0808: "The Economic Argument"

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uncivlengr
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:58 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:I mean, if the point is that we can tell which philosophies are true based off of who makes money on them

Is that the point? Which part of the comic makes this statement?

(I already addressed this point you made earlier, but apparently you're selective in which posts you're reading.)


Well, the comic certainly implied it. But I was responding specifically to someone else's statement on the subject.
It only implied it if you take for granted the fact that "modern capitalism" is profit driven, which it doesn't even assert as necessarily true.

It's still an uncomfortable position to put forth to those that like to claim that pseudo-scientific philosophies don't get into the mainstream due to massive corporate pressure to maintain their income. If some new* technology comes along that undermines existing technologies, the old guys might initially resist it, but eventually they're going to move to the more efficient means of production.

* people keep saying that business won't switch to new methods because they've invested capital in their own older methods. This might apply to things like electric cars, but dowsing and astrology have been around long enough that if there were any incentive for business to pick them up, they would have ages ago.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby shpoffo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:18 pm UTC

darknut wrote:the point is GPS's and semiconductors run on magic


For some of these things, it's not that they don't exist, it's just that no one have figured out how to utilize their effect-size:

http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

Radin, D. I., Lund, N., Emoto, M. & Kizu, T. (2009). Triple-blind replication of the effects of distant intention on water crystal formation. Journal of Scientific Exploration.

The (US) military has been using remote viewing regularly for as many as 10 years, to worthwhile enough effect that they continue to do so. I've talked with a general and some other officers that oversee these programs and have seen their active credentials.


Haters gonna hate. Hopefully this is the last of the imprecise hating from Randal.


(spammy link to my book, for those that won't find it spammy. haters be gone. http://newalexandria.org/archive/filters/ )

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Rackum » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:30 pm UTC

rcox1 wrote:The premise of this comic is false. Corporations so not use every tool at their disposal. Not do corporation just mindlessly try to maximize revenue and profits. Most corporations have a core competency, and not matter what, they tend to work in the method directed by their core competency. This is why so many of them get decimated when a new technology comes around. For instance Valero core competency is fossil fuel, so they are funded the proposition in California to insure that fossil fuels have preferred status. This does not mean that other energy possibilities are magic, simply that Valero is not willing to invest in them.


Your argument that corporations do not branch out from their core competency is just plain wrong. You specifically cite an oil company as unwilling to invest in other energy options so I present a counter-example: Chevron Energy Solutions. And I'm sure others can contribute many more names to a list of companies that produce/operate beyond a single "core competency."

If we go back a bit further we could look at ballooning. It is arguable that the nation who used manned and unmanned ballons in warfare would have had great tactical advantages, but the competency of war was land based and the businesses and countries of the time were not able to monetize the ballons, so an air force was delayed 100 years.


Here you claim, an air force is delayed by 100 years because war was land based and no one used balloons, but reconnaissance balloons saw consiberable use all through the 19th century for use in war operations. I'm unsure of exactly what you're getting at with this argument but the first powered, heavier-than-air flight was made in late 1903 and the US Army Air Corps (the predecessor to the US Air Force) was formed in 1926 converting to the Air Force in 1941. So I'm not sure where you get this proposed 100 year lag. You may be citing that balloons had been in use for over 100 years, however, engine technology was not at all prepared to allow for powered, HTA flight.

In terms of actual magic, there are any number of industry that sells what is essentially tarot reading. The financial industry is a prime example. They use fancy words, and essentially say the information is for entertainment only, but large corporations have been built on the snake oil. Then of course there is always amusing moster cable, which sells expensive digital cables that will magically make your zeros and ones into better zeroes and ones.


There's a large difference between tarot card reading and financial advisors carefully reviewing the economic climate and making predictions based on their education and experience. As for Monster cables, better quality data transmission accomplished by higher quality data transmission devices is hardly magic. The company does not claim that the product will be better than the supplied data, however, they do promise that there will be minimal data loss during transmission. Furthermore, the mouse-over text specifically excludes the selling of stuff to "OTHER people" ... which if Monster Cables are magic is exactly what they're doing.

And then there is the tech that simply won't make money. The SCOTUS is currently hearing a case where a safer vaccine was not used simply because it would not make as much money as the less safe vaccine(They do not dispute this allegation, only that the congress made them immune from lawsuits). Who knows how many technologies do not exist because there is simply no money to be made. In Texas the TAMA sues every other kind of healer because MD are the only one who can diagnose. They do this, arguably, because each patient a non-MS healer helps for a couple thousand dollars is 50K of billing stolen from the MD. Of course the screwed up health system means that it is cheaper for the patient to see an MD.


Or because hack "doctors" and healers have a tendency to be frauds and kill people.

This is not to say the comic is not humorous or accurate on a certain scale. Just that we ridicule everything we do not agree with, we move beyond criticism to dogma.


I find the comic both humorous and thought-provoking in it's theory. While there are some details of the idea that need more work, it seems a logical conclusion that people in the capitalist world (and people in general) will try to exploit whatever is available for profit -- that's just how the system works.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby davidstarlingm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:00 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:It's still an uncomfortable position to put forth to those that like to claim that pseudo-scientific philosophies don't get into the mainstream due to massive corporate pressure to maintain their income. If some new* technology comes along that undermines existing technologies, the old guys might initially resist it, but eventually they're going to move to the more efficient means of production.


And from that standpoint, I agree entirely. It is an excellent counterexample to the "it works, but corporate America is oppressively hiding the truth" conspiracy bunk. But the "If it worked, companies would be using it to make a killing in:" statement seemed more like an affirmative argument than a passive counterexample....and "it isn't profitable" just isn't a valid reason for saying something doesn't work.

Or maybe I'm just being overly critical of something that was intended to be more humorous than scientifically accurate. Actually, that's probably the case.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby BrianX » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:01 pm UTC

Lots of woo-minded whiners in denial in this thread.

Randal is dead right and deep down I'm sure at least half of you saying otherwise know this (the other half are either delusional or undereducated). The science is resolutely against dowsing, remote viewing, crystal energy, and all of that. (Hell, homeopathy is a perfect example -- not only is it theoretical nonsense, but homeopathy advocates can't prove anything's really happening in the first place.) Sorry so many of you are offended by Randal's cartoon... no, wait. I'm not. You had it coming. Suck it up and deal with it.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:07 pm UTC

Bridger wrote:(or your own Ideomotor effect)


I am very happy to learn that there is a word for that.

One of my employers/clients is a husband and wife who believe in all kinds of this pseudo-spiritual pseudoscience: homeopathy, dowsing, etc. Soon after I started working here, they had some consultant over to give them advice on how to "feng shui" their office by aligning things with the "magnetic ley lines" of the Earth, which said consultant claimed to find by "dowsing" with a pair of, essentially, bent coat hangers (each in the shape of a long, narrow "L"; a small handle and the rest in a long straight line perpendicular to the handle).

This consultant wandered around the property with these "dowsing rods" and watched them cross and uncross, claiming to find the natural ley lines and where our furniture alignment was blocking them, all the while my bosses oohing and ahhing at it all. When the consultant left, she left the "dowsing rods" for my boss to go and confirm things for herself; my boss walked around and watched the dowsing rods cross and uncross and was convinced of the consultant's legitimacy.

I, meanwhile, was sitting there with a very skeptical look on my face the whole time, and my boss asked me if I don't believe in it or what. I told her no, not really, and she asked why, like looking for an opportunity to justify it. I just asked her if I could see the "dowsing rods". I held them out perfectly level, parallel to each other like they "should" be when not on a "ley line". I then focused intently on the space in between them -- visibly focused, a look of stern concentration on my face, like I was trying to light the air on fire with my mind or something -- and the "dowsing rods" crossed! I relaxed my concentration, and they went back to parallel! Focus, they cross.... relax, they go straight!

My boss was amazed, like she had just met someone with phenomenal, demonstrable psychic powers or something. She asked me how I was doing that. And I told her, "I'm tilting my hands very slightly." She was not amused.

Maybe I should have told her "I have mastered the ideomotor effect" and let her believe I was some kind of wizard.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

This reminds me of this crazy guy that has a farm back home. The place was amazing - his vegetables grew like they were mutants, and he claimed this was because he aligned things so his plots were on the intersection of some field lines, yadda yadda yadda.

He also placed his manure pile at the top of the hill above the vegetable garden, so that any time it rained, the runoff would naturally fertilize the soil right down through the roots of the plants.

Now, I'm no agrologist, but I'm guessing one has more to do with the success of his crops than the other. There's no debate as to his skill as a grower, but his ideas of how he actually accomplishes it certainly can be called into question.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby duckshirt » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:52 pm UTC

Wait, people have never made bank on most if not all of the other options, really?
lol everything matters
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

joe9000 wrote:I don't understand how very intelligent people still believe in divining rods & homeopathy.

If you were to dig wells (water, oil, etc) based on a) divining and b) any other reasonable method, given a sufficiently large enough sample (a few thousand tries), there would not be a significantly different result from group a and group b.

Using homeopathic remedies also lacks any statistical difference in measurable results.

So until someone can show me a reputable study that uses a sufficiently large enough sample size, stop yammering about you uncle who divines or your inside knowledge that oil companies use it. (whether they do or don't doesn't change the results) And stop yammering about the UK paying for homeopathic medicine, show me a large study with a control group and that there is a statistically significant difference in measurable results.

The problem is that when you do experiments the Spaghedeity won't move the water or uranium or whatever because He doesn't like being tested.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby sorceror » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:38 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't those researchers trying to simulate the conditions (temperature and pressure) under which crude oil did form? They weren't just introducing random conditions for no reason.


With a lot of approximations in order to get things done, as they put it, "on a human timescale".

I looked at that link, and discovered that we find "age markers" in coal that are aeons younger than how old the coal is supposed to be. Not sure how that is relevant.


So, you read past passages like "Dating the oil in a given reservoir provides important clues to its source formation, something that often is not obvious because oil can migrate large distances underground. Therefore, dating can help petroleum geologists determine the specific "plays" -geological environments -on which they should concentrate their efforts, Moldowan said." as well as "...although there were some differences, variations in the level of the biological marker are broadly consistent with the fossil record." And you focused on an anomolous result about coal, not oil? Well, okay...

Right, because it's not like they find oil in deserts. "But the Arabian desert used to be a forest!" Certainly. But it would appear, then, that the past is the key to the present, not the other way around. There are plenty of ways to model a given set of variables.


Speaking of modeling, you might find this discussion interesting: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=191132

So what exactly are the differences in predictions that Flood geology would create?


Ask Glenn Morton, who I linked to before. He actually worked in seismic interpretation for an oil company.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby serrath » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:50 pm UTC

Does anyone else it's hilarious that the only two "crazy phenomena" being used in reality are downright contradictory? (At least, our present working knowledge of each contradicts what we know about the other.)

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby SuffusionofYellow » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:59 pm 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?


Last time I went to one. Not all health providers are run on the US model.

For example, the British National Health Service has just been ordered by the UK government to find £20bn in efficiency and productivity savings by 2015.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby rcox1 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:36 pm UTC

Rackum wrote:
rcox1 wrote:If we go back a bit further we could look at ballooning. It is arguable that the nation who used manned and unmanned ballons in warfare would have had great tactical advantages, but the competency of war was land based and the businesses and countries of the time were not able to monetize the ballons, so an air force was delayed 100 years.


Here you claim, an air force is delayed by 100 years because war was land based and no one used balloons, but reconnaissance balloons saw consiberable use all through the 19th century for use in war operations. I'm unsure of exactly what you're getting at with this argument but the first powered, heavier-than-air flight was made in late 1903 and the US Army Air Corps (the predecessor to the US Air Force) was formed in 1926 converting to the Air Force in 1941. So I'm not sure where you get this proposed 100 year lag. You may be citing that balloons had been in use for over 100 years, however, engine technology was not at all prepared to allow for powered, HTA flight.


Pretty much exactly that. Ballons were used by Napoleon and in the US civil war, but they were not the major part of war that they could have been. The inertia of land base war made them not a major part of war from 1794 onward. In fact to continue with the example, the US air force did not exist until 1941. Before that it was a part of the Army, another indication of the difficulty that people have in dealing with things they cannot grasp.

To expand this argument there are people who wish to use dirigibles to float cargo across the sea. Just because corporation do not use dirigibles, does that mean they do not exist? It is simply not the way we have grown to do things. The fundamental flaw in this argument, as in any economic argument, is the assumption that human are purely rational independent agents. This is verifiably not true. Just because a hypothetical technology is not used, does not mean it is not useful.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby davidstarlingm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

sorceror wrote:Ask Glenn Morton, who I linked to before. He actually worked in seismic interpretation for an oil company.


Sorry, but you just copied in the same link again. Did I miss something?

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby theflatworm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:42 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:OH WAIT, it doesn't come to that conclusion at all - it merely states that if you're arguing that these pseudoscientific claims are true, then you're implicitly arguing that modern capitalism isn't profit-focused. It's not a proof against the claims, and it doesn't pretend to be.


That may be the literal statement, but it's not the implication of the linguistic form used. In any case, it's entirely possibly to be 'profit focused' without actually knowing how to maximize profits. It's a subtle distinction, but extremely important.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby sorceror » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:43 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:
sorceror wrote:Ask Glenn Morton, who I linked to before. He actually worked in seismic interpretation for an oil company.


Sorry, but you just copied in the same link again. Did I miss something?


Whoops, you're right. The actual link is here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/gstory.htm (First Google hit for "Glenn Morton".)

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sample bias

Postby peacelovedopamine » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:47 pm UTC

clever, but maybe corporate moguls just aren't the type of people to believe this stuff works.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby theflatworm » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:50 pm UTC

BrianX wrote:Lots of woo-minded whiners in denial in this thread.


Which ones? Be specific! ^_^

BrianX wrote:Randal is dead right and deep down I'm sure at least half of you saying otherwise know this (the other half are either delusional or undereducated). The science is resolutely against dowsing, remote viewing, crystal energy, and all of that. (Hell, homeopathy is a perfect example -- not only is it theoretical nonsense, but homeopathy advocates can't prove anything's really happening in the first place.) Sorry so many of you are offended by Randal's cartoon... no, wait. I'm not. You had it coming. Suck it up and deal with it.


Most, if not all, of the examples are pseudoscience. However, what's at issue for me isn't Randall's understanding of science, it's his cack-handed understanding of economic theory. (Which, to be fair, he has in common with a reasonable number of economists). In that sense Randall is NOT right. Though I'd be happy to be shown proof that in EVERY case anything is shown to be profitable some section of the relevant industry immediately adopts it. In fact, if you can show me that, I'm sure I could manage that million dollars people seem to be talking about. ;)

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby DavidRoss » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:51 pm UTC

_____ wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:GPS transmitters and receivers don't have to account for relativity, except to the extent that relativity begets the finiteness of the speed of light and GPS calculations all depend on a finite speed of light. OK, maybe they COULD take into account relativity, but the error is small enough that they could ignore it unless, say, you are a dentist and you are using GPS to position the drill.


Not true. The GPS system uses general relativity to calculate gravitational time dilation effects between their clocks far above the earth and our clocks down here. Without it, they'd only be accurate to within a few kilometers. Look at the wikipedia article on GPS for more info.


OK. I stand corrected. Last I worked on GPS was in the 80's and I guess the data stream we dealt with must have already had the clock adjustment baked in, so I never had to deal with relativity.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby DavidRoss » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:16 pm UTC

tugs wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:
joy wrote:And if lottery ticket actually worked, investors would buy them.


Actually, there is a rare situation where they do work... where the "true" prize... is greater than the cost of buying every ticket


I assume by "rare" you mean "utterly non-existent." People don't run lotteries to give away money, they run them to raise it.


So, someone has actually looked into this and wrote a paper showing all the maths and provided one example of when it did occur that the expectation value of a ticket was greater than the cost of the ticket. (I cannot find it now.) The rare situation requires a rollover in order to pay out more money in this round than is collected by buyers in this round, i.e., where some of the money in the pool is from buyers who lost last round - they are not participating in the current round, only their money is, and that is why one can have both situations (expectation value > cost) AND (lottery operator makes money). But, you are right that the latter condition must always hold.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby DavidRoss » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:27 pm UTC

Geekoid wrote:
sonalita wrote:The treatment is effective because of the Placebo effect


False. The treatment is not effective by any objective measure. In some cases people claim to feel better. In those case there is still no objective measure that it's a treatment.

To be pedantic:
It works because of A placebo effect. There are many forms, and not just medical. You can see it when someone buys an expensive item and they say it was worth it, but then in conversation that talk its problems. See:Apple~


There may be another explanation for homeopathy. Consider the set of people who got a cold in the past 12 months. They can be divided into four groups (used homeopathy/short recovery, used homeopathy/long recovery, did not use homeopathy/short recovery, did not use homeopathy/long recovery). The test of whether it works involves the ratio between the sizes of various of these groups. It appears to work because three of the four groups do not bother commenting on homeopathy, so we only hear from the "used homeopathy/short recovery" group and the result is a massive sampling error. I have no doubt there are honest folks in that group, but that doesn't mean there is a cause and effect.

(An Apple a day keeps the doctor away. Really. I refused to put away my iPhone, so the doctor refused to see me.)

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Skip » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:29 pm UTC

I'd like to understand something, I think. Learning keeps me alive. I mean "us" ..it keeps us alive. Unless you're broke and starving. Then you should learn about getting a job since that's the only way to have food, as far as I know.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:38 am UTC

styrofoam wrote:Arguing that relativity works is arguing that modern capitalism isn't profit-focused? ;)
Arguing that arguing that relativity works is arguing that modern capitalism isn't profit-focused, would actually be implying that the arguer fails at reading the chart. 8) So it's a good thing you weren't serious, or else I'd have to think negatively about you for a few seconds. :P
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby arbivark » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Apeiron wrote:Fucking magnates. How do they work?

now that was funny.
aside to somebody:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youssef_Agnaw
<dogmatic libertarian rant mode on>

"eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn't that ruthlessly profit-focused."
4 pages of posts and nobody has caught the glaring scientific error.
it is precisely because capitalism is profit-focused that it works to sort out which processes work and which don't.
this insight is one of the key holdings of austrian economics, and maybe you guys and randall haven't gotten that far. or maybe i'm fundamentally misunderstanding randall's point.
what makes economics interesting is that it is a process for getting information about how the real world works, er, how the universe works. darwin borrowed that idea from adam smith and showed that evolution is the same thing, it's economics applied to living things. in nature, strategies that work result in successful procreation, in economics, strategies that work result in profit. life and wealth expand as more information is mastered and new strategies are learned, creating circumstances in which the singularity can happen.
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby joy » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:50 am UTC

tugs wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:
joy wrote:And if lottery ticket actually worked, investors would buy them.


Actually, there is a rare situation where they do work... where the "true" prize... is greater than the cost of buying every ticket


I assume by "rare" you mean "utterly non-existent." People don't run lotteries to give away money, they run them to raise it.


I appreciate the detail with which my comment was addressed. However, i can't imagine someone running a lottery where:
prize > sum of all tickets

If you have money to give away like that, you probably won't go to the trouble of running a lottery.
Image

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby dangeraardvark » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:14 am UTC

It's a testament to this comic's popularity that a skeptical comic pulls so many woo supporters out of the woodwork.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby duckshirt » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:19 am UTC

A situation where "pro-lottery" people say that occurs is in those lotteries where the pot just gets larger and larger as more people buy tickets and no one wins. So if no one wins in a sufficiently unusual length of time, the expected value could be greater than the ticket price.

That doesn't stop the lottery from being an abomination of government power, imo, though...
lol everything matters
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby serrath » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:38 am UTC

To everyone trying to figure out where relativity plays a role in GPS device:
There's a relativistic doppler-shift in frequency of light due to gravity in the signal between the GPS device and the satellite. That simple (or horribly complex, if you will). It's not a timing thing, it's not a the-world's-circumference-looks-smaller-to-a-satellite-thing, it's just a simple redshift/blueshift type deal.

Now let's talk about some additional irony:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=65287&p=2361644#p2361312

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Bridger » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:59 am UTC

LeiraHoward wrote:
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.


There is no way their bodies electromagnetic field can be interacting in any meaningful way with any objects. The size of the human body's electromagnetic field is extremely small, and dwarfed by many many orders of magnitude by the earth's field. Any object that could be influenced by your own field would be instead influenced by the earth. It works in a similar way to gravity. The moon and the sun both exert gravitational pulls on your body, but the earth's is so much stronger that you don't even feel the moon or the sun at all. If the moon is pulling you up at .00001 and the earth is pulling you down at 200, the net vector is 199.99999 down to the earth (made up numbers of course).

I don't buy that they can successfully dowse 100% of the time. My guess is that whatever tests were run that brought you/them to that conclusion were not double blinded. When you double blind these kinds of tests the participants always do no better than chance. This is because the phenomena being witnessed is the above-mentioned Ideomotor effect. This has been well studied. It's the same exact thing that makes Ouiji boards move. You can move your muscles in subtle ways without knowing that you are actually doing 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.


It simply doesn't work. Any experiences you may have had that seem to point to it being a real phenomena are likely just incorrect observations or explainable through more common ways. Electromagnetic forces are extremely weak, and if there was a field that could penetrate even 10 feet of dirt your body would probably suffer some massive catastrophe.

johnny_7713 wrote:
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.


Because often patients will be receiving the placebo effect, when they should be receiving real treatment for a real problem. The main problem is that some proponents of homeopathy claim that it will cure anything from back aches to cancer. If they were only claiming that it made you less tired and made some pain go away it wouldn't be doing much harm. This is all ignoring the fact that the placebo effect is not a real treatment, only a psychological one.

teqmc2 wrote:Ok, to begin with, tradition outweighs ruthless profit seeking FAR to often in the corporate world. There is a principle called "cradle to cradle" economics, which was invented by a team that included several economists, an architect and a chemist. Every company that has switched to this model has had significant profit increases, in some cases amounting to a doubling of profit. Now, the entry cost is expensive, but no company has failed to earn back that entry cost in more than five years. And yet, a very low percent of companies in the world have made this switch. Look it up: you can google "cradle to cradle" or you can find the book. So no, corporate use is not a good judge of effectiveness.

As for Homeopathy, the reason that it is perceived not to work is because most people do it WRONG. Homeopathy is, in fact, grounded in good biology. The idea is that the body has a minimum reaction to toxins. If a toxin that lowers the heart rate enters the body, the body will raise its heart rate by some minimum increase, or more than that. (simple example, there are more complex applications).

The only problem with this is it follows the "toxin" theory of disease instead of the accepted and proven Germ theory of disease. Seriously, go read a book or two on the immune system before you try to explain how it works. "Toxin" is a generic word that is not nearly specific enough to use in this discussion. There are many things that can go wrong with the body, it's a very complicated system. Trying to say that "toxins" cause high blood pressure is just ignoring the complexity of the issue. It's like saying Gremlins caused the plane to crash. It doesn't explain anything.

The idea of Homeopathy to treat bradicardia (dangerously low hear rate) is to administer a microscopic dose of just such a toxin.

Then why not administer an actual dose instead of pure water?
The calibration should be enough of the toxin for the body to notice, yet an amount which will have an effect smaller than the minimum response threshold. Thus, the net result is an increase in hear rate. The same can be done to increase immune alertness, to increase or decrease nerve conductivity, to adjust blood pressure or intercrainial pressure. Any disease whose symptoms can be mimicked by a toxin can be treated by Homeopathy.

This is an extremely simplified and flawed understanding of the Immune system.

lly wrote:Operating off of anecdotes and individual cases, but a lot of very good studies start with someone saying "huh, that's interesting..." and noticing an anecdotal trend.

It doesn't mean that scientists should incorporate it into their map of reality or that you have any reason to believe it is true (or, for that matter, false), but it does mean that I would be very interested in seeing a study before declaring people to arbitrarily "not exist."


The problem here is that this has been well studied and sown up tight. He's making a claim that violates our current understanding of the natural world. It goes against the best evidence we have, why should we not ask for more proof than his word? It would be like some guy coming along and declaring "This gravity thing is all bunk, it's clear our hearts are tied to the center of the earth with invisible string!" The rational response to any claim that goes against the established evidence is "prove it." Thus we have the null hypothesis.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby teqmc2 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:51 am UTC

Ok, most of the people who argue against Homeopathy say "If it worked, why would drug companies dilute their product and increase their profit?" This is missing the point. Most drugs sold in this country are *Allopathic*. Diluting an Allopathic drug makes it weaker. Anyone who says otherwise does not understand Homeopathy.

Administering water DOES NOT treat Bradicardia. Administering a large dose of a stimulant does. Administering a microscopic dose of a sedative also does. Any symptom can be caused by any of several causes. Bradicardia can be caused by a malfunction in the brain stem, it can be caused by weakness of the heart muscle, it can be caused by abnormal retention of certain neurotransmitters. Homeopathy treats it in all cases, just as Allopathy does, IF YOU USE THE VERSION I HAVE ADVOCATED IN THIS POST. If you use a so-called "homeopathic" medicine which does not contain any of the indicated toxin, then you are just a gullible idiot. And, when I say "toxin" I am NOT saying that a toxin caused the disease, I am saying that a toxin COULD cause the same symptoms.

Now, on to your comment about Germ Theory. I am assailed by countless pathogens (viruses, bacteria, prions, fungi, etc.) every day. You are as well. Yet, both of us spend most of our lives illness free. This is because the immune system fights off these things continuously as they enter our bodies. Now, our immune systems work at less than their full strength. When they work to strongly, this is called Auto-immune disease. The body continuously adjusts the strength of our immune system according to the amount of pathogens which are present. If the immune system is at to high a level, and there are no more pathogens around, then the immune system starts eating your own cells. Now, anything which can be adjusted can get messed up. This is when you get a cold. Your immune system turns the "volume" to far down, and the continually present pathogens get a foot hold.

Now, before you think that I am arguing against quarantine procedures, I most assuredly am not. When the concentration of pathogens gets to high, no ones immune system can repel them without a major fight. So, don't think that I am advising hanging out with SARS patients.

Now, as I was saying.

When a person is at noticeable risk of catching a cold, the best thing to do is to tell the immune system to power up, because the risk of Auto-immune disease is reduced. (see above, risk of Auto-immune disease and risk of pathogenic disease are inversely proportional) In a healthy person, this is done automatically. When the body is under elevated metabolic load, this can fail. The failure may occur in the signaling system, or it may occur in the general immune system. I the first case is true, a Homeopathic dose of an immune suppressor will trigger the body to crank up the defenses. If the failure is in the immune system itself (deficincy of T-Lymphocytes, for example), then the problem is much worse, and Allopathic medicine is in order. Oh wait, no Synthetic Allopathic medicine has yet been invented that can cause T-Lymphocyte production.

BTW: I am a licensed health care professional. A little more politeness would improve this discussion immensely.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby warcupine » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:04 am UTC

I approve of this comic

that is all

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Eebster the Great
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:06 am UTC

joy wrote:
tugs wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:
joy wrote:And if lottery ticket actually worked, investors would buy them.


Actually, there is a rare situation where they do work... where the "true" prize... is greater than the cost of buying every ticket


I assume by "rare" you mean "utterly non-existent." People don't run lotteries to give away money, they run them to raise it.


I appreciate the detail with which my comment was addressed. However, i can't imagine someone running a lottery where:
prize > sum of all tickets

If you have money to give away like that, you probably won't go to the trouble of running a lottery.

Well this guy did it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_Wh ... Full_Wheel.

Actually, the lottery tried to stop him from running the full wheel, and technically they succeeded (his team of 28 only bought around 1.6 million of the 1.9 million combinations), but he still got the winning ticket. He had to share it three ways, but when the pick four and pick five prizes were all added in, the group did make a significant profit of around 300,000 Irish pounds.

And obviously the lottery does not normally get that high, but if there are enough tickets bought in a row without a win, it will get very large. The Mega Millions once reached $390 million. Of course, it isn't feasible to run a full wheel on the Mega Millions, but I imagine it might be profitable if you did. Thus theoretically the tickets are worth more than their cost in those rare circumstances. But realistically $200 million is not actually worth 200 million times $1, so the risk of spending thousands and winning nothing probably isn't worth it.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Tormuse » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:28 am UTC

I think part of the reason these "crazy phenomena" aren't being used to "make a killing" is that they are not widely respected enough to be a popular selling point and I blame that, in part, on some of the outlandish claims that people who believe in them make.

For example, I've heard explanations of how homeopathy works along the lines of the water used to dilute the substance has "memory" of what it was used to dilute and maintains the properties of the substance even after it's diluted to the point that none of the substance is left in the water. Now, setting aside that this is scientifically unprovable, that claim just sounds plain silly and implausible. (at least to me)

On the other hand, I've heard another explanation that if you take a substance that *causes* the effect that you're trying to cure and dilute it to a concentration low enough that it doesn't damage the body, but high enough that the body recognizes it and reacts against it, then homeopathy ends up being a variation on a vaccine. This seems like a much more reasonable explanation for homeopathy working to me.

So, I wouldn't rule these "crazy phenomena" out simply because they haven't been scientifically proven. Perhaps we just haven't found the proper explanation for their working yet.
I'm not really that patriotic... really!

Siirenias
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Siirenias » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:46 am UTC

My argument has actually been covered (partially, anyway) at least twice, but I still wanted to contribute.

The other day, I went to a job interview as a massage therapist. I gave a half hour demo, and I think I just saved my employer a serious chunk of cash by using intuition to find the issue, and manipulation to free the adhesion of connective tissue, that was compressing a vertebral disk.

I like to use as many tools as I can to get my results. Who knows if I would have found it had I denied intuition, and if sheer will helped the problem be resolved in a timely manner? On the flip side, it's too late to find out if the eventual neck surgery would take her out of action as a personal trainer. Who knows?

Not to say that I don't like to look all the way around the issues. I have about 3-4 different explanations for CranioSacral Therapy, based on what kind of person I talk to. It spans from "osteopathic doctor" to "manifestation of change based on refined intent." Whichever reason, you may have severe doubts that it works until you have it performed on you; it's just too far beyond what people in 'Merica are taught healthcare should be like: cold, dispassionate and cost you $50/minute.

Homeopathy works, but by its own virtues, it does not build an industrial infrastructure that would allow it to play the politics game in ol' 'Merica. Massage seems to, though, somehow. I would expect copay for massage therapy from at least Government insurance in the next decade, at the rate of reform I am seeing in California right now.

(as an aside, Crystal Power is used to keep time in Quartz watches...free power it ain't)

EDIT: I'd like to point out to the post above me that the most outlandish idea was that you can dilute something to where there is no substance left in the water. Effectively, yes, but absolutely is just silly.

Sadly, I think that "effectively" is implied if ever someone assures another that there's no lead in tap water.

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Ghavrel
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Ghavrel » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:21 am UTC

dangeraardvark wrote:It's a testament to this comic's popularity that a skeptical comic pulls so many woo supporters out of the woodwork.

That we have so many snide defenders of the truth to combat their unbelievable idiocy is yet another.
"Si ad naturam vives, numquam eris pauper; si ad opiniones, numquam eris dives."
Live rightly and you shall never be poor; live for fame and you shall never have wealth.
~Epicurus, via Seneca

unbeleiver
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It works - Its just hidden

Postby unbeleiver » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:34 am UTC

You are all missing the point.

All of these things work and companies are making a killing. Its just secret because the Illuminati, Knights templars and Freemasons (I beleive the Mafia, CIA, Yakuza and the Pastafarians are into it too but I have no proof there) kills everyone that tries to come out with the truth to the world. Just remember to watch out everyone now that you too are in the know.

P1h3r1e3d13
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby P1h3r1e3d13 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:45 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
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?
Haha! I guess it does kind of read that way.

No, I meant it's a good long-term strategy (viz. Zappos) but not profitable in the short term. Building and maintaining a high-quality customer service system (including maintaining a workforce of reps who actually care) takes a lot of time and investment and faith. Cutting costs is easier and shows up in this quarter’s report. That's the quick buck and the “human foibles” I mentioned later.

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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby Grug » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:48 am UTC

Siirenias wrote:(as an aside, Crystal Power is used to keep time in Quartz watches...free power it ain't)


Bingo. Also a huge number of other functions in pressure/movement sensors, ignition systems (lighters, stoves, etc), actuators, motors and a whole suite of other technologies used in everyday life.
If crystals didn't have useful forms of power, much of my research would be more difficult, expensive and/or have higher error associated with it.

P1h3r1e3d13
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby P1h3r1e3d13 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:49 am UTC

sylvos wrote:
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.

Okay, I guess it comes down to how you interpret “if it worked.” I took it as “if it was valid/viable,” whereas read “if it could be done now.” Yours is arguably more accurate to the intention. I was trying to make a more abstract point about the holes in his argument.

P1h3r1e3d13
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Re: 0808: The Economic Argument

Postby P1h3r1e3d13 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:57 am UTC

Grug wrote:
Siirenias wrote:(as an aside, Crystal Power is used to keep time in Quartz watches...free power it ain't)


Bingo. Also a huge number of other functions in pressure/movement sensors, ignition systems (lighters, stoves, etc), actuators, motors and a whole suite of other technologies used in everyday life.
If crystals didn't have useful forms of power, much of my research would be more difficult, expensive and/or have higher error associated with it.
Pretty sure he meant it this way: crystal power - The Skeptic's Dictionary - Skepdic.com


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