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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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  • DIRECT Ezine for Democrats

    A weekly must read


  • BBC - Newsnight: From the web team: What have the noughties done for God?

    tip to pedansareus


  • Ron Paul: Quackery enabler, part II : Respectful Insolence

  • Atlantic Wire: Stephen Hawking Still Alive
    The British are rising to defend their health-care system, which has recently been subject to attack by the anti-Obamacare crowd. The line that finally stung them enough to respond was the following comment, first published in an Investor's Business Daily editorial on July 31:
    People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

    Over a week passed before this caught the attention of the leading left-leaning bloggers on Monday, when AJC's Jay Bookman, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and The New Republic's Jason Zengerle picked it up in quick succession.
    IBD Lied, declared Klein, pointing out, as everyone had begun to do, that Stephen Hawking has lived and continues to live in England.
    No, They're Just Stupid, Zengerle suggested. "This actually raises a bit of a philosophical conundrum. If the IBD writer believed Hawking was American, [...] can the writer be accused of lying when he/she writes that Hawking would have been left to die by the National Health Service?"

    tip to óskar


  • The Mooney/Kirshenbaum crusade flops again : Pharyngula


 

Comments

The Stephen Hawking story is just so bizarre. What reporter knows his name and medical condition yet is completely ignorant of his country or origin and frequent residence?

Seems like a bad joke.

Hawking himself emerged to confirm his continued existence...
I cracked up. It doesn't get better than that.

re: Ron Paul

He doesn't advocate quackery, he opposes regulation. Sadly, they have the same effect.

However, the reason an article like this fails to sway me is that I simply do not believe you could regulate scams out of the marketplace. "Buyer beware" has been the functioning premise of capitalists everywhere since the dawn of togas.

Even if the FDA chases these clowns away, they will simply repackage their wares as "health supplements" and continue on their greedy quest unabated.

So many people either misunderstand, or simply don't appreciate, the core of the issue. Its not about defending quacks, its about defending the freedom of choice.

He doesn't advocate quackery, he opposes regulation.

Sounds more like he opposes the idea that people who sell health products need to have some scientific proof that their products do what they claim. If Ron Paul had his way, I could sell sugar-water and advertise that it helps cure cancer, and instead of me having to prove it, it would be up to law enforcement to prove the negative.

Given the arguments and legislation quoted in the article, it would appear Ron Paul a very poor grasp of science and logic...

However, the reason an article like this fails to sway me is that I simply do not believe you could regulate scams out of the marketplace.

I don't think you can regulate crime out of the marketplace. Lets lay all the cops off and just see how that goes.

The idea that the market will self regulate seems to me to be incompatible with any common sense, real world experience in the market.

I remember an L candidate arguing that we didn't need elevator inspectors because people who had elevators that killed people would be driven out of business by those that have safe ones.

Such a statement could only be made by someone that never rented an apartment or an office outside the best neighborhood in town.

Particularly in the case of healthcare we have seen the market fails. When one party has power of life or death over the other, capitalism does not lead to a fair deal. The same is true of addictive substances.

shouldn't the fda be brought to task for false advertising, using shills like orac to proclaim "we can prevent your sainted grandmother from being lied to", as if this were possible? what a great racket. i bet there's a lot of money in being the one who decides which group of rich bastards gets to lie to the sainted grandmothers of the world. i don't suppose the fda priesthood is suceptable to bribery, for instance.

isn't false advertising what makes america great?

Isn't that why they called us a paper tiger back in the day?

they still call you a paper tiger, you should get out more. "don't worry, oh noble kurds/somalis/iraqis/afghanis etc., just do as we ask and we'll protect you!"

but hey, any country with an army does this. it's called business. and business is about lying (sorry, advertising). what can you do? like zaphod said, "buyer beware".

the fda should be focusing on making sure the ingredients list on the bottle is factual. if someone wants to buy poison or sugar water that's their business.

re: your analogy- an elevator that doesn't work (kills people) is not an elevator. if you want to say the same about cures for cancer you might as well shut down half the medical establishment. their track record is like saying "my elevator makes it to the 23rd floor over half the time, so i think it's better than not having a job. (i work on the 23rd floor."

of course i'm just being contrary for the hell of it, red7, but on the other hand i'm not joking. what do you think?

Sorry for the delay, I was in Vegas.

It wasn't an analogy, just another example of the market not self regulating.

and speaking of sugar water, refined sugar is both poisonous and addictive. where's the fda on that one?

AND, just to complete an ornery tryptich, stephen hawkins was a prima donna of masssive proportions and a fraud. :)

and the majority of his health issues were taken care of privately in america, bypassing any available public healthcare system, just like just about anyone else with money anywhere in the world.

(i'm just guessing here, but i bet i'm right.)

public health care isn't about the stephen hawkins of the world, i don't even know what he's doing here.

shouldn't the fda be brought to task for false advertising, using shills like orac to proclaim "we can prevent your sainted grandmother from being lied to", as if this were possible?
It is not possible? Because some corrupt rich bastards can get away with lying you'd think the other liars should have an equal chance? I think you're going the opposite way on this road.

And oohh, just for the purposes of entertainment, I'd love if you go there and accuse Orac of being a shill.

And I didn't get you "Hawkins" comment, I saw the smiley, but I don't understand if you were being sarcastic or do you really think he's somehow a fraud. Do you mean he's been faking it? Or do you mean there's a guy named Hawkins who's been impersonating Hawking?

It is not possible?

no.

Because some corrupt rich bastards can get away with lying you'd think the other liars should have an equal chance?

yes.

didn't mean to put down yr man orac. i realize that being against woo and also against the corporate nature of the medical establishment is too subtle for some.

i don't think anyone could possibly disagree that hawkings was a prima donna. as far as fraud goes, that's my personal opinion based on the ease of refutation of some of his public lectures i've seen, but i don't think this is the place to go into a point by point on this matter. here's one i found particularly full of "black holes" of deduction:

http://www.hayadan.org.il/wp/english/hawking_in_israel_2006.html

prima donna:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking_in_popular_culture

and i'd love to see the facts on his health care history. if i'm wrong about it, that would make him a glaring exception among rich international celebrities.

I'm beginning to think you're just a contrarian. Somebody already beat you to the punch on the "shill" thing, you might wanna read Orac's response, he's got a whole post for those conspiracy types, they're pretty predictable after a while.

Re: Hawking,

You say "prima donna" and then link to an "In Popular Culture" Wikipedia article? I don't know if we're working under the same definition of prima donna. The guy is popular for better or worse. Have you read his book, by the way? Do you know what he's actually famous for in the scientific community?

And what exactly do you find objectionable in that speech? He's basically just relating how people have thought about the origin of the universe, and where we are today. He's not even talking about current hypotheses. Inflation was confirmed independently in 1998.

maybe my use of prima donna was incorrect or purely vernacular. i meant a vain obsessive self-promoter who is only capable of working with other when s/he is the center of attention.

i'm not a conspiracy type, and whenever anyone anti-corporate is smeared thusly i get all bristly.

haven't read hawking's book, but i'd like to. i don't think a scientist can be judged as a fraud or not based on a book he wrote for the general public, tho. that's why i focus on his lectures. as far as his math/science talents go, i'm certainly in no position to judge. i'm sure he has mondo skillz. i can however, when presented with the conclusions of research, identify faulty deductive reasoning.

one thing i found objectionable in the speech is that he kept referring to the "old way" of looking at things being the "eternal universe" theory, and the "new way" of looking at things was the "the universe had a beginning" theory, which is not quite how it went down. like i said, point by point would be tedious here.

I've skimmed through the speech, but I've heard him and read articles of his explaining the same. Also, A Brief History of Time is pretty much the same speech with interesting details in-between. There is nothing controversial in that book or articles, or speech. Where it's speculative, he says so, but basically he just tells the story of scientific discovery in cosmology.

The "old way" of looking at things, is just that. No one in their right mind believes that the universe is eternal anymore, in that it's static and unchanging. That's the "old way". Einstein provided the path to the "newer" way which was that the universe had to be either expanding or contracting. Turns out it was expanding, so the Big Bang theory was born.

Now, inflationary theory further fine-tunes the BB theory, but also since at the very small densities of the very early universe you have to merge quantum mechanics (which describes 3 of the 4 known forces) with General Relativity (which describes gravity only), and nobody has come up with how it works, it is pretty much open to speculation. String theory has some suggestions, but hardly hard evidence. The way in which an "eternal" universe is viewed now is in the context of multiverse(s) or a "brane" inside a higher-dimensional space. It is far from the "old" eternal universe.

Missed something:

and the "new way" of looking at things was the "the universe had a beginning" theory, which is not quite how it went down.
How did it go down then?

i know he's trying to connect modern science directly to aristotle, bypassing religion, alchemy,magic, etc., and i know why he's doing it. but the fact is the vast, vast majority of the world population has always assumed, and still assumes that the universe had a beginning, and necessarily so. sciences thin historical relationship with aristotle and recent infatuation with critical thinking :)jk notwithstanding.

By the way, do you think it's possible to stop all murder?

(You know what's coming. You have to be consistent with your comment above.)

anything's possible. getting hit by a giant asteroid, for instance, would stop all murder. you mean legislate the stoppage of murder? ok i'll bite, i don't know what's coming: no, i don't think it's possible, and i don't think legislators think it is, either.

silly me. now i see what's coming. why should we legislate against anything (including lying and false advertising) if legislation won't put a stop to it? good question, andyo. :)

i'd say because the world is like a giant apple covered with filth. some filth is more dangerous, some less. some is more difficult to scrub off, some less so. we only have a toothbrush to work with and we don't know what the time limit is. picking where to scrub is the single most important job of a legislator.

ok?

By the way, Hawking is most renowned among scientists for his theory of black hole radiation. It was a pretty big discovery, and evidence supports it. He's got cosmologists street cred, you know.

yeah, i love the way he describes it- something like "a black hole emits information about everything it swallows". brilliant. really.

You should really read his book (Brief History, not the others). It's explained clearly there, it's nothing esoteric.

Unless you weren't being sarcastic, it is a brilliant theory. Do you have a source about the "information" thing? AFAIK the conclusion back then was that the black hole hides the information forever and it "evaporates" with it. If you read his explanation is very clear why. And by information he doesn't mean that the black hole is gonna spit out a newspaper. It's just that if you didn't know what went into the black hole before it went in, you'll never know what's "inside".

the "information" thing is from the lecture i linked to i think.

wtf is afaik?

not being sarcastic, i thought it was pretty brilliant, as if whitney houston had come up with the theory of relativity. :)jk not really ok i don't know the difference between jokes and reality blame jon stewart no i've always been this way help...

btw, i didn't mean to imply that i couldn't appreciate a good fraud. hawking is certainly one of the most likeable i know. and he's no dummy, that's for sure. he reminds me kind of a colonel tom parker, with his withered body playing the role of elvis.

somebody, please shoot me.

And you still haven't explained how he's a fraud.

He doesn't advocate quackery, he opposes regulation.

Nonsense. He advocates the legalization of fraud. That's what you committing when when you make claims about a product which are not true.

thank you mr. "cut to the chase". yes, i also advocate the legalization of fraud. and mandatory anti-fraud education as well. be cheaper than current approaches, and contribute to, rather than detract from intellectual evolution.

i'm still not sure if i'm joking.

It is my opinion (and I freely admit that I have no statistical evidence to back it up, so perhaps its just a hypothesis) that "tough on crime" advocates have the idea of deterence wrong. I think that white-collar crimes – fraud, embezzlement, and generally behaving like a modern investment banker – are more amenable to reduction by punitive criminal penalties than "crimes of passion".

∴ Throw the book at the bastards.

an honest opinion is often much harder to argue against than a well thought-out argument backed to the hilt with facts. good on you, sir.

as long as there's a book to be thrown, i guess i agree, let it be thrown. i suppose i was thinking in utopian terms, of building an ideal society from the ground up.

what you said reminds me of bernie madoff. you might recall he's jewish, and almost all the people he ripped off were jewish, so i'm talking about family here. when the story broke, of course i felt bad for the victims and righteous wrath for the bad guy. then i saw a picture of him- such a sad, wise, sympathetic jewish punim! so then i started thinking: if only my well-to-do jewish bretheren in the states weren't so cliquish, so ready to put their trust in someone who looks, acts, talks, dresses like them, and is involved in the same pursuits- making money out of thin air- maybe they wouldn't have been so quick to give him their money, maybe they would have dug around a bit more first. and the same goes for all the rest of those wall street assholes, jewish and non-jewish.:

so how about a comprimise: let's make it illegal to defraud anyone who makes less than, say, 250k a year (thank you pres. obama) but above that, go for it, boys. :)

still not sure if i'm kidding.

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