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Comment: p-value research is misleading almost always (Score 5, Interesting) 181

by SteveWoz (#49495363) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

I studied and tutored experimental design and this use of inferential statistics. I even came up with a formula for 1/5 the calculator keystrokes when learning to calculate the p-value manually. Take the standard deviation and mean for each group, then calculate the standard deviation of these means (how different the groups are) divided by the mean of these standard deviations (how wide the groups of data are) and multiply by the square root of n (sample size for each group). But that's off the point. We had 5 papers in our class for psychology majors (I almost graduated in that instead of engineering) that discussed why controlled experiments (using the p-value) should not be published. In each case my knee-jerk reaction was that they didn't like math or didn't understand math and just wanted to 'suppose' answers. But each article attacked the math abuse, by proficient academics at universities who did this sort of research. I came around too. The math is established for random environments but the scientists control every bit of the environment, not to get better results but to detect thing so tiny that they really don't matter. The math lets them misuse the word 'significant' as though there is a strong connection between cause and effect. Yet every environmental restriction (same living arrangements, same diets, same genetic strain of rats, etc) invalidates the result. It's called intrinsic validity (finding it in the experiment) vs. extrinsic validity (applying in real life). You can also find things that are weaker (by the square root of n) by using larger groups. A study can be set up in a way so as to likely find 'something' tiny and get the research prestige, but another study can be set up with different controls that turn out an opposite result. And none apply to real life like reading the results of an entire population living normal lives. You have to study and think quite a while, as I did (even walking the streets around Berkeley to find books on the subject up to 40 years prior) to see that the words "99 percentage significance level" means not a strong effect but more likely one that is so tiny, maybe a part in a million, that you'd never see it in real life.

Comment: Re:The Chinese advantage (Score 1) 226

by the gnat (#49372183) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space

When your government is full of engineers, not lawyers, and when you can just ignore the flat-earth lobby instead of wasting half your funding fighting their just-because-we-can delays, you can test ideas like this.

Also useful: when your government is full of unelected bureaucrats who aren't held accountable by voters, completely dominate the news media, and stomp on any popular organization or sentiment that they don't control, and thus are free to ignore the interests of their citizens and instead spend money on wasteful, thinly-disguised military projects.

(Except, of course, that's not what's actually happening in this case - the article summary makes it sound like "OMG China will dominate space", because of course that's more interesting than "superannuated Chinese scientist spouts nonsense".)

Comment: Re:Simplr math ... (Score 1) 353

by the gnat (#49367445) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid

I think her target market is Republicans who want a viable female challenger to Hilary. Realistically, she's setting herself up for Sec. of Commerce, or maybe, if she's extremely lucky and does moderately well in the primaries, VP. I am no fan of hers for all of the obvious reasons, but she is a rocket scientist compared to Bachmann and Palin.

Comment: Re:Cowards! (Score 1) 299

by the gnat (#49303245) Attached to: Scientists: It's Time To Resolve the Ethics of Editing Human Genome

These people want to put a stop to progress because they think humans are some kind of holy ground that must not be tred upon.

Actually, those people are involved in (at current count) at least two companies that have targeted therapeutic modification of humans as their primary business goal.

Comment: Re:I'm all for this (Score 1) 299

by the gnat (#49303175) Attached to: Scientists: It's Time To Resolve the Ethics of Editing Human Genome


research is needed to understand and manage risks arising from the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Considerations include the possibility of off-target alterations, as well as on-target events that have unintended consequences. It is critical to implement appropriate and standardized benchmarking methods to determine the frequency of off-target effects and to assess the physiology of cells and tissues that have undergone genome editing. At present, the potential safety and efficacy issues arising from the use of this technology must be thoroughly investigated and understood before any attempts at human engineering are sanctioned, if ever, for clinical testing. As with any therapeutic strategy, higher risks can be tolerated when the reward of success is high, but such risks also demand higher confidence in their likely efficacy.

Comment: Re:Unethical to ban (Score 2) 299

by the gnat (#49303143) Attached to: Scientists: It's Time To Resolve the Ethics of Editing Human Genome

I will continue to do work in this area and continue to work to improve humanity

Considering how little thought you've given to the potential downsides of such experiments, I'd guess that it's considerably more likely that you'll fuck up and produce a bunch of horribly malformed fetuses and live humans with fatal genetic problems. Fortunately, the ensuing lawsuits should put you out of business quickly.

Comment: Re:fathers (Score 3, Informative) 299

by the gnat (#49303083) Attached to: Scientists: It's Time To Resolve the Ethics of Editing Human Genome

Most of the "ethicsists" are fundamental christian types or outright clergy

The people writing the letter referred to in TFA are not professional ethicists at all - they are practicing scientists, including one of the people who figured out how the system in question works. (Disclaimer: I know one of them personally and I've had a handful of interactions with another.) If any one of them is at all religious, it's news to me. I'd guess they're totally in favor of genome editing in general, especially since several of them are involved in companies that have this goal. The ethical issue is whether to leap right into modifying embryos with an unproven and potentially unsafe technology, which amounts to experimentation on unwilling human test subjects.

Comment: Re:Steve Jobs is the Monkeywrench (Score 2) 114

I have seem copies of contracts where it explicitly stated that the two countries agreed not to hire each other's employees.

I assume you meant "companies", not "countries", but even this seems really strange to me, at least as an American - under our antitrust laws, they'd have to be insane to put something like that into writing.

User hostile.