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Comment Re:Reverse Review of Poster of Review (Score 1) 248

Amazon gives you a good enough window into how someone rates items to know if they're pushovers or not. I know, because I've looked through several people's profiles when they rated things I had also rated. Odds are, you were right, and the person in question was too generous in giving out 4 or 5 star reviews. I understand it was difficult to find the one-star review, in the field of reviews she did, but then again, it wasn't really necessary. After the first page or so, you got the idea.

Rating is a very personal thing, and stars are subjective. I've read 4-star reviews that seemed overly-harsh for such a positive rating, and I've read 1-star reviews that praised items to high heaven, but came down on one point, and based the entire rating on that.

The subjectivity of reviews and the star system is why I think Amazon should do away with the stars altogether. I think a more useful system would be something like YouTube has: Thumbs up or down. You could then give the book an overall ranking on how many thumbs up vs. thumbs down it got. That would give buyers a quick view.

But the larger problem is, people shouldn't be looking for the quick view. The important part of an Amazon review is the text, not the stars. The stars are important because they allow some kind of overall measure of what people thought of the book, but the real meat is the text, without which you don't know what the rating means.

Comment Re:I wouldn't trust non-professional reviewers (Score 1) 248

Most people are not professional reviewers, and are not reading a book at that level. They're reading to be entertained. So a professional review may be completely irrelevant for them. What they want to know is, "Did most people who read this book like it, and how much did they like it?" That's the kind of question that Amazon's star system is trying to answer.

And yes, criticism is a democratic principle. If 95% of people who read a book think the book sucks, then it sucks. It doesn't matter if the other 5% are credentialed critics. (For reference, look at the movie industry, and how many times critics disagree with a blockbuster movie's status.)

Comment Re:Insane (Score 1) 858

1) We have documented proof that Reagan sold them. It's not documented that Bush did it too, and Bush Jr isn't going to investigate Dad in the middle of a war. He'll ignore it and wait until a Democrat does and bash them for partisan bias.

Read what I said again. I know Reagan sold weapons to Iraq. We were propping up Saddam at the time to keep Iran in check.

2) Yeah, but that doesn't matter. He materially supported known enemies of the state.

Iraq wasn't an enemy of the state at the time he supplied them.

And not just Iraq. Reagan trained Osama bin Laden. We'd not have had 9/11 if not for Reagan's support of our "allies" (who were known then to be hostile to us).

Not true.

Comment Re:Insane (Score 1) 858

Iraq did have WMDs. We found them. They were all Made in the USA and given/sold to him by Reagan. They were also so old as to be inoperable. But they were there. But that was ignored because now that Reagan is dead, we aren't supposed to talk about his multiple treasons. We are at war with Iraq. Reagan gave/sold weapons to our enemy we are at war with.

Well, two things:

1) IIRC, Saddam Hussein still had chemical weapons as late as the 90's, so it's not as if Reagan sold Iraq all of them in the 80's, and they were mothballed after then.
2) You're using the present tense when you shouldn't be. We were at war with Iraq. Once four years after Reagan left office, and again ~ 13 years after. But we weren't at war with them when he sold them, and that's the point. At the time, Hussein was our guy, because he was keeping the power of the Iranians in check (which we seem to be having some trouble with, now that he's gone).

Comment Re:Insane (Score 4, Insightful) 858

1) It doesn't matter what percentage of the time he's right. If he's got this particular position, he's a moron. It's like being smart other than thinking the moon is made of Gouda cheese.
2) Thank .
3) 100% insanity doesn't matter. As we see here, 1% insanity goes a long way.
4) See #1
5) Ron Paul thinking he's not nuts should tell you something.
6) Crazy people can often do quite well for themselves. Look at Jesse Ventura.

Comment Re:Can't keep this up (Score 1) 137

I don't think this is NASA's fault. Not entirely, anyway.

NASA has never announced, "OMG, you guys! Life on Mars!!! We think we found it!" What they've done is release significantly lower-key findings that got themexcited (much like GodInHell says).

It looks like people want the one, big, "Holy crap! Little green men!" announcement. That's not going to happen. What'll happen (if it turns out that there's microbial life on Mars, or even was microbial life on Mars) is that the evidence will amass slowly. Even if they were to find a green, pulsing mass of Andromeda Strain goodness, scientists would still have to argue for a long time about just what it means.

Comment Re:Misguided (Score 1) 217

The truth is, there aren't enough double-blind studies on the workings of the human body to support the current BELIEFS of medical 'science'.

That's a breathtakingly broad statement, and incorrect as it stands. There are many systems of the body that are very well-understood. There are other things, like the brain and nervous system, that we have significantly less of a handle on. If you go to your doctor with a broken leg or an infection, the doctor will have a good idea of how to treat you, and, barring any complications, your chances of a full recovery are good. If you seek help because you're schizophrenic, you can still get treated, but your prognosis, and even how the drugs you're prescribed work, exactly, are much less well known.

But the thing to remember is this: It's the scientific method that gives us the progress that we've had. The fact that science doesn't have every answer (and may never have adequate answers to some things) doesn't mean you should be reaching for the magic beads.

Comment Re:Misguided (Score 1) 217

Let me explain to you, effects don't require double blind studies to exist. Stupid science fanboi's can't seem to grasp the concept that absence of proof doesn't mean an effect doesn't exist.

1) "Stupid science fanboi's"? What would you suggest replacing science with? Wishful thinking? Prayer? Magic beans?

2) Not observing an effect doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist, but before you give the "remedy" to patients, you'd better make damn sure it does exist. If I've got a choice between a bottle of expensive magic water that hasn't been shown to do anything, and a pack of Pez, I'm going for the Pez. It doesn't work, either, but at least it's cheaper. And in fact, I usually have the option of taking medications that work significantly better than Pez or magic water.

Here's the harm that homeopathy and similar snake oils cause: They delay people from seeking out actual treatments. People die from that. If Steve Jobs had sought out conventional treatment before he went to alternative therapies, he would've had a much better chance of living.

That's not to say that people shouldn't seek out alternative treatments. But alternative treatments are just that: alternatives, to be tried when conventional medicine can't help you. Because, at that point, what's the difference? But a person's first line of attack should be a well-studied, evidence-backed treatment. These days, it's not very hard to find the information out there about clinical studies. A treatment that isn't subjected to that kind of scrutiny shouldn't be anywhere near the top of the list for anyone with a serious illness.

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