8-23-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How Science Should Be Funded

Over at Wired is a story about a private effort to fund nutritional studies, headed up by Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, whose contrarian views on nutrition have made him a best seller. His group, the Nutritional Science Initiative (NuSI) is funding scientists who currently sit on opposite sides of such questions as whether the source of energy (e.g., fats or carbohydrates) present in food is relevant to whether individuals gain weight.

Taubes, too, is aware of the risk. As Calabrese puts it, "Gary is advancing a study that may refute a theory he's built his career on. It may blow his theory right out of the water."
This is how a real scientist -- and an actual patron of science -- behaves, and it reminds me, favorably, of one science blogger's reaction to the book mentioned above:
Gary Taubes is interesting. If he's right, the majority of medical community has been flat wrong about some basic assumptions for a long time. It's sobering to think that might be the case. Even if Taubes is wrong, it's unsettling that he's not obviously wrong, that he can make a plausible argument that some widely held scientific beliefs are upside-down.
Assuming this article is accurate and the involved scientists are able to ask and answer the right questions, we may finally know the truth one way or the other.

Weekend Reading

"The simple fact is that failure happens for a reason, and we possess the power to discover that reason and to become wiser and stronger." -- Michael Hurd, in "See Failure as Opportunity" at The Delaware Wave

"Ignore the media and do what makes objective sense to you, today, in your own situation." -- Michael Hurd , in "What Are You Afraid Of?" at The Delaware Coast Press

My Two Cents

In his second piece, Michael Hurd takes a common reaction to media doom-and-gloom about the economy as his point of departure. His observation that many people panic at bad news, or simply take common advice from the media straight is a reminder: Many, if not most, people do not take the time to integrate new information or advice into the rest of their knowledge. Perhaps most people should, even after assessing their own situations, say, cut back on spending. But anyone who does this just because of what they hear on the news, doesn't really know that this is a proper (or even harmless) course of action for his own situation. Such a person might fool himself into feeling like he is acting responsibly when he is, in fact, flying blind.

The Power of Discrimination
discrimination (n) -- an act or instance of ... making a distinction.
Matt Honan of Wired demonstrates, by way of a negative result, the folly of not making choices in life, in an amusing article, "I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here's What It Did to Me". He concludes in part, "By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked."

-- CAV

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