1592: "Overthinking"

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Kozmo
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1592: "Overthinking"

Postby Kozmo » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:22 pm UTC

Image

title="On the other hand, it took us embarrassingly long to clue in to the lung cancer/cigarette thing, so I guess the real lesson is "figuring out which ideas are true is hard."

Maybe not overthinking per se, but over believing. Pushing science forward is great, exaggerating the results of every single study is not. It's a slow process that statistically tends towards the right results.

P. S. Is the White-Hat-guy question in the last panel to be taken seriously or ironically?

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:40 pm UTC

I'm waiting for the study that reveals that roughly one in twenty studies produces incorrect or misleading results.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:43 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:I'm waiting for the study that reveals that roughly one in twenty studies produces incorrect or misleading results.


Close enough?

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby TheCycoONE » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:43 pm UTC

Is this the first comic to use DOI codes? And why does every panel get it's own code? And why does the last panel not have a code? Or was it just watermarked on but covered up by the black bottom?

Edit: Figured it out, they are citations for the claims:

http://journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/Cit ... nal.2.aspx
http://search.crossref.org/?q=10.1093%2Fije%2Fdyv191
(The third DOI doesn't seem to work, but it is cited by other sources, e.g. http://www.biospace.com/News/we-may-not ... redstories)

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby peewee_RotA » Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:17 pm UTC

I'm certainly frustrated with the fact that in the past few years nobody seems to understand recency illusions anymore.
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby orthogon » Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:57 pm UTC

TheCycoONE wrote:Is this the first comic to use DOI codes?

I don't know, but the ability to insert footnotes into one's spoken dialogue is more the kind of weird superpower that you'd expect Beret Guy to possess.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby Flumble » Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:08 pm UTC

TheCycoONE wrote:Is this the first comic to use DOI codes? And why does every panel get it's own code? And why does the last panel not have a code? Or was it just watermarked on but covered up by the black bottom?

1) No. (at least [url=xkcd.com/1526/]one other comic[/url] had them)
A) Because in every one of those panels the character cites a study and the DOI code is the foottext corresponding to the asterisk in their speech bubble.
я) Because in that panel no one cites a study... or used an asterisk in their text, for that matter.
$) No.


orthogon wrote:I don't know, but the ability to insert footnotes into one's spoken dialogue is more the kind of weird superpower that you'd expect Beret Guy to possess.

It's actually incredibly easy; I do it all the time. It's just that no one can hear them. :(

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Postby miket » Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:18 pm UTC

As to the lateness in the literature in drawing a connection between smoking and lung cancer, I present a source from more than four hundred years ago. While his understanding of physiology was still stuck in the framework of the four humours, King James I was very emphatic* in pointing out that smoking was bad for the lungs.

* James I, A Counterblaste to Tobacco (London, 1604).

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby scalziand » Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:10 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
TheCycoONE wrote:Is this the first comic to use DOI codes?

I don't know, but the ability to insert footnotes into one's spoken dialogue is more the kind of weird superpower that you'd expect Beret Guy to possess.


I guess that's what you get for being struck by lightning.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:39 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I'm waiting for the study that reveals that roughly one in twenty studies produces incorrect or misleading results.


Close enough?


http://www.xkcd.com/882/ is closer.

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Re:

Postby nlitchfield » Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:45 pm UTC

miket wrote:As to the lateness in the literature in drawing a connection between smoking and lung cancer, I present a source from more than four hundred years ago. While his understanding of physiology was still stuck in the framework of the four humours, King James I was very emphatic* in pointing out that smoking was bad for the lungs.

* James I, A Counterblaste to Tobacco (London, 1604).


The blast is online at http://www.laits.utexas.edu/poltheory/james/blaste/blaste.html It seems to me not so much a "bad for the lungs" argument as a "ungodly heathen invention that makes you stink" argument.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby tomandlu » Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

I recently read Feynman's biography. His first wife died of TB - mainly because, as Feynman found out, doctors are lousy at science and hardly ever bothered to find out which treatments were efficacious and which were a complete waste of time, and instead relied on their prejudices and assumptions. Proper, clinical trials seem to have only become common-place from the '50s onwards iirc.
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby keithl » Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:48 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:I'm waiting for the study that reveals that roughly one in twenty studies produces incorrect or misleading results.

I recall a study showing a frighteningly high percentage of later-proved-erronious papers in the peer-reviewed medical literature, but I can't find it. I did find this:Accuracy of references in five leading medical journals, Robert Siebers, Shaun Holt DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)74090-3

Studies say all sorts of things about people, because there are all sorts of people, and no study looks at every one of them - but most pretend to. The average person has one ovary, one testicle, and is 93% dead.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

Geez, got this far and I'm frist [sic] to suggest we're overthinking the comic? :oops:
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby tomandlu » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:22 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Geez, got this far and I'm frist [sic] to suggest we're overthinking the comic? :oops:


I'd have to think about it.
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby mikrit » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:52 pm UTC

keithl wrote:Studies say all sorts of things about people, because there are all sorts of people, and no study looks at every one of them - but most pretend to. The average person has one ovary, one testicle, and is 93% dead.
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Re: Re:

Postby Whatev » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:55 pm UTC

nlitchfield wrote:
miket wrote:As to the lateness in the literature in drawing a connection between smoking and lung cancer, I present a source from more than four hundred years ago. While his understanding of physiology was still stuck in the framework of the four humours, King James I was very emphatic* in pointing out that smoking was bad for the lungs.

* James I, A Counterblaste to Tobacco (London, 1604).


The blast is online at http://www.laits.utexas.edu/poltheory/james/blaste/blaste.html It seems to me not so much a "bad for the lungs" argument as a "ungodly heathen invention that makes you stink" argument.


Given the style of communication in 1600, this criticism may be semantic. But even if you don't accept that, the term "coffin nail" was common slang by the 1880s; people had clearly known they were bad for health for some time (even if they chose to deny facts). Remembering that identifying the connection between lung cancer and smoking was impossible in the 1880s simply due to the tiny number of cases identified, and the primitive nature of both medical testing and statistical analysis, that the connection was recognized by 1929 is really not bad at all.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby mythago » Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:26 pm UTC

The 'lateness in the literature' on smoking wasn't due to overthinking. It was due to a concerted, decades-long effort by tobacco companies to suppress information about how dangerous smoking is, and to seed the literature with bad science. http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/1 ... /i110.full

It's... an odd choice of subject for 'took us a while to figure it out'. Plenty of people figured it out, and had a financial incentive to prevent anyone else from doing so.
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby felix_el_gato » Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:08 pm UTC

After reading the comic and flavor text, I chose a single random comic, as I am wont to do.

I was brought to /1016 (spam filter doesn't allow posting the link).

I love unexpected connections.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby sotanaht » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:47 pm UTC

mythago wrote:The 'lateness in the literature' on smoking wasn't due to overthinking. It was due to a concerted, decades-long effort by tobacco companies to suppress information about how dangerous smoking is, and to seed the literature with bad science. http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/1 ... /i110.full

It's... an odd choice of subject for 'took us a while to figure it out'. Plenty of people figured it out, and had a financial incentive to prevent anyone else from doing so.


Makes one wonder what other things have already been figured out and suppressed, or maybe I'm just overthinking things.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby Robyn Slinger » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:55 pm UTC

Speaking of overthinking, I rather like Oglaf's take.
(Since I cannot post links yet, you'll have to look for it by yourselves; the strip is called Lair of the Trapmaster.)

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby xtifr » Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:38 pm UTC

Robyn Slinger wrote:Speaking of overthinking, I rather like Oglaf's take.
(Since I cannot post links yet, you'll have to look for it by yourselves; the strip is called Lair of the Trapmaster.)


Hmm, yes, quite relevant, quite funny, and, unlike most Oglaf strips, quite safe-for-work!

Lair of the Trapmaster.

(Note: if you're actually at work, the randomly-selected blurb at the top of the page, and/or the lone ad at the bottom may be NSFW, even though the strip itself is fine. So, maybe view the thing from home anyway?)
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby RogueCynic » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:09 am UTC

I remember some years ago a study was done that suggested red meat was a carcinogen. Within months (or weeks?) another study showed it was healthy.
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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:27 am UTC

Research has shown that studies cause cancer in lab rats.
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Re: Re:

Postby Hafting » Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:20 pm UTC

nlitchfield wrote:The blast is online at http://www.laits.utexas.edu/poltheory/james/blaste/blaste.html It seems to me not so much a "bad for the lungs" argument as a "ungodly heathen invention that makes you stink" argument.


The connection to cancer and some other diseases may be new, but "smoking is bad for you" is quite old:
  • Try smoking for the first time, and you'll cough. Seems bad, feels bad.
  • Stinking is bad.
  • Those smoking a lot don't do well in sports such as running. This one is old, it was noticed in a time with more manual labor.

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby almo » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:43 pm UTC

mythago wrote:The 'lateness in the literature' on smoking wasn't due to overthinking. It was due to a concerted, decades-long effort by tobacco companies to suppress information about how dangerous smoking is, and to seed the literature with bad science. It's... an odd choice of subject for 'took us a while to figure it out'. Plenty of people figured it out, and had a financial incentive to prevent anyone else from doing so.


This is what I came here to say. "Merchants of Doubt" is a well-written, well-researched book about this topic. Turns out there's a small group of people involved (not 100% responsible for, but involved with... not pretending it's a massive conspiracy) with sowing doubt about many things, including acid rain, the power of the USSR's nuclear arsenal, the dangers of smoking and others.

(Note: had to remove the URL from the quote, or the system said my message was spam and wouldn't let me post it)

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Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

Postby mythago » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:20 am UTC

RogueCynic wrote:I remember some years ago a study was done that suggested red meat was a carcinogen. Within months (or weeks?) another study showed it was healthy.


Meaning, you read a news article that had an attention-grabbing headline that wildly misstated and exaggerated the results of studies about red meat? Or you're reluctant to believe that smoking is really bad for you?

https://xkcd.com/882/

@almo, it's really not too far-fetched to call it a conspiracy, albeit in the smoky-back-room sense rather than the secret-handshakes-and-robes sense.
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