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Everything posted by CharonY

  1. I think the quotes from Dawkins are missing the mark and certain folks are weaponizing that kind of arguments. There is an issue in universities, but it is not what OP describes and it is more related to a deeper change in society. First, there is a fundamental misunderstanding how discussions should be done and specifically how it should be conducted in universities. Universities are (were) a space for critical discussions, which should involve aspects of critical thinking and expertise. I.e. it was never supposed to be a platform where e.g. conspiracy theories of microchips in vaccines should be discussed at the same level as the benefits of immunization. The former would suck the entire oxygen from anything meaningful and there would be no learning or development of thoughts, which would be the purpose of universities. Rather, discussions should be vetted and led by folks with actual expertise. There is a difference if e.g. economists with different viewpoints and arguments relating to fiscal policies explain their thoughts vs. talking heads who argue that somehow any fiscal policy is a dictatorship (as a mild example). Where the university leadership is failing is basically that they are becoming more corporate and try to appease everyone, especially students (which they increasingly treat as customers rather than, well, students). What that means is that discussions have become more superficial, folks who are popular are getting more space than folks who actually know things (Peterson is one of the persons who managed to grift on that, for example). It is obvious why students are drawn to these superficial but emotional spectacles and why they pick and choose sides just as everyone nowadays in the population. They are still untrained when it comes to critical analysis (and I am afraid, the quality is dropping), they are more outspoken as they have been trained by social media algorithms that every thought has equal weight, no matter how ludicrous. As such, discussions on any topic are now more about picking sides rather than a critical analysis of the situation and, even more importantly, proposing solutions. University leadership tries (badly) to be corporate neutral on these issues in order not to get on the bad side of folks and thereby gives the power to the louder voices. This is especially disappointing as they do have in theory access to the best experts but they lack the courage to show actual leadership, which involves taking some modicum of risk. One could argue that then the faculty themselves should do something, but in the current environment they are overworked (as students are more and more demanding, which is encouraged by leadership) and only those with the loudest voices (often in social media) get all the attention. But those are not necessarily the subject experts. So yes, universities are failing in their purpose, but it is not because of free speech issues, but rather because Universities are transforming into a service industry in which critical thinking and analysis is not at the forefront anymore. All the discussions about cancel culture are therefore in my mind missing the mark entirely. Edit: perhaps even worse than missing the mark, it contributes to the erosion of intellectualism and is yet another tool in dismantling trust in expertise.
  2. AI Conoclast has been banned as sockpuppet of AIkonoklazt.
  3. This is true for all organisms, down to the cellular level. "Balance" is to vague. The processes are still balanced as the mechanisms remain unchanged. However, the circumstances (genetic, behavioral and environmental) promote fat accumulation. Just because it is considered non-beneficial in certain situations (e.g. when food is plenty) it does not mean it is unbalanced. That would be a judgement call. This again is trivial. Straining of organs and tissues triggers mechanisms that among other things can result in hypertrophy. I am not sure what the rest of the argument tries to say here in this context. It has little to do with balance. I think you have an "ideal" of sorts in mind and consider anything different as out of balance. But that is really a judgement call as biology just is. If you train a particular muscle in one arm, it will enlarge. Whether you consider that out of balance (e.g. relative to the other arm) is your call, but changes nothing regarding the underlying biology. It does not really care about that- the mechanisms are independent of such assumptions.
  4. Indeed. From a quick skim it seems that the type of calories matter, as not all are similarly bioavailable (e.g. 100 kcal in cellulose provides no energy to humans as we cannot process it). The difference in energy conversion has been mentioned, but there is also evidence of genetic difference in various aspects in transport and storage of nutrients (especially fat deposition has been studied). The way we are able to take up various nutrients and process them also changes throughout life, due to changes in our hormonal status (which in turn can change depending what we eat and are otherwise exposed to). Also activity has an impact, but not necessarily only the simplistic sense that more calories are burned (it often is not that much) but the way it changes how our body uses directs nutrient flow (and also effectiveness). In short, the biology is complicated and the physics of it (i.e. the calorie count) really only represents boundary conditions. I.e. the maximum theoretically a body can utilize from a given food source. How effective and in what form it processed is dependent on an immense number of factors. it is often not helpful to see catabolism and anabolism as competing activities. They are mostly cycles as well as reversible. For example, sugars can be catabolized to pyruvate and then acetyl-coA, the latter being the building blocks for fatty acids. We all have to synthesize proteins all the time and create the building block from catabolic pathways. The balance of these activities are therefore regulated on the molecular, rather than on the macro level. Specifically in this example, intense activity requires significant maintenance of muscle mass, which requires a metabolism that sustains anabolic reactions for significant amount of structural (muscle) protein synthesis.
  5. The only context I have heard possibility of fluorocarbons for biological activities is in the context of fluorine rich environments, which would not be compatible with life as we know it. At least in theory fluorocarbon molecules could avoid denaturation in such an environment, but as already noted, it does not challenge the universality of carbon as building block of life in the least.
  6. Not entirely. They have been different factions and while the peace camp was arguably less influential, it is not a clear split between emperor and military leadership. Yes indeed, but my point is that diplomatic solutions were considered before the bomb, including an uncharacteristic overture by the emperor himself. In fact, the official position since 44 was that they were willing to negotiate conditional surrender. The hope of Japanese leadership was always hat they could retain some of their occupied territories (from the onset of the war) while suing for peace after a series of conquests. By 44 they were ready to broaden negotiations, with te exception of the position of the emperor. This was of course counter the Casablanca declaration.
  7. Something like an adblocker (e.g. ublock origin) on firefox should work on Linux?
  8. ! Moderator Note It looks like that the thread has run its course and if desired, the spin-offs could be discussed in a new thread. Locked.
  9. A I believe the timing is off a bit. The Japanese emperor sent a private message to Stalin before the Potsdam conference (in July) asking him to act as intermediary. I.e. these attempts pre-dated the bomb, which is one of the arguments of historians who argue against the traditional narrative regarding the bomb.
  10. Leadership was split on surrendering and there was an attempt to sue for peace via the soviets, which were dashed after they invaded Manchuria. Well and obviously the British empire had some experience with starving folks, though to be fair it was mostly in colonies...
  11. Of course it is. Germans like to categorize stuff and there is a distinction between applied sciences (which are often called Technische Hochschule) which usually includes areas such areas with applied training such as engineering, nursing etc. and "regular universities.
  12. The effect size in the one human was big but it was mostly a method paper for optimizing protein extraction and had no replicates. In the animal studies, effect size is more moderate. As we do not know what particular issues were with this person, the conclusion would be that more data is needed, especially for humans.
  13. Exactly unsurprising if you look at the topic. The amount of stuff that affects sperm count and sperm quality is extremely broad. Mechanistically it is not terribly surprising as sperm production is pretty prolific and a lot can upset the production if you flood your body with it. In rats supplementing or replacing water with energy drinks resulted in something like 10% of deformed sperm heads. One should also add that the study you linked is a single patient, which again is difficult to extrapolate from. There are however quite a few studies linking a wide range of drugs that have shown long-term and irreversible impact on human fertility. These are mostly drugs used for cancer treatment. And they are well documented mostly because the results and impact are fairly dramatic. For antibiotics, both results have been observed, and at least in women, amoxicillin has been associated with a reduced risk in infertility. That does not necessarily mean anything biologically, beyond that it mostly requires more investigation. In a broader sense, the whole research area is suffering from what one might call a target rich environment. So many things affect our physiology in general, so that it is very difficult to establish a successful research program on anything specific. Interest goes away so fast, but all the stuff we constantly consume beyond drugs (e.g. personal care products, plasticizers, chemicals in our homes, air quality in our homes, diets and so on), still affect our body in a very broad and poorly understood way. I understand that finding something that one didn't know about might look like a relevation, but if you ask folks working on this subject, it is just one minor bit. And especially with drugs, there is at least a reason why we risk exposure. In terms of health effects I would in general be more worried about air quality in houses, diet, and lastly chemical exposure (roughly in that order). But since it is hard to improve on those bits, outsized worry is then placed on things that are easier to control but likely have less impact on you over your lifetime. Just saying. Elimination of compounds from the body are often not entirely linear (actually it is rare to see that). The actual values will change, depending on how it is taken and what you measure (e.g. actual serection in urine or monitor presence in serum). Data sheets suggest that in about 6-8 hours 60% of the drug is secreted via urine. A particular benefit of amoxicillin is that it penetrates tissues very well, so it moving out quickly out of serum means that it is actually distributing to organs (including testes). I.e. the first batch that finds its way into urine fast gets eliminated first, but the rest that is penetrating, bound to proteins and are otherwise present get eliminated more slowly. I do not know the precise values (or whether anyone checked, as the terminal elimination is often difficult to measure). I should add that it has a short half-life in terms of antimicrobial activity, but I am not sure whether anyone checked whether cytotoxic effects could continue beyond that (as the antimicrobial activity follows different mechanisms than its interaction with human tissue). Edit: I only skimmed the result on your other link and there the effect size is really modest compared to what you have discussed in the human individual. There are likely differences in methodology and also shows that you cannot just pick and choose elements from different studies to make conclusions- you need to synthesize the whole body of available literature, which, I acknowledge is not a trivial thing to do, especially for lay persons.
  14. For the most part, yes. During the course of medication the sperm density increased and malformation of sperm was observed. There is some evidence of dysregulation which does not immediately went back once the treatment stopped. The results are not totally surprising. Terminal elimination of amoxicillin can take days (only the initial elimination follows first order kinetics, then slows down, IIRC). And after that, tissue regeneration will take a while. I am also fairly sure that regardless of which antibiotics you take, liver values will look fairly bad. You will likely find similar effects with many harsher drug treatments (including other antibiotics) but sperm reduction have also been shown e.g. for aspirin. common painkillers and so on. In animal models, in utero exposure to e.g. acetaminophen and ibuprofen occasionally have been associated with reproductive issues in the newborns. I think there might be a misconception that drugs are precision instruments that fulfil only a highly specific target. In truth, a treatment involves flooding our bodies with a bioactive component in very high doses that will take care of the acute problem, but will also interact in undesired ways. The term side-effect is a bit of a misnomer as some think it is a minor effect. Rather, every (bio)chemical interaction is an effect, only many are undesired. This is one of the reasons, why it baffles me why folks panic around vaccination, a short-term treatment with typical long-term benefits, but have no issues of taking drugs, even in the long-term, which is just likely to have health burden. Of course, if there are indications it is necessary to take, them especially as other health effects are more pressing (if you have an ongoing infection, sperm count is likely your least worry). Just to make it clear- there are no safe drugs that you can eat like candy (and thinking of it, candy has also pretty bad effects on health, including sperm quality and sperm count). We can basically take any drug your are interested in, and if someone looks at it, we will see molecular aberrations that can translate into a variety of phenotypes. Everything has an effect and the baseline of looking at it (as I have said many times) is not whether it is detrimental (because to various degree, virtually everything is, including breathing), but which is less bad.
  15. Antibiotics is used in agriculture everywhere as it increases yield. While it is banned in the EU for purpose of fattening animals, the use has barely declined as they found loopholes to keep using that. The ABs do not enter the food chain as in many jurisdictions (at least EU, Canada, US) the meat has to be tested. I.e. they have to be off before slaughtering.
  16. Not really- there are books on the subject matter and most start off with the difficulties in a) ascertaining that there is an effect or the extent of the effect. The simple answer however is that yes, depending on your health status (which includes genetic disposition, lifestyle, and prior diseases for example), the effect can be more or less pronounced and it can also last longer or shorter. For any given individual, there is not definite answer, but for many drugs beyond antibiotics, a variety of androgenic and/or cytotoxic effects have been observed. Any of those can also impact spermatogenesis. As does drinking alcohol, being overweight, insufficient exercise, having infections, diet ...
  17. I especially love this effect when in exams you ask something like: name an example that is NOT X (yes I started to bold and underline that for a while now). And they answer simply with "X". Sometimes it is likely that they have no clue and just hope for some partial points. But worse are elaborate answers that suggest that they spent time thinking, but not enough time reading all the words in the sentence. Squirrel!
  18. A couple of things to note. Animal study results are often not easily transferable especially when it comes to dose-depend results (and especially long-term effects). That being said, many drugs can affect fertility (and antibiotics also have other wide-ranging effects). But for the most part they are dose-dependent and really difficult to assess in humans. Especially as folks are at the same time impacted by many many chemicals and other potentially contributing factors. To give an example, inflammation and presence of certain bacteria have been implicated with reduced fertility. In these cases antibiotics treatment has been suggested to get sperm count up again. In other words, if we look at one specific measure, such as sperm count, we have to consider the thousands of factors that will affect that number. There is decent evidence that certain antibiotics can cause cellular damage in testes and, if damaged sufficiently enough it might be permanent. But if that is actually happening in a given individual, we do not know. As in the above example the primary issue is an infection, then antibiotics treatment might add to the damage, but there might be a net benefit. Or to put it differently, biology is complex and especially for effects that are not acute (e.g. total infertility) figuring out what exactly is happening generally requires a decent understanding of the underlying mechanism as well as the quantitative contribution of the many mechanisms related to a particular outcome. In medicine, we are often lacking this information and have to rely on empirical population data. Animal models provide supporting information, but but play a secondary role (they are important to suggest mechanisms, even if they end up not being found in humans). This is all to say that the question in OP is likely not easily answerable (or at all) with human data. Any reduction of sperm count throughout the life of a person can be caused by many, many factors. Piecing together and pinpoint exactly how much a particular treatment added to that is almost impossible to say unless the effects are dramatic (which they aren't as otherwise they would have been identified).
  19. Students cannot recall what you told them 5 mins ago.
  20. This position paper cites a couple of research outcomes regarding health impact of DST https://doi.org/10.1177/0748730419854197. The main argument is based on misalignment between body clock and what they call social clock.
  21. I guess it is because of a change in rhythm. Also, I am mildly certain that this is not only for kids, but also adults.
  22. I think it is obvious that context matters. In campaign tour, it is appropriate to be folksy. In the context of a state of the union address and rebuttal you would expect things to be more formal.
  23. I don't understand the thought process in filming the rebuttal in a kitchen. Also boo to geolocks.
  24. The issue here is that we have to distinguish the level of complexity here. Cells and arguably protein complexes are capable of sensing and processing information. But what they are able to do is limited. More proteins can sense and act on more cues and with a cell surrounding them can process signals of larger complexity. Multiple cells then can further specialize and become better at processing and so on. The question here is really how you define mind. If it is really just sensing something, molecules could have a mind. But it is really different to what is used in common (or even scientific language). It is like equating a transistor with a supercomputer. Both have similar principles, but what they can do is very different. Also I have the feeling that you are a bit confused what action potentials are and their role (which is primarily transmitting signal over longer distances without loss).
  25. If you are talking about the human (as in the extant species) Y-chromosome, this is not correct. The studies looking at gene loss are rough and look at degeneration over millions of years. Shorter estimates are AFAIK extrapolations of the the larger calculations. Short-term comparisons do not see any gene loss between close ape species, I believe. There is more variation in the non-coding regions, but this is also not a linear decline. Recently, the Y-chromosome has been fully sequenced and there is marked difference among individuals. These are mostly caused by repetitive regions, which vary in the number of duplications and sometimes losses of them. Edit: cross-posted.
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