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Comment Re:This story sponsored by (Score 1) 63

Actually evidence from the 1950s was mixed -- as it still is -- but in fact most of it stands up pretty well. What's a problem is the interpretation of that evidence and its limited nature (e.g. not knowing about different types of cholesterol).

For example it was established in the 50s that high blood cholesterol was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is still believed as true, but what they didn't know at the time is what factors affected blood cholesterol. It was (plausibly although not conclusively) suspected by many that fat consumption would increase it; nobody suspected sugar... why should they?

In complex systems like the body there is usually conflicting evidence early on, which is resolved by further study.

Comment Re:Potential military applications are really scar (Score 4, Interesting) 57

I'd think from a military standpoint what you want is soldiers who make better battlefield decisions, not ones that engage in a stereotypical behavior regardless of circumstance.

The human brain is both massively adaptable and subject to modification by information inputs. Which means you can indoctrinate men into becoming mindless killing machines. The problem is that historically that approach doesn't seem to be effective either tactically or strategically. US Marines faced waves of suicide attackers in the Pacific theater of WW2, which must have been terrifying, but in the end worked to the US advantage.

On the other hand George Washington's great talent as a general was retreating. He could attack a much larger and better equipped army and then make his army disappear before they could react. That was terrifying in its own way, and much more miltarily effective.

Given a fight between men fighting to kill and men fighting to survive, all other things being equal I'd put my money on the men trying to survive.

Comment Re:This story sponsored by (Score 5, Informative) 63

You know, this kind of shallow cynicism actually makes you easier to dupe, because it's not evidence-based; it's what-sounds-truthy-based.

This article was published in Nature, which requires a complete disclosure of institutional affiliations and financial conflicts. That doesn't mean the system is perfect, but it's about as good as it gets, especially given that Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. Nature Medicine has an eye-popping 30.357 impact factor, making it the fourth most highly cited medical journal in the world after the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Journal of the American Medical Association.

Does it mean you should immediately believe anything that's published in Nature Medicine? No. You should wait until it is cited in a literature review article in one of those top journals before making any health decisions based on it. However as individual papers go, this is as credible as they get.

Researchers have been trying to take caffeine down for decades. Nobody can quite believe that something so enjoyable as coffee isn't bad for you. In fact doctors used to routinely warn their patients off coffee because of all the bad things it would do to them, but in fact when researchers tried to confirm all the things doctors knew about why coffee was bad for you, none of them turned out to be true, with narrow exceptions for certain populations (e.g., coffee doesn't cause ulcers as we used to be told, but if you have an ulcer coffee will make the symptoms worse).

What researchers found were surprising benefits, including what appears to be evidence of reduction in risks for multiple forms of cancer and even a reduction in suicide risk.

Coffee is well on its way to becoming the first evidence-backed superfood.

Comment Re:Can only be played on Apple products (Score 2) 81

Everyone wants to own both the distribution channel and the content being sold over that channel. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu...

They all want their own programming so that going to a different store means losing access to content. If Apple's content does appear on Netflix, you can be sure of two things: (1) it'll be old episodes and (2) their programs will include melodramatic, never-ending story arcs.

Comment Vocational training for young kids is a waste. (Score 5, Insightful) 194

Who knows what jobs will be available in twenty years, between AI and offshoring? Coding doesn't look like a sure thing at all.

If you are going to focus on a skill, focus on ones that serve in that kind of future environment: being able to pick up on human context and nuance; to decode, no just the literal level of communication, but implicit levels of communication. Because even if AI and foreigners take our coding jobs, somebody is going to have to lay out specifications, and that take imagination and subtlety.

And you know what would be really, really good for developing those kinds of skills? Reading and discussing books.

Comment Re:don't be too quick to judge (Score 1) 291

yes India has terrible controls on their antibiotic use, but remember that US farmers are using large amounts of antibiotics too keep their overcrowded livestock from dying too soon.

India is a country with a median annual income of $616. With 1.2 billion people, well, a lot of things like providing medical care are going to be tough. We're headed that way too. While per capita GDP growth has recovered from the Great Recession, median income has declined.

Comment Re:No Gut no Glory (Score 1) 66

This is kind of an oversimplified view of affairs as they now stand.

The newer players aren't competitors to NASA; they're competitors to NASA's traditional vendors. They probably wouldn't exist were it not for government policy to encourage and support more independent, entrepreneurial approaches to launch system development and management.

Comment Re:Well Trump has one thing right (Score 1) 529

I agree. I also think we should make successful completion of an H-1b term as an automatic qualification for a green card. If the talent is so important to bring in, then talent plus experience is even more important to keep here, and eventually naturalize.

The program as it now exists simply primes the pump for offshoring and overseas tech transfer.

Comment Re:Is more education, better education . . . ? (Score 1) 481

I'm a boomer and trust me, we had our share of functional illiterates, innumerates, and all-around ignorant people. Look at the 60-ish people you know. Allowing for greater life experience (e.g. remembering Dr. King rather than having just read about him), do we seem as a group so uniformly wonderfully educated to you? I thought not.

I think millennials are on the whole just a little better educated than we were. The problem is that they need to be a lot better educated.

The world is changing faster. Information sources are more varied and less reliable. In an era where it has never been easier to surround yourself with crackpots you need to be a more independent thinkers than boomers, who despite our counter-culture pretensions are as big a generation of sheep as this country has ever produced. When we entered the workforce there were lots of good-paying jobs we could do with just a three R's education. For millennials those jobs have gone overseas or are being lost to automation.

So in the current environment, the average person needs capabilities that would have made him elite in past generations. That's why so many more Americans go to college: 68% in 2014 vs. 45% in 1960.

So it's no surprise if the average college graduate isn't as impressive as the average college in past generations:you're looking at a different sample, one more representative of the population as a whole.

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