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Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 597

by david_thornley (#47969483) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Lots of people who are pro-science don't understand science. Lots of people do understand science to some extent. You apparently don't have a full understanding, since you insist on controlled experimentation. Science is a process of observation (which can be greatly assisted by experiments) and making models that will predict things.

Your view of statistics is slanted. It's possible to prove anything with any form of reasoning, provided you can slip in the right assumptions. Statistics isn't unique in that. Statistics is a very useful tool, and can be used rigorously. (You are aware that the laws of Thermodynamics are purely statistical, aren't you?)

The idea that science makes God obsolete is not a problem with science, but with religion. If religious leaders make claims that can be shown to be wrong on scientific principles, then refuting those claims is going to make the rest of their message so much less convincing. One example would be the belief in some loudmouth fundamentalist US churches that evolution didn't happen: when somebody from that background actually looks into evolution and its evidence for himself or herself, the whole body of the teachings of that church is up for serious questioning.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 597

by david_thornley (#47969375) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Tyson is a scientist, and knows how science works. It's doubtful that he believes in science in the same sense as some of my friends believe in Christianity. I have no reason to believe that McCarthy knows how science works.

Now, there's plenty of people who don't really know how science works, but know that it's come up with some really neat things, and they may believe in science in a religious way for all I know. I really doubt any given scientist would.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 597

by david_thornley (#47969295) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

The fundamentals of Buddhism (at least those kinds I'm familiar with) are compatible with atheism. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism are about suffering and how to eliminate it. The Nicene Creed goes into some details about the nature of God. Buddhists then go ahead and talk about a guy who conquered illusion and gained a sort of enlightenment, and then they add supernatural elements.

Comment: Re:SSRI stories (Score 1) 128

by david_thornley (#47968763) Attached to: New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function

Given the number of people who have been on SSRIs, I suspect you could construct a similar collection with innumerable other common factors (as long as they're reasonably common). Sort of like somebody looking at all the suicide reports during the big anti-D&D hysteria, and pointing out that, if those were all the suicides associated with D&D use, D&D must be reducing the suicide rate.

Comment: Re:Now all they need to do... (Score 1) 128

by david_thornley (#47968679) Attached to: New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function

I'm going to pick a nit with "really have no idea what it actually is". I suspect that there may not be an "it" there, but that there may be different causes with the same effects.

I had a heart attack. The doctors made a final diagnosis with a blood test, then stuck a catheter up my groin to pull the clot out of the artery, stopping the heart attack. (Then, for the next couple of days, it seemed almost everybody coming into my room wanted to check my groin.) I've had other diseases where the doctors did some tests and concluded what was going on and knew the physical cause.

Depression is a collection of symptoms, normally diagnosed from the patient's self-reporting. I haven't seen or heard of any objective test. Serotonin level won't do it: you can be depressed with a high level or just fine at a low level, but it appears that increasing the serotonin level does reduce depression in quite a few cases. There could well be several physiological causes.

Comment: Re:Now all they need to do... (Score 1) 128

by david_thornley (#47968515) Attached to: New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function

When you're really depressed, you're unlikely to kill yourself. That takes initiative. Something that increases initiative without seriously reducing the emotional pain will make suicide more likely. Moreover, you're unlikely to get monotonically less depressed. At some point, you're going to feel the depression coming back, and you will have not only motivation and initiative but a very strong reason to do anything necessary to not get depressed again.

Comment: Re: Any news on the first stage landing tests? (Score 1) 125

by david_thornley (#47968331) Attached to: SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer

Rumor is that the water bed could not be patented in the US because Heinlein had described it in detail in one of his stories (Stranger in a Strange Land?) If something has been adequately described in a publicly accessible document, it's not patentable, regardless of what the document actually is.

I rather suspect that the TinTin comic didn't describe vertical landings in sufficient detail to preclude patents. Remember that (at least theoretically) a patent does not cover an idea, but rather the implementation of an idea. Most comics and science fiction describe the effects of hypothetical inventions, not the mechanics.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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