FDA Ponders Putting Homeopathy To A Tougher Test

Homeopathic medicine.jpg

A recent negative post about homeopathy raised hackles amongst readers. They won’t welcome news (via NPR) that the FDA is taking a look at regulating homeopathic medicine:

It’s another busy morning at Dr. Anthony Aurigemma’s homeopathy practice in Bethesda, Md.

Wendy Resnick, 58, is here because she’s suffering from a nasty bout of laryngitis. “I don’t feel great,” she says. “I don’t feel myself.”

Resnick, who lives in Millersville, Md., has been seeing Aurigemma for years for a variety of health problems, including ankle and knee injuries and back problems. “I don’t know what I would do without him,” she says. “The traditional treatments just weren’t helping me at all.”

Aurigemma listens to Resnick’s lungs, checks her throat and then asks detailed questions about her symptoms and other things as well, such as whether she’s been having any unusual cravings for food.

Aurigemma went to medical school and practiced as a regular doctor before switching to homeopathy more than 30 years ago.

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You Watch Too Much TV- The Forensic “Sciences” Under Fire

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There have been a spate of scandals recently concerning forensic science: poor methodology, faulty protocols, and an absolute disregard for the chain of evidence.

These scandals don’t even include the mess that is rape kit testing, namely that they aren’t testing anything. Rape kits sit on shelves for years sometimes.

Forensic Magazine states:

Another crime lab scandal was announced over the weekend, and this time it’s the federal government that has the explaining to do.

The Department of Justice along with the FBI have identified 2,500 cases for review after finding that experts on its microscopic hair comparison unit overstated evidence concerning pattern-based forensic techniques in 95 percent of the 268 cases reviewed so far, reports the Washington PostThe cases involve 46 states and include 32 defendants that were sentenced to death, according to the article, of which, 14 have already been executed or died behind bars.

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Scientists Target New Painkillers From Spider Venom

Scientists may be excited about the prospect of a new class of painkillers derived from spider venom, but will Big Pharma go for them if they’re not highly addictive? From the Wall Street Journal:

Scientists in Australia, home to some of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, have made an important discovery about spider venom that eventually could lead to a new class of painkillers.

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The greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) is one of seven species of spiders whose venom Australian researchers found has potential painkilling properties. The creature is native to Venezuela and has some of the most dramatic coloring of any spider species.

Spiders use their venom to immobilize or kill their prey. Researchers from the University of Queensland isolated seven peptides—the building blocks of proteins—in spider venom that blocked the molecular pathway responsible for sending pain signals from the nerves to the brain. One peptide in particular, from a Borneo orange-fringed tarantula, had the right structure, stability and potency to potentially become a painkilling drug, the researchers said.

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The Epistemic Costs of Superintelligence

Minds and MachinesI have a new paper coming out in Minds and Machines. It deals with the debate about AI risk, and takes a particular look at the arguments presented in Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence. Fuller details are available below. The official version won’t be out for a few weeks but you can access the preprint versions below.

Title: The Epistemic Costs of Superintelligence: Bostrom’s Treacherous Turn and Sceptical Theism

Journal: Minds and Machines

Links: (Official; Academia; Philpapers)

Abstract: An advanced artificial intelligence (a “superintelligence”) could pose a significant existential risk to humanity. Several research institutes have been set-up to address those risks. And there is an increasing number of academic publications analysing and evaluating their seriousness. Nick Bostrom’sSuperintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies represents the apotheosis of this trend. In this article, I argue that in defending the credibility of AI risk, Bostrom makes an epistemic move that is analogous to one made by so-called sceptical theists in the debate about the existence of God.

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Official Leaks: “These Senior People Do Whatever They Want”

When asked whether he would have supported working with the producers of Zero Dark Thirty, Department of Defense’s Director of Entertainment Media said he would not have recommended working with screenwriter Mark Boal and director Katherine Bigelow, because he was not happy with the way their movie Hurt Locker had presented the military. But he was not given a choice. “These senior people do whatever they want,” the Director told DOD’s Inspector General, according to a draft of the IG’s report on the leaks of classified information to Boal and Bigelow.

zero-dark-thirty

The Project on Government Oversight released the draft this week.

The Director’s comments are all the more telling given how much more centrally this draft of the report — as compared to another POGO obtained and released — point to the role of then CIA Director Leon Panetta and his Chief of Staff, Jeremy Bash, in leading the government to cooperate on the movie.

For example, this draft reveals how officials pointed to Panetta and Bash’s support to try to get Special Operations to cooperate with the ZD30 team.

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Jean-Paul Sartre and Existential Choice

Stephen Fry explains existentialism in two minutes, for BBC Radio 4:

The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre thought that human beings live in anguish. Not because life is terrible. But rather because, we’re ‘condemned to be free’. We’re ‘thrown’ into existence, become aware of ourselves, and have to make choices. Even deciding not to choose is a choice. According to Sartre, every choice reveals what we think a human being should be.

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On Madonna & The Entitlement of White Women

"On the left is Willi Ninja, known as the 'Godfather of Vogue' and star of Paris is Burning. On the right, Madonna."

“On the left is Willi Ninja, known as the ‘Godfather of Vogue’ and star of Paris is Burning. On the right, Madonna.”

Britni de la Cretaz writes:

By now you’ve probably seen the clip of what can only be described as Madonna sexually assaulting Drake onstage at Coachella. It’s gross and I’m not going to post the link here, but feel free to Google it if you’re so inclined (trigger warning for those of you going off to watch it). There are a lot of conversations to be had about this incident, and many of them are happening. An important one worth considering is how the reactions to this event would have been different if an older, (white) male artist had done this to a younger (Black), female artist, and I’m willing to bet they’d have been quite different. But the discussion that I want to pick up on right now is one I started thinking about on Twitter and one that my friend Jay Dodd touched on with his piece.

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