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Comment Re:"popular belief"??? (Score 3, Interesting) 269

All else being equal, maybe it is wise to label someone a shill. But this "low fat" thing has been getting severely criticised for a good ten years now. Even the president of the World Heart Federation, Professor Salim Yusuf, has switched sides. Various people/experts have done the work of looking into what the lipid hypothesis was based on, actually, all those decades ago, and how it became dogma. If you want to call someone shill, it is probably the original people who recommended low-fat (it benefitted the sugar and cereals industry).

Here are just a few of the controversial, but likely correct, quotes of Professor Salim Yusuf:

“Above 40% carb we see a steep increase in CHD risk. Fats are protective.”
“Contrary to common belief the current recommendation to reduce saturated fat has no scientific basis.”
“You must have heard of the book Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. She shook up the nutrition world. But she got it right.”

Comment Re:No. (Score 5, Informative) 269

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/experts-headline-grabbing-editorial-on-saturated-fats-bizarre-misleading/

"The report was written secretly and released by the National Obesity Forum, for which Malhotra was also a senior advisor. The Forum is funded by the meat industry and drug companies."

That's funny, because these people (Malhotra, Eades, Noakes, etc.) who get together at conferences, so let's call it a "movement", they say that the lipid hypothesis was pushed by the sugar industry back in the 50s and 60s as a way to push the blame away from sugar -- that the idea that fat might cause heart disease is what the sugar industry wanted to hear. Meanwhile the British scientist Yudkin thought that sugar was the more likely cause of heart disease. But he was disinvited too often and eventually ignored. If you can't eat fat, you will have to eat carbohydrates, and cereals, and so on. So it is the cereals industry which benefits from the "fat is bad" hypothesis.

Your or my conviction that, gee, fat really is bad, is merely because that's what we have been taught. We did not go out there and like, spend ten years doing a systematic review of all the literature going back 100 years.

That's what Gary Taubes did, spent 5 years writing a book about this, tracing the history of the hypothesis. And Nina Teicholz, whose recent book was reviewed in the BMJ with words to the effect, "you'd believe that science was a rational objective process, but after reading this book you'll realise that was naive and the science has been perverted..." (words to that effect, in the BMJ). And hea dof world hear foundation (something like that) recently said that the science behind the heart/lipid hypothesis was bogus.

How the Sugar Industry Shifted the Blame to Fat

So the plain and rather obvious fact is, EVERYONE has a vested interest, so at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is, on the word of no-one, is the science actually objectively correct?

We can play the who-funded-it game all day.

Comment Re:CEO needs to go (Score 1) 114

The Uber CEO needs to go. He's what's keeping Uber from being great.

From what I hear about Uber, it seems they in so many ways act and think like criminals, but manage to keep just on the legal side of the law. Mostly. That said, though, they are just an extreme example of all the worst aspects of capitalism: the underhandedness, the ethos that says 'if we can get away with it, it must be OK', the lack of genuine care and consideration for their employees, customers and society, the sense of entitlement take what they want no matter what.

It is really sad, I think - there is a good kind of capitalism, where a clever, hardworking man or woman can grow a business from little more than their own abilities and determination, but the whole concept gets a grubby taint from the likes of Uber.

Well said.

And in future people may more often look to work for their sense of purpose in life, the place where they can build their character and compassion along with building their career. So "play fair" will be all the more important.

Comment Re:Could climate science be affected, too? (Score 1) 148

I think these are general talking points and they don't prove anything either way.

But I don't understand the claim that it is basic physics. Yes, a part of it is basic physics. But the rest of it is not. I gather many skeptics accept that CO2 on its own gives you about a degree of warming. Everything after that is largely modelled feedbacks.

How any why any particular scientific field and speciality might have gotten the theory wrong is a matter for sociologists and philosophers. We KNOW that particular fields can and do sometimes get it spectacularly wrong, like 100% the wrong way round, and that if those big errors could be prevented, people would prevent them, but shit happens. A big one has been, which has come to light recently, is nutrition and the theory that people should eat low-fat and eat mostly healthy grains. A view is spreading now amongst some scientists and doctors that that "low fat" public health advice wasn't just a bit off, it actually caused the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Sure it was supposed to be basic physics like, "energy in = energy out". Yet it was wrong and it is now costing the health services billions in people's poor health, all because a group of researchers back in the day, led their field down a particular path, where they were including evidence which supported their theory, and ignoring evidence which didn't. These were the top people in their field. The most influential and respected.

So sometimes shit happens. The problem is knowing whether it is happening now. There just are no guarantees.

Calling it "basic physics" is just a way to gloss over the fact that scientific truth is never easy to obtain. I totally accepted climate change (back when it was called global warming) because it is "science", until people started claiming it was all "settled" and "trust the authorities" and started calling critics "deniers". That's not science that's a public relations strategy, and a very bad one if the facts are really on your side.

And besides if one wants to judge trustworthiness based on vested interests, then why not nuclear and say they have an interest in quietly promoting climate change as that will, inevitably, lead to the need to renew nuclear? It isn't like we a are going to turn the lights off. And I have no qualms about nuclear, maybe it is the best idea, but it would be maybe naive to think that the nuclear industry is incapable of quietly promoting climate change over a 38 year period since Three Mile Island, due to the massive public rejection they were facing?

I'm not claiming that has happened, just that the vested interests argument is moot when everyone has a vested interest. What matters is whether the science is open to scrutiny and calling everyone "deniers" is not a good sign. And it is not "basic physics". That's just more public relations spin.

Comment Re:Imagine that (Score 1) 224

In my experience, iPad 1 was obsolete pretty much in just 18 months.

iPad 4 (nearly 5 years old) still runs current iOS and is quite usable.

The ARM stuff just got so much faster early on.

The ecosystem/cloud/ubiquitous computing model is pretty good in this respect, as no-one can afford to bring out an update that renders all the other gadgets obsolete overnight, well, not too often anyway.

Comment Re:Without a doubt... (Score 1) 1222

Dark Star isn't a movie I would re-watch often, but it is definitely my favourite for great sci-fi:

an alternate reality, set in space; comments and satire on the human condition; philosophy "teach it phenomenology", and a hilarious critique of that philosophy; and just plain silly to boot; all on a shoestring budget. Plus the hint that, you can look at the universe and humans as mean, empty, meaningless wastes of space, but one can also revel in wonder and awe, just marvel at it all.

In those respects it fulfils what masterpieces like 2001 and Bladerunner also accomplished.

Comment Re: Are you even Swedish? (Score 1) 366

While I don't agree with the earlier post, I don't think we can go the other way either and simply claim there's no danger, because in essence, these things can't be predicted -- the problem is that nobody knows how far political islam will spread. And because it can't be predicted, people fear the unknown. Predicting it will never happen only stokes the fears of those who feel like it is happening but being ignored.

There are many countries which turned into basket cases. North Korea, Lebanon, Zimbabwe.

And there is no shortage of people who say stupid stuff in an islamic political context, eg. Erdogan who recently told Turks living in Germany that they should have many children so as to become the future of Europe. What if Christian leaders started telling their congregations that they should have as many children as possible to regain the majority in the country and "Christianise" the government? Religion (in its older pre-modern form) is scary because well, it is pre-modern, it more ideological, more controlling, more dictatorial, etc.

But for Europe and Islam, I'd say a couple of things: at the end of the day, every individual makes their own interpretation of their "religion". So there is not one religion, there are billions of versions of it. Terrorists are a tiny minority view which has to use senseless violence to get themselves noticed. The difficulty though, is that the nature of monotheistic faiths is that there is only one united and true religion. So even though every individual makes their own interpretation of their religion, where there vast majority would never dream of doing anything violent, the nature of the faith is for everyone to believe that there is only one true version. Again, as Erdogan recently said, "there is no moderate Islam, there is just Islam". Basically, everyone identifies themselves as "Muslim" even though, in reality, a billion Muslims are actually all individuals with their own version of what it means to be Muslim, whilst believing that there is only one true Islam.

I think that's why inevitably the monotheistic religions hit a dead end, because they cannot deal with the variety of reality.

But in terms of prediction, how on earth can you predict which direction the political feelings of the masses will go when all individuals are different and yet the common belief is that they are in some sense all the same and all united? This cannot be predicted.

As for Europe, I imagine that this is not the first time nor the last time that Europe has had to grapple with fascistic political movements. Europe is old and has had a lot of experience. For that reason alone I don't see political Islam spreading much, even as many people in other parts of the world hate the West and would love to see it crumble, just as part of our common inherited animal competitive natures.

Terrorism will continue for some time though, and one day we may see an attack involving hundreds of thousands. But these things only "work" if they invite reprisals and retaliation at an ethnic level. And most Europeans do not identify themselves in a tribal way, as Europe is so old, and most don't get into the habit of forming militias which would tear the nation in civil war -- we really are just not that interested. So with no retaliation, the deaths are tragic but life goes on.

If anything, Western PostModernism may spread into Islamic societies and cause endless turmoil. Anyone who thinks Islam is holding nations back, just wait until PostModernism gets in there. That's meant to be a joke. Sort of.

Comment Re:More US warmongering (Score 1) 755

If you really dig down into the root cause of instability in this portion of the Middle East, I'd blame the Europeans for carving up the region after they defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first World War.

A nation is possible only when people stop thinking of themselves as being of this or that tribe. Otherwise, each tribe only tolerates their own tribe winning the "democratic" election. This is why separation of church and state, is also so important. So, carving things up along tribal boundaries still doesn't really resolve these issues, as it doesn't shift people to thinking of themselves as "citizens" who live and let live, forming political compromises with others, which is sort of the basis for tolerance. So even if you carve it up along tribal boundaries, there is still nothing to stop one tribe wanting to attack the other tribe to gain territory and resources or resolve some perceived grievance. As a very general example, assuming the Sunni/Shia identities matter, Saudi Arabia is Sunni and Iran is Shia, and they each have their own country, yet they are locked in a long set of proxy wars. The problem is basically the final scene in Laurence of Arabia: the leaders come to the table, and instead of hammering out political solutions, they fight each other. But this is no surprise, as a nation is a big powerful entity and it doesn't get created without a number of civil wars along the way, all too often. The idea that you could go from the Ottoman Empire's system, straight to a bunch of nation states, no matter how carefully draw, in one step, was never going to work, not for anyone. I mean it is kinda fascinating to imagine what system they should have used, perhaps some sort of loose empire where they left most of the day to day running of things to the existing tribal networks, and only provided some very general policing and industrial assistance.

Comment Re: Not our problem. We'll be dead by then. (Score 1) 620

Science doesn't happen by consensus. It happens by rigorous proof and verifiable, repeatable testing of a (hopefully null) hypothesis.

I think a lot of the replies are missing your point. Ok, first, the problems science tries to study are too big for any individual to crack on his or her own. So modern science is largely collaborative. And that collaboration is organised around a meritocracy of knowledge and achievement. So there is a hierarchy and expertise is key to that hierarchy. And that's just how it is, so yes, science DOES happen by consensus, starting with the student who learns from the teacher, and the teacher who learns from their teacher, on up to the masters who have the most skill and ingenuity and who are driving the science forward.

But that's not your point, and I think many people get stuck on this first truth, that science is a collaborative meritocracy, that it does operate by consensus.

But operating by consensus does not necessarily mean the results and theories are correct, that they are, in actual fact, true in the real world. That's the big difference.

So science has to operate by collaborative meritocracy (because the project is so big) but that does not mean that the results are actually true.

Now, given science's generally stunning success in many fields, we can generally assume that science gets it right. We have microchips and CT scanners and jet engines and so on. And that is a general point, we generally know science generally works.

But climate change/global warming is a specific field, a specific theory, run by a specific set of people.

And it is a lot like how the police force in general, operate on the principles of justice and service and protection, and generally we all rely on the police to help protect society, but that does not mean that any specific group of cops in a specific precinct don't have any, for example, institutional racism.

So here's the thing. When people counter, "there is a consensus" that really misses the point. For if there is reason to be sceptical of the claims of a particular field, the only way forward is to research those issues. It does not help to say, well there is a consensus, because consensus is merely an automatic aspect of the social practice of science in a meritocracy of collaboration, it does not answer whether or not the theory is correct.

Consensus because we got it right? or consensus because of an unnoticed systematic bias which happens when research goes down one path, and alternative hypothesis are starved of air and funding and interest, simply because they didn't look promising early on? and everyone has to compete for funds?

In that sense, consensus is not science (if by science you mean, is the theory actually correct in reality?)

Put it this way, "the police are a force that serves justice, therefore there is no racism in the police" -- that's just circular reasoning, and if someone answers that in reply to, "hey, is this police unit showing signs of racism?", and all you hear is, "there's no racism because the police are here to protect", then you'd likely conclude that that is just an evasive answer.

Science is run as a collaborative meritocracy, where consensus decisions are made, and that has nothing to say about whether a specific theory produced by particular scientists is correct or not in reality.

The other aspect to this is that laypeople are supposed to trust the science. Well, here we have the other issue that we are all human, and humans all have a psychology that is highly prone to bias and selfish needs. If you are a human being, that's you and that's me. There is something called "expert bias" where people can't see their own bias because they know themselves to be experts and therefore, less likely to be biased or swayed by anything non-rational.

And besides, science is done by human beings who need funding and prestige and need to build their reputations. And as humans, we all have principles, we all want to do our best, and do the right thing, and also, we are all fallible. Just like the police are there to serve justice but are also fallible. A scientists is certainly far more intelligent than a policeman, let's say, for sake of argument, but when it comes to integrity and/or bias, I'm not aware that anyone has a monopoly on being the most advanced in that area.

So what to do? Any scientist is probably more inclined to trust the findings of other fields, at face value, because they know for themselves that they live and work in an organised hierarchical social meritocracy which requires many years of study, and where reputation and recognition are highly meaningful. Whereas random Joe in the street might not understand this, yet that also makes random Joe less prone to the group-think which any science field may have fallen into, largely due to its collaborative consensus building process.

So yes, science does operate by consensus, and most science works, and also, consensus says nothing on its own about whether a theory is correct, and yes one has to be a scientist to appreciate the level of knowledge and the importance of the social meritocracy, and yes, Joe in the street does get to say, "well the priests keep saying Zeus/God/Global Warming is real, but I haven't yet seen anything to show that to be true."

For example, when experts show a graph that obesity rates are climbing at an alarming rate, most people can look around and see, yeah, kinda looks like it.

Now global warming may be a very subtle process, but the predictions around it are not subtle, and the computer models runs could be seen by now to be working or not working. You know we've had like 35 years or so to see.

And this is before we even touch on the potential vested interests all round, because any energy alternative is going to be big business for someone, be that wind or nuclear, and besides, on top of that is the separate ethical question of, how can humans become more compassionate on this planet? But before you can do the right thing, you need to know what the right thing is, which comes down to whether the science field got it right.

Comment Re:Lies? (Score 1) 548

Dictionary says, "a person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems".
That raises question, is programming a science or art, or somewhere in between, like a disciplined craft?
Is a cook an engineer because he or she knows the correct way to poach an egg?
Does working with hardware make it more engineering than working with purely software?
Maybe the difficulty with definitions is that engineering often involves the physical world (physiosphere) but approached with a lot of knowledge held in the mind (the noosphere), and whilst there is a lot of discipline in erecting a bridge, there is also a lot of discipline in how to think about the bridge in the first place.
So I suspect that when people say "engineer" they mean that there is a lot of careful, rational, knowledgeable design going on.

Comment Re:Missing Principles (Score 1) 89

Your brainstorming works because while you have not figured out the exact script, you understand the method and concepts to complete the task. This is what I believe would be common among all people who brainstorm successfully as individuals. They use the Socratic method to interrogate the process they have in mind and come up with the best solution.

In a group, brainstorming can work if you have the right set of people with the intellectual capacity to debate and question (Socratic Method), and similar to the individual, knowledge of the concepts and methods needed to complete the task.

That does make sense, and explains times when I've discussed a project with a colleague over coffee, informally, for a few hours, including a lot of "silly" talk, and ended up with a good idea which neither of us would have arrived at on our own.

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