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Posts posted by CharonY

  1. On 4/29/2020 at 10:45 AM, chawke said:

    In the meantime I'd like to know: how much does the smell of smoke correlate with secondhand smoke in terms of harmful chemicals etc? I read there is not necessarily a correlation, so am wondering to what degree the smell of smoke entering my room multiple times a day would correlate with actual harm over the longterm.

    So are you wondering whether you are exposed to secondhand smoke if you are able to smell the smoke and how much? Unfortunately it is only possible to state that yes, you are getting exposure. I do not have the lit at hand, but I remember there was an study during outdoor smoking measuring PM2.5 and while there is a decrease over distance, there were still detectable levels at ca. 9-10 m from the source.

    How much and whether it is harmful depends on a lot of factors and other than measure it directly, I am not sure how to determin it.. One thing that I have seen from indoor pollution studies is that even with purifiers the air quality in homes are often astonishingly bad (e.g. due to VOCs and other compounds released from the house itself as well as trapping particles and other pollutants). However, if the smell dissipates fairly quickly after cessation, it might not accumulate.


    Edit: there are actually PM2.5 devices for home use (often sold as indoor monitors of sorts), which could give you an estimate of exposure.


  2. 3 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

    Respectfully where possible. Recognize and stop the political weaponization of it. One can call out white supremacy without calling everyone who might consider voting for Trump as supporting it, and one can embrace diversity without condoning or participating in the worst aspects of it.

    So do identity politics, but just in a way I feel comfortable about it? Is it about that?


    3 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

    Democrats using identity politics rings hollow for you because you feel the Republicans do it more?

    It is more about the fact that conservatives are bitterly complaining about it, but engaging in it wholeheartedly. The underlying though behind it is of course the assumption that certain folks are considered the norm and therefore pandering to them is not identity politics. However, if something benefits other then them suddenly it it is pandering or identity politics. 

    Specifically it is historic mindset that has marginalized experiences different from what one would consider the majority. 


  3. 3 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

    Hopefully by not so much that the Democrats see it as an endorsement of their identity politics, but that's probably not possible...if they win through the electoral college they no doubt dominate the popular vote.

    Like it or not, a big part is a referendum on identity politics. One, which is basically based on white supremacy or the other which at least outwardly embraces the diversity as a result of demographic shifts.

  4. 1 hour ago, Hans de Vries said:

    +1 CharonY.


    It is my impression (from articles and videos on this topic) that return to Sunni Orthodoxy in 11th-12th centuries was a major contributing factor to the decline of science in the Islamic world with many scholars swowly chipping away the foundations of scientific progress, culminating with Al Ghazali and that adoption of occasionalism may have resulted in a similar withering of science in the Chrisian world as well. 

    I think it requires more than that and while I am not well-read enough to actually comment in this area, I am generally a bit skeptical about claims which pinpoint complex situations to a simple source. 

    Also the timeline does not line up. Some famous work in astronomy was performed by Al-Tusi in the  13th century and continued by his followers.  While the golden age of science in the Islamic world may have passed after the 13th century, they still remained relevant for a few centuries more. In fact, the first proper formulations of occasionalism were around roughly around the time when Islamic science flourished. One of the arguments I read was that because of the desire to seek the divine truth, scholars embarked on studying the natural world (seems also simplistic, but at least the timeline fits better). 

    Past the 14th century or so we might see a decline (or perhaps it is a matter of perspective, the West was catching up, in part by reading translations of Islamic Scholars). But if we want to talk about the reasons, I think we need to think broader. It is not only a philosophical problem, but one of finances and political power. Arab influence was waning and repulsed from Spain, losing centres of Islamic scholarship. In the east the Mongols were a major threat, breaking up power structures and stability that existed for a long time and arguably resulted in shifts in priorities. Then the Ottoman empire came along which had a completely different structure and again, we would need to re-think the impact on scholarly pursuit.

    But then we can also ask ourselves the question whether it actually declined? Scientific progress is not a linear chart. Sometimes key findings are required and sometimes folks are led horribly astray. Ultimately Islamic science flourished for almost a thousand years. Only because the Western system of science is leading, it does not mean that this was the only way it could have happened. After all Europe had the industrial revolution and all the power that ultimately came with it (which arguably was more an economic rather than philosophical change). And I think it is very dangerous to look back and then see it as a inevitable and then build stories about why it was inevitable. Sometimes things happened because someone lost a critical battle. Or someone else died too young.


    Edit: forgot to add that considering the fact that occasionlism was discussed heavily in the 18th century onward (some might even put an earlier date on it) I doubt that one can draw a causal (heh) link.

  5. On 10/25/2020 at 2:14 PM, Hans de Vries said:

    It states that God constantly destroys the world and creates it anew, therefore all causality observed in the world is an illusion. Hence, studying the outside world is useless (because God can change t at will) and only study of theology is worthwhile.

    While I am not well read in that area, I do not think that this is an accurate depiction of Islamic occasionalism. From what I understand at its core it seeks to answer how causality can be viewed in the context of divine actions. As such depending on which form of occasionalism one subscribes to either only God is the source of causality and all other creaturely causality are occasional (global occasionalism). Other forms have a more limited scope for ocassionalism and allow for more creaturely causality (local occasionalism. While Islamic philosophers were probably the first to formulate occasionalism, there are disagreements whether they are actually seen as a global occasionalism (as implied in OP). However, my knowledge is too limited to provide more information on that regard. It should also noted in the Islamic tradition there have been arguments for and against what one would now call global vs local occasionalism. 

    The interesting bit about this position in my mind, however, is not so much the divine part, but the important implication it had for the Aristotelian school of thought where (as I understand it)  logical connections between entities were inferred as part of their properties. The occasionalist stance then is that one should instead assume a lack of such connections. Depending on who you read, to me the take home message here is not that there is no link between observed cause and effect, but rather there is no necessary link, which is a very interesting point (substitute God with something like Truth or something  like that and it gets really interesting... you can then ask what is the true causal connection between observed entities?)

    And now to the question whether occasionalism could have arisen in the Christian world and the answer is of course, it actually did. While Islamic and other philosophers made occasionalist arguments, occasionalism was heavily developed in the framework of Cartesian metaphysics (e.g. Malebranche).  

    I would also like to point out that in both, Islamic as well as Christian frameworks, God is seen as rational rather than arbitrary (that is why even everything stems from the divine entity, things happen in reproducible manner). Also what you mentioned regarding creation sounds to me like the the so-called Divine conservation s but continuous creation argument. Again, one made both by Islamic as well as Christian scholars.

  6. 1 hour ago, swansont said:

    A scientist is someone who does science. You can make a distinction between professional and amateur, but those are modifiers/distinctions within the category — both are scientists. A scientist who becomes unemployed doesn't suddenly forget how to science.

    You can also make a distinction about the level of training. But someone without a degree who is doing science is a scientist. These days it's unusual, but go back a while, and training wasn't quite as formal. There have been largely self-taught scientists, and others who were informally taught, for at least part of their background.

    Einstein had defended his thesis, IIRC, when he was employed as a patent clerk  and wrote his papers in 1905; he did this while looking for a professorship (much like actors and actresses wait tables between gigs if they haven't made the big time). He was a scientist.




    I think that is a good way of putting it. Ultimately a scientist contributes to our understanding of the world or some aspects of it. 

  7. 1 hour ago, Airbrush said:

    Does anyone know of important science that came from non-professional scientists?

    There are certain areas where I am sure that non-professionals can and have contributed. This is probably most dominant in areas where data collection and observational studies lead to insights (what some folks wrongly proclaim to be stamp collecting). This also includes aspects of traditional (in some areas also called indigenous) knowledge, where empirical knowledge has been integrated into science literature. Due to the way the system works, there is often (but not always) a professional scientist involved at some point, but mostly to translate the information in a way that is more cohesive. 

  8. Here are a few reports outlining mitigation strategies in Africa. 

    An somewhat older article from May https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-african-nations-are-teaching-the-west-about-fighting-the-coronavirus

    And a newer one looking at some of the key elements: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54418613

    In Europe, Canada and USA it seems that contact tracing has been reportedly overwhelmed by cases and they basically scaled down in many areas, which again shows how harmful the initial delays were. And it is still surprising to me that it has not been ramped up to a similar scale or following model  from other countries. E.g. Japan was doing old-school contact tracing without apps and surprisingly successful, too. 

  9. 6 minutes ago, iNow said:

    It has more to do with tribal identification and which information sources are trusted than with personal connections to the infected. At this point, basically everyone knows at least 1 person who has had it... at least in the US

    Well, it is also fueled by the fact that especially among younger folks there are many who are basically asymptomatic, even if they are positive. People are just very bad in understanding large numbers. Even if, say only 3% of folks in younger age get hospitalized it is still a huge number if the numbers of infections are high. And right now, we do not have means to accurately predict whether a given person, even if young and healthy might have severe symptoms or even die. I am astonished how many students do not get that and assume that the numbers mean that they won't get sick. 

  10. 18 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

    Let's not reflect too hard on the CDC... circa early 2020. 

    It is getting a bit off topic, and I apologize, but I would like to add that the early recommendations were based on three assumptions: 1) folks had to be symptomatic to spread 2) spreaders wearing masks have a strong effect, but it offers weak protection (compared to other measures) if one is not a spreader and wearing it and 3) PPE should be primarily reserved for health care professionals. 

    What has changed is really 1) as it eventually became clear that folks can spread without symptoms. At this point the logic switched and everyone should wear a mask as anyone (without knowing) could be a spreader. And as a side note I would like to re-iterate that masks are no replacement for other measures, such as hand washing and distancing as much as possible.


  11. 1 hour ago, iNow said:

    Encourage you not to argue at the margins. That number is likely to double in the next 2-3 months

    Well excess death is around 300k. But models do predict potentially 400k. Though the US is not the only Western Country with increases(they just never really pushed it down). I still folks would have learned from countries who did...

  12. On 10/20/2020 at 12:31 PM, Jay Kulsh said:

    What you are saying is true in general for cancer research, but not in this case. I spoke at length with the lead author of above study and he informed me that they could not get funding. Please see his letter to me:

    I will have to read the paper, but that is not unusual. As I mentioned, plenty of folks work on cancer research and what is getting funded is just a fraction of the ideas. Due to the number of applications, it is a bit random what gets funded. Ultimately the lead investigator has to decide whether they want to invest more time pursuing funding or try to do other things, instead. Especially NIH is often known that you really have to be fairly far into the project before they decide to give you money (how you get there is another matter). From the abstract some of the limitations is that it is still quite preliminary, and lacks a mechanism. So one would at least look at current lit and see whether there is something which helps develop a model of the mechanism (there are quite a few folks trying out physical treatments, including, heat, laser light and so on; in fact there where whole study section funded for precisely these types of approaches, so there may be more out there at this point). Also, if lit review indicates that this is something to continue one would likely need a more extensive animal study. That all costs money, of course.

    That all being said, cancer research especially is a crapshot. Competition is fierce and unless one is very well established it is really difficult to get money (and even then chances are not always great).


    Edit: I would also encourage everyone interested into the paper to use this link, which refers to the journal in which it was actually published: https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/45/11_Part_2/5625.full-text.pdf

    The other link(s) provided by the user are leading to an unaffiliated website and seems to be rather sketchy.

  13. 3 hours ago, GoofyMD said:

    seems to me burning a piece of bread to measure the heat released should not equate to how a human metabolizes that same piece of bread.  no?

    A big challenge is that as a whole the metabolization process is very complex and can vary depending on the person, how much the person eats, in what combination with other things the person eats something, the metabolic state of the individual and so on. I.e. calorimetric measures give a rough impression of how much energy can be drawn out, but what precisely happens metabolically is actually quite broad. As with almost all nutritional sciences it is not a complete mechanism-driven biochemical model, but it is more about rough tendencies. At this point we are not even able to perfectly predict metabolic processes in a single cell (we can for major pathways but only if we keep things very, very stable). 

    For complex systems such as plants or animals we therefore need to rely on these imperfect approximations, until we manage to get a better understanding.

  14. First, it would be good if you provided a reference for the paper (i.e. what is missing is author, ideally volume and issue, too). 

    Second, you will find papers indicating that something kills or reduces viability of cancer cells on an almost regular basis. Most of them are in vitro or animal experiments, and many are difficult to translate into something clinically useful. There are myriads of reason why folks do not follow up, including that the effects cannot be reliably reproduced or they figure out that it is too toxic and so on. Sometimes it is simply because no one got around in further testing it, because there are so many other better candidates in the pipeline. The rule with cancer seems to be that  basically everything causes cancer and everything kills cancer cells. 

  15. 2 hours ago, Area54 said:

    The lack of motivation noted by CharonY is puzzling to me. From my perspective if you understood the concepts - and had a handful of examples illustrating those concepts - then you didn't need to have the chore of learning endless "facts" that had nothing holding them together.

    I think there is a systemic issue going on. It may be different in Ivy leagues, but I have worked mostly in smaller institutions and what I have observed  is that folks are way more focused on good grades and the degree rather than the topic. Over time, it seems, folks are have more and more a kind of optimization mindset, in which they want to figure out how to get the best grades in the most efficient amount of time. You often hear a lot of questions trying to figure out what may be in exams, rather than about the topic you have been just talking about. To many, this endless learning of facts, is the most effective way, as it takes a bit until things click. Many kids are too restless to get to that point.

  16. !

    Moderator Note

    This is not a discussion or even an invitation to discussion. It is a long rambling post with seemingly little purpose than to connect mysticism, a dash of history to... the US? It is like six degrees of Kevin Bacon with an Adderall overdose. Kindly explain what you try to discuss here. Ideally using a much shorter post for starters.


  17. 2 hours ago, MigL said:

    The ability of some Americans to wallow in their ignorance continues to surprise me.

    If only it was just ignorance. At this point we see full frontal insanity. And I do not mean that in a partisan way. I mean taking what kids post on a trolling board seriously and make it mainstream, kind of of insane. I mean, there are just so many things just over the top (A prophetic internet troll? Satanic child sacrifices?), it is honestly scary that folks think them to be true and effing run for congress.

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