On the Limitations of Science

Most scientific papers are probably wrong,” by Kurt Kleiner, New Scientist, 30 August 2005, http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7915 (from Slashdot).

Quoted in full:

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

“We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery,” Ioannidis says.

In the paper, Ioannidis does not show that any particular findings are false. Instead, he shows statistically how the many obstacles to getting research findings right combine to make most published research wrong.
Massaged conclusions

Traditionally a study is said to be “statistically significant” if the odds are only 1 in 20 that the result could be pure chance. But in a complicated field where there are many potential hypotheses to sift through – such as whether a particular gene influences a particular disease – it is easy to reach false conclusions using this standard. If you test 20 false hypotheses, one of them is likely to show up as true, on average.

Odds get even worse for studies that are too small, studies that find small effects (for example, a drug that works for only 10% of patients), or studies where the protocol and endpoints are poorly defined, allowing researchers to massage their conclusions after the fact.

Surprisingly, Ioannidis says another predictor of false findings is if a field is “hot”, with many teams feeling pressure to beat the others to statistically significant findings.

But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

“When I read the literature, I’m not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I’m reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that’s something to think about,” he says.

Now, if only some one would have already said this….

Ice Cream Pie Recipe

From mother-of-tdaxp

The receipe calls for you to melt 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar on stove top (keep stirring takes only a minute or two) and then you just stir that into about a quart of softening icecream – not runny soft though. Actually I have adapted and used much less of the concotion and it tastes just as good and is healthier – you could go the same amount of p. butter and brown suger to a whole half gallon of vanilla ice cream. Then pour it into a graham cracker pie shell and freeze hard – or just pour it into glasses and drink like a blizzard. After freezing the pie you drizzle on some fudge topping (might have to warm the fudge topping in microwave to make it soft enough)

Warrior X

Has the Maturing of Generation-X prompted the rise of ‘New Dude Cinema’?,” by Movie Marketing Blog, 9 August 2005, http://www.indiescene.net/archives/Comedy/Has-the-Maturing-of-.html.

Generation X – Dudes Growing Up,” by Nellie Lide, New Persuasion, 14 August 2005, http://newpersuasion.typepad.com/new_persuasion/2005/08/generation_x_du.html.

Nellie Lide’s New Persuasion blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Madam Lide writes mostly about branding, but almost all of her posts can be generalized to struggle. In her latest post, she uses an article at Movie Marketing blog about male “Generation X” actors — men from their mid twenties to mid forties

1. A Desire for Adolescence

The New Dude company of actors, dubbed the “frat pack,” includes Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and the stars of Wedding Crashers. Unlike the dude comedies of a generation ago, these new films’ heroes aren’t fighting the system — they’re fighting maturity. You see this phenomenon everywhere. Whether it’s Esquire or Adult Swim or Xbox, the modern man is battling to stay in a perpetual adolescence where you never have to grow up, but you get to have tons of cool gadgets and expensive material possessions anyway. Remember how you always told yourself that those fraternity blockheads would be in big trouble once they entered the real world? Well, guess what happened? There’s a whole industry devoted to them now.

2. Family-focused

As they embark upon middle age, the oldest Xers are coming into their own for the first time, generational experts say. They’re getting married, starting families and embracing traditional values that set them apart from the “Me Generation’ of baby boomers.

3. A Desire for Fun

I actually think what Gen X brings to the table is something the baby boomers lack – A SENSE of FUN. Wedding Crashers is a hit because it’s fun and funny – and that’s something we baby boomers are picking up from the generation behind us. It’s starting to be found everywhere – from movies to work to church.

Adolescent, family-centered fun-seekers. A generation of natural tribal warriors.

DVDs Currently Checked Out From GreenCine

And yes, GreenCine is a better online DVD rental source than NetFlix

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In The Realms of the Unreal

” Award-winning short filmmaker Jessica Yu makes her feature-length debut with In the Realms of the Unreal, a documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger. Born in 1892, Darger lived in Chicago and worked as a janitor for most of his life. When he died in 1972, his landlord found his life’s work: The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (often simply referred to as The Realms). A massive, multiple-volume fantasy novel, The Realms also contains nearly 300 illustrations of collages, drawings, and paintings. Rather than interview art scholars and psychologists, Yu chooses to look at Darger’s work from the viewpoints of those who knew him. Yu also incorporates animation segments into the documentary, using Darger’s original images. In the Realms of the Unreal was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the documentary competition. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide”

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Manufacturing Consent

” The Canadian documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media presents a lengthy, detailed look at the political beliefs of celebrated intellectual Noam Chomsky. Casting only passing glances at Chomsky’s groundbreaking work in the field of linguistics and his eventful life, filmmakers Mark Achbar and Peter Witonick instead focus on his activities as a political dissident and media critic. Particular attention is paid to his contention that the American mass media serves as a form of “thought control in a democratic society,” with major news organizations systematically bending the truth to support the status quo. Chomsky defends this belief in numerous public appearances, lectures, and debates, siting as examples the widely divergent media treatment of genocidal activities in Cambodia and East Timor and the unquestioned acceptance of America’s Gulf War policy. While opposing viewpoints and rebuttals are sometimes aired, the filmmakers quite clearly are in general agreement with Chomsky and even include humorous visual illustrations of his political theories, utilizing stock footage, on-screen diagrams, and the like. Despite its clear favoritism, the film nevertheless succeeds in making a thought-provoking case for these ideas and provides an intriguing glimpse into the life of a complex, driven thinker. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide”

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Word Wars

” The directorial debut of filmmakers Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo, Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Circuit is a humorous documentary look at the culture surrounding the National Scrabble Tournament. Focusing on four players in particular, the film details the intense competitions that lead up to the finals in San Diego, where each of the competitors hopes to take home the 25,000-dollar prize. Premiering at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Word Wars screened as part of the documentary competition. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide”

SecretWar (5GW)

U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba,” by David Ruppe, ABC News, 1 May 2001.

Fifth Generation Warfare?,” by William Lind, On War #53, 3 February 2004, http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_2_03_04.htm (from ZenPundit).

Limitations of 5GW,” by Curtis Gale Weeks, Phatic Communion, 2 August 2005, http://www.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2005/08/limitations_of.php.

Conspiracies & the London Bombings,” interview of Alex Jones by George Noory, Coast to Coast AM, 2 August 2005, http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2005/08/02.html.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about 5th Generation Warfare (5GW). 5GW, or SecretWar, is the next generation of warfare from the 4GW, which was created by Mao and Ho. SecretWar relies on conspiracy to shape what an enemy observes.

On August 2nd, Curtis of Phatic Communion wrote an essay on the nature of 5GW. On the same day, Arab-American radio host and veteran George Noory interviewed Alex Jones on the possibility that America is under attack from a blinding conspiracy right now. Curtis’ speculations on the nature of a possible SecretWar work nicely with Noory’s and Jones’ claims of an ongoing secret war, so as I respond to Curtis I will quote from the Noory-Jones interview.

I have been delinquent in my blogging, for the last however many days, because recent discussions concerning “fifth-generation warfare” have left me unsatisfied to the point that other considerations, on other topics, have seemed pointless. Often when I’m in a muddle, I withdraw to Emerson and others, in an effort to reacquaint myself with all the old arguments that have thus far shaped my outlook (pro- or con-); and certain irregularities in the discussion of 5GW seem to have been clarified in my reading of those works.

First and foremost, the consideration that 5GW entities would likely be small but determined forces seemed too fanciful: Small 5GW forces would defeat whole societies; but, whole societies are composed of many small forces.

Later on in the article Curtis explains how a small force can defeat a large culture, but it is also important to see why a 5GW or SecretWar army will be small.

I won’t go into the generations of conflict right now, but I will quite from William Lind, the genius who invented the concept of “generations of warfare” in the first place

One simple test for whether or not something constitutes a generational shift is that, absent a vast disparity in size, an army from a previous generation cannot beat a force from the new generation. The Second Generation French Army of 1940 could not defeat the Third Generation Wehrmacht, even thought the French had more tanks and better tanks than the Germans. The reason I do not think the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon mark a generational shift is that Wellington consistently beat the French, and the British Army he led remained very much an 18th century army.”

So a 5GW will be small because a every generation has a greater economy of force than the one before it. If a SecretWar army couldn’t be substantially smaller than a 4GW army, then SecretWar wouldn’t be 5GW at all.

Back to Curtis:

Secondly, if attacking the intelligence is the primary modus operandi of the 5GW force, that force would need to be, er, quite intelligent indeed in order to have any hope of success. Intelligence can take many forms, but whatever form is operative would need to be highly developed. Moreover, that intelligence would need an extraordinary understanding — a fundamental comprehension — of the targeted society or force.

Yes and no. Winners aren’t stupid, but that does not mean that a winner needs to intellectually understand either his opponent or his strategy. Victory often comes from fingertip feeling or “fingerspitzengefuhl. A winning warrior needs good implicit knowledge than explicit knowledge, because intuition is used more often than decision making.

Thirdly, as mentioned in my last entry on 5GW, no society is homogenous. Any 5GW entity would need to target the most influential members of a society (thereby spreading the 5GWarrior’s influence, as with a megaphone or a ripple effect) in an effort to influence that society’s dominant decision makers, or would need to create situations most likely to influence those who vote for or otherwise support the decision makers — but in an open society such as America’s, or indeed almost certainly in any society, individuals or groups of individuals will exist who are not so easily fooled: the disenfranchised, the sub- and counter-cultural groups — in short: those who do not subscribe to the worldviews shared by most members of that society.

Compare with Alex Jones:

“The establishment lied about the new world order, they lied about their plants to build a one world government, they lied about their plants to tax the internet, they lied about their plans for cloning, they lied about Prozac and Ritalin, they lied about sodium chloride, they lied about mercury in the vaccines, they lied about depleted uranium, they lied about 9/11, they lied about Oklahoma City, they lied about the first world trade center, so now, just automatically, people are being skeptical and not believing the official line. And I say that’s very healthy. “

Some 5GW discussion has addressed the types of defense required to protect a society from fifth-generation warfare. >The greatest defense is the overwhelming unlikelihood that all the people will be fooled all the time, and it is a natural defense.

I disagree. As Curtis previously said, “Any 5GW entity would need to target the most influential members of a society.” Universal buy-in has never been a prerequisite for power.

To see how an open society would fight a SecretWar, consider a core competency chart

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Core Competencies of Open Society and Secret Warriors
Compare to Tight and Loose Networks

The point of greatest resistance for an Open Society attacking SecretWarriors is in the realm of Secret Networks.

A good Open Society warrior might overcome this difference, training to use secret networks to his advantage…

But a great Open Society warrior will force his enemy to fight in the way that gives Open Society forces an unfair advantage, and SecretWarriors an unfair disadvantage.

SecretWarriors fight best in the shadows and worst in the light, so the defending Open Society warrior must make the SecretWarriors fight in the light. The best defense against SecretWar is open government. The more the public can know about the government, the quickly any “conspiracies” or would-be conspiracies will be exposed. This will degenerate the SecretWarrior army into a political faction or party — something open society routinely deals with on the terms of the society.

Back to Curtis:

The chance that some small but highly organized force will have the intelligence and knowledge required to fool most of the people of a much larger society most of the time is similarly small. Larger 5GW forces (say, nations), though they may have a larger supply of highly intelligent operatives or masterminds, will draw more attention because they have more fingers and more fingerprints: another strike against 5GW activity.

True, but int he same way the chance that some small but effectively organized force will have the intelligence and knowledge required to fight a decades-long guerrilla war is small. That’s why America only had lost three 4GWs, not four-hundred.

The greatest weakness for a democratic society in combating 5GW — say, America — is the doctrine of “majority rule.” Those who do not participate in the system or indeed who oppose the political system also do not wield the power that has been concentrated (consecrated) at the topmost level of that majority. A 5GW force, should one of sufficient ability ever form, would only need to influence the majority and the leaders of that majority

To quote Alex Jones

“I’m not saying George Bush is behind 9/11. I’m saying interests that control George Bush, interest that control Bill Clinton, interests that basically own our politicians like pieces of real estate, they did.”

That’s how a SecretWar would happen – the President wouldn’t be a SecretWarrior, but he would be a tool of the SecretWarrior.

or indeed create a majority will via stimuli such as catastrophes (“natural” or man-made), and sit back to watch the application of a force which it knows will rebound on that society.

Alex Jones believed this happened with the 7/7 and 7/21 London transit attacks

“We know the government was funding it. We know the government had had warnings. We know the government was running drills. We got them!”

The close to a SecretWar that we know of was the proposed Operation Northwoods

“In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

“Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.”

More from Curtis Gale Weeks:

The disenfranchised (whether by self-determination or by exterior exclusion), the subcultural or countercultural elements, the criminals and hermits of a society, are likely to be the canaries in the mine: A 5GW force will use the weight of the dominant segment(s) of society against that society and not waste effort on the seemingly powerless members of that society, and the oddball elements of a society are more likely to be sensitive to changes in the majority opinion than those who hold the majority opinion. (I’m not excluding the 5GW potential for using criminal elements and homeland terrorists against a society, however.)

The problem with “subcultural or counter-cultural elements” to warn society about a SecretWar attack is that they will be ignored. Alex Jones, George Noory, and the rest of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are warning us of a textbook SecretWar right now:

“”When we say ‘the government’ we’re oversimplifying. There are corporate interests that are bigger than most governments that basically can steer and manipulate our government — the largest and most powerful in the world — and their goal is to expand that control over our population, to basically use us as an engine of global domination. This has been stated in major public white papers by different sectors of the elite. So when I talk about ‘the government’ engaging in different criminal activities, we’re talking about very small, clandestine groups within intelligence and security agencies — but — those small clandestine groups are up at the very top of the pyramidal power structure, and so through compartmentalization they’re able to manipulate and steer our society
“”Isn’t it also accurate, though, to say rather than ‘government,’ ‘a group of individuals who are doing something for their own sinister means’?”
“”Absolutely…. People all the time say, ‘Well, a ‘grand conspiracy with the whole government?” I’m in the government! My husband’s in the government! Are you saying they’re evil?’ Absolutely not.”

and society ignores them.

Any real SecretWar attack met with warnings that are lost in the background noise is the same as a SecretWar without warning.

I can easily imagine the formation of a counter-5GW development in a targeted society: If a small 5GW attacker succeeds in manipulating the wielders of conventional power and the conventional power brokers, a small 5GW defender may mobilize within the targeted society. The oddness of such an event is quite pertinent: The 5GW defender may or may not know of the true attacker; but either way, the defender may appear to be attacking the dominant elements of the society to which he belongs. (Those dominant elements have already been motivated to follow a self-destructive path, if a 5GW attacker has been successful.)

Again, the best defense against SecretWar is Open Government.

A brilliant 5GW attack might indeed include, perhaps will require?, instigation of civil war, particularly if the targeted society is a large, highly developed and complex society; but then, perhaps there would still exist the possibility that the counter-5GW force will win and then turn on the original attacking 5GW force?

An interesting thought. If a SecretNetwork could “latch on” to visible political movements (say, neocons and theocons), the SecretWarriors will benefit from polarization as the ideologies they are subverting benefit from it.