Tag Archives: science

I’m not dexterous enough to be a magician…

Neuromarketing has had a couple of good posts this week:
The Neuroscience of Temptation
Got Branding?, Or Oreo, Part II (What a weird commercial.)
Also check out Sands Research Ad Favorites for a few commercials with comparative brain scans.

Science-Based Medicine » David & Goliath: A Dramatic Role Reversal Spurred On By The Media
Considering that most people still go to a regular medical doctor for their health care, I’m not entirely sure that alternative medicine is the goliath yet. It’s a squeaky wheel that getting a lot of notice, and the skeptical community is looking to see it’s influence. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an evidence-based kind of gal, and I wince every time someone I know personally mentions some cure-all that has been firmly debunked by science. But I’m also not a fan of overstatement. It’s a weakness that can make proponents of science-based medicine less creditable.

Speaking of “marketing” and the skeptical community, there’s a web series called Science of Scams. Derren Brown and company have released seven “viral” videos into the world; all with paranormal themes, all hoaxes. The point is to show how easy it can be to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Which reminded me of another series I enjoyed and recently realized was on truTV: The Real Hustle. Originally released in conjunction with the show Hustle, the perpetrators setup and reveal everything from bar bets and pickpocketing to three man thefts from hotel rooms. In a similar vein, Penn and Teller linked to Scam School today on Facebook. I’ve only watched a few episodes but it’s interesting stuff. Well, interesting if you’ve always had a secret yen to be a magician. Or a criminal.

Really, more of the usual.

Jason Pinter: Why the Digital Revolution is Missing the Big Picture:

You don’t read one chapter of the new James Ellroy and then flip to Margaret Atwood’s latest and back again.

You don’t?

But seriously, while I don’t generally get on with the Huffington Post, I mostly agree with Jason Pinter here.

Ebooks should expand the book buying market, not be used as an alternative for the print edition.

Yeah, I have shelves of books, boxes of books, that I haven’t read yet. Probably more books than I will read in my lifetime. Seriously. That doesn’t stop me from going to the library to acquire more books (or even check some out in digital editions). Every year I make the resolution that I won’t buy any books because that will at least force me to choose from the stock I already have. Whatever anyone else might think, *I* am not the market for something that is only an ebook gadget.

Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds – NYTimes.com
There are some screwy aspects to health behavior when more information is supplied to people. Regardless, I think it’s too soon to really establish whether NY’s law has changed people’s habits.

Cool perception/proprioception stuff:
Visual analgesia: Seeing the body reduces pain : Neurophilosophy

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SF/LH won its second game last night. It was a crossover game and, thus, we were short on personnel. The boys had two subs, and us girls had one. Which wasn’t that bad. We were missing Dave and Duane though; our handling was thin. We played against Chris Nipar’s team. Unfortunately, Chris was injured, leaving Nate to carry the team. It was a long row to hoe for all involved. Nate had some targets, and well, Nate is a target, but between zone and the guys tag-teaming Nate, we managed to go from 1-4, to being tied at fives and trading points, to us going on a six point run. My play was decent, considering that my back was pretty unhappy and my quad/groin had been iffy. Angel didn’t get away from me too often, so I’ll take it.

Might not do NaNo. I’ve been inordinately stressed lately. I’m run down and tired of being the person who is responsible for stuff or assumed to be responsible for stuff or at least spends time worrying about stuff. Some of it can’t be helped. I am what I am. But it might be time to get back into a firm habit without completely disrupting my routine for a month. Or Eric and I harsh out an interesting plot and I get excited and do NaNo. We still have three weeks.

Roughly Done

Finished the rough draft of Divine Fire yesterday.  Today, I’m catching up on my reading.  Or at least that’s the theory.  I still have three magazines, a chapter of LotR, and quite a bit of David Copperfield.  It would probably help if the internet and I parted ways for the night.

A couple interesting science bits:

Dueling Nostrils: Will It Be the Scent of a Rose or a Marker Pen?: Scientific American

Really? – The Claim – Some Foods Can Ease Arthritis Pain – NYTimes.com

Depression’s Evolutionary Roots: Scientific American
Speaking anecdotally, I don’t entirely buy this line of reasoning. Often “depressive rumination” consists of fixating on very trivial things, not problem solving. Becoming utterly focused on trivial things is not helpful.

Sometimes people are reluctant to disclose the reason for their depression because it is embarrassing or sensitive, they find it painful, they believe they must soldier on and ignore them, or they have difficulty putting their complex internal struggles into words.

And sometimes, the “reason” for depression is utterly irrational and baseless. If fact, if depression has an easily defined cause, it’s probably not clinical depression at all. Instead, it probably falls within the the realm of normal feelings. But I could be totally off on that.

How One Thinks of Good Things

Been thinking about this article from Scientific American: What If I’d Never Met My Husband.

The researchers show that people prompted to write about how a positive event may not have happened experience a greater uptick in mood than those prompted to describe the positive event.

It occurred to me while discussing it with Eric that I’m not very good at this sort of game. When discussing the possibility of, for example, not meeting him, I don’t see the resulting future as necessarily worse than my present. Or better than my present. It would be very different, but with it’s own good and bad. I suppose I do experience an uptake in mood when considering the possibilities because the exercise does highlight the things I do like about my life. But is there a chicken/egg relationship between my general dysphoria and the way I see such hypotheticals?

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In the land of recounting good things:

We went to Four Peaks last night for dinner. I wanted chicken salad, and battered french fries sounded good in the way that high potassium foods do after sweaty exercise.

(Had a pretty good morning of disc. My compatriots might not agree since the numbers were a little thin, but I had fun. The timing of my cuts seemed better than it has been. It would be nice if that continues tonight. I’m still having problems with my short backhand. I had an easy put to Reif, who had worked to get open on Nabity, and totally biffed it. I need to improve that without getting neurotic about it.)

Since the weather was less than scalding, we walked. By the time we reached the restaurant, I had decided to have a beer. Usually, that’s an easy choice, but I’m trying to be slightly fiscally responsible and figured it was an expense to cut. Until beer sounded good in the way that beer can after sweaty exercise. As is habit at Four Peaks, I asked if there was any seasonal brew available. There was, and it’s possibly the best beer I’ve had. It is a bourbon-barrel-aged Kiltlifter. In general, Kiltlifter is one of my favorites. It’s a flavorful amber with a decent alcohol percentage and little bite. The waitress described the barrel-aged version as having a noticeable whiskey taste. Not a whiskey drinker, I can’t tell if it did or didn’t. What the bourbon-barrel Kiltlifter did have was a tiny bit more sweetness and a smoothness that I’m not sure I’ve previously experience in beer. Eric tasted it and agreed that if he were forced to drink a beer, that one might be it. High praise indeed from Eric.

Dissecting a Pet Peeve

I am a science fan. ‘Round about 40 years ago, it was easier to be a groupee. How many scientists were born from the dream-become-reality of walking on the moon? Our world is becoming what science fiction used to be, yet it’s harder to be a fan of science.

Eighty percent of my science related pet peeve is summed up with this cartoon:


Science News Cycle

The news industry does a grave injustice to science. It over-hypes the results of small preliminary studies. Headlines often use the most hysterical language to report things. A recent Salon article (Why America is flunking science) touches on Hollywood misrepresenting science, but more damage is done by reporters who don’t understand the scientific method writing to an audience that doesn’t understand the scientific method. When the results of some minor early study are over-exposed and demonized, the public loses confidence in science when a further study shows a reverse trend. It sometimes seems that even scientists forget that the most important part of science is retesting, refining, and reassessing when more data is available. Science is the search for how the world works and how to make the world work for us; not the search for a definitive answer based on a half-understood model of how the world works.

Hollywood is not free of fault. I understand Crichton’s argument in the Salon article. Science and scientists are good drama devices, though I’m not a fan of negative science fiction (which is fairly prominent in literature as well). But to some degree, science can still be a "villain" without sacrificing sense of wonder. While "Doctor Who" is pretty far from scientific rigor, it is optimistic science fiction despite the occasional killer robots. The Doctor and his companions see I’ve also been watching the BBC’s "Eleventh Hour" which has a big science villain every episode but also a protagonist that marvels at how far science can and will take us. (I haven’t seen the American version.)

Still, it’s extremely annoying when TV shows and movies (and books) ignore the basics of how the world works (which is the basis of science, after all). Octagonal paper is used, and all you need to interface with the alien spacecraft is a trusty Mac. Blood is often red and gooey weeks after a murder. Pistols are incredibly accurate at long range. Technologies aren’t developed through thousands of man-hours by a team of men and women, but by one rich super-genius. It all adds up to a very distorted view of how the world works and how science works. And sadly, in many cases, what movies and TV get wrong could easily be put right. I deal with this often in the fictional world that Eric and I are creating. The easy short-cut or the stylish detail is sometimes off the mark as far as reality is concerned. These things are a hassle to correct, but the fictional world I’m creating is much richer when the flaws are fixed and there is continuity in the way the universe works. Why wouldn’t I expect as much from depictions of our own reality?

Shiny Bits of the Internet

A look at bloggers/forum posters that fake their own deaths: The death bloggers.
I’ve had a similar experience though it didn’t involve the poster’s death. This person was continuously the victim of drama. The details of her stories were very inconsistent and it became obvious that she wasn’t being truthful with members of the community. It pretty much drove the forum apart when some of us began to express skeptical opinions of her tales.

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Two unrelated “media” links:
The Geek Beat: Why Can’t Geek Girls Be … Girls? – Cinematical
Comparing the BBFC and the MPAA, and How Antichrist Illustrates The Differences | /Film

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A splash of science:

Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted – NYTimes.com
Science at its best: “What we thought we knew might be wrong because the system is more complex than we expected and now we know more.” I’m not being sarcastic; this is the thing I love most about the scientific process. In general, more would get done in the world if people were willing to look at evidence and admit when they’re wrong.

Mixing memory with reality can bring pleasure to the routine: Scientific American Blog

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And the every-so-often ebook links of note:

SF Signal: eBook Readers, or, How To Miss The Point:

I want an eBook reader which not only lets me comfortably read my books – and by comfortably, I mean forgettably: right now, I cannot get immersed in something I’m reading in an eBook reader; I cannot forget I am reading it on an eBook reader – and I want something that also allows me to comfortably do other things.

I agree. I’ve always believe that if books went electronic, they should be better than *mere* books. But I’ve also noticed that I’ve become pretty comfortable reading on my laptop. Most of what I’m reading for FiestaCon is online or downloaded. The Davidson story is being offered as a pretty poor quality PDF. Jekyll & Hyde I read in text form with Notebook++. Format has become less important to me. But still, there are some interesting things you could do with electronic books. Texts can be linked and interlinked. They could even be non-linear without the confines of cover and pages. No one seems to be interested in doing those things either.

J.A. Konrath offers his opinions on where the ebook might take the publishing industry: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Should E-Books Be Cheap?
Seems that Konrath is making decent money by offering his books through Amazon for cheap. But he can do that. He’s an established author with a following. That’s not going to work as well for the publishing newbie. Still, as I’ve said before, this is an interesting time in publishing.

Science! (of migraines)

Was intrigued by:
Fight Migraine: Be nice to your Mitochondria:

To get to the key point – these researchers believe that certain variations – SNPs – may be associated with gastric emptying, and even pain. The same variations are related to migraine, and childhood cyclic vomiting syndrome (which in many cases is probably abdominal migraine).

I hadn’t heard of this, but honestly haven’t kept up on my migraine research, so I figured I’d do a little research of my own, starting with the sited article:
Many blockquotes to follow: