Assorted links

by on January 11, 2011 at 10:09 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1 Ted Craig January 11, 2011 at 6:19 am

2. That has so many meanings.

2 Zach K January 11, 2011 at 7:35 am

1) the "science reporting" label is a misnomer to begin with.

3 Harry January 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

1. She doesn't even acknowledge most of the facts listed in the article she links to! I could barely understand what she was talking about. I can't believe some of the stuff that the Huffington Post publishes under celebrity bylines. One of the worst "journalistic" practices going on anywhere.

4 John Thacker January 11, 2011 at 8:10 am

is it really acceptable to call someone an "autism activist" if she is actively distracting minds and resources away from actual understanding and help, inexorably steering towards complete nonsense?

Why not, we call people "poverty activists" when they do the same in my opinion. Generally we let people define themselves how they want, otherwise you get dragged into endless complaints about how the "pro-choice" aren't actually pro all choices, and the "pro-life" aren't actually pro all lives, etc.

5 Brian January 11, 2011 at 8:47 am

The McCarthy article is clearly not science "reporting" nor are any op-ed pieces. TC should be above attempts at cheap amusement that should be reserved for 4chan or other mindless message boards.

"Haw haw, I saw her nude and now she thinks she can have an opinion about something."


6 Tom Grey January 11, 2011 at 9:03 am

#3 is crucial — individuals suffering unemployment lose their wage stickiness downward at some point.

Probably many of them will become supporters of gov't spending cuts and less generous retirement benefits for the gov't sector.

Recommendation: all civilian gov't workers making 3x more than the median should be converted into part time workers, with new gov't jobs offered at median wage (or less), explicitly looking to use gov't work somewhat as an employment buffer.

7 anonymous January 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

Generally we let people define themselves how they want, otherwise you get dragged into endless complaints about how the "pro-choice" aren't actually pro all choices, and the "pro-life" aren't actually pro all lives, etc.

Actually, the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" no longer seem to be used much anymore in the mainstream media. The standard terms (at least in TV news) now seem to be "supports abortion rights" and "opposes abortion rights". This is a bit problematic, since the media are not supposed to take sides, but a "right" is by definition inalienable. If something is truly a "right", then no one could legitimately oppose it.

Oddly though, it's never "supports gun rights" and "opposes gun rights". It's always "opposes gun control" and "supports gun control".

8 dirk January 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

Scott Sumner has made one of the best critiques of the Zero Marginal Product Workers theory in his comments:

"I don’t see why firms would hire workers with zero marginal product, or why that would change dramatically over time if it did occur. Let’s take restaurants, for instance, which is a huge industry. Is the marginal product of restaurant workers much different from a few years ago? Maybe, but I just don’t see it."

9 Sigivald January 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

Brian: Note the content of her piece.

It's claiming to present scientific information, not just opinion. (And even if it was, it'd be… opinion about scientific subjects.

She doesn't get a pass on how incredibly bad her understanding and comprehension is simply because she's not a scientist.

Note that Mr. Cowen made no comments at all, implicit or explicit, about her "non-scientific" activities. He didn't even mention her name in the link, let alone make some sort of crack about her previous career(s).

She can have an opinion all she wants. The content of that opinion is laughably incompetent in this case, and Mr. Cowen's "worst science reporting ever" label is apt. (The fact that it's somehow notionally an editorial does not change the fact that she claims to be commenting on a scientific subject, and is doing so with immense incompetence.)

Anonymous: If rights are inalienable by definition, why the mention of "inalienable rights" in 18th century writings such as the US Constitution? It'd be redundant, and thus nobody would bother.

The distinction between natural (and inalienable) rights and purely legal ones is old, common, and well-established. I submit that rights are not definitional inalienable as a class; only the natural rights would be.

10 Andrew January 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

If it's so easy, why does the vaccine side (why are their 'sides'?) have such a hard time making their case? Why do both sides care so much about single papers?

11 David N January 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Doug, if I write that your comment is the worst I've seen in some time, which interest group am I implicitly attacking?

12 Anderson January 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Doug's comment seems well-intentioned, but it misses the money trail. McCarthy is profiting from the anxiety of thousands of parents whose children are disabled by a strange disorder whose cause is not understood. They desperately want to believe there is something they can do to make their children whole and well. And they will spend whatever they have in hopes of achieving their goal.

If you've never googled "autism," try it and see how many websites there are peddling cures: diets, chelation, alleged "medicines," god knows what. Teeming with anecdotes of this really worked, written by … real parents? hucksters? Who knows?

McCarthy is at best a tool for the autism industry. She's also a player in it. How much money she makes from her books etc. I don't know; how she spends it I can't say.

13 Careless January 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

The McCarthy article is clearly not science "reporting" nor are any op-ed pieces. TC should be above attempts at cheap amusement that should be reserved for 4chan or other mindless message boards.

When she no longer has forums like huffpo giving her a highly visible presence allowing her to be a public health hazard, then it would be a cheap shot or unworthy of scorn. At the moment, however, we're talking about an uneducated nut who is threatening our health.

14 Andrew January 12, 2011 at 3:00 am

Wow, Borealis explains it well. These people are all talking past eachother. I wonder how many people actually read what McCarthy said. are her questions so preposterous?

One paper implicated MMR. Then somehow we got to the point that if that paper wasn't correct then that means vaccines are all good (most papers are not correct btw, and even data manipulation is not uncommon, that is after all why we have 'science' because 'science' kind of sucks, but it's absolutely not fragile in the way a lot of people seem to think). Since when has any medical intervention, let alone vaccines, had no side-effects? When did science attain the status of unquestionable? Why so much hullabaloo over one single paper? Doesn't that say something? A wise man once asked "why so serious?"

What I've seen Jenny McCarthy say, on YouTube videos for example, seems fairly sensible. "Why 20+ vaccines?" for example. Seems like a fair question. I haven't read all her books and what people think she has said based on what 'the scientific consensus' told them may not be all that reasonable.

It's interesting. I'm sure it's mostly sampling bias, but the Deer report is the only 'paper' by a journalist I've seen in a medical journal. I thought science was for scientists…anyway, that doesn't mean anything other than it makes it very interesting how definitive his charges are all of a sudden. I guess we expect scientists to be tempted to distort science to make a name for themselves (and they are, which is one reason scientists are the biggest enemies of science, science-in on sense-chugs along fine without them) but journalists are to be trusted implicitly.

15 Andrew January 12, 2011 at 8:58 am

"We've wasted astronomical amounts of time and money on snipe hunts that could have gone towards more promising research on autism."

Who did that, exactly? It seems to me it was mostly the people trying to 'prove the negative' with vaccines.

There are no 'moving goal posts' and there is no 'anti-vaccine crowd.' This is science. This type of thinking is why I don't think the 'science crowd' really understands what science is.

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