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Bloggingheads 06-24-2011 09:05 PM

Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 

sugarkang 06-24-2011 09:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Bless you, John. The vicarious curmudgeonry is wonderfully cathartic.

Ken Davis 06-24-2011 09:55 PM

Re: Free Will
 
To paraphrase Schopenauer: Man always does what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.

I agree with John on the apparent triviality of tests which measure the time lapse between the instant a decision made by the subconscious and the instant of awareness of the decision, but I think he sells short the capability of a human brain. Think of dreams!

I think people are so damned sure they have free will because in intense introspection, it seems obvious. But introspection has great limits as to what mysteries it might notice, much less grasp.

Thanks for touching on this topic!

Ken Davis 06-24-2011 10:07 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
John's example of e coli is thin. The only way identical twins would behave identically is to become one and the same. Occupy the same space in every respect. George explaines this, and then decides their views are in harmony at the end?

badhatharry 06-24-2011 10:10 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Great range of topics.
Gould may have been wrong about something and may have been influenced by his own bias. Astounding!

So much for settled science.

When he was making his arguments about the relative sizes of skulls I wonder of he was aware that neanderthals exceeded homo sapiens in cranial capacity. Does a bigger brain make for a smarter individual or species? I guess people assume it does.

As for biological determinism...it may very well explain everything but according to John it's not good to think that it does. I like to think that it is biologically determined that people have the feeling of having free will.

osmium 06-24-2011 11:22 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Re: the part about Stephen J Gould and biological determinism

The analysis is complex! I'm here to tell you the analysis about everything is complex. You know what I think is a great thing to read about the complexity of scientific analysis: George's book about the ten greatest experiments where he talks about doing the oil drop experiment himself at the end. You want to know how hard it is to trust hard numbers? Read that.

As far as Gould goes, you can rest assured osmium is always on the side of the assholes.

osmium 06-24-2011 11:25 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214082)
Re: the part about Stephen J Gould and biological determinism

The analysis is complex! I'm here to tell you the analysis about everything is complex. You know what I think is a great thing to read about the complexity of scientific analysis: George's book about the ten greatest experiments where he talks about doing the oil drop experiment himself at the end. You want to know how hard it is to trust hard numbers? Read that.

As far as Gould goes, you can rest assured osmium is always on the side of the assholes.

BTW, John at one point you call the paper that is the counterpoint to Gould "graduate student" work, and at another you call it "undergraduate." Big difference! You should clear that up.

A 4th or 5th year grad student is a powerful creature. Undergraduates are another story.

sugarkang 06-24-2011 11:25 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214075)
So much for settled science.

This goes back to Gary Taubes' observations that not only is science hard to do correctly, but the incentives are all screwed up. I think it's easy for everyone to see the profit motive bias in corporate backed studies. But the thing I never considered was that academic and government institutions also have a similar bias: funding. I mean if every institution has an incentive to get the "right" results, i.e., ones that lead to either more funding or profit, the truth will fall through the cracks.

This is a huge problem and I don't know what a solution would be.

Perhaps, this would be a case for government? Though, it's completely antithetical to my libertarian impulses.

Parallax 06-24-2011 11:42 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Every time I see a John Horgan diavlog my opinion of him declines further (all diavlogs were with G. Johnson):

1. Horgan just did not like antidepressants and thought that western psychiatry (!) should return to more holistic approaches.

2. Pure phobia of nuclear power (before you bring it up Fukushima is actually proof that nuclear power plants are safe; 40 year old plant unimaginable double catastrophe and how many people died?)

3. Examining the scientific merits of Atkins diet with arguments like: "it is gross!" and "I love pasta!" (to be fair a user pointed out that in print he made a point about differentiating Carbohydrates but he did not make that point in the diavlog).

4. (Today): Biological determinism is bad for society so who cares if it is actually scientifically true or not?

All these put together prompted me to look into this guy's record. So it turns out he has written about something that I actually know about more than the average user here on this site. Horgan published an article in 1993 basically claiming that mathematics as we know it has been over. Well over the past 18 years Horgan's idea has been throughly defeated by reality. Just a list of open problems that were solved in mathematics since:

Shimura-Taniyama-Weil Conjecture: Fermat's last theorem was a small corollary of this work. The theoretical importance of this result (which was completed in 2001 by Wiles's students) goes far beyond that problem alone. It is part of a much wider conjectural frame work.

Fundamental Lemma: This is part of the larger theoretical fram work I talked abve. The mathematician who proved this (Ngo Bao) got a Fields medal for it in 2010.

Thurston Geometrization Conjecture: This was proved by Perelman, who later declined his Fields medal and the 1 million dollar Clay Institute prize for the Poincare conjecture (which is a special case of the Geometrization Conjecture).

Bloch-Kato & Milnor Conjectures: Basically for any prime number p we had a statement conjectured to be true. Voevodsky first proved the p=2 case (known as Milnor Conjecture) for which he got a Fields medal in 2002. In 2009 Voevodsky solved the case of odd primes (Bloch-Kato Conjecture) as well.

These problems were big famous conjectures (I won't go into all the new unexpected stuff that we have had since) and all were solved by "actually proving things the old fashioned way" method. Not any kind of voodoo proofs Horgan predicted would emerge back in 1993.

@John Horgan: Dude, take the "science" in "science journalism" a little bit more seriously. Also reality does not care what your ideology biases are so leave that out too.

osmium 06-24-2011 11:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 214085)
I actually know about more than the average user here on this site.

I'm having a hard time understanding all your fancy-talking because I'm only an average user. Can you elaborate at length?

Starwatcher162536 06-24-2011 11:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Earthquakes and Tsunami's in Japan are far from unimaginable.

Starwatcher162536 06-24-2011 11:52 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Free Will? Cranium volumes? I totally spaced out on this one. Maybe it's the alcohol.

Wonderment 06-24-2011 11:54 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

BTW, John at one point you call the paper that is the counterpoint to Gould "graduate student" work, and at another you call it "undergraduate." Big difference! You should clear that up.
I noticed that too. The NYT article, however, identifies the student -- John S. Michael -- as a Penn undergrad (twice).

The NYT piece also ends with the "charlatan" accusation from Holloway regarding Gould.

Hume's Bastard 06-24-2011 11:54 PM

Re: Of Acid and Men
 
Piggybacking on John Horgan's ode to LSD, real science is returning to LSD and psilocybin (subscription wall):

Quote:

Timothy Leary, a psychologist at Harvard University, was one of the best-known workers in the field, but it was also he who was widely blamed for discrediting it, by his unconventional research methods and his lax handling of drugs. Now, the details of Leary’s research will be made public, with the recent purchase of his papers by the New York Public Library. These papers will be interesting not only culturally, but also scientifically, as they reflect what happened between the early medical promise of hallucinogens and their subsequent blacklisting by authorities around the world.

American researchers began experimenting with LSD in 1949, at first using it to simulate mental illness. Once its psychedelic effects were realised, they then tried it in psychotherapy and as a treatment for alcoholism, for which it became known at the time as a miracle cure.

By 1965 over 1,000 papers had been published describing positive results for LSD therapy. It, and its close chemical relative psilocybin, isolated from hallucinogenic mushrooms, were reported as having potential for treating anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, bereavement and even sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately, most of the studies that came to these conclusions were flawed: many results were anecdotal, and control groups were not established to take account of the placebo effect.

Still, the field was ripe for further study. But alongside growing public fear of LSD, Leary’s leadership had become a liability. He was seen less and less as a disinterested researcher, and more and more as a propagandist. In 1962, amid wide publicity, the Harvard Psilocybin Project was shut down. Leary took his research to an estate in upstate New York, where he also hosted a stream of drug parties. Eventually both LSD and psilocybin were proscribed.

Which was a pity because, like many other drugs the authorities have taken against as a result of their recreational uses, hallucinogens have medical applications as well. But time heals all wounds and now, cautiously, study of the medical use of hallucinogens is returning.

Psilocybin has shown promise in treating forms of OCD that are resistant to other therapies, in relieving cluster headaches (a common form of chronic headache) and in alleviating the anxiety experienced by terminally ill cancer patients. The first clinical study of LSD in over 35 years, also on terminally ill patients, is expected to finish this summer. Peter Gasser, the Swiss doctor leading the experiment, says that a combination of LSD and psychotherapy reduced anxiety levels of all 12 participants in the study, though the statistical significance of the data has yet to be analysed.

Research into LSD is not confined to medicine. Franz Vollenweider, of the Heffter Research Institute in Zurich, for example, is scanning people’s brains to try to understand how hallucinogenic drugs cause changes in consciousness.

And biotechnology may lead to a new generation of hallucinogenic drugs. Edwin Wintermute and his colleagues at Harvard have engineered yeast cells to carry out two of six steps in the pathway needed to make lysergic acid, the precursor of LSD. They hope to add the other four shortly. Once the pathway has been created, it can be tweaked. That might result in LSD-like drugs that are better than the original.

Even if that does not happen, making lysergic acid in yeast is still a good idea. The chemical is used as the starting point for other drugs, including nicergoline, a treatment for senile dementia. The current process for manufacturing it is a rather messy one involving ergot, a parasite of rye.

It may, of course, be that LSD has no clinical uses. Even when no stigma attaches to the drugs involved, most clinical trials end in failure. But it is worth seeing whether LSD might fulfil its early promise. And if the publication of Leary’s archive speeds that process up by exorcising a ghost that still haunts LSD research, then the New York Public Library will have done the world a service.
I hope these new pioneers get an expensive massage, too!

Thanks, John and George for a mind-expanding Science Saturday - don't be such strangers!

Parallax 06-24-2011 11:58 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214086)
I'm having a hard time understanding all your fancy-talking because I'm only an average user. Can you elaborate at length?

Like I said Horgan made some claims and predictions some 18 years ago that have been thoroughly refuted by events that have happened in the mathematics.

osmium 06-24-2011 11:59 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 214089)
I noticed that too. The NYT article, however, identifies the student -- John S. Michael -- as a Penn undergrad (twice).

The NYT piece also ends with the "charlatan" accusation from Holloway regarding Gould.

Well, then it's probably not to be taken too seriously. Not because he's dumb or anything, but because grads and undergrads have different priorities.

It would be sad indeed if Mismeasure of Man was charlatan stuff, because it's a great example of how subjective quantification can be.

Parallax 06-25-2011 12:02 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 214087)
Earthquakes and Tsunami's in Japan are far from unimaginable.

Well in that particular fault line they had never an earth quake of that magnitude. I think the biggest earth quake prior to that incident in that fault line was below 6 in Richter scale. Some Geologist thought that an earth quake of the magnitude that happened (9 in Richter scale) would be impossible in that region.

sugarkang 06-25-2011 12:06 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 214085)
2. Pure phobia of nuclear power (before you bring it up Fukushima is actually proof that nuclear power plants are safe; 40 year old plant unimaginable double catastrophe and how many people died?)

3. Examining the scientific merits of Atkins diet with arguments like: "it is gross!" and "I love pasta!" (to be fair a user pointed out that in print he made a point about differentiating Carbohydrates but he did not make that point in the diavlog).

I don't know about the other stuff, but I wanted to draw attention to these two points.

John Horgan had two diavlogs with Rod Adams. In the first, John said that he had largely been afraid of nuclear power, but that Adams had convinced Horgan of the benefits outweighing the costs. After the incident, Horgan and Adams reappeared and Horgan, IMO, was not judgmental.

I agree that the phobia of nuclear power is a greater problem than the Fukushima disaster. That isn't really John's fault, though. That's the media sensationalizing it and saying stupid shit like, "it's on the same level as Chernobyl."

Regarding the Atkins stuff, Horgan sorta introduced Taubes to a wider audience during Good Calories, Bad Calories. Perhaps he was skeptical, but I think you'd have to give him credit for at least the willingness to look for answers outside of dogma. I'm pretty sure I bought Good Calories after hearing about it on BHTV.

Starwatcher162536 06-25-2011 12:11 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
My understanding is that the problems arise from the switch-yard and some feed pump lines being knocked out by the tsunami. If the shakemap were downgraded quite abit we would still expect the same problems, with the exception the in-core radiation would have fallen faster (Some of the Zirconium "sheaths" were bent).

I haven't heard anything about the quake being higher then thought possible along that particular fault. Do you have a link?

osmium 06-25-2011 12:16 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 214095)
My understanding is that the problems arise from the switch-yard and some feed pump lines being knocked out by the tsunami. If the shakemap were downgraded quite abit we would still expect the same problems, with the exception the in-core radiation would have fallen faster (Some of the Zirconium "sheaths" were bent).

I haven't heard anything about the quake being higher then thought possible along that particular fault. Do you have a link?

Please Fukushima was a shit show. You're totally right Starwatcher666!

Starwatcher162536 06-25-2011 12:18 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Psh, if you really want a show see here why I'm supporting Sarah Palin in all her future endeavors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhTd4_Ids80

Hume's Bastard 06-25-2011 12:31 AM

Re: Free Will
 
I just find that entire segment ironically disturbing, after the preceding discussion about bias. It's clear Horgan is letting his preconceptions run rampant through his conclusions.

badhatharry 06-25-2011 01:00 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 214084)
This goes back to Gary Taubes' observations that not only is science hard to do correctly, but the incentives are all screwed up. I think it's easy for everyone to see the profit motive bias in corporate backed studies.

I wonder if the research for Gould's work was funded beyond the advances and proceeds from his books. If his university gave him a grant I suppose they might have done so because of his reputation. I'd imagine the emergence of popular science books has helped to fund people who otherwise would have had to depend strictly on grants from institutions.

But probably the kind of research you are talking is different than Gould's anthropological studies...hard science rather than social science. Drug companies, for instance, are very interested in getting 'right' results but they can't afford to put a killer drug in the marketplace, either.

however:
Quote:

This problem has been most convincingly demonstrated in medical clinical trials. A 2005 study of psychiatric drug trials found that when academic researchers were funded by a drug company, they were nearly five times as likely to report that the treatment was effective. (A similar pattern was found with oncology drugs.) What makes this result so disturbing is that all of these studies were randomized, double-blind trials, which are typically regarded as the gold standard of medical evidence. And yet the financial incentives seemed to decisively influence the data.

badhatharry 06-25-2011 01:03 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214092)
Well, then it's probably not to be taken too seriously. Not because he's dumb or anything, but because grads and undergrads have different priorities.

It would be sad indeed if Mismeasure of Man was charlatan stuff, because it's a great example of how subjective quantification can be.

If some part of it is wrong, does that mean the whole thing should be thrown out. Did he base his conclusions on anything other than skull sizes?

osmium 06-25-2011 01:14 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214102)
If some part of it is wrong, does that mean the whole thing should be thrown out. Did he base his conclusions on anything other than skull sizes?

I don't know. I would ask: what is the measure of skull size? What are its units? Can I see all the data in a raw form? How complicated is it?

If all these people disagree, I'm willing to bet there's a problem. Possibly something large but hard to explain.

I'm extrapolating from personal experience though. I don't actually know. (And as pointed out earlier we're only average!)

badhatharry 06-25-2011 01:40 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214103)
I don't know. I would ask: what is the measure of skull size? What are its units? Can I see all the data in a raw form? How complicated is it?

If all these people disagree, I'm willing to bet there's a problem. Possibly something large but hard to explain.

I'm extrapolating from personal experience though. I don't actually know. (And as pointed out earlier we're only average!)

But he was arguing about a larger matter (no pun intended). He was arguing against biological determinism and in particular the idea that intelligence is innately different between races. I haven't read the Mismeasure on Man but I have read some of Gould's essays about E.O. Wilson's sociobiology and his critique of Jensen's bell curve. Surely the cranial measurements were just a small part of his overall theory which was aimed to discredit the idea of innate differences between the races.

But I agree that this will put all of his ideas into question. And he did spend a lot of time pointing out others biases so he's probably fair game.

I hesitate to bring this up because it's so controversial but it does seem relevant that after Climategate everything associated with Mann's study and conclusions is back on the table and being re-examined. As I said before, so much for settled science.

sugarkang 06-25-2011 03:08 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214101)
But probably the kind of research you are talking is different than Gould's anthropological studies...hard science rather than social science.

Yeah. I suppose if you give a professor tenure, then you've eliminated at least some of the bias. Nothing's perfect, but is this enough?

That WSJ article is scary. It seems like corporations have already figured out that their internally funded scientists aren't credible, so they go looking for academic institutions to put their stamp on it, knowing that they can just as easily get the "right" results.

Whatever. I might as well take up smoking again.

Starwatcher162536 06-25-2011 03:50 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214092)
Well, then it's probably not to be taken too seriously. Not because he's dumb or anything, but because grads and undergrads have different priorities.

It would be sad indeed if Mismeasure of Man was charlatan stuff, because it's a great example of how subjective quantification can be.

Data interpolation is another big pitfall. It's used in power amplifier design. I'm personally convinced our electronics only work because of the "Coyote doesn't realize he should be falling" effect.

A good example of data interpolation can be found in NWP's (Numerical Weather Prediction). The models used for this breaks up the world into a number of cells and assigns each cell a list of partial differential equations that describe the dynamics of the atmosphere in that cell. Data interpolation comes into this because various variables, temperature being one example, have to have discrete values in every cell despite us not having a observation station providing "raw data" for each cell. You can't just leave them blank because the model can't find the solutions by sort of .. jiggling ... other solutions in order to get cells sharing an edge to match up in plausible configurations without the "boundary conditions", i.e the values in the surrounding cells. So using "S-S-S-Science!" one can figure out that if one cell is 20 C and another cell is 22 C the cell between them is probably going to be between 20 and 22 C.

Hume's Bastard 06-25-2011 05:08 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 214107)
Yeah. I suppose if you give a professor tenure, then you've eliminated at least some of the bias. Nothing's perfect, but is this enough?

That WSJ article is scary. It seems like corporations have already figured out that their internally funded scientists aren't credible, so they go looking for academic institutions to put their stamp on it, knowing that they can just as easily get the "right" results.

Whatever. I might as well take up smoking again.

If you can look at this all day, you're superhuman.

http://www.mnn.com/sites/default/fil...e-label530.jpg

But, perhaps what we need is more consumer education and more transparency. Teaching basic science is never a bad idea. Or, like cigs, just scare the unholy crap out of people so that we all err on the safe side!

Monkey Corp 06-25-2011 05:19 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
This is my take on free will: as self programming computers we have the option of changing our programming (thinking and beliefs that result in actions) when the results of our actions are bad. This is free will. However, we are severely limited in our free will by our limited ability to see the outcomes of our actions.

JonIrenicus 06-25-2011 05:29 AM

Determinism =/= perfectly determined
 
This section seemed to highlight a confusion on this topic as far as I can tell

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/370...7:42&out=68:22


partly based on the word determinism itself, people sometimes take it to be a sort of ultimate deterministic knowledge.



This is wrong, even with the example of ecoli behaving differently with presumably identical dna, you still have an element of nature called chance that can tip the scales between one action and another in terms of behavior.


Chance removes the possibility of having perfect deterministic knowledge, but it does not salvage free will in the way some people mean it. To have perfect free will, you would need an actor or decider outside of the physical universe, an actor that could control the dice of that universe. This does not and as far as I can tell, cannot be. And as george mentioned earlier, even then the chain goes to endless depths as to what mechanism decides for that decider that exists beyond.


So there is no ultimate determinism, we can all go home and celebrate with John right?

not quite,

chance is not equal between all objects and beings in the universe, we may wish it to be, but apparently the universe does not bend its will to what we consider just and fair. Imagine that. Equality is a man made construct, it is one of our desires, do not extend it to a foundation of the natural world.


The chance the guy who shot Gabriel Giffords would turn violent was much higher than the typical kid in the US, and it was only partially to do with his particular upbringing, his specific physical wiring was just more cracked than most human beings.


John expressed his fear of this sort of revelation for people. First, if the revelation is true, it is true. That is the primary component for believing something. Second, just because we know that chances are not doled out equally does not mean we just stamp peoples foreheads with the words lost cause. The project of finding a better outcome for people does not end just because the chances for some is not as high as others.

Hume's Bastard 06-25-2011 05:32 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Monkey Corp (Post 214111)
This is my take on free will: as self programming computers we have the option of changing our programming (thinking and beliefs that result in actions) when the results of our actions are bad. This is free will. However, we are severely limited in our free will by our limited ability to see the outcomes of our actions.

What you imagine can in no way be characterized as "free".

Parallax 06-25-2011 06:37 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 214094)
John Horgan had two diavlogs with Rod Adams. In the first, John said that he had largely been afraid of nuclear power, but that Adams had convinced Horgan of the benefits outweighing the costs. After the incident, Horgan and Adams reappeared and Horgan, IMO, was not judgmental.

I agree that the phobia of nuclear power is a greater problem than the Fukushima disaster. That isn't really John's fault, though. That's the media sensationalizing it and saying stupid shit like, "it's on the same level as Chernobyl."

Regarding the Atkins stuff, Horgan sorta introduced Taubes to a wider audience during Good Calories, Bad Calories. Perhaps he was skeptical, but I think you'd have to give him credit for at least the willingness to look for answers outside of dogma. I'm pretty sure I bought Good Calories after hearing about it on BHTV.

Several points:

1. I treat Horgan as a science journalist but when you write: That isn't really John's fault, though. That's the media sensationalizing it and saying stupid shit like, "it's on the same level as Chernobyl." you are treating him as a regular guy you are having a chat with. IMO that is not an excuse for a science journalist, or maybe I am mistaken and science journalist is just a title Horgan puts up there and should not be taken seriously.

2. The diavlogs I am referring to are all Horgan-Johnson. His arguments against the Atkins diet that I quoted appeared in his diavlog with Johnson after his diavlog with Taubes. Interestingly enough in the very same diavlog Horgan tells Johnson that Taubes had sent him studies and told him why he was wrong. But instead of informing us on the substance of the studies (science journalism right?) he just said he would not give up Pizza!

3. I guess if you bought Taubes's book only after seeing the diavlog then on some technical level Horgan did introduce him to a wider audience. But Taubes is an award winning journalist who has published several books. So I don't see the strength of that point (Right now "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is #933 on Amazon Bestsellers Rank; a book published nearly 3 years ago).

Parallax 06-25-2011 06:49 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 214095)
My understanding is that the problems arise from the switch-yard and some feed pump lines being knocked out by the tsunami. If the shakemap were downgraded quite abit we would still expect the same problems, with the exception the in-core radiation would have fallen faster (Some of the Zirconium "sheaths" were bent).

I haven't heard anything about the quake being higher then thought possible along that particular fault. Do you have a link?

The Fukushima levees were adequate for the earth quakes of the magnitude they expected, which would cause ~6 meters high tsunami waves. However the much stronger quake caused waves that were about ~15 meters high.

Quote:

The magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Friday off the coast of Japan "is going to be among the top 10 earthquakes recorded since we have had seismographs," said seismologist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena. "It's bigger than any known historic earthquake in Japan, and bigger than expectations for that area."

Geologists had expected the portion of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" that produced this quake to yield a temblor on the order of magnitude 8 or perhaps 8.5, she said. "Something as big as an 8.9 is a bit of a surprise," she said.

A quake that big usually requires a long, relatively straight fault line that can rupture, such as those found in Peru and along the eastern coast of South America. Friday's quake occurred in the Japan Trench, where the Pacific tectonic plate slides under the Japan plate.

Scientists did not expect such a big quake in the area because the plate boundary is not straight, but is fairly irregular. According to Lucile Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey, a quake of that size would require rupturing a zone at least 300 miles long.

The region had a magnitude 7.2 temblor Wednesday in almost exactly the same area. Typically, with any large earthquake, there is about a 5% chance that such a quake is a precursor of a larger quake. This appears to have been that 1-in-20 chance.

There have been at least two aftershocks of magnitude 7 or greater, and researchers expect more.

The quake was a "perfect storm for tsunami generation," Hough said — it was large in magnitude and very shallow. The quake was so close to land, about 80 miles offshore, that people on the shore really had no warning that a 15-foot wave was imminent.

The Indonesian earthquake that produced the Indian Ocean tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, was a magnitude 9.1. The largest quake on record was the 9.5 temblor that struck Valdivia, Chile, in 1960.
Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,7154967.story

Hume's Bastard 06-25-2011 07:25 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
The Tohoku earthquake was particularly violent because it was what's called a dip-slip earthquake, in particular a megathrust.

badhatharry 06-25-2011 09:29 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214082)
Re: the part about Stephen J Gould and biological determinism

The analysis is complex! I'm here to tell you the analysis about everything is complex. You know what I think is a great thing to read about the complexity of scientific analysis: George's book about the ten greatest experiments where he talks about doing the oil drop experiment himself at the end. You want to know how hard it is to trust hard numbers? Read that.

As far as Gould goes, you can rest assured osmium is always on the side of the assholes.

You may be gone now cause you usually don't stick around. You apparently have a life. But if you read this, please consider leaving the website address of your science blog.

sugarkang 06-25-2011 09:39 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hume's Bastard (Post 214110)
If you can look at this all day, you're superhuman.

But, perhaps what we need is more consumer education and more transparency. Teaching basic science is never a bad idea. Or, like cigs, just scare the unholy crap out of people so that we all err on the safe side!

The picture doesn't bother me at all. That comes with the territory of being a sociopathic libertarian, though. After 18 years at a pack and a half, I quit January 7, 2009. I wouldn't go back. Pretty sure the pics don't work in Canada, nor do they work anywhere else in the world. It's not for lack of education that people smoke, the same way that drug addicts don't continue down their spiral of self-destruction because they are unaware of the health consequences. It's nothing more than the ability to stave off short-term desires in favor of long-term goals.

Anti-cigarettes commercials were just a reminder to have a cigarette. Quitters' worst nightmare. It's kind of like "don't think of a white bear." The problem with top-down management is that the world doesn't run on intuitive processes. Oh yeah. And people have largely forgotten why smokers start in the first place: because it's cool.

harkin 06-25-2011 09:51 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 214083)
A 4th or 5th year grad student is a powerful creature. Undergraduates are another story.

Some nice quotes from the Times story:

“it’s a nice thing that undergraduate work gets vindicated.”

and

[regarding Gould] "I had the feeling that his ideological stance was supreme. When the 1996 version of ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ came and he never even bothered to mention Michael’s study, I just felt he was a charlatan.”

and

"If Steve were around he would probably defend himself with great ingenuity.”

graz 06-25-2011 10:14 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214119)
You may be gone now cause you usually don't stick around. You apparently have a life. But if you read this, please consider leaving the website address of your science blog.

Osmium=
Quote:

Originally Posted by SkepticDoc (Post 213175)


Ocean 06-25-2011 10:59 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Indie Films, Drugs, and Free Will (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 214115)
Several points:

1. I treat Horgan as a science journalist but when you write: That isn't really John's fault, though. That's the media sensationalizing it and saying stupid shit like, "it's on the same level as Chernobyl." you are treating him as a regular guy you are having a chat with. IMO that is not an excuse for a science journalist, or maybe I am mistaken and science journalist is just a title Horgan puts up there and should not be taken seriously.

2. The diavlogs I am referring to are all Horgan-Johnson. His arguments against the Atkins diet that I quoted appeared in his diavlog with Johnson after his diavlog with Taubes. Interestingly enough in the very same diavlog Horgan tells Johnson that Taubes had sent him studies and told him why he was wrong. But instead of informing us on the substance of the studies (science journalism right?) he just said he would not give up Pizza!

3. I guess if you bought Taubes's book only after seeing the diavlog then on some technical level Horgan did introduce him to a wider audience. But Taubes is an award winning journalist who has published several books. So I don't see the strength of that point (Right now "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is #933 on Amazon Bestsellers Rank; a book published nearly 3 years ago).

John has decided, it seems, to take up a role of contrarian or skeptic of some aspects of science. He uses "common sense" to filter and balance. For what he has expressed innumerable times, he's particularly bothered by scientist and media alike when they take some finding and make it bigger than what it deserves. I think he has a point about that. Scientists to some degree, and the media mostly often get carried away with new discoveries and create a lot of expectations that aren't justified by the actual scientific findings.

Unfortunately, I agree that sometimes he errs on the other side and his "common sense", like everybody's common sense, is a mix of stepping back and putting things in perspective, and his own biases and anecdotal experience. And I think that's what you're pointing at. The fact that John eats tons of carbs but keeps slim doesn't invalidate Taube's claims. Actually Taube's claims aren't really Taube's. But, going back to John, I don't think he's claiming that his personal metabolism of carbohydrates invalidates anything. As far as I remember, in one occasion at least, he offered his experience to state that the problem with carbs isn't universal, and that there are people like him that don't have such problem.

When John and George have their usual conversations here, they are trying to be informal. George has taken the role of adhering to more formal reporting not venturing much away from scientific findings. In contrast, John tries to depart and offer counterarguments. I think that's what makes their diavlogs so endearing. Also, because John often offers the common person's point of view he creates the opportunity for various aspects to be elaborated on or clarified.

If you want to be more accurate in assessing John's opinions on any of the subjects discussed, you should read his articles. Although sometimes "opinionated", in his articles he abandons the more informal style that he uses here, and presents a more balanced view of topics. You may still disagree with him, but at least his articles are more representative of his formal opinion.


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