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trrll
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Realizing that medicine is sometimes trial and error, as in the hit em hard of yesterday, I think for the best way to end this nonesense is for the Aids doctors to regroup and give the anti-virals when needed (to persons with symptoms) and then stop when the patient is well enough. It's been tried. The virus and symptoms tend to come back, and when they do the virus is sometimes resistant and no longer responds to the drugs. So continuous treatment is based upon what has been found to work most reliably. Of course, these conclusions are necessarily based on averages, and every individual is different. Perhaps some people can safely discontinue therapy, but statistically it's not a good bet.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2006 on A Straw Man gets AIDS at Skeptico
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I don't believe that the trials went so well, at least not here in America. If AZT is such a wonderful drug, why was it scrapped in the 1960's as a Cancer drug? If it would not work on immune compromised, cancer patient, why would Aids patients fare any better, they wouldn't because generally speaking, they are worse than cancer patients. You have an odd idea of how drugs work. It sounds like you think that a drug is just generally good for you or generally bad for you. But real drugs don't work that way. A drug that works for cancer probably won't work against a virus, and vice versa. They are very different illnesses. Some drugs work only for one type of cancer and not for others. AIDS is not merely "worse" than cancer (and there are some types of cancer that are worse than AIDS in terms of how rapidly and unpleasantly people die); it is completely different.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2006 on A Straw Man gets AIDS at Skeptico
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Yeah, but... my point all along has been that "some models" don't mean anything against impications that fall from the directly observed model until "some models" are proven to be more than a presumption about what might be possible. Rather, it is the other way around--the possibility of multiple universes cannot be excluded unless all models in which multiple universes are possible are definitively excluded. Failing that, the notion that the universe is singular is mere speculation, and no definitive conclusions can be drawn based upon that assumption. Another way to put this is that the observed universe is the necessarily preferred cosmological model, unless the more complex model can produce more accurate answers, since it can't do it in less steps. However, it is by no means clear that a cosmological model in which the universe is singular is in fact simpler. In many models, some additional mechanism would be required to prohibit the universe from being multiple. After all, the rule in physics is that if something can exist once, then it can exist multiple times. So some strong basis is required for making the universe an exception. Moreover, multiple universes are simpler in the scientific sense of having a smaller number of free parameters--this is, after all, the fundamental issue of "fine tuning"--the fact that there are a number of free cosmological parameters that appear to be arbitrarily set, apparently coincidentally, to values that are conducive to the existence of organized matter, and therefore life. If universes are multiple, this problem disappears. No value needs to be assumed or explained, because these parameters take all possible values in different universes, and only those universes suitable for life happen to have observers. Finally, you seem to have the misconception that conclusions can be drawn based upon Occam's Razor. This is false. There is no logical reason why the simplest hypothesis is best, and indeed, the historical trend in science is for simple hypotheses to be found to be wrong, and to be replaced by more complex ones. So no real conclusions can be drawn based upon which hypothesis is simpler. In other words, even though a multiplicity of universes is in fact the simpler hypothesis, we are still prohibited from drawing conclusions based upon that assumption. Occam's Razor is not a guide to truth--it is an empirical rule of thumb for efficiently ordering hypotheses for experimental investigation. Hypotheses with fewer free parameters tend to be more restrictive, and thus are more easily tested and, if they are wrong, excluded. So the more efficient way to proceed is to start with the simplest hypotheses and work toward more complex. Then there's that whole argument for falsifiability, that string theorists want to get around by redefining how science is done Again, falsifiability is not a guide to truth or a basis for drawing conclusions--it is a criterion for constructing hypotheses that are amenable to scientific investigation. So far, nobody has figured out how to falsify the hypothesis that there are other universes, just as nobody has figured out how to falsify the hypothesis that there are not. However, many of the theories that entail multiple universes are still being explored theoretically, so these models may yet generate testable predictions that would bear upon the question of the singularity or multiplicity of universes. Until such time, we can draw no conclusion that is dependent upon the assumption either that there are, or are not, multiple universes.
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2006 on No idea of the odds at Skeptico
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No, that's false... We observe only one universe, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that more can exist. Actually, that is not true--there are some models of the universe in which multiple universes necessarily arise. Since these models have not been excluded experimentally, there is indeed reason to believe that more can exist (whether they do exist is of course another matter). There is definitely no reason to believe that more cannot exist. Since we would not expect to observe them easily (or at all, depending upon the model) even if they did exist, the fact that we don't observe them is not evidence either way--it is only evidence for the existence of this universe.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2006 on No idea of the odds at Skeptico
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But it's not evidence "for", either, so you can't use it as such in lieu of evidence that does exist for only one universe. There is no evidence whatsoever for the "only" part, because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I am not trying to draw a conclusion based upon the number of universes, merely pointing out that no valid conclusion can be drawn based on any assumption regarding whether the universe is singular or multiple. All fine-tuning arguments are critically dependent upon the assumption of a singular universe. Obviously, if the number of universes is large enough, some will be suitable for life, and as a matter of simple logic, every living observer will observe a universe that is well-suited for its kind of life. Ironically, many of the same people who will insist that the apparent fine-tuning of our universe cannot be taken as evidence for the existence of unobserved other universes will then turn around and argue that the apparent fine-tuning of our universe does constitute evidence for an unobserved designer. The rule here is that one is proven UNTIL there is some reason not to believe it. I agree that we have evidence for the existence of one universe. Because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, the most that we can logically conclude from that observation is that there exists at least one. Nope, empiricism always supercedes bullshit and unproven theoretical speculation. Do you actually imagine that to be an argument? "Empiricism" does not supersede logic--and the principle that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence is not an "unproven theoretical speculation"--it is a fundamental rule of logic. tell these Loop Quantum Gravity theorists that the Earth has an infinite number of moons because it might be possible that we just can't see em. However, there are numerous reasons to believe that we should be able to detect other moons if they exist. So failure to observe other moons does constitute evidence that they either do not exist, or are very different from our moon in such a way as to make them undetectable by normal gravitational or optical methods. On the other hand, since there is no reason to believe that we should be able to observe other universes even if they exist, the fact that we have not observed them is not evidence either way.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2006 on No idea of the odds at Skeptico
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Only one universe is observed, so it requires no additional hypothesis to "rule them out"... idiot. Remember the fundamental principle of logic that states, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." So unless there is some reason to believe that we should observe such universes if they exist, or some proof that other universes cannot exist, we cannot base any conclusion on the assumption that they do not. Which knocks a huge hole any kind of "fine tuning" argument.
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2006 on No idea of the odds at Skeptico
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Any phenomenon that exhibits the constraint of logical consistency--i.e. under identical conditions it behaves in a manner that is at least statistically consistent--should be regarded as natural. All such phenomena are potentially subject to scientific investigation. What makes something "supernatural" is that it has no constraints--or to put another way, it has an infinite number of degrees of freedom. Since such a phenomenon is by definition entirely unpredictable, it is not subject to experimental tests, which are inherently dependent upon prediction. Thus, supernatural and untestable are essentially synonymous. Naturalism is merely the assumption that the universe is defined by a consistent set of natural laws. According to this assumption, there is no such thing as the supernatural--all apparently supernatural phenomena are imperfectly understood natural phenomena.
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2006 on Supernaturally at Skeptico
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GM has lead to monocultures, making them more vulnerable to disease or pests, reducing our ability to feed the hungry. That horse was already out of the barn before GM came along. Plain old selective breeding led to largely monoculture crops. Monoculture is risky in principle, but so far it has worked out OK in practice. There is no evidence that monoculture has reduced our ability to feed the hungry. GM actually offers a potential way to move away from monoculture by reintroducing controlled diversity into crop plants.
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2005 on Rice genome decoded at Skeptico
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I wouldn't object at all to ID being taught in high schools, so long as they taught the truth about it: "Intelligent Design is a fringe theory that has virtually no support among practicing scientists. Among scientists, ID is widely considered not even to be a valid scientific theory, because it fails to make strong predictions that can be used to devise observational or experimental tests of ID." But of course, this would never be acceptable to ID proponents, who want ID given "equal time" with evolution, despite the fact that it has negligible support among actual scientists. Fundamentally, ID is a public relations campaign designed to create the public impression that evolution is somehow in trouble, and that "design theory is supported by a growing number of scientists in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books." Of course, real biologists who read scientific journal and books and attend scientific conferences know that this is completely untrue.
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Pointing to industry funding as indicative of bias, in addition to being ad hominem, is also an example of confusing correlation with causality. Industry will of course be most likely to fund scientists whose research furthers their business goals. Given that most scientists are chronically underfunded, in the sense of not having enough money to do all of the research that they would like to do, it is virtually a certainty that many scientists whose results favor the position of an industrial donor will receive funding from that source, whether or not that funding results in a scientific bias. And of course, industrial donors will prefer to fund the most talented scientists, so the higher the quality of a scientist's research, the more likely he will be to have received industrial funding. Therefore, if you discount all conclusions by scientists with industrial ties, you introduce a bias against the highest quality science that supports the industrial position. Moreover, the ability of industrial sponsors to influence research is wildly overrated. In academia, very few scientists are much influenced by funding source. If they wanted to be told what to do, they'd go to work for industry and get paid better. And even industrial scientists are unlikely to stick with an employer who asks them to falsify or conceal results--the sort of people who are attracted to a scientific career tend to be fairly intolerant of that sort of demand from an employer. Scientists have biases, to be sure, but they are usually personal biases--scientists tend to get attached to their pet theories (especially ones to which they have devoted a substantial fraction of their professional lives) and are reluctant to let go of them.
Toggle Commented Aug 9, 2005 on Ad hominem at Skeptico
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