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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Links - 26th June 2017 (1)

Yale-NUS admin speech sparks debate - "Chan’s comments caused a split among Yale-NUS students shortly thereafter. Some students called for Chan’s removal from the school’s governing board, while others said a removal would be unfair because Chan was speaking as a Singaporean ambassador, not as a governor of the college... Yale-NUS students interviewed said the issue has sparked heated discussion on campus, especially among activists for LGBTQ rights. Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis affirmed that Chan is a “lively and positive force” on the governing board... “Calling for Chan’s removal is naïve and demonstrates a lack of understanding of local politics,” said another anonymous student. Changes in Singapore often stem from within, as opposed to through extreme means such as advocating for someone’s removal from office, the student added."
Comment: "Self-styled "progressives" have expressed concern that the Singapore government would impair freedom of speech at Yale-NUS. But this article suggests that it is those at Yale-NUS supporting the position of the Singapore government on this issue who are afraid to speak out in fear of retaliation from self-styled "progressives." The ironies could hardly be richer. And I don't support this sodomy law."

National Parks Popular With White People, But Not Minorities. Why? - ""The idea of roughing it in a tent, however, can feel to some people like going backward, said Ms. Cain, a first-generation American who said the stories in her family about escaping the hard rural life still resonate." This strikes me as the truest line in the piece—and the biggest hurdle to diversifying outdoor participation. Yes, there are economic barriers, but the cultural ramifications of those economic barriers are more devastating, as they ripple across generations... Why on Earth would you use your hard-earned vacation time to spend a week eating freeze-dried food in the woods—rather than, say, reclining at a seaside hotel on Miami Beach, frozen margarita in hand?"

A Portait of the Pope (Made of Condoms) Sparks Outrage - "“This was never intended to be derisive, mocking or disrespectful of the pope,” museum board of trustees president Don Layden told the Journal Sentinel. “It was to have a conversation about AIDS and AIDS education. And my hope is when the piece appears in the museum that will be the focus of the discussion.”"
Apparently outrightly offending people is how you start a conversation

LTA officer questioned over reluctance to issue summons for illegally parked cars - "It was mentioned by the website's contributor that the Siglap South Community Center was having an event with a Member of Parliament attending the function."

Age Differences in the Big Five Across the Life Span: Evidence from Two National Samples - "Extraversion and Openness were negatively associated with age whereas Agreeableness was positively associated with age. Average levels of Conscientiousness were highest for participants in middle age"
Old people are nice but they won't go and talk to you first

Organic crops use carcinogenic pesticides - "I say this… Not because I want you to fear Organic food. Quite the opposite. The moral of the story is that ALL food is safe, because the dose makes the poison. (Take 2 Tylenol, not the whole bottle)."

Estrogen Link In Male Aggression Sheds New Light On Sex-specific Behaviors

Pomegranate Supreme Court case: Food industry nutrition claims sound scientific but are magical. - "Aside from preventing scurvy, vitamin C hasn’t actually been proven to do anything. Not for brain health, not for colds, not for cancer, not for pneumonia, not even for gout. The same, disappointingly, holds for fish oil and pomegranates... When examining the effect of qualified health claims, investigators reported that FDA qualified health claims at Levels 2 and 3 were actually “more positive with a disclaimer than without.” For health claims in general, “the disclaimer being there made no difference.”... The antidote to deceptive advertising isn’t further government regulation. Instead of regulating labels, public and political focus should be on media literacy education, especially regarding science"

When good people do bad things: Being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs - "Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group"

How antioxidants can accelerate cancers, and why they don't protect against them - "Virtually all such trials have failed to show any protective effect against cancer. In fact, in several trials antioxidant supplementation has been linked with increased rates of certain cancers. In one trial, smokers taking extra beta carotene had higher, not lower, rates of lung cancer."

Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship - "as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles... this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon."

A Disease of Scienceyness - "The argument in favor of scienceyness fandom hinges on the assumption that uncritical hyping of sciencey content does scientific progress more good than harm...
"I fucking LOVE science. *is handed peer reviewed journal* Haha nonono I meant CGI pictures of space with misattributed quotes as captions""

A rational nation ruled by science would be a terrible idea - "Science may give us data, but it doesn’t mean that data points to truth – it’s just what we currently understand as truth. So how we act on the data requires nuance and judgement. It’s philosophical, maybe religious, and certainly political."

Fleming's discovery of penicillin couldn't get published today. That's a huge problem. - "Big, time-consuming studies are coming at the cost of smaller and cheaper studies that, taken together, may be just as valuable and perhaps more applicable (or what researchers call "generalizable") to more people and places... Researchers have estimated that about $200 billion — or about 85 percent of global spending on research — is routinely wasted on poorly designed and redundant studies."

Why so many of the health articles you read are junk - "One new study, published in the British Medical Journal, assigns a large fraction of blame to the press shops at various research universities. The study found that releases from these offices often overhype the findings of their scientists — while journalists play along uncritically, parroting whatever showed up in their inbox that day. Hype, they suggest, was manufactured in the ivory tower, not the newsroom"

Most College Humanities and Social Science Programs Have Become Enemies of Freedom and Reason - "we have the worst of both worlds: schools that keep up the pretense of forming young people in humanistic disciplines, while the teachers who’ve grabbed control of the relevant departments are doing exactly the opposite. So students pass statues of Homer, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare and Washington, en route to classes whose teachers and texts sneer at every value any of those men would have treasured. Your average humanities department is thus like a seminary whose theology department has been captured by tenured atheists. Even in schools that still retain a Western core curriculum, there are influential teachers like the late Edward Said of Columbia, who boasted that he taught the “canon” of Western literature as a means of exposing our culture as the oppressor of most of the world... The great critic of Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, Eric Voegelin, explained how to distinguish a legitimate, grounded worldview from an ersatz religion, or ideology. In The New Science of Politics, he noted that ideologues defend their systems not by anticipating objections and answering them, but instead by forbidding the questions... Even the self-righteous and often violent radicals who took over campuses in the 60s didn’t have melt-downs, public crying fits, and apparent nervous breakdowns when Nixon beat McGovern. Whatever crackpot ideologies they might have adopted, they had been through the training in rigorous, critical thinking that Western education has prided itself on since the ancient Greeks. Our current generation wouldn’t know rigor from rigor mortis."

The science of getting your kids to eat more vegetables - "Studies show infants have a “flavor window.” It likely opens at four months and closes around 18 months. Hit it, and your kids might be like cauliflower as much as they like cake... toddlers can be made to like a new food by introducing it 5-10 times. Kids aged 3-4 may need to try it 15 times before developing a taste for it. But the flavor window may never completely shut... around half of children’s liking for fruits, vegetables and protein foods was attributed to genetics; the rest was due to environmental factors like what foods parents ate and kept in the home."

How the New Science of Computational History Is Changing the Study of the Past - "“On average across all five polities, a change of ruler in one year increased the probability for another change in the following year threefold,” says Preiser-Kapeller. So the closer you are to an upheaval, the more likely there is to be another one soon. Or in other words, upheavals tend to cluster together. That’s a rule that should sound familiar to geophysicists"

Bayesian reasoning implicated in some mental disorders - "Experiments guided by Bayesian math reveal that the guessing process differs in people with some disorders. People with schizophrenia, for instance, can have trouble tying together their expectations with what their senses detect. And people with autism and high anxiety don’t flexibly update their expectations about the world, some lab experiments suggest. That missed step can muddy their decision-making abilities."

Summer of Science - How Often Is B.M.I. Misleading? - - "there was a strong relationship between B.M.I. and body fat percentage, but for almost one in five adults, the two measurements disagreed"
A 80+% accuracy rate hardly justifies the claim that BMI is "bullshit"

The caste system has left its mark on Indians’ genomes - "Using a common system for extrapolating generations from genetic recombination, the researchers estimated "all upper-caste populations, except [one] from Northeast India, started to practice endogamy about 70 generations ago... This time estimate belongs to the latter half of the period when the Gupta emperors ruled large tracts of India (Gupta Empire, 319–550 CE)." This genetic shift was most marked among the upper castes who spoke Indo-European languages. Other groups appeared to have stopped intermarrying much later."

Are there too many science PhDs or too few jobs? - ""We show that the reproduction rate in academia is very high," they write. "For example, in engineering, a professor in the US graduates 7.8 new PhDs during his/her whole career on average, and only one of these graduates can replace the professor’s position. "This implies that in a steady state, only 12.8% of PhD graduates can attain academic positions in the USA." A lack of growth on the demand side suggests that is unlikely to improve... increasing positions would only make things worse in the long-run, the authors say."

What next: locking up Leavers? - "Of all the toxic bilge that has flown since referendum day, the calls to criminalise Leavers is the worst yet. Think about it for a second: spurned Remainers are putting pressure on the state to police debate, to lock up people for disagreeing with them. What do they think this is? The GDR?... The idea that the public is only ever one poster, speech or bus slogan away from launching a pogrom is what underpins the idea of incitement. Incitement to hatred is, and always has been, a means of policing political viewpoints deemed too toxic for the feckless public to hear"

Antibiotic resistance discovered in the guts of ancient mummies - "genes that can confer resistance to antibiotics were relatively widespread hundreds of years before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. “It’s ridiculous to think evolution of antibiotic resistance began when penicillin was discovered,” said team-member Raul Cano, also at California Polytechnic State University, at the meeting while discussing the findings. “It’s been going on for 2 billion years.” These genes existed long before antibiotics became common, but it is our overuse of these drugs in both people and livestock that caused the superbug resistance to explode worldwide, said Cano."

New Survey: Most Millennials Both Pay For Streaming Services And Use Pirate Streams When Content Isn't Legally Available - "The attitude of these respondents seems pretty clear by the numbers: hey, we tried to pay for the content, but you wouldn't let us, so we went and got it from a place that had it."

Islamic fatwa decrees that toilet paper is halal in Turkey - "Hand sanitizes and other similar products used for hygiene products are now halal. 'While it is forbidden to drink substances containing alcohol that were produced for cleaning purposes, it is acceptable to use them for cleaning,' Hurriyet Daily News reported. The fatwa stated that places that had been cleaned with the products would not need to be washed again with water prior to performing prayer. A new ruling on begging, stating that anyone who begs and earns money beyond their immediate needs is 'demanding the fire of hell.'..
Muslims must say before entering the toilet 'In the name of Allah, O Allah! I seek refuge with You from all offensive and wicked things'
People should not speak, greet anyone else or read while they are relieving themselves
Muslims should not go to the toilet standing up but should squat or, if necessary, sit"

British man who launched Isil suicide attack was Guantanamo Bay detainee awarded £1m compensation - "Al-Harith, who used the nom de guerre Abu-Zakariya al-Britani, entered Syria via Turkey in 2014 to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, leading to questions at the time about the monitoring of terrorist suspects. It also raised the possibility that compensation money paid by British taxpayers had been handed on by him to Isil."
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