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Comment: See also Dr. David Goodstein's 1990s predictions (Score 1) 171

by Paul Fernhout (#47430183) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

You make good points. See also:
"The public and the scientific community have both been shocked in recent years by an increasing number of cases of fraud committed by scientists. There is little doubt that the perpetrators in these cases felt themselves under intense pressure to compete for scarce resources, even by cheating if necessary. As the pressure increases, this kind of dishonesty is almost sure to become more common.
    Other kinds of dishonesty will also become more common. For example, peer review, one of the crucial pillars of the whole edifice, is in critical danger. Peer review is used by scientific journals to decide what papers to publish, and by granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation to decide what research to support. Journals in most cases, and agencies in some cases operate by sending manuscripts or research proposals to referees who are recognized experts on the scientific issues in question, and whose identity will not be revealed to the authors of the papers or proposals. Obviously, good decisions on what research should be supported and what results should be published are crucial to the proper functioning of science.
    Peer review is usually quite a good way to identify valid science. Of course, a referee will occasionally fail to appreciate a truly visionary or revolutionary idea, but by and large, peer review works pretty well so long as scientific validity is the only issue at stake. However, it is not at all suited to arbitrate an intense competition for research funds or for editorial space in prestigious journals. There are many reasons for this, not the least being the fact that the referees have an obvious conflict of interest, since they are themselves competitors for the same resources. This point seems to be another one of those relativistic anomalies, obvious to any outside observer, but invisible to those of us who are falling into the black hole. It would take impossibly high ethical standards for referees to avoid taking advantage of their privileged anonymity to advance their own interests, but as time goes on, more and more referees have their ethical standards eroded as a consequence of having themselves been victimized by unfair reviews when they were authors. Peer review is thus one among many examples of practices that were well suited to the time of exponential expansion, but will become increasingly dysfunctional in the difficult future we face.
    We must find a radically different social structure to organize research and education in science after The Big Crunch. That is not meant to be an exhortation. It is meant simply to be a statement of a fact known to be true with mathematical certainty, if science is to survive at all. The new structure will come about by evolution rather than design, because, for one thing, neither I nor anyone else has the faintest idea of what it will turn out to be, and for another, even if we did know where we are going to end up, we scientists have never been very good at guiding our own destiny. Only this much is sure: the era of exponential expansion will be replaced by an era of constraint. Because it will be unplanned, the transition is likely to be messy and painful for the participants. In fact, as we have seen, it already is. Ignoring the pain for the moment, however, I would like to look ahead and speculate on some conditions that must be met if science is to have a future as well as a past."

I think a "basic income" for all could be part of the solution, because a BI would make it possible for anyone to live like a graduate student and do independent research if they wanted.

Comment: Re:Won't be funny under single-payer (Score 1) 349

by Artifakt (#47409411) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

And the same people who ruled they couldn't outlaw Big Gulps will also be running health care too, or are the courts somehow not part of the government? Your agument seems to be different people in government have different opinions, but in this case, the right people had the ultimate say - that proves everyone in government thinks alike and will doubtless do the wrong thing. Like Dumbledore said to Pippin in Star Wars, "Illogical".

Comment: Re:Please learn to communicate (Score 1) 349

by Artifakt (#47409353) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

How can "panopticon" possibly be a cliche, when it's a word that probably less than 5% of the general public has any idea what it even means? Just imagine a Letterman style 'Man in the Street' interview - Q: "Sir or mam, do you think America is becoming a Panopticon State?" A: "Um, WTF is that optical thingy you said?" If this has become a cliche, then your use of a phrase such as "think for yourself rather than just parroting something someone else said" has become so cliche that we should definitely ignore anything else you say, forever. I'd rather not do that, but maybe you feel differently. Overbroadening the word cliche enough will mean nobody is worth reading, and thus all comunication is wasted.
        You may well disagree with whether the comparison being drawn by jbmartin6 is apt in this case, but distorting the meaning of the idea 'cliche' to make that point is not a solution. You're basically making the modest proposal that Slashdot itself should be shut down for lack of originality. (Aahh, a Swiftian proposal - that's certainly a cliche if panopticon is, now you can stop reading further, or if you really did imply that, I can double down on ignoring you instead and you'll get what you want even if you don't really want it.)
        Or is this about reassuring the hoi-polloi that you move in such elite intillectual circles that you do, in fact, hear such referrences near daily? I'm not sure whether to envy or pity you if that's true.

Comment: WebODF seems to use Dojo? (Score 1) 91

by Paul Fernhout (#47379677) Attached to: WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable

I like Dojo in part because it attempts to make all the core widgets accessible. From:
"Dojo has made a serious commitment to creating a toolkit that allows the development of accessible Web applications for all users, regardless of physical abilities. The core widget set of Dojo, dijit, is fully accessible since the 1.0 release, making Dojo the only fully accessible open source toolkit for Web 2.0 development. This means that users who require keyboard only navigation, need accommodations for low vision or who use an assistive technology, can interact with the dijit widgets."

Comment: See also Dr. David Goodstein on the Big Crunch (Score 1) 538

by Paul Fernhout (#47356707) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
"Although hardly anyone noticed the change at the time, it is difficult to imagine a more dramatic contrast than the decades just before 1970, and the decades since then. Those were the years in which science underwent an irreversible transformation into an entirely new regime. Let's look back at what has happened in those years in light of this historic transition. ...
    We must find a radically different social structure to organize research and education in science after The Big Crunch. That is not meant to be an exhortation. It is meant simply to be a statement of a fact known to be true with mathematical certainty, if science is to survive at all. The new structure will come about by evolution rather than design, because, for one thing, neither I nor anyone else has the faintest idea of what it will turn out to be, and for another, even if we did know where we are going to end up, we scientists have never been very good at guiding our own destiny. Only this much is sure: the era of exponential expansion will be replaced by an era of constraint. Because it will be unplanned, the transition is likely to be messy and painful for the participants. In fact, as we have seen, it already is. Ignoring the pain for the moment, however, I would like to look ahead and speculate on some conditions that must be met if science is to have a future as well as a past.
    It seems to me that there are two essential and clearly linked conditions to consider. One is that there must be a broad political consensus that pure research in basic science is a common good that must be supported from the public purse. The second is that the mining and sorting operation I've described must be discarded and replaced by genuine education in science, not just for the scientific elite, but for all the citizens who must form that broad political consensus. ..."

So, the academics you knew were from before the "Big Crunch". Such people advised me, from their success, and meaning well, to get a PhD. But the world I faced was post-Big-Crunch and so their advice did not actually make much sense (although it took me a long time to figure that out).

More related links:

Comment: Echoing Greenspun on academia (Score 1) 538

by Paul Fernhout (#47356585) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

Why does anyone think science is a good job?

The average trajectory for a successful scientist is the following:
age 18-22: paying high tuition fees at an undergraduate college
age 22-30: graduate school, possibly with a bit of work, living on a stipend of $1800 per month
age 30-35: working as a post-doc for $30,000 to $35,000 per year
age 36-43: professor at a good, but not great, university for $65,000 per year
age 44: with (if lucky) young children at home, fired by the university ("denied tenure" is the more polite term for the folks that universities discard), begins searching for a job in a market where employers primarily wish to hire folks in their early 30s

This is how things are likely to go for the smartest kid you sat next to in college. He got into Stanford for graduate school. He got a postdoc at MIT. His experiment worked out and he was therefore fortunate to land a job at University of California, Irvine. But at the end of the day, his research wasn't quite interesting or topical enough that the university wanted to commit to paying him a salary for the rest of his life. He is now 44 years old, with a family to feed, and looking for job with a "second rate has-been" label on his forehead.

Why then, does anyone think that science is a sufficiently good career that people should debate who is privileged enough to work at it? Sample bias. ...

Does this make sense as a career for anyone? Absolutely! Just get out your atlas.

Imagine that you are a smart, but impoverished, young person in China. Your high IQ and hard work got you into one of the best undergraduate programs in China. The $1800 per month graduate stipend at University of Nebraska or University of Wisconsin will afford you a much higher standard of living than any job you could hope for in China. The desperate need for graduate student labor and lack of Americans who are interested in PhD programs in science and engineering means that you'll have no trouble getting a visa. When you finish your degree, a small amount of paperwork will suffice to ensure your continued place in the legal American work force. Science may be one of the lowest paid fields for high IQ people in the U.S., but it pays a lot better than most jobs in China or India.

Comment: Example Vitamin D reduces cancer risk study: (Score 1) 51

by Paul Fernhout (#47356495) Attached to: Endorphins Make Tanning Addictive
"This was a 4-y, population-based, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. The primary outcome was fracture incidence, and the principal secondary outcome was cancer incidence."

Eating a lots of vegetables and fruits and mushrooms can also reduce cancer risk (see Dr. Joel Fuhrman's summary works like "Eat To Live" with many references). I've found by eating more fruits and vegetables that my skin tone has changed from pale to having more color (even in winter). Adequate iodine can also help prevent cancer.

Reducing risk of incidence is not the same as cure though. Sorry to hear about you father getting cancer. Once you get cancer, everything is iffy, so cancer is best avoided preventatively. Fasting may also help in some cancer situations, and it also helps with chemotherapy by protecting cells from the toxic chemicals (since fasting seems to causes many normal cells to go into a safe survival mode but cancer cells generally do not). And eating better may hope prevent recurrence. In general, the human body is always developing cancerous cells, but generally they are dealt with by the immune system. So boosting the immune system could help with some cancers and there are many ways to do that -- but again, it is all iffy once cancer is established.

See also for other ideas:

I agree supplements and natural sunlight are probably better choices than tanning beds --although there may still be unknowns about how the skin reacts to sun or tanning beds and produces many compounds vs. supplements. I also agree conventional tanning beds are not tuned to give lots of vitamin D.That is unfortunate, even if they produce some. See also about other tanning choices (and supplement suggestions):
"If you choose to use a tanning bed, the Vitamin D Council recommends using the same common sense you use in getting sunlight. This includes:
Getting half the amount of exposure that it takes for your skin to turn pink.
Using low-pressure beds that has good amount of UVB light, rather than high-intensity UVA light."

BTW, if you look into chemotherapy for cancer, for many cancers you'll find it is of questionable value relative to the costs both in money and suffering, where is on average may add at most a couple months of life on average if that. Chemotherapy can apparently even sometimes make cancer worse:
"The scientists found that healthy cells damaged by chemotherapy secreted more of a protein called WNT16B which boosts cancer cell survival."

It's hard to know who to trust regarding medical research results or interpretations:
"The problems I've discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. (Marcia Angell)"

Good luck sorting it all out. I've suggested creating better tools for medical sensemaking, but still not time to work on them...

Comment: Nutrition and longevity (Score 1) 186

While you make a good point, nutrition works right now (along with exercise, good sleep, a less stressful lifestyle, avoiding hazards like smoking, community connectedness, and so on like in "Blue Zones"). The rest of life extension is just a hope that maybe we can create new technologies. Also, for most people, if they can make it in good health to 100+ years old via such well-proved things, they will then be around for more breakthroughs in the next 50+ years.

Also, probably most invasive life extension technologies for extreme longevity could also be turned into biological weapons (like rewriting DNA or reorganizing the brain). So, we may end up with technologies that could allow people to live in good health for 1000s of years, have any skin color or nose shape they want, and people will use them to kill off everyone else that has a different skin color or nose shape then they currently have (which would be very sadly ironic). Improved nutrition does not have that existential risk associated with it for the most part.

Comment: This is why corporations should have *no* privacy (Score 1) 534


Fines or imprisoning CEOs do little to change the pattern of relationships and values and policies that make an organization what it is, any more than a human body loosing some skill cells or even brain cells usually changes how a person behaves very much.

Seriously, why should any corporate communications have any expectation of privacy? Corporations with "limited liability" are chartered for the public interest. 150 years ago, US Americans put such creatures on very short leashes because they had seen what trouble resulted from big British corporations in the American colonies. Individuals have now lost pretty much all informational privacy due to large corporations and the current internet. Why should bigger more powerful creatures than humans like corporation have more privacy in practice than humans? See also David Brin's "The Transparent Society". Any argument that corporations need privacy (like for salaries or payments for services) for some sort of commercial advantage is trumped by the public interest in understanding what corporations are doing and also that if all corporations were transparent there would be a level playing field. Granted, it would require new ways of doing business, but books like "Honest Business" also extol the value of "open books". Or perhaps corporations should be forced to choose -- if they want limited liability for shareholders then they need to be transparent; if every shareholder accepts full responsibility for all actions of the organization, then they can have privacy?

And see also my comments from 2000, the relevant section copied below (sadly a lot of links there have rotted):

========= machine intelligence is already here =========

I personally think machine evolution is unstoppable, and the best hope
for humanity is the noble cowardice of creating refugia and trying, like
the duckweed, to create human (and other) life faster than other forces
can destroy it. [Well, I now in 2014 think there are also other options, like symbiosis, maybe friendly AI, and in general trying to be nicer to each other like with a basic income in hopes that leads to a happier singularity...]

Note, I'm not saying machine evolution won't have a human component --
in that sense, a corporation or any bureaucracy is already a separate
machine intelligence, just not a very smart or resilient one. This sense
of the corporation comes out of Langdon Winner's book "Autonomous
Technology: Technics out of control as a theme in political thought".
You may have a tough time believing this, but Winner makes a convincing
case. He suggests that all successful organizations "reverse-adapt"
their goals and their environment to ensure their continued survival.

These corporate machine intelligences are already driving for better
machine intelligences -- faster, more efficient, cheaper, and more
resilient. People forget that corporate charters used to be routinely
revoked for behavior outside the immediate public good, and that
corporations were not considered persons until around 1886 (that
decision perhaps being the first major example of a machine using the
political/social process of its own ends).
Corporate charters are granted supposedly because society believe it is
in the best interest of *society* for corporations to exist.

But, when was the last time people were able to pull the "charter" plug
on a corporation not acting in the public interest? It's hard, and it
will get harder when corporations don't need people to run themselves.

I'm not saying the people in corporations are evil -- just that they
often have very limited choices of actions. If a corporate CEOs do not
deliver short term profits they are removed, no matter what they were
trying to do. Obviously there are exceptions for a while -- William C.
Norris of Control Data was one of them, but in general, the exception
proves the rule. Fortunately though, even in the worst machines (like in
WWII Germany) there were individuals who did what they could to make
them more humane ("Schindler's List" being an example).

Look at how much William C. Norris of
Control Data got ridiculed in the 1970s for suggesting the then radical
notion that "business exists to meet society's unmet needs". Yet his
pioneering efforts in education, employee assistance plans, on-site
daycare, urban renewal, and socially-responsible investing are in
part what made Minneapolis/St.Paul the great area it is today. Such
efforts are now being duplicated to an extent by other companies. Even
the company that squashed CDC in the mid 1980s (IBM) has adopted some of
those policies and directions. So corporations can adapt when they feel
the need.

Obviously, corporations are not all powerful. The world still has some
individuals who have wealth to equal major corporations. There are
several governments that are as powerful or more so than major
corporations. Individuals in corporations can make persuasive pitches
about their future directions, and individuals with controlling shares
may be able to influence what a corporation does (as far as the market
allows). In the long run, many corporations are trying to coexist with
people to the extent they need to. But it is not clear what corporations
(especially large ones) will do as we approach this singularity -- where
AIs and robots are cheaper to employ than people. Today's corporation,
like any intelligent machine, is more than the sum of its parts
(equipment, goodwill, IP, cash, credit, and people). It's "plug" is not
easy to pull, and it can't be easily controlled against its short term

What sort of laws and rules will be needed then? If the threat of
corporate charter revocation is still possible by governments and
collaborations of individuals, in what new directions will corporations
have to be prodded? What should a "smart" corporation do if it sees
this coming? (Hopefully adapt to be nicer more quickly. :-) What can
individuals and governments do to ensure corporations "help meet
society's unmet needs"?

Evolution can be made to work in positive ways, by selective breeding,
the same way we got so many breeds of dogs and cats. How can we
intentionally breed "nice" corporations that are symbiotic with the
humans that inhabit them? To what extent is this happening already as
talented individuals leave various dysfunctional, misguided, or rouge
corporations (or act as "whistle blowers")? I don't say here the
individual directs the corporation against its short term interest. I
say that individuals affect the selective survival rates of
corporations with various goals (and thus corporate evolution) by where
they choose to work, what they do there, and how they interact with
groups that monitor corporations. To that extent, individuals have some
limited control over corporations even when they are not shareholders.
Someday, thousands of years from now, corporations may finally have been
bred to take the long term view and play an "infinite game".

Comment: How about collective health sensemaking? (Score 1) 186

My proposals:

And also advice to Larry from that my own individual sensemaking from 2012:
"Larry Page & Sergey Brin hopefully getting enough sunlight and vegetables?"

Comment: Re:Let them drink! (Score 2) 532

by Artifakt (#47330693) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

And the government uses other excuses, such as the War on Drugs, to control everything and anything which could even conceivably be illegal drug connected, or child porn to control everything and anything which could be internet connected, or the War on Terror, to control everything and anything that could be travel or free speech connected...
The courts have done a much better job of reigning in activities based on 'the environment', or 'health effects' or other "liberal' concerns than they have on reigning in anything using one of these excuses.

Comment: Re:Let them drink! (Score 1) 532

by Artifakt (#47330673) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

1. The Affordable Care Act is supposed to take the burden off of emergency rooms - you're arguing for it, whether you mean to or not. In the USA, the situation you're describing is mostly past tense, except in states that have refused the expansion.
2. Treating the consequences of excess sugar consumption is not a huge burden fiscally. Diabetic care, even with insulin and multiple blood sugar tests per day. is fairly cheap (around $100 per month for the average patient - typically cheaper than non-generic antidepressants, and much cheaper than the average course of antipsychotics. The cost of treating marginal diabetic symptoms is usually 1 or 2 four dollar a month generic drugs and around 18 to 25 dollars in testing supplies, and probably $200 in lab tests and office visits a year. (That describes me, and the costs I might personally be passing on to the society if I was poorer). Those lab tests will usually also test for such things as prostate hormone levels and hypertension related cholestoral levels which may be at least vaguely connected to type 2 diabetes, but are not all that corollated. Doctors would still advise those tests for every male in my age range, and they have other tests they recommend for women in the same range, so all poor people above about age 40 would be passing a good share of such costs on regardless of their lifestyle choices.
3. Many diabetics do manage on these for over 20 years without further costs, and roughly 30% of diagnosed individuals manage to control their disease entirely through diet and exercise. (However, Type 2 often develops in elderly persons of normal weight - I assume we aren't counting them in the bad eating habits group). You probably are count ing me there - I first developed symptoms in my early 40's. Right now, I'm 57, stand 6' 1", weight 195 lbs, and hit the gym at least 3 times a week, usually 5. I can run a half marathon, bench 255 lbs. and leg press over 600, My resting heart rate is about 68 bpm, my blood pressure 110 over 72, and yet I still have to use Metformin and test 1x/day.But when I was first diagnosed, yes I had a bit of a gut, and yes I drank too many sodas. Sometimes what you're calling bad eating habits is one soda a week, and 15 lbs of excess fat. I'm making the choice to stay in better shape than 90% of the people my age, and that doesn't 'fix' my condition, only makes it much cheaper to treat and hopefully holds off any of the more severe consequences such as peripheral neuropathy.
          So yes,their choices do have an effect on the people around them. So does just about everything. Do we require people to eat more cruciferous vegetables and less red meat? Treating colon cancer can be much more of a burden to society than diabetes. Or what about the social costs of a Down's syndrome child? These vary a lot, but particularly for single mothers and poorer class persons,can be devastating. If we just forcibly sterilized the at risk classes of mothers at about age 38, we could save a bundle. And the costs for a single violent schizophrenic can be in the 10's of millions when the disease leads to a school shootout. Talk about effect on the people around them! We can stop this by just putting all schizophrenics in institutions, and never mind that ones prone to major violence are very uncommon and we see the same type of violence from 'norma'l people.
4. I don't know who you are, but I guarantee you have some habit or practice that is your choice, and could, in the past, result in a tremendous cost to treat you. In the USA, unless you were making at least half a million a year, there were diseases that you couldn't possibly afford, and your insuror would stop covering when you hit your lifetime cap, often within the first year of a lifetime illness. This would still be true except for the Affordable Care Act's having stopped lifetime caps. You're protected there whether you like it or not, and so are the diabetics, choices or not.

Ernest asks Frank how long he has been working for the company. "Ever since they threatened to fire me."