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Space Science

13 Things That Do Not Make Sense 1013

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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  • by weighn ( 578357 ) <weighn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:27PM (#11972192) Homepage
    no -- that makes a LOT of sense. Particularly when trying to get an early post.
    Doesn't it say in the FAQ -- post early, post often?
  • Homeopathy. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Petter3 ( 532365 ) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:40PM (#11972267)
    "And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on."

    Excellent. If tests suggests something's going on, let's test it further.

    "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon."

    I hope she and others keep testing it, since this is the first time I've ever heard of homeopathy even being remotely true. I won't hold my breath though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:46PM (#11972311)
    It's the war on drugs, dude.

    The constitution guarantees the PURSUIT of happiness. It doesn't say anything about getting it. You're guaranteed to always be chasing it, never catching up.
  • Re:Homeopathy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Feneric ( 765069 ) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:48PM (#11972322) Homepage

    After reading the article I find myself wondering if homeopathy and the placebo effect are in any way related regarding what makes them work...

    Is a solution so weak that it probably doesn't even contain a single molecule of the active ingredient any different from a solution that isn't an active ingredient at all? In both cases it seems the key factor is that the patient believes it's an active ingredient.

  • 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.

  • Conflict of what?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:54PM (#11972364) Homepage
    Point 1) Placebos have an effect, except when they don't, such as when a drug is replaced with another which counteracts the original's effects.

    Point 4) A placebo controlled study showed that homeopathic remedies are effective.

    That does not make sense.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Mysteray ( 713473 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:09AM (#11972452) Homepage
    The fact that hundreds of sweeps over the same patch of sky have found nothing like the Wow signal doesn't mean it's not aliens.

    Gotta love those wacky New Scientists . . .

  • by damiam ( 409504 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:12AM (#11972471)
    Of course it's not hard to believe in the placebo effect; that's why most people do. What the article says is that it may not exist, despite that fact that it's intuitively palatable.
  • 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.
  • Re:Assholes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:17AM (#11972505)
    Don't be fooled by the nice rack... the women you get by being an asshole AREN'T worth it. They're usually just as moronic/selfish/back-stabbing as their boyfriends, and they're crappy in the sack too.

    Gimme a woman with self-respect EVERY damn time.
  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by No Such Agency ( 136681 ) <abmackay@@@gmail...com> 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
  • by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:23AM (#11972537)
    In this case, my totally uninformed guess is that the patients subconcious became trained to associate opiates with an IV. The brain gets its "time for opiates" call when the needle was inserted, and when it doesn't get any morphine, takes that as a cue to churn out some of its own opioids - which would then be blocked by the naloxone.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:39AM (#11972629)
    If god did it, then there are two cases:

    (A) there is some physical law that
    she made and she followed that law
    when she created the universe

    (B) she disregarded any laws and just
    made the universe and there isn't
    any laws that we can learn from it

    If the case is B, then this indevor will be hopeless, that is, there isn't a law to be found. However, if the case is A, then exploring the phenomenta in a rigorous manner is what we need to do. When we learn the law, it might help us make cool new devices that do energy, travel, or what not. If we didn't question our laws and just "accepted" things without intrique, we wouldn't have cars, computers, or anything like what we do; we'd be cave men.

    So. The question of god is largely epistomology -- it doesn't matter if god created it or didn't create it, beacuse using god as an explanation tells us _nothing_ about how to use the phenomena in a useful way.

  • by KingJoshi ( 615691 ) <slashdot@joshi.tk> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:42AM (#11972645) Homepage
    It's not new that placebo effect exists. It's the fact we don't understand it. That's why it's on the list. Why does it work for some and not others? What limitations are there on the mind influencing the biochemical of the body? It's #1 on the list because it's so powerful, we've known about it for a long time, it's so pervasive, yet we know so little.

    It's not like some programming changing the bits in memory. Or is it? What is our "mind"? Is there a non-materialistic creation out of the biochemical that can influence the materialistic world? This whole range of questions in regards to the placebo effect is huge, interesting, important and very little understood. And regardless of knowing about it, just like the phrase, "The more you know, the more you know you don't know", the placebo effect can still leave many educated thinkers amazed.
  • by Vaystrem ( 761 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:44AM (#11972649)
    - George Bush's Re-Election
    - Paul Wolfowitz as Head of the World Bank
    - The US Intervention in Iraq
    - The Structure of the U.N. Security Council
    - Voting Structures of the Bretton Woods Institutions
    - 'West is Best' Mentality in Development and Aid Agencies [This is admittedly shifting]
    - Current Price of Oil and the inability of America to reduce its dependency upon it.
    - The DMCA
    - RIAA efforts against file-swappers and its inability to adapt in the face of change.
    - Health Spending (as a % of GDP [2001]) is 0.3% less in the United States than in Canada and its free here.
    - The State of Public Education in North America
    - The 'CNN Effect' [short term intense immediate media coverage reduces long term awareness of issues] e.g. When was the last time you heard about the Tsunami?
    - The Health and Wealth Dispairites between the Developed and Developing world.
  • 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."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:07AM (#11972792)
    "Health Spending (as a % of GDP [2001]) is 0.3% less in the United States than in Canada and its free here."

    - um, no...health care is financed by your outrageous taxes in Canada, which is why many of your professionals have moved to the states...
  • by roshi ( 53475 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:11AM (#11972812)
    Yes, but the point here is that the placebo effect is more than just a subjective assessment of "feeling better," it is more than just a psychological effect (which is also biochemical in origin, but that's a meta-level that we're just not talking about here). It is associated with real, measurable, biochemical differences in the patient. What's more, these differences show therapeutic specificity.

    Consider the example given in TFA, in which morphine is replaced with a placebo and pain is deadened nonetheless. That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that when the placebo is not saline, but an opioid (morphine) blocker, the placebo effect does not occur. This suggests that it's not a matter of the brain saying "OK, I've received a painkiller, therefore I expect the pain to subside, therefore my subjective experience of the pain will be lessened," but rather a matter of the body somehow producing morphine-like molecules, based merely on the expectation, or perhaps the learned experience. That's a startling conclusion.

    The Parkinson's example is similar, in that, not only were symptoms reduced, but the specific neurons associated with the disease showed the same sorts of positive changes associated with a genuine Parkinson's drug.

    It's not just a matter of the "mind can effect the body." Why don't you continue the quote: "the mind can affect the body's biochemistry." That's a profoundly different statement.
  • by KtHM ( 732769 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:12AM (#11972817) Homepage
    Ah, the "we can't explain the Big Bang, therefore Jesus is the messiah" argument. I admire your ability to delude yourself.
  • 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 Elf-friend ( 554128 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:27AM (#11972909)
    You missed the newest one: the House of Represenatives Committee on Government Reform (what the Hell this has to do with Government Reform I can't fathom) wasting something like six hours this afternoon and evening grandstanding about the steroid problem in baseball. I mean, yeah, I do care about that, but Congress getting involved ain't gonna fix it, and they have got way more important things to spend their time, and our tax money, on. They even contemplated making changes to the whole of collective-bargaining law just to sort out baseball. Talk about making mountains out of mole hills.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:35AM (#11972960)
    I think you forgot to mention that methadone cause permanent organ damage (unlike pure heroin). It's only better than heroin really because it is legal if you are already addicted to heroin. Which is to say the only real danger of heroin is that it is illegal (or misuse).

    Which is to say many of the problem of illegal drugs is that those drugs are illegal. Solutions can come from appropriate education (do you jump off your roof if it's too high?) and reasonable regulation (not today's modern prohibition).
  • Re:And number 11.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fraudrogic ( 562826 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:41AM (#11972990)
    This coming from the one who has the over used "Insensitive Clod" sig.

    so in the spirit of the post i give the following:

    1) Create Slasdot post ridiculing overquoted and overused +5 funny jokes
    2) Subtley put said overused humor vehicle in sig
    3) ???
    4) Profit!
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:48AM (#11973037) Homepage Journal
    The only study I've ever heard of on that subject had the opposite conclusion. It was found that people high on marijuana were more careful drivers, presumably because they were afraid of being caught.

    I'm not trying to condone driving while stoned, I'm just pointing out that we shouldn't assume a priori that being high on a particular substance necessarily causes people to exhibit antisocial behavior. We should study it.

    Of course, our wonderful set of elected representatives has banned spending any federal money on studying the possibility that marijuana may have beneficial effects. "We don't know, and we don't want to know."

  • by podom ( 139468 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:49AM (#11973041) Homepage
    As chance would have it, I just read James P. Hogan's latest book, Kicking the Sacred Cow, in which he touches on alternative (and often scoffed at) theories that seek to explain some of these mysteries.

    Hogan's list of recommended reading on Astronomy, Cosmology and other subjects is here [jamesphogan.com]. I picked up Eric J. Lerner's and Tom van Flandern's books (The Big Bang Never Happened and Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets, respectively), and they make for some fascinating reading.

    Lerner, for example, proposes (or perhaps expands upon) a completely different set of theories for the formation of the universe in which plasma electrodynamics is one of the primary shapers and the universe is much older than suggested by the big bang theories. This theory eliminates the need for inflation, dark matter and energy, etc., and I think it's worth taking a serious look at.

    Another interesting area that more people here may be familiar with is the research of Immanuel Velikovsky, whose most well know and controversial theory is that Venus was formed very recently and may have actually been thrown off by Jupiter. Some of Velikovsky's books are also listed on Hogan's site.

    One of the things that I think is most important to realize about science is that YOU DON'T HAVE TO BELIEVE ANY OF IT! It's not religion; if something doesn't quite work, and there are other theories out there, we should be willing to consider them.


  • by jhurshman ( 722388 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:59AM (#11973090) Homepage
    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.

    Do you have a specific example of an "observer" being burned for disagreeing with the prevailing theory? Or are you perhaps engaging in hyperbole?

    I'm not a historian of science, but I'm not aware of any executions, let alone burnings, in the "dark" ages over divergence from prevailing scientific theories.

    Of course, there were those who were burned for disagreeing with prevailing theological/religious theory, but I doubt that's what you're referring to, since you use the word "observed", hardly an appropriate term in the theological arena.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:35AM (#11973221)
    Reading through this thread, although no one may see this being posted so late in Slashdot time (First post! Hell yeah!), I find it interesting amid all the Intelligent Design/Complete Randomness and current science is great/bullshit debates (some of which are quite good, although I say that as an educated layperson), we seem to be missing something.

    Science, folks, is really just a way of thinking about the world. It is ONE way of thinking about the world. You can certainly make a very good argument for why it is a better way of looking at the world than say, religion, or astrology, or mysticism, or anything else, but we need to understand science does not offer Truths any more than any other perspective. You can also make an argument, often just as good, for why any other perspective is more "true" than science. Science is the Western World's current High Truth Giver, which every culture seems to need in one form or another. We assume that the ideas that science gives us are "facts," but they're really not in the way we think of facts as irrefutable and immutable; facts are nothing more than a given culture's agreed upon foundations at a given time. 500 years ago Western Culture had a very different set of foundations (but still similar, certainly). 500 years from now, the foundations the Western World's world view will be built on (assuming the Western World still exists in any sense) will be very different from what we think now. In the early days of modern empirical science, there were many who argued for different sorts of empirical science, and many of their ideas are still valid criticisms (Goethe is a good example of this, although his actual scientific ideas are rather silly now; a good critic doesn't necessarily have to be a good creator).

    This article really points out nothing more than the fact that our current understanding of the world is limited. It will ALWAYS be limited. When scientists of any group come across empirical evidence that points to "embarrassing holes" in our current theory and knowledge of the world, it is the universe's way (whether you consider the universe to be a cold flux of energies or a grand design by some conscious maker doesn't matter here) of reminding us that it is far more complicated than our current theories account for. If you look at Western Thought, from a certain perspective, it is nothing more than a continuously more and more complex "understanding" of the universe. If the universe is infinitely complicated, then there is no "absolute" knowledge, only an infinite recession of models and theories and perspectives, none of which are ever any closer to an Absolute Truth than any other, only, perhaps, more functional in their explanations of the empirical evidence we encounter.

    So when we come across empirical evidence that suggests that our current thinking is limited, massively flawed or just flat out wrong, we shouldn't be looking to previous models and saying "ha ha, we were right all along!" but instead trying to develop the next perspective. That may be more spiritual than our current one, or less, or something entirely new and outside our current thinking, but either way we should use our always present lapses in knowledge to drive us forward, not backward.
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:39AM (#11973232) Homepage Journal
    Oh. In other words, there isn't any real reason. It's just that methadone is politically correct and heroin is not. That's basically what I expected.
  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) * <{runderwo} {at} {mail.win.org}> on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:52AM (#11973286)
    Of course, our wonderful set of elected representatives has banned spending any federal money on studying the possibility that marijuana may have beneficial effects. "We don't know, and we don't want to know."
    They already know. They've been trying to forget the 13 federal medical marijuana patients for years, because proof of marijuana's beneficial effects, and a contradiction of WoD dogma of the past 35 years, is something that the public should not know about. Nixon's advisory board recommended that marijuana be decriminalized. Reagan's recommended the same. Instead, we have the worst drug prohibition in history, for no particular good reason, and to no particular useful effect.

    For some reason, people continue to believe that the status quo is better than the boogeyman world of the drug warriors, where everyone is running around stoned out of their minds on something or other and society as we know it ceases to exist. Never mind that before 1913 when opiates were banned and before 1937 when marijuana was banned, we didn't seem to be having all too many problems keeping society together. Maybe it has something to do with not persecuting people for how they choose to utilize their freedom.

  • "No bearing"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:54AM (#11973292) Homepage
    I think "no bearing" is a little harsh. The Declaration of Independence is the mission statement on which the country was founded. It contains a rejection of the divine right of kings, and recognition that rights are inherent in humans, not handed down from the government. No, it's not a document with the force of law, but it certainly stated a number of principles on which our law is based. It certainly doesn't have "no bearing" on that law.

    --grendel drago
  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) * <{runderwo} {at} {mail.win.org}> on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:15AM (#11973352)
    So, you can be happy and piss off the Puritans or you can achieve permanent organ damage.
    Well, you know, these people want to know that their God is making you pay for your "sins" (identified by them). So while they openly advocate throwing users of marijuana or other relatively harmless psychedelics in prison, they give a free pass to legal vices which have widely known self-destructive effects (tobacco and alcohol). Same reason why cough syrups or opiate pills are loaded with Tylenol; not because the end result is more effective, but because Tylenol is the cheapest way for them to destroy your liver if you ever got the urge to use those medicines recreationally.

    This type of thing comes a lot from the right-wing crowd. No freedom without responsibility, fine. But they take it a bit too far and manufacture consequences where there need not be any, in a misguided attempt to promote responsibility. Instead of making people more responsible, it just makes the proponents look like control freaks and zealots, and leads to distrust of anyone who advocates responsibility.

  • 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:
    Certain and correct
    Certain and incorrect

    Getting the drug:

    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.
  • 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.
  • Re:And number 11.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by themusicgod1 ( 241799 ) <themusicgod1&zworg,com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:13AM (#11973527) Homepage Journal
    Oh great. Now we are seeing add the guy making a smartass comment about a "guy complaining about how overquoted pop culture references that have something to do with the topic getting an instant +5 funny" getting modded as insightful" getting ignored by mods. What's next? Will we see the guy who makes a reference to the guy making a smartass comment about a "guy complaining about how overquoted pop culture references that have something to do with the topic getting an instant +5 funny" getting modded as insightful" getting +5 Insightful?! What is the world coming to?!
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:33AM (#11973603) Homepage
    Guessing the results of research before it is through?
    Give me an a priori reason why homeopathy can't work. Why would you predict a study isn't going to work?
    If you think homeopathy isn't going to work because the mechanics of it don't make sense to you, that means it doesn't jibe with your metaphysical ideas. And I really don't care about your metaphysical ideas.
    I can't find words to express how dangerous your monument to non-existence is.
  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:10AM (#11973699) Homepage Journal
    "Fiasco?" Twenty-five million people establishing their first freely elected government in history is a "fiasco" now?
    Thank you for making my point about the low value of "truth".

    As regards your off-topic content, it is unclear whether you are mumbling about Iraq or Afghanistan, though my original was clearly referring to Iraq. I remind you that my focus is on the increasing irrelevance of scientific truth.

    In this particular case, the "truth" when Wolfowitz planned the anti-Saddam war was that there there were no WMDs. That was just the politically convenient justification for Dubya's essentially unprovoked invasion of a rather annoying, but basically harmless country. Of course, as a good little Bushevik, you'd prefer to forget all about that silly history stuff, right? Thank you again for making my point. (But are you actually worth a Foe slot?)

    Anyway, I simply see it as a cost-benefit thing, which is quite relevant to Wolfie's proposed new role as a banker. Iraq consumed many American lives and lots of American dollars. I think the extra Iraqi deaths should be counted, too (but that's debatable--even though he wasn't doing much killing lately, it's quite possible that Saddam could have gone out with a messy bang at any time).

    That's the debit side that Wolfie should have been considering as the main planner of the invasion. The asset side is still *ZERO*, but none of the likely outcomes look very likely to be very "profitable" for America or liable to offset America's investment. Civil war is still quite likely, but a "freely elected" fanatical Islamic state allied with Iran could be worse. A new Iraqi dictator is also quite plausible. We won't actually find out until after our troops leave--but the meter will continue ticking until then. Ignoring truth is often expensive.

    Truth? We should have a contest between the dead people and the Busheviks to see who cares less.

  • by toadlife ( 301863 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:22AM (#11973732) Journal
    Colic. Another one of those things that doesn't really exist.

    Baby's tooth hurts - must be 'colic'
    Baby's tummy hurts - must be 'colic'
    Baby's got a headache - must be 'colic'

    I can definitly see how Heroin would help cure 'colic'.
  • by R1ch4rd ( 710276 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:22AM (#11973887)
    I know little of the subject at hand and the research you talk about, but still I feel that 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' are inventions used when theory failed. This has happened many times in the past and a new theory was developed that dealt away with these inventions.
    On the other hand you may be right and there is some form of energy and matter which is still 'dark' to us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:52AM (#11973959)
    While some people may not be comfortable with lies and deception, it is a valid part of informed consent if those lies and deception are revealed later.

    Take for instance the experments where a person signed up to confer electric shocks on a subject that did some task incorrectly. In reality, the subject was not geting shocked, but the person doing the shocking was the actual test subject. Deception was a very important part of the study, but it was not unethical.
  • by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:44AM (#11974097) Homepage Journal
    nice try, but the Milgram studies have generally been thought to be unethical. I don't think that there is a single ethics review board that would approve that study today.

    It is considered unethical, not because of the deception (which is fine), but because significant emotional trauma can occur as a result of the deception.

    So, in short, even though YOU might not find it unethical, review boards would, and you have a snowball's chance in [very warm place] of getting such a study approved these days.
  • by JohnnyCannuk ( 19863 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:52AM (#11975180)
    Gee spend the money through taxes and get free, UNIVERSAL, equal access to health care or spend it directly to a for-profit HMO or Insurance comapny and not be able to choose your doctor, your hospital and STILL have to pay more if shit isn't covered.

    Hmmm, I'll pay the taxes thanks. Nobody in Canada is "uninsured" and must go to second rate charity hospitals.

    BTW, up unitl about $60K, the tax burden is the same in both contries. While we continue to tax our rich, you let them keep their money, which, after more than 25 years, doesn't seem to be "trickling down".

    Did I mention we had a $9 Billion dollar SURPLUS last year? How is that trillion dollar deficit anyway?

  • by vigour ( 846429 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#11975196)
    To be honest I used to be very sceptical about homeopathy myself. I've suffered from ME for many years now, with nothing helping me (I won't bore you with the details you already know, here's a link [quake.ie] to an excellent account of someone else with ME). I tried everything to bring me out of it, traditional medicine, health programmes, queried mental health issues (was I depressed because I was so sick, or was I sick because I was so depressed? I didn't think so, but how could I know), Chineese medicine (worked partially for a while, but I collapsed again), and finally homeopathy.

    I'm a hard nosed physicist so I was very skeptical about the whole process, and theory behind it. I can't (or won't) speak for anyone else, but for me homeopathy worked. It was slow process, and a lot of hard work, 5 months with one homeopath making very progress, but after about 9 months with another one, I have never been this physically good.

    I wasted so much time being trapped in bed, or forcing myself to do things and suffer the consequences for weeks after. Now I swim every day for an hour, cycle 10km (over xmas I had more time so I did 22km every day for about 6weeks, except for 25th dec :P) and living & enjoying my life the way I should be.

    While homeopathy has brought me this far, I have to maintain it more carefully than a normal person, if I slide even a little, I'll drop right back down.

    I don't know how homeopathy works, how it really works. They say things like energy from the molecules you are diluting leave an imprint on the energy of the tincture, or that diluting down to infinestimal quantities makes the solutions more powerful. But sure as most of ye know people are trying to get rid of the infinites in our theories of nature, that they are not a true part of nature, and you can't dilute something to infinity.

    More proper, impartial studies need to be done to investigate the phenomenon, not try to prove/disprove it. When politics or agendas get involved in science, it can (only saying can) result in loaded results, and hence bad science. Since there is no theory than can explain it (just like the fact that BCS theory can't explain high temperature superconductors, or new interesting research showing our entire outlook on magnetism, the M-J paradigm, might be wrong) any theories on how it works are derived from interpretations of the experimental results, and hence the experiment, or the interpretations need to be unbiased.
  • Re:"No bearing"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost ( 62405 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @11:17AM (#11975457) Homepage Journal
    But really, "all men are created equal"? Not for a long time after the Declaration.
    All men ARE created equal. However, all men do not treat each other EQUALLY. The government exists only at the consent of the governed -- therefore, the rights still exist even if the governed fail to keep their government in line.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    No one says that everyone is born with the same financial status or physical and mental abilities. However, we are all born with the same rights, and must exercise them using our free will. Others will oppose you, and you must fight them, whether it is by force as the American patriots did or by peaceful means as Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @11:26AM (#11975563)
    I hear some nazis where using telephons ... Is there anything more to say?
  • by lildogie ( 54998 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:35PM (#11976378)
    > Look across space from one edge of the visible universe to the other

    You can't see from one edge of the visible universe to the other.

    You can only see from the center to the edge.

    That's because Hubble expansion coupled with the limiting speed of light define the edge of the visible universe from the position of the observer.

    Change the position of the observer to the edge of the visible universe and the edges will move.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:32PM (#11977055)
    its free here.

    no...health care is financed by your outrageous taxes

    You must be one of those morons that runs around in the other threads claiming that letting a friend borrow a CD is "theft." Lets look at the definition of the word. Do you pay for the care when you receive it? No. Do you receive a bill for the care you received? No. Why? Because it is free. By your definition of "free" there is nothing free. "Free" peanuts at the bar are not free because they are subsidized by the beer sale. "Free" 0% financing on a car isn't free because the inflated purchase price covers the cost. "Free" Slashdot isn't free because they have all those annoying adds.

    Why not just say that "free" is a word you believe has no meaning, rather than implying that you think it is a usable word that just doesn't apply in this one and only one instance?
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:34PM (#11977071)
    I'm single because I'm poor*. What's the point of falling in love when you cannot afford to feed yourself, nevermind a loved one or children?

    Not that I honestly think that money should have anything to do with love, but...

    Two incomes. One roof, one mortgage, one set of utility bills, shared insurance benefit discounts, tax rewards, better credit, etc. There are a lot of savings that can be had when married. Find someone who doesn't care that you're poor and who will work with you to help you both make something of each other. Kids can come later when you're ready.
  • by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:06PM (#11978110)
    People with addictions can certainly live and at times be successful in what they do. Nonetheless, that hardly means "normal."

    What is "normal"? Seems today to be "work 9 til 5, eat, watch TV, sleep". Fuck that! Seriously! I'll take the Hunter S Thomson style parties anyday over that depressing life. "Normal"? Are they the ones snapping up all the anti-depressants spat out by the drug industries?

    You specifically say their life is not normal. What aspects of their life aren't normal? I'm genuinely interested in what you have to say, if you are actually in the mental health field.

    Remember also that you are seeing a biased sample. They people you interact with need your help. Would it be safe to assume that a certain percentage of adicts are below your radar because they are weathy, successful and otherwise healthy? An addition need not be life impacting. Smokers don't seem to have a problem, and the vast majority of them are addicts. If the drug does not affect your ablilty to function, then it's not a problem. Take weed for example (not addictive but very habit forming), I could turn up to my IT job completely baked and do a full days work. I'd get the sack tho, so basically it's very low key for me. Ditto for those who like their cocaine, in fact the media industry is fueled by it. They do throw good parties tho... ;-) As someone who's been around those environments, I can watch TV and make educated guesses what the presenters are on. :-)

    The whole underlying essence of an addiction is extreme distress in the abscence of the addicted to substance or behavior.

    Agreed. However, if you can function in society, hold down a job, have an active social life (moreso that your average /.'er I might add!), then it's not a problem. If you are living on the breadline, then addiction is a serious problem, as your life will revolve around satifying the addiction. If that "satifying" was a phone call and a 10 minute delivery time, then no biggie.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:11PM (#11978916)
    For the past few decades, I've been making a hobby of researching inexplicable observations. It's good mental exercise. Usually, a natural explanation, not involving new laws of science, is eventually discovered.

    E.g., in the 19th century, there were several anomolous astronomical observations: the precession of Mercury's orbit, the Moon's orbit, etc. Explaining Mercury required inventing general relativity. Explaining the Moon, and all the other anomolies, did not. That's why no one today remembers those problems.

    Nevertheless, the occasional significant solution means that we have to look at them all.
  • I'm a professional astronomer and with expertise in quasar spectra, the basis for the claims and counter claims for a time-variable fine structure constant. I am more qualified than the article writer on this topic. Count me on the side of Patrick Petitjean and other skeptical astronomers who think the case unproven.

    Is it wrong for me to share my expert opinion here? Should people only agree with articles or make jokes about them?

    If there was consensus that alpha had changed, this should be on this list, because there would then indeed be a big gap in our understanding. Right now the gap seems more likely to me to be one of techniques of data analysis. If the Australian group is right, we'll get there, but we're not there yet.
  • by dr_canak ( 593415 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:29PM (#11979129)
    "What is "normal"? Seems today to be "work 9 til 5, eat, watch TV, sleep". Fuck that! Seriously! I'll take the Hunter S Thomson style parties anyday over that depressing life. "Normal"?"

    Well, certainly "normal" is subjective. And I never try to move a person to a life that I would consider "normal." Different strokes for different folks.

    What I try to do is ensure that the person's life is fulfilled to the degree that they think their life should be fulfilling. When you really sit down with someone who is addicted, and focus on how that addiction has impacted their quality of life, it is almost always the case that the person can identify ways that their life has fallen short of their expectations as a result of their addiction. Not 100% of the time, but very close.

    "Are they the ones snapping up all the anti-depressants spat out by the drug industries?"

    Not all, but unfortunately you are right in that antidepressant prescriptions are written at a much higher rate than they probably should be. And yes part of it is because of the pharmaceutical companies. They are certainly prescribed at a higher rate than the base rate of mental illness in the population.

    "Remember also that you are seeing a biased sample. They people you interact with need your help. Would it be safe to assume that a certain percentage of adicts are below your radar because they are weathy, successful and otherwise healthy?"

    Yes and no. There is no question my clinical sample is biased, and you can get very jaded that there are no "normal" people left in the world. And certainly the overwhelming majority of addicts are under my radar since I don't see every addict ;-). With that said, I know plenty of people who have substance abuse issues (friends, family, acquaintances) that would be "healthier" in the abscence of that abuse/addiction. I honestly can't think of a situation where a person would be no more healthy in the abscence of an addiction.

    "An addition need not be life impacting. Smokers don't seem to have a problem, and the vast majority of them are addicts."

    I've yet to meet a smoker who doesn't have some problem, or who won't develop a very serious problem later in life. The cost alone of smoking 1ppd can run well over $1000.00 and it's climbing rapidly. So if nothing else, there is a financial cost that wouldn't otherwise be there. And a cost that a true niccotine addict will find impossible to avoid. Not to mention having to structure their day around opportunites to smoke (going out at lunch, on breaks, etc...). Now of course the impact will be for individuals, but nevertheless the impact is still there.

    "If the drug does not affect your ablilty to function, then it's not a problem."

    Diagnostically speaking, that is true in that if the use/abuse does not impair a person's day-to-day function, then technically speaking it's not an addiction and the person is not addicted to the substance. And I totally agree that there can be casual users of street drugs (just as there are casual gamblers that make 2 trips to vegas) that get along just fine. There are three points I would make: (1) they are not addicts and so don't necessarily qualify for the discussion, (2) generally speaking, people's lives are better in the absence of addictive substances, and (3) I honestly don't think there is any such thing as a casual, non-addicted heroin user.

    "However, if you can function in society, hold down a job, have an active social life (moreso that your average /.'er I might add!), then it's not a problem."

    Exactly, and these people aren't addicted. Substance use/abuse exists on a continuum. From abstinence to addiction. Technically / diagnostically speaking, there is no difference from one continuum to the next. In other words, the continuums for alcohol, cocaine, heroin, nicotine etc... are all the same. I tend to operate on the assumption that these continuums are of different lengths, and one can mor

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