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Comment: Once again (Score 3, Insightful) 244 244

omce again human nutritional claims are being based on rodent model work, despite there being very little reason to expect the results to e replicable in humans. Stop giving PRELIMINARY and non-confirmed trials coverage as though they actually mean something. This trial only applies to mice at the moment. Maybe it can be extrapolated to all rodents in general, but the leap from rodents to humans directly is pure bull shit over reach.

Comment: Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032 1032

You don't really need either of those things. Everyone seems to forget about community colleges.

I worked out an agreement with my parents where we split the cost of tuition 3 ways (parents are divorced) and I attended a community college (I also picked up the cost of books, my computer, parking, etc.). I had to work about 35hr/wk at a grocery store for less than $8/hr, while sharing a room with my 10 year old brother to do it, but it is doable. Spread it out over 4 years instead of the 2 I took, and it gets even easier.

Many states have programs to ease the transition into the state-run 4-year colleges (GPA based acceptance guarantees, and tuition breaks) to turn that associates into a BS or BA in only 2 years. Hell, I met my BS credit requirement at the end of my 3rd semester at UMass and could have graduated then if I'd chosen to. I did end up taking out loans, but there are ways I could have worked that out without Sallie Mae if I'd had to.

If you are interested in more advanced degrees it always helps if you pick one with a lot of industry support. Managed to get an MS and PhD without taking out ANY loans because my department paid graduate students a stipend in exchange for our labor as research assistants (for less than the currently pushed $15/hr we are all supposed to pay fast food workers for some reason).

At the end of the day I managed 4 degrees (spread over 12 years) and only took out loans for 4 semesters. My younger sister did something similar (although her profession lacks industry $, so she had to bust her has as a teaching assistant and win a few Grants to avoid taking out loans). You just need to be smart about how you spend the education dollars you do have.

Comment: Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 2) 1032 1032

Who says you need to get the education in 4 years? Community colleges allow you to take as many or as few classes a semester as you can afford. If the knowledge is the goal, then what does it matter if it takes you 3 or 4 years to earn an associates. Especially since the cost/credit is MUCH lower than at a 4 yr college, even a state school.

My sister and I were able to get associates degrees without having to take out a penny in loans by living with our parents, attending community colleges, and working just shy of full time at crappy jobs for barely more than minimum wage (she in a bookstore stocking shelves, and me at a grocery store doing the same). MA has a program where you can transfer from many Community Colleges to UMass with guaranteed acceptance if your GPA is over 3.0 and with partial tuition remission if your GPA is over 3.5. I've been told that many other states offer similar programs.

Not everyone can afford to invest in as much education as they would like, just like I cannot afford to invest as much in the stock market as I would like beyond my 401K. Education is an investment, and if more people looked at it that way, then less of them would be drowning under debt that they cannot comfortably pay back. There are real problems driving up the price of education that should be addressed, particularly at state schools, in order to make them a better investment. However, that doesn't change the fundamental calculus that a HS graduate should do before deciding on how much education they would like to purchase, and from which institution.

Comment: Creative thinking (Score 1) 208 208

If this is important enough of an issue to consider such a radical change to policy, then they should also have considered other possible solutions, like requiring a statistician be included in the pool of reviewers. The journal I submit to most frequently uses 2 to 3 ad hoc reviewers plus the associate section editor. It could be possible to require the section editor who choses the ad hoc reviewers to include a statistician as the 3rd reviewer. They would then review for the soundness of the statistical procedures, and the appropriateness of the conclusions based on the model used, and analysis conducted.

I have better stats chops than most in my field (dunning kruger delusion on my part, possibly), but I know that I'm no statistician. I think that getting an actual statistician involved in reviewing most papers as a content expert is far more valuable to science as a whole than simply banning a statistical convention that can be, but is not universally, abused. The comments from the statistician would improve the statistical prowess of the corresponding author, thus reducing the tendency for conclusions based on poor stats to be accepted at face value. This move just hides the ignorance behind confidence intervals, which can also be abused if they are not calculated correctly.

Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 1) 700 700

Contributions to Jewish congregation are voluntary, not compulsory.

I am not Jewish, but a co-worker of mine who is indicated that you must pay pretty hefty membership dues to be able to join and attend Temple. I don't remember all of the details, but the description he provided sounded very much like a 'pay-to-pray' type arrangement.

Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 1) 700 700

Most people (theist or atheist) I suspect fall into the "Live and let live" camp. However, when a theist chooses to engage me on the topic, I will NOT pretend to beliefs I don't have, and I will not accept flawed argumentation out of some fake "respect" for their beliefs. That would be to lie to them, something they claim to hate. If they had any respect for my lack of belief, they wouldn't have broached the subject, and it is hypocritical of them to expect me to show their belief more respect than they chose to show mine. The fact that even some atheists believe I should shows just how privileged theists are in society.

Equating someone's faith with a belief in alien abductions is anything but respectful.

Not to the person who believes in alien abductions.

I've known several conspiracy theorists who believe that aliens exist, they abduct people for experimentation, and that the government knows about it. I can respect them as a person, without respecting the belief in phenomenon for which there is no credible evidence. I view ANY belief in something without credible evidence the same way, with skepticism. For some reason that is perfectly acceptable EXCEPT if the belief is called a religion. That makes no sense to me.

Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 4, Insightful) 700 700

I think you are confusing two different issues here. Atheism vs Theism is about Belief, Gnosticism vs Agnosticism is about Knowledge. My wife and I are both agnostic atheists. Neither one of use Know whether or not there is a god, but neither of us belive that one exists based on the available evidence and rational marshaled as justification for his/her/its existence. It is possible to be a Gnostic Atheist (Knowing and Believing in the absence of a deity), as well as an Agnostic Theist (believing in god without actually knowing). From my perspective, the truly scary to me are the Gnostic Theists who claim to know for certain that god exists, not because of any empirical evidence, but simply because... Their counterparts, the Gnostic Atheists at least have a view that is consistent with observable phenomenon and are generally willing to be convinced of their error with sufficient evidence. I've had Gnostic Theists on the other hand tell me flat out that there is no evidence they would accept of god's nonexistence to even open up the possibility that they might be wrong. That kind of absolutism is truly dangerous.

Atheism is not a religion, it is the absence of religion and therefore a "true believer" in atheism is an oxymoron. It's like if you ask someone what there favorite cola is. The majority will say Coke, a close second will be Pepsi, some percentage will name far less popular colas, and some will say they don't like cola at all. That last group is the functional equivalent of an atheist. To say that their favorite cola is "None" is not really correct because it presumes that they like cola at all, which is not the case.

That being said, there are assholes in any group, and one should not confuse the views and actions of the asshole as representative or indicative of the group. And in defense of some atheists I've seen accused of being militant (my wife being one), what believers often perceive as being militant is actually being unapologetic. My wife's family has on several occasions attempted to engage my wife in religious discussions only to get frustrated when she turns there attempts at conversion (which no matter what they claim, was the true purpose of these conversations) into a dialog where she explains her beliefs and tries to make them understand her view. They view her attempts to turn the tables as being disrespectful and rude because they start from the assumption that god exists and any discussion of the possibility that he might not be real is inherently wrong and disrespectful to god. As the previous poster pointed out, there are lots of things people believing for which there is no credible evidence. Just because someone believes in something does NOT mean I have to show respect for that belief. However, lack of respect for the belief does not grant me permission to show disrespect to the believer. The religious in this world enjoy a privileged status in most society and many view that privilege as their right, instead of as an artifact of previous intolerance of different religions or the non-religious. Therefore they have a hard time not seeing my lack of respect for their belief as a lack of respect for them as a person.

Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 1) 700 700

Not true. The majority of atheists do not care one whit what you believe. The majority of the country still believes in some deity or other, and unless we want to be social hermits/pariahs, atheists engage with the religious all of the time. Most people don't even know that I am an atheists, and I don't know most other peoples faiths because I simply don't care. Not our business how you spend your Saturday/Sunday, or what you do at home.

However, we have just as much right to weigh in on how our tax dollars are spent, or what activities are incentivized by exemptions from those taxes. My grandmothers church goes on missions to 3rd world countries and I used to support her efforts by donating money to pay for the trip, supplies, etc. However, when I learned that the missions largess was only offered to those who agreed to convert to Christianity, my donations started going somewhere else. I don't care what the poor believe, and so I refuse to allow my money to incentivize conversions I see no importance to or value in. I have no problem supporting Christians in need, but not at the deliberate expense of non-believers. That kind of quid-pro-quo is why many atheists now oppose tax exemptions for religious organizations. Not because they are religious, but because they are discriminatory in how they dispense the largess of their donors. I don't want to incentivize discrimination by allowing tax exempt status for what I view as immoral behavior.

Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 2) 700 700

Most atheists I know were born into at least moderately religious families. I grew up Congregationalist, my wife was raised Presbyterian yet all 3 (soon to be 4) of our children are being raised atheist. Despite growing up in the church, several of my siblings are also have atheist leanings. The more critical thinking is encouraged, the more likely someone will analyze the basis of their faith and reject it.

The problem with atheism (from the religious perspective) is that even if you kill off all of the current atheists, someone in the next generation will rediscover all of the flaws in the local religion that led to the previous batch of atheists in the first place. As my wife is fond of saying, many atheists (herself included) don't believe in God precisely because they read the bible and found it lacking.

I see no inherent need for conflict or a "war of ideology" as you put it between atheism and any particular religion. What every your particular faith, most of the world believes something else. If you buy into the "1 true religion" claim made by your faith (and almost every other faith) then all of those theists who don't believe what you do are just as destined for whatever fate is reserved for unbelievers. I've seen no religion that grants "Partial Credit" for having the wrong faith instead of none at all. Therefore, if Christians can tolerate the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Wiccans, etc. then Atheists should be just as tolerable. At least atheists don't worship a false gods.

Comment: Re:I refute (Score 2) 243 243

Some percentage of kids in either group developed peanut allergies by age 5, regardless of treatment group. No one, not even the authors, is suggesting that ALL peanut allergies are the result of avoidance. Only that avoidance increases the likelihood that a child will develop peanut allergies by age 5. Your anecdote, while important to YOU, is not data and should not be construed as countervailing evidence since your experience and the results of the study are not mutually exclusive. That is even before you consider the route of exposure (maternal consumption, and possible exposure via breast milk vs. direct consumption after the child started eating solid foods).

Basically what they are saying is that for kids with no pre-existing allergies, or mild reactions, the best bet to try and prevent a strong allergy later in life would be to not-overact by complete avoidance. Unfortunately for my son (currently 3 and only ever had relatively minor reactions) that is what we did at the recommendation of the allergist. Turns out it was bad advice according to this study. I plan to bring it up with him at the next appointment and see if this changes his thinking. My son absolutely loved peanut butter crackers the 2 times he got them, and he gets bummed every time I tell him he can't have any when someone else is eating them.

Comment: Without checking his claims (Score 1, Insightful) 136 136

we should all keep in mind that it's easy to level accusations at your competitors for doing things you don't do as a means to differentiate yourself in the market place. These things don't even have to be true to benefit him as it puts all of his competitors on the defensive. Just because his competition has facilities in these countries doesn't necessarily mean they are doing what he says, or responsible for the concentrations in the environment. He is by no means an unbiased commentator. Bad publicity for his competitors is good for DSM.

Comment: Re: SO (Score 1) 377 377

I don't doubt that Drinkypoo believes what he's saying. The Anti-GMO crowd has been spreading that particular FUD for several years now. I've seen it in political propaganda dressed up to look like documentaries on several occasions. Their books and websites are similarly full of such BS.

If you have no connection to the country or agriculture it is hard to recognize that the claims don't match reality. Especially if the stories fit your preconceptions. Cognitive bias and cognitive dissonance are both very real phenomenon that can catch otherwise intelligent and honest people.

I've known several people from India and I've gotten the impression from most of them that things are much better than they were. Glad to hear further confirmation.

Comment: Re: SO (Score 1) 377 377

Overall I agree with most of what you posted. The one line I'd like to challenge you a little on is this one:

And you really should not use carnivore manure

Plant's don't know whether the N, P, K, etc in fertilizer came from pigs, chickens, or cows. For manure from any species it is important to know the nutrient concentrations of the manure, the pre-existing loading of the soil, the requirements of the plant to be grown on the soil, the drainage properties of the soil, etc. Same goes for using synthetic fertilizers, BTW.

As I understand it, much of the problems in the Chesapeake Bay water shed came from incomplete understanding. Farmers were paying at least some attention to the N part of the equation, but were not paying any attention to the P part. Turns out that most manure has a much higher P to N ratio than plants need, so applying manure based on N only resulted in P overloading. Over the last couple of decades farmers have found ways to improve the P to N ratio and have limited application rates based on P as well, thus avoiding over loading. Even if it required an application of another fertilizer to get the N content of the soil right.

Comment: Re: SO (Score 1) 377 377

Rebuilding top soil is a matter of fertilizing. The green revolution does not, contrary to the baseless claims by drinkypoo, "Destroy" top soil. Fertilization is an integral part of both traditional and modern farming techniques.

Plants extract nutrients from soil as they grow. The faster and larger they grow, the more nutrients are extracted. Traditional farming techniques utilized manure and other waste products to restore fertility to the soil, but in an imprecise way. Modern fertilizing techniques involved testing the soil, identifying the deficient nutrients, and then applying exactly what is needed to ensure optimal fertility. Modern techniques still use manure, but they also use other sources of nutrients to ensure that nutrient supply is as close to optimal as possible.

Traditional fertilizing involves spreading manure and other nutrient dense products without considering the ratios of the various nutrients present in the soil and fertilizer relative to the needs of the crops. Manure from swine tends to have much higher ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorus than is ideal for corn and soy. If you apply manure as your sole source of nutrients you are either over supplementing with one (contributing to run-off and water eutrophication) or shorting your plants and reducing yields. Traditional farming techniques are inefficient due to ignorance, not apathy, but they are still harmful.

Comment: Re: SO (Score 2) 377 377

People are starving right here, where these farming methods dominate overwhelmingly. There is more than enough food on the planet to feed everyone on it. Suggesting that we need to use destructive farming methods is foolish at best.

Yes, and much of that food is produced using modern farming practices. If the US were to revert to the traditional agricultural practices people view through the rose-tinted-glasses of affluence and satiety there would be MORE people starving both inside and outside of the US. We are a net exporter of grains, and those surpluses are possible because of those modern production techniques. There are many nations that are dependent upon US grain to feed a significant portion of their population. Cutting off US exports because we've decided to throw out the last 20 to 30 years of agricultural improvements would throw the world food supply into havoc. A drought in the Midwest US a couple of years ago was global news and affected food prices just about everywhere. What we grow in the US helps to feed the world.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost