End Government Funding of Science?

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Arariel
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:12 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Yes and no. The current sorry state of the US medical research is almost entirely due to the fact that it is entirely private.

When Big Tobacco funds medical research, then the majority of studies will "prove" that tobacco is fine for you. When Insurance Companies fund research, the majority of studies "prove" that the cheapest solution is in fact the best. When Drug companies fund research, their studies "prove" that their drugs are the best. There is very very little patient centered research in the US right now, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act... we finally have a small portion of taxes going towards funding patient-centered medical research.

Private researchers kill science when it goes against their business model. Do you really trust Big Oil to discover renewable energy?

Fortunately, for things like renewable energy, it is possible for the free market to compete. People believe that renewable energy can be cheaper in the long run, so private industry will probably fund that area just fine. We don't have to rely on big oil to create renewable energy for us. But comparative effectiveness medical research? No entity in the current market actually benefits from the truth. So no one actively seeks it out. So we end up with 50 drugs, all of which are better than a placebo (by FDA mandate, they have to be tested against a placebo...). But... we don't know how those 50 drugs relate to each other. When are certain drugs more effective than other drugs? Americans are utterly behind on that kind of research.

The way you make money in medicine is by selling drugs (or medical devices), or selling insurance. Neither entity can be trusted with improving the field of medicine, because both have a conflict of interest. Neither are interested in improving the patient's experience.

I'm not saying that the research doesn't happen... but what I'm trying to say is that there is no money in finding that information out. It doesn't improve GDP, it doesn't improve investments. It isn't a sustainable growth path for any company. No company actually wants to figure out the most effective drug. (Not that they're sabotaging research efforts... they're just not really trying). So outside of pro-bono work from universities, the work doesn't really get done.

Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.

Lucrece wrote:Making research private would be horrible. This garbage is from the Cato Institute for fuck's sake.


What's wrong with the Cato Institute? They were vital in getting DOMA and Prop 8 overturned.

I hate arguments that only useful/profitable outcomes should be a measure for funding projects. Why would sports or performances ever be funded over more "useful" things? Things like art or entertainment may not have tangible value, but they are of immense importance to the well-being of people.

Except industry scientists are funded for pure science/basic research.
some 7 per cent of all industrial R&D worldwide is spent on pure science


NASA's curiosities have ended in amazing introductions to the market. If they didn't fiddle with seemingly "useless" projects a lot of the ideas and results we used to bear something useful later on would have never seen the light of day.

Queue wrote:Full disclosure: I work for a Canadian federal science-based department. My father was a publicly-funded scientist. Bias in favour of publicly-funded science may appear.
Arariel wrote:- The increase in government funding of science since the beginning of the Cold War has had no effect on long-run economic growth.
- Private R&D stimulates economic growth, while public R&D might actually crowd out private R&D, having an adverse effect on private growth.
- The nonexcludability excuse (people will 'steal' inventions) fails because copying is very expensive.
- Firms pay researchers to do basic research to establish their credibility in a field.
- Scientists in industry share knowledge in order to build on each others' research.

Problem: Lots of science isn't done for economic growth. Lots of science, in fact, has no economic value whatsoever, sometimes for decades (until we find use) or forever. Money isn't why we do science. It's why some scientists do science, but curiosity is still The Reason. If someone tells you that we should want science to be beneficial, or profitable, or not kill us while we're studying it, or even unlikely to cause the return of Cthulhu, well, we just can't make you that promise.

In perspective, think about what a scientist actually needs: Time, resources, and the ability to get his findings to peer review. None of those things are exclusively available with any body or individual. In fact, I'd argue that the same liability exists with both sides as well - the risk that the person paying for it wants specific results (or doesn't want other specific results).

CorruptUser wrote:We are using the Internet, which was created using government research. The only way the Internet has been "bad" for the economy is piracy, which does prevent markets from efficiently allocating resources to new games, movies, music, etc.

Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living. If the economy grows by 2 per cent per annum (accounting for population) in the long term, it means the standard of living is increasing by 2 per cent per annum. No matter what results of publicly-funded science, if it has no effect on the same economic growth that occurred without it, no departure from the long-run trend, that means we could have experienced the same increase in standard of living with privately-funded science. That could mean that the developments of publicly-funded science either a) did not benefit the greater public or b) would have developed with private funding. Some could fall into a), but many of the developments (e.g., the Internet) probably fall into b).

Angua wrote:Also, good luck ever getting new treatments for malaria, African sleeping sickness, etc while just relying on the private sector. Or even effective treatments for the orphan genetic diseases if thinking about the 3rd world doesn't matter to you.

As mentioned, there's malarone, made by a private company, and then there's quinine, the very first treatment for malaria. As for African sleeping sickness, there's only 30,000 or so people currently infected, and I'd imagine the orphan genetic diseases are even rarer. Yes, it's terrible, but there are much more common diseases (and doesn't starvation alone account for millions of deaths annually?). At any rate, eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, and that was developed during cancer research, so there's no reason to believe treatments for other diseases couldn't be discovered that way.

Tyndmyr wrote:No impact likely means that if there is a crowding factor, it's a very weak one. There are some limited resources at play, of course...only so many labs, so many scientists, etc...but over the long term, these should adjust to fit the market. Crowding effects should be mostly fixable by
A. Not researching things that the private market is already doing.
B. Keeping public funding fairly constant.

There's also a crowding out effect (or perhaps there's different terminology for this) from government employment of scientists and researchers leaving fewer scientists/researchers for the private sector.

Mmm. Not sure I entirely buy this. Yeah, sure, 65 to 70% of the cost is still a lot, but it's a lot less than 100%. Enough to provide an advantage to a copier. Of course, patent law, etc tries to address this, but it has it's own weaknesses. I don't want to get side tracked into that, but this is sort of a big issue with a lot of complicating factors.

Thesh wrote:My problem with the private sector right now is the patent system is turning into a litigation minefield, meaning that it is getting less and less profitable to develop new technologies. I'm not sure there's a way to fix the litigation problem, other than abolishing patents, but that also makes R&D less profitable. In that case, it seems like government is going to have to back most R&D, which I also don't see as a bad thing in the first place.

Not necessarily. If copying takes 65% of the money and 70% of the time, that's still a significant barrier to entry and length of time for companies to temporarily make monopoly profits while competitors attempt to copy it. Not only that, there's also a first-mover advantage with brand recognition and such. Falling behind competitors in R&D does not bode well for maintaining a customer base, not to mention losing any benefits you might get from the exchange of information that occurs among competitors when you have nothing to exchange. For that reason, with or without patents, research would probably be conducted.

Still, 23%, while a significant minority, is definitely still a minority. Sort of like companies that do open source, actually.

That's 23 per cent of 'important innovations', not 23 per cent of companies. It makes sense that the majority of their innovations came from their own R&D, since they do actually need to develop research before being able to share it. So this isn't so much 23 per cent of companies doing open source, this is more like every company having 23 per cent of its products open source.

Angua wrote:My point is that if you rely solely on private research, it's not going to benefit people who can't pay enough for it.

That's not true at all. For one, R&D typically has to build on other R&D, so while someone might not be able to afford the products of the initial research (think cell phones when they cost thousands of dollars), they definitely benefit from the initial research when other developments make it more affordable. Then there were trains, and even if you couldn't afford a train or to ride on one, you certainly benefited from lower food prices (even if you bought locally, since increased competition would drive their prices down). Or even medical procedures, since an expensive medical procedure could save the doctor some time and result in lower prices and/or more prompt response times to patients.

CorruptUser wrote:Alt medicine shouldnt be allowed to get around the FDA. I'm not sure you should be allowed to tout the health benefits of anything you put in/on your body without FDA approval.

LaserGuy wrote:Somebody has to do the research to show that alt. medicine is crap. Businesses have little-to-no incentive to do this kind of work. They'd rather just sell the stuff.

Everyone with two brain cells already knows it's shit. Unless they're being outright fraudulent in their marketing, if someone wants to dose with a placebo, they can knock themself out. In the meantime, agencies like the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:23 pm UTC

Arariel wrote: At any rate, eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, and that was developed during cancer research, so there's no reason to believe treatments for other diseases couldn't be discovered that way.

You mean the drug that the public sector had to fight tooth and nail to get the company to make in an injectable form rather than as an anti-hair cream, and then get that sold at cheaper prices to the people that needed it?

Not even sure where you're going with quinine, other than the fact that some antimalarial drugs exist (even though resistance to quinine is widespread [and quinine's been around for many, many, years], and the arteminisins are going now too [and as mentioned before, there was a lot of public backing for their development because it was a public-private partnership]).

Seriously, the public sector has had a lot more input into making sure these drugs are available to the people who need them. You can't just solely rely on the private sector because they go where the money is.

I'm not saying that the private sector doesn't have a role. I'm saying that ending government funding and only relying on it is a terrible idea.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:36 pm UTC

Angua wrote:
Arariel wrote: At any rate, eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, and that was developed during cancer research, so there's no reason to believe treatments for other diseases couldn't be discovered that way.

You mean the drug that the public sector had to fight tooth and nail to get the company to make in an injectable form rather than as an anti-hair cream, and then get that sold at cheaper prices to the people that needed it?

Not even sure where you're going with quinine, other than the fact that some antimalarial drugs exist (even though resistance to quinine is widespread [and quinine's been around for many, many, years], and the arteminisins are going now too [and as mentioned before, there was a lot of public backing for their development because it was a public-private partnership]).

Seriously, the public sector has had a lot more input into making sure these drugs are available to the people who need them. You can't just solely rely on the private sector because they go where the money is.

I'm not saying that the private sector doesn't have a role. I'm saying that ending government funding and only relying on it is a terrible idea.

Without patents, likely there would have either been another company finding how to make it profitable or a charitable organisation distributing it. My point was that the drug itself was discovered in research into unrelated diseases, so it seems natural it could apply in other cases.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:43 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:
Angua wrote:
Arariel wrote: At any rate, eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, and that was developed during cancer research, so there's no reason to believe treatments for other diseases couldn't be discovered that way.

You mean the drug that the public sector had to fight tooth and nail to get the company to make in an injectable form rather than as an anti-hair cream, and then get that sold at cheaper prices to the people that needed it?

Not even sure where you're going with quinine, other than the fact that some antimalarial drugs exist (even though resistance to quinine is widespread [and quinine's been around for many, many, years], and the arteminisins are going now too [and as mentioned before, there was a lot of public backing for their development because it was a public-private partnership]).

Seriously, the public sector has had a lot more input into making sure these drugs are available to the people who need them. You can't just solely rely on the private sector because they go where the money is.

I'm not saying that the private sector doesn't have a role. I'm saying that ending government funding and only relying on it is a terrible idea.

Without patents, likely there would have either been another company finding how to make it profitable or a charitable organisation distributing it. My point was that the drug itself was discovered in research into unrelated diseases, so it seems natural it could apply in other cases.

Maybe, but A) out wouldn't be used for this purpose without massive input from the public sector which it's what this thread is debating getting rid of; and B) it's actually a lot more effective to be researching your actual disease rather
than just doing other stuff and hoping someone notices it works in another area.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:45 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Alt medicine shouldnt be allowed to get around the FDA. I'm not sure you should be allowed to tout the health benefits of anything you put in/on your body without FDA approval.

LaserGuy wrote:Somebody has to do the research to show that alt. medicine is crap. Businesses have little-to-no incentive to do this kind of work. They'd rather just sell the stuff.

Everyone with two brain cells already knows it's shit. Unless they're being outright fraudulent in their marketing, if someone wants to dose with a placebo, they can knock themself out. In the meantime, agencies like the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded.



What about their children? Think of the children! Is it fair to say, 'well, your mother is a dumbass, so when she gave you Acia Berry for your strep throat and you ended up hospitalized, tough shit'? And no, there are some smart people that not only took alternative medicine, but died as a result of it. Steve Jobs adhered to the fruititarian diet, and when the diet composed entirely of fruit destroyed his pancreas, he took alternative medicine until it was too late for real medicine to save him.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:06 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Without patents, likely there would have either been another company finding how to make it profitable or a charitable organisation distributing it. My point was that the drug itself was discovered in research into unrelated diseases, so it seems natural it could apply in other cases.


Wait, you want to end both public funding of science and patents?

Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.


So why doesn't this happen in reality?

some 7 per cent of all industrial R&D worldwide is spent on pure science


How does that compare to public funding? If public funding is cut entirely, how much of a cut is that going to represent to basic science? For every dollar of public funding cut, how much does private industry kick in to make up the difference?

Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.


It's a measure of standard of living, but it's not a great one. It's just one that's easy for pundits to talk about in the media.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:59 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Arariel wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Alt medicine shouldnt be allowed to get around the FDA. I'm not sure you should be allowed to tout the health benefits of anything you put in/on your body without FDA approval.

LaserGuy wrote:Somebody has to do the research to show that alt. medicine is crap. Businesses have little-to-no incentive to do this kind of work. They'd rather just sell the stuff.

Everyone with two brain cells already knows it's shit. Unless they're being outright fraudulent in their marketing, if someone wants to dose with a placebo, they can knock themself out. In the meantime, agencies like the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded.



What about their children? Think of the children! Is it fair to say, 'well, your mother is a dumbass, so when she gave you Acia Berry for your strep throat and you ended up hospitalized, tough shit'? And no, there are some smart people that not only took alternative medicine, but died as a result of it. Steve Jobs adhered to the fruititarian diet, and when the diet composed entirely of fruit destroyed his pancreas, he took alternative medicine until it was too late for real medicine to save him.


And people also go to psychics, and ghost hunting is apparently tv worthy, and god knows how many ufo chasers I've run into.

The world is positively filled with stupid people doing terribly stupid things. Acai berries are tasty. I do not believe they should be banned simply because they are not a drug, and some crazy people on the internet attribute them all kind of unproven things. Hell, a LOT of home remedies consist of pretty normal foods and what not. Entirely pointless, in most cases, but banning everything people say stupid stuff about is impractical. As for informing them...someone has to be pretty willfully stupid to go down the alternative medicine path. The information is totally out there....but yet, I see public figures advocating anti-vaccination and other utterly stupid policies.

You can't tell me that McCarthy and company have not been informed of the dangers of what they advocate. MUCH effort has gone into publicizing the virtues of vaccination and the dangers of rejecting it.

Fixing stupidity is a very hard problem, and not one that can be solved with a bit of banning or advertising.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:17 am UTC

I don't have a problem when stupid people kill themselves. The world is a better place if they don't have any more kids. That said, if they already have a kid, it's not fair to simply say "well, your mom is dumb as a brick therefore it's OK when she accidentally kills you by ignoring real treatments". My Libertarian views end when you have people who depend on your dumb ass.

As for psychics and other charlatans, I simply say if they are claiming to be professionals they should be held accountable as professionals. When a psychic gets a prediction wrong, well, that's malpractice.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:29 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I don't have a problem when stupid people kill themselves. The world is a better place if they don't have any more kids.
You know, as much as I often find the notion of "check your privilege" to be unhelpful, I feel it'd be wrong for me to not point out that being well-educated, well-balanced, and well-informed are, in fact, privileges -- ones that not everyone in the world enjoys! -- and I do not think it is helpful for us to lift our noses up in contempt toward 'stupid people' who die as a result of being misled. Particularly not when we live in a society that seems so intent on misleading us!

That being said...
CorruptUser wrote:As for psychics and other charlatans, I simply say if they are claiming to be professionals they should be held accountable as professionals. When a psychic gets a prediction wrong, well, that's malpractice.
I would love to see a legal system that treats psychic predictions -- and alternate medicine -- as malpractice and/or fraud.

But maybe that's very petty of me.
Arariel wrote:Everyone with two brain cells already knows it's shit. Unless they're being outright fraudulent in their marketing, if someone wants to dose with a placebo, they can knock themself out. In the meantime, agencies like the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded.
People who don't think it's possible for incredibly clever people to believe in incredibly stupid things tend not to be very clever themselves. The vast majority of people who think the world is full of idiots are idiots.

I do, however, agree that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an affront to reason -- and should be defunded.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:45 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them.


That is called marketing, not research. Again, look at history. Big Tobacco funds "research" for 40 or 50 years, and the whole time it "proved" that Tobacco was good for you and healthy. "Fake surveys" that sound true to the majority of the public can sway opinions very quickly... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKMn-_aQoPk . Tobacco was Physician tested and Doctor approved. I'm sure Camel conducted a true down-to-earth survey, and properly statistically sampled it and everything. It doesn't actually tell the truth however, and the implications were dangerous. It wasn't until the publication of "Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States" in the 1960s did the anti-smoking truth start to come out. IE: We have a very, _very_ clear case here where the Free Market distorted truth to create more profit.

Assuming purely selfish companies in a free market... they will rig results of research in their favor 10/10. After all, its cheaper to cheat research in your favor than to actually conduct _real_ research that advances science. And it happens that the typical layperson cannot distinguish between fake-research from real research anyway.

Fortunately, companies aren't purely selfish in practice, but once you make that admission, then most "free market" assumptions start to break down.

Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.


Health Insurance companies did not discover that smoking was harmful. That was US Government sponsored research.

The first anti-smoking publication in the "The Journal of the American Medical Association" was Morton Levin's famous paper in the 50s, who at that time was working for the New York state Department of Health. IE: Government sponsored research. Later truths were published by the US Surgeon General in the paper I talked about earlier.

If you don't take logical arguments, then at very least take history itself as evidence. Certain fields of research aren't suited for the private sector. True... most fields seem to do fine with private research, but Health Care is one where the "free market" has been historically _awful_ in researching.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Zamfir » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:10 am UTC

What's wrong with the Cato Institute? They were vital in getting DOMA and Prop 8 overturned.

That's where last year's power struggle becomes relevant. Their main donors were unhappy, they forced Cato's long-time chairman to resign, and Cato had to promise to behave better in the future. In return, David Koch promised that Cato would stay independent, a somewhat hollow promise given the circumstances :)

So no matter what you thought about Cato in the past, it makes sense to critically reevaluate them. They are under heavy pressure to please their donors more. Attacking government efforts and climate science are the traditional venues if you want to please them.

This post is obvious on the first, and at least supportive to the second: it flat out limits the value of science to industrial research, and it dismisses scientist's opinions on the matter as self-interested. Notice how nicely the latter agrees with the standard criticism against climate scientists (also often expressed by Cato), that you cannot trust them because they are hyping it to get more government dollars.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:21 am UTC

So, what you are saying is that the article itself is a good argument against the article?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:31 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:That's where last year's power struggle becomes relevant. Their main donors were unhappy, they forced Cato's long-time chairman to resign, and Cato had to promise to behave better in the future. In return, David Koch promised that Cato would stay independent, a somewhat hollow promise given the circumstances :)
Something I'm curious about: Could the Koch brothers just go ahead and renew the lawsuits if the Cato Institute ever decides to get 'uppity' again?

But yeah, I think the only reason the Koch brothers didn't just push forward with the takeover was because seizing hold of majority control over the Cato Institute would kind of defeat its credibility as an independent think-tank. But the irony is that the Koch brothers essentially destroyed a big chunk of that credibility by demonstrating they've got the institute on a leash.

And really, are these are the sort of people we want to trust science with? The sort of people who respond to a disagreement with an independent think tank by attempting to take over the think tank?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:35 am UTC

Knight?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKMn-_aQoPk
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:57 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.
So why doesn't this happen in reality?
Hmm? It does...
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:17 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.
So why doesn't this happen in reality?
Hmm? It does...


Yup. I'm not arguing that it doesn't happen. My argument is a bit more nuanced than that.

What I'm arguing is that when big Pharma conducts medical research, that there is a conflict of interest that leads to market failure. You cannot trust Pfizer research when evaluating the quality of Pfizer drugs.

My stronger argument is to simply focus on the obvious conflict of interest when Pfizer researches Pfizer drugs. Do you trust Pfizer to tell you whether or not Pfizer drugs are better than its competition? Do you expect Abbott Laboratories to tell you whether or not Abbott drugs are better than its competition? And what do you do when Abbott Research claims to be the best, and Pfizer research claims its drugs are the best? Simple, you need to do science. And it can't be insurance companies either. Insurance companies also have a conflict of interest. Insurance benefits most from research that "proves" the most cost-effective medicine, not necessarily the medicine that is best for the patient. IE: Insurance Companies would rather provide $50 medicine that is 50% effective, rather than $200 medicine that is 100% effective. Insurance companies have a bias towards providing cheap drugs with low-efficacy, not necessarily providing the best health-care for their customers.

You need to assign someone (anybody) to conduct trusted 3rd party results checking research. Most importantly... this 3rd party cannot have any ulterior motives. (So Insurance unfortunately... fails to qualify). This 3rd party then needs to conduct either meta-studies that fairly compare studies conducted across companies. (ie: Assign a doctor to read Pfizer research and Abbott research, and then have him say which research was better). Or, an actual study that directly compares the effectiveness of the two drugs. (Pfizer vs Abbott, as opposed to the probably already published Pfizer vs Placebo + Abbott vs Placebo).
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:25 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:I don't have a problem when stupid people kill themselves. The world is a better place if they don't have any more kids.
You know, as much as I often find the notion of "check your privilege" to be unhelpful, I feel it'd be wrong for me to not point out that being well-educated, well-balanced, and well-informed are, in fact, privileges -- ones that not everyone in the world enjoys! -- and I do not think it is helpful for us to lift our noses up in contempt toward 'stupid people' who die as a result of being misled. Particularly not when we live in a society that seems so intent on misleading us!


I'm not talking about the guy brought up in a cult that believes in faith healing or something like that, I'm talking about the people who should know better.

Steve Jobs had the privilege of some of the best education in the world, yet thought he could live off of fruit alone. When that destroyed his pancreas, rather than listen to his doctor, he turned to alternative medicine until it was too late.

Aron Ralston may be 'badass', but he was also 'dumbass'. Rockclimbing by yourself without letting anyone know where you would be? Every experienced climber knows not to do this. Mistake that cost him his arm.

Christopher McCandless is, ugh, I hate him with a passion. "Waaaaaa my father is an asshole so I'm going to live alone in Alaska!" No. Fuck him. You don't go into the wilderness alone, without training, without experience, without proper equipment, without supplies, without a map. For months, practically everyone he met told him it was a bad idea, but "they don't know what they are talking about because they are society and it's siiiiick".

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:14 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I don't have a problem when stupid people kill themselves. The world is a better place if they don't have any more kids. That said, if they already have a kid, it's not fair to simply say "well, your mom is dumb as a brick therefore it's OK when she accidentally kills you by ignoring real treatments". My Libertarian views end when you have people who depend on your dumb ass.

As for psychics and other charlatans, I simply say if they are claiming to be professionals they should be held accountable as professionals. When a psychic gets a prediction wrong, well, that's malpractice.


I am perfectly ok with holding people responsible for mistreatment of kids. I do not feel this contradicts with libertarian viewpoints at all, because I view children as people with attendent rights, not as the quasi-property/quasi-person that the law sometimes feels like it is. If a parent is simply unable to care for a child safely(because of crazy beliefs or whatever), then it is entirely reasonable for the state to act to protect the child's rights and safety.

I also would love VASTLY tougher false advertising laws. You can sell whatever the hell you want, IMO, so long as you are up front and honest about it. Unfortunately, the current system frequently allows patently false claims on the basis of them being "clearly untrue" somehow. The logic for why this is desirable is a wee bit unclear.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:20 pm UTC

We live in a world with "Caution: Contents Hot". Not everyone is smart enough to spot the obvious.


Hell, even I bought vitamins, because my mother was of the type that tought me (wrongly) that vitamin supplements help, and grew up with Flintstones vitamins. Turns out vitamins are mostly BS, but my mother, a person with a DDS, was suckered by the vitamin industry.

I'm old enough and learned enough now to spot most bullshit, but I wasn't enough then. For all I know, I still might not be wise enough; it's the people who think they know that make the best suckers. It is known, Khaleesi.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:19 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:We live in a world with "Caution: Contents Hot". Not everyone is smart enough to spot the obvious.


Hell, even I bought vitamins, because my mother was of the type that tought me (wrongly) that vitamins are important, and grew up with Flintstones vitamins. Turns out vitamins are mostly BS, but my mother, a person with a DDS, was suckered by the vitamin industry.

I'm old enough and learned enough now to spot most bullshit, but I wasn't enough then. For all I know, I still might not be wise enough; it's the people who think they know that make the best suckers. It is known, Khaleesi.


Hey! If the Contents are Hot, put a label on it!
In English. In Picture Pages. In Chinese and Korean and Well?
The Picture Pages for Hot is Flame? No.
I don't remember. If I saw it, I think, I would recognize it.

The Picture Pages may be a drawing of Flame out in Public; and, Convection Currents in a Lab. (shrug)
Hot!? You are offended by a Warning?
I am mildly offended at how easy you are to offend.
Spoiler:
Some people are That way.
I have seen people respond to a label of Danger that was not Dangerous with Anger.
A used Disposable Coffee Cup with a Danger:Contents Hot.

When he picked it up it was Cold. The Temperature was unexpected.
He did some stupid thing. It spilled and he Yelled angry about something. (idiot)


The Bullshit of you taking vitamins is such Bullshit.
oooops. Am I feeding a Troll?

If the pills your mother gave you held water soluble vits and mins,
Then she did you no harm. She may have done you a great deal of Good.

I heard a Woman say, "Sharp as a Serpent's tooth is the tongue of an ungrateful child."
You have a sharp way of writing. Did you take those pills? What was in them?

Maybe you were part of a Large Science experiment.
Some people got essential nutrients.
Even when that 'Pain in the Ass' would not eat Veggies nor Meat.

Spoiler:
There is a Conspirasy for you.
Some people got essential vitamins and minerals.
Some people got smart pills.
Some people got stupid Pills.
Some people got the Placebo.

I want the Placebo, please. With a side order of Essentials.


Good nutrition is rumored to correlate with even temper and high IQ.
Antidotal evidence suggests That is Not True!

It is still a good idea to get a multi Vitamin into Children.
Even into adults is a pretty good Idea.
Maybe you could use some Vitamin B's.
Buzzzzz.
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We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Zamfir » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:45 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:So, what you are saying is that the article itself is a good argument against the article?

I considered that, but it's not really true. Sometimes publishes Cato some sort of sciency studies, but this is presented fairly straight as an opinion piece. It's not even a cato-internal piece, they're hosting a discussion.

The interesting one is the second response, to be published in a few days. That's going to be by Patrick Michaels, who is their Director for the Study of Science, meaning that he does the climate stuff.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:46 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I'm not talking about the guy brought up in a cult that believes in faith healing or something like that, I'm talking about the people who should know better.

Steve Jobs had the privilege of some of the best education in the world, yet thought he could live off of fruit alone. When that destroyed his pancreas, rather than listen to his doctor, he turned to alternative medicine until it was too late.
Why is it wrong for me to look at Steve Jobs and -- rather than see an idiot who should have known better -- see someone who was victimized by a culture that targets (consciously or unconsciously) people who are very, very desperate?

'People who should know better' is such a dangerous phrase. Why should they know better? Because we imagine that if we were in their shoes, we wouldn't be duped? But we aren't in their shoes. How much do you actually know about Steve Jobs? Have you ever met the dude? Why do you feel comfortable telling us what he should and shouldn't have fallen for?

I agree that if Steve Jobs had listened to his doctors, he might still be alive; I strongly disagree that this makes Steve Jobs an idiot -- or that we shouldn't take serious action to convince more people in Steve Jobs' situation to listen to their doctors.
CorruptUser wrote:I'm old enough and learned enough now to spot most bullshit, but I wasn't enough then. For all I know, I still might not be wise enough; it's the people who think they know that make the best suckers. It is known, Khaleesi.
Right, and that's the thing; you think you know which people should know better.

There's a certain arrogance in that, I think; it could potentially leave you vulnerable.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:05 pm UTC

It's a matter of arrogance. Yes, I'm guilty of arrogance too, but I won't say to the professional with a decade of experience that they don't know what they're talking about. Sure, I'll shop around and see if I can get my car repaired cheaper, but I won't tell the mechanic that I know more about engines than they do. And I especially won't tell the mechanic that they are wrong because some guy with no experience as a mechanic claimed to be able to fix a car by using color therapy to realign its chi. Good luck filing that insurance claim form; chi out of alignment.

But that's what Steve Jobs did. His doctor said one thing, but rather than listen, he insisted that he knew better than the person that went to school for 7 years and spent another ~20 practicing in that field. No, he's Steve Fucking Jobs, Lord of All Things Ever, how dare some peon tell Jobs what to do!

Eh, maybe I'm shoehorning Jobs into the meme of the arrogant king ignoring the advice of the peasant who knows better, only to be killed by his own hubris. Yeah, possibly.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:14 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:We live in a world with "Caution: Contents Hot". Not everyone is smart enough to spot the obvious.


Hell, even I bought vitamins, because my mother was of the type that tought me (wrongly) that vitamin supplements help, and grew up with Flintstones vitamins. Turns out vitamins are mostly BS, but my mother, a person with a DDS, was suckered by the vitamin industry.

I'm old enough and learned enough now to spot most bullshit, but I wasn't enough then. For all I know, I still might not be wise enough; it's the people who think they know that make the best suckers. It is known, Khaleesi.


Vitamins are useful in certain scenarios. I don't really have a problem with them, even if they are pretty redundant with a decent diet. Hell, if you want to live off Soylent slurry instead of food, go nuts. I only really have a problem when the advertising goes far beyond what it is. Consider, if you will, Vitamin Water. It's basically flavored sugar water, but to watch the ads, you'd think you're injesting pure health itself. On the other hand, Diet Coke Plus, which was branded as "we put some vitamins in this soda", I have less of an issue with. It's still a mostly pointless product IMO, but it's being more honest about what it is.

Zamfir wrote:
Thesh wrote:So, what you are saying is that the article itself is a good argument against the article?

I considered that, but it's not really true. Sometimes Cato these sort of sciency studies, but this is presented fairly straight as an opinion piece. It's not even a cato-internal piece, they're hosting a discussion.

The interesting one is the second response, to be published in a few days. That's going to be by Patrick Michaels, who is their Director for the Study of Science, meaning that he does the climate stuff.


It's an interesting article. I don't think it's sufficient evidence to suddenly toss out publicly funded research altogether, but it is an excellent justification for looking at the topic in more detail.

Cato tends to have a very...particular viewpoint. It isn't always a bad or wrong one, but one should be aware that they do tend to approach things on one side, and opposing evidence may not always be as well researched or presented as the side they choose to portray. Good stuff to read, but one would be advised to not JUST read Cato on a topic.

The Great Hippo wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:I'm not talking about the guy brought up in a cult that believes in faith healing or something like that, I'm talking about the people who should know better.

Steve Jobs had the privilege of some of the best education in the world, yet thought he could live off of fruit alone. When that destroyed his pancreas, rather than listen to his doctor, he turned to alternative medicine until it was too late.
Why is it wrong for me to look at Steve Jobs and -- rather than see an idiot who should have known better -- see someone who was victimized by a culture that targets (consciously or unconsciously) people who are very, very desperate?


Not really. The culture as a whole did not force Steve Jobs down this road. The culture as a whole saw his actions as kind of crazy. It's a very few people who profit by peddling "alternative medicine", and while it is dangerous when aspects of that hit the mainstream culture, most of it hasn't actually done so.

The Great Hippo wrote:'People who should know better' is such a dangerous phrase. Why should they know better? Because we imagine that if we were in their shoes, we wouldn't be duped? But we aren't in their shoes. How much do you actually know about Steve Jobs? Have you ever met the dude? Why do you feel comfortable telling us what he should and shouldn't have fallen for?


The man had adequate exposure to medical experts, who had, in fact, been helping him. When people are literally saving your life, and are offering you a way out, going to the most obscure sources you can find over their advice and jumping on every alternative treatment with a huge lack of credibility is....well, not very rational. I don't need to be buds with the guy to recognize that this was a poor series of decisions.

The point isn't "Steve Jobs is dumb". The point is that terrible decisions do not require a lack of data. A lack of rationality will suffice.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:27 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The point isn't "Steve Jobs is dumb". The point is that terrible decisions do not require a lack of data. A lack of rationality will suffice.
Fair enough! But that isn't what CorruptUser said, and wasn't the point I was responding to. To put it much more simply: Never underestimate the ability of very intelligent people to believe very unintelligent things.

I think it's very important that we convince people to make less-terrible decisions regardless of the data they have access to. I see terrible decisions as being symptomatic of an environment that encourages terrible decision making; while better data helps mitigate terrible decisions, you're right that it doesn't negate them.

But I'm very wary of blaming someone who makes a terrible decision for making a terrible decision; ultimately, I just want to help stop making terrible decisions.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:52 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The point isn't "Steve Jobs is dumb". The point is that terrible decisions do not require a lack of data. A lack of rationality will suffice.
Yes, this is true; but that isn't what CorruptUser said, and wasn't the point I was responding to.

To put it much more simply: Never underestimate the ability of very intelligent people to believe very unintelligent things.

Yes. Maybe.
I had a friend visit.
At my guest house.

I thought he was smart.
He said, "I think you house is Haunted."

On some level he believed it.
He was a Scientist when doing Math.

He was full of Superstitions the rest of the Time?
Who knows. It was a believable story.

It was a lovely, strange old house.
I was thinking it could be a part of an Advertisement Campaign.

Intelligent people seem to like the Remote Possibility of the Supernatural..... Sometimes.
What does That have to do with Science Funding?

Spoiler:
Not for one moment did I believe I was being Run Out by Ghosts.
I left, anyway. 3D Boggie Men are more bothersome to me.

Honey; I don't know what you think you might do.
I know what I did. I cleaned my Home and Left It the way I would want to find it.
I had some limitations. Time. I only had a limited number of Hours.

That stupid broken mirror Frightened the Chemist.
There are common human Superstitions about broken mirrors.

It was impressive. It was a 60 inch round mirror. 1930's early forties.
When that thing broke it was impressive. It Fell.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:22 pm UTC

It's not one terrible decision, it's a whole series of terrible decisions. Ignored all advice and became a fruitarian. Alright, he's young, made a mistake or two. Kept it up even after it began to deteriorate his health? Now it's Stockholm territory. Destroyed his pancreas and then ignored his doctor? There comes a point when the victim does need to be blamed.

And hell yes we need to stop encouraging terrible decisions! Personally I go with, in order to even make a claim about health benefits of something, you must be FDA approved. You can still sell Adder Oil, you just can't claim it works like Adderall.

I don't know how psychics and faith healers can be *insert euphamism*, but they are a problem too. A neighbor of mine had a daughter with cancer, and were trying anything. Their religious counselor told them to do all sorts of stuff to guide their daughter 'home'. Their daughter died, and when they confronted the woman, she said "but your daughter is home!" Had that been me and my daughter, well, I don't know what I'd do besides making snide comments about how that woman should go to "home".

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:20 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Now it's Stockholm territory. Destroyed his pancreas and then ignored his doctor? There comes a point when the victim does need to be blamed.
If we're acknowledging that you're a victim, I don't think a point comes when we 'need' to blame you. That aside, though: I don't find the mechanics of blame to be particularly useful when it comes to discouraging terrible decision making.

I think blaming people for bad decisions is less helpful than working with them to make better decisions. By many orders of magnitude.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:43 pm UTC

Fine, 'need' is the wrong word. Would you agree with 'deserve', and the 'need' is filled by 'some sort of system to adequately protect them from foolish behavior'?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Eomund » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:00 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I think blaming people for bad decisions is less helpful than working with them to make better decisions. By many orders of magnitude.


I would say that that is a false dichotomy. In fact I go as far as saying assigning blame is an important step to figuring out what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.

(I realize I may be using blame in a difference sense than you. I simply mean assigning responsibility for decisions. If it involves shame or saying people are Bad PeopleTM, then I agree that it is often detrimental.)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Cleverbeans » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:33 am UTC

Yeah is shaming people into changing actually worked we'd all be vegetarians by now.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:13 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Fine, 'need' is the wrong word. Would you agree with 'deserve', and the 'need' is filled by 'some sort of system to adequately protect them from foolish behavior'?
No; like I said, I reject the mechanism of blame to stop people from making bad decisions. Blame is often implemented in the form of shame, and I believe shame is neither a positive nor effective means through which to change behavior.

I don't think victims 'deserve' anything at all -- beyond not to be victims.
Eomund wrote:I would say that that is a false dichotomy. In fact I go as far as saying assigning blame is an important step to figuring out what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.

(I realize I may be using blame in a difference sense than you. I simply mean assigning responsibility for decisions. If it involves shame or saying people are Bad PeopleTM, then I agree that it is often detrimental.)
Fair enough; there is definitely a difference between analyzing a terrible event to determine where the points of failure lie -- and deciding who to 'blame' for a terrible event. I'm just often concerned that we confuse our duty to help people make better decisions with our desire to blame them when things go wrong.

I am completely uninterested in the concept of blame except as a function of targeting our response; I think it best serves us as a diagnostic tool -- nothing more. What I see in practice is that it becomes a means by which we dismiss someone's suffering because it is 'their own damn fault'. Which I find to be a really terrible mentality.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:58 am UTC

Yeah, shaming people or insulting them after they've been injured isn't the best course of action. That said, I won't provide much sympathy when the victim brought it upon themself. If there is a 'villain', said villain needs to be dealt with no matter how much the victim 'deserved it'.

People can have varying amounts of blame of course; it's not a dichotomy between completely blameless and completely responsible.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Lucrece » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:33 am UTC

If you think only fools fall for alternative medicine or the vitamin crap, then I doubt anything else that might come on the subject by the person who holds this view. Scientific illiteracy and lack of critical thinking training are the standard in society, not the exception.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Magnanimous » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:38 am UTC

I'd like to add that saying someone fell for an alternative medicine because they're stupid makes exactly zero progress to fixing the situation.
Last edited by Magnanimous on Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:33 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:56 am UTC

A fool can be defined as a person who has more arrogance than intelligence. The humble dumb person will stop and ask for directions, while the arrogant person will insist they know how to get there; guess which one gets there sooner. It is for this reason, AFAIK, con artists tend to seek out the most arrogant and/or ambitious people they can find.

Most famously the con artist who sold the Eiffel Tower.

Twice.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Lucrece » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:31 am UTC

Or, they read an article in a magazine they deem credible from some celebrity doctor or motivational speaker they can relate with, the traditional medicine doctors have failed them with current treatments or failed someone they knew (and by fail it can mean not only that the treatment did not work, but that said doctor prescribed treatment/surgery unethically for financial gain), and alternative medicine seems like a juicy option to the desperate and superstitious layman.

A lot of people are not college graduates or persons intimately involved with the scientific community. People pose as medical authorities and they believe them because these false prophets are charismatic and approachable whereas in many cases traditional medicine hasn't been either. Proper education on the subject hasn't been done at all. I don't ever recall any of my science classes even proactively discussing this sham of alternative medicine; I had to stumble on this knowledge by my own curiosity.
Belial wrote:That's charming, Nancy, but all I hear when you talk is a bunch of yippy dog sounds.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Cleverbeans » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:33 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Most famously the con artist who sold the Eiffel Tower.

Twice.

I love that his death certificate lists him as an "apprentice salesman"
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:18 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:I'd like to add that saying someone fell for an alternative medicine because they're stupid makes exactly zero progress to fixing the situation.

Nice, article.
What is the Problem?

I do not understand.
Alternative Medicine?
Western Medicine vs Alternative Medicine?

Am I reading it correctly?
Most have their Knickers in a Knott about Alternative Medicine?
Goodness. Why?

If people drop out of modern hospital treatment, that is not a problem, to me.
If people use Holy Water, photos of Friends, Saints, a Wedding Photo, a weird God of some kind, that is not a problem, to me.
If some of our patients die, It is problematic, to me; But, sooner or later we All Die.

People are not Stupid when they want to find their own way.
It is Stupid of us to be so Judgmental.

If a European goes to some strange and wonderful Island to have Chicken Soup with the Witch Doctor, it is ok with me.
Why are xkcd types so angry? I do not recommend Magnets worn as a sure cure for Anything. I would not take the Magnets away.

Some people get comfort from a gold ring or some beads or a visit from the priest or a child or a long forgotten lover. (shrug)
Snake Oil? Some of the Snake Oils will react with Western Drugs. Informed consent is important.

Mixing and matching Treatments is Best for everyone!
Yes. Use antibiotics.
No. You do not have to give up Church.

Yes. Keep it clean.
No. Aloe will not hurt you.

Yes. I will walk into the Garden with you.
No. I can not change the Lab Results.

xkcd does not need to be so Clinical and Snarky.
Good clinicians are not snarky.

When was the last time you stopped to Think?
Think of what you Don't Know.
It could take a while.
You know a lot.

You do not know enough to decide Who is to Blame.
You do your job. Don't do your patient's job.

You will get your chance. That is going to be your job, someday.
Maybe! Maybe you will get hit by SpaceJunk!
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:02 am UTC

Angua wrote:Maybe, but A) out wouldn't be used for this purpose without massive input from the public sector which it's what this thread is debating getting rid of; and B) it's actually a lot more effective to be researching your actual disease rather
than just doing other stuff and hoping someone notices it works in another area.

Chewing gum started out life as a failed tire, but you wouldnt want to rely on the car part industrg to come up witb tasty treats.

A) If there were no legal barriers to entry, another entity could have distributed the drug. B) Analogy is entirely irrelevant. Biomedical research turns up unintended products all the time. That's how LSD and Viagra were invented.

CorruptUser wrote:What about their children? Think of the children! Is it fair to say, 'well, your mother is a dumbass, so when she gave you Acia Berry for your strep throat and you ended up hospitalized, tough shit'? And no, there are some smart people that not only took alternative medicine, but died as a result of it. Steve Jobs adhered to the fruititarian diet, and when the diet composed entirely of fruit destroyed his pancreas, he took alternative medicine until it was too late for real medicine to save him.

People who are sound of mind have the right to do what they want to themselves. That does not give them the right to do anything to their children.

LaserGuy wrote:Wait, you want to end both public funding of science and patents?

Yeah, why not.

Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.


So why doesn't this happen in reality?

Insurance companies do conduct research, from a cursory search. There are ads between competing pharmaceutical companies (Claritin and Zyrtec being the one's I can think of off the top of my head). Can you imagine the kind of bad press and public backlash a pharmaceutical company would get if they deliberately released a wholly ineffective product?

Anyway, some competition exists currently, and there are signs of that; there would be more if barriers to entry were lower.

some 7 per cent of all industrial R&D worldwide is spent on pure science


How does that compare to public funding? If public funding is cut entirely, how much of a cut is that going to represent to basic science? For every dollar of public funding cut, how much does private industry kick in to make up the difference?

I think you'll find a majority of U.S. is devoted to 'defence'. The next largest would probably be medical. Pure science funding? I have no idea, but I would bet no more than 20%, and that's stretching it.

In the meantime, private sector pays for the majority of science funding overall.

It's a measure of standard of living, but it's not a great one. It's just one that's easy for pundits to talk about in the media.

It's an excellent measure of standard of living for the long term. The size of the economy determines how much stuff we have; double the size, double the stuff, with a higher standard of living.

KnightExemplar wrote:That is called marketing, not research. Again, look at history. Big Tobacco funds "research" for 40 or 50 years, and the whole time it "proved" that Tobacco was good for you and healthy. "Fake surveys" that sound true to the majority of the public can sway opinions very quickly... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKMn-_aQoPk . Tobacco was Physician tested and Doctor approved. I'm sure Camel conducted a true down-to-earth survey, and properly statistically sampled it and everything. It doesn't actually tell the truth however, and the implications were dangerous. It wasn't until the publication of "Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States" in the 1960s did the anti-smoking truth start to come out. IE: We have a very, _very_ clear case here where the Free Market distorted truth to create more profit.

Assuming purely selfish companies in a free market... they will rig results of research in their favor 10/10. After all, its cheaper to cheat research in your favor than to actually conduct _real_ research that advances science. And it happens that the typical layperson cannot distinguish between fake-research from real research anyway.

Fortunately, companies aren't purely selfish in practice, but once you make that admission, then most "free market" assumptions start to break down.

Of course they did. But public concerns were raised long before they began their marketing campaign. From your own link:
health concerns about cigarettes began to receive public attention in the 1930s

And if health insurance companies conducted their own research, do you really think they would charge smokers the same premiums as non-smokers? That makes absolutely no sense from a business perspective. Of course, this did not happen in the insurance industry until later, which is attributable to the relatively low number of companies in health insurance, which results from legal barriers to entry. In a free market, a company that charged smokers higher premiums (and conducted the statistical research to determine just how much more smokers cost) would have a competitive advantage.

Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.


Health Insurance companies did not discover that smoking was harmful. That was US Government sponsored research.

The first anti-smoking publication in the "The Journal of the American Medical Association" was Morton Levin's famous paper in the 50s, who at that time was working for the New York state Department of Health. IE: Government sponsored research. Later truths were published by the US Surgeon General in the paper I talked about earlier.

If you don't take logical arguments, then at very least take history itself as evidence. Certain fields of research aren't suited for the private sector. True... most fields seem to do fine with private research, but Health Care is one where the "free market" has been historically _awful_ in researching.

Of course, I know that, but I was merely pointing out if the government had not funded the research, other companies might have had incentive to do so.


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