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13 Things That Do Not Make Sense 1013

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the wookies-on-endor dept.
thpr writes "New Scientist is reporting on 13 things which do not make sense. It's an interesting article about 13 areas in which observations do not line up with current theory. From the placebo effect to dark matter, it's a list of areas in need of additional research. Explanations could lead to significant breakthroughs... or at least new and different errors in scientific observations. Now there are 20 interesting problems for Slashdotters to work on, once you combine these with the seven Millennium Problems!"
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13 Things That Do Not Make Sense

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  • There was a study not that long ago that concluded that the placebo effect doesn't really exist. How did they test that? Did they give some patients a placebo, and others (the control group) a fake placebo?
    • by Shachaf (781326) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:25PM (#11972175)
      Possibly they gave one group real medicine, and the other nothing at all, and got the same results as giving one group real medicine, and the other a placebo.
      • by wpiman (739077) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:05AM (#11974375)
        I read an article about women who cook and eat the placebo after they give birth. Very, very gross.
      • by budgenator (254554) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:57AM (#11975239) Journal
        Normarly they take a population and tell them they will be divided into groups;
        1. one group get the test medication,
        2. one group get the "old-stand-by" medication
        3. one group gets an inert plecebo

        the meds are packaged to look the same and have the same taste as much as possible. Everybody knows and consents to be treated with the test med, the old med, and the plecebo med with out their knowege of what they'll really be getting.

        if the primary researcher knows what meds are given to who, it's called a single-blind experement because the patient is blind to what they are getting.

        if the primary researcher doesn't know, as well as the patient, it's called double-blind. who got what is only revealed after the experiment is over.

        There is usualy a mercy clause in the experiment where if it becomes obvious that one group is recieving irrefutable benefits from what they are taking, everybody gets it.

        I saw an interesting program on tv about homeopathic remedies, essentialy even when sceptical and respected researchers conducted homeopathic experiments, even on cells in vitro, the homeopathic remadies worked in every single blind experiment. When the same researchers repeated the same experiments in the double-blind method, they always failed. The researcher's knowelege of experiment and control groups even effect the results obtained in cell cultures in test tubes, and analysed with automated test equipment, very strange results in deed.
    • Here's the Slashdot story [slashdot.org] on the study that seemed to discredit the placebo effect.
      • by Surye (580125) <surye80&gmail,com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:45PM (#11972302) Homepage
        Wouldn't be the first time a slashdot story discredited something/someone. Only this time that was the intent.
      • by NoData (9132) <_NoData_NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:54AM (#11973966)
        The Hrobjartsson meta-analysis (the story that you ulitmately link to) is intetersting, but in the end it shows that placebo does not resolve people's sysmptoms (it doesn't actually make people get better), which is not surprising, since we know placebo does not actually have any curative powers! They were looking at placebo in disease state, and we know the basis of disease is almost never something can be wished away,even if you believe the placebo is working.

        But whether or not the placebo effect actually alters people's perception is another matter, and not one that I'm convinced has been discredited. Some of my colleagues took this seriously and performed a brain imaging [princeton.edu] study and found that placebo actually changed the way people's brains perceive pain (they examined placebo analgesia) in those people subject to the placebo effect (report less pain with placebo). Namely, people show less activity in pain-related areas and more activity in "control" areas that may be overriding or dampening pain processing. Mind over experience.
    • by daveo0331 (469843) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:28PM (#11972202) Homepage Journal
      Two groups of test subjects. Tell Group A the usual story, some people are getting placebos while others are getting the real thing and no one knows who's who. Tell group B everyone's getting a placebo. Give everyone placebos, and see if the pills being taken by group A have any effect.
      • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:41AM (#11972642)
        Give everyone placebos, and see if the pills being taken by group A have any effect.

        Also get Group C and tell them they are all getting placebos and give them the real pills and get Group D and tell them they are all getting the real pills and give them placebos. With Group A, the patients will have some uncertainty about what they are getting and that may affect the effect.
        • by dumdeedum (150099) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:51AM (#11973054)
          Two groups of test subjects. Tell Group A the usual story, some people are getting placebos while others are getting the real thing and no one knows who's who. Tell group B everyone's getting a placebo. Give everyone placebos, and see if the pills being taken by group A have any effect.
          ~
          Also get Group C and tell them they are all getting placebos and give them the real pills and get Group D and tell them they are all getting the real pills and give them placebos. With Group A, the patients will have some uncertainty about what they are getting and that may affect the effect.

          Then get Group E and tell them they are getting real placebos and give them random pills and then get Groups F through J and give them pills on the second Tuesday of every month and tell them you're uncertain about what the pills are and then get Group K to distribute fake placebos, real placebos and small slices of toast to Groups A, D and G respectively and then tell Group L they're not needed and should just take whatever pills they find at home or on the street. This ensures that Groups B, C, E and J but not C know what they're taking but not really and that people in Group A will think they're in Group D.
        • Full ANOVA Design (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CedgeS (159076) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:21AM (#11973367) Homepage Journal
          You need to incorporate the product of the following conditions:

          Patient's certainty:
          Uncertain
          Certain and correct
          Certain and incorrect

          Getting the drug:
          Yes
          No

          This would leave us with the following groups:
          Not sure and recieving drug
          Not sure and not recieving drug
          Certain of recieving drug and recieving drug
          Certain of not recieving drug and not recieving drug
          Certain of not recieving drug and recieving drug
          Certain of recieving drug and not recieving drug

          Then you need many replicates, include all the interactions in your ANOVA (i.e. do it the simple, correct way with none of the monkeying around that bad statisticians will prescribe), and report the results that pass Ficher's LSD (the most powerful detector of significant difference), and possibly also include results passing more stringent significance tests.

          Then we will have the answer. Wait 4 years for people to do it with other drugs and make more complicated expirements with more degrees of freedom and it will be canon.

          And yes, you will have to LIE to and DECIEVE your patients. This is considered unethical, so this simple basic expirement will never be done in the "developed" world. There can be no waiver of "you may or may not recieve medication" because if introduced it would place everyone in the group "Uncertain." If the patients have a bias towards believing that a medical experiment does not medicate as stated then the patients must not know that they are participating in the experiment.
    • I think an effective use of a placebo is when addicts of some types of drugs continue going to methadone clinics, even after the physical addiction is gone... Even if the dosage is so small it doesn't matter, or even if the dosage is a placebo by that time, it makes them feel better to go.

      I think it's also one reason why some people feel the need to have a disorder of some kind. It's something like what a hypochondriac feels, but different. I'm not a doctor, but from my understanding, hypochondriacs m
      • I think an effective use of a placebo is when addicts of some types of drugs continue going to methadone clinics, even after the physical addiction is gone...
        That would be a great example, except that methadone is addictive. The reason it is given to heroin addicts is that it doesn't get them high. It's unclear to me exactly why that is considered an improvement.
        • by Martin Blank (154261) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:07AM (#11972432) Journal
          Methadone will get them high, just not as high, and the effects last longer, so a new high isn't sought quite as fast. It's also deliverable via tablet for the same effect, which is much safer and less expensive than intravenous delivery. However, it is, as you mention, extremely addictive, and it's important to watch patients closely, as withdrawal from it is still extremely painful, and can last longer than heroin withdrawal.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:34AM (#11973606)
            as a doctor working in the field of substance misuse i need to clarify this:
            Methadone does come in an injectable form but the oral preparation is safer in terms of number of fatal overdoses
            Methadone also doesn't give people the euphoria that heroin gives them.
            Some people develope an addiction to heroin specifically becoause they get addicted to the euphoria, others develop their habit because they don't like the withdrawal effects. This second group tend to achieve maintenance and reduction of the chaos in their lives on methadone and once they have achieved the necessary psychological and social infrastructure necessary to withdraw then they can have their doseage reduced to zero. Those who seek the euphoric affect tend to use methadone to remove the withdrawl effects but continue to use illicit drugs on top of this in order to achive their high. This group may well be able to have their addiction controlled more successfully with injectable diamorphine (heroin). Various european countries are exploring this option and 2 pilot projects have been set up in the UK in order to research this very point. Once the results of these have been audited then policy as a whole will change. Almost all substance misusing people who approach drug dependency services do so with the aim of coming off drugs but it has to be done in a safe and controlled manner to attempt to try and put mechanisms in place for them to address the reasons why they became addicted in the first place.
        • by niittyniemi (740307) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:32AM (#11973400) Homepage

          > It's unclear to me exactly why that is considered an
          > improvement.[methadone over heroin].

          It is not seen as an improvement by honest doctors ie. doctors who take their hippocratic oath seriously and don't do their governments bidding.

          I was treated in a mental hospital about 10 yrs ago for alcoholism (UK) and there were a number of heroin addicts in there being treated with methadone. They said the methadone was disgusting in every possible way. (They became the living dead on it).

          The consultant psychiatrist wanted to treat his patients with heroin. People with a heroin addiction can lead perfectly normal lives, those on methadone can't. Yet the government wouldn't allow him for purely political reasons: red top newspapers screaming "Junkies get heroin on National Health Service Scandal!"

          The psychiatrist (Dr Marks) made a fuss about it, saw that he would make no progress in changing attitudes and then pissed off to Switzerland where they have an enlightened drugs policy:

          * Needle exchange (no Aids or hep)

          * Heroin prescription (no stealing or shitty side effects)

          The UK eventually solved all their mental health problems: it's called "Care in the Community" also known as "do fuck all for them and if they break the law chuck them in prison".

          I'm currently doing my bit by lobbying my MP but I feel I will make no progress either and will follow Dr. Marks' in going abroad to a country where mental health problems equates to a trip to hospital and not prison. One needs to protect ones family, right? (Alcoholism and other mental health problems have a genetic component).

          Sorry to be OT but people need informing of what is exactly going on in their name and the public disgrace that is mental health provision in large parts of the Western world.

    • by shanen (462549) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:54PM (#11972360) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, we know you're in a hurry to post quickly, but the result is an entire thread with your hurried spelling mistake (not copied above).

      Anyway, the counterexample in the article is easy enough to explain, in that the counter-placebo actively prevents some secondary effect, where it is the secondary effect that is closer to the true cause of the perceived pain reduction. The the morphine or the original placebo are just acting somewhere higher in the chain. Given how little we know about the nature of the mind (including our perception of pain), the results are not nearly as suprising as they proclaim.

      The whole topic of "truth" just seems so passe these days. Faith-based politicians aren't going to worry about any of it, anyway. They don't need or want better science or more facts--they already know what they believe, and they're going to structure the world around their beliefs, no matter how crazy. The whole notion of truth is under attack.

      So many examples, it's hard to know where to start. The two that are on my mind right now are the new UN ambassador who is pledged to destroying the UN, and appointing the master planner of the Iraq fiasco to the World Bank.

    • by JavaRob (28971) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:46AM (#11973018) Homepage Journal
      Hey, have you heard about Placebo Domingo, Placido's younger brother? He looks just like his brother and gets great press, but he actually can't sing worth a damn.

      Heh heh. Hoo, tough crowd tonight...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:26PM (#11972187)
    Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee -- an eight foot tall Wookiee -- want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more importantly, you have to ask yourself: what does that have to do with science? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with science! It does not make sense! Look at me, I'm posting on slashdot in response to an article about science, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense. And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation... does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense. If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests
  • by filmmaker (850359) * on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:30PM (#11972214) Homepage
    So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know.

    That's really interesting. The body and/or the brain releases the THIQ (I would presume) as if herion were present, but only if the morphine blocker isn't used in combination with the placebo.

    This suggests that as long as we think we're getting morphine, our bodies will respond accordingly. If the phenomenon could be isolated...combine that with some VR, and you've got the opium dens of the digital age. But no opium.
  • by Andyvan (824761) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:33PM (#11972228)
    Maybe saline solution is not completely inert after all, and so is not a good placebo.

    -- Andyvan
  • Thank you (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:35PM (#11972235)
    Just great, like I really needed 13 more things to worry about.

    Hey, why wasn't my wife on that list?
  • by templest (705025) <.xiplst. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:35PM (#11972237) Homepage Journal
    I have emough thimgs that dom't nake semse im ny life so as to worry about that. For exanple, why the fuck does ny keyboard type "n" whem I clearly hit the "m" ke... wait, mvn... forgot to put the keys back right. Okay, i'll give those problems a whirl now.
  • Mind over matter. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gimpynerd (864361) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:36PM (#11972246) Homepage Journal
    The brain is a very powerful thing. I don't know what is so hard to believe. Pain originates in the brain so it isn't that hard to believe that you can deceive it.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:15AM (#11972496) Homepage Journal
      I have a better theory. If you're in pain your body starts synthesising drugs to reduce your pain. The fact that the body isn't producing enough of these drugs is caused by a lack of feedback at a chemical inhibitory level. So your doctor gives you morphine. Now your body and stop synthesising pain releaving drugs and redirect its energies elsewhere. Now you take the morphine away. The pain receptors start screaming bloody murder which wakes up the inhibitory pathways and results in massive drug production.
  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:41PM (#11972270) Homepage Journal
    ...nobody must be looking at the data.

    During the dark ages people were absolutely convinced that theory was correct. And anything that disagreed with the theory was burned, as were the heretics who observed it.

    • by ErikZ (55491) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:45AM (#11972656)
      You know, jobs in the science would really open up if we started burning heretics again.

      #1 Skill for a successful career in science: Try not to look flammable.
    • by Bastian (66383) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:50AM (#11974605)
      The more interesting medieval cases were where laymen knew more about the real world than so-called intellectuals.

      A great example is projectile motion. I'm sure most any archer could have told you that the arrow takes a curved path. The official intellectual story at the time, though, was that the arrow went straight up into the sky at an angle, then somehow stopped and instantaneously began falling vertically back down to earth. This motion had to be the case because all motion occurs in straight lines.

      Maybe it would be more fitting to call them the Dim Ages.
      • by teromajusa (445906) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:33PM (#11976350)
        Are you sure about that? Medieval theory of motion was based on Aristotle. The idea was that straight is the natural motion for all earth bound things, not that earth bound things always move straight. Read about Aristotle's theory of motion here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/GreekScience/Students /Tom/AristotleAstro.html

        Medieval intellectuals were not stupid, they just started from some faulty premises. Try reading Aquinas some time. Its not easy stuff. And they did not freely ignore obvious physical phenomena, as can be seen by the complexity of some of the Ptolemaic models of the solar system.
  • Missing option (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:42PM (#11972284) Journal
    What about "Why do people believe whatever politicians say?". I've never seen a single one not lie out his ass every chance he gets just to win votes then 6 months later deny all knowledge. We're ment to be a smart race yet we repeatedly fall for the same scams and tricks day in and day out.

    Might not be "why is the universe breaking laws we know apply to everything in it", but it's something which might effect our lives unlike a few of the things mentioned.
    • Re:Missing option (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Joe Tie. (567096) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:17AM (#11972863)
      That's a good question, and one I always find myself wondering whenever the usual Democrat VS. Republican arguments break out here. I think some, certainaly not all but at least a portion of it comes down to humans having some inate need to believe in a higher power. One which has a greater knowledge than the individual and can provide another group of people to hate. Couple hundred years back it would have been preachers telling of the danger posed by witches and heathens, now it's politicians preaching about the evil ways of their oposing party. A lot of folks would be quick to believe anything, provided it gave an easy target to explain why things are going wrong. It's them darn liberals/It's them darn conservitives! From what I've heard, even the politicians themselves are trapped in it, pretty quickly finding their former views lost and replaced by whatever their peers particular view is.
  • by prakslash (681585) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:43PM (#11972293)

    I guess I might as well buy those enlargement pills after all.

    Hey, you never know...

  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:45PM (#11972308) Homepage
    The 14th thing that makes no sense: Not reading the article that is posted right there in the submission and easily reachable to inform the reader, and yet feeling fully qualified to write something as a comment without that knowledge.

    Such as this comment...

  • by rdwald (831442) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:49PM (#11972333)
    Why not include the Columbia prayer study? Oh, yea, because it's been thoroughly discredited [csicop.org]. Just like the Belfast study will be soon enough.

    One million dollars [randi.org] says homeopathy is a placebo. Do you want to argue with it?
    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:15AM (#11972848)
      The BBC program "Science and Nature" had an episode on BBC Two, which was called "Homeopathy: The Test" which first aired last year on Tuesday 26 November, 9pm.

      The results of a controlled, random, double-blind study were that the effect did not actually exist.

      Here's the link:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/homeopa [bbc.co.uk]t hytrans.shtml

      I think what we are seeing here is a six month editorial lead time on articles in New Scientist (giving their research department the benefit of the doubt).

      -- Terry
    • by vistic (556838) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:15AM (#11972850)
      I don't get how they can claim that stuff like spider venom can be diluted in water to the point where the sample likely doesnt contain a single molecule of spider venom... but that it left an "imprint" on the water, whatever the hell that is.

      If this were true, then what about the other things which got into the water and "imprinted" those water molecules over the years? Where do they get the water from to dilute in? How can they be sure the water they are using isn't "imprinted" with something bad... or is there some way to de-imprint the water before they imprint it with whatever they're selling...

      This is nonsense that requires very, very minimal thought to realize it's flawed very fundamentally. If this stuff which isn't even present in the water, imprinted it... then what about all the other stuff which has touched the water over the years?
  • by porcupine8 (816071) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:50PM (#11972338) Journal
    Why do they make it sound like it's a suprise that the placebo effect is biochemical and that the "mind can affect the body"?? The mind is pretty much defined as the product/functions of the brain. The brain is biochemical and part of the body. This wouldn't surprise the middle schoolers I'm currently teaching psychology too, it shouldn't suprise any scientists.

    Yes, the placebo effect is still not completely understood, if it exists at all. But that article made it sound like things that are pretty common knowledge are new and shocking.

  • Assholes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:52PM (#11972354) Homepage
    14. Why Being An Asshole Gets You Chicks

    Its true. Go to any mall and you'll see a not-so-attractive man walking around with a beautiful, well-endowed lady in tow while he's making fun of her to his friends, or is putting her down. He never calls, he never does the dishes, he never puts the seat down, and most of all, he's getting some.
    • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:02AM (#11972404)
      Dude, that's easy. Chicks want to be mistreated (many of them, at least). I'm not trying to be funny or anything. I honestly suspect that it's some evolutionary hold-over from when we lived in caves. When you show her that you are in charge, it shows you have good genes and are a good choice for breeding. If you treat her right, she might keep you around, but she will fuck other guys behind your back and then make you take care of their children. I've read that that happens in at least 10% of all marriages.
      • Re:Assholes (Score:5, Funny)

        by Renraku (518261) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:10AM (#11972458) Homepage
        Yeah, that's what I see. I see there are two types of guys in a lot of women's eyes. The kind you fuck and the kind you go crying to when you can't get to a guy you fuck. The later type is also the one you put in charge of fixing your car, raising your kids, and providing general emotional support.
      • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by StikyPad (445176) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:37AM (#11972617) Homepage
        Yup.. Double Your Dating..

        Worked for me.. it really quintupled it. You don't have to mistreat women, just be a man and show that you're in charge and not scared of her or trying to kiss her butt. Women, like most men really, want someone else to be in control. They want other people to tell them the right way to do things, etc. That's not true all of the time, of course, but the majority of the time. Don't believe me? Post a personal ad saying how you want a woman who is beautiful, intelligent, self confident, and self sufficient but believes that it's a man's responsibility to be the leader in a relationship. You'll get tons of responses.

        Teasing women shows them that you're not intimidated by them, or that if you are, you're at least not going to act like it. Unless they've got horrible self confidence, they'll see through it anyway and know you're joking.. it just makes things fun. As does playing hard to get, and teasing them that they're not your type or not good enough for you. People enjoy challenges.. don't make yourself unenjoyable.

        Romance is something that was invented in a time where men were all "chauvinist," so it was rare and appreciated. Romance is greatly appreciated by women.. if you make it a rarity.

        Bottom line -- don't be a wuss.

        David DeAngelo is the man.

        I'm sure I'll get modded down for being offtopic.. for some reason we nerds don't like to talk about how to be successful with women. Probably for the same reason most people don't like talking about technology.. because it makes them feel inadequate.
      • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by josh3736 (745265) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:57AM (#11972730) Homepage
        Chicks want to be mistreated ... I honestly suspect that it's some evolutionary hold-over from when we lived in caves.
        Actually, take a Sociology class. Gender inequality is the least in hunting and gathering societies and ramps up to be the greatest in industrial society. When we lived in caves, men and women shared equal resposibilities with each other and neither sex was dominant over the other.

        Read the link in this guy's [slashdot.org] post for an interesting editorial on the subject of "why the asshole gets the girl."

    • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:09AM (#11972448)
      Because he's confident, he doesn't put her on a pedestal, and doesn't let her walk over him, unlike the hundred other guys who turned into idiots when they saw her.
    • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by No Such Agency (136681) <abmackay@gmail.3.1415926com minus pi> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:19AM (#11972522)
      I grow as weary of explaining this as I am of being an example of it*. "Assholes" get chicks because they go out there to meet women, with confidence and at least the illusion of interest. They don't stay in griping about being single on Slashdot, while thinking "no hot girl will ever like me".

      * an example of the latter, not the former
    • Re:Assholes (Score:5, Informative)

      by thefirelane (586885) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:22AM (#11972534)
      Seriously, this is not a troll, read this:

      Why 'Nice guys' are such losers [heartless-bitches.com]
    • Re:Assholes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:27AM (#11972565) Homepage Journal
      I figured this out once, but you have to be a bit cynical to get it. First of all, this is only true for some types of women. Most women hate assholes. So who are these women who like assholes and why? Well, I believe they are women who drive men crazy. You described them as well-endowed.

      If you're a perfectly normal guy who has ever happened to land himself a hot chick who usually dates assholes you probably know what I'm about to say. They expect and demand that you act like a prick. If you don't they dump you cause you're "not a man". But, surely you say, you havn't addressed why they date assholes in the first place?

      Well, I think that comes down to women going after the "hot guy". It really doesn't matter if there are an equal number of nice hot guys as there are hot guys who are assholes. What matters is that women who can have any man they want tend to pick the most famboyant hot guy at some point. This guy might not even be an asshole, but at some point he comes to realize that no matter how he treats his woman he can get away with it cause he's hot. The hot girl doesn't want to leave him because what if her next boyfriend isn't as hot? How will that look to her friends? So she sticks with him no matter how bad he treats her, thus estabilishing in her mind what a "real man" is.

      Of course, that's coming from the perspective that the hot chick wasn't predisposed to assholes in the first place. If she had an asshole father, then obviously she will seek out a man who is also an asshole -- that's just basic psychology. But there's more than one path to hot women becoming obsessed with dating assholes.. and frankly, I don't know what you can do to fix it (maybe act like an asshole, get the hot chick and then wien her off her obsession, but don't try to go too fast or she'll dump you for not being "a man".)

    • by KalvinB (205500) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:12AM (#11972814) Homepage
      girls like dicks.

    • The point being? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jesterzog (189797) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:18AM (#11973161) Homepage Journal

      Go to any mall and you'll see a not-so-attractive man walking around with a beautiful, well-endowed lady in tow while he's making fun of her to his friends, or is putting her down. He never calls, he never does the dishes, he never puts the seat down, and most of all, he's getting some.

      Really, though, would you want a partner like that?

      I had one once, and it was awful -- she was so convinced that she was useless and constantly putting herself down. I felt really sorry for her because somewhere along the line she'd been seriously messed up, but I also wouldn't wish her on anyone. In any case it lasted for a matter of weeks before I dumped her (or she interpreted it that way) because I just couldn't stand it any more.

      The way that she acted a lot of the time suggested that she was expecting to be beaten for some of the things she did, no matter how much I constantly told her that there was nothing wrong and I wasn't going to treat her like that. She never actually listened to me, and all the time she was assuming I was someone I wasn't. Honestly, it wasn't until I'd met her that I understood how it's possible that some women put up with that kind of crap from guys. She was practically inviting it, and with someone else she would've gotten it. (No, I didn't oblige.)

      It took me a while to get over that, but my current girlfriend, who took a while to find, is very assertive. If she doesn't like something I say or do, she'll make sure I know straight away, and I do the same for her. It's a whole lot better.

  • I remember once... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainPotato (191411) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:57PM (#11972379) Homepage
    ...getting a guy completely trashed on water, because he thought he was drinking vodka. Sure, he'd had a few vodkas already (only a few), but once the bottle ran out, he still wanted more, so I filled up the bottle with water, and he and I sat down and kept drinking the 'vodka'.

    I acted as if I were drinking vodka (the flinching at the strength of it, and pretending to be feeling the effect), until he became so drunk on about 350ml of water (and the perhaps 100ml of vodka that he'd drunk earlier) that he couldn't stand and was passed out, and was out of action for almost a day.

    After this, with the d*ckh**d out of the way, I finished my good deed for the party, and everybody else had a great time from that point onwards at the party... it only took about 40 minutes for this to work.

    So, yes, I can believe that the placebo effect works - and even more effectively on fools like the guy in my anecdote.
    • by ultramk (470198) <ultramkNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:25AM (#11972551)
      A couple of thoughts... (possible complications)

      1. Maybe he had more actual booze than you were aware of. I remember at that age having a few *before* the party, to loosen up. Remember too, that alcohol takes a while to metabolize under some circumstances.

      2. Perhaps he was just a lightweight, all it took was a couple to push him over the edge. Case in point, my wife (this was last year, btw) went out for drinks and a movie with her mom, her aunt, and some ladies from her bookgroup. She's not a tiny thing, and she's not incapable of holding her drink. However, on this particular day, she hadn't had anything to eat, and was slightly dehydrated. She had 2 martinis, and literally passed out 30 minutes later at the theatre. Either because of her lack of eating that day, blood sugar weirdness, or whatever. (I picked her up, and drove her home. She didn't wake up for 2 hours. I would have taken her to the emergency room, but her mom's a nurse, and suggested that she just needed to sleep it off. She was right.) If you're wondering, she hasn't had a drink since.

      3. He could have been on some medication/recreational drug that amplified the effects of the alcohol he DID have.

      I'm not saying any of those things had to be the case, but the effects of alcohol vary so widely, from person-to-person, and even from day to day depending on diet etc, that it's hard to quantify an anecdotal account, and use it as proof of an actual physiological effect. Just a thought.

      What would be more convincing to me would be a double-blind study with a rigorous testing method. It would probably even be fun to do! Any volunteers?

      Interesting story, though.
      m-
  • by munpfazy (694689) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:03AM (#11972407)
    From the article:

    >IT IS one of the most famous, and most
    >embarrassing, problems in physics. In 1998,
    >astronomers discovered that the universe is
    >expanding at ever faster speeds.

    Embarrassing? Since when is being able to study something qualitatively new and unexpected an embarrassment? One would expect cosmologists to jump for joy at their luck. (And among those whom I know, everyone does!)

    If anything, dark energy is a triumph of experimental science. An experimental groups found something no one expected, and within a hand full of years, armed only with careful data analysis, they convinced not only themselves but everyone else that it was genuine and radically changed our picture of the universe. Since then we've accumulated even more convinging data, and found independant evidence to confirm the existance of dark energy. There is a vigerous community studying the problem and proposing new tests, and theorists everywhere proposing new and interesting ways to accomodate the data. One couldn't hope for a more perfect example of science working in the way we all like to believe it does.

    Cold fusion, on the other hand, is a *real* embarrassment for physics - dozens of seemingly reputable scientists have spent millions of dollars and decades of work and produced diddly squat. The experimental case isn't bulletproof - it's just so riddled with holes that no one notices when new bullets pass through it. The story is now so thick with poor experimental practice, unprofessional behavior, and overt fraud that few legitimate researchers will touch the subject for fear of being associated with all the hucksters and frauds who haunt it.

  • by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:04AM (#11972412) Journal
    I think these recent experiments are interesting and require some explanation.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/841690.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    and also

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/655518.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Hedley
    • by PxM (855264) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:32AM (#11973402)
      The part about sending something faster than light is just bad reporting. Einstein says that no information can travel faster than light. If I point a laser beam at the moon and move it quickly, the dot on the moon will move around faster than light. However, no information is sent so there is no problem. The same applies to this experiment except it involves group and phase velocities of light. The concept is very hard to explain in words so I'll just point you to this Java applet with a moving picture:
      http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/109N/more _stuff/Applets/sines/GroupVelocity.html [virginia.edu]

      The part about light moving slower isn't anything special. It has been known for a while that light slows down in a medium (ie anything other than a pure vacuum) at a rate dependent on the type of medium. This includes normal glass.
  • Paradigm shift? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wronski (821189) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:05AM (#11972415)
    (one of) The exciting thing(s) about dark matter/dark energy/Pioneer anomaly is that they smell like new fundamental physics. A bit like in the early 20th century, when people had everything pretty much figured out, except for a few nagging problems such as the UV catastrophe and Michelson-Moreley's failure to detect changes in the speed of light. Which of course led respectively to quantum theory and relativity.

    We assume DM and DE are there because according to general relativity we need something to clump visimble matter, something to accelerate the universe today (and another something to accelerate the universe in the past if inflation is to be believed), and a bunch of something to make the universe (very nearly) flat. Postulating all these weird stuff is a bit contrived. Or we can heve some new physics.

    This probably what the Wow aliens were trying to tell us...

    PS: The 4neutron stuff and changing constant *are* new physics, if true. Right now they are just plain weird, IMHO.
  • On cold fusion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Avumede (111087) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:06AM (#11972426) Homepage
    This article sort of looked like bullshit to me, especially the cold fusion part. Notice how they hint that cold fusion has been replicated, but don't actually go out and say so. Then they quote an "Engineer" saying the evidence is strong, like they couldn't find any scientist that would support their claim. So I asked [straightdope.com] at the Straight Dope Message Board about the cold fusion, and got some interesting answers. What I learned basically confirmed that (to the knowledge of that fairly well informed board), yes, cold fusion still is unlikely and unreplicated.
    • Re:On cold fusion (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jace Harker (814866) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:13AM (#11973345) Homepage
      I actually read the final report of the DOE committee that recently reviewed cold fusion research. Contrary to what this article implies, the committee concluded that most of the new research on "cold fusion", while of much higher quality, was still as inconclusive as the old evidence. They identified a couple specific physical phenomena that were both unusual and well-documented, and suggested further investigation of those.

      In all I thought the committee's conclusions seemed reasonable, pragmatic, and scientific, without being strongly prejudiced for or against the "cold fusion" effect. However, in the media (such as this article) the final report has been painted with much broader strokes. I find that disturbing.

      Slashdot covered the DOE report here [slashdot.org].
    • Re:On cold fusion (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ibag (101144) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:38AM (#11973411)
      There have been recent, successful (i.e. highly reporoducible, statistically significant) experiments with cold fusion, or at least with something that doesn't seem explained by other known science. I know people at MIT who are currently working on cold fusion research, and apparnelty there are at least two commercial ventures that are underway to make products out of some of this research. However, nothing is going to be released till people are damned sure this is the real thinng, because the social and political risks are too big if it isn't.

      The probleme with cold fusion is not that it doesn't work (which it may or may not, as I haven't actually looked at the research), but that because of the bad science that has been done on cold fusion, there aren't many reputable scientists working on it. Of course, 90% of the crap you read might be completely irreproducible, so if you were to try to just look into the field you'd find a lot of crackpots and poor results. However, you should not confuse what you will most likely find with what you might find.

      Of course, on the other hand, if the results that people are finding really are examples of workinig cold fusion, the experiments should be at a level that cannot be ignored very soon. It follows that *if* this is the real thing, we will know soon, and if it is not, we will know that the current batch of research isn't fruitful. I trust my friends, so I think there is something to look forward to, but its really hard to say what will happen. Its imporant that we have people working on this kind of research, though, because the benefits will far outweight the costs if things do prove fruitful. The trick is keeping it in the realm of science.
  • My take on Placebo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:41AM (#11972640) Homepage Journal
    I think the placebo effect is because of our evolution as a social animal. People live in a group, and a healthy person receives attention. If you aren't getting attention, your health suffers. If a doctor is treating you, that means that someone values you enough to keep you alive, and your health will improve because of some psychosomatic recognition of your standing in the community.

    It's like the opposite of 'bone-pointing'. In some aboriginal cultures, a medicine man could kill people just by pointing some bone or small object. People would really die if they got bone pointed -- not only because they believed that death was certain, but also because everyone else in the community treated them as a walking corpse. No food, no conversation, no medicine. An invisible.

  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdotNO@SPAMmavetju.org> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:18AM (#11972868) Homepage
    1977, it was called the Wow! signal.

    2005, it would have been the WTF! OMG! LEET! signal.
  • by Cycnus (162186) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:21AM (#11973172) Homepage
    I find it strange that they mention the Belfast homeopathy test in their list.

    Not long ago (in 2002), there was a very good, very scientific test done by Horizon on the BBC using the very same technique.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2512105.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    It seems that part of the problem in the Belfast findings may be due to the fact that the cells that had a reaction were manually counted, possibly introducting a bias known as "the experimenter effect", of which little is really known apart from the fact that it exists (a bit like the placebo effect).
    There is little doubt that the experimenter acted in good faith, but the fact was that the very controlled experiment commissioned by the Horizon (involving the Royal Society and a number of specialists in various relevant fields) ended up showing a statistical no-greater-than-chance result.

    Now, before you say "how can you trust a TV show", I'll say that Horizon is no ordinary TV show. It's probably the best, most balanced and scientific accurate show ever to grace the screen. Those who are lucky enough to be able to watch it will probably agree.

    There is another large scale experiment being done at the moment on homeopathy, invoving both homeopaths, scientists and people like James Randi.
    Randi predicted that the experiment will show no more than we already know today, that homeopathy is not worth much as a medical practice, but that most believer will be undeterred by any amount of evidence.
    The real question to test a practitionner of alternative medecine is to ask: what would it take you to admit that it doesn't work?
    For many, nothing will.

    But it's worth investigating anyway, I'm ready to consider that there is some benefit to it if tangible, undisputable proof was found. It would certainly help to use homeopathy if its field of action -if there is any- was actually well known, and if it is doing better there than other types of medecine. http://www.homeowatch.org/ [homeowatch.org]

  • by nimblebrain (683478) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:45AM (#11973248) Homepage Journal

    I'm sure they're subject-shopping, but it's interesting that there are so many weird things going on out there.

    It does feel like there are a few things about to tease themselves apart in cosmology...

    Gravity seems to be behaving oddly, with things like the Pioneer acceleration and the anomalous in-track acceleration of the LAGEOS satellites [harvard.edu].

    The limited age of the universe is being stretched to strange proportions of late with observations of the early universe looking more developed than expected [spaceflightnow.com]. Observations by the Spitzer [caltech.edu] may throw even more confusion on the fire.

    Add to the pile interesting oddities like Quantized Redshift [lanl.gov], originally proposed by Tifft and still observed, that would see to put us at the center of the universe (we shouldn't see the equivalent of even "shells" from our point of view). The Fingers of God [thunderbolts.info] is an interesting graphic interpretation.

    Association of high-redshift quasars with low-redshift galaxies [uci.edu] rounds off the plate.

    Actually, a number of these controversies have been around since the mid-80's, but the power and spectrum spread of our telescopes has been getting better. It's been hard to get time to observe the controversial objects - the allocation committees tend to turn such proposals down - but there are plenty of controversies left in the skies, even when we don't go looking for them :)

    Personally, I'm excited by the possibilities. It feels like there's something just around the corner, if only we can get some research time in on it.

  • by S3D (745318) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:22AM (#11973561)
    John Baez, quantum gravity reseacher have an exellent list on his site of Open questions in Physics [ucr.edu]
    It includes:
    sonoluminescence - plasma core in the bubbles of liquid [nature.com]
    high temperature superconductivity
    turbulence and Navier-Stokes equations -mathematic of chaos
    what is meant by a "measurement" in quantum mechanics? Does "wavefunction collapse" actually happen as a physical process ?
    What happened at or before the Big Bang?
    Why is there an arrow of time; that is, why is the future so much different from the past?
    dark energy
    dark matter
    The Horizon Problem: why is the Universe almost, but not quite, homogeneous on the very largest distance scales
    When were the first stars formed, and what were they like
    Is the Cosmic Censorship Hypothesis true? Roughly, for generic collapsing isolated gravitational systems are the singularities that might develop guaranteed to be hidden beyond a smooth event horizon?
    Why are the laws of physics not symmetrical between left and right, future and past, and between matter and antimatter?
    Why is there more matter than antimatter, at least around here?
    Is there really a Higgs boson, as predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics?
    Why do the particles have the precise masses they do? Or is this an unanswerable question?
    Are there important aspects of the Universe that can only be understood using the Anthropic Principle?
    The Big Question(TM)
    This last question sits on the fence between cosmology and particle physics:
    * How can we merge quantum theory and general relativity to create a quantum theory of gravity? How can we test this theory?

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