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Comment: Who says they stopped? (Score 5, Insightful) 192

by cephalien (#40405043) Attached to: Reddit Cofounder Says Site Was Built By a Horde of Fake Accounts

Been to r/circlejerk, lately? :)

Either way, who cares. If it hadn't taken off, they'd just end up as a bunch of weirdos talking to their multiple personalities. But it did, and the same tactic is used all the time - ever see a single dollar bill in a tip jar? Priming isn't new.

Comment: No. (Score 1) 1

by cephalien (#40336081) Attached to: High Fructose Corn Syrup gives you Alzheimer's

If you read the referenced Genetics article, the following statement appears:

Weight loss is also associated with AD patients, despite the fact that AD
patients consume more calories than age-matched non-AD controls (reviewed in AZIZ et al.
2008), suggesting that AD patients may have altered metabolic rates (WANG et al. 2004). Our
results suggest that metabolic rate changes could be mediated by secreted sAPP, which alters
hormonal and insulin signaling pathways.

This actually seems to suggest that AD patients with the a mutated form of the soluble APP may have more insulin, or be more responsive to existing levels; not that HFCS can induce insulin which causes AD.

Comment: I disagree mostly. (Score 1) 511

by cephalien (#32766434) Attached to: Do Scientists Understand the Public?

To start, I /am/ a scientist (PhD, molecular biology), and I've also taught. At the moment, I'm pure research, so I've been on multiple sides of this issue.

To really address the suggestion that I as a scientist isn't doing enough to educate the public is just an outright oversimplification of the issues involved.

As I see it, there are at least three major obstacles inherent in 'educating' the public about any particular scientific topic (molecular biology, computers, you name it)

1. Education: There's a lot of work involved in getting to know underlying concepts well enough to properly transfer ideas. I can talk about western blots, ELISAs, single-nucleotide polymorphisms and the effect of multiple genetic anomalies on various types of lung cancer as relates to smoking, but unless you understand why and how those things are important, any conclusions I give you, like 'an increase in these four or five SNPs statistically leads to a higher risk of lung cancer', you either have the choice of accepting what I say on faith, or ignoring it.

2. Apathy: If you don't know, do you want to learn? Most people who ask what I do want a nice easy answer, like "cancer research". They smile, say 'ooh, that must be hard' and go about their day. Any longer than a ten word answer, and I get the classic glazed-eyes look. You can't educate a populace that doesn't care.

3. Propaganda: This is related to 1 & 2, but is mostly a side-effect of 1. I recently got into a rather heated argument with someone over whether or not second-hand smoking is bad for you (yes, it is). Despite all the first-hand knowledge, research, and peer-reviewed data I could provide, the person in question chose to rely on biased politically-motivated think-tank reports and old, outdated, dis-proven studies funded by tobacco corporations instead of listening to my data and realistically weighing the available information. You can do all the outreach you want, but if the people don't want to pay attention, they won't.

Comment: Re:Alas (Score 1) 206

by cephalien (#32515030) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

That's fine if we're talking about parachuting. But what if we can't properly define the risks?

"Sure, this could maybe, possibly, probably not cure you. But it could also cause... well, we have no idea, because it's never been evaluated in humans. Half of our pigs gained the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes, and the other half turned into Rush Limbaugh."

Comment: Re:I wonder... (Score 1) 206

by cephalien (#32514978) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

You'll notice I said 'legitimate'. By definition, these practices are unethical (whether or not you like it, non-FDA approved treatments such as this would be considered criminally unethical in the US) and the people who do them are not practicing legitimate science, medical or otherwise.

This is sort of related to #2, in that properly educated people don't randomly 'decide' that the available evidence is wrong and start jabbing people with dangerous treatments. If they do, we're down to #3, because they obviously know what they're doing is wrong, but the financial benefit outweighs the risk.

You sound like someone who has no idea about how medicine or science (or hell, anything) actually works, considering that your reading comprehension is basically nil.

Comment: Re:Removing freedom isn't a "positive development" (Score 1) 206

by cephalien (#32514912) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

Except that you aren't circumventing 'big pharma', because the treatment doesn't work!

Seriously, if these quack factories were actually curing people, don't you think that someone would know about it?

Of course, statistically, if you inject enough people with this crap one of them will go into remission, and you've got a 'cure' in the same way that occasionally someone blessed by a preacher will be 'cured' by god.

Saying that people have the right to scam other people sounds great, until your grandmother signs up for FreeCreditReport.com using your credit card.

Comment: Re:Alas (Score 1) 206

by cephalien (#32514614) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

I don't mean this in a harsh way, but you have no idea how clinical trials work.

Saying something works in a dog, or a horse, or a pig, or a hamster is a thousand-fold difference from testing it in humans. We can test it on ten thousand mice and show no ill effects, but doing a proper multi-stage trial on humans can take years and years of testing, evaluation and follow-up.

Why? So we don't have any more thalidomide babies. And even then, the trials aren't perfect. Remember Vioxx? That's just one example.

There's a lot of good medicine coming around the corner in the next decade, but it's based on new and largely untried technologies. I'd love to save all the people who will die before it's available (or who will suffer pain, etc), but we can't rush it. The risks are too great.

Comment: Re:Removing freedom isn't a "positive development" (Score 1, Insightful) 206

by cephalien (#32514556) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

Well, hell -- by this logic, I should be able to build a nuclear reactor in my garage. Who cares? I can just sell power to the guy next door, even if the radiation cooks my neighbors.

After all, how do we know the 'experts' are right? I think all those Hiroshima photos are faked.

The point of experts is not that they're infallible, but that collectively they represent the best current 'state of the art' in a particular field. Sometimes, yes, they're wrong. But the judgements made to come to those collective conclusions are based on data, knowledge and experience that the average person does not (and cannot) have.

Who knows, maybe injecting a paraplegic with stem cells from a fetus will make them walk again. It might, someday. But right now it's stupid, dangerous, and foolhardy in the extreme. More importantly, it's a scam, and the government should be responsible for bringing those people to justice and stopping practices which masquerade as medical science when they clearly are not.

Get a clue, and stop trying to make everything an argument about how you should be allowed to be as stupid as you personally would like to be.

Comment: Re:I wonder... (Score 1) 206

by cephalien (#32514478) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

I suspect the reply is as follows:

1. Nobody. No legitimate MD or PhD in the biomedical field is going to ignore the scientific consensus in such a way as to think that injecting people with untried, untested cells (that could just as easily turn into aggressive cancer) is worth it - simply and inalterably unethical.

2. Probably not, for the same reasons as #1. I guess this is 'possible', but it screams of Jenny McCarthy -- education and knowledge tend to stop people from making such gross errors in judgement.

3. Everyone. These are quacks who prey on dying people desperate for any solution, they'll suspend their own common sense in hopes of a miracle cure. I'm not a violent person, but the scum who prey on these people deserve a slow, painful death.

Comment: Re:How is this a good thing? (Score 2, Insightful) 206

by cephalien (#32514386) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

Well, it's not even questionable ethically -- it's just completely unethical.

Second, we can't study them, because it would never be a properly controlled group unless you can properly account for the myriad of factors associated with such a study (type of disease, progression, lifestyle).

It's not as easy as just lumping together a dozen people who happen to have come to your 'clinic' to be injected with who knows what (preparation standards? Not in /my/ study!)

Anyone who is offering to inject stem cells into a human being at this point for treatment is a complete quack. End of story.

Comment: Right... (Score 2, Insightful) 393

by cephalien (#31963986) Attached to: Arizona Trialing System That Lets Utility System Control Home A/Cs

Because when it's 104 degrees in Arizona, the people trialing this system will be content to let the power company turn their A/C down.

No, what'll happen is that all the people enrolled will just override the suggested settings, meaning that they'll have spent the money and still end up having brownouts.

I don't see this as being a smart move from -any- standpoint, unless you marketed it as a way for the power company to turn down the A/C units of homeowners who might not -be- at home during a peak time, but have left their systems running.

Having said that, anyone with pets will tell you that it can get hot enough that they need to be cooled-off too.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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