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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bad Science is Fake News and It's Killing Us

From the study linked below
On November 17th of 2010 I wrote this on my personal blog (skip this if you've already seen it - I discuss this more along with a new study down at the bottom):

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We see the ads on TV all the time: your high cholesterol might be the cause of heart disease, heart attack, and, worst upon worst (at least if you're a guy), even erectile dysfunction.

Pretty scary stuff, isn't it?

But are the ads true?

There was a big study of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) AMI events (heart attacks or Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)) called INTERHEART.  It followed some tens of thousands of cases and people over many years.  The results identify risks associated with activities and tests.

Now this is where things become interesting.

The study identifies risk factors - now its very important to understand that a risk factor is not a predictor of something and not cause something.  A prediction says that if I hold a hammer over my foot that it will hit my foot if I let go - I predict the result based on some information.  A cause is different.  For example, if I jump off the roof and break my leg the jump from the roof caused the broken leg (you can argue that the impact of my body on the ground  and the fact that my leg took up all the force was really the cause, but at a macro level my leg broke because of the jump).

risk factor merely represents the numerical chance something might happen based on examination of a large group.  (Chance here is a number between zero and one, commonly shown as a percentage, i.e., .1 = 10%.)  Sort of like saying 10% of the people at a baseball game buy hot dogs.  We don't know which people will buy hot dogs but we can generally assume that for any given baseball game about 10% will buy hot dogs - everything else being equal (for example, there are no sales of hamburgers that day).  This is why stadium vendors can buy just about the right amount of food so none is wasted and they don't run out.

In epidemiology risk factors are calculated as follows:

We take a statistically significant group of people (you can use common sense here - for something like heart disease you wouldn't study just five people - you'd study a large number).  Just how large a number is not really important here, all we need to know is the number is large enough for statistical purposes.

We'll pretend in this post that 100 people are subjects in the study because math with 100 is relatively easy.

So let's say (we are making this up) that 20 people have AMI events of our 100 subjects.  That's 20 / 100 = .20 = 20%.  So we say that in general you have a 20% risk of an AMI event - based on our population (more on this in a bit).

Let's also say that 25 people in our example smoke (about like the percentage in the real world) and we'll pretend that 15 people in this smoking group have AMI events.

So the number of people that smoke and have an AMI event is 15, or 15 / 100 or .15 or 15% of the population.

If we divide the 15% (people who smoke and have an AMI event) by the 20% that just have an AMI event we get .75 or 75% risk factor that if I smoke I will have an AMI event.

Now, based on this, the billion (or trillion) dollar questions is this:  Does our study show that smoking causes an AMI event?

The answer is clearly no.  Our study does not determine the cause of anything.  It merely multiplies some observed numbers together and computes something we call a risk factor.

And, in this case, was does that mean?

Actually nothing.  I could now tell you, for example, that our 100 subjects all were born with serious congenital heart problems known to cause AMI events.

What would you think of my study example now?

What you are seeing is correlation.  Correlation means, in this case, that when one thing happens there is an observed relationship with some other thing happening.  A correlation is an observation.

Dogs make correlations: If I walk to the container holding the dog food they think I am going to feed them - so they stick close by.  The dog mind predicts that I will feed them when I do this.  But walking to the dog food container does not cause me to feed them.  Similarly if I walk by the dog food container all the time and don't feed them the dogs will soon realize that their correlation is not useful and abandon it.

The INTERHEART study shows cholesterol is a risk factor in AMI events.  (The ratio of HDL/LDL is used as well as another kind of cholesterol ratio - both provide about the same risk factor.)

Does this mean that cholesterol causes AMI events?

No, it does not.  In fact, emphatically NO.

For all we know based on this study bad cholesterol ratios may also be a symptom of the same thing that actually causes AMI events.

And that's the problem.

Unfortunately, big pharma latches on to things like this study and makes the assumption that reducing the risk factor will make you healthier.  Actually, they probably know its not true, but since making you think its true is not a crime...

That's why things like Lipitor make your good cholesterol go up and you bad cholesterol go down.  The thinking is that reducing a risk factor for an AMI event makes your chance of having an AMI event smaller.

But that's nonsense because there is no causal relationship between the cholesterol ratios and AMI events.

And since there is no causal relationship its just what we might call "magical thinking" on your part, the part of your doctor, the part of big pharma.  Magical thinking (according to the link) is "causal reasoning that looks for correlation between acts or utterances and certain events. In religion, folk religion and superstition, the correlation posited is between religious ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or recompense. "

Wikipedia associates magical thinking with witch doctors and voodoo - but isn't it apropo here?

So there you are.  Taking a medication linked to a problem you probably don't already have.  Linked by magical thinking, and magical thinking alone to a drug that makes them big money.

And to top it all off - things like Liptor has nasty side effects!

Now one imagines that the maker of Liptor does not like to see things on this list in general nor does it like to see a long list.  So my guess is that the manufacturer worked very hard to remove everything that's on the list due to magical thinking on the part of the consumer taking the drug.

Sadly the list is too long to put into this post - look here to see it.

So, at least as far as I can see, there is a real cause and effect related to these side effects: If you don't take Lipitor you wouldn't report them - just like if I didn't jump off the roof I wouldn't have a broken leg.

---------------

So today I came across this study: "Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions"

Since I wrote the original post I moved out from under the "saturated fat" model of medical and life thinking.  There are a variety of rules about eating which make sense (and are covered in the personal blog and which I will move here over time) but the "red meat is bad" one is simply BS.

From the study:  "Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults."

"No association" is strong stuff.

Decades of Lipitor and such are complete and utter bullshit.

Think about it.

Bad science.

Bad science education.

No one can tell this is BS.

And here we are.

Since I have changed my lifestyle to ignore the BS its has been much, much healthier, much more active, much better.

Wonder why this isn't "picked up" on the standard news feeds...???

Bad science is kill us.

Medical studies: 1 in 5 or 1 in 20 accurate.

But, you say, this may be one of them.

No, for a lot of other reasons, many related to magical thinking, it's not.

The drugs, medications, etc. being sold to the American people and the people of the world is the nonsense.

Fake news.

Turned into reality.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oregon: Crushing The Engineering Spirit

A couple of years ago I wrote how, in their infinite wisdom, the morons (legislators) in charge of Oregon attempted to make nicotine a controlled substance in order to stop the spread of vaping.

Apparently their stupidity extends beyond vaping and into general engineering as well.

From Motherboard: Man Fined $500 for Crime of Writing 'I Am An Engineer' in an Email to the Government

From the article: "In September 2014, Mats Järlström, an electronics engineer living in Beaverton, Oregon, sent an email to the state's engineering board. The email claimed that yellow traffic lights don't last long enough, which "puts the public at risk."

Järlström provided complete documentation and analysis of his findings (see image below from Motherboard).  His wife got pinched for running a red light and he thought that the way the lights worked were unfair.


The result of this?

A letter from Oregon's State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (here) explaining that since Järlström had not registered with them (the OSBEELS) he was committing a crime and would be fined $500.

Mind you Järlström is an "electronics engineer."

So what if someone where to report something like this - a real danger (the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse)?



I guess they'd get fined too.

Seems like the right thing... doesn't it?

So what does Oregon the State think is an engineer?  According to OSBEELS (see this) their idea of an "engineer" involves (as of 2015):

1. "Practice of engineering" or "practice of professional engineering" means doing any of the following:
(a) Performing any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience.
(b) Applying special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional services or creative work as consultation, investigation, testimony, evaluation, planning, design and services during construction, manufacture or fabrication for the purpose of ensuring compliance with specifications and design, in connection with any public or private utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, works or projects.
(c) Surveying to determine area or topography.
(d) Surveying to establish lines, grades or elevations, or to determine or estimate quantities of materials required, removed or in place.
(e) Surveying required for design and construction layout of engineering and architectural infrastructure.
(f) Performing photogrammetric mapping.

One might imagine that they meant "civil engineering" because they talk in adjacent paragraphs about land surveying but that's not what is explicitly said.

In Oregon if you provide a "professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, ..." or "Applying special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional services or creative work as consultation, investigation, testimony, evaluation, planning, design and services during construction, manufacture or fabrication for the purpose of ensuring compliance with specifications and design, in connection with any public or private utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, works or projects." you must be an OSBEELS-registered engineer.

Offering handyman services to the widow next door to calculate the distance her porch swing will travel, mudding drywall (because you need physics to figure out how much mud to use), or even paying the neighborhood kid to sweep a side walk to clear it of debris someone might trip over clearly qualifies as "engineering" under 2015 ORS 672.007
Acts constituting practice of engineering, land surveying or photogrammetric mapping.

Poor Järlström never saw it coming!

Now he's a criminal.  And let's bet that the OSBEELS "code of ethics" (if there is one) prevents criminals from being engineers.

So Järlström is out!

I guess I better not go to Oregon or get paid for doing the work I do there for I would be a criminal also.

I wonder if the lay people at the OSBEELS who get paid to "ensure compliance with specifications and designs," - like did you use the right bathroom, did you follow the instructions on the toilet plunger box, did someone write a letter using the word "engineer" incorrectly, etc. get a pass.

But not Järlström.

Poor bastard.

This type of control via groups like OSBEELS is used to control competition all the time (see this).  All the clubby members of the OSBEELS don't want folks like Järlström questioning their authority.

If they allow that then issues such as the one Järlström brings up expose the OSBEELS short comings.

(Hey I get letting professionals design things related to public safety, but there are reasonable limits one would hope.  On the other hand snowflakes graduating probably can't do real engineering so maybe for them the OSBEELS makes sense.)

No one will trust an engineer if they appear to make mistakes, e.g., building something like this (from this):


(Imagine this thing full of water! This is not from Oregon... but I think even those without engineering credentials would agree this looks a bit cagey.)

Oregon has their own dam failures like this:


Then again, perhaps the OSBEELS is not doing such a good job (see this): "Half Of Oregon's Critical Bridges Could Collapse In Quake"


Perhaps the OSBEELS better get their own, existing "portfolio" of engineering problems in hand before going after guys like Järlström.

Just saying...

Monday, April 24, 2017

On the Naming of Carrots...

I came upon a fascinating article about some guys (link here: https://peerj.com/preprints/2748v1/) claiming to do “science” that demonstrates, at multiple levels, why “modern science” is mostly just silly nonsense.

First off you need to understand me: a self trained engineer with forty years of commercial experience across numerous disciplines: electronics, software, color, audio, music.

I have been writing commercial software for so long I have substantial intuition about how data will behave on a very, very large scale.

I am a bad ass, hard core, a mercenary.  It's what I do.

I design, build and support large, complex data-intensive commercial computer-based systems.  Commercial in this context means that I get paid on the results.  If the system doesn’t work then I lose - no one pays me, especially not to waste their time or money.

These systems often involve large complex data sets on which a variety of statistical calculations are performed.  They tend to operate for many years, often without intervention.

This includes systems which utilize what is effectively “programmed intuition.”  What I mean by this is that regardless of the size of a set of data used to develop and design the system there are always things which you cannot know.  Sometimes I have to write software that uses “guesses” to complete or bound calculations when all the data needed to verify something is unavailable.

A few examples of this:

1. A system I designed, in production for eight years, to repair Japanese fonts in a printing system used to produce a substantial number of cell phone bills in Japan.  I don’t know Japanese or how to write it.

2. A system, in production for nine years, to “color correct and match” documents printing at 1,000 feet per minute when traditional color management systems fail.

Enough!

Hopefully you get the idea...

So today I found the above article through Ars Technica’s description here (https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/the-peer-reviewed-saga-of-mindless-eating-mindless-research-is-bad-too/).

So what’s my blog post about?

Somebody named Brian Wansink from Cornell University (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Wansink), a consumer psychologist, apparently made some blog posts which alerted other “researchers” to some question some of Wansink's published scientific results.  Wansink runs some sort of “lab” at Cornell that has to do with the “science” of convincing children to eat carrots by giving them (the carrots) clever names, hiding the goody bowl so you won't each too many snacks (sigh), and so on.

Apparently Wansink is a “rock star” in this area of “science”.

The researchers questioning the results, Tim van der Zee, Jordan Anaya, Nicholas J. L. Brown, published this article (also https://peerj.com/preprints/2748v1/) as a response.

The idea of their paper critical of Wansink is that it has data values that don’t add up (like the data in the tables in his paper) or they have strange mathematical problems.

For example, if my data set is “44.16 18.88 46.08 14.46” and I calculate the “mean” (add the numbers and divide by 4 in this case) I should not get any odd numbers because there are no odd numbers involved (all the input values are even and I am dividing by four).

Fair enough so far.

If Wansink’s numbers and papers have these sorts of problems then van der Zee, et al. are in correct in being critical.

But that’s not my point here.

The really, really troubling aspect of this is the “really cool” Wansink data set (link: https://web.archive.org/web/20170312041524/http://www.brianwansink.com/phd-advice/the-grad-student-who-never-said-no) and the subsequent “analysis” data set by van der Zee (see this at github: https://github.com/OmnesRes/pizzapizza).

There is virtually no data here!

The sample sizes are like twenty (20) items.

(Please feel free to review my other posts here on this - follow the links.)

And with this few data items the Wansick papers are full of math errors (and, no, I didn’t check van der Zee’s math).

Yet some of the “results” of Wansick's "science" are used, according to the Ars article, in more than “30,000 schools across the US.”

That’s bad enough, but these other guys (van der Zee) expend enormous effort going through the Wansink’s paper and picking them apart.

But again, there’s no significant data in the paper to pick apart (even less data in the paper because Wansink didn’t include his raw data so they only look at the numbers printed in the paper), so what’s the point?

Apparently they don’t notice this is a problem.

So how is their “science” or “methods” of picking apart Wansink's any different than what they accuse Wansick’s of?

Incredibly tiny data sets used to make a lot of noise.

Gee, I wonder if this is how "climate science" is done?

But I digress...

This is absolutely astonishing!

Acclaimed scientists that cannot add.

That cannot realize that insignificant data is, in fact, insignificant and should be ignored.

Guys sitting around counting pizza slices and carrots.

More guys sitting around counting the lines of numbers in "scientific papers" about carrots and pizza slices...

Reminds me of how I got my PhD in "Shuttle Runs"...

Decades ago a neighbor who was in the university "PhD" program asked me to come over one night.

As it turned out he needed some "math help" on his PhD thesis.

Gee, I worried, I wonder if I know how to help him.

After much hemming and hawing he pulled out his "research."

A small table of times for the "shuttle run" in some gym class.

Perhaps three or four tables of about 10 or 20 numbers each.

Please, he asked, if you have the time, could you help me calculate the "mean"?

I breathed a sigh of relief...

Yup, no problem.

So I guess that along with all the little carrots I too have a PhD (some day I'll tell you the story of my second PhD...)






Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Exercise: Cutting Pot Usage 50%

Here's a little gem.  Weed arrests since the 1960's.  According to my research about 1% of users are arrested (from here).  There are probably 100 million or so in the US that have used pot.  Fewer, but not a lot fewer, are regular users.

Pot use has been on the rise since the early 1960s.  Prior to that it was the domain of thugs, crooks and jazz musicians (at least that's what they say)...


Not much surprise here.

What is surprising is the relationship to obesity (from here):


Now this chart goes to 2030 but over all there's a correspondence at least superficially.

But wait, as they say, there's more!

Spark up a doobie and think about this:

Runners World (http://www.runnersworld.com/special-report/the-runners-high) published the following (study here):

"In 2011, researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville set a dozen heavy-using pot smokers on treadmills and, over two weeks, had them run ten 30-minute sessions at 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate. The result? A more than 50-percent decrease in sparking up. In London, in 2004, researchers showed that even 10 minutes of moderate exercise dulled the craving for a drink among recently detoxed alcoholics. A 2013 study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder even showed a possible reversal of cognitive brain damage in recovering alcoholics who exercised aerobically."

Hmmm...

I wonder if there is some sort of causal relationship here?

Is it the post smoke munchies or a more insidious affect on the brain's dopamine system?

This extends to cigarettes as well, at least according to the article.

Running is apparently an excellent dopamine replacement system.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PA Vape Tax Redux

EDIT: The claim is now that $6 million and change has been counted instead of the $8 million listed below.  This doesn't really change the outcome - PA still covers its nut of $13 million, albeit with a bit less headroom...

So here we have the 2017 Pennsylvania Vape Association survey.

There is complaining on Facebook (and I assume elsewhere within the various anti-vape-taxing associations and groups) that no one is filling out the survey in order to create ammunition to change the nature of tax.

The idea here is that Governor Wolf expected to get $13 million in annual tax revenue from taxing vape shops.  The unfortunate aspect of this is that its a 40% across the board vape tax on e-liquid and equipment (supposedly only equipment specific to vaping and not things like USB chargers).

There has been an effort recently to change this, via use of surveys which I commented on here, to change this to a $0.05 (nickel) per milliliter e-liquid only tax.  Of course to pass this it would require action by both the PA house and senate as well as Wolf.

I feel this highly unlikely (again, see my original post).

In light of the current activity to change the tax there have been a variety of Facebook comments. (Note that a previous effort failed several months ago.)

Most recently I saw a comment to this effect: "... $8M in revenue based on 20% of300 responses"

So with something like 20% of the responding shops filling out the survey we, the vape shops of PA are generating more than 50% of the tax revenue targeted by the legislature.

One has to believe based on this number that this tax is really generating (of course, assuming those filling out the survey are honest) far more than the $13 million Wolf is looking for.

But there are questions:

First off, are the survey entries honest?

It would be very hard to say.  On the one hand there is pressure to under report showing how much business you lost to "punish" the legislature.  On the other hand over-reporting makes it look like $0.05/mil is going to make the state what exactly?

Second, if we assume that those not filling out are, let's say, 50% as successful as those filling out the survey, then the total revenue generated today via the existing 40% vape tax would be 4 (the number remaining 80% of shops) x $8 million x 50% = an additional $16  million in revenue.  (Another way for the less than savvy at math: 1/5 the shops generate $8 million.  So if each of the remaining shops generated the same amount of revenue as the 20% already reporting the total would be about $32 million.  This seem optimistic for the reasons I list above so let's cut it in half to $16 million.)

Or cut it back further.  In any case the state is meeting their target.

So from Wolf's perspective (as well as that of folks like David Reed, PA house leader) it probably looks like the tax is generating on the order of $20-24 million/year.

While there's a lot of crying about "going out of business" from shops it would seem that the tax, at least from the state of Pennsylvania's perspective, is more than successful.

So exactly why would they, the state of PA, want to change it?

No state government wants less revenue.

Why would Wolf want to sign it even if the legislature passes it?

On the other hand perhaps its all a big lie.  There would be no way to know except that PA has other tax collection means such as E-Tides for sales tax and the tobacco "floor tax" tied to the 40% tax (the floor tax was on existing inventory 10/1/2016).

As I have said before I don't see a compelling argument for the state of Pennsylvania to do anything here.

Third, there's already movement on the various infrastructures the vendors have to manage the 40% at the wholesale level.  So that would be undone costing more.

Please understand, I don't like this tax at all.  It was devastating for the businesses I have.  It was devastating for my employees.

But the question I have to ask is "do I want to go through this again?"

No.

I think this is the wrong argument.

For example, how many wage earners lost their jobs?

How would lost wage taxes offset the 40% tax.

I think these are the questions that need answering.

Again I will say that the only real means to destroy this tax is to win cases against PA Revenue that show the tax is unequal, i.e. a USB charger is being tax at 46% one place (state+local) and 6% another.  There is a court case here.

Similarly, if 0-nic e-liquid has exactly the same ingredients as, say, frosting, then the same argument applies.


Monday, April 17, 2017

April the Giraffe Explains Why Modern Children Are Ignorant of Animals

Animal husbandry has been a human occupation for at least 10,000 years.  Humans have used animals for a variety of purposes since then including food, materials for clothing, hunting, biological science, etc.

For food consumption in 2013, American meat companies produced:

  • 25.8 billion pounds of beef
  • 23.2 billion pounds of pork
  • 5.8 billion pounds of turkey
  • 286 million pounds of veal, lamb and mutton
  • 38.4 billion pounds of chicken
The U.S. exported 1.7 billion metric tons of beef and beef variety meat in 2014 valued at $807 billion USD.

According to this 0.5% of the US population consumes no meat and about 3.2% are vegetarians consuming some animal products.

I think it's safe to say that animals and the products they produce is a significant element in US if not world culture.

Sadly these facts and, presumably, the knowledge about the industries they support (a trillion with a 'T' in exports) are lost on today's youth: for example, one in three youths in the UK don't know where bacon, eggs or milk come from.

The scale of this ignorance, at least in the UK though its hard to imagine its different here in the US, is beyond imagination.

Just google: "adults don't know where food comes from us" or any variant.

It's hard to imagine, without this knowledge, much is known about where food comes from in general or what the term "animals" really means.

(Yes, we all know zoo's are evil - animals should run free so poachers can freely kill them off to extinction.)

So why is this?

Quite honestly I hadn't thought much about it (beyond the general stupidity of snowflakes in general) until recently.

Last Saturday Mrs. Wolf and I witnessed a wonderful event.  The live birth of a giraffe (for those who don't know what that is):


You can see the miracle of giraffe's giving birth here among other places.  The calf above (here less than 12 hours old) was born Saturday morning at Animal Adventure Park (http://www.aprilthegiraffe.com/ and http://theanimaladventurepark.com/) located at Animal Adventure Park, 85 Martin Hill Road, Harpursville, NY 13787.

April the giraffe, the mother, became quite famous prior to the birth.

In any case Mrs. Wolf had been watching the "giraffe feed" for some time.  Saturday morning I got up and, as was the usual case for a few days prior to the birth, checked the feed.  

"No hooves" (trigger warning - see if you can figure out what that means!)

About 30 minutes later Mrs. Wolf's phone goes off with a "Hoof Alert."  Mrs. Wolf came running in and sure enough there were hooves.  A few hours later we watched the birth live on Mrs. Wolf's iPad.

Absolutely fascinating process to watch live.

So what does this have to do with the ignorance of snowflakes (and adults) regarding "animals" in general?

All the while Mrs. Wolf watched the giraffe she was on a number of "live feed" sites which offered a variety of "chats."

Mostly Mrs. Wolf, a championship dog breeder, mother of four and participatory grandmother of eight, just liked the idea of watching an animal, which few people really know anything about, give birth.  (She loved watching the baby kick, the mother's reaction, and so on. Mrs. Wolf delivered a number of puppy litters over the years among other "live births.")

Sadly, these "chats" were filled with the most vile and horrible comments (here are just a few):
  • I hope the baby is stillborn.
  • I hate this baby.
  • This is too sexual in nature (from PETA).
  • The giraffes are in jail.
  • The giraffe is not pregnant.
  • This is a scam.
  • The baby will get hurt, make the mother lie down.
  • The baby will die inside, they'll have to pull it out.
  • Where's the vet, the mother needs help.
There were vast numbers of extraordinarily weird and/or negative comments.

Animal are just like humans in fur coats? Right...?

Mind you giraffes are endangered and the variety of zoo and animal park breeding programs here in the US are a good hedge to prevent their extinction.

But no matter...

One can see that helicopter mom clearly doesn't want little Suzy or Johnny to have any idea about the reality of animals.  (Probably some weird feministic aspect of divorcing females from the knowledge of birth.)

No, little Johnny and Suzy better not see any live births, no, not at all.  The cruel world is exploiting the nearly extinct giraffes for fun and profit.  It's icky and gross to see animal sex, birth, nursing, etc.

"Oh my God!" they cried, "there's afterbirth on the floor!"  "Where's the vet, it needs to be cleaned up!"  "How dirty!" etc. etc. etc.

(Indeed, the calf weighs in at about 130lbs plus, no doubt, some twenty or more gallons of amniotic fluid.  What do you think happens in the wild?  The poor giraffe mother probably has lions and hyena's waiting literally waiting at her rear end. And don't tell helicopter mom that in the wild a giraffe calf has only about a 25% chance of surviving to adulthood.)

I remember being about 6 or 7 and my father taking me to a farm thing of some kind where they were demonstrating artificial insemination - probably around 1964 or so.  The images are still firmly burned into my mind.  Today he'd probably have to go to prison for scaring me like that...)

Note: We live in a house with about 400lbs of predator including 1" fangs and have for thirty years.  Don't tell me about animals.

What better way to have a discussion about animals, food, reproduction, bonding, nesting, nursing, you name it.

But no, it would seem that this is far, far to overwhelming for the tiny, narrow blizzard mind to accept.  Too real.  Too scary.  Too out of control.

The thought an animal could or would be happy in such a place is beyond them (watch April with here caretaker Alissa).  

Side note: Giraffe mom does not like men (XY chromosomes) around the baby (that would by at the chromosome level - not your make up, size 24 pumps or pattern of dress).  However, female caretaker Alissa is okay to touch and feed the baby.  Seems momma giraffe (and dog momma's too for that matter) know the real difference between boys and girls.

(Ooops! It won't be possible to watch this any more because the loons spammed the parks email about the giraffe spraining its leg and the park is taking down the "live feed."  I guess further ignorance will be the result.)

It's an animal, not a person.

It's actual life style in the wild would mostly consist of being eaten by predators or poached by poor Africans to make a buck.

Human's have been managing animals for a very long time.

I worked on a farm as a small boy.

Trust me, no modern snowflake has any idea where food comes from or how it's "made."

In any case April and her baby are doing well.

To bad that's not the case for little Suzy and Jonny - the'll never know where the idea for the stuffed giraffe at the indoor game center came from.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

March for (Non)Science

From the LA Times article linked at the bottom...
Science and public policy are always an interesting mix.

At the right you can see the consequence of government policy as it relates to the science of managing water in California.

Indeed this the Oroville dam during the peak of the California non-drought.

Below we will see how this relates to the "March for Science."

I came upon the "March For Science" after trying to understand the motivation behind things like the riots in Berkeley, CA.  Here's the Facebook page of one the "attendees" - it says: "Headed to Berkeley to disrupt the Neo/Nazi White Supremacist jerk circle today Nervous af but determined to bring back 100 Nazi Scalps"


Hmm...

It struck me that the "March for Science" is basically similar in nature to this and a variety of similar events that have taken shape over the last few months:  Woman's March in DC, Tax March (which our image is above seems to be from), etc.

So before we start let's take a look at what the idea is behind "science" (from Wikipedia):


In truth it seems pretty simple.  You perform experiments related to some hypothesis, collect evidence, and based on these create a theory.

Science in turn depends on mathematics: deduction, inference, and so on.

Now both science and mathematics are independent of how one might feel about how it's conducted or what conclusions are discovered.

That's sort of the point.

We can believe in scientific results or mathematical proofs because the "discovery" stands on its own - a result (which may or may not be correct) - independent of how it was discovered.

(Of course, as I write here "absolute morality" is required too, i.e., no lying about results, evidence, experiments, and so on.  If you make up evidence, results, etc. then what's the point? - Anyone can do that about anything - hence no real result.)

So let's take a look at the "principles" behind this march (from here).  Under "Core Principles" we find "Science that Serves the Common Good" - Here it says: "We recognize that inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in science are critical to ensure that science reaches its potential to serve all communities."

Imagine Ohm's law.  Without it today's society would not exist - no electronics or electrical power of any kind.  Invented, no surprise, by Georg Ohm in 1827 (see this - an individual of "societal privilege" for sure, he actually had time to perform scientific research).  I think this law "serves the common good," at least if you believe that humanity needs electricity.

Seems to me Ohm's law is a good example of actual science.

Even if its been used for executions (killing people for the Berkeley educated not afraid of scary subjects).

That's right, it kills people (in perhaps an "unfair" or "socially unjust" way), but kills them non-the-less.

Next paragraph we find this gem "Political decision-making that impacts the lives of Americans and the world at large should make use of peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus, not personal whims and decrees."  Here "scientific consensus" are code words for "vaccination deniers," "climate deniers," Trump, and all the rest of the "deniers."

These sciences are "settled" and require no further investigation.

Exercise for the reader: Find where in the "scientific method" we (as humans or science or engineers) operate only on "decided outcomes" from science. (We can use electricity without Ohm's law, but it will be out of our control because we won't understand it...)

Next we find "Cutting Edge Science Education" where it says "Science works best when scientists come from diverse perspectives, and we must work to encourage and support a new generation of scientists that reflects that."

Here there's a subtle and clever conflation of "science" with the process of "scientific discovery."  "Science" could care less who discovers uncovers its principles.  Many western discoveries were also found in other countries at other times.  But the nature of this is true social engineering as you see, for example, with ouster of president of Mozilla (see this).  It's silly to believe the operation of the browser (which after all is simply the science of electrons, etc.) cares what this guy believes.

On the other hand, the process of "scientific discovery" is always (or at least nearly always) more efficient with different points of "scientific" view (as opposed to "social perspective" implied by the above).  Again a subtle and clever conflation of university-developed social constructs and actual science.

The next item appears to be a political statement targeted at the business of science publishing: "Open, honest science and inclusive public outreach."  Here we ask (at least if I am not being thwarted by secret code words) for publicly funded science to be publicly available.

(Gee, where's the Penn State climate data when you need it... Oh wait, only available if hacker get it.)

This is probably a mistake - at least if the organizers thought about it.

After all.  On the one hand if a giant asteroid was about to hit earth (or at least the potential was discovered) would you only want a few scientists in secret to plan our safety plans?  Or would you rather the trajectory and so forth be public so that the entire planet can participate in finding a solution.

(Don't conflate this with the impending "climate" disaster though, that's different...)

Under funding we find "De-funding and hiring freezes in the sciences are against any country’s best interests. We believe that the federal budget should reflect the powerful and vital role that science plays in supporting our democracy. We advocate federal funding in support of research, scientific hiring, and agency application of science to management. This funding cannot be limited to a few fields or specific demographics -- scientific support must be inclusive of diverse disciplines and communities."

One images this is actually asking for everyone, even "deniers" to be funded.

This seems unlikely, doesn't it?

One needs look no further than the Los Angeles Times for how government with the funding of important things "The government failure at the heart of the Oroville Dam crisis (Image from article at top of post).

Really seems much more like a "March for NonScience (Nonsense?)"