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On Baby Steps (and Shots)

@smidge It might not be that silly. I used to think so, too, but recently I read about some polling during the 1912 campaign that indicated that, among people who reported changing their minds about an issue or their vote, the most cited reason for the change of heart was a conversation they read or participated in on social media.
At a time where it's so easy for people to expose themselves only to media that parrot their preconceptions back at them, their friends on Facebook et al. might be the only place where they will be confronted with opposing views, and can't immediately write them off as part of the liberal and/or corporatist media conspiracy.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm 0

On Science Gets Acupuncture

As was inevitable, it turns out that a) the conclusions drawn in the above study are far overreaching the data, and b) have been taken and stretched even further by our sensation-loving science media. (Just going by the cover stories in Time and Newsweek, you'd think we'd discovered the cure for cancer, like, dozens of times already.)

This article from Science Based Medicine spells out just why this meta-analysis actually indicates the opposite of what it's being purported to say. The tl:dr version is that Vickers et al. include unblinded studies of treatment vs. no treatment that skew the data, which helps obscure the fact that when isolated to include only blinded studies of treatment vs. sham-treatment, the 'benefit' of treatment (i.e. acupuncture) falls squarely within the realm of statistical noise. What's more, the meta-analysis does not adequately explain its criteria for study inclusion, leaving open the possibility for both conscious and unconscious researcher bias.

Like all of the bogus studies dredged up by creationists and climate-change deniers disproving evolution or carbon-emission's role in global warming , this is another case of trotting out shoddy unconvincing research aimed not at contributing to actual scientific discourse, but to help the people already motivated to believe you reinforce their belief and their sense of persecution at the hands of some great conspiracy of scientists.

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm 0

On Science Gets Acupuncture

@Tammy Pajamas Yes, TCM is "integrated" in China. People with means and access to proper healthcare get "Western" medicine, while the poor and marginal have to rely on ineffective traditional remedies.

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm 0

On A Proposal Regarding Proposals

"Honey, you remember Janet, right? You know, the one who wrote that 10+ page screed about how we shouldn't be getting married?"

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm 10

On Versus Lola

@okaycrochet Actually, the film industry did have a built-in caveat that applied to all characters who were dangerous or licentious. It was called the Motion Picture Production Code, an attempt by Hollywood studios to ward off government censorship by promising to self-police. Eventually it morphed into the MPAA system we use today. Under it, no character in a movie could ever get away with a crime or wrongdoing (though comedies were given a little more license.) This is why so many of the classic Films Noire of the period ended with just about every character miserable -- if the protagonists were tempted/forced by the events of the film to stray from the straight and narrow, they couldn't get away with it in the end. What's funny is that being subjected to this type of restriction inspired some of the very best cinema Hollywood has ever made.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm 6

On New Friends, Surprise Babies, and the "Rare Phenomenon"

Don't dump the non-kisser because he doesn't like kissing. Dump him because he says things like "No. Guys don't want to do that." Not only is he totally wrong, but that kinds of thinking is a total cop-out, displays a truly lame inability/unwillingness for self-awareness, and overall just kind of a fucked up way to look at things.

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm 64

On Dumber By the Minute

Wait, hebephile doesn't mean being a fan of Jewish culture? Man, that explains a lot about an epically bad job interview I had at the Solomon Shechter middle school.

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm 4

On On Monogamishy

@SomeGayGuy Yeah, I may have misunderstood the point of his post. It all depends on social context, I'd imagine. In some circles, professing one's "post-monogamy" attitude is bragging, part of an unending game of 'liberatedness' and unconventionality one-up-manship. In others, it's something that would get you treated like a pariah, so the urge to expound has to be quashed.

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm 1

On On Monogamishy

@chevyvan Ok, stop. Y'all are mistaking thoroughly bastardized popularizations of evolutionary psychology for the discipline itself. A general rule: don't trust the science in any publication that is largely prescriptive. Just as the fields of medicine and human biology are not adequately represented by the best sellers in Amazon's 'health & fitness' section, evolutionary psychology is not actually what you see in the books that try to use it to tell you how to approach relationships.

Evolutionary psychology, the kind that goes on in universities, is, in fact, a real science, and its practitioners aren't really interested in applying their findings in ways that Dan Savage or Cosmo magazine are bent on. Heck, mating practices is only a tiny subset of evolutionary psychology. How we developed language, why memory works the way it does, why we learn different things in different ways, basic sense perception, etc are all much more fundamental to the field. Just as the mechanics of the human knee can only really be made sense of with the understanding that its basic structure evolved for quadrapedal use, the human mind can only really be made sense of when viewed in the context of how its basic structures have been repurposed.

An example of real evolutionary psychology -- one of the more interesting articles on the field of evolutionary psychology I've read recently involved the theory that humans evolved reasoning ability not for the purposes of discovery, but, rather for convincing others through argument.

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm 5

On On Monogamishy

@parallel-lines I have never met a new parent that didn't want to talk endlessly about their little womb fruit in painstaking, often vomit-including detail. Same with any recent convert to a refined-sugar or gluten-free diet, or anyone who's just read some self-help-disguised-as-science book that's "totally changed their perspective."

When something profoundly changes a person's life in ways they hadn't even realized were possible, said person often wants to talk about it a lot more than other people want to hear it. When someone discovers something that has made them significantly happier, he/she often can't help but proselytize for it.

Why should non-monogamy be any different?

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm 7