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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  19:57:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok. But wrong about what, and how do we know?

If you mean... he was wrong in saying "God does not play dice with the universe", I do not even know how to start testing that.

Enlighten me.

Naturally,
Einstein was human, he was wrong about something for sure. But when it came to his theories, he was right, right, and right despite those calling him an idiot, he was right about so many things for his era.

He took two laws of physics of his time... the law of conservation of energy, the law of conservation of mass, and proved them both wrong (as an absolute "law") and combined them into a new "law", the law of conservation of mass energy, by the now famous equation of E=mc2. Has anyone since changed a law of physics?


I believe he was a clerk in the patent office of the Swiss government when he had these original thoughts, well outside the authoritarian structure of academia. I may be mistaken. My memory fails me sometimes.

Ted.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  20:18:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Also see:

Mythbusting the Cholesterol Myths #8232;

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  20:30:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
for Kil
But there is plenty of evidence from multiple avenues of research to show that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and that lowering it reduces risk. A Lancet article from December 2007 reviewed trials involving nearly a million people and found that “Total cholesterol was positively associated with IHD [ischemic heart disease] mortality in both middle and old age and at all blood pressure levels.”


Ok Do you think that correlation is causation?

Frankly, I think The Cholesterol Myths is a load of crap.


Does this mean you believe that the primary cause of CVD, postulated as chronic inflammation, is wrong? That homocysteine levels are not a better predictor? That lipid specialists are all "full of crap"?

You are entitled to your opinion, but take a look at the science. As I understand it, the cholesterol theorists do not have a cure or remedy, beyond suppressing symptoms and using physical means to fix the plumbing.

As I said, I did not want to get into this raging debate, as it could consume hours and hours of time, and the judgment of history will arrive in about 5 years or so.

While other people talk, I put my life on the line for my beliefs. When my cardiologist was booking my bypass, I declined and instead I cut my homocysteine levels, took niacin and fish oils (against my cardioligist's advice, but following my endocrinologists advice (battle of the experts)) and 18 years later, I am alive and well. Now, that's commitment!

To be fair, I do take nattokinase (Japanese research results) as a blood thinner to prevent heart attacks.

Ted

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  20:31:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

No, I do not wish to imply that. What I will state firmly is that one can not roll over and accept whatever an "expert" says, especially if the expert is speaking in an area possibly outside of his expertise.
That's absolutely true. Linus Pauling's horrible "orthomolecular medicine" is a great example of that.
I apply my own life experiences, personal values and thinking process to everything, whether I have a degree in that subject or not.
Good for you. What do you do in areas in which you are totally ignorant and have had no experiences?
When challenged by a government science auditor with many fancy degrees to his name, we were denied tax status for my project. I hired a person with appropriate degrees to rephrase the wording of the project (cost $40,000) and re-applied. We were given over a million dollars in Scientific Research and Experimental Development grants. I am not sure what lesson to take from this. That new thoughts have to be phrased a certain way? That one should always have important documents include an "expert" (lawyer, accountant, PHd) to lend credibility?
You should take from that experience that grant-writing is an art, more politics than science. People with higher degrees pretty much have to learn grant-writing in order to get their thesis projects funded, so they're better at it than unlettered folks.
At the point of the audit, our language was already working and producing results. This seemed to confuse the auditor. He kept saying, "how could it be research if it already worked?"
Auditors are experts at auditing, not necessarily what they're auditing.
I used my 5th GL to develop an insurance application that was sold in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil. Then I had a heart attack and started learning about CVD. I don't think I need a degree to apply reason and logic to the problem of CVD, especially not in the specific instance of my personal biochemistry.
In the case of your specific biochemistry, you can develop no theories, because all of your evidence will either be anecdotal or have a sample size of 1. Sure, you don't need a degree, but it might help you not feel like you need to guess, as you admitted to doing.
So, my life experience is that the academic approach is very valuable, but the underlying thinking process does not require a degree.
Of course it doesn't require a degree. If it did, then nobody would have a degree of any sort.
I am sure we have all heard of the breakthrough thinking that comes from outside the "establishment". History is full of these lessons, from the germ theory, development of penicillin, etc.
History is also full of cranks and quacks who remained deservedly outside the establishment their entire lives.
When it comes to cholesterol in the blood, I have much more faith in the experts who are NOT cardiologists but medical researchers specializing in lipid research.
The latter's research sets the standards of care that the former follow. You're unlikely to find a medical researcher specializing in lipid research who will take you on as a regular patient.
By the way, the plumbing analogy might work well here. Draino will clear many (not all) clogs, no plumber needed. Iodine will dissolve wax. Cholesterol is a wax. I will not get into the raging debate surrounding cholesterol, but suffice it to say that books by respected medical professionals and researchers are written on the subject. The Cholesterol Myth is one such, with lots of referenced scientific studies.
And I'm sure that there are lots of scientific studies which say the opposite of what that book says.
Part of the problem with "medical science" is the cost of research. However, the cost of doing science does not change the conclusions of science. It simply delays finding out the truth (or, more correctly, proving the value of a new theory) until the monies are made available.
The cost of medical research is due, in no small part, to the necessary ethical oversight. Without it, there'd be a bazillion times more Vioxx-style screw-ups than truly working drugs.

You also wrote:
You may be right, but then, Einstein disagrees. I believe the operative quote is "God does not play dice with the universe".
And one of his contemporaries allegedly responded to that quip with, "Albert, stop telling God what to do."

Aside from H.'s completely correct assessment that Einstein was wrong, the problem is that we know that General Relativity is wrong. It gives wrong answers in extreme situations, like inside black holes. Otherwise, it models gravity very well, but it does not say anything about how mass creates gravity. And so, it is a theory with two big gaping holes in it. And even if those holes didn't exist, General Relativity still wouldn't explain (for example) our three-color vision, simply because it's wholly unsuitable to do so. Einstein would have agreed with that.
Not to imply I agree with everything he said. But I do agree with this, attributed to Einstein:
... a paraphrase... "if you know your subject well, you can explain it to your grandmother."

Yeah... I buy that !
Einstein also said that there are two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, but he wasn't sure about the universe.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  20:49:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

Ok. But wrong about what, and how do we know?

If you mean... he was wrong in saying "God does not play dice with the universe", I do not even know how to start testing that.
Oh, forcryingoutloud, you "test" it by learning what Einstein was talking about. When Einstein said "God does not play dice," he meant that nature isn't random. He was arguing against the stochastic, probabilistic nature of quantum physics, and in favor of a completely deterministic universe. He was quite dogmatic about it, trying again and again to eliminate chance from quantum physics until the day he died. He was completely wrong, and wouldn't admit it.
Naturally,
Einstein was human, he was wrong about something for sure. But when it came to his theories, he was right, right, and right despite those calling him an idiot, he was right about so many things for his era.
He was wrong, wrong, wrong about quantum physics.
He took two laws of physics of his time... the law of conservation of energy, the law of conservation of mass, and proved them both wrong (as an absolute "law") and combined them into a new "law", the law of conservation of mass energy, by the now famous equation of E=mc2. Has anyone since changed a law of physics?
You are seriously arguing that in the last 100 years, there have been no changes to the laws of physics?! Wow! There are only thousands of physicists who would disagree with that, including the dozens of physicists who have received Nobel Prizes for showing that the laws of physics needed to be changed.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:01:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good for you. What do you do in areas in which you are totally ignorant and have had no experiences?


What does anyone do? What do you do?
First, I Google it.
Then, I apply logic as I know it, judgment and the "smell test". This is somewhat intuitive, but works for me most of the time. It involves things like considering the possible publication bias, or selective data collection, or just institutional inertia, among other things.

Of course, it need not be said that I also canvas those I respect who may have information on the subject. For example, my brother in-law is a medical doctor. Off the record, he tells me things that one does not tend to get "on the record". I also have a daughter in law who is very good at statistics. She points out how... as Mark Twain said "there's liars, damn liars and statisticians". We are all familiar with the phenomena of spin doctors.

That's absolutely true. Linus Pauling's horrible "orthomolecular medicine" is a great example of that.
Not familiar with where he was wrong... but I have not researched this. So, what makes a cardiologist a lipid specialist? Admittedly I only met a few (4 or 5 Canadians, 2 Americans), but the few I met were hell bent on doing "plumbing" or pushing a drug that they could not explain how it worked. (yes, they pointed out correlations, but not causation, at least not to me). Other specialists suggested niacin, but not a single one of my cardiologists. Worrisome.

In the case of your specific biochemistry, you can develop no theories, because all of your evidence will either be anecdotal or have a sample size of 1. Sure, you don't need a degree, but it might help you not feel like you need to guess, as you admitted to doing.

I guess at everything, am certain of little.

A car drove over the boundary between England and Scotland. As they crossed, the astronomer in the car said "look, the cottages in Scotland are painted black". The mathematician in the car said "you can not say that, all you can say is that at least one cottage in Scotland is painted black." The systems analyst in the car said "you are both guessing. All you can really say is that at least on cottage in Scotland is painted black on the side we can see". This sums up my attitude quite well.


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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:17:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
in the case of your specific biochemistry, you can develop no theories, because all of your evidence will either be anecdotal or have a sample size of 1. Sure, you don't need a degree, but it might help you not feel like you need to guess, as you admitted to doing.


with all due respect, you have it backwards.


When it comes to a sample of one, that is all that is needed to potentially DISPROVE a theory.

How many faster than light spaceships do I have to build?

How many faster than the wind vehicles do I have to build to prove the experts wrong?

Will one not do?

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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:33:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, forcryingoutloud, you "test" it by learning what Einstein was talking about. When Einstein said "God does not play dice," he meant that nature isn't random.


I must disagree. You do not "test" by learning, you test by testing. Admittedly, you need to know what it is you are testing for.

Einstein did not believe in "spooky action at a distance" and other concepts. But until you get into the realm of the very small, or the extreme, his theories are better, based on evidence, than the theories he replaced.

And true, quantum physics (of which there is more than one flavour (CDN spelling) does answer questions his theory does not. But then, it depends on how one defines "answer". Basically, quantum physics does not answer "how" or "why" per single instance, but as a statistical probability. Simply put, half of a radioactive substance will reliably deteriorate in its "half life". But look at a single atom in that element, and we do not know if it will deteriorate in the next second or in a thousand years. We can calculate a probability, but that's it. As far as I know, there is no theory that explains why one particular atom will emit radiation the next second, while another atom of the same element within a millimeter of it will not emit radiation for a year. That was the quandary that plagued Einstein. He did not believe there was no answer. He was not "wrong" any more than quantum physics is right in any particular instance for a particular atom. Quantum physics describes a probability, not the reason why (in this case). So, pick one atom, explain why it does something like decay in any specific split second. Both Einstein and quantum theory can not do it.

This does not imply both theories are wrong, just inadequate, with quantum theory giving some additional information (a probability).

Ted.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:41:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Farseeker:
Ok Do you think that correlation is causation?


Of course not. (Was that supposed to be a trick question?)

But correlation can sometimes strongly suggest a causative factor. Depends on the sample size and results from experimentation and studies. Cholesterol as a risk factor CVD (no one is saying it's the only risk factor, just one of them) is well established.
Farseeker:
Does this mean you believe that the primary cause of CVD, postulated as chronic inflammation, is wrong?

I'm saying that high levels of LDL's is a risk factor for CVD.
Farseeker:
As I said, I did not want to get into this raging debate, as it could consume hours and hours of time, and the judgment of history will arrive in about 5 years or so.

While other people talk, I put my life on the line for my beliefs. When my cardiologist was booking my bypass, I declined and instead I cut my homocysteine levels, took niacin and fish oils (against my cardioligist's advice, but following my endocrinologists advice (battle of the experts)) and 18 years later, I am alive and well. Now, that's commitment!

To be fair, I do take nattokinase (Japanese research results) as a blood thinner to prevent heart attacks.

What you do with your body is up to you. I'm happy for you that you have not had another heart attack or worse. But your anecdote only tells me what happened to you when you didn't take your doctors advice. That's a sample size of one. I have no doubt that you can find others. Perhaps even a whole book filled with strawmen and incomplete data in order to weight the case against cholesterol being a risk factor for CVD.

I'm sticking with the consensus because the sample size is millions.






Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:42:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

With all due respect, you have it backwards.
Not I.
When it comes to a sample of one, that is all that is needed to potentially DISPROVE a theory.
You really think that one sample is all that's needed to disprove the theory that high cholesterol is a risk factor for CVD? Either you don't understand the theory, you don't understand logic, or you don't understand what "risk factor" means.

I suspect it's the latter, since you think that Clinton's low cholesterol is somehow dispositive of the theory.

Let me put it to you this way: the "cholesterol theory" is not now, nor has it ever been, the idea that every single case of CVD is due to high cholesterol. You must be under that impression to think that a single contrary case even "potentially" disproves the theory.
How many faster than light spaceships do I have to build?

How many faster than the wind vehicles do I have to build to prove the experts wrong?

Will one not do?
Yes, and you only have to find one black swan to disprove the idea that all swans are white. But do disprove cholesterol theory, you'll have to show that a huge sampling of people with high cholesterol are no more likely to develop CVD than people with low cholesterol, since the theory doesn't even pretend to be universal, but only probabilistic.

Hey, perhaps that's why you don't understand why Einstein was wrong with his "God does not play dice" comment.

Farseeker, are you a philosophical determinist?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:43:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You are seriously arguing that in the last 100 years, there have been no changes to the laws of physics?! Wow! There are only thousands of physicists who would disagree with that, including the dozens of physicists who have received Nobel Prizes for showing that the laws of physics needed to be changed.


Taken in context, I was speaking of fundamental laws of physics of the magnitude of Law of conservation of Energy. Law of conservation of mass.

Sorry if you did not get my meaning from the context, but now that I have clarified it, have any laws of the magnitude of "law of conservation of energy" been changed since Einstein?

T.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  21:54:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

I must disagree. You do not "test" by learning, you test by testing.
When it comes to historical statements, you test by learning about what the person who made the statement meant by it. If your initial impression was wrong, your test failed.
Admittedly, you need to know what it is you are testing for.
And you did not.
Einstein did not believe in "spooky action at a distance" and other concepts.
Yes, and he was wrong about that, too.
But until you get into the realm of the very small, or the extreme, his theories are better, based on evidence, than the theories he replaced.
But that's irrelevant. With both the "dice" comment and the "spooky action at a distance" quote, Einstein was talking about the realm of the very small. They were specific criticisms by him of quantum physics. They weren't general aphorisms which might have applied to any realm of physics.
And true, quantum physics (of which there is more than one flavour (CDN spelling)...
Einstein was wrong about all of the flavors.
...does answer questions his theory does not. But then, it depends on how one defines "answer". Basically, quantum physics does not answer "how" or "why" per single instance, but as a statistical probability. Simply put, half of a radioactive substance will reliably deteriorate in its "half life". But look at a single atom in that element, and we do not know if it will deteriorate in the next second or in a thousand years. We can calculate a probability, but that's it. As far as I know, there is no theory that explains why one particular atom will emit radiation the next second, while another atom of the same element within a millimeter of it will not emit radiation for a year. That was the quandary that plagued Einstein. He did not believe there was no answer. He was not "wrong" any more than quantum physics is right in any particular instance for a particular atom. Quantum physics describes a probability, not the reason why (in this case). So, pick one atom, explain why it does something like decay in any specific split second. Both Einstein and quantum theory can not do it.

This does not imply both theories are wrong, just inadequate, with quantum theory giving some additional information (a probability).
Einstein's entire argument in "God does not play dice" was that the fact that the universe is probabilistic is wrong. Einstein was completely wrong about that.

You're trying to move the goalposts to save face by implying that this is a question of "reasons why," but Einstein wasn't talking about the reason why anymore than quantum physics does.

So, you were wrong about Einstein being "right, right, right." You should admit it and move on. Perhaps learn about why Einstein was wrong instead of fabricating poor excuses for why you weren't wrong. You're refusing to apply skepticism and logic to your own statements and knowledge, which just makes you a hypocrite. You're in a hole, and digging yourself deeper.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  22:13:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

Taken in context, I was speaking of fundamental laws of physics of the magnitude of Law of conservation of Energy. Law of conservation of mass.

Sorry if you did not get my meaning from the context, but now that I have clarified it, have any laws of the magnitude of "law of conservation of energy" been changed since Einstein?
The "magnitude" of any law of physics is necessarily subjective. All of them just are, but you're trying to elevate some over others in terms of importance. Since the laws are intricately and inextricably linked in all physical processes, which ones are more important or more "fundamental" than others is an artificial distinction with no relevance to the actual physical processes as they exist and occur on a microsecond-by-microsecond basis.

So, if you really want to argue that conservation of mass/energy is more important than the fact that neutrinos have mass (when a decade ago, almost everyone thought they were massless), I think you'll have an uphill battle. Especially since to the everyday Joe just trying to get through his day, neither one is of any importance at all.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/13/2010 :  23:19:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You want fundamental physics? Go listen to Lisa Randall talk about just how much very basic stuff we don't currently know, including the number of kinds of particles which exist.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  10:52:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So, if you really want to argue that conservation of mass/energy is more important than the fact that neutrinos have mass (when a decade ago, almost everyone thought they were massless), I think you'll have an uphill battle. Especially since to the everyday Joe just trying to get through his day, neither one is of any importance at all.


I was using the term "law" as the next step in certainty after theory. This is a classic definition, not suitable for the nuances of today's in depth research perhaps. But it is the common Joe's understanding.

From Wikiansers "Fact - Something that has been proven through direct observation and experiment.

Law - Something that has been proven scientifically and is codified as being a consistent results or fact.

Hypothesis: an educated guess on what the results of an experiment will be.

Theory: Believed to be a law or fact, it is usually the results of observation of many experiments and is an hypothesis that is yet to be proven as a law."

Yes, there are many other definitions of the difference, but the key point is that a theory and law have different connotations in language.

Your observation about neutrinos is a good example. It was considered a theory, part of the standard model, which changes all the time as we learn new things. Yet the law of conservation of mass and the law of conservation of energy had, at one time, no known exceptions. the law of mass / energy impacts the everyday Joe, to the point that most people recognize the formula e=mc2 (yes, I know it is an approximation).

To the person near 3 Mile Island, Chernoble or Hiroshima, the fact of the increased understanding of matter - energy impacted their life, whether they liked it or not.
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