Tuesday, March 30, 2010
This is an example of bad science I think. There is a study printed on CNN going around about high calorie/high fat diets and their effect on rat brains. Basically, lots of human food caused rats to become highly addicted (just like heroine or cocaine) and would continue eating these foods even when electroshock was applied. The basic idea is fine, and interesting but what drives me nuts is the fact that the "addicted" diet is a combination of bacon, sausage, cheesecake and frosting - so why the fuck did they include all of the different types and not separate high fat from high sugar etc... Then they state plainly that all of those are bad for our brains. That is bad science! The whole point of a scientific experiment is to control variables so you can identify individual elements. Maybe the combination of sugar AND fat is the bad part but based on their design we have no idea because they did not investigate the role of just high fat vs high sugar etc AND the combinations. If for example there was no effect by either the high fat or high sugar alone, but a significant effect when combined that would be informative but for all we know it could just be the fat alone (highly unlikely - read Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories and then talk to me or better yet his NY Times article here) or and more likely it could be just the high sugar since there are numerous studies looking at the effect like this one from Princeton that looked at just the effect of sugar and low and behold it increased dopamine receptors in the rat brain. The problem with the CNN article is it blatantly states high fat which I disagree because they didn't look at that but rather high sugar with fat.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I found this here and it is a very good response to people who use the argument from design, or complexity, or god of the gaps etc. to try and explain that which they do not understand - goddit!
Just because you can't understand how is not a good reason to think some supernatural puppetmaster had to do it
Now this goes hand in hand with another cartoon I liked over at Friendly Atheist regarding the Teloelogical Argument (see blow). A friend and I were just chatting about this the other day. Just because you don't understand something, and it seems too complicated so therefore someone must have designed it all is a horrible argument. Arthur C. Clarke once said that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and the same holds true for nature for many people (i.e., we don't understand every part yet, so therefore godidit) which is absurd. The secondary part which is another topic altogether is the point that EVERY sect of christianity or any religion for that matter, is a minority opinion (i.e., there are thousands of other sects that believe differently and think you are completely wrong), yet all think they are right and have the exact same reasons to support their own conclusions. They all use the same scriptures more or less (interpreted differently for no good reason), some form "personal experiences" or divine revelation etc.... But for some reason they all think believing in something kinda like the same god/christ/whatever is enough to band together under some commonality.... I think a lot of "them" should just read up on group selection and game theory or evolutionary stable strategies etc.,..... but then again many wouldn't take the time or understand it anyway.
Monday, March 15, 2010
OK so I just got back from the Bodega Phylogenetics Workshop by UC Davis. The workshop was at their Bodega Marine Lab, and while quite intense at times, lots of work, inredibly slide-filled at times, overall it was fantastic and I highly recommend applying next year to anyone interested in this area and even if you can't go you can look at their wiki page. Their are lots of tutorials that walk you through data analysis and programming, and even some pictures from the week (I think a few people will be uploading more this week - only one with me in it so far lol).