Author Topic: Episode #606  (Read 1454 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #606
« on: February 18, 2017, 11:48:29 AM »
Lawsuit Update; News Items: Monkey Mirror Test, Immigration and Crime, Human Embryo Editing, Mission to Europa; Who’s That Noisy; Your Questions and E-mails: Momentum in Sports; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2017, 01:49:08 PM »
Congratulations on your legal victory guys.

One thing I never quite understood about anti-SLAPP is why people usually only get part of their legal expenses paid for. Doesn't that render anti-SLAPP kind of impotent? I mean, having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses instead of twice that amount would still be lethal for a lot of individual skeptics and other whistle blowers. Are there particular reasons why Tobinick shouldn't bear the total burden for the suit and more (which he can pay for with the ill-gotten gains from his quackery) if lawmakers actually want to make SLAPP suits unattractive?
Mooohn!

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2017, 02:37:30 PM »
Yeah, the victim of the anti-speech lawsuit getting all their money back should be the bare minimum. Including being compensated for their personal time spent on the case.

Attacking people's right to free speech should have severe consequences. If not jail time, it should be expensive. Proportional to the attacker's ability to spend money on attacking.

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2017, 04:39:02 PM »
What happened to that very old Belgian skeptics organization that was sued in 2007?

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2017, 05:34:06 PM »
Congratulations on your legal victory guys.

Oh, spoiler alert!

 :P

Offline danjam

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 07:09:34 AM »
I thought the immigration and crime discussion left out an important component. You didn't discuss at all different crime rates based on country of origin. From what I understand of American politics, opponents of immigration aren't worried about German or Canadian immigrants committing crime. The main talking point over the past couple of years has been about illegal Mexican immigrants committing more crime. I would expect Mexican immigrants to commit more crime than Swedish immigrants, simply because Mexico has a higher crime rate than Sweden. Did any of the studies look into that issue?

Offline brilu34

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 10:03:52 AM »
Here's a possible real game situation about Hot Hands.

You're the manager. It's Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th. 2 outs. Tie Game. They have the winning run on 2nd base. 1st base is open. You have your RH closer on the mound. The RH batter had a .300 BA during the season with 30 HRs, but during the World Series he is 15 for 20 with 4 HRs. The RH on deck batter also hit .300 with 30 HRs during the season, but in the World Series he is 1 for 18 & has struck out 7 times. I would assume, according to what Steve said, that he & the statisticians, knowing that hot hands doesn't exist in baseball, it wouldn't matter which hitter you pitched to. Although, I can't imagine a manager in the history of baseball that wouldn't intentionally walk the red hot batter & pitch to the on deck batter who appears to be struggling.

Different question - How can a statistician know that a player with a good free throw % who misses 2 tying free throws with 1.5 seconds left in a championship game, missed the free throws because of the pressure? What is the sample size for said player having the chance to tie a championship game on the free throw line with 1.5 seconds left in the game? Player X may only be in a similar situation a few times in his entire career. What is the sample size of the Atlanta Falcons losing a 25 point lead in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl? It's just one. We will have to wait for them to go to many more Super Bowls & have a 25 point lead after 3 quarters and see if they can hold on & win to give the statisticians a better sample size. The fact is, they choked. Whether or not the pressure had anything to do with it, only the Atlanta players & coaches really know, but I believe the pressure definitely contributed to their collapse. I don't think that a statistician is the right source for the answer. I think the experts that should be sourced are players & coaches who have experienced the pressure & psychologists that study this phenomena.

Here are 2 articles where a player or coach acknowledges his team choked. This is the hardest thing to do in sports. Nobody wants to admit they're a choker.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11694695

http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/we-choked-admits-south-africas-kirsten-20130619-2ojx8.html
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 03:36:52 PM by brilu34 »

Offline Celina

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 05:13:14 PM »
Hello Skeptics, and congratulations on your law suit.
About the study on immigration, the results of the study are interesting, and hopefully will help us to make good immigration policy that is not based on fear of other. However, I do want to comment on the issue of Islam. The Doctor who responded clearly was bigoted, but there are legitimate concerns specific to islam that we should be able to talk about without bigotry. First of all, the people most hurt around the world by Islamic practices are muslims, and so it is imperative that we work with Muslims to reform islam from within, and to know who in the muslim community to work with. But it is also important to understand how at odds the islamic teachings are with democratic, pluralistic values we hold dear. These values are about maintaining a free society for all people regardless of race or belief. We have to learn how to moderate islam so that people can practice it freely on the one hand, while having those same people realize that protecting democratic ideals is a priority. We don't want laws against homosexuality and the like getting passed through our system of voting. We have to work on these issues, and talk about them head on.

Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 05:59:45 PM »
there are legitimate concerns specific to islam that we should be able to talk about without bigotry.

True. There's certainly a lot of actual bigotry around, but in my personal experience the term "Islamophobia" tends to be thrown around a lot by people who don't like criticism of Islam (particularly by Islamists). People like Harris and Hitchens are often branded Islamophobes in order to taint their arguments as racist.

Far be it from me to praise Christianity (or any other religion), but Islam does have features that make it somewhat different from Christianity, in that it is highly politicized at it's core; Mohamed was not just a prophet, but also a political figure and a warlord. Unlike Jesus, he was a ruler who had to deal with the banalities of political life. Because of this, there is no obvious distinction between politics, culture, economy and religion in Islamic life as proscribed by the Quran and the Hadith, making the potential for politicization, fundamentalism and radicalization much greater. The history of Islam is the history of the politics of the Islamic world. By contrast, although there have been times when the Christian church was a sort of rival of the European political elite, the two have traditionally been at least nominally separate. And a related issue is that, in contrast to Jesus' role as a non-political prophet, Mohamed's modus operandi inevitably came with a lot of violence, and was explicitly expansionist (more on this below). Islam is not pacifistic at it's core.

And there are other issues that render Islam more politicized by default. For example, in Islam, there is no such thing as "original sin". The first and second major sins according to Islam are thinking we as humans are self-sufficient (i.e.: that God is not needed), and idolatry (something, e.g.: money, graven images, pictures of God in human form, taking the place of God). Islam means submission to God (making even Christians and Jews who submit to God technically "muslim"), which is supposed to bring peace by averting these two sins. However, worshiping the law of man over the law of God is a form of idolatry, which is why Shari'a is supposed to always override man-made laws. Additionally, in the time of Mohamed, switching religions was synonymous with switching political alliances, which is why apostasy is seen as treason, to be punished by death (specifically, by burning, since apostates should be treated as if they are already in hell).

Another issue is the concept of abrogation. The Quran says that revelations are progressive, so that later verses override earlier ones (just like the revelation of Mohamed overrides that of Moses and Jesus). And Mohamed's life is often taken as exemplary, and to be mimicked as closely as possible, since he was, after all, their prophet. However, the history of Mohamed is one of progressively more violent, aggressive and expansionist behavior. He starts out as a peaceful preacher, but later takes up arms to defend himself, and then finally goes on the offense. He becomes a much more violent, less tolerant person, eventually turning into a warlord. By the principle of abrogation, this means that less tolerant, more aggressive, more expansionist, more violent verses tend to override more peaceful ones. So when Al Qaeda tells the Muslim Brotherhood to go from the Mecca stage to the Medina stage, they are referring to this process of abrogation and telling them to take up arms like Mohamed did during that stage of his life.

And of course, Islam claims to be the final, unalterable revelation (that can't even be properly studied in a language other than Arabic), effectively rendering reformation much more difficult.

Of course, many moderate Muslims find various ways around this, but (imho, from what I've read) it is one of the reasons why Muslims may radicalize more easily than Christians do, and why in many Muslim majority nations there is no clear separation between Mosque and state. Tawfik Hamid describes this in his book Inside Jihad, where he talks about his own radicalization process. He notes that his Sufi teachers could only offer vague, feel good ideas about peace and loving others, whereas jihadists could point to exact Quranic passages and rely on relatively consistent ways of arguing. That made the Jihadists much more convincing to him, as a young devout Muslim trying to attain religious enlightenment (of course, there's more to it than that; they also use cultish socio-psychological leverage that could have come straight out of Margaret Thaler Singer's Cults In Our Midst).
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 03:20:53 PM by werecow »
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 08:35:03 PM »
Using the (proportional) number of immigrants in prison as a measure of the (proportional) number of crimes committed by immigrants is fundamentally flawed by the extreme bias against poor people in our courts. Two people who commit the same crime, one with enough money to hire a competent lawyer, and the other so poor that he must rely on a public defender will likely experience opposite outcomes in our legal system. The latter will spend time in prison, the former is much less likely to. Since many immigrants are poor, especially those from Mexico who by and large come here to work their way out of poverty, and by and large remain poor, will be over-represented in the prison system.

In addition to the economic bias of the court system, the language barrier further obstructs the ability of a non-English-speaking person to defend himself against charges. Immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to speak English. And finally, as has been discussed on the show in the past, Police are very good at eliciting confessions of guilt from innocent people. A person who does not speak English, is unfamiliar with the system, and does not know his rights, is more likely to succumb to such practices, plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, and wind up in prison.

Speaking from personal experience, the number of black and hispanic men in U.S. federal prison is way above their proportion in the general population. This is due to the fact that the skill and preparation of the lawyer plays a greater part in the outcome of the trial than does actual guilt or innocence.

Immigrants, therefore, are responsible for even less crime than the study of prisoners indicates, since they are more likely to be sent to prison, whether innocent or guilty, than non-immigrants, who are less likely to be too poor to pay for a lawyer.
Daniel
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2017, 08:44:12 PM »
Whether or not the U.S. bans or restricts gene editing, as soon as the technology exists, people elsewhere will use it. This is a genie that cannot be kept in the bottle. There will be people who will go wherever they must and pay whatever they can afford to prevent their child from having a genetic illness. And there will be people who will go wherever they must and pay whatever they can afford to make sure that their child has blue eyes or whatever other trait they consider desirable. This technology will be used, and nothing that scientists say or the U.S. government does will prevent it.

Not only that, but there will be both honest gene therapists who will use the best available science in an ethical manner to prevent genetic illnesses, and quacks who will promise to make your kid smarter or stronger or a better athlete based on genetic pseudoscience.

The sad thing is, with so many unwanted children in the world, and overpopulation being what it is, that people who know their genes put their kids at risk don't just refrain from having kids and adopt instead.
Daniel
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Offline Friendly Angel

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 08:50:37 PM »
Whether or not the U.S. bans or restricts gene editing, as soon as the technology exists, people elsewhere will use it.

What authority does the government have anyway to limit this kind of research and procedure? 
Amend and resubmit.

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2017, 05:42:24 AM »
Whether or not the U.S. bans or restricts gene editing, as soon as the technology exists, people elsewhere will use it.

What authority does the government have anyway to limit this kind of research and procedure?

They'd probably do the same as they did with stem cell research, and cut off all your funding even if none of it goes to that research. And other institutions might risk their funding if they cooperate with you on anything.

The sad thing is, with so many unwanted children in the world, and overpopulation being what it is, that people who know their genes put their kids at risk don't just refrain from having kids and adopt instead.

I think ideally adoption should be the first choice for everyone, regardless of fertility or the state of their genes. Unless they have some really amazing genes to preserve for future generations, reproducing is unnecessary as long as there are children available to adopt. Some of them might be especially troubled cases, who'll require parents who can go above and beyond to give them the care that they need/deserve. But the more kids we create, ultimately the more difficult it will be for kids to get proper care, as their number grows relative to the number of capable parents.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2017, 08:18:56 AM »
Whether or not the U.S. bans or restricts gene editing, as soon as the technology exists, people elsewhere will use it.

What authority does the government have anyway to limit this kind of research and procedure? 


A government could outlaw it, but only in its own country where it has jurisdiction.

The sad thing is, with so many unwanted children in the world, and overpopulation being what it is, that people who know their genes put their kids at risk don't just refrain from having kids and adopt instead.

I think ideally adoption should be the first choice for everyone, regardless of fertility or the state of their genes. [... R]eproducing is unnecessary as long as there are children available to adopt. Some of them might be especially troubled cases, who'll require parents who can go above and beyond to give them the care that they need/deserve. But the more kids we create, ultimately the more difficult it will be for kids to get proper care, as their number grows relative to the number of capable parents.

Agreed.
Daniel
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Offline ralfsen

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Re: Episode #606
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2017, 08:49:59 AM »
How do the numbers look if you don't correct for the socioeconomic factors, regarding immigrants and crime? If you assume that many immigrants are in the more "crime-ridden groups", you still get more crime with more immigrants? I'm not claiming to state facts, I just wonder if that's the case. Like if you look at the totals in prison, not correcting for said factors, are immigrants overrepresented then? If this is the case, is not the correcting factors skewing the appearance of the results? If all immigrants are poor, and poor people commit more crime, wouldn't more immigrants still mean more crime? Trying to understand what the numbers are, and how they're corrected and adjusted for this and that.

I know that in my part of the world, there is a pretty substantial overrepresantation of immigrants and foreigners in prison. Local heads of police in several neighbouring countries here have kind of broken their "politicly correct silence" lately about an apparently ominous trend in crime and immigration. Situation may be different in the US.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 09:11:44 AM by ralfsen »