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Molecule (6/13)



  1. I don't think you can make that claim by simply glancing at the amount of human variation.
  2. Those are cultural, not genetic factors. If you look at many of these populations at a genetic level, you would find that they do not segregate the way you would expect
  3. Population specific/enriched gene expression differences would be very subject to environmental differences and inherently noisy/unreliable. There are allelic differences between populations, some with functional consequences. However we need to be careful not to confuse "nationality" with a "population". A nation like China is highly diverse with many different populations, some quite different from each other. Populations like those in Tibet or in the Northwestern parts of China are going to collectively look different than those on the Eastern regions. Even a more ethnically homogenous region/nation like Denmark will be complicated by various migration/intermarrying events. Humans are very mobile creatures and populations have mixed continuously throughout history. The result being that there are very few clear/hard distinctions. Human populations existing rather on a continuous gradient with varying amounts of admixture, making any attempt to draw clear distinctions impossible.
  4. But it does matter. The creationist argument is in principle logically valid. "Probability of life occurring by chance processes is so extremely low that it is far more likely that it occurred by some other means". Now I would argue that the calculations themselves are flawed (and premised on assumptions regarding the unknown) and thus the argument's conclusions are wrong, but the argument itself is solid. We use such probabilistic arguments all the time in science and daily life. Probability of X is low, therefore there must be a more likely cause. Saying "life exists, therefore its irrelevant" begs the question, creates a strawman, and is therefore a fallacious response to the creationist's argument on two fronts. It also sets up a premise that is dangerous in science, it sets up a premise that we should stop asking valid questions about the origins of life since we "know life exists". If we are going to disagree with an argument or position, then we must disagree on logical grounds, not respond with additional fallacies.
  5. No, science doesn't say this, but many do claim that this is "what science says". We need to be careful in our use of language here. Non-random is not the same as something having a low probability. One could speak of a set of chemical reactions having a non-random outcome. After all, chemistry would be a rather useless field if the outcomes were truly random....but that isn't really the whole argument is it? While a set of conditions may have non-random outcomes, the chance of those conditions occurring could be extremely low and may themselves be subject to chance. Water is a rather poor example, as hydrogen and oxygen readily react with each other to produce water, hydrogen is the most abundant element and oxygen is a byproduct of nucleosynthesis of stars. Water forms during star formation, with some of the most abundant sources of water...many times that of Earth...being found in dust/gas clouds. One would conclude that the probability is actually quite likely. How are the probabilities moot? The probabilities are themselves clue to how life originated or how likely we are to find other life. The probabilities are informative and I do not think you will ever be able to fully understand the origins of life if you ignore the probabilities involved. The probabilities "are moot" not because life exists, but because they are premised on a set of faulty generalizations that ignore exceptions and alternatives.
  6. So it was not meant as a serious argument? Because I have seen this EXACT argument used many times against creationist claims. It is a perfectly valid to ask about the probability of life arising by chance occurrences. I for one am not convinced that it can. This does not make me a "creationist", but our lack of understanding of how life first arose also logically forces me not to assume that life arose by chance. Earlier I linked to a paper by England that would essentially say that the chances of life arising are not by "chance" at all, but a natural consequence of the 2nd law of thermodynamics and Life's ability to dissipate heat. My problem with the creationist's argument regarding probability is the same as my problem with atheists asserting that life is the result of chance processes. Both are argue from a point of ignorance, lacking any clear evidence for the assertion. The creationist argument argues based on a set of calculations premised on scientific data, but which ignore the exceptions. For instance, the fact that L and D amino acids are typically formed in equal proportion does beg the question of how all life ended up with L amino acids. It ignores however that there are specific circumstances where there is biased production of a particular form, namely those formed in outer space and found on meteorites. On the other hand, all current abiogenesis hypotheses remain hypotheses, possessing a limited degree of evidence for each, and no clear consensus on a predominant theory. There are glaring mechanistic gaps and a lack of historical evidence. Hypotheses like the RNA-world have made progress in showing that nucleic acids can pull double duty, but it has not yet progressed much beyond the creation of a handful or Ribozymes. Saying these processes are necessarily "chance" makes the same fallacious error in assuming that there is no other alternative.
  7. I don't like responses like this because they are inherently fallacious as it assumes a strawman. The creationist claim (which is inherently flawed itself) is not "what is the probability of life", but rather "what is the probability of life having arisen by random processes". These are two different claims. Fallacious/bad arguments should not be responded to with more fallacious argumentation, that just perpetuates the cycle of fallacies. According to science, we don't really know much about the conditions or circumstances that led to life. There are those who argue that it is not a matter of chance at all, but rather life is "guaranteed" to arise. For instance, Jeremy England at MIT argues that origin of life and Darwinian Evolution arise because of their ability to dissipate energy. http://www.englandlab.com/uploads/7/8/0/3/7803054/2013jcpsrep.pdf We ultimately don't know what the probability of life arising by chance is. These calculations make a number of assumptions that can easily shown to not hold true under differing circumstances/conditions. He is asserting faulty calculations based on bad assumptions.
  8. The number of people who believe that GMOs or vaccines cause autism is surprisingly large and extremely vocal. The joke is very timely. The rest of this is so far off-topic that its not worth addressing.
  9. Nearly everything causes changes in gene expression.
  10. I didn't say that the OR was a "percentage chance". That paragraph doesn't even mention OR, rather that was a separate post that automatically got combined after with the following paragraph, which itself was a separate post. I first posted this paragraph before having read the paper and was giving an explanation of why effect size is important and not just "statistical significance". While the OR is not a "percentage chance"....it does give one a rough idea of the effect size. Its not that PAH exonerates vaccines or GMOs....it doesn't need to because there is absolutely no correlation between vaccines or GMOs and ASD. Its not for lack of studies or attempts to make such correlations either. Its because there simply is none. PAH at least has some mild association, although it is a mild one. Compare the Odds Ratio of parental age and Autism....its twice as much PAH and approaches or is in the range of effect size that Cohen would call "medium" effect. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18945690 One thing we do know, is that parents are waiting longer to have children and the average age of parents is increasing. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21.htm I think we are grasping for straws in assuming environmental factors. Other factors have been correlated with ASD and have much stronger ORs....for example parental age has a far stronger effect than does PAH...
  11. You mean behavior like that which relies on subjective political opinion to judge the mental state of others rather than actual science of the mind, i.e psychiatric and psychological research.... What matters here is a medical diagnosis, not people's subjective view of those who disagree with them. So yes, we need a doctor, or at least we need to rely on actual psychiatric and psychological research to objectively makes such decisions. Its pointless debating this further with you as it is clear that you have let your political biases trump scientific objectivity.
  12. From 1996 to sometime in the 2000s the number of reported cases of autism grew from ~2 to ~6 per 1000. However, at that time it was not known if this increase was actually a factor of some environmental/biological cause driving a real increase in the incidence of ASD or if the incidence had always been that high and methods of diagnosing it had simply gotten better. At the same time, there has been a lot of attempts to find actual environmental causes....some complete BS, as in the case of vaccines or GMOs being linked to it. The other issue I have to ask is what is the effect size? They report a significant association, but statistical significance is merely a measure of your ability to reliably tell a difference. It doesn't tell you how large of a difference/effect there is. If pollution increases the risk of ASD by 1% then does it really matter? What about 5% vs 10% vs 50%...if the effect size is small, then these results will not really explain much in the way of why ASD has increased. That is the real question. If you look at the reported Odds Ratios (OR)....all of these are rather small. As a general rule of thumb based on Cohen's 1988 work, an OR 0f ~1.5 is a "small" effect, an OR of ~3.5 is a "medium" effect, and an OR of ~9.0 is a "large" effect. All of the reported ORs in this study are on the order ~1.5....which means that reported association is only a small effect and can only explain a small fraction of ASD.
  13. Is it still known whether or not there is an actual increase in ASD or if its primarily a difference in diagnosis?
  14. I don't think I'm missing any context. A writer made a 10 point argument labeling half the nation as "insane" based on an absurd list of examples. That the list is perhaps meant as an inside joke with readers who have already drank the same koolaid as the writer is about the only relevant context....what other context am I missing? You mean how the Democratic party has toed the line in previous administrations? This is nothing new and people forget that both parties have done this. Its also irrelevant to the mental state of conservatives.
  15. This is not scientific evidence, its a continuation of the same sort of subjective and obvious biased argumentation used by John Cuthber and Overtone. In other words...pick out a few key issues held by somebody on the political right, call it insane, and then make a hasty generalization of the entire political right. For instance....one of the "10 signs"...."General Oddness". The only thing in that category is "Ron Paul". They took a single politician our of the millions of conservatives, call him "Odd" and then call then use this to make a hasty generalization of the entire political right. That is so absurd in terms of fallacious reasoning and subjectivity as to be laughed out of these forums. Or take #1 "Denial"....listed there is "denial that humans evolved". Only problem is that ~40% of liberals don't believe this and at least a 1/3rd of conservatives do. Its another hasty generalization. Based on this same issue I can say that the political left is also in denial since a huge chunk of them reject evolution as well. Number #5 "anger"....Newt Gingrich's scowl is only example given. Do you honestly think this is blog post (it is nothing more than a blog post) constitutes serious scientific evidence after reading that? How about the fact that its directly contradicted by studies showing conservatives are consistently more happy than liberals? http://mic.com/articles/98480/psychologists-say-conservatives-are-happier-than-liberals This entire list is subjective and meant more as entertainment than anything else. Posting it here as "scientific evidence" is an insult to reason. Of course I'm not trying to show that its wrong, because its a red herring. Its so irrelevant to the issue of whether or not the political right have a mental illness that its not even worth discussing. You cannot objectively or scientifically classify half of a nation as "mildly insane" based on agreement or disagreement with highly contentious political issues. You are in essence making an absurd litmus test in which political disagreement with John Cuthber = "insanity". Thats all this is, subjective name-calling. Disagree with John Cuthber and he can classify you on insane based on nothing else than politics. Consider the fact that your argument and evidence are a strawman. The OECD data is premised on legal immigration, hence why the biggest benefits are seen in the immigration of educated and skilled workers....but the political right isn't against legal immigration, its against illegal immigration...which makes an argument for legal immigration a strawman argument. And its not simply a matter of economics. Illegal immigration comes at enormous human cost in the form of human trafficking across the borders. http://abcnews.go.com/US/tracing-human-cost-immigration-altar-arizona/story?id=21406135Your argument ignores that important aspect. Now the point here is not whether one should be for or against immigration....its to demonstrate that your argument ignores the subtleties and complexities of a very contentious political issue and based on such simplistic assumptions, labels have a nation as mentally insanse. That line of argumentation and fallacious reasoning is "insane". As you yourself said, we need a psychiatrist. In order to logically, objectively, and scientifically claim the the political right is "insane" you need to provide scientific evidence from psychiatry and psychology...the disciplines that actually study mental illnesses. Anything else is simply a red herring. So I ask you yet again, do you have any scientific evidence from the fields of psychiatry or psychology to support your argument?
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