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Comment Too many vaccines, too soon? (Score 2) 588

There are several problems with the "too many vaccines, too soon" idea.

First, a study in the UK found that using modern criteria, the incidence of autism does not differ by much with age--up to age 70. This agrees with the scientific consensus that the apparent increase in autism is largely, probably entirely, due to increased diagnosis

Second, our immune system has evolved to deal with huge numbers of natural "vaccines" from bacteria and viruses constantly introduced through every scratch, scrape, and inflammation. And the number of antigens introduced from natural bacteria and viruses are far in excess of the simplified antigens that are introduced in vaccines. If you study that antibodies produced from even one infection, you find that the number of antibodies produced are easily in the excess of dozens.

So it simply does not make sense.

Comment Why kids find bugs (Score 1) 196

A child will find bugs than an adult will miss, because an adult will only do reasonable things, while kids will try things that don't really make sense. Developers sometimes use little programs that just click things at random to try to catch these kinds of weird bugs, sometimes called "monkey testing."

Comment Re:Anger (Score 1) 529

And if your child's interests don't match your skills, or you have to spend all of your time working two jobs to keep your family fed, then screw you and them?

Is that really your attitude?

Learn a bit about the history of public education. There is a reason why it was created.

We are not islands. Bright kids who are not given an opportunity to find productive work that they enjoy will end up in crime or taking to drugs or drink. They will die young, or end up on the dole. They will cost all of society, not just you and themselves.

Comment Re:What's gifted? (Score 1) 529

That wasn't my experience. There was as much variation in academic talents as in athletic talents. I was a great at math aced all of my English classes. But I remember taking a creative writing class, and there were students who were widely thought of as "slow" students who wrote poetry brilliantly, much better than I did. And there were other students with equally remarkable artistic ability (and my mother was an artist, and I thought I drew pretty well). If it seems to you that everybody has about the same academic ability, that is probably an indication that the teachers are not doing a good job in identifying and bringing out the talents of their students.

Comment Re:what an idiot (Score 1) 529

There are two sides to that. A lot of the academic "stars" boys are slow socially. Many are Asperger's or borderline. And their culture points them toward the cheerleaders, most of whom are not interested in their deep thoughts, not the girls who are more like themselves, who aren't expert in picking out clothes are putting on makeup.

Comment Re:Higher SAT scores, etc (Score 1) 529

That doesn't help you sitting bored in class for hours a day. And when new information is trickled out slow drop by slow drop, it's easy to miss the tiny dribbles of knowledge that you really do need. It's possible to teach slow students and bright students in the same class--bright students don't actually need a lot of time, just a few minutes to point them towards enriched material--but it does take a gifted teacher.

Comment Re:Higher SAT scores, etc (Score 1) 529

It doesn't always take a lot of attention to help a "gifted" student, just a few minutes from a gifted teacher. When I was in high school, math, and especially geometry, just "clicked" for me. I was bored to death. To provide a bit of challenge, instead of doing the homework, I'd race the teacher when he explained the homework problems on the board, "beating" him to the answers. Then when he lectured, I'd pull out a paperback and read.

After a while, the teacher came by. He said, "I see you got a 100% on the first exam, and a 99.5% on the second exam, so if you want to read while I lecture, that's just fine. But there are some questions that I don't assign at the very end of the chapter because they are too hard. You might want to take a look at them."

And then, having sunk the hook, he walked away. And after that, instead of reading, I'd do the extra questions. I wasn't bored any more, and I learned more geometry. And I was impressed to discover a teacher who cared more about my learning than his own pride.

Comment Re:Higher potency? (Score 1) 294

You are correct. You take the dose to achieve pain relief, and for most opioids, the abused dose follows in proportion. In terms of abuse risk, it doesn't matter whether the standard dose is a milligram or a microgram, because the abused dose is proportional to the pain reliving dose. Other factors, such as pharmacokinetics and oral availability, can be important, but potency has nothing to do with it.

Comment acetaminophen (Score 1) 294

The notion that inclusion of acetaminophen deters abuse of Vicodin has been a miserable failure. Vicodin is widely abused. Many users either do not understand the risk of acetaminophen to the liver or their craving for the drug overrides their caution. Moreover, it is particular popular among adolescents and teenagers, because it is widely available in their parents' medicine cabinets. I've even heard from teenagers who are under the impression that the acetaminophen enhances the "high."

Comment Re:Level the playing field (Score 1) 715

Only within a range. The bright kids will help the other kids, but only if the teachers are teaching them up to their own full capacity. If they are being used to substitute for adequate teaching, they realize that they are being exploited, and they don't like it. If the smart kids are in a class where most of what is being taught is boring stuff that they learned months ago, they get bored, and miss the occasional new things. Their grades start to deteriorate, they become resentful, and they start acting out in class.

Comment Re:cross specises mating (Score 1) 710

An extra chromosome does not appear out of nowhere. It occurs by a break in an existing chromosome. The broken chromosome will line up with the unbroken chromosome to allow reproduction. But reproductive success will be improved by the broken chromosome aligning with another broken chromosome. Over time, the broken chromosome mutates further, so that reproductive success with the parent (unbroken) chromosome declines. At this point, there is a new species.

Comment Re:Theory vs. Hypothesis (Score 1) 710

Well, a hypothesis can exist as an untested proposition. However, to draw conclusions from evidence according to a hypothesis one must also disprove the null hypothesis. Statistically the null hypothesis must be less likely than the original hypothesis.

"Null hypothesis" is a statistical term of art. It has no accepted scientific meaning outside of statistics. The null hypothesis is not a general default assumption, but rather the hypothesis that there is no statistical difference between measurements. So the null hypothesis about evolution of species would be that species have not changed over time.

Comment Re:Double standards... (Score 1) 710

Nobody is suggesting that early notions of creation cannot be mentioned. The objection, rather, is to giving the students the false impression that modern scientists consider creationism or "intelligent design" to be an alternative to evolution. This is equivalent to giving the geo-centric theory equal time with the heliocentric theory, and suggesting that the question is undecided and that students should make up their own minds.

As a biologist, I don't mind creationism being taught in a religious class. My objection is to teachers and textbooks lying to students by concealing the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists have rejected creationism.

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