Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why physicians lie to us

Did you know that physicians consider it ethical to lie to patients about the outcomes of genetic tests? Read about it here:
Lying to patients about genetic tests is wrong
or here:
All this sort of story does is make me be convinced that what we need widespread personalized genomics so that we can analyze our own sequences with open source applications, and cut the physicians and institutional testing laboratories out of the equation.
That is right. We should get test results straight from the lab, and not give some physician the opportunity to lie to us about the results.

Update: Here is a followup:
When it comes to what a child should know I tend to disagree with the consensus among genetic counselors. It seems that the implication from the current guidelines is that children shouldn’t be tested for adult onset disease until they can give consent. I can’t go along with this.
Medical ethics is a strange field. I would not trust their conclusions about anything.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Montana castle doctrine

This shooting story got a lot of controversy. The NY Times reports:
KALISPELL, Mont. — The last mistake Dan Fredenberg made was getting killed in another man’s garage.

It was Sept. 22, and Mr. Fredenberg, 40, was upset. He strode up the driveway of a quiet subdivision here to confront Brice Harper, a 24-year-old romantically involved with Mr. Fredenberg’s young wife. But as he walked through Mr. Harper’s open garage door, Mr. Fredenberg was doing more than stepping uninvited onto someone else’s property. He was unwittingly walking onto a legal landscape reshaped by laws that have given homeowners new leeway to use force inside their own homes.

Proponents say the laws strengthen people’s right to defend their homes. To others, they are a license to kill.

That night, in a doorway at the back of his garage, Mr. Harper aimed a gun at the unarmed Mr. Fredenberg, fired and struck him three times. Mr. Fredenberg crumpled to the garage floor, a few feet from Mr. Harper. He was dead before morning.

Had Mr. Fredenberg been shot on the street or sidewalk, the legal outcome might have been different. But on Oct. 9, the Flathead County attorney decided not to prosecute, saying that Montana’s “castle doctrine” law, which maintains that a man’s home is his castle, protected Mr. Harper’s rights to vigorously defend himself there. The county attorney determined that Mr. Harper had the right to fetch his gun from his bedroom, confront Mr. Fredenberg in the garage and, fearing for his safety, shoot him.
Fredenberg went to Harper's house with reason to believe his wife was there. She had been there, and refused to say when her husband asked if she were there. The Montana castle doctrine says:

A person is justified in the use of force or threat to use force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry into ... an occupied structure (residence).
Okay, but the entry has to be "unlawful" for that to apply. Doesn't a man have a right to enter another house to retrieve his wife? If so, then the castle doctrine does not apply.

It seems possible to me that the wife and the lover set up Fredenberg to get shot.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hormones influence voting

Nature magazine reports:
An increasing number of studies suggest that biology can exert a significant influence on political beliefs and behaviours. Biological factors including genes, hormone levels and neurotransmitter systems may partly shape people's attitudes on political issues such as welfare, immigration, same-sex marriage and war.
This is a controversial subject. A CNN story was
Post removed: Study looks at voting and hormones
A post previously published in this space regarding a study about how hormones may influence voting choices has been removed.

After further review it was determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.
The censored story is copied here. A newspaper noticed:
The story, posted in CNN's medical and health section started with, "There's something that may raise the chances for both presidential candidates that's totally out of their control: women's ovulation cycles."

Yikes! Did the author really write that? Yep. And the author was a woman. Elizabeth Landeau, defended her story, writing on Twitter that it was a peer-reviewed study and that she included skepticism from political scientists as well.

The story referred to a new study to be published in "Psychological Science" by Kristina Durante, an assistant professor at the University of Texas. Durante's online surveys of several-hundred women led her to conclude that, when women are ovulating, single women espouse more liberal beliefs, while married or committed women gravitate towards more conservative views.

The article said Durante suggests that single women "feel sexier" when ovulating and tend to "lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality." Married women, trying to resist their "sexy" feelings, do the opposite.
Thanks to the web bypassing feminist censors, we can learn about human nature.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

President has math phobia

There is one subject where people are proud of their ignorance. Here was the President on the NBC TV Tonight Show last night:
Leno: (Here's Samantha from Colorado) When you help your daughters with their homework, is there a subject you struggle with?

Obama: Well, you know, the math stuff, I was fine with up until about seventh grade. But Malia is now a freshman in high school, and I am pretty lost.
It is culturally acceptable to admit to Mathematical anxiety. I doubt that he would admit to any other mental disorder or deficiency.

Monday, October 22, 2012

How European colors evolved

Anthropologist Peter Frost argues:
White European skin evolved relatively fast during the last ice age, specifically from 19,000 to 11,000 years ago. This was also probably the same time frame for the evolution of European hair and eye colors. Anyway, that’s my bet.

These color traits — white skin and a diverse palette of hair and eye colors — are not adaptations to a cooler, less sunny climate. They are adaptations by early European women to intense mate competition, specifically a shortage of potential mates due to a low polygyny rate and a high death rate among young men.

This situation was created by the steppe-tundra that covered most of Europe as late as 10,000 years ago. Early Europeans were able to colonize this environment but only at the price of a severe imbalance between men and women on the mate market.
This sounds improbable, but he has some good arguments for it, and he shows that competing theories have been shot down.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Suing the Boy Scouts

The newspapers report:
The publication Thursday of 20 years worth of secret records kept by the Boy Scouts of America reveal a widespread effort by the organization to cover up a scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against 1,200 scout leaders.

The records, known within the Boy Scouts itself as the “perversion files,” cover the years 1965-1985 and detail the names of the alleged perpetrators, their hometowns and other information. The files were results of the organization’s own internal investigations into sexual abuse among its leaders and include court documents, newspapers clippings in cases where charges were actually filed and other material.

Not every person whose name was contained within the thousands of pages – which the scouts officially called the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” – ever actually faced charges or was convicted. Some files only reflected concerns about someone.
Your reaction to this story is a good indicator of whether you would want Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.

The Mormons are huge promoters of the Boy Scouts. The raise money privately, use volunteers as leaders, and teach valuable lessons to the next generation. The Scouts have their own standards for who makes any acceptable youth leader, and they try to confidentially apply those standards. In some cases, this meant excluding people based on hearsay about their private lives. Romney is the Mormon and probably agrees with the overall Scout philosophy, and is not concerned with second-guess personel decisions.

The lawyers, gays, atheists, and leftist egalitarians despise the Boy Scouts and are out to destroy them. They are going to scrutinize a 40-year-old private list of names, and file lawsuits. If they form an opinion that there was a legitimate suspicion of abuse, they are going to say that the suspicions should have been reported to govt authorities. If the suspicions were of non-criminal homosexuality, then they are going to say any consideration of the info should have been illegal discrimination. Either way, they hate the idea of a private organization choosing its own leaders according to its own values.

I don't know whether Pres. Barack Obama has given an opinion about the Boy Scouts, but he bragged in the debate how he supported lawsuits about minor personnel decisions made decades in the past. See also here for how he differs from Romney.

I am afraid that the leftist Obama lawyer mentality is winning. Someday all sexual activity will be classified as legal or illegal, and anyone who is even suspected of the illegal kind will be kept on govt databases for future litigation. No one will be allowed to discriminate based on anything of the legal kind, no matter how perverted. People will be sued or sent to prison if some lawyer discovers, many years later, that they used their own judgment in making a personnel decision.

Update: Another blog adds:
For decades the Boy Scout organization made the point that permitting homosexuals to serve as group leaders would be to invite abuse.  The Scouts based their position on the well-grounded assumption that male homosexuality is essentially pedophiliac and that it would be crazy to put pedophiles in charge of boys and adolescents.  The American Left sustained a relentless culture-war against the Scouts that rested on categorizing that perfectly reasonable assumption and its argumentative consequence as a bigoted fantasy.  Now it turns out that when homosexuals did inveigle the organization, they perpetrated exactly the kinds of abuses predicted by conservative wisdom.  What is the Left’s new argument?  It is that the Scouts are wicked for concealing documentation that homosexual group leaders had preyed on their charges.  Of course these developments are in part a replay of another of the Left’s ongoing crusades – the one against the Catholic Church.  In the eyes of the Left, the Church is guilty on the one hand of condemning homosexuality and of trying to keep homosexuals out of the priesthood and on the other of covering up the outrages of priest-pedophiles.
The current CNN lead story says Boy Scouts criticized for gay ban and for "perversion files".

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sandusky accuser promotes his book

ABC TV 20/20 reports:
He was known only as Victim 1 in one of the most infamous child sexual abuse cases in history. But this week, Aaron Fisher revealed his identity to the world and, in an exclusive interview with "20/20's" Chris Cuomo, told the story of those he said stood in his way as he struggled to bring now-convicted child predator Jerry Sandusky to justice: officials at his own high school.

"Here I am, beside my mom, crying, telling them and they don't believe me," he said in an interview with Cuomo airing on "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET. "I knew they wouldn't."

Fisher has detailed his struggle to have his allegations against Sandusky, formerly a revered Penn State University football coach, taken seriously in a new book, "Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky," published today.
Note that every single Sandusky accuser is making money off of the accusations. He could be lying to sell books and get a Penn State lawsuit settlement.

The main complaint of the show is that the boy and his mom Daniels made a complaint to a high school principal, and she did not believe them.
By the time Fisher was 15, he reached a breaking point and finally summoned the courage to tell his mother and the school's principal, Karen Probst, that Sandusky was sexually abusing him.

"Aaron was melting down in the office," Daniels said. "I immediately told them we need to call the police." ...

Daniels and Fisher later learned that Central Mountain High School officials did call CYS, but they say the call only came after the mother and son left the principal's office. School officials are legally mandated to report all allegations of child sex abuse and have said that the allegations were reported immediately.
The TV show acted as if this is a big scandal, but it is not.

First, the principal did report the accusation. She is not mandated to believe every accusation, just to report suspected abuse.

Second, if the principal did not believe the accusation, then she was not required to report. She is only mandated to report what she suspects, not what some student or parent suspects.

Third, the mom and boy were completely free to call the police themselves. It is wrong to expect a principal to call police on behalf of a parent making a request. The police complaint should come from whoever has knowledge of the alleged crime.

I continue to disagree with how this scandal has been prosecuted and reported. No one shows any skepticism about the accusations.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chocolate raises intelligence

NPR radio reports:
So what does it take to create a genius worthy of a Nobel? The answer may have something to do with chocolate. According to a very tongue-in-cheek report published online this week by the New England Journal of Medicine, a country's propensity for producing Nobel laureates might just be correlated to its national appetite for the sinful stuff. ...

"I have published about 800 papers in peer-reviewed journals," he says, "and every single one of them stands and falls with the p-value. And now here I find a p-value of 0.0001, and this is, to my way of thinking, a completely nonsensical relation. Unless you — or anybody else — can come up with an explanation. I've presented it to a few of my colleagues, and nobody has any thoughts."
Yes, there studies are all based on statistical p-values. Jumping to conclusions based on p-values like this is at the core of why most medical studies are not reproduced. Arguments that vegetables are good for your health are also like this.

It is not impossible that chocolate makes you smarter. One study showed:
The study also found that as the chocolate started melting, all regions of the brain received a boost far more intense and longer lasting than the excitement seen with kissing.
Here is other new research:
Here we study a potential hormonal influence, focusing on the steroid hormone testosterone, which has been shown to play an important role in social behavior. ... Our results show that testosterone administration substantially decreases lying in men. Self-serving lying occurred in both groups, however, reported payoffs were significantly lower in the testosterone group (p<0.01).
Again this seems unlikely, but there is other evidence that masculine men are more honest. Asperger syndrome is most common in boys and is a trait of masculine brains. Those with it are widely regarded as having a high degree of honesty and integrity. It is still considered a mental disorder in the DSM-IV, but the classification is being dropped in the DSM-5 for some very good reasons.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Armstrong is accused again

Everyone seems to be convinced by a report from a private organization that Lance Armstrong was doping:
Had Mr. Armstrong not refused to confront the evidence against him in a hearing, the witnesses in the case of The United States Anti-Doping Agency v. Lance Armstrong would have testified under oath with a legal duty to testify truthfully or face potential civil and/or criminal consequences. Witness after witness would havebeen called to the stand and witness after witness would have confirmed the following: That Lance Armstrong used the banned drug EPO. That Lance Armstrong used the banned drug Testosterone. That Lance Armstrong provided his teammates the banned drug EPO. ...

Article 3.1 of the Code provides that: “[t]he standard of proof shall be whether the Anti-Doping Organization has established an anti-doping rule violation to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing panel bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation which is made.” ...

The World Anti-Doping Code specifies that doping can be proved by “any reliable
means.” This case was initiated by USADA based on evidence other than a positive drug test. ...

Accordingly, in this section USADA discusses some of the evidence of efforts by Armstrong and his entourage to cover up rule violations, suppress the truth, obstruct or subvert the legal process and thereby encourage doping. ... As he and Mr. Simeoni returned to the peloton Mr. Armstrong made a taunting “zip the lips” gesture. Because the event occurred during a stage of the 2004 Tour de France, Mr. Simeoni’s recollection is well corroborated and supported by video footage.

In this section of the Addendum, we address the evidence gathered on the question of whether Lance Armstrong admitted the use of performance enhancing drugs in an Indiana Hospital room in late October, 1996. ... As explained above, it took nearly a decade and some fairly aggressive investigative journalism for the hospital room confession to make it into the public domain. ... Thus, although the hospital room incident occurred many years ago, Armstrong’s far more recent efforts to retaliate against and impugn those who have testified about it is highly relevant. The evidence of Mr. Armstrong’s retaliation is consistent with a recurring pattern of efforts by Mr. Armstrong to suppress the truth and prevent those with evidence against him from coming forward.
I am not sure what to make of this. Sure, there are a bunch of witnesses against Armstrong. But why is this any business of the USADA, any why does anyone care about what some bicyclist might have admitted in 1996?

The report alleges that all of the major cycling competitors were doping. If so, why would it be unfair for Armstrong to do what the others were doing?

I do not see any good coming out of this. The whole process is crazy. The USADA is a mickey mouse court with no sense of jurisdiction, due process, rules of evidence, statute of limitations, standards of proof, jury of peers, etc. I do not see why a sport would rely on anything other than timely positive drug tests.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

McQueary sues Penn State

The Penn State child sex abuse scandal is not over, and litigation will continue for years. The lawyers and officials have manipulated the evidence so that lawsuits against Penn State and Penn. taxpayers will collect many millions of dollars. Here is the latest:
(Reuters) - A key witness in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal sued Pennsylvania State University on Tuesday for more than $8 million on whistleblower, defamation and misrepresentation grounds.

Mike McQueary, a former Penn State assistant football coach, claimed in the suit filed in Center County Court that he lost his job, was misled and publicly scorned because he had told about one of the attacks.

Sandusky, a retired Penn State football defensive coordinator, was convicted in June on 45 counts of child molestation in a case that riveted national attention on child sexual abuse. Sentencing is set for October 9.

McQueary testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a football locker room in 2001. He told jurors he then told head coach Joe Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and university Vice President Gary Schultz about the incident.

The assault was never reported to police or child welfare officials. McQueary testified about it before a grand jury and Schultz and Curley were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected abuse.

McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback, was placed on administrative leave shortly after Sandusky, Curley and Schultz were charged in November 2011. He later lost his $140,000-a-year job as receivers coach.

McQueary is seeking at least $4 million in damages for alleged defamation arising from then-President Graham Spanier's public support of Schultz and Curley after the charges against them were announced.
I don't see how McQueary could be defamed. His own story is that he watched a boy being raped, and then chose (1) not to intervene to rescue the boy; (2) not to contact police; (3) not to make any effort to identify the boy afterwards; and (4) not to tell anyone the details until many years later.

There are holes in McQueary's story, and I think that he is worse than Sandusky. But just based on his own admissions, there are plenty of reasons to fire him.

Update: I previously wrote about the Sandusky case:
There was no physical evidence or timely complaints. The alleged victims told stories based on recovered memory, a dubious process with no scientific validity. The only accuser who is not suing was McQueary, and he testified in exchange for immunity for himself. So every witness against Sandusky had a very big motive to lie. None of them told a story that could be independently corroborated.
This is now slightly incorrect, as McQueary is also suing Penn State for millions of dollars. So all of the accusers are financially profiting from their recovered memory accusations.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Liberals do not understand conservatism

Psychology professor John T. Jost has a review (free copy here) of Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory in AAAS Science magazine. They disagree because they have different theories about what makes conservatives and liberals different. Haidt has studies showing that conservatives and liberal have different values. Jost says conservatives are just stupid.

That is the magazine that brags:
Science Magazine: The world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
The magazine only permits liberal commentary.

Haidt writes:
I began by summarizing the standard explanations that psychologists had offered for decades: Conservatives are conservative because they were raised by overly strict parents, or because they are inordinately afraid of change, novelty, and complexity, or because they suffer from existential fears and therefore cling to a simple worldview with no shades of gray. These approaches all had one feature in common: they used psychology to explain away conservatism. They made it unnecessary for liberals to take conservative ideas seriously because these ideas are caused by bad childhoods or ugly personality traits. I suggested a very different approach: start by assuming that conservatives are just as sincere as liberals, and then use Moral Foundations Theory to understand the moral matrices of both sides. (pp. 166-167)
Jost agrees with those psychologists who try to explain away conservatism as some sort of mental inferiority.

Jost writes:
Haidt argues that the liberal moral code is deficient, because it is not based on all 5 (or 6) of his “moral foundations.” The liberal, Haidt maintains, is like the idiot restaurateur who thought he could make a complete cuisine out of just one taste, however sweet. This illustrates the biggest flaw in Haidt’s book, ... Does it really make sense, philosophically or psychologically or politically, to even try to keep score, let alone to assert that “more is better” when it comes to moral judgment?
Jost misquotes Haidt. Haidt does not say that “more is better”, or argue that any moral values are better than any other. His point is that liberals like Jost will never understand conservatism unless they recognize the moral foundations.

Jost just confirms what Haidt says.