beyond the extents of current flight training.

Comment: Re:scary thing (Score 1) 464

by alecwood (#28768717) Attached to: US Agency Blocked Cellphone / Driving Safety Study
Probably true in the US where most cars have auto-transmission, less so in parts of the world where manual gearbox is the norm, such as Europe. At least some form of hands free system leaves you with free hands to change gear and steer. Been in quite a few taxis where the driver's let go fo the wheel to change gear 'cos his other hand's full of phone

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