0808: "The Economic Argument"

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ganglion
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby ganglion » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:23 am UTC

woodrobin wrote:2. Health care cost reduction. That was funnier, taken seriously, than the original joke. When was the last time you ran into a doctor, hospital or insurance company that was interested in cost reduction through treatment? Any treatment, scientific or otherwise? Doctors and hospitals want to make money, and insurance companies have figured out it's easier to save money by denying coverage for treatment, either in whole by canceling coverage, or in part by excluding anything "experimental" or "unproven." In other words, it's cheaper to exclude entire types of health care than to consider or cover them, whether or not they're quackery notwithstanding.

There's another point here - most of the alternative therapies, particularly the bodywork therapies like shiatsu, involve much longer consultations than you get with a typical General Practitioner (in the UK). So the cost isn't necessarily lower. Even allowing for the fact that doctors have been through a longer training period than most alternative practitioners, I would guess that the cost of a trained person's time is likely to work out higher than a course of mass produced drugs. (By saying 'trained person' I'm not expressing any judgement about the value of that training.)

belscb
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby belscb » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:27 am UTC

Great comic strip. Will this be made into a poster?

Two corrections though:
(1) As "nooby" pointed out above, homeopathy <b>is</b> used in the National Healthcare Service here in the UK, because it works well. This is even more common in mainland Europe. I'm sure part of the explanation is the placebo effect---which is why doctor's sometimes do fake knee surgeries these days (google it!)---but according to the NHS homeopathy work a little better than the placebo effect alone.
(2) I work in the oil industry, and I can tell you that dowsing <b>is</b> used in oil and gas exploration (as "jules.lt" pointed out above).

thearbiter
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby thearbiter » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:41 am UTC

Tbh Randall isn't impressing anyone with this. It's his classic 'claim something irrefutable while demonstrating he knows something about physics' act. And what's the point anyway? 99% of xkcd readers don't believe in the first 9 things any so either the comic (sorry, another darn chart) is poorly tailored to his demographic OR he's trying to convince 1% of his readers of these methods' bogusness OR he's just showing off, which is, quite frankly, very lame and the most likely.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Kaijyuu » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:08 am UTC

The military just doesn't see the potential of curses and hexes yet.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby keithc » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:09 am UTC

viceslave wrote:But Financial Planning does make a killing in Astrology. Have you guys never heard of this country called China? Almost every business-related venture there requires some sort of feng shui, chinese zodiac interpretation or geomancy. Heck, there's even astrology experts that specialize in business advice and consultation. It's the same too in my country where most of the business owners have chinese blood.

Just because it is used doesn't mean it works. After all, as you say almost every business-related venture uses it, but they don't all succeed, so what does that tell you. Apart from, obviously, they weren't doing it right / with enough belief / paying enough to the shaman.

ArneBab
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby ArneBab » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:12 am UTC

There’s a mistake in the argument. The midsection title would have to be „If it were more efficient than conventional means, including the cost of ridicule, companies would be using it to make a killing in…“

And in Germany, private healthcarecompanies do finance homeopathy, for instance.

As I understand it, the questions for financial application are, in the order of increasing usefulness of the method (any method, even stuff like electric cars):

[*] Does it work?
[*] Is it reliable?
[*] Is it more efficient than conventional means?
[*] Does the gain outweigh the cost of changing public perception of the method?

Remote viewing dies at the second point. Just like Auras (how do you find out that someone sees a real Aura without seeing the Aura yourself?).

Remote healing (regardless of faith) and similar die at point 3 (and for many diseases at point 2 – but so does conventional medicine where often 2/3rd of the effects of a medicine in a study is based on placebo¹, namely „I believe it helps, so it helps“).

¹: http://wissen.dradio.de/index.35.html.h ... le_id=5027

Crystal energy dies at 3, maybe earlier.

Curses and hexes at 2.
Last edited by ArneBab on Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:13 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby keithc » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:12 am UTC

nooby wrote:Great comic, except in the UK you can get homeopathy on the National Health. For patients with intractable conditions it can be a very cost effective solution as it often works when otherwise patients would be repeatedly seeing their doctors over long periods with costly referrals and long term health problems.

It's not clear why it works and it does seem like witch-craft but that doesn't mean it isn't useful or can't be used with economic and patient benefits.

It is clear why it works, placebo effect and nothing else. Oh, and don't get me started on homeopathic vets.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:27 am UTC

Honestly I've come to expect more from XKCD.
This comic is awful.

Not to put too fine a point on it but Oil companies *do* hire dowsers and oil prospectors
so dowsing tick

magic isn't real of course but then it doesn't have to be magic.
There's no need to resort to claims of psychic powers.
Someone can merely be good at picking up on subtle signs that there is water, oil or whatever else under an area.
Hell the dowsers might even think they're real themselves.

Derren Brown explains it well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1Xop411uKE
It's the same tricks professional magicians use.

Some dowsers claim to not need to actually be on site and merely use maps.
so remote viewing tick

All you need is a few people in the room who have a fairly good idea where whatever you're looking for might be but who doubt themselves or are too unsure to say and a dowser who is good at picking up on human body language.

In the UK the NHS *does* send people to homeopaths and people who will claim to be calming your aura.
Magic isn't real but the placebo effect and getting attention from other human beings is very real.
Sometimes it genuinely is cheaper when you're dealing with someone suffering from hard to treat pain or some of the various symptoms caused by stress so that:
someone will just spend some time with them, make them feel special, make them feel like someone is trying something.
give them *something*, anything even if it is nothing but a placebo and tell them it will help.
Or will just make them sit in a quiet room for a little while and relax.
Or make them feel that someone, somewhere is thinking about them.
so
TickTickTick

There's no shortage of investors who believe silly things.
Kids who grew up into all the new age bullshit and then inherit daddies money.
There's an entire buisness set up around providing variations on astrology to buisnessmen though this could fall under the alt text.
Given that random choices from the stock market can be better than some tipsters random astrology can give an advantage in certain situations.
And certain economists would probably fall into this catagory as well.
so half a tick?

The crystal energy thing is the only valid one there.

The military one? well the easy argument against that for people who want to believe is that it being the military they do use magic but keep it secret.

NotAllThere
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby NotAllThere » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:29 am UTC

nooby wrote:Great comic, except in the UK you can get homeopathy on the National Health. For patients with intractable conditions it can be a very cost effective solution as it often works when otherwise patients would be repeatedly seeing their doctors over long periods with costly referrals and long term health problems.

It's not clear why it works and it does seem like witch-craft but that doesn't mean it isn't useful or can't be used with economic and patient benefits.
It only "works" in that it stops them wasting the doctor's times. In that sense, it is cost-effective. In the sense of actually doing any good - well clinical trials have shown that it doesn't work. On the other hand, the profit margins from selling water are astoundingly high (and they all big Pharma evil). There is only one place I know that offers true and honest homeopathic remedies.

GPS relies on special and general relativity. Special relativity to handle the fact that the clocks in the satellites will be running slower than stationary clocks on the ground, due to their orbital velocity. General relativity to handle the fact that the clocks in the satellites are further from the the Earth, and so tend to run faster than ground based, stationary clocks. For special relativity, the adjustment is around 7 micro-seconds per day, for general, 46 micro-seconds per day. Overall that's a discrepency of about 39 micro-seconds - which would amount to about 10km of inaccuracy accumulating every day.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Comic = funny = True
Comic = educational = False.
At least going by the posts on here. :(
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby marcel_proust » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:01 am UTC

What, no mention of evolution? Yeah, I can't figure out where business is using it either. Maybe an indication of a business opportunity? Perhaps an indication of the short term horizon of modern business? I dunno, but it does seem like a glaring hole.

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littlelj
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby littlelj » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:05 am UTC

nooby wrote:Great comic, except in the UK you can get homeopathy on the National Health. For patients with intractable conditions it can be a very cost effective solution as it often works when otherwise patients would be repeatedly seeing their doctors over long periods with costly referrals and long term health problems.

It's not clear why it works and it does seem like witch-craft but that doesn't mean it isn't useful or can't be used with economic and patient benefits.


*cough* placebo *cough*

Although, amusingly, placebos seem to work even if the patient knows they're fake.

In my opinion, a lot of those people who are "cured" by homeopathy were :shock: not that ill in the first place. If your illness is caused by hypochondria, stands to reason a placebo would cure it.

Edit for spelling fail :oops:
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Gene
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Gene » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:14 am UTC

Wow. This is my first post, because I felt compelled to point out, because...
Everyone who is pointing out "but x industry *does* use y!" is missing a major point: the comic doesn't just say that companies would be using it, but rather that companies would be using it to make a *killing*. If the various things worked as well as proponents claim, then those using it should have a significant competitive advantage over those not using it. And because of the cost advantages over traditional methods, use of traditional methods would be marginalized. That's what we don't see in practice. That some companies employ these things to some degree is besides the point - at least until those companies start killing the ones that don't use it (or as much.)

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:20 am UTC

marcel_proust wrote:What, no mention of evolution? Yeah, I can't figure out where business is using it either. Maybe an indication of a business opportunity? Perhaps an indication of the short term horizon of modern business? I dunno, but it does seem like a glaring hole.


Farming?
Dog breeders?

Animal husbandry and selecting crops for certain traits is kinda central to farming.

Oh wait!
That's intelligent design!
Buisness uses evolution all the time but once you're intentionally using it it automatically becomes intelligent design because an intelligent agent is encouraging or directing it.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Wol » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:34 am UTC

Homeopathy is available on the NHS here in the UK but I believe there was recently a review of its effectiveness that decided that it wasn't working so it's going to be removed soon. At least I hope it is...

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Tomtomtom » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:54 am UTC

this comic shames xkcd. it defies the fundamentals of science, also contains glaring logical flaws.

Scientific Theory as opposed to Scientific Model
A theory claims to be correct, predictions can be derived from it and tested (and test results have not deviated from the predictions). A scientific model on the other hand deliberately simplifies something to make it manageable, or even displays it in a wrong way that is easier to grasp than the real thing. The model makes predictions, and as long as they hold true within the acceptable margin of error, the model proves useful. For example "god created the universe 8000 years ago" is not a scientific theory, not even a scientific model, as no predictions can be derived from it.

A good example of something that is NOT a theory would be the "theory of relativity". Goedel found a proof that the theory of relativity is only applicable to universes where no time exists, making it pointless. Einstein knew this proof and was very agitated by it, as he was unable to find a flaw in the proof and held Goedel's work in high regard. The theory is also based on the assumption that the speed of light is constant, which was already proven to be wrong decades after Einstein's death. Finally I have read that the theory of relativity and that of quantum mechanics are mutually exclusive. None of these factoids help me believe in a "theory of relativity". So instead it should be called "model of relativity" until someone finds a flaw in Goedel's counter proof and the other problems with the "theory".
Relativity: false (as a theory, useful as a model)

Every living thing emits light. You just have to magnify it by a factor of a million or whatever. "Necrotic tissue emits less light" is a valid and logical scientific theory since non-living things emit less or no light at this magnification level. One could claim that this light is part of the "aura", and esoteric texts did describe its shape and intensity before science was able to actually make it visible to the eye.
Aura: true


I personally disregard most esoteric claims but I have no love for people like the author of this comic who hate scientific progress. Many many things which have been proven by science and which we use every day were discovered by people who were willing to disregard the canon of accepted knowledge of their time and try to come up with or prove something new. Ridiculing these explorers shows that you are not a scientist at heart and that you are opposed to progress if it goes beyond the things which will predictably be developped from what has already become accepted knowledge.


Shame on you, comic author!

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby sonalita » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:09 am UTC

nooby wrote: in the UK you can get homeopathy on the National Health. For patients with intractable conditions it can be a very cost effective solution


The treatment is effective because of the Placebo effect

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby elrunethe2nd » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:18 am UTC

Great, Randall again sinks to taking cracks at things he disapproves of rather than getting an original comic.
Jesus is he starving for ideas.

In fact, to hell with that. I should start reading CAD. It's been funnier than this sort of humor we're seeing here lately.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Aikanaro » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:24 am UTC

Regarding auras, etc...

I'm reminded of a passage from Stephen King's Firestarter, something to the effect that humans "sort of" have a sixth sense, yet it's then termed more of a bottom-of-the-barrel sense, from your brain taking in and processing all sorts of tiny cues and bits of info that you yourself aren't consciously aware of noticing or processing. For example, you might not notice someone breathing behind you, if they're quiet, but your brain might notice the combination of a minor change in air currents combined with a slight increase in temperature from that direction, a minor vibration from the ground/floor, etc. etc.. Similarly, maybe there's eleventy-billion minor cues that we take from the environment, no one of which is particularly notable, but when added together, gives away a bit of information that we can't really explain how we obtained.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby P1h3r1e3d13 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:28 am UTC

Wow. I'm usually a defender of Randall's unpopular comics, and graphs in particular. (Chart, I know.)
But this is just a fallacy.
Eventually, arguing for this comic is arguing that there are no new ideas left.

How about controlled nuclear fusion:
If it worked, companies would be using it to make a killing in energy. They're not, so it must be bunk. Totally impossible. Or we're just not there yet.

Good customer service:
Almost nobody has it, so it must be pointless.
Or maybe the lure of a quick buck is just too tempting.

Quantum computing. Interplanetary travel. I could go on all day, using anything just over the technological horizon (not to mention things we have yet to discover or invent). “It's not used in business” =/= “it doesn't work.” It could just not be developed yet (fusion). It could be a little more expensive than the current method. Maybe it's available and better, but with a high switching cost (electric cars, arguably). Maybe it's just subject to some human foibles (customer service).

There's just no argument here, Randall. Stop phoning it in.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby RikRaccoon » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:40 am UTC

Um... so let's run this argument through for Scientology.

Crazy phenomenon: Dianetics. If it worked, companies would be making a killing in... Offering random people on the street psychology tests. Do they: YES.

So according to Randall, the economic argument states that Dianetics is true.

Played.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Ashi » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:47 am UTC

As belscb mentioned, parts of this chart are flat-out wrong. A lot of these are used commonly, though not necessarily publicized well. As has been mentioned, some of them are much more prominent in other portions of the world. Just because something is a scam doesn't mean that there isn't a killing to be made selling it.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby sorceror » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:55 am UTC

Same argument applies to other things like creationism. Finding oil is a very important and high-stakes issue for oil companies. Literally trillions of dollars are riding on it. Exxon's exploration budget alone is around $20 billion per year. When the chips are down and they need to find the most likely spots to drill - what kind of geology do they use? Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?

Let's assume the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Where did the oil come from? Was it created in the ground with the rest of the Earth? If so, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it really did form from plankton (with a few plants and dinosaurs), but about 10,000 times faster than any chemist believes it could in those conditions? Any way you look at it, a young Earth and a Flood would imply some very interesting scientific questions to ask, some interesting (and potentially extremely valuable) research programs to start. How come nobody's actually pursuing such research programs?

Why don't creationists put together an investment fund, where people pay in and the stake is used as venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If "Flood geology" is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions about where raw materials are than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Why isn't anyone doing this?

I mean, they say they actually believe it...

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Frankie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

viceslave wrote:Almost every business-related venture there requires some sort of feng shui, chinese zodiac interpretation or geomancy. Heck, there's even astrology experts that specialize in business advice and consultation.


That's covered by the mouseover text.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Bridger » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:20 pm UTC

woodrobin wrote:I chuckled at this one, I'll admit. Always fun to poke fun at people who give credence to ideas you've dismissed, after all. And most, if not all, are so nebulous as to be outside of what can be repeatably tested by the scientific method. Of course "not scientifically testable" != "unreal,"


I guess that depends on how you define "Reality." I think the only rational way to define reality is that which we can measure, quantify and qualify. If it's not something we can measure, there's no way to prove it exists. And once you start accepting non-provable phenomena you have to accept ALL non-provable phenomena.

There's also Phillip K. Dick's Definition: "Reality is that, which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." That sort of says it in a nutshell.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:21 pm UTC

woodrobin wrote:So, funny, maybe. But disappointing for XKCD. This is the first time I've seen one of these strips miss the mark by such a long distance in terms of accuracy, relevance, and respect for the subject material.
You seem to be the one that missed the mark, along with most people denouncing the comic - the key point in the comic is not that a business person has never use any of the things listed, but that the use of these things directly increases profits.

Everyone else seems to be complaining that this argument would seem to go against new technologies not yet implemented commercially - tell me, how new a concept is dowsing? Astrology?

P1h3r1e3d13 wrote:Good customer service:
Almost nobody has it, so it must be pointless.
Or maybe the lure of a quick buck is just too tempting.
So your argument that companies would profit more if they had better customer service, but instead they're tempted by the fact that they can make more money by overlooking it?
Last edited by uncivlengr on Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Bridger » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:24 pm UTC

pleasedonthitme wrote:I've never felt the need to create an account or post on the xkcd forums, and I have a feeling the community will not appreciate my initial offering, but my grandfather actually did supplement his income by successfully dowsing for water in the arid regions of Northern Montana. Of course it never turned into anything resembling a traveling snake oil salesman show. Rationally, few believed it unless they knew someone he helped find a well for and wouldn't ask him to come out. Also, I, being a skeptical child, walked around once with my 80-year-old grandfather fresh off a second heart bypass, one hand in his and one on the dousing rod. We walked over where a known water main was, and the rod shot down faster than a frail man at his age could turn it with one hand.


Using Occam's Razor, I find it signifigantly more probable that you underestimate your grandfather's ability (or your own Ideomotor effect) than there exists a force that has never been shown to exist under rigorous scientific testing.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Gerino » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

Magic, as in not scientifically understood concepts and/or practices exists. Saying it does not is just arrogant :)

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby LeiraHoward » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:40 pm UTC

pleasedonthitme wrote:Disclaimers: I am currently an engineering undergraduate who has held research fellowships at JPL and Caltech, and I fully believe that if my grandfather actually was dowsing for water, there is a scientific explanation. There was noting odd about him and he didn't think it was some kind of supernatural power. His theory involved something electromagnetic, as any battery-powered watch he wore would stop working long before the battery died. Probably coincidental, but maybe not.


Disclaimer: I am an engineering graduate (BSEE) and fully agree with you.

I know of several people who can successfully dowse for water 100% of the time. Almost all of them have the same difficulty with keeping battery-operated watches running. The "scientific explanation" definitely seems to be that their bodies have a slightly different electromagnetic field (which KILLS battery-operated things... heaven help them if they ever need a pacemaker), but that's why it seems to work. None of this "they subconsciously know" junk or witchcraft or anything like that. Just simple electromagnetic fields interacting. It would be nice someday if someone would do a study on this (hmmm... thesis topic, anyone?) to "prove" it.

One other person I know (who doesn't practice dowsing) had the funniest experience with battery-operated watches... a bunch of people were passing around one of those kid watches that you push the button and the cartoon character talks... well, in his case, when he tried it, the sound came out all slow and garbled, as if the battery was dying, so he handed it back to whoever owned it, and the sound worked just fine for them... but every time he tried it, he got the same reaction. So, I'm wondering if he'd be any good at dowsing.

I also know other people who don't have this strong ability to kill watches who are able to do dowsing, but it doesn't seem to be as accurate or as strong a pull for them. So yeah, I'd really love to see a scientific study that would measure electromagnetic fields. So far, the way certain studies have been set up seems to be trying to prove the inaccuracy of dowsing. I'd like to see one that actually measured field strengths and such to see what sort of force there is.

I think dowsing has a bad rap because it was tied (rather strongly) with people thinking it was witchcraft... of course, they would have thought the same thing about a strike-anywhere match, or a GPS system.

I think Randall missed the mark on this one. Though I think it works better on water and buried electrical and water lines than anything else. I've never heard one way or the other how good it would be on oil... off the cuff, I'd think that oil might sometimes be buried too deeply to strongly affect surface EM fields, but I don't know.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

"By far the most common claim made for the Million Dollar Challenge offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) is dowsing. "
though you may be puzzled over this seemingly strange conviction embraced by the dowsers, unless you have actually experienced the ideomotor effect at work in yourselves, you cannot have a proper appreciation of how absolutely compelling and irresistible it can be and is. In fact, dowsers are insistent that the disbeliever should try the effect and thereby become convinced of its efficacy; they assure you that once you've tried it, you'll change your mind.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby sylvos » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

P1h3r1e3d13 wrote:Wow. I'm usually a defender of Randall's unpopular comics, and graphs in particular. (Chart, I know.)
But this is just a fallacy.
Eventually, arguing for this comic is arguing that there are no new ideas left.


There's just no argument here, Randall. Stop phoning it in.


No your missing the main point. No one today is claiming to be able to do cold Fusion. People do claim to be able to dowse.
Both of these things, if implemented would provide great economic benefit. So the question is why aren't companies making a lot of money with x? With cold fusion the reason is because we don't know how. With dowsing, its because the current practitioner's are frauds. That doesn't mean that in the future dowsing techniques will be refined, but we'll know if they are when companies start making boatloads of money.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby ModestMouse » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:59 pm UTC

I think I'm going to throw up now.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:14 pm UTC

If actual effort in art and good jokes exist, how come Randall is not making a profit with them, huh? HUH? HUH??

elrunethe2nd wrote:In fact, to hell with that. I should start reading CAD. It's been funnier than this sort of humor we're seeing here lately.


... well, I may be wrong, but I'm quite sure that CAD manages to be WAY, WAY worse than Randall's most uninspired and shitty strips. Either you're REALLY pissed off with xkcd, or you just hate yourself that much.

johnny_7713
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby johnny_7713 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:18 pm UTC

sonalita wrote:
nooby wrote: in the UK you can get homeopathy on the National Health. For patients with intractable conditions it can be a very cost effective solution


The treatment is effective because of the Placebo effect


Why does this matter? There are many factors that can influence the placebo effect, such as the amount of attention you receive from the doctor. If homoeopaths are able to provide people with a more effective placebo (often because they are able to spend more time on their consultations and because they will make more definitive pronouncements) and thus their patients feel better, how does this mean homoeopathy does not work? I will agree with you that it does not work because of the mechanism commonly claimed by homoeopaths, but that's not the same as saying its ineffective.

HungryHobo
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:21 pm UTC

edit: made a mistake posting this, re-writing.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

theflatworm
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby theflatworm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:27 pm UTC

Even more than the last one, this comic is utter twaddle, and dangerous twaddle at that. It seems to be perpetuating the very damaging 'philosophy' of free-market fundamentalism: namely that the free-market is in any way 'perfect,' and that should something not be utilized by said free-market, that thing must be useless. Of course, I don't think most of the stuff listed on the chart has much merit, so I guess I share Randall's ends, but his means are highly suspect at best.

It is important to remember that the free market (and, indeed, any economic system) is composed of humans, with all the irrationalities, stupidities, tenancies towards group-think etc that human beings have. It is no utopian system, it is no perfect test environment. It is pure folly to treat it as if it were.

HungryHobo
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

Gerino wrote:Magic, as in not scientifically understood concepts and/or practices exists. Saying it does not is just arrogant :)


"magic" and all it's other little pseudonyms are just a placeholder for excuses for not trying to understand the world.

know of several people who can successfully dowse for water 100% of the time. Almost all of them have the same difficulty with keeping battery-operated watches running. The "scientific explanation" definitely seems to be that their bodies have a slightly different electromagnetic field (which KILLS battery-operated things... heaven help them if they ever need a pacemaker), but that's why it seems to work. None of this "they subconsciously know" junk or witchcraft or anything like that. Just simple electromagnetic fields interacting. It would be nice someday if someone would do a study on this (hmmm... thesis topic, anyone?) to "prove" it.


It would be almost trivial to test enough to decide if your hypothesis warrents further study.
Get one of these:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Draper-57574-Battery-Continuity-Tester/dp/B0001K9WSU/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1287579520&sr=8-14
and get him to hold the electrodes, record the readings, compare to a selection of other people.
If you want compare dowsers vs non dowsers.

If you think he's generating a magnetic field of some kind get an electronic compas.
Have him approach it from various angles, move in certain paths around it, and log any changes in it's readings.
Record with a couple of webcams showing his position and the face of the compas.
repeat with a selection of dowsers and non-dowsers.

Get back to us with the results and a detailed description of your methods and we can try to reproduce them with any dowsers we know.
welcome to science 101.

"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science"

If you look into it, test it, and it turns out to be a load of dellusion then it remains magic.

the universe is most certainly filled with things we don't understand.
But that doesn't mean that magic powers automatically exist or that your grandfather really can sense the magic water fairies.

So what do we do?
We test it.

You put the dowser in a double blind test where water or oil or anything else is placed or flows through in the room bellow them in a specific location or path.
James Randi did this many many times and yet nobody has ever managed it in a double blind setting to get the million.

And the sad thing is that these people aren't frauds in the traditional sense, most of them really believe in what they do.
But getting a job for an oil company as a dowser sounds much better than the far more real but less impressive sounding job of "Good Guesser".

I must say that of all those who have ever tried to win the Pigasus Prize, and of those who I have otherwise tested in every part of the world, no claimants even approach the dowsers for honesty. These are persons who are genuinely, thoroughly, self-deceived. In only two instances one in Australia and the other in the U.K. did I ever encounter any cheating being tried by dowsers. And those cases were easily solved and immediately terminated.
Last edited by HungryHobo on Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Inkstain
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Inkstain » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:40 pm UTC

woodrobin wrote: When was the last time you ran into a doctor, hospital or insurance company that was interested in cost reduction through treatment? Any treatment, scientific or otherwise?


The last time I talked to a hospital executive, actually.

I had an interview with the CEO of a local hospital about the future of the health-care industry. He argued passionately that the industry couldn't survive without controlling costs through shifting to an outcome-based paradigm to reduce costs and increase incentive to use treatments that work cost-effectively.

Fred314
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Fred314 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:43 pm UTC

I LOVE these comics but I had to point out..

1) Oil companies regularly employ dowsers.

2) Why in the world would the Insurance companies want things like Homeopathy to get out? They benefit from high health care costs because they get to raise our rates and at the same time lower Doctor payments.

Great cartoon but research a bit more next time :)

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davidstarlingm
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby davidstarlingm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:51 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
marcel_proust wrote:What, no mention of evolution? Yeah, I can't figure out where business is using it either. Maybe an indication of a business opportunity? Perhaps an indication of the short term horizon of modern business? I dunno, but it does seem like a glaring hole.


Farming?
Dog breeders?

Animal husbandry and selecting crops for certain traits is kinda central to farming.

Oh wait!
That's intelligent design!
Buisness uses evolution all the time but once you're intentionally using it it automatically becomes intelligent design because an intelligent agent is encouraging or directing it.


I'm fairly certain that the OP was referencing universal common descent, not basic genetics.

The reason universal common descent isn't used to "make a killing" is because it happens so slowly that no one is quite sure when it is happening, or how it could even be used.

Convenient....


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