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Comment: Re:Statistics (Score 1) 148

by sandertje (#47930891) Attached to: I think next winter will be:

I guess the guy talked about Europe. Europe had a very mild "winter" last year, the exact opposite from the experience in the States (and the years before that it was reversed; Europe with long and cold winters, the US with record-breaking warmth.... it's basically all a function of where the jet stream will stabilize out).

Comment: Re: Impacts (Score 1) 708

by sandertje (#47772143) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

I can confirm this. I live in western Europe, where rain ought to be in the form of drab, drizzly days. Summer always had more concentrated showers, but during the last ten years the incidence of tropical-style thunderstorms in summer has ever increased. This summer, again, broke the record of rainiest summer in recorded history by inches of rain, even tho it's been pretty warm and sunny.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 511

by sandertje (#47744117) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

I have to agree with him, and I use Python on a daily basis. When using Python for anything larger than a few thousand lines of code, it really becomes necessary to switch to something more, well, stable. There's several options, and Java is one of them. When you start typing assert statements everywhere, that kinda defeats the purpose of using a dynamically typed language, and tells you it's time to switch to something more robust to begin with.

That doesn't mean Python is a bad language. I, in fact, love it. But it's not suitable for every use case. Just like Java ain't. Using the correct tools for the job is a better paradigm than sticking to your favorite language just because.

Comment: Re:You cannot replicate everything (Score 1) 172

by sandertje (#47593007) Attached to: Psychology's Replication Battle

Sorry, real life is messy.

1 - Some replicable tests are a good idea
Some people see Aliens at Roswell when they are there at night and take drugs.
This is a replicable experiment - is it because they have taken drugs or because Aliens are sometimes there?

Generally (sadly) if you have a randomised double-blind controlled experement that controls for the likely deciding factors, you can decide whether or not it is more likely because people take drugs (happily you cannot be sure about the presence or absence of aliens)

2 - Some replicable tests are a bad idea
Do the really expensive cancer|baby-saving|altzhiemer etc drugs we use really help?
This is also replicable experiment

Give some people the drug and some a placebo.
Not too ethical even if you disclose that there might be a placebo

3 - Some things cannot be replicated

Was it right to have QE - did we have the right amount of QE
This is not replicable.

You dont get to re-run an economy for the last 6 years - all you can do is watch and measure and argue about causation afterwards.

In the scope of psychology, you get a mix of all 3 experiment types. All these questions are very good questions.
What troubles me is that there will be a growing tendency to not attempt to answer the hard ones.

1) Occam's razor already tells you it's the drugs. Unless aliens show up only when taking drugs, or we suddenly get super-alien-viewing-powers when using drugs, aliens could be there. That's (apart from being ridiculous) such a complicated model compared to the simple "your drugs give you hallucinations" model (which we even know is true) model that occam's razor can rule out the other ones.

2) Erm.. you know that this is EXACTLY how drugs are tested every day? Not unethical. Extremely common.

3) You could run a simulation.

Comment: Re:Wrong premice (Score 1) 172

by sandertje (#47592973) Attached to: Psychology's Replication Battle

Let alone the cultural environment. Behavioral psychology often attempts to extrapolate its findings on the whole Earth population, without taking into account that the cultural background of its subjects is (virtually) identical for each subject. The cultural background _most definitely_ influences behavior. Do the same study on Western Europeans, Arabs and Japanese, and you'll likely get huge differences per group.

Comment: Re: Subject bait (Score 2) 379

by sandertje (#47441931) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

You can compare shit to other shit, but in the end two wrongs doesn't make a right. Civilians are killed in Gaza, and that is always bad. Although, in the end, it's Hamas who is the ultimate culprit. They are launching and storing their rockets from urban areas, in or next to homes, hospitals, schools and mosques. They are using their own people as a human shield. It's their choice to do so. They could have also chosen to launch from a field, where civilian casualties would have been extremely unlikely.

As for Iron Dome, I'm glad it exists. It has knocked out all rockets launched at my family's town so far. Who knows how many Israeli casualties there would have been if it didn't exist; probably many.

Comment: Depends what you want (Score 1) 143

I work in bioinformatics, and use both R and python. The data models in R are stronger than in python, and packages like ggplot are easier to use than matplotlib. That makes it a relatively easy entry. It's also much more similar to SAS than python is. However, R has some big limitations. It is _very_ slow and is a memory clogging beast. It also has some very annoying quirks, like the horrible object model. I find python to be much more flexible, and absolutely required for larger data sets. With the right modules (Numpy, Scipy, matplotlib, pandas, scikit-learn etc) it is equally powerful.

So in the end, I use R primarily for quick and dirty analyses on small data sets, but for anything more elaborate I use python.

Comment: Re: One non-disturbing theory (Score 1) 304

by sandertje (#47363715) Attached to: Ninety-Nine Percent of the Ocean's Plastic Is Missing

You are forgetting a whole range of options. First on modus A: a lot of toxins are not reactive outside a cellular environment. Proteins in cells are highly efficient catalysts, and normally unreactive compounds can become highly reactive inside that environment. A good example of this is botulinum toxin. In itself it is not really very reactive, but it is extremely toxic (several ng are enough to kill a human).

Modus B can - and most likely will - be dangerous as well. There are many toxins that are in low doses subclinical, but do not exit the body. After repeated exposure, the dose inside the body will slowly rise to clinical levels. An example of this is mercury. Plastics, by virtue of being highly hydrophobic, will most likely consist of many of these toxins.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson