"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Links - 22nd January 2011

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." - E. F. Schumacher


The man who says he hasn't eaten or drunk for 70 years: Why are eminent doctors taking him seriously? - "'Dr Shah has been in charge of three similar investigations over the past ten years, and he has never allowed independent verification'... whenever the Rationalist Association has investigated individuals making similar claims, all have been exposed as frauds. In 1999, they investigated a woman who claimed that she was the reincarnation of another Hindu goddess. For five years, she had remained alone in a small closet where it was claimed she had not eaten nor passed any urine or faeces. In co-operation with the police, investigators from the association searched the room, finding a toilet hidden behind a shelf and a disguised hole through which she received food. Blood tests revealed the presence of glucose, indicating the intake of food. To further prove the case, a gas was released into the room that made the woman vomit. The contents of her stomach were found to include pieces of recently-eaten chapatti and potatoes... 'In Hinduism, anyone can become a guru overnight. You just decide that’s what you are, dress the part and become it’"

Why Sadness is Good for You - "Being down is not only an intrinsic part of being human, but that it can actually be beneficial... sad people tended to be more sceptical... being sad promotes a more concrete, systematic and solid processing style... doctors have been regularly labelling people as depressed when they are simply sad"

The ottoman empire - "During a reign of twenty years he sired 103 children and apparently did little else. His heir, Mahomet III, began his reign by ordering all of his many brothers, the youngest of them mere children, put to death, thereby introducing that custom into Ottoman royal culture. Having done so he followed his father in devoting the rest of his life to copulation... Every sultan from Roxelana’s son forward was a monster of degeneracy or a repulsive weakling or both... The rulers erected a windowless building called the Cage in which their heirs were confined from early childhood until they died or were put to death or, having been taught nothing about anything, were released to take their turns on the throne. The result was as inevitable as it was monstrous: an empire ruled year after year and finally century after century by utterly ignorant, utterly incompetent, sometimes half-imbecilic, half-mad men, some of whom spent decades in the Cage before their release and all of whom, after their release, were free to do absolutely anything they wanted, no matter how vicious, for as long as they remained alive. They commonly indulged their freedom to kill or maim anyone they wished to kill or maim for any reason – for playing the wrong music or for smoking, for example – or for no reason at all"

Lady Gaga Gets Free Breast Exam From Fans [NSFW] • Philip DeFranco Loves You - "So Lady Gaga was at lalalalalallalapalooza and she went crowd surfing nearly naked, so fans took to grabbing gaga boobies and licking her stomach. Class."
She really looks like a tranny here; is it legitimate to say she was asking for it?

Swedish city legalizes topless bathing….at public swimming pools - "“We don’t define what bathing suits men should wear so it doesn’t make much sense to do it for women. And besides, it’s not unusual for men to have large breasts that resemble women’s breasts.” The leader of the feminist group behind the law said that "It’s a question of equality. I think it’s a problem that women are sexualized in this way. If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn’t men also have to?""

Questions about Noah's Ark that may bug creationists - "One way round this is the argument that a much smaller number of biblical "kinds" or baramins were carried... If the "kinds" Noah carried were equivalent to genera, then some 90 species in the genus Psallus have differentiated in Europe alone. An omnipotent creator could, of course, facilitate Noah's task by suspending or changing the laws of nature. But that raises the question of why, in that case, he bothered with the whole ark thing to start with... The idea that the myriad species we see today have spread because of [evolution] is positively economical compared with the idea that it all happened in 5,000 years or that Noah planted up every island in the Pacific. Recognising that that argument is a logical fallacy, one is nonetheless impressed by the temerity of those who deploy it against the gnat of evolution while performing the mental gymnastics required to argue that the biblical account is somehow more straightforward"

Forget The Temptress Rep: Here's The Real Cleopatra - "Like all women, she suffers from male-dominated historiography in both ancient and modern times and was often seen merely as an appendage of the men in her life or was stereotyped into typical chauvinistic female roles such as seductress or sorceress, one whose primary accomplishment was ruining the men that she was involved with... Yet she was the only woman in all classical antiquity to rule independently—not merely as a successor to a dead husband—and she desperately tried to salvage and keep alive a dying kingdom in the face of overwhelming Roman pressure... Depicted evermore as the greatest of seductresses, who drove men to their doom, she had only two known relationships in 18 years, hardly a sign of promiscuity... her choice of partners was a carefully crafted state policy"

Alfred E. Kahn on plain writing - "The passive voice is wildly overused in government writing. Typically, its purpose is to conceal information: one is less likely to be jailed if one says 'he washit by astone', than 'I hit him with a stone'"

The decline effect and the scientific method - "Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything" The too-glib conclusion that "we still have to choose what to believe" is still not supported by the evidence

'Academically Adrift' - "36 percent of students "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" over four years of college... Students who study by themselves for more hours each week gain more knowledge -- while those who spend more time studying in peer groups see diminishing gains... Students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study." Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the smallest gains. (The authors note that this could be more a reflection of more-demanding reading and writing assignments, on average, in the liberal arts courses than of the substance of the material)"

Welcome to the new Singapore - ""Its art scene still veers toward the safe, rather than the controversial, and artists avoid subjects deemed sensitive in the city-state, including politics and sex... According to Durex, Singaporean youths are becoming sexually active younger, losing their virginity at the average age of 18.4 years - far lower than many Asian countries. Unlike their elders, for example, 18% of Singaporean women initiate sex - a higher proportion than anywhere else in Asia, reported a TIME survey. (Some 64 percent of students at National University of Singapore (NUS) are surveyed to have sex more than once a week.)"
Seah Chiang Nee's statistics are questionable, given that he cites the crap NUSS survey and completely misinterpreted Singapore's emigration statistics to mean the exact opposite of what they meant

Learn to love uncertainty and failure, say leading thinkers - "Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of Aix-Marseille, emphasised the uselessness of certainty. He said that the idea of something being "scientifically proven" was practically an oxymoron and that the very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt. "A good scientist is never 'certain'. Lack of certainty is precisely what makes conclusions more reliable than the conclusions of those who are certain: because the good scientist will be ready to shift to a different point of view if better elements of evidence, or novel arguments emerge. Therefore certainty is not only something of no use, but is in fact damaging, if we value reliability""
It's amazing people still think scientists are arrogant and think they know everything with certainty
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