sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 11:24 am
Bad science misled millions with chronic fatigue syndrome. Here’s how we fought back

From all accounts the effects of the PACE trial were most horrific in the UK, but the idea that my fatigue is all in my head and is best treated with exercise has come up repeatedly for me, too. Ironically it's actually made me exercise less: I'm not willing to try exercising without the help of a medical professional I trust to say if I'm pushing too hard, and I've yet to meet any. They all set the baseline for "mild exercise" at a level I know would make me sicker, and have seen other people with cfs harmed by listening to this kind of advice.

I'm also really glad none of the psychologists or psychiatrists I've seen subscribed to the "tell patient to ignore their understanding of their own health" approach to CBT. Blech.

The "you don't have exercise intolerance you're just neurotic about exercise and need to believe in yourself" attitude is so appealing to able bodied people, and can seduce people wth cfs, too. For a while. Back when [livejournal.com profile] cfids_me was more active we'd always have people touting the Lightning Process.
sqbr: (up)
Monday, January 5th, 2015 12:07 pm
I'm not sure if I've talked about this before but: every time I encounter Magical Healing/Health machines in speculative fiction (eg the sarcophagi in Stargate, the med bay in Star Trek, the machine that turned Steve into Captain America) I think about how they decide what counts as an illness/injury, and how they decide what Ideal Healthy State to go for. The line between "sick" and "healthy" is to some extent socially mandated and arbitrary, and an optimally "healthy" human population requires variation amongst the individuals. To maximise everything is impossible. You have to make choices.
Read more... )
sqbr: me in a graduation outfit. Trust me, I'm a doctor (of maths) (doctor!)
Saturday, July 21st, 2012 07:24 pm
So! Via my network I came across [community profile] the_school_of_philosophy, which is maintained by [personal profile] the_future_modernes and thus not your usual run of the mill philosophy. And that linked to "How to want to change your mind" at Measure of Doubt, one of the very few "rationalist" videos/essays etc I've seen which captures the sort of rationalism I aim for (eg actually trying to figure out the truth, not prove how much smarter I am than other people or dogmatically defend the scientific establishment from all who question it)

Below the cut is a transcript. I used the Youtube automatic transcript as a starting point, it was right often enough to be helpful and hilariously wrong often enough to make the task amusing :)
Read more... )
sqbr: (up and down)
Monday, January 31st, 2011 09:31 am
So a while go it occurred to me (aka various POC/non-white poeple pointed it out) that while space exploration proponents use the metaphor of Frontier (and the US frontier specifically), the thing about the frontier was that it wasn't actually untouched land that had to be settled from scratch, it was cultivated farmland, complete with local crops, that was stolen from it's original inhabitants. Plus a lot of the really difficult work was done not by wide eyed settlers but by slaves and indentured workers etc.

And in space there are no original inhabitants to prepare the land, no indentured workers to die on the railroads, not unless we build way better robots or find aliens to exploit or something and neither of those look likely.

And it turns out, some of the people who see space as a Frontier we Must Explore have realised this! And have decided that the obvious solution is to send out some brown people to prepare the land and then die.

If science wishes to proceed, it's going to have to start killing some people, deliberately, instead of through malfunctions due to old equipment or overlooked things. As callous as it sounds, those places that are already rife with overcrowding are probably also rife with people who have the necessary brains and disciplines to be able to make a one-way mission successful and transmit their data back so we can build the better mousetrap and send again. If nothing else, we should have enough material sent in intermittent missions for later missions to be able to cannibalize and use to make their work that much better and easier.

(the mod of [community profile] politics has apologised for letting this through and is going to try and fix things so it doesn't happen again, thankfully it's not representative of the usual type of post, but I guess given the nature of the comm you have to expect some fail from time to time)
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Thursday, August 13th, 2009 10:06 am
[personal profile] attentive linked me Transhumanism and the Limits of Democracy by Ronald Bailey and reading it I had so many things I wanted to complain to the author about I decided to write them down. I wrote this ages ago, I'm posting it now because I got inspired to write another post riffing on the same ideas.

I have very little patience for Transhumanists on the whole, they tend too much towards capitalist libertarian bootstrap myths which seem to inevitably contain the belief that the poor deserve what they get. But sometimes it's cathartic to enumerate why someone I disagree with is wrong :)
Read more... )
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 05:03 pm
I am so unbelievably low on spoons right now I cannot express it (on the plus side this is as a result of building myself to have a Serious Conversation About My Future at work, which is now done. More on that when things are more settled)

But something on Foxtel just now I wanted to note: a documentary about possible terraforming of Mars explicitely comparing it to "other frontiers through history", with images from the American West and talk about how "Colonists would do the same thing all colonists have done, packing light and preparing the land as they go..".

Some context: For those not aware of it, there is a Big Conversation happening right now about A fantasy novel with an American frontier..minus the American Indians(*). And one of the major points which has been brought up is that without indiginous peoples to exploit (not to mention indentured workers and slaves) the american colonists would have died, or at least not expanded so fast or so easily. In lots of ways the whole myth of the Frontier is a horrible racist lie.

And it's a lie with a lot of attraction to nerds, and this documentary illustrates that pretty well.

As to comments: I probably am not up to answering them, not for a while. And no playing BINGO.

(*)In case you can't find a synopsis in there, I shall arbitrarily pick one by someone I know :) And yes, that is my favourite author in the whole world making a racist ass of herself :(
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 11:52 am
Because I'm an idiot I didn't get my camera until the last full day of the con so have almost not photos. But what I did get was Rob and Lise's awesome Molecular Gastronomy Hour. It reminded me a bit of Kitchen Chemistry.

The main star was Sodium Alginate. That post has the main gist, so briefly:
Sodium alginate is a flavourless gelling agent which forms a harder gel in contact with calcium.
We put a mix of cream and yogurt into unflavoured sodium alginate gel and got, well...a mushy mess. But in theory the gel covered milk balls sound cool :)

We then got a syringe of coke gel and dripped it into calcium chloride and made teeny little salty sweet balls. They needed more rinsing than we could manage so looked better than they tasted but again, the idea is cool :)

(The panel also included a comparison of banana smoothies with and without xanthum gum, but since I can't eat any of the ingredients but the banana and it just looked like banana smoothies didn't record that bit)
sqbr: exploding train. This is fremantle station, this train terminates here. (train)
Monday, March 16th, 2009 03:32 pm
I couldn't think of anything to say to celebrate Darwin's birthday(*) when it happened. But better late than never, a vid which illustrates with educational clarity where we stand in the evolutionary chain:

Unnatural Selection: Battlestar Galactica, Terminator

(*)That's the scientist, not the city. Which makes me wonder when Perth's birthday is...
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Sunday, March 15th, 2009 08:18 pm
What is hard sf? What are the soft sciences?
THESE DEFINITIONS ARE ARBITRARY, not the "one true meaning". We just need to delimit the discussion so we know what we're talking about.

Hard sf: I have somewhat arbitrarily defined it as "science fiction which extrapolates from science ideas in a way that wouldn't make an expert in that field want to hit their head against a wall"

Soft sciences: Natural and social sciences, like biology, psychology etc.

Give some examples of "hard soft science fiction".

-The Sparrow (properly worked out languages, clever relationship between two species)
-Mars trilogy (terraforming)

Is there less hard soft sf than hard hard sf? If so, why? If not, why do people think there is?

Do authors feel more comfortable ignorantly making up soft science (eg psychology) than they would be hard sciences? If so, why? Do they get it very wrong?

Idea: People feel more comfortable with "pop psychology" than "pop physics". We all need a basic model of psychology to deal with the people around us but can happily not think about physics or maths at all.

What are some good hard soft sf books?

Depends if you mean good books or good science.

Here is my list.

What soft sciences seem to suit it best? What soft sciences seem to never get written about?

Linguistics is very popular, for some reason!

What are some cool soft science ideas that would make cool books?
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 06:28 pm
I love the tone of this article: Chimp planned rock attacks on zoo visitors.

Aww! Look at how ingenious his plots are to kill the zoo visitors! And see the sociopathic calm with which he prepares his weapons! Isn't nature inspiring?

I also like the way chimps disprove all those fluffy ideas about animals being too simple and pure for war and cruelty. I saw a doco once where one chimp cheerfully beckoned a park keeper (with whom he had an established relationship) over while his friends snuck around the other side to bring him down (the keeper outsmarted them, but geeze)

Really it's the same sort of anthropocentrism that leads to people arguing that animals don't have love or real language or whatever: humans being a special kind of nasty is still us being special.
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
Saturday, January 17th, 2009 07:05 pm
So I may have a Phd in "maths", but it's pure maths, and I am woefully ignorant of statistics, not having studied it beyond a first year level (I've tutored second year stats. That was a challenge :D)

Thus my mind is actually quite easily blown by fairly basic statistics facts presented in an engaging way. See for example I'm not normal, which makes an obvious point I'd never really thought about before: The normal distribution became central to statistics back before computers, and once people get taught it, unless they go on to study more stats it's their only hammer so everything starts to look like a nail. But lots of large samples are NOT normally distributed, and given computing power we generally don't need to smoosh them into a nice distribution at all but can actually look at what the real data is doing.

My mind was also blown by Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin which is pretty much just a basic description of evolution being a bounded random walk (Namely, the mean complexity goes up over time while still leaving 99.9% of life at the same basic level, with anything but the most simple species being as likely to get more simple as less)
sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 04:33 pm
Something mildly cool I haven't noticed before:

I emptied a big, very cold, mostly empty jar of pasta sauce into a bubbling, steaming pan. I then put some tap water into it and to my surprise a bunch of misty water vapour came out. I poured the saucy-water into the pan and captured some more steam, and it sat inside the jar, swirling, for quite a while (got bored of watching pretty quick, but lets say at least 30 seconds). I guess it's the combo of hot, humid air and cold jar, but it's funny I haven't noticed it do that the gazillion other times I've cooked the same way.
sqbr: me in a graduation outfit. Trust me, I'm a doctor (of maths) (doctor!)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 09:18 pm
[livejournal.com profile] flyingblogspot and [livejournal.com profile] infamyanonymous both posted about personality type things just now, which got me thinking. I did the Myers Briggs test and as happened last time was totally unimpressed with the result (me, an overbearing leader? It is to laugh. The only bit I'm 100% happy with is the T) But this reminded me of a personality classification they were talking about on the Psychology 101 podcast, and after some digging I found it: The Big 5.

So according to that test, I am...
Cut since you plausibly don't care. And for suspense :) )
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (bookdragon)
Saturday, October 25th, 2008 07:06 pm
I keep meaning to do this when I'm not in the middle of any, but I always am. So, since people often express surprise when I mention it, here is an as-now list of all the podcasts from Berkley I've been listening to in the order I listened to them.
Read more... )
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
Friday, October 3rd, 2008 10:25 am
I went to the library on Tuesday to pick up some stuff to keep me still when I'm supposed to be resting (I get fidgetty)

First thought: "I should watch that other Elizabeth Gaskell BBC series 'Wives and Daughters" now that I've realised it's distinct from "Sons and Lovers". But what's the chances they'll have it?" And they did!
Next thought: "I should read some popular science, haven't done that in a while. But all this stuff I've been learning about feminism and history etc means I'll probably get annoyed by the typical "Procession of elite european men with women/the poorly educated/the rest of the world just following in their footsteps" view"..and there was The People's history of Science!

Huzzah for serendipity.
Read more... )
And now I have a headache and may nap. Sorry to leave my emails unanswered after my flurry of meta, but I scalded my fingers and now that they've healed enough for me to type I feel crappy :/
sqbr: pretty purple pi (Default)
Thursday, September 25th, 2008 12:44 pm
I have finally given up on "Talkin' up to the white woman: Indigenous women and feminism" by Aileen Moreton-Robinson (as recced to me by [livejournal.com profile] fire_fly before my panel. She did say I might find Sister Girl an easier read!). It's not that it was bad, it's just that I am pretty much incapable of reading more than about 10 pages of academic humanities theory without my eyes glazing over and my brain dribbling out of my ears. Which is a pity, since afaict there's very little indepth discussion of race in Australia that isn't written by and for humanities academics, luckily at least some of it is in the form of short essays.

Still, if you are capable of reading humanities academic prose and have an interest in the subject it is, afaict, pretty good if not made of sparkling prose (keeping in mind that I only got through the introduction, conclusion, and a few pages of chapter 1)
In which I ramble about the annoying gap between layman and expert )
sqbr: Asterix-like magnifying glass over Perth, Western Australia (australia 2)
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 01:06 pm

Aren't they cool?

If I didn't already have a "Perth" icon I'd crop the first into one (after flipping it back around, as is it's subtly disturbing EDIT: I lose at knowing my own city). Via Hoyden about Town.
sqbr: And yet all I can think is this will make for a great livejournal entry. (livejournal)
Saturday, July 26th, 2008 07:50 pm
So I have just discovered the existence of Reza Aslan, a very interesting american muslim writer (watching this debate made me feel like converting from atheism to Islam as the more rational, pluralistic choice. That atheist guy! Such a moron!) Anyway, my favourite thing about him is this line from Wikipedia:
The Guardian newspaper in Britain reports that Aslan is a Shi'a Muslim.
(Second favourite is that he has groupies)

Also, via [livejournal.com profile] tevriel (nee sonnlich): Non newtonian fluids in action.

EDIT with amusing story:
Normally when I get other cat's scent on me Kira isn't too fussed, she just sniffs out of curiosity then makes sure to cover their scent with her own.
I went to visit [livejournal.com profile] kitsune_iii today and Storm was immediately drawn to my bag. "oh ho!" she was thinking "So this Kira thinks she own this bag huh?"
So she rubbed herself all over it as much as possible, and then curled up against it for some time looking cheerfully smug.
When I came home Kira wandered past my bag and then stopped, sniffed it, and became immediately tense, tail sticking out all frizzed up and everything. For quite some time she'd wander past, sniff it again and again get all narky, she was not happy with me. I get the feeling Storm made the cat-scent equivalent of a rude gesture at her :)