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Posts posted by AL

  1. To Al


    The point behind what I said is that genetics is vitally important in determining athletic ability. I accept that training, diet etc are also important. But you cannot discount genetics. Are you denying this?

    I don't deny that genetics very plausibly plays a role, but we do not have any studies that allow us to claim we know if genetics is what separates the best of the best athletes from those below them. The "gold standard" would be to take two genetically distinct people, raise them from childhood to adulthood in the exact same environment, feed them the exact same diet, and give them the exact same training regimen. For obvious practical (and ethical) reasons, this cannot be done. So as of now, there is simply no way to defend the statement "to get to olympic standard is beyond the vast bulk of humanity" for genetic reasons.


    However, it might be feasible to do such an experiment on athleticism in animals. If you are a kinesiologist, this might be a research area of interest for you.

  2. lucaspa said :


    We don't know that olympic standard is beyond the vast bulk of humanity simply because the vast bulk of humanity never tries to get to olympic standards.


    This is what I would consider an extraordinarily naive statement. I am sure you do not really mean it. A few minutes thought will tell you that most people simply have not the capability. For every 100 athletes in top condition, people who excel at sport, training vigorously, maybe one makes it to olympic standard.


    That doesn't really refute what he said though. If 100 athletes train, and only one makes it to a given standard, you cannot rule out that the other 99 simply didn't train as hard as the one, or else other factors got in the way (maybe athletes have different diets/nutrition, or maybe one athlete got sick during a crucial qualifying round, etc.), which you necessarily must do if you want to say the one got ahead by his/her genes.

  3. I just wonder; if she does claim that she didn't hear the question properly, would anyone care to tell me; if that was meant to be the answer, what on earth was the question?

    The question was why is it that 20% of Americans cannot locate America on a map?

    She started off her response with this (verbatim quote): "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps...."


    So she can't really say she didn't understand the question. From that answer alone, it's implicit she understood the question fully. She just gave a really sad answer to it.

  4. Evangelising anything and wearing stupid T`shirts (unless it`s beer related) is just as "bad" as the other.


    after all, I think many will agree it`s the Methodology employed that most folks despise, not the actual beliefs.


    "believe what you like, just don`t try ram it down MY throat!" is My attitude.


    Live and let live is one of those mantras that sound nice in principle, but simply cannot work in practice. If you live in a democracy, then people with different beliefs from your own will vote, and this will necessarily have an impact on you and your lifestyle. I'm not suggesting that anyone with a different belief than me have their right to vote be taken away; rather there is a reason why we have freedom of speech, to encourage discussion/debate on these things so that perhaps others can come to see things your way, or you will come to see things their way, or otherwise reach some kind of compromise/consensus.


    The problem is, a lot of people are rendered uncomfortable by discussion. They view it as preaching/proselytizing/intolerance or whatever label they can give it to make it taboo, and now it's politically difficult to raise very basic issues, like here in the US, the Constitutionality of "Faith-based initiatives," and things of that sort. Anyone who raises issue with that sort of thing will likely be demonized the way Newdow was for taking issue with the Pledge of Allegiance.

  5. I'll possibly get shot for this but.....


    Am I the only one who finds it amusingly ironic that the main claim to fame of the proclaimed leader of the "If I can't it or measure it, it doesn't exist" brigade is a philosophical/psychological concept that cannot be seen or measured?:eyebrow:


    Perhaps because "If I can't see it or measure it, it doesn't exist" is an oversimplification and/or misrepresentation of the skeptics' position?

  6. He does not say it explicitly, but you can read it between the lines of all his written texts. Religious people are fools. New age people are fools or charlatans. This kind of thinking is the first step downwards to a more polarized society and to destruction of social cohesion.

    Well of course if you disagree with someone, then implicitly and necessarily, you think they are wrong, but that isn't intolerance. I'm not generalizing religious folk and new agers, but there are clearly people out there that are so demonstrably wrong they need to be criticized. To what extent should we look the other way for the sake of "social cohesion?"


    There are dozens and dozens of videos of Sylvia Browne contradicting herself horrendously, and yet this woman is still raking in millions with bestselling books and hundred dollar phone calls to talk to the dead. Then you have faith healers like Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff and John of God -- they take money from the terminally ill, claiming to have healed them, and of course the terminally ill die anyway, and thus are no longer around to sue these clowns (and even if they were still around, cultural taboos would discourage them from suing -- after all, you wouldn't sue a servant of God, would you?). And then when Randi or Dawkins or other noted skeptics have the gall to say something to try and stop these atrocities, they get labeled as intolerant bigots (watch John of God's classic crocodile tears video when a newsreporter asks him if he's for real or a scam..."I'm trying to help people and save their lives, and these horrible skeptics say these things about me? Boo-hoo." [obviously not a verbatim quote, but essentially his defense] :-(:-().


    I know it's a touchy issue to criticize these things because a lot of people are very sensitive to it, but at the same time, I'd have to say it's morally reprehensible to just let these people get away with it.

  7. Dawkins does not apply truly scientific methods. He hinders scientific advances, because he has taken his position firmly and he has a belief made of concrete. The problem is not that he has such a concrete belief, the big problem is that so many young scientists are following him as their great hero. In the long run, science will be done harm.

    What makes you think his position is absolute and in concrete? Asking the astrologers to provide evidence for astrology is not closed-mindedness. In fact, it's quite the opposite, because asking someone to make a case for their claim is saying you're willing to hear what they have to say. If Dawkins were truly closed-minded, his video would've been telling the astrologer to shutup rather than asking the guy to subject the claims to the test he did.


    Finally, he is spreading hatred. He is as fundamentalist as the fundamentalist bible belt christians who tell you 10 ways of how to go to hell, or fundamentalist muslims in the middle east, where women are not more than cooking and cleaning machines and sex objects for the dominant husbands.
    How is he spreading hatred? Disagreement is hate? Please define hate then. Dawkins is not asking for anyone to be thrown in prison or to be persecuted, threatened, or killed. Let's not exaggerate here.


    So, it is time that he shuts up and stops spoiling all those young scientists with his black/white reasoning. True reasoning covers the entire palette of colors, not only black and white. Having only black and white (not even in-between greys) results in a very distorted view.


    Hence my statement: Richard Dawkins = The Enemy of Reason

    Again, what's black/white or absolutist about asking people to make a case for their claims? I might add that much of your objection to Dawkins was just vague generalizing. Was there something specific that Dawkins said in the video that you'd like to address?
  8. lucaspa,


    I'm curious you invoked Gould's NOMA a few times to say that science can have no say whatsoever on matters of God, but then you say that there is in fact evidence of God in the form of personal experiences / revelations, etc. But wouldn't fields of science such as psychology, neuroscience etc. have a say in such things?

  9. What I love and people Like Michael Chrichton have pointed out, is the fact that before this great global warming fad, we all acknoledged that Climate cannot be predicted we cannot predict whether patterns, yet some people are asking us to invest millions upon millions on weather patterns 100 years from now? Does it make sense, I think not.

    Of course we can predict weather patterns, that's why we have weather forecasts. Sometimes they get it wrong, but the forecasts beat random guessing enough to be significant.


    You cannot assume that just because day-to-day weather forecasts are highly variable that this makes forecasts of long-term trends highly variable. Sometimes large scale and long term phenomena are easier to predict than their small scale and short term counterparts. Example: you cannot easily predict in what direction a dust-eddy in your backyard will rotate, but the direction of rotation of hurricanes is easy to predict.

  10. when you have a folder full of songs or videos microsoft has taken it upon itself to change your sorting options to those it has deemed relevent to music and videos (year, artist, title, etc.)


    i absolutely hate that because i want my list sorted by when it was modified. i cant for the life of me find a way to get the old sorting options to come back. ive tried changing the customization properties to a document folder.

    Which OS are you running? I have WinXP Home, and I don't have that problem. My music is sorted alphabetically by file name, which is what I told it to do. Just right click on windows explorer window, select "arrange icons by -> modified."

  11. Surely they couldn't actually get away with actually outlawing a word? Isn't that a pretty straightforward first amendment issue? And how the hell would you enforce something like that, anyway?

    They could get it past the first amendment through an obscenity or hate crime loophole.

  12. It comes from splitting from deuterium. The formula for splitting is 2nI + 1, where n is the number of nuclei, and I is the spin type. Since CDCl3 has 1 deuterium (n = 1), and the spin type is 1 (I = 1), you get 2(1)(1) + 1 = 3, so 3 peaks.


    Ordinary hydrogen has spin type 1/2, which is why there is a different splitting rule for that (n + 1 rule).

  13. I have just watched some TV and saw some shocking brutal child abuse in the form of religious fanaticism. It is all caught on video and you can see it at





    I am afraid for the children and I am thinking of going to police to get permission to get these children away from this crazy woman.


    What I would like to know is whether legally this woman's behavior is classified as child abuse.

    That's the "God Warrior" from Trading Spouses. She spent time with a family of New Agey astrologers on the show, and she came back to her own home thinking those New Agers were Satan worshippers.


    She later apologized for making a scene, and the family claimed she wasn't normally like that. Plus, she appeared on Jay Leno and she was very good-natured on that show, even though she knew Leno had poked fun at her several times. Someone even made a "God Warrior" action figure that was a gross caricature of her and sold it on eBay, and she was OK with that too. Maybe she just wanted to make a scene for the cameras...or maybe she's just an incredibly unstable manic-depressive who's happy some times and explosively crazy at other, unpredictable times.

  14. Conservatism advocates traditional values and free market. If a conservative is for prostitution he is against traditional values, yet if he is against prostitution he is against the free market. So is a conservative for prostitution or not?

    "Conservative" is a very broad group. Obviously, it's very possible that a good portion of the "traditional values" types are not the same as the "free market" types, even if we lump them all under the heading "conservative."


    You can see the same with liberals. We generally associate wanting legalized prostitution with liberals, but there are some liberal feminists that think prostitution is degrading and abusive to women. They're both "liberals," just not the same particular liberals.

  15. What? The "Campaign to Defend the Constitution" wants to ban products that portray a religious viewpoint? What happened to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press? Do these concepts only apply to those who have similar left-leaning sympathies?

    Not that I agree with what this group is doing, but they are technically still in keeping with Constitutional free speech. They aren't asking for a law to be passed, they're simply petitioning Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, of course, has a right to decide whether or not to acquiesce.

  16. The "Brain Games" on Nintendo DS purport to improve your brain powers too, and supposedly were also developed by a Ph.D. Even if they don't actually work (which is likely the case), they're still moderately entertaining, so I think I'd go with that instead of this. ;)

  17. Buoyancy says that an object displaces exactly its weight in water. An ice cube of water would displace its weight in water, and an ice cube is water.

    Ah, thank you. I'm slow today after 8 hours in the lab.


    Still, I'm curious why bascule would say I don't understand buoyancy or know the density of ice vs. water, when it's precisely those two things which lead me to suspect that Rush was wrong or at least not obviously correct when (or if) he said the water level gets lower. Knowing buoyancy makes this statement at least not as obvious as it is made out to be, and of course, incorrect when everything's considered. Bascule, you think the water level gets lower?

  18. As in, "silly liberals, if you melt ice in water, the water levels go down! Morons!" And while that is true, nobody is saying it isn't. The problem is with Antarctica (which is a continent, not an iceburg, Rush), and Greenland.

    Slightly OT, but is that really true? It's certainly true that if you melted submerged ice it would lower the water level, but normal ice floats on the surface with a good chunk of its volume above the water level. When that melts, it might raise the water level.


    I guess I could check in my kitchen with a glass of water, but I'm too lazy....

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