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@AtlanticCanuck That is true, racism seems to be another issue that gets a lot of push back too, of the "what about reverse discrimination?" type. Campaigns for gay rights, too. Homophobes will say that gays are demanding "special rights" or "special treatment". Prejudice operates like that, unfortunately.
1 year, 1 month ago on White Ribbon Day – Calling for an End to Violence Against Women
Martin, thanks for posting this blog. I had actually never heard of White Ribbon Day, not even sure if there is such a thing in the US.
There is one thing I don't get: why is it that every time there is a campaign against sexism or violence against women there are people who say but what about men? There are specific campaigns for every single issue on our planet and this kind of reaction just doesn't happen. Like, if there is a campaign to end the killing of unwanted dogs at animal shelters, I don't see people complaining about why there is no campaign against cat killing. Cat people just go ahead and have a campaign of their own, and we all win.
@Brad Hutchings Sorry, I forgot the link to the CML treatment story: http://www.hematology.org/Publications/50-Years-in-Hematology/4729.aspx
1 year, 7 months ago on The Growing Distrust of Science
@Brad Hutchings Here is another view of the non-replication issue in cancer-related preclinical studies: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v483/n7391/full/483531a.html#/ref1 (sorry, it's behind a paywall unless you have a subscription to Nature). The Amgen scientists (and Nature) got a lot of valid criticism because, while they complain about non-reproducible results, they neither show the data (they did not publish it) nor they expose the presumed culprits, the scientists who published crappy data. Preclinical studies are very complex and even if published on a top-tier journal, the scientific community itself always takes the claims with a healthy dose of skeptic questioning until someone else reproduces the data. Scientists are human, and they compete for funding, and unfortunately there are always papers showing cherry-picked data, lack of adequate controls, sloppy scientists trying to rush to publish. In addition to bad practices, there is the inherent complexity of biological systems; we who work in the field know that minor changes in the system used, be it the cell line, or animal model, or the shRNA used to inhibit the target, etc, etc., can lead to different results. The pharma industry, including Amgen, greatly benefited from discoveries that got started by translational scientists such as the ones they criticize. Imatinib, and the newer drugs that overcome resistance to imatinib, nilotinib and dasatinib, are the product of long years of academic research, funded by public money in large part, before the pharma industry invested in them. Check this link to read the fascinating story of how chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) became the poster child of successful target therapies. If we scientists favored the status quo, we would never have developed treatments for many diseases.
And if the status quo, as in the case of climate change, is also watching out for their economic interests, and are drtiven by the purest incentive known to mankind, money, as you say, then falling for the arguments of the status quo may be the completely short-sighted thing to do.
Thanks, Martin, for a very good article. The bottom line is: science works. Science has given us targeted therapies against cancer, notwithstanding a certain measure of non-reproducubility, especially when we talk about enormously complex biological systems. This is just to mention an example. Science is not perfect, but it the scientific method is the best tool we have at the moment to try to understand the world and make useful predictions. Making predictions is hard, but scientists certainly get them right much more often than economists :-)
It's all semantics in my opinion. No real difference between 6 and 7. Because Dawkins is a scientist, he knows it would be "technically" incorrect to express 100% certainty, just as we can't have 100% certainty that tomorrow won't be the end of the world.
1 year, 7 months ago on Dawkins is Agnostic – So What?
@reasonbeingblog I did not finish The End of Faith but from an American perspective the largest threat to the world are the Christian fundamentalists who push the right-wing politicians to extreme position that in the long run, like the anti-science positions with respect to climate change, can possibly kill a larger number of people worldwide. But I did not mean to derail Martin's blog or start a controversy.
1 year, 7 months ago on Some Thoughts on Mind – From Sam Harris’ Talk at the GAC
@reasonbeingblog Long story, but in a nutshell, I think he jumps to conclusions too much, as a scientist, I prefer other scientists that do not have that bad habit, in my opinion. For example, he says things like science can determine what is right and what is wrong, and paints himself into a corner, instead of saying that science can certainly inform moral decisions. I saw him do that when he presented The Moral Landscape here in New York City; I was disappointed by his talk. It was a bit petty and triumphalist, in my view. And he really irritated me with his Islamophobia, in the past. Just my opinion.
Aside from that, I like him just fine :-)
Cute, but I think you won, Martin! I'd pick you over PZ to hug, any day! :-)
1 year, 7 months ago on The Great GAC Hug Off – PZ Myers VS Martin S Pribble
It is not only your opinion, Martin, that death brings about the ceasing of all consciousness and we really disappear as individuals, but the only position that is compatible with all we currently know about biology, chemistry, physics; basically, it's the only position compatible with scientific knowledge. Our personalities are not magically preserved. That's just wishful thinking.
In my opinion, religion would not exist if it were not for our fear of death. The only fear we should have is of throwing our lives away or not living them to the fullest because of some(Literally) pie in the sky.
Death is so scary for some, that even atheists grab onto pseudoscience concepts such as "energy" and some quantum effects to keep believing that our minds, our personalities, our selves, will still exist in some fashion or other, after death.
1 year, 7 months ago on Some Thoughts on Death – From Sam Harris’ Talk at the GAC
Oops, I posted by accident, saying only "well", haha!
There is pretty much no doubt that stress influences many physiological processes, and that it is detrimental to well being. Any attempt to reduce stress is worthwhile the try. For some. meditation can do that, just learning to relax is important, in my opinion. However, for some reason, Sam Harris has the opposite effect on my mind, he drives me a bit crazy :-)