This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comments by hungarianelephant

Go to: Stop female genital mutilation in the UK! - Avaaz.org petition

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by hungarianelephant

Comment 67 by ElizabethN :

Assault charges require evidence of lack of consent by either the victim, if she is able to give that evidence, or from the persons who at the time had the ability to give consent such as the parents or guardians. Even if their reluctance to do so on religious or cultural grounds were not enough, they would hardly be likely to be helpful with any authorities given the potential consequences of criminal action against them.

That is not the case, actually. Consent is not a defence to a charge of grievous bodily harm, or wounding, or assault occasioning actual bodily harm (R v. Brown - google "Operation Spanner". Not for the faint-hearted.) It's questionable whether a minor can consent to even common assault.

Where you do have an evidential problem is in showing who did it.

As usual in these kind of debates, most posters simply assume that the absence of prosecutions is due to cultural sensitivities, or some other euphemistic nonsense. I like to put the boot into the police as much as the next person, but we simply don't know whether this stands up to scrutiny. There are 166 complaints - a pathetic number compared to what we believe the true scale of the problem to be, and that in itself is troubling - but we know very little about how far they got.

Who made the complaints? If they are made by third parties without the victim's involvement, then you don't have mutilated genitals to present to the court, and it is like trying to get a murder conviction without a corpse - legally possible but insanely difficult. If by the victims, were they dropped? When? Why? Did the CPS find a lack of evidence in any of these cases? Was it felt that there was no public interest in breaking up the victim's family?

Anyone in the UK fancy doing a freedom of information request?

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 11:07:25 UTC | #947029

Go to: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by hungarianelephant

Comment 20 by Border Collie :

Where did I get that impression? Oh, I don't know. By observation over my entire life maybe. Disparity in Nobel prizes count between Jews and Muslims, perhaps. I am aware that the ultras are pretty crazy and that, on the surface, they don't appear that different from the Islamic crazies and, in reality, they're probably not.

But of course, if you're not one of the crazies, life is very different indeed. You're not actually expected to believe any of the religious nonsense - just to follow the rules. Judaism does not require that you switch off your critical faculties when confronted with anything challenging orthodox belief. You can spend the week proving scientifically that burning bushes can't speak, and then turn up for the Sabbath without having to do any real mental gymnastics, let alone worry about being accused of apostasy.

There are quite a few Yiddish epithets for non-Jews, some of them pretty unpleasant, but there is no concept equivalent to "unIslamic", even amongst the die-hard silly-plaits and silly-hats brigade.

Wed, 23 May 2012 10:22:16 UTC | #943076

Go to: Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by hungarianelephant

Hello everybody.

I've thought of some things to say, which are - though I say it myself - pretty damned clever.

Unfortunately no one will read it unless I introduce some buzzwords, so I'm going to use "Richard Dawkins". I haven't actually read The Selfish Gene, but it can't possibly deal with any of these things I've thought up, because I've only just thought of them, so they must be totally original.

Are you all looking at me? Hello? Hello?

Tue, 22 May 2012 11:47:39 UTC | #942803

Go to: Ghost seance goes wrong

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by hungarianelephant

With a fair wind, there's no reason why unexpected seance results should hinder your career. You might still get to be President of the European Commission.

Fri, 18 May 2012 14:05:27 UTC | #942184

Go to: Richard Dawkins Has a Point, Your Eminence!

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by hungarianelephant

Comment 21 by hitchens_jnr :

2) That there are Some People in the World who believe that Incessant Capitalisation of Key Words lends Credibility to an Argument.

Germans?

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 16:14:18 UTC | #937761

Go to: Cocaine decreases activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by hungarianelephant

Comment 11 by holysmokes :

Casting blame is not the point. If you don't like the laws, then attempt to get them changed. Meanwhile drugs DO harm innocent people. Facts are facts.

Well perhaps I was misinterpreting your post, but I thought your point was precisely to blame the people who take drugs.

It's a fair point to follow the money. Likewise it's fair to look at the practices of a particular multinational and ask whether you should get your next phone or pair of trainers elsewhere - even to say that you're partly responsible for maintaining those questionable practices.

But this is a rather different situation. It is not a case of taking your business elsewhere, because the government has closed off all legal avenues of access. All the remaining avenues are illegal ones. States have created this situation. There is something ridiculous about suggesting that unless I fight the vast resources of my state and others, then having a spliff makes me responsible for the death of innocent people.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 14:47:52 UTC | #936700

Go to: Scott Walker's Attack on a Woman's Right to Choose

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by hungarianelephant

This must surely be in the running for the most pathetic article ever run on RD.net.

I know practically nothing about Wisconsin politics. As a result of reading this article, I still know practically nothing about Wisconsin politics, but am 5 minutes older. Would it really be too much on a site for "Reason and Science" to require articles to have at least a little reason or science in them? Or at least some facts that can be verified or falsified?

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:59:30 UTC | #936686

Go to: Cocaine decreases activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by hungarianelephant

Comment 1 by Roedy :

One thing I have never understood about cocaine. Everyone has seen people ruined by it. If you had no addiction to start what on earth would tempt you to try it? It is a matter of curiosity? Self deception about your ability to resist? Are you tricked into trying it?

Every two year old I have ever known has at some point spun themselves round and round until they get dizzy and fall over. Getting off your face is a basic human experience. Other primates do it too.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:28:20 UTC | #936678

Go to: Cocaine decreases activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by hungarianelephant

Comment 7 by holysmokes :

I understand your point, however EVERY TIME you use an illegal drug you are affecting others. Why? Because it is illegal in most countries. Unless you are creating and using the drug completely on your own, you are involving others and as you know, very few users do. Look at the harm drug cartels do to innocent victims in South America, all for profit. Thousands of innocent people killed every year.

And whose fault is that?

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:25:29 UTC | #936675

Go to: Genocide: What is behind irrational evil perpetrated by ordinary people?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 113 by hungarianelephant

Comment 111 by Zeuglodon :

Between potentially ruining somebody's life (including your own) and reducing your short-term pleasure, it's really a no-brainer unless you're so foolish in the heat of the moment that you can't be trusted.

Of course it is. But lots of people get no-brainer decisions hopelessly wrong. Who, born any time after about 1950, can possibly think it is a good idea to smoke? Add brain-altering substances like ethanol to the mix, and all the clever calculations are in the toilet. Perhaps you personally are a paragon of virtue, and have with absolute fastidiousness used a condom at every opportunity. Possibly even two, for all I know. As for the rest of us, the statistics are not encouraging.

STIs are the risk of sexual activity, but that statistic looks deceptive. If, for example, half a million Americans died of AIDS within the scope of, say, 50 years, it's hardly fair to compare that with about 58,000 American-only military deaths within 20 years. It's like comparing deaths in the home to military deaths - how many opportunities are there for death by falling down the stairs as opposed to death in wartime? And out of a population of how many? Is that 58,000 out of the entire American military force or the entire American population? Were the deaths randomly scattered or clustered around specific events?

I'm not sure what point you are making here. That hundreds of thousands of dead is not so bad, really?

The comparison is not like with like, or to assert that sexual freedom is more dangerous than war. The point is that in absolute numbers, the body count ought surely to raise some moral questions.

There's a tendency to hand-wave these questions away by saying that they can be mitigated against. Yes, and you could virtually eliminate road deaths by imposing a rigid 30kmh limit. Could you make the mitigation stick? Maybe, maybe not. (And the reason I mention road deaths is because the answer there is obviously not.) I favour sexual freedom even if you couldn't. Do you?

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 16:48:48 UTC | #934452

Go to: Petition: no jail time for birth control

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by hungarianelephant

Comment 3 by QuestioningKat :

Why have there been so many attacks on women's rights within the last couple of years? What is the trend going? People who suggest such ludicrous ideas should have their faces all over the internet to shame them. Names...people need to be held accountable.

I have a hypothesis about this.

Imagine that you were watching the early stages of a push-back against a diminution of the position of men in Western society. Why now? Because ultimately, people notice stuff when it hits their pockets. And the last recession has disproportionately affected men.

Trying to take away women's rights is a stupid response to this. It makes as much sense as the French bombing German roads instead of building better French ones. But the early stages of social pressure are often pretty stupid, and it is only in retrospect that there is any consensus about the underlying causes.

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 16:09:23 UTC | #934443

Go to: Genocide: What is behind irrational evil perpetrated by ordinary people?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 110 by hungarianelephant

Comment 108 by Ignorant Amos :

Then, as everyone here is well aware, cherry picking is prevalent with the believer.

Yes, exactly.

The Catholic™ church would say that its position is entirely consistent. It preaches that sex outside marriage is a sin and that using contraception is a sin. If believers actually followed this, there would not be a problem with HIV amongst Catholics. All this is entirely true.

You can say that this is a moral position, an immoral position or an amoral position.

But you don't get to cherry-pick your religion, and at the same time claim that you had no choice in the matter. You don't get to claim autonomy over where you stick your penis (or, as the case may be, what you put in your vagina) but not over whether you put anything on it.

I think saying 'some of its sheep' is a bit of an understatement with 1.2 million Africans dying in 2010 from the AIDS epidemic. I'm not suggesting all those that died were Catholics following silly rules, but if even one was, it's one too many...just my opinion.

I don't know how many were Catholics either, but we can say with certainty that most of those who were Catholics were following some of the silly rules. And it is certain that there are a very large number of Africans dying of AIDS who have never given the slightest toss what the RC says.

Therein lies the problem. People infected with HIV having sex with people who are not infected.

It's all very well to trumpet condoms as the solution. But there are three basic problems with condom technology:

(1) it deadens the sexual experience

(2) it deadens the sexual experience

(3) it deadens the sexual experience

This is a website full of educated, intelligent and rational people, and I am prepared to bet that not one poster in 10 can honestly say that he/she has never had unprotected sex with someone with an unknown sexual history. So what exactly are we supposed to say to undereducated Africans?

An alternative approach is to admit that STIs are the price of sexual freedom. This might seem radical, but is it, really? Half a million Americans have died of AIDS - ten times the number who died in the Vietnam war. Vietnam is a byword for idiotic wastefulness, but who ever questions whether sexual freedom was worth half a million lives?

Me, I think it is. I would risk it rather than live somewhere like Iran, or for that matter under the rule of the Vatican. But it seems to me that blaming the worldview of the Pope™ for sexually transmitted diseases makes not a whole lot of sense. It reeks of projection, in fact.

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 15:46:30 UTC | #934436

Go to: Genocide: What is behind irrational evil perpetrated by ordinary people?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 106 by hungarianelephant

Comment 105 by Ignorant Amos :

It doesn't matter...it is a choice with the non-Catholics, but the same cannot be said of the RC's. As far as a Catholic African is concerned, it is Gods law, they are being forced by mental abuse not to use condoms. That mental anguish is coming from the people at the top of their church that they rely on for proper guidance.

I just don't get this line of argument. They are under sufficient duress to prevent them from using a condom but not sufficient duress to prevent them from having sex in the first place?

Don't get me wrong, I think the RC church's stance is morally reprehensible. But it's a rather large leap to attribute responsibility for the actions of some of its sheep, who are not following its orders anyway.

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 14:20:07 UTC | #934411

Go to: Update - Sanal Edamaruku under attack for exposing Catholic "miracle"

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by hungarianelephant

Miracles and apparitions are a real headache for the Catholic™ church.

They can't be denied, because large parts of the faith depend on them.

But they can't be readily admitted either, because that would mean that the local worthies have a more direct line to the Big Fella than those at the top of the hierachy.

The "solution" to this problem is the one Cartomancer mentioned. Pretend to do science, be sceptical, and send along your own troops to try to find non-miraculous explanations. This controls the competition, without blowing the lid off the whole thing.

Now the problem is when you get local vested interests. Contrary to what you might think, the hierachy doesn't actually make much from the local franchises, and even less when those franchises go rogue. Its best interest is promoted by stimulating a generalised religious fervour, while not giving too much ground on any specifics. Thus it must quietly mutter about everything that happens at Medjugorje being a load of total bollocks (in case Catholicism™ Medjugorje starts getting above itself), while generally approving of pilgrimages there on the ground that they are spiritually fulfilling.

And that is how they would probably have liked to deal with this case. No, it's not a miracle. Yes, it is a wonderful happening. Catholics are spiritual and the rest of the world is damaged goods, etc. ad nauseam.

Only this guy comes along, and not only opines that it is crap, but actually goes ahead and proves it. Hmm. This is a tricky situation. It will be fun watching this one play out.

Sanal Edamaruku wants the blasphemy case. And let's face it, while he is carefully deconstructing the impotent rage of people who believe in magic water, we will all be cheering him on. Let's not feel too sorry for him.

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 11:40:44 UTC | #934383

Go to: Prime Minister’s dissembling, hypocritical and disingenuous speech to religious leaders

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by hungarianelephant

Comment 17 by AtheistEgbert :

So my vote awaits a secular liberal party that actually understands liberalism, and seeks to get rid of the monarchy, state religion, the house of lords (especially sitting bishops), and then creates a new state with a constitution that provides individual rights and liberties for all.

I will back a secular liberal party whether or not it tries to do any of those things. All I require is that it:

(a) supports any legislation which advances secularity and/or individual freedom; and

(b) opposes any legislation which reduces secularity and/or restricts individual freedom.

(Homage to AP Herbert's "Which Is The Liberal Party?")

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 10:33:08 UTC | #932302

Go to: Prime Minister’s dissembling, hypocritical and disingenuous speech to religious leaders

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by hungarianelephant

It would be a shock to find that Cameron had managed a speech in which he said anything whatsoever of substance. So a reading of the speech was in order. And at the end of it all, I really can't see what Terry Sanderson is getting so fraught about.

Dave is speaking to religious leaders. What do you expect him to say? "Listen up, dweebs, we've all had enough of your religious crap, and there are going to be some changes around here."? Of course he isn't. He wants the churches onside - partly for his weird and ill-defined Big Society project, and partly because faith schools are one of the few bits of the English education system which actually work. Few here will agree with him, but it's hardly the collapse of the Enlightenment.

I suspect that Dave is genuinely a "believer in belief". If you think of religion and moral values as intertwined, most of what he says makes sense, and it's pretty clear from the context that he regards the "Christian fightback" not as against militantseculardogmaticatheistintolerantmilitance, but against a (possibly imaginary) decline in standards generally. He is wrong, but that doesn't make him a liar.

Some of Sanderson's arguments are just plain nonsense. It's perfectly legitimate to think that anyone should be able to wear a cross without mandating it by force of law - go over the threads here and you will find lots of posters arguing that precise point perfectly cogently. There is nothing in here to suggest a backing down over gay marriage. Cameron supports it - he said so in unusually clear terms, despite the likely reaction. He was making the perfectly reasonable point that it might not be a bad idea if the debate were conducted in terms which didn't utterly alienate the other side.

As to Bideford council, Sanderson needs to read the judgment properly (as well as the road signs). The judge rejected most of the secular arguments, and decided the case on the very narrow ground that prayers could not be part of the agenda. The council could still have prayers if they want to, or for that matter a group rendition of Knees Up Mother Brown - just not include them on the agenda. And the provision which prevented this has now been repealed anyway.

Not many people like Cameron. He even provokes irate into saying something complimentary about Margaret Thatcher, which I have printed and will use in evidence. But you can't blame him for making insubstantial magic-and-kittens speeches like this, any more than you can blame a cat for scratching the table.

There's no point getting upset with him. It will just bounce off him. If you don't want politicians like this, then just stop voting for them and they will eventually go away. The same goes for those stuffed suits on the other side of the house, and indeed both the likely White House candidates in November.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 10:22:42 UTC | #932299

Go to: Tennessee Passes ‘Monkey Bill’ To Teach The ‘Controversy’ On Evolution And Climate Science

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 158 by hungarianelephant

Comment 153 by privatize education :

so tax and spend on anything as long as powerful people claim that it's good for the general welfare? the mere fact that the same people created the ninth and tenth amendment means that they weren't meant to be completely useless. "9.The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. 10.The powers not delegated to the United States by this constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people" your interpretation gives unrestricted power to the government and it makes no sense.

Look, I'm not here to educate you in US constitutional law. You can take private classes in that.

There is a century of case law about the Tax and Spend clause, and it is patently obvious from the fact that there are occasionally cases about something else that this is not an "unlimited power" to Congress. Or as you call it, "government". You are not going to overturn it by writing on the internet without a Shift key.

Now, Congress has the power not to legislate for public schools. So argue why it shouldn't, not that it can't.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 16:25:56 UTC | #930957

Go to: Tennessee Passes ‘Monkey Bill’ To Teach The ‘Controversy’ On Evolution And Climate Science

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 152 by hungarianelephant

Comment 148 by privatize education :

i would argue these points myself if it weren't for the fact that they are incorrect, the government is the people's servant that's how this country was founded, it's job is to serve everyone by protecting individual liberties, nowhere in the constitution does it authorize the government to provide education and we have the tenth amendment.

Oh ffs, not this again.

The US Constitution empowers Congress to tax and spend "for the general welfare". Article I Section 8.

If you want to argue against government involvement, then fine, but please leave bogus and frankly daft constitutional arguments at home.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 12:41:55 UTC | #930920

Go to: Killing Bald Eagles in the name of religion

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by hungarianelephant

Comment 23 by Alan4discussion :

Historical records show many were (and still are), in balance with the ecology, especially in animist cultures. Many lived sustainably for centuries before modern commercial and technologically generated human population explosions brought about cultural changes.

Perhaps so. Historical records also show that megafauna disappeared from the Americas at a time suspiciously close to the arrival of distinctly un-modern humans. The arrival of the Maori in New Zealand heralded extinction events there. Just in the last few days, there have been reports of evidence linking the arrival of humans in Australia 40,000 years ago, not just with catastrophe for the native animals, but also with dramatic changes to the vegetation.

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 16:10:34 UTC | #930569

Go to: Advice for an Angry Gay Atheist

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by hungarianelephant

Comment 35 by Schrodinger's Cat :

It's to be savoured......like a good wine.

What if the only one around is a Blue Nun?

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 13:13:52 UTC | #930548

Go to: Advice for an Angry Gay Atheist

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by hungarianelephant

Comment 24 by nick keighley :

um, he's a Mormon. Is the RCC an insane cult?

Yes.

What's the difference between a religion and an insane cult?

Age.

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 12:46:47 UTC | #930541

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 86 by hungarianelephant

Comment 85 by veggiemanuk :

hungarianelephant : - Did you mean to say that current vaccines dont target 80% of HPV strains that cause cancer btw?

Now I'm not sure, to be honest. The vaccine is not completely effective and not all strains are targeted. I cannot find the original source of the 80% figure and may have misinterpreted (or taken up someone else's misinterpretation).

The point, though, is not an anti-vaccine stance, but rather that it can't be assumed that any one thing is the most effective way of dealing with a problem. Btw a subsequent cost study provided evidence that the vaccination programme would be cost-effective after all, and it was duly implemented.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 15:02:18 UTC | #929877

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by hungarianelephant

Comment 75 by Martin Torp Dahl :

I am also sorry to say that it is the wrong answer, try it by using 1000 screenings and then divide them up in two groups, the one that gets cancer and the one that does not. Then try to apply the different probabilities for a positive test to these two groups and get the positive results from both groups. You can then divide the true positives by the total number of positive results.

Isn't that what I did? Might be last night's chilli getting to me. EDIT: Oh yeah. Not much point getting the maths right if you then miss a decimal point at the end of it all. Duh. And now I can't even edit the stupidity.

Comment 77 by Martin Torp Dahl :

And by the way, I am not saying that screening is bad, just that interpretation of the results could be better. And for some tests one has to ask if there is a point in screening everybody.

Of course doctors does not start you on chemo right away, but there is now evidence that many people are treated that does not need treatment.

It is important to be aware of the full picture before one decides what to do.

Absolutely.

And there are two different issues which arise. One relates to the person and one relates to the health system generally. Margaret McCartney picks up this point but doesn't fully press it home.

If you test everyone, it costs a lot of money. If you treat based on false positives, it costs more. Those resources cannot now be used for something else, so a public health system needs to be sure that this is a productive use of its resources. As GfA pointed out earlier in the thread, you could make an attempt to do this in QALY and/or micromorts.

But there is also a human consequence, which differs by individual. The invasiveness of procedures which result from a false positive, and indeed the screening itself, are personal matters. Some of us will regard a tube shoved up the colon as a minor inconvenience, others as a gross violation. Even if you don't have a libertarian sentiment in your head, there must come a point where personal choices matter.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 12:15:15 UTC | #929852

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by hungarianelephant

Comment 35 by veggiemanuk :

Just a few ponts:

100% of Cervical Cancer is thought to be caused by HPV.

There are more than 120 HPV types so far identified and refered to by number.

15 of these are of High risk of causing Cancer, (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN).

In total, about 30-40 types are transmitted through sexual contact.

Types 16 & 18 account for about 70% of cervical cancers, 80% of anal cancers, 60% of vaginal cancers, and 40% of vulvar cancers.

Types 6 & 11 account for 90% of genital warts.

As I understand it, though, current HPV vaccines are ineffective against strains which cause 80% of cervical cancers. It was for this reason that Ireland abandoned the HPV vaccine in favour of improved treatment and ... er ... screening.

The Irish Daily Mail campaigned against this change. Which was not entirely consistent with the Daily Mail's stance on the vaccine being available in he UK.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 11:59:30 UTC | #929847

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by hungarianelephant

However, this is a bit misleading in a real world environment. Screening is intended to pick up abnormalities, not diagnose cancer. A false positive will not automatically result in undergoing chemo, even if it does result in other procedures which are ultimately unnecessary.

Furthermore, in the real world, the numbers are very messy. One person's interpretation of a pap smear can differ from another's, which results in apparently very different numbers in different testing sites, and consequently different (and misleading) apparent outcomes. Not to mention the budget consequences.

The conservative course is generally to treat a borderline case as positive, which is not necessarily a sound approach.

It is possible to improve the screening process by various methods such as raman spectroscopy. This pretty much takes the human judgement out of the equation and gets a computer to do it. And for that very reason, it scares the living bejesus out of insurers - wrongly.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 11:53:03 UTC | #929845

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by hungarianelephant

Comment 63 by Martin Torp Dahl :

What is the probability that a women that tests positive for cancer on a mammography test actually has cancer given these numbers:

the probability that a woman has breast cancer is: 0.8 % (prevalence)

If a woman has breast cancer the chance of a positive test is 90% (sensitivity)

If a woman does not have breast cancer the probability of a positive test is 7% (specificity)

If nobody answers i guess i will give it, but it would be interesting to see if people here can figure it out.

Give it a try folks (give estimates, i don't expect perfect answers)

P(Cancer) = 0.008

P(~Cancer) = 0.992

P(Cancer | +) = 0.008 x 0.9 = 0.0072

P(Cancer | -) = 0.008 x 0.1 = 0.0008

P(~Cancer | +) = 0.992 x 0.07 = 0.06944

P(~Cancer | -) = 0.992 x 0.93 = 0.92256

=> P(+) = 0.0072 + 0.06944 = 0.07664

P(Cancer | +) / P(+) = 0.0072 / 0.07664 ~= 94%

Not easy to do in your head, which I guess is your point.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 11:42:11 UTC | #929843

Go to: You are not so smart

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by hungarianelephant

Are we immune to faulty thinking, logical fallacy and magical thinking? No, of course not. But being aware that you might be wrong is a good start. Anyway there's nothing wrong with a bit of whimsy, as long as you realise that that is what it is.

How do you deal with it? People like consistency. So point out the logical conclusions of their "facts" which are inconsistent with other obvious facts.

This is a difficult way to dispose of "magic" arguments entirely, but it can at least help to put them in a more constrained box.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 11:10:41 UTC | #929838

Go to: Holy (roasted?) cow! My oven believes in God

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by hungarianelephant

Comment 22 by Mark Ribbands :

I had no idea it was all so absurd; beyond satire even. For once, these are stories you really couldn’t make up. Are there any more?

Oh yes indeed. How long have you got?

Jewish dietary requirements also forbid the consumption of an animal "in the milk of its mother". What this practically means is that you can't have meat in milk sauces. Although it's ok to have chicken supreme, because as everyone knows, chicken is a kind of fish.

To be properly orthodox, however, not only can you not mix milk and meat. You also cannot allow them to come into contact with the same equipment. The practical solution is therefore to have two separate sets of pots - one of which cannot be used for milk, and the other cannot be used for meat.

But after that, it gets a bit tricky, because you have to use different pots and utensils for Pesach, and the same rules still apply. Thus you end up with four sets of pots. My ultra-orthodox colleague refused to deny that they are colour-coded.

My Jewish ex-gf was happy to eat pepperoni pizza, but only out of the cardboard or on paper plates. It was not allowed to come into contact with the normal plates. I couldn't help thinking she had rather missed the point of all this kosher stuff.

What's particularly baffling about intricate Jewish rules is that you are not actually required to believe in any of this nonsense. You merely have to follow the rules. It is ritual - and a ritual that has been vigorously preserved and defended for thousands of years. I wonder sometimes whether this is what most of religion really comes down to, and whether actually believing things and arranging your life around then is the deviant behaviour.

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:12:26 UTC | #928924

Go to: Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by hungarianelephant

Comment 77 by danconquer :

The ability of democratic governments to collect payments and then collectively spend that money on behalf of citizens merely happens to be a particularly visible and obvious phenomena. Anyone who objects on principle should also be arguing against the existence of a fire brigade (to give just one example) as an intrusion upon individual liberty... Yet they rarely take their argument to this logically necessary conclusion, oddly enough, which shows their position isn't half as principled as they sometimes imply.

No, that's not an accurate portrayal of the thinking, any more than it would be accurate to characterise a willingness to make collective decisions as tantamount to suppressing all individual decision-making.

The argument basically is this: taxation represents the removal of a person's assets, and this is inherently wrong unless there is a convincing justification for doing so. The democratic process is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for finding that justification.

It's relatively easy to construct a justification for a fire brigade - a fire in your house threatens your neighbour's property. It's also not difficult to construct a justification for healthcare for those who cannot afford it. But what about the people who can afford it but choose not to? There are millions of these people in the US. Universal healthcare denies their right to choose to spend their resources on something else instead.

I suspect that to most of those who support universal healthcare, it's simply obvious that it should exist, and those who raise principled objections are anti-social people who should go and live in a cave (not the first time this metaphor has been used on this website). But you can turn this on its head. Why not take universal healthcare to its logical conclusion, and support universal state-backed food provision? Most civilised countries got rid of food stamps in favour of general welfare provision, because they were regarded as demeaning - yet we are quite happy not only to allocate people's resources specifically to healthcare, but even to determine what care they will be permitted to access with those resources.

As a practical matter, what the anti-UHC lobby are arguing makes no sense, for the reasons I posted above. But you still have to understand the argument.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:17:53 UTC | #927869

Go to: Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by hungarianelephant

Comment 72 by RJMoore :

What do you mean? Whether it spends more or less has no bearing on the fact that the 'social model' affects people's liberty; whether thats a good or bad thing is an entirely different matter.

The social model affects people's liberty less than the current model.

If these people want to argue that Medicare, Medicaid and the like should be abolished because they are an infringement of people's liberty, then I will think they are insane, but they would at least be consistent. Arguing that tax-and-spend is an infringement of liberty and then supporting a system which involves a higher level of taxing-and-spending is just silly.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:03:38 UTC | #927839