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Comment Re:Evidence-based medicine (Score 1) 1064

The relevant question is not how common the test is.

The relevant question is, would it have made any difference?

Or, rather, what the chances are that it would make a difference, considering the fact that we live in a world where medical professionals (and the tools of their trade) are a finite resource that can be allocated in different ways -- some more effective, overall, than others. If routine PSA tests save 1 man out of 1,000,000, is it worth it? Maybe, it all depends on whether or not the time/resources of the physician could be better spent in other ways that might save more lives.

Most patients are going to want the most thorough care and will want to hold their doctor accountable if he doesn't catch something that the next guy would have, but there will always be a more careful doctor than yours. If you wanted to be super safe, you could get a thorough examination for all sorts of rare and common maladies every 3 months, but it'd be very time-consuming, inconvenient and expensive. Unless there's something in your medical history that calls for such frequent examinations, they would only offer only a negligible chance at improving your state of health compared to less frequent and thorough regular checkups.

Doctors are charged with the task of finding a responsible balance. It seems to me that if the doctor was acting in good faith, neither he nor his school should be held liable for the consequences suffered by an outlier -- at least not if there is strong evidence to suggest that, on average, his technique is more effective at treating patients and saving lives.

Comment Re:Call him Monkey Boy all you want (Score 1) 616

I think this is quite a valid strategy. It's liek Visual Basic, it turns application development into a drag and drop excercise. Anyone can do it, even people who don't really understand programming! However that results in Visual Basic getting a bad reputation because anything that's written by bad programmers is going to end up a bit shoddy. Sony don't want their console associated with shoddy games. They'd prefer that only decent programmers create games for their system.

Does have a large number of poor quality games really hurt a console's sales, though? I suppose it's conceivable (an ignorant gamer buys the console, doesn't bother to research games before buying, and then tells all of his friends that PS3 games suck because he's only picked mediocre titles), but most people that I know judge a system based not on how good the average game on the system is, but instead based on the quality and quantity of top-tier/highly-rated games on the system.

Making the system more difficult to develop may reduce the quantity of shovelware/crapware that exists, but it also reduces the quality/quantity of top-tier games as well. Since those games probably drive sales more than crappy games hurt sales, it seems to me there is a good chance that the strategy is not only frustrating and cynical, but ineffective.

Comment Re:No, no, no, no, NO! (Score 1) 1182

It's not an argument for the morality of homosexuality, but rather a rebuttal of the erroneous claim that homosexuality is unnatural (and therefore bad). Of course it might be better to make the argument that to claim that something unnatural must be bad (or that something natural must be good) is also wrong, but either approach effectively undermines a critical premise in that particular anti-gay line of "reasoning."

Comment Re:What open source health technology systems? (Score 1) 187

The good: they're only studying health services, they've set a reasonable deadline, and all health technology systems should be open source anyway to make auditing simpler. The bad: This is debt-financed spending.

I see it more as a debt-financed investment. Which isn't to say all of this deficit spending isn't scary and possibly quite unwise, but it is encouraging to see at least a portion of the money is being used in ways that might ultimately save the government money and allow the economy to work more efficiently.

Comment Re:Children's psychosis (Score 4, Interesting) 1056

The autism scare doesn't really have anything to do with how medical professionals and scientists in the United States treat mental disorders. Instead it has to do with how the media does business.

It goes like this: some crackpot with a MD or phD (or sometimes not even that) makes a crackpot claim which nonetheless might appear credible to the layperson. If the crackpot claim plays on the emotions, biases and greed of the public (wanting someone to blame, distrust of big pharmaceutical companies, desire for large cash settlements) and the media, always hungry for a sensational new story, picks it up and relays it to a credulous public, and the movement builds momentum. Occasionally the media will host talking head debates where experts on both sides of the issues duke it on in sound-bite interview-exchanges. The result is that both sides appear equally credible (or whoever has the more charismatic expert appears more credible) and the public goes on thinking the crackpot theory may be/is probably true, in spite of whatever the evidence is, or overwhelming consensus that the crackpot theory is just that.

And I believe the who autism scare was kicked off by a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield, and was picked up and spread by the UK media, so it's not a purely American phenomenon.

Comment Re:bad modding (Score 2, Insightful) 110

Howver far into the future the mainstay resources will shift. Currently oil literally drives us. It used to be food(people, horses ,etc). It will probably be the element that enables FTL.

FTL may not even be possible. I think our likely "far future" will be shaped by the development of strong artificial intelligence and the realization of a technological singularity. It's hard to predict what will follow that, almost by definition ... but it's hard for me to imagine that it will involve humans fighting wars over material resources. Which is not to say such conflict won't be replaced by something even more appalling.

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