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Comment Re:Paranoia... (Score 1) 250

or actual infiltration?

The original Bin Laden al-Qaeda is practically non-existent, its Islamist affiliates are too busy trying to win over regimes in the mideast, Hamas is trying not to piss off the US considering that Obama has been much more pro-Palestinian. Hezbollah....maybe. We're talking about a few tens of thousands of eligible individuals here, most of them with Hezbollah and Hamas.

I have serious doubts that this is anything other than the Three Letter agencies trying to project a Cold War interpretation ("big centralized nation-state entity out to get us") onto a set of data that only shows small, disparate groups who are all actually too busy trying to avoid being smashed by the US, Israel, or the Arab League.

I doubt there's much in the way of deliberate infiltration.

The NSA isn't just a bunch of mathematicians, crackers, and sysadmins, they need a ton of people who can understand and contextualize the intelligence they receive. I'd expect the NSA to actively recruit from the same pool as their targets, it's inevitable that a few of those potential hires will turn out to be too close for comfort.

Comment Re:Amended quote (Score 1) 743

Snowden has stated that he took his job with the plan from the start to steal and leak classified information. To do that he would have to have lied to get his job, lied to get his security clearance, and lied to get access to the data. You only consider him "trustworthy" because you agree with his crimes, the ones that can actually be found in the law as opposed to the placards of activists.

If he had been some outsider who decided to infiltrate the NSA and dump all the info I'd have some doubts about his motives.

But he had worked for the NSA in various capacities since 2006. It's not so much joining a company to leak whatever docs they might have, it's switching jobs in a company so you can leak the docs you know they have.

Comment Re:Idiocracy (Score 1) 628

Despite the fact that the sender has no real way of knowing if the recipient is operating a vehicle unless they are in the vehicle with them, and on top of that, the text is a non-time sensitive communication like a physical letter. The only reason to read it the moment you get it is because you want to, otherwise you just wait until it's convenient, nobody is in any way forcing you to read it now.

As to the morons in NJ, they said "...know, the recipient will view the text while driving". I guess the statement of "I didn't know he/she was stupid enough to text while driving." suddenly becomes a valid defense.

Ok, jerk passenger in the back knows the driver has a habit of checking texts while they're driving. So the passenger waits till they're in a really complicated traffic situation, then, wanting to cause a little mayhem, they send the driver a text knowing they'll read it at that moment. The driver does as intended and an accident ensues.

I think a good claim could be made that the passenger is also liable for the accident.

Comment Re:Tell me again (Score 1) 918

Because we joined the UN as a permanent member of the security council. It's our job to protect the rights of foreign people from human rights violations.

I mean I suppose we could resign from our position, supposing you like the idea of China and Russia being in charge the security council.

But is the US capable of protecting them?

The mildest response is to send in a bunch of drones, blow up a bunch of Assad's stuff, and call it a day.

What if Assad then uses more gas? Same response or do you have to escalate? With or without gas what if Assad starts to win? What's the exit strategy?

I'm not completely opposed to a short bombing run from the US, saying "if you use chemical weapons we'll make you regret it". But going further and actually taking a real stake in the conflict, it's not just that I'm not sure the US can win, but I don't know if there's a way to avoid losing. There's no good guys left who are in a position to be a decent government, and any involvement becomes western interference in a Muslim Arab country and destabilizes the surrounding region. It might be that the best thing the US can do for Syrians is nothing.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

Then I've failed to communicate that effectively to you :)

You think he meant so say it was merely possible for them to be fat? That vegetarianism could lead to other non-obesity related health problems? Because he didn't say anything remotely like that.

That sounds fair enough, but again, hardly resonating with an actual vegetarian (unless they happened to be one of those fat ones that tried to become vegetarian for health reasons, and weren't seeing success).

My take would be slightly different: "huh, I thought vegetarians were usually healthy, but I guess they must not be because he's done the research and they apparently aren't healthier" - and this, is arguably true.

Unless by "healthy" you mean thin I think your take misses the point.

The book is primarily about obesity. The interview was primarily about obesity. The exchange was primarily about obesity. And the statement in question specifically mentioned obesity.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

I guess that's the argument in a nutshell - I'm arguing that psychological processes in the brain aren't primary drivers of appetite, they're secondary or tertiary. To quantify that, I think we're looking at metabolic ward studies, with various controls for macronutrients and a search for quantitative data on biomechanisms rather than subjective surveys.

I think that one thing matabolic ward studies would clear up is that they don't really explain the changes that lead to the small (Yes. You can't rely on getting good results out of bad data.

It's not a binary situation, every dataset has inadequacies, you take that into account with error bars and tempered interpretations, but it's a little too convenient to just throw it out entirely because it's a problem.

What if there wasn't a problem, what if it turned out the records were in fact good? How would you rationalize the data then?

I disagree. The conscious acknowledgement of "tastiness" may occur in some part of the frontal cortex, say, but when it comes to "tastiness as having an effect on actual biomarkers rather than a survey", that's something that is determined by a complex set of tissues and organs, including but not limited to parts of the brain that are not conscious.

I wonder if you would put the brain in a place of primacy if we were talking about say, vertical growth rather than horizontal growth. Would it be possible for the brain to psychologically retard (or accelerate) growth in height? Could it somehow reduce the amount of human growth hormone circulated by the pituitary? More importantly, since vertical growth requires a caloric imbalance (need more calories in than calories out), would the mechanisms you imagine for hunger and appetite be suppressible when trying to avoid vertical growth? Could a teenager reduce their appetite enough to limit their calories enough to stop their vertical growth from happening?

My guess is that you'd admit to the primacy of HGH in determining vertical growth, but that begs the question as to why you wouldn't admit the primacy of insulin in determining horizontal growth.

Well there's one big difference between eating and growing in that eating requires a conscious deliberate action and we know that a strong hunger response can be triggered by brain signals.

And I do agree that HGH is most responsible for height, with the caveat that there's MASSIVE factors I know I'm missing including things that probably counteract, enhance, or regulate HGH, and I don't know how HGH is involved in the feedback mechanism that actually determines how much we grow. We also know the conscious mind doesn't do a lot since vegetative patients still grow to a normal height.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

Again, you bring in the messy brain in the example as a point of pride - eventually, every brain response has to culminate in some biomechanism for accumulating fat. You can do a more rigorous and profitable analysis by understanding the basic biomechanisms *first*, and then discovering how the brain might influence those levers. But you can't have a brain doing something magical and unobservable - it eventually needs to get down to the level of accumulating fat in a fat cell.

Wherever you start from you can't go around saying you solved the obesity epidemic when you've left out one of the primary drivers of appetite which you know if being manipulated in modern populations.

Okay, so let's get the test where we measure the biochemical process by which the brain influences say, tastiness. Let's throw away the subjective questionnaires, and measure the actual biochemical signals. Again, first principles, we need to go to the moment of action.

What are you talking about? Tastiness is be determined by signals in the brain, there are feedbacks that occur which changes how we perceive taste, but you're going back to this impractical standard of solving the system instead of analyzing it behaviourally.

Easy. Bad data. They even admit to it: "These numbers are probably not particularly accurate"

So you're throwing it out entirely? The numbers are fuzzy, but if they're even in the ballpark they contradict your allergy theory.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

No, let's be specific - his failure was that he did not speak clearly enough to have his audience understand. That's a failing for someone who is trying to convey a point.

Understand what? I don't know his point.

I mean, honestly, do you think that Taubes' statement in that radio interview convinced a single vegetarian to start on an unhealthy, high glycemic carnivorous diet, as opposed to a healthy low-glycemic carnivorous diet?

I think a lot of listeners went through the program thinking "wow! he's dismantling all these things I knew about nutrition!" and when he got to that bit "huh, I thought vegetarians were usually thin, but I guess they must not be because he's done the research and they apparently weigh more."

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

Oh yes,

His failure was that he was misunderstood. It's not really his fault that in an interview, when discussing in detail the fact that vegetarians were eating foods that by his rules should make them fat and diabetic, he simply claimed that vegetarians were in fact fat and diabetic.

It's clear that he really wanted to say...

After googling the only thing I can find about Taubes and vegitarianism is someone saying that in his book he claimed that Vegetarian Hindus in India were fatter than their non-vegetarian Christian and Muslim counterparts. But I could find no mention of that study, and similar studies, or the actual claim, or even another website saying he said it, so I have no idea what his actual explanation is or if there even is one. But given the obvious relevance to his hypothesis it seems odd that he hasn't dealt with the issue explicitly and directly.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

I'm not sure if I quite understand your researcher/other person example.

The point is we can't isolate one variable and hold everything else constant. Other variables can kick in to compensate, the brain responds to the situation, and the factor you're measuring never has a total function as simple as your hypothesis. No matter what you do the data is really messy and the answers can only be guessed at by looking at a lot of different experiments.

And maybe that's the problem I have with your frame - you're asserting that the brain is some massively omnipotent organ that dictates to the rest of the body, and that we can ignore all other factors and concentrate on it as the first order term.

I'm arguing a different frame based on our observations of cellular intelligence (, for example). Given the biochemical processes on the *cellular* level is the only way to rationally attack this problem, as far as that frame goes.

No, I'm saying we already know the brain is heavily involved, including decisions made at an abstract level like comfort food or eating in company. Therefore to show a particular biochemical process is active you first need to measure the influence of the brain which we know is there.

So, are you leery of those who say "it's due to eating more calories than those burned!"?

Oversimplification, I'd be leery of those who say "it's all due to palatability", because activity levels, social factors, mental health, advertising, convenience, and a dozen other factors are all probably involved.

Btw, since you think the carb/obesity is only in western populations due to a carbohydrate allergy explain Cuba, during an economic crisis calories dropped from 3,100 to 2,300 and:

"The percentage of dietary fat in the energy intake decreased, while the contribution of carbohydrates (polished rice and refined cereals) increased from 64% in 1990 to 79.4% in 1993. Availability of essential dietary amino acids and fatty acids declined as a consequence of a reduced availability of animal protein and edible oils and fat. Sugar cane, a traditional source of energy in the Cuban diet, rose to 28% of total energy intake, almost three times that of the fat contribution."

Want to guess what happened? Obesity rates dropped by half. So what happened to the carb allergy that caused the initial obesity? Why did they start eating fewer calories? Despite the economic hardship there wasn't actual starvation so surely they could afford 800 of the cheapest calories per day, if your theory about their obesity being caused a carb allergy was correct the extra sugar and refined carbs should have given them uncontrollable hunger and blew them up like a balloon.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

That being said, I'm not just talking about discrete simulations (as Wolfram has made particularly interesting finds in cellular automata), I'm talking about real world root cause failures in complex, integrated, man/logic/machine settings (which, do include a biological component of sorts). You cannot hope to find the truth in an analysis of a real-world system (again, not just some pre-programmed simulation, real computers doing real work with real people), without falsifiability.

I agree, but that doesn't mean the system is designed to be easily analyzed via falisifiability. I think a pretty common scenario goes something like this

Researcher: I have a great simple falsifiable hypothesis!

Other person: Awesome! What does it mean if it's true!

Researcher: Uhhh, well I got a list of things that might be happening if it's true.

Other person: Um ok, well you must have a pretty good idea if it's false then?

Researcher: Oh yeah! I got another list!

Other person: .... a lot of the items are the same.

Researcher: Yeah, sorry about that

Certainly hunger would be a complex one, but even in a complex system, you have first, second, third, etc order effects. Furthermore, as you noted, biology generally leads to extremely robust systems, and a system that ignored muscle starvation due to visual stimulation is distinctly *not* robust. The muscle cells can be considered as intelligent actors, just as intelligent as any bit of brain tissue, and they simply cannot be considered a lower order term.

And so in the end, I think you're making the same mistake you're pointing out here - you're treating a large, complex system, as dictated to by a single organ as a first order effect (i.e., it's all in your brain). In fact, biology is *filled* with intelligence, even down to the cellular level, and a robust system simply wouldn't make "tastiness" it's primary directive - that's not robust by any means. It *is* rational to think that cellular intelligence would be concerned with things like protecting from toxic levels of glucose in tissues and the blood stream, and sufficient energy to survive, and the complex failure of the system to maintain a healthy weight (in order to survive in the short term), is quite neatly explained by the insulin and differential insulin resistance mechanism as a *first order* term.

Hunger is a neurological effect so it (probably) all has to end up in the brain at some point, but we don't know the precise inputs, some is undoubtedly largely determined by signals from the body, muscle cells are probably sending some of those signals, but the brain is undoubtedly doing a ton on its own as evidenced by the huge role visual stimuli, social setting, and expectation plays on appetite.

That's why I'm very leery of anyone who stands up and says "I solved the obesity epidemic and it's due to X!" just because we know of so many contributing factors that go in and the number of variables we're changing.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

I'm not sure we're going to get any further on this point. Taubes came as close to saying "up is down" as you can possibly get, whatever mental gymnastics or false equivalencies you use to justify it you can't get around that fact. Even if some nutritionists did make an equivalent error Taubes claim is that he's supposed to be better, that he's the only one who took an unbiased look at the evidence. Well here we have a clear example where if you took his at his word you would come away seriously misinformed. At least admit the man is capable of failure.

Comment Re:Another "moderation" fraud (Score 1) 461

My contention about the nutritionists disparaging red meat and saturated fat. They are taking a *correlation*, and pretending it's a *causality* - a mistake on their part that is easily verifiable by even the most casual of glances at the references they give.

They take an existing correlation and interpret it as a interpretation (may or may not be right), Taubes does the same, except when he took the correlation he just reversed it. The rationalization is still laughable.

Ah, so in fact, you do "care" in the emotional sense of the word, but have excluded them because you believe they add too much complexity to the picture. Fair enough, although I do think that in order to "do no harm", nutritionists are obligated to understand the *mortality* effects of their advice before giving it. It could be that the safest thing to say to anyone is "your individual body and response to dietary components may vary greatly from someone else's", rather than promote false tropes like "red meat and saturated fat will cause everyone health problems", or "vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle for anyone"'s like insisting that everyone should eat 5-6 servings of peanuts a day, even if they're allergic to peanuts.

Maybe, but after probably 100+ comments I don't really want to have that debate.

Comment Kind of depressing actually (Score 1) 147

What this basically says is that audiences have already decided whether or not the movie will be a success before it's been released.

Think about it, sure a preview is somewhat limited by the film its based on, you'll know the actors, director, maybe the writers and producer. And you might get a very rough idea of the characters and plot, but that's about it.

Is there any reason why the previews for Evan Almighty couldn't have been as good as the previews for The 40-Year-Old Virgin?

The film industry is designed to push as much money into the opening weekend as possible to avoid giving audiences a chance to talk about the film and potentially not see the film. This study seems to suggest they're succeeding.

Just look at the top movie on IMDB, The Shawshank Redemption

"In total the film made approximately $28.3 million in North American theaters, making it the number 51 highest grossing film of 1994 and the number 21 highest grossing R-rated film of 1994."

What's that say about the correlation between film quality and box office success? Maybe the only reason Evan Almighty flopped is because it was finally a chance for all the people who made Bruce Almighty a hit to make up for their mistake.

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