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Author Topic: What's the Harm  (Read 11618 times)

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fatcat

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2009, 11:53:08 AM »

You're assuming people are rational.

No, actually I'm not.

I'm saying that the survivors will be more rational. If for no other reason that the process of elimination.

dumb poor people breed way more than smart rich people, and people who die of cancer tend to be old enough to have already passed on their genes.

fail hypothesis.

I've already cited numerous examples of how people don't care about the reality of their decisions, as long as it makes them feel good.

This is a personal and societal level failure, of a complete disconnect most people have between science, and the every day decisions they make in life. For most people science is some outward institution that makes their tv work and puts men on the moon, not a method that is vital to distinguish between fact and falsehood.

It's an endemic misunderstanding. From people being scared over terrorist attacks but not car crashes, to phobia over genetic engineering and the continuation of snake oil in the 21st century.

If average people actually cared about the scientific method, there no way current drug policy could fly. Alcohol and Tobacco more harmful than Cannabis and Ecstasy? Please, the most rudimentary scientific analysis can disprove this.

 this is the kind of bullshit that happens when people think science is some box of tricks, and not a fundamental method to understanding. That science "doesn't apply" in certain cases, or worse that people think that their beliefs are scientifically grounded when they are not.

 When you look at the survival benefit chemo,radiotherapy and surgery have provided over the last 50 years, and compare it to the complete void of benefit that faith healing, power crystals and other assorted snake oils, you can't possibly come to the conclusion that people will naturally choose the most effective treatments out of some selection.

Most of the deaths we're talking about are in people past the average child bearing age, so evolution is not going to fix this.

As far as I know, "alternative" medicine is stronger than ever. The fact its growing in face of overwhelming reality that they do not work, and that science based medicine has now tipped the average 5 year survival rates for many cancers from "likely to die", to "likely to survive", is a real worry.

What needs to happen is for the disconnect between normal peoples lives and science to disappear. For people to start seeing science as an integral part of their lives and decision making process, and not something outside and foreign.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 11:55:49 AM by fatcat »
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Scott in Winnipeg

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2009, 12:09:57 PM »

Good analysis.

Sam actually advocated physcic surgery on Friday's show, Ian quickly ponted out that it's BS, thankfully. That's the kind of thinking that kills people, and you get to pay some sham sleight-of-hand artists $$$ for the priviledge of being scammed.

Thank Xenu that he likes Penn and Tellers Show BullShit since they take a skeptical approach to most subjects. They haven't done an episode on vaccines as of yet, maybe for next season.
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BobRobertson

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2009, 02:43:19 PM »

fail hypothesis.

No, just different ways of saying the same thing.

Quote
What needs to happen is for the disconnect between normal peoples lives and science to disappear. For people to start seeing science as an integral part of their lives and decision making process, and not something outside and foreign.

In that we couldn't be more in agreement.

The regulation of medicine enables the quacks, because "real" medicine is very tightly regulated so quacks just ignore the laws. Exactly the same way that alcohol and drug prohibition just makes it easier for bad drugs and bad alcohol to be passed off as "real".

So let's start with abolishing medical regulation. Then, as you say, science can take its proper place as the hero.
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"I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776 to acquire self-government and happiness to their country is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it."
-- Thomas Jefferson, April 26th 1820

Scott in Winnipeg

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2009, 03:11:31 PM »

The regulation of medicine enables the quacks, because "real" medicine is very tightly regulated so quacks just ignore the laws. Exactly the same way that alcohol and drug prohibition just makes it easier for bad drugs and bad alcohol to be passed off as "real".

Also, when quack medicine comes under regulation then people start to see it as legit, since the government "approves" of it.
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fatcat

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2009, 04:03:21 PM »

So let's start with abolishing medical regulation. Then, as you say, science can take its proper place as the hero.

I agree with that, but I still don't think free markets are suddenly going to evaporate quack medicine.

Regulation does make it harder for people to get cheap, high quality medicines, but I don't see regulation, or lack there of playing a huge role with stuff like faith healers, or "cancer diets". There may be some people who seek alternatives, but most of what i see is desperate or deluded people looking for a miracle cure.

Those kind of things just play to an ignorance/mysticism that is culturally pretty popular.

For the "eat raw foods instead of chemo" cancer deal, it appeals to naturalistic fallacies that most people have, that "natural" things are good for you, and "artificial" things are bad (artificial = chemical, chemo = chemical, chemo = bad)

The major problem is, is that these "treatments" are marketed in a way that is so far removed from any empirical data on whether it works or not, that many people don't even know how you would make a distinction between a working treatment, and one that just had alot of bullshit and anecdotes.

It is science's vital role in allowing people to make these distinction that is the problem, and a problem that is outside of the free market/regulation paradigm . If there was a charity committed

Medical superstitions have been going on for centuries, and the glimmers of truth are used as the basis for huge nonsensical quack science make it all the more convincing.

When it comes to these quack treatments, it seems to come down to how well your script plays on a persons biases (conventional medicine is bad etc), how many bullshit testimonials you can conjure, and how many meaningless statistics you can pull out your arse. It seems the kind of people who say "you can prove anything with statistics", are exactly the kind of people who buy into bullshit statistics, because they have no idea what makes statistics accurate and useful, or not.

If there was a charity dedicated to furthering common place understanding of science in day to day life, I'd happily donate to it. Don't want the state to ban quack medicines, and don't want the state to subsidize conventional medicine. Do want unscrupulous people to stop manipulating the emotions of desperate people, to simultaneously cash in and shorten their lives.

Right now I guess I'll settle for programmes like Bullshit that go a bit towards encouraging skeptical and scientific thinking.
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Scott in Winnipeg

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #50 on: December 21, 2009, 04:23:23 PM »


If there was a charity dedicated to furthering common place understanding of science in day to day life, I'd happily donate to it.

Here are a few.

New England Skeptical Society, they produce the Skeptics Guide tot he Universe Podcast
http://www.theness.com/
The New England Skeptical Society is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1996 to promote science and reason.

James Randi Educational Foundation
http://www.randi.org/
The James Randi Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1996. Its aim is to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today.

The Center for Inquiry
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/
"The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values."

The Skeptics Society
http://www.skeptic.com/
The Skeptics Society is a scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Our mission is to serve as an educational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on those controversial ideas and claims.
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Scott in Winnipeg

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #51 on: December 21, 2009, 05:01:10 PM »

Baloney Detection Kit - Michael Shermer

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fatcat

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2009, 12:06:42 PM »


If there was a charity dedicated to furthering common place understanding of science in day to day life, I'd happily donate to it.

Here are a few.

New England Skeptical Society, they produce the Skeptics Guide tot he Universe Podcast
http://www.theness.com/
The New England Skeptical Society is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1996 to promote science and reason.

James Randi Educational Foundation
http://www.randi.org/
The James Randi Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1996. Its aim is to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today.

The Center for Inquiry
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/
"The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values."

The Skeptics Society
http://www.skeptic.com/
The Skeptics Society is a scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Our mission is to serve as an educational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on those controversial ideas and claims.

I wouldn't say those are addressing the things I would like to see.

Theres no point trying to disprove water dousing, and then going, "see, its irrational after all"

People already buying into that shit aren't rational, which is why things like the Randi Challenge aren't convincing at all, the only people who find it convincing are the people who are already rational people who understand science. I've seen the Randi Foundation in particular to spend inordinate resources focusing on specific psychics and quacks, rather than trying to promote science education.

Most of the skeptic society I see only go after the end results of bad science, the psychics and snake oilmen.

There needs to be preventative education, not curative. Make people understand science, show them why they should love it.

If you plant the seed for scientific inquiry, and someone really "gets" it, its very hard  for them to keep that inquiry out of other parts of their life.

However, by only chasing end results, it can actively encourage faulty thinking and dissonance. By chasing after soft targets like water dousing and spoon benders, you can help distract irrational people. They can laugh at the stupid psychics are while still attending sunday mass with a straight face.

Theres no point telling people they're irrational, they need to be taught how to be rational, and shown that science is not just a set of beliefs or box of tools used by lofty scientists, but a fundamental heuristic to understanding the world.

I find far too often that organizations like the Randi foundation, set about trying to scientifically debunk bullshit, and seem to expect people who believe it to go "oh, I see how its faulty now", when the only reason they believe such things is because of a lack of understanding or a misunderstanding of what science is.

You can't expect people to care about scientific evidence if they don't see the scientific method as any more valid than any other method.

The people who already understand science are not those you need to focus on.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 08:23:42 PM by fatcat »
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: What's the Harm
« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2009, 05:59:15 PM »

Just another example of the most absurd things "pro-liberty" people do, try to shut people up because they think the truth will make people demand government.

You have absolutely no basis to say that I'm trying to "shut people up" - I have a clearly documented history of standing up for free speech, no matter how hurtful and unpopular, and people who share my political ideology do as well.

I do, however, have a basis to accuse people running sites like WhatsTheHarm.net of having irrational priorities, as well as spinning the numbers (as explained above).  Every socialist power-grab in history has been empowered by apolitical eggheads claiming to simply point out the flaws of a relatively freer society without calling for any restrictive action overly, and those socialist power-grabs have done far, far more damage to the human civilization than a bunch of gullible people getting the short stick of the evolutionary struggle!


I don't think scott made the website.

I never implied that I thought that he did.


Also, why the fuck should I care if scott would like to see more regulation that's not relevant, he's right and your attempt to distract from that is transparent.

Whether Scott and/or the aforementioned site are right or not needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis, but them being correct in identifying the irrationality of a specific action by a specific person does not automatically translate to their highly-biased estimation of the consequences of that action constituting "harm".

Sometimes people do foolish things just to test the boundaries of their perception of reality, knowing exactly what they're getting into.  Sometimes it's a learning experience.  Sometimes it's a social tradition that is significant on more levels than an observer outside that culture can immediately recognize.  Sometimes people find a 1-in-10-trillion gamble emotionally satisfying.  Sometimes people want to lose, or even to die - which is their Natural Right as sovereign self-owning individuals.  And sometimes people do foolish things simply because it's fun.
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