1173: "Steroids"

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Gargravarr
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Gargravarr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:59 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Gargravarr wrote: But [doping is] also disallowed because it occasionally makes players sick or injured or dead. Which is not the intended result of most sports.

Hey, I'm a major Rollerball fan, you insenstive clod!

Real men play that Aztec ball game where the losing team gets sacrificed to a bloodthirsty diety who once made Cthulhu cringe.

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duckshirt
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby duckshirt » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:02 pm UTC

As a big fan of several sports, this makes me a little mad because steroids absolutely should be banned in sports, and it is a big issue in the realm of sports (however important you can consider that), and I can list tons of reasons why - I'm glad to see some people have already come here to mention some but not all of those reasons.

Of course, Randall isn't a huge sports fan and that wasn't the point of this comic at all, but it just bothers me because there is a large population of not-big-sports-fan know-it-alls who think steroids should be allowed, weighing in their opinion every Olympics or whenever a PED scandal comes out (because that's the only time they pay attention of course), creating a general attitude of indifference which makes it harder to clean up sports.
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dp2
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby dp2 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:17 pm UTC

Draconaes wrote:
gerv wrote:Awesome, and absolutely true. So many of Randall's comics unintentionally point out the inconsistencies of those who believe in evolutionary abiogenesis.

"We humans are sacks of chemicals which stay alive by finding other chemicals and putting them inside us."

1)* If humans are just "sacks of chemicals", what is this "alive" of which you speak? Is it just a slightly more vigorous reaction during a certain period of the sack's existence?

2)* What is this "us" of which you speak? Why the arbitrary distinction between the solid/liquid block of chemicals you like to refer to as "you" and the gaseous ones you like to refer to as "air"?

3)* Also, what is the purpose of these contests? How is it praiseworthy for your set of chemicals to react to achieve one particular entirely arbitrary change a little faster than other sets? Why is "slower" not equally commendable?

And so on.

Gerv


Numbered responses:

1) If you are really interested in how living things are defined, it shouldn't be too hard to find it yourself. According to Wikipedia, Life vs Non-life is "a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not". You can find other more detailed definitions, and there's some disagreement over the exact criteria. Of course, there's some grey areas (Is a virus alive or not? It meets some criteria I've seen but not others, and changing the criteria only seems to shift the grey areas), but it's not very hard at all to distinguish rocks from humans.

2) This really isn't separate from 1. It's a bit disingenuous of you to pretend there isn't a physical distinction (however fuzzy it may be at edge cases) between a random clump of matter and an organism.

3) Faster, in general, means the ability to move more quickly than something that is slower. It does not mean the lack of ability to move less quickly than it otherwise would. Therefore, regardless of other concerns, something that is faster is capable of more things than something that is slower. Is this praiseworthy? Apparently, since people praise it.

I also fail to see the relevance of any of this to abiogenesis (which is a separate thing from evolution), since none of your questions seems to pose any sort of challenge to it. I'm not sure what evolutionary abiogenesis is; evolution doesn't require abiogenesis, and abiogenesis doesn't require evolution. Can you define evolutionary abiogenesis?

edit: I'd actually love to see your answer to your "what is this "alive" of which you speak?" question. How do you define "Alive"?

I think Gerv's point was that the comic's argument is based on stopping reduction at a certain point. Is it not also disingenuous to pretend there isn't a distinction between food and steroids?

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby morbit » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:19 pm UTC

Harry Voyager wrote:Yea. The big problem with Steroids is, they will kill you. Even those of us who are kept alive by them are slowly being killed by them; it's more a question of, would you rather drop dead in the next few weeks, or would you rather lose a decade or two off of your otherwise natural life.


Excuse me? Anabolic steroids? They are mostly quite old drugs which already were here for a little bit around, with known minor side effects gradually increasing with dosage. They are hardly crystal meth.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby riddler » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:28 pm UTC

The only reason I logged in was to comment on what the floaty thing might be:

- God? doubtful, since omniscience would circumvent the need to ask the original question
- Alien? doubtful, for the same reason
- extra-dimensional being? would they really care about our chemical makeup?
- the character's conscious? or extra personality?
- messenger from the past? Ugh, time paradoxes abound.
- spec of dust from the future? Probably would already know the answer.
- Disney fairy? copyright implications aside, shouldn't the fairy be interacting with a cute fuzzy animal, instead of a stick-figure?
- Will we be seeing a hipster-floaty or a black-hat floaty in the near future?

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby MadH » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:34 pm UTC

niky wrote:I've always thought they should just have two contests... one for regular athletes, and one for "all natural" athletes... just like in body-building.

Next thing you know, they'll be banning surgical modification.

Of course, if that prevents tennis players from getting breast reductions, I'm all for it.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/2 ... 89993.html


Many comments on that article irked me because many people were only putting worth on the size of her breasts and how they were disappointed now. Sure, she is a public figure and that means masturbatory fantasies will inevitably happen, but to be so blatant about it? Please, people, keep it to yourself that your fantasies have been ruined by a breast reduction...it's kind of ugly.

When it gets back to the base of it, what ended up irking me more is someone wrote an article about it and then pretty much asked people to comment about her breasts. It's not really up for debate. She did what she did for her own reasons and that's her business. But now we've got a whole comment section peppered with comments about judging her sexual worth publicly, and it's the article writer that brought that out in people. Sex sells though, eh?


Also, as it's been stated before, the comic particularly lacks the insight that steroids used right now tend to maim or kill the people using them, and that the whole purpose of sports is to compete within given (sometimes arbitrary) rules. I don't find the comic funny so much as "wow, lady, you didn't think that maybe we don't want them to use steroids not because we don't want them to become fast and strong and win, but because it's damaging to their health and we shouldn't be promoting that for multiple reasons? That's kind of stupid."

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby freezeblade » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:52 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:It looks like Randall is using the Doonesbury method of using a floating object to represent a President. Funny, I would have guessed that he liked Obama.


Exactly what I thought as well. I actually quite enjoy this method, I don't know about the TNG reference...could be.
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Kain » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:35 pm UTC

Gargravarr wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
Gargravarr wrote: But [doping is] also disallowed because it occasionally makes players sick or injured or dead. Which is not the intended result of most sports.

Hey, I'm a major Rollerball fan, you insenstive clod!

Real men play that Aztec ball game where the losing team gets sacrificed to a bloodthirsty diety who once made Cthulhu cringe.


I seem to recall that it was the winning team that got to be sacrificed..
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby TimXCampbell » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:35 pm UTC

gerv wrote:If humans are just "sacks of chemicals", what is this "alive" of which you speak?

It's a judgment call. Is a virus alive? Some say yes, most say no. Is a thermostat alive? Some say yes, most say no. Are we sacks of chemicals? Many say yes, some say “No, there's something else, too” — and I agree, but perhaps I define that “something else” differently than they do.

What is this "us" of which you speak? Why the arbitrary distinction between the solid/liquid block of chemicals you like to refer to as "you" and the gaseous ones you like to refer to as "air"?

Again, it's a judgment call. If it wasn't for the sun I would die. Does that mean I'm the sun?

For a deeper look into the issues you've raised so far, you can read my article “You Do Not Exist.” It may clarify my responses to your questions.

Also, what is the purpose of these contests?

Once again, it's a judgment call. Personally, I pay no attention whatsoever to sports.

Draconaes wrote: I'd actually love to see your answer to your "what is this "alive" of which you speak?" question. How do you define "Alive"?

Well said. If gerv missed your post I hope he sees your question here. I'm guessing we're being stealthily preached at ... but I could be wrong.

Gargravarr
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Gargravarr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:45 pm UTC

Kain wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
Gargravarr wrote: But [doping is] also disallowed because it occasionally makes players sick or injured or dead. Which is not the intended result of most sports.

Hey, I'm a major Rollerball fan, you insenstive clod!

Real men play that Aztec ball game where the losing team gets sacrificed to a bloodthirsty diety who once made Cthulhu cringe.

I seem to recall that it was the winning team that got to be sacrificed..

Sounds like a good incentive not to dope.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Jirin » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:48 pm UTC

I think you have to make the distinction between absorbing chemicals the way we evolved to be able to do, and using our abstract reasoning ability to find clever ways to artificially manipulate those systems.

But I think the bigger issue that outrages people is that it destroys the mythology of sports. It's fun to mythologize athletes, but it's way easier to do so if they achieved their athletic skill purely by natural talent and hard work. Winning sports with steroids is like winning Super Mario Bros with Game Genie.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Jirin » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:51 pm UTC

@TimXCampbell

We are a very particular type of sack. Our chemicals are capable of reproducing exact copies of themselves, and are arranged in such a way as to form complex logical circuitry.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby orthogon » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:54 pm UTC

Gargravarr wrote:
Kain wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
Gargravarr wrote: But [doping is] also disallowed because it occasionally makes players sick or injured or dead. Which is not the intended result of most sports.

Hey, I'm a major Rollerball fan, you insenstive clod!

Real men play that Aztec ball game where the losing team gets sacrificed to a bloodthirsty diety who once made Cthulhu cringe.

I seem to recall that it was the winning team that got to be sacrificed..

Sounds like a good incentive not to dope.

Or maybe they used to take a cocktail of depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants to slow down their reactions and impair their judgement without it being obvious that they were trying to throw the match. Would have come in useful in the London 2012 Olympic Badminton.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby eculc » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:50 pm UTC

[quote="orthogon"
Or maybe they used to take a cocktail of depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants to slow down their reactions and impair their judgement without it being obvious that they were trying to throw the match. Would have come in useful in the London 2012 Olympic Badminton.[/quote]
Well, either that or they would have killed themselves with weird drug interactions.
Um, this post feels devoid of content. Good luck?
For comparison, that means that if the cabbage guy from Avatar: The Last Airbender filled up his cart with lettuce instead, it would be about a quarter of a lethal dose.

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sehkzychic
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby sehkzychic » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:55 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
Spoiler:
sehkzychic wrote:While I do agree that the steroid scandal is a rather uninteresting issue for a lot of people, there really is a practical reason for it. Professional sports is a multi-billion dollar industry (in fact, even collegiate American football by itself has revenues in the billions). Athletes in these sports accept huge amounts of money to perform and showcase their abilities. (Whether or not sports and athletes should be so highly valued is moot, since the fact is that they already are, financially. That ethical debate would be...well, a whole different ballgame, so to speak.) They also agree that they will hold no truck with those aforementioned chemicals they eat (I'm a little skeptical about how many modern performance-enhancing drugs are actually ingested rather than injected/transfused, but I digress). It's not simply that they eat stuff that makes them run faster and that's bad; it's that they eat particular stuffs that they vowed not to eat and accept huge sums of money for secretly breaking those vows. That's why the government gets involved: people (players, trainers, coaches, etc.) are making a lot of money through fraudulent means.


You're overlooking the whole "steroids will destroy their bodies and if you legalize them everybody in sports will be forced to use them.

Nicely said by Samik above.


Agreed, Samik said it particularly well (and probably better than I did), but I think we were also making slightly different points. Perhaps it's a myopia induced by having spent a lot of time around sports both as a player and a fan, but I sorta felt that most people already know that steroids are medically bad for the people who take them. Even middle school health classes stress this point. In my experience, a lot of bystanders seem to feel that while it may be unhealthy, it's the players' right to make those kinds of gambles. They also ask why the government should be involved in regulating sports, seeing professional sports as boring, pointless, and wasteful. To quote from Jurassic Park, "Grown men swatting little balls, while the rest of the world pays money to applaud." My point was more to remind people that there is actually a very good practical/free-market reason for the government (and people in general) to care about these scandals; there is a reason why articles about steroid use should show up in The Wall Street Journal.

That said, I totally neglected to mention the very important fact that athletes who would otherwise remain clean feel enormous pressure to perform against competitors who do use PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). (You might say I dropped the ball.) This is a very important point, especially as even in my collegiate program there was significant pressure. No one makes it explicit of course, but we all knew that if we wanted them, we would have access to them. Players, and in particular coaches, at the professional level know that their jobs are tied to winning (in recent years, college football coaches have been getting fired after just one or two bad seasons, and college players know they only have 4 years to convince pro teams that they are the best of the best). This leads to a mentality of winning at all costs. The people I know who (probably) took the PEDs were, if anything, ashamed of it, but they felt pinned into a corner since they really felt that making it in the pros was their only shot at a successful/comfortable life. Makes me glad I came from a family that stresses the importance of education and science. #downer

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Kit. » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:56 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:
Kain wrote:I seem to recall that it was the winning team that got to be sacrificed..

Sounds like a good incentive not to dope.

Or maybe they used to take a cocktail of depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants to slow down their reactions and impair their judgement without it being obvious that they were trying to throw the match. Would have come in useful in the London 2012 Olympic Badminton.

Or maybe they just weren't afraid to die.
Last edited by Kit. on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:24 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:02 pm UTC

On the tangent about defining life, I'd like to float my own preferred precise definition in terms of basic physical properties.

Start with the physical definition of "work" as essentially the use of energy to do something, to cause motion, and thus change; and of a "machine" as essentially something which does work, which uses energy to do something, to move something, to change something.

Now let us define a change which moves some physical system to a lower entropy state as "productive" upon that system; work which effects such change is thus productive upon that system, and likewise a machine which does such work is productive upon that system.

Now we can define life quite easily: self-productive machinery. Any system which uses energy flowing through it to reduce its own internal entropy is "alive". A system with the potential to operate in such a fashion under some conditions is a life form, and the conditions necessary for such a system to operate in such a fashion are the necessary conditions for that form of life.

Under this definition, all cellular life still counts as life; viruses don't; crystals don't; fire doesn't; and some artificial machines could, and certainly any sapient machine would have to, as the kind of information storage and organization that would have to be done for something to even emulate a human convincingly would entail a reduction in internal entropy. In fact, I think the computer I'm typing on now would count as "alive" by this definition, at least as much as any random bacterium would. I believe that is the only counter-intuitive implication of this definition, but I also believe it is a desirable one: we want to avoid, if I may coin a term, "organicism", and have a definition of life not bound up to the particulars of the implementation of the kinds of life we're familiar with, and this accomplishes that.
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Bellomy
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Bellomy » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:26 pm UTC

Yeah, not a fan of this comic. I think the point he's making is weak. You can make cheating in anything sound silly if you explain it like that. It's still cheating.

In fact, I don't even think it accomplishes what he wants it to. All he did was explain how steroids work in basic scientific terms. Okay. So what?

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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby mathmannix » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:32 pm UTC

The Olympics are pure sports, and get to have rules like "no steroids". Professional baseball, football, hockey, and basketball in America are entertainment, not pure sports. The participants should be (and are) encouraged to do whatever it will take to earn more money for their team and their corporate sponsors. They have to admit that they sold out. Not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily - I like watching some sports, like back in the day when Mark McGuire beat Sammy Sosa for the home run record. Which he won, and deserved to keep. Same with Barry Bonds. It is a travesty that their names have asterisks now, or whatever.
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Phasma Felis » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:20 pm UTC

I liked xkcd a lot better before Randall decided that being good at math and having a popular webcomic qualified him to form an accurate judgment on any subject after 15 minutes' research.

All the arguments I was gonna make on this particular subject have already been made, so I'll save some time and leave it at that.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby StCredZero » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:28 pm UTC

Such an outrage! He mentions email, but completely forgets about porn!

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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby Kit. » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:01 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:The participants should be (and are) encouraged to do whatever it will take to earn more money for their team and their corporate sponsors.

Uhmm, Bayer? "Testogel a day..."

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby VectorZero » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:25 pm UTC

Ken_g6 wrote:As for peptides, I'm more confused. What's the difference between injecting peptides and eating a nice, tender, juicy steak?
Because eating a steak results in its constituent proteins being broken down to peptides then amino acids, which are then absorbed and used by the body to create other proteins. Whereas injecting a peptide hormone bypasses the digestive tract and allows it to have effects on the body in a way broadly similar to steroid hormones. Probably the best known peptide hormone is insulin.
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby masonwheeler » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:27 pm UTC

drazen wrote:
You're overlooking the whole "steroids will destroy their bodies and if you legalize them everybody in sports will be forced to use them
Or mentally unstable, in some instances, right?

Take the NFL, just for one example. They're already 300+ lbs and handing out concussions like Halloween candy. Dude from KC went nuts and killed his girlfriend and himself this year.


That's not "going nuts due to a concussion;" that's expected behavior from pro football players. You should have a look at a book called "Pros and Cons" sometime. (Look it up on Amazon; I tried to post a link but apparently the forum thinks that's spam.)

It explains how the NFL (and colleges and high schools that feed into the NFL system) have systematically built up an environment where people with the ability to play well are essentially above the law. Over 30% of all NFL players have been charged with a serious, violent felony (rape, assault, weapons charges, DUI, drug dealing, etc,) the vast majority of which never make it to trial (or the media exposure that that would bring) because the school and professional football programs throw enormous amounts of money and lawyers at covering it all up, as long as these violent brutes are still capable of performing well at their violent, brutal game.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby ShadedKnight » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:40 pm UTC

It's funny how some people miss the point of how he's describing steroid use. Yes he's breaking it down into really simple terms, and I guess if you were describing it to a fellow human being it would be trivializing it, but obviously he's describing it to a being who doesn't understand what it means to be a human so he's going to have to describe it in the most basic way. And, going by the alt (title) text none of it really matters when we're all dust in the future anyway so why make a fuss over it?

Yes I'm talking about Bellomy and Phasma. Oops did I write that?

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby fr00t » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:07 am UTC

See, you can actually do this with pretty much everything we humans make a big fuss over, and make it seem absurd. It is true after all that this whole thing is "just" a big physical system of some sort. But if you gave that external observer a complete context: history of sports competitions, details about our cellular biology, social paradigms, etc, it would be less absurd. It would, in fact, just be normal.

Still, i love this comic because I'm in this mode of the thought waaaaay too much and I feel less wierd when other people talk about it

gerv wrote:Awesome, and absolutely true. So many of Randall's comics unintentionally point out the inconsistencies of those who believe in evolutionary abiogenesis.


Really, not sure if troll. If so, good job I guess, you got me a little rankled.

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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby BlitzGirl » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:16 am UTC

drazen wrote:How about springs on the feet of basketball players?

Flubber. Now there's a chemical that you don't have to put inside yourself. Unless you really want to, I guess.
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby dudiobugtron » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:43 am UTC

riddler wrote:- God? doubtful, since omniscience would circumvent the need to ask the original question
- Alien? doubtful, for the same reason

My guess was that it was a non-omniscient alien...
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby jmiezitis » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:36 am UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:The health concerns of steroids should be the driving force behind their ban. Use of such enhancements are already rampant. Once they become the standard, our atheletes are going to start dropping like flies.


This would seem to be the best argument for legalising drugs in sport. May be after a few decades we will have smarter sports-people.

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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby sehkzychic » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:16 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:The Olympics are pure sports, and get to have rules like "no steroids". Professional baseball, football, hockey, and basketball in America are entertainment, not pure sports. The participants should be (and are) encouraged to do whatever it will take to earn more money for their team and their corporate sponsors. They have to admit that they sold out. Not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily - I like watching some sports, like back in the day when Mark McGuire beat Sammy Sosa for the home run record. Which he won, and deserved to keep. Same with Barry Bonds. It is a travesty that their names have asterisks now, or whatever.


Well, the fact is, whether you feel they "get to" or not, professional sports do have rules banning steroids. And players and coaches agree to obey them. Football has a rule about "running into the kicker" (distinct from "roughing the kicker"). A lot of people feel it exists for good reason, but by the "anything goes" mentality, you could call it into question. While some people might find the entertainment value increased by forcing kickers to take more hits, and probably increasing the number of fake kicks/punts, the fact is the rules are the rules. If it makes you feel better, just think of steroid bans as just being arbitrary rules that are just part of the sport.

And the fact is, just like the rules about running into the kicker, the rules against steroids aren't really arbitrary. They exist to protect the players. As a former student athlete who was around a lot of people who wanted to go pro, I think the biggest pressures are from coaches and opponents. They don't want to take steroids because they know there are long-term health impacts from them, but they feel that in order to get playing time to show their abilities, or to beat opponents who often are taking those drugs.

As far as the travesty of the asterisks, it's just like the situation with Reggie Bush and USC a few years ago where they had to vacate their wins (including a national championship) and he was stripped of his Heisman trophy. Whether you think he should have been allowed to accept cars, vacations, and other perks in exchange for being a player there, the fact is that the rules don't allow it. Bonds took steroids when the rules forbade it. That's called cheating, and that's why he gets *ed. It would be the same result if we found out he was using cork-cored bats (which are banned, but can hit the ball farther). Sports have rules, arbitrary or not, and when you play the sport you agree to obey all of the rules, not just the ones that help you.

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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby duckshirt » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:35 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:The Olympics are pure sports, and get to have rules like "no steroids". Professional baseball, football, hockey, and basketball in America are entertainment, not pure sports.

I don't follow - either how the Olympics are not entertainment as well as pure sports, or why an "entertainment" sport can't ban steroids. Unregulated steroid use is very bad for entertainment as well as the athlete's safety.

Maybe you forgot that Olympians are not ameteurs anymore? Or that baseball, hockey, and basketball are Olympic sports?
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Jorpho
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Jorpho » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:30 am UTC

I was waiting for someone to bring up the documentary Bigger Stronger Faster*, which might be worth watching if you like that sort of thing. Ebert remarks that it is "pro-steroid", but is even more against the win-win mentality that drives people to use steroids. Certainly, it makes the case that the health hazards may be greatly exaggerated. But otherwise, the only part of the film that really stuck with me is that there are already professions like fighter pilots and porn stars in which people are required to take potentially hazardous drugs over the long term in order to maintain their performance.

fifiste
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby fifiste » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:18 am UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:The health concerns of steroids should be the driving force behind their ban. Use of such enhancements are already rampant. Once they become the standard, our atheletes are going to start dropping like flies.


It seems like a self-correcting problem then.

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Pfhorrest
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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:38 am UTC

sehkzychic wrote:As far as the travesty of the asterisks

...THAT's what the thing she's talking to is! She's explaining to the asterisk why it's getting put next to all of these names....
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Gargravarr
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Re: 1173: Steroids

Postby Gargravarr » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:31 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:The Olympics are pure sports, and get to have rules like "no steroids". Professional baseball, football, hockey, and basketball in America are entertainment, not pure sports.

I don't get your distinction between "pure" (whatever that means) and non-pure sports. Most Olympic athletes are professionals nowadays. They entertain the public and get paid for it. The last amateur requirements were dropped from the olympics in the late 1980's (IIRC), and now it's just another sports event, but with a flashier opening ceremony.
mathmannix wrote:The participants should be (and are) encouraged to do whatever it will take to earn more money for their team and their corporate sponsors.

As others have mentioned, free doping would probably have the exact opposite effect. Who wants to see some steroid-raged freakshow where every other athlete drops dead after a short career? I don't think many sports fans would like that at all. And if the fans don't like it, the sponsors won't like it.

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Klear
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby Klear » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:39 am UTC

fifiste wrote:
EpicanicusStrikes wrote:The health concerns of steroids should be the driving force behind their ban. Use of such enhancements are already rampant. Once they become the standard, our atheletes are going to start dropping like flies.


It seems like a self-correcting problem then.


On the other hand, top sportsmen tend to get a lot of chicks, so maybe we'd breed a stupid and short-lived sport subrace instead...

morbit
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby morbit » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:I was waiting for someone to bring up the documentary Bigger Stronger Faster*, which might be worth watching if you like that sort of thing. Ebert remarks that it is "pro-steroid", but is even more against the win-win mentality that drives people to use steroids. Certainly, it makes the case that the health hazards may be greatly exaggerated. But otherwise, the only part of the film that really stuck with me is that there are already professions like fighter pilots and porn stars in which people are required to take potentially hazardous drugs over the long term in order to maintain their performance.


While you could said this film is targeted at meatheads, I still would like to everybody trying to engage in this discussion to watch it. It's a pity that I registered at this occasion, regularly lurking fora for few years already, but this topic was a huge let down for me. I was expecting reasonable discussion from scientifically minded people who do a little research at least, no mindless ranting based on assumption of people who are clearly clueless.

gerv
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby gerv » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:33 pm UTC

Draconaes wrote:Numbered responses:

1) If you are really interested in how living things are defined, it shouldn't be too hard to find it yourself. According to Wikipedia, Life vs Non-life is "a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not". You can find other more detailed definitions, and there's some disagreement over the exact criteria. Of course, there's some grey areas (Is a virus alive or not? It meets some criteria I've seen but not others, and changing the criteria only seems to shift the grey areas), but it's not very hard at all to distinguish rocks from humans.


What's a signaling process? If I open a coke can and it fizzes at me, is it signalling? You can follow the definitions down, but the comic points out rather well that defining living things (and, on that basis, placing them in moral categories) is an entirely arbitrary process unless you believe in a Creator and Lawgiver. And, among other things, that makes a ban on steroids in athletic competitions also entirely arbitrary.

Draconaes wrote:2) This really isn't separate from 1. It's a bit disingenuous of you to pretend there isn't a physical distinction (however fuzzy it may be at edge cases) between a random clump of matter and an organism.


That wasn't what I was asking. I was asking how you define "us", or "me", or "you" - terms of personhood. If we are all simply sacks of reacting chemicals, then my concept of your sack of chemicals as a "person" is merely that my chemicals happen to fizz in a certain way. There's no reason why yours should fizz similarly, either when "thinking" (another problematic word) about my sack or about your sack.

The "fizzing chemicals" view of humans has a load of problems, one major one of which is there is no reason why you should trust your brain's interpretation of sense data. Including your sense of self.

Draconaes wrote:3) Faster, in general, means the ability to move more quickly than something that is slower. It does not mean the lack of ability to move less quickly than it otherwise would. Therefore, regardless of other concerns, something that is faster is capable of more things than something that is slower. Is this praiseworthy? Apparently, since people praise it.


That sounds like Hume's is/ought fallacy to me.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem
I am asking why something should be so, and you are replying that it is so.

Draconaes wrote:I also fail to see the relevance of any of this to abiogenesis (which is a separate thing from evolution), since none of your questions seems to pose any sort of challenge to it. I'm not sure what evolutionary abiogenesis is; evolution doesn't require abiogenesis, and abiogenesis doesn't require evolution. Can you define evolutionary abiogenesis?

edit: I'd actually love to see your answer to your "what is this "alive" of which you speak?" question. How do you define "Alive"?


By evolutionary abiogenesis, I mean the idea that life arose from inorganic matter and then, by a process of evolution, we ended up with people, walruses and mosquitoes. Perhaps I should have said "abiogenesis and evolution", although the process of abiogenesis is part of the part of evolutionary theory which makes statements about the origin of life.

I don't find it difficult to define "alive" because I don't have a reductionistic view of what a human being is. Genesis 1 and 2 answer the questions about what it means to be a human, an animal or a plant, and what they are all _for_. The sack of chemicals view means there is no answer to questions like "What is a human being for?", "What is my purpose in life?", "Is there a right and wrong way to treat other people?". And if it were true, there's no reason why we should even ask those questions. But everyone does. Which, I suggest, is telling.

Gerv

fifiste
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby fifiste » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:44 pm UTC

There is no such thing as "just", the theory of abiogenesis nor evolution purport that living things are "just" clumps of matter. To simplify they define living things as very specifically organized clumps of matter.
It would be the same that if I point out that my house is laid of bricks someone would say - "So your hose is just a big lump of clay?"
Or a book is just bunch of paper and inkblots. For some reason you are not satisfied being "just a vat of chemicals" that is able to think (at least somewhat ) and feel = you have to be a "vat of chemicals" who can think and feel because of magic.

So a "vat of chemicals" capable for feelings and thoughts though its intricate composition and interactions = "just" a vat of chemicals, thing to be considered worthless, or a at leat not worth more than a brick.
A "vat of chemicals" capable of sentience because it was impregnated with magic spark by a big sky-wizard = totally worth more caring than the previous one.

If you can't live without magic in your life. Then why can't you fathom the possibility that an omnipotent creator could have infused the whole world with magic and therefore some parts of it getting organized into thinking creatures would be no less divinely inspired.

Or is it because that's not how you/or your minister decide how to interpret one old contradictory tome?

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sehkzychic
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Re: 1173: Steriods

Postby sehkzychic » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:24 pm UTC

gerv wrote:
Draconaes wrote:I also fail to see the relevance of any of this to abiogenesis (which is a separate thing from evolution), since none of your questions seems to pose any sort of challenge to it. I'm not sure what evolutionary abiogenesis is; evolution doesn't require abiogenesis, and abiogenesis doesn't require evolution. Can you define evolutionary abiogenesis?

edit: I'd actually love to see your answer to your "what is this "alive" of which you speak?" question. How do you define "Alive"?


By evolutionary abiogenesis, I mean the idea that life arose from inorganic matter and then, by a process of evolution, we ended up with people, walruses and mosquitoes. Perhaps I should have said "abiogenesis and evolution", although the process of abiogenesis is part of the part of evolutionary theory which makes statements about the origin of life.

I don't find it difficult to define "alive" because I don't have a reductionistic view of what a human being is. Genesis 1 and 2 answer the questions about what it means to be a human, an animal or a plant, and what they are all _for_. The sack of chemicals view means there is no answer to questions like "What is a human being for?", "What is my purpose in life?", "Is there a right and wrong way to treat other people?". And if it were true, there's no reason why we should even ask those questions. But everyone does. Which, I suggest, is telling.

Gerv


Okay, first, as a biologist (and not a chemist), I take objection to the assertion that "the process of abiogenesis is part of the evolutionary theory...." Evolution makes no claims one way or another about the origin of life. (This is one reason why the Catholic church has accepted evolution as fact. The sad truth that they do not accept human evolution is a different matter, related to the existence of souls rather than the characteristics of life.) The fact is: evolution doesn't make claims one way or another regarding abiogenesis (which would, incidentally, still be a correct term for God/a god creating life from non-life). It only requires diversity, heredity (with potential for change), and competition for mutually required resources. (Feel free to disagree on the matter of what defines "life,' but in essence, I feel like this covers at least most of the unambiguous cases. In any case, it doesn't really matter what definition of "life" you prefer, since evolution only requires) these things. If God created life, He/She/They/It probably generated diversity through evolution/natural selection (maybe sexual selection, but there is debate whether or not that is truly distinct or simply a subtype of natural selection; either way, it's a debate of definition, not of existence). If He/She/They/It didn't use natural selection to produce the variety of life that exists/existed, they went to an awful lot of trouble to plant evidence for evolution.


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