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Comment Re:"Research Projects" (Score 1) 62

The problem is that all these attempts to interest kids in STEM are so earnest and dull.

What we should be doing is tempting them with mad science. You see? It's not all death rays and monkey testicle implants.

It's important to hook them by middle school, when the all important sense of being misunderstood is its keenest.

Comment Re:Call me crazy... (Score 1) 85

Well, they're both solutions. But they run afoul of questions. Which users benefit most from each solution? And if someone benefits most from the massive battery with conservative display and processor specs, can you sell it to him?

I'll tell you right here that I'd much prefer LG's approach, but I'm an engineer. I think about my requirements differently than most people.

Comment US Life Expectancy is 91.9 years (Score 3, Insightful) 105

If you're a woman in the top 1% by income. If you're a man in the top 1% it's 88.8 years.

If you're middle class you live about 78.3 years if you're a man, which is big step up from 1980, probably because of smoking. If you're a woman you live 79.7 years, a decline of a few months since 1980.

Now if you're a poor your life expectancy has declined since 1980, to 76.1 for men and 78.3 for women.

So here's the picture: if you're rich, medical advances since 1980 have increased your expected lifespan by about seven years. But those advances haven't had any effect on middle class lifespans. If you're poor you apparently are having difficulty paying for medical care at all, which is not surprising because health care costs have consistently outpaced inflation since the mid-70s. If you're a working poor American health care inflation meant you basically screwed by the 2000s: you were too rich for Medicaid, to poor to avoid medical care.

One more thing: US has a GINI coefficient (measure of income disparity) of 45. That's the highest in the industrialized world, and much higher than it's low point of 34 in 1969. Basically all of the income growth sicne 1990 have gone to the top quintile, in fact the lion's share to the top 5%. People at the 80th percentile by income and below have seen basically zero income growth when adjusted for inflation. And since health care inflation rises faster than inflation, it means 80% of the the US has seen a cut in its disposable income.

Comment Re:So, America might have a lower life expectancy. (Score 1) 105

Why single out one cause, when there's obviously many.

Take food. I live near a supermarket that is probably three times the size of the one my parents went to, but the produce section is smaller, the meat and dairy sections about the same size. The surplus acreage is taken up with cheap, calorie dense, no-preparation convenience food.

Or the fact that Amercians spend more time in cars than they used to, on average over 290 hours a year.

Here's another interesting fact: research shows that the portion size you choose is positively correlated to the size of the package you serve yourself from; this doesn't happen consciously, it's just that a cup of cereal from a 9 ounce box appears like a lot more than a cup of cereal from a 21 oz box.

The huge sizes are driven in part by an attempt to cut down on trips to the grocery store. American home kitchens are the largest in the world, and most of that is needed for storage because we don't do very much food preparation.

So if there's a single root cause it's the pursuit (sometimes failed) of efficiency; we have the wealth to try to reduce labor and time spent doing things, but our bodies are designed to spend time doing things.

Comment Re:The solution is simple. (Score 1) 318

The problem may be the while Garcina Cambogia causes 30% more weight to be lost, 30% more of zero is still zero.

If that's what happens anyway it's somewhat problematic to use the word causes -- unless it's a different 30% in each case that would have happened otherwise. It's a bit like Woody Allen's the Great Roe: "A mythological beast with the head of a lion and the body of a lion, though not the same lion."

Comment The solution is simple. (Score 1) 318

If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then if you succeed, try try again. Carry on until you have constructed a body of results you can evaluate as a whole.

There is a reproducibility problem for who have a model of the universe that works like this: If A is true, then investigation will uncover evidence supporting A, and no evidence supporting not-A. If this is your world view, then the instant you have any contradictory data you have a worldview crisis.

It is perfectly normal for science to yield contradictory results. That's why when you see a study reported saying taking Garcina Cambogia yields astonishing weight loss results you don't immediately run out to the health food store to buy miracle pills. It's absolutely routine for results like this not to stand up. The problem is that journalists are too ignorant of how science works to understand this.

Comment Re:Bullshit isn't the same as "lie". (Score 1) 389

You have not described a "phenomenon", you made a false claim. Instead of admitting you are wrong, and caught in the act, you attempt to play word games. Cowardice at it's finest.

So you are saying that people only ever use language to establish stable beliefs in propositions, and that they never say anything purely to achieve emotional effect?

As for cowardice, well if it makes you feel less insecure I suppose there's nothing I can do about it. But it's bullshit -- in the epistemic sense of the word -- and it reflects on you more than me.

Comment Endocrine hacking has a long history. (Score 2) 138

A long history of not working particularly well. And testosterone hacking is the grand-daddy of them all. You know all those steampunk-y horror stories about rich Victorian eccentrics who go mad because they implanted monkey testicles into themselves in a bid to achieve eternal youth? People actually did that.

There's a thin line... or rather let's say a fork in the road between pseudoscience and science. I think they both start in the same, non-scientific place. And that place is a kind of magical thinking. It's what happens after the initial inspiration that makes the difference between science and pseudoscience.

Testosterone is higher in men than women, an in particular higher in young men, and higher in men who achieve social dominance. It also rises after sexual intercourse. So by magical thinking testosterone must be the "manliness" hormone; it makes you young, vigorous, dominant and sexually potent.

There's nothing wrong with that as a starting point, but in the long history of testosterone hacking it hasn't worked out, except for gaining muscle mass in conjunction with resistance training. Sure if you treat men with a testosterone blocker they'll eventually lose interest in sex, men generally have less sex as they get older, and at the same time their testosterone levels decrease. So it's natural to jump to the conclusion of a chain of causality: worn out old glands put out less testosterone, and that causes a reduction in interest in sex. But if you actually test that hypothesis, it doesn't work out: individuals with least decline in testosterone levels actually have less sex than their normal counterparts. The normal decline isn't large enough to produce on its own any measurable effect in interest in sex. So if your interest in sex is dropping as you get older, look elsewhere for the cause.

This is the danger of calling testosterone "the male sex hormone", as if God had a punch list of features He wanted and implemented each feature with a single steroid compound that works in isolation from everything else. Yes, testosterone is involved in masculinization of adolescents, but it's not as simple as the more testosterone you are, the more male you are. The endocrine system is complex and dynamic, responding to internal and external changes -- including aging. Both men and women have and need testosterone and estrogen, in ways we don't fully understand yet.

If you want to get the most out of your life, eat a variety of real food in moderation, exercise, sleep, and in general alternate stress with rest. The ancient Greeks could have told you that, and in thousands of years we have not been able yet to improve on that as far as lifestyle advice is concerned. Go to your doctor if you're sick or injured, or even for a testosterone treatement if you have abnormally low testosterone for your age. But don't go to the doctor for a magic pill that will make you youthful, manly, sexy and dynamic. All that's up to you.

Comment Isn't this kind of obvious? (Score 1) 477

Sure catastrophe is great for establishing equality. It's also great for establishing dictatorship, or oligarchy.

Consider Japan. Japan is a major industrial power with no energy resources (other than renewables) of its own, so it got 30% of its energy from nuclear power, and it was on its way to making that 40%. Then there was the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe and now nuclear is essentially dead in Japan.

Is that good? Bad? Either way the indisputable thing is that Fukushima made a difference. Catastrophe is practically the only thing that makes people undertake drastic change; absent disaster people will simply tweak things until they seem to more or less work.

Comment Re:Yup (Score 1) 477

The position where slaves didn't count towards representation was just as good a default, which makes 3/5 looks like a compromise to me. Which wouldn't be surprising; the framers had a real knack for that.

Note also because of the limited, means-tested franchise in many states, the higher property ownership disparity in slave states (because of the plantation economy) concentrated enormously disproportionate power in the hands of planters.

Democracy in the early US wouldn't look very familiar. In 1824 just 4% of all Americans voted.

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