Thursday, September 07, 2017

The slippery slope of same sex marriage

Australia is about to undertake a pointless non-binding postal survey about our views on same sex marriage (SSM), which if a majority say ‘Yes’, will see a bill before parliament that politicians will vote on. I.e. an abject failure of how representative democracy is supposed to work (there’s no need for a $120m survey for any other bit of legislation).

As predicted by everyone, the stupid has begun. Here’s one such example I came across on Facebook:

In our book, we ended our section on the slippery slope fallacy with this:
On the other hand, it is important to be aware that when people who lack the mature judgement of the authors venture onto a slippery slope, they will inevitably wallow in ever more bizarre misconceptions and fallacious reasoning until we end up with nothing but gibberish —and finally, the complete destruction of civilization as we know it.
The unironic employment of the slippery slope argument, that SSM will lead to ‘our own destruction’, may in fact be evidence that we are seeing the first steps in a series of events of poor thinking, fallacious reasoning and even more bizarre misconceptions, that will lead to the complete destruction of civilisation as we know it. Thus proving, ironically, the deliberately tongue in cheek prediction from the book. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Thoughts about MRAs on the internet and accurately employing fallacies - NECSS and Richard Dawkins

Over-sized brain leads to over-sized hubris  
Recently the skeptical part of the internet went into yet another meltdown about women. In short, the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) withdrew their invitation to Richard Dawkins to be a featured speaker at their conference, because he, yet again, was a twitter tool. See the details here. (If you don't know why it's "yet another" and "yet again" count your blessings or google "elevatorgate", or "used to be nearly everyone's favourite big brained science dude, but now... not".)

I'm not going to discuss this in any specific detail. This is just a thought I had when reading some comments about it. (Note to self, for the millionth time: Stop. Reading. Comments!)

Normally I try to avoid using fallacies when I make a point, but in this case, stuff it, I'll make an exception because I'll still be right.

What's the deal with all the middle aged white dudes (overgeneralisation) who seem to continually be upset at the idea that women should be afforded the respect they ask for, as opposed to the respect the we think they want or deserve (straw man, but not really)? So much energy and vitriol wasted on something that should just be a no-brainer, when there are actually important issues to get upset and worked up about (false dilemma, but again, not really).

Seriously, calm down. I'm a (nearly) middle aged white dude and guess what, I won the fucking lotto and I know it. I don't want to "give up" this accident of birth luck I've had, but I wouldn't mind everyone else having my luck too. It's not a zero sum game.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Big pharma shill defends more than 90% of drugs being contaminated

A recent study in Nature has found that 92% of 26 medicines tested were found to have some form of contamination and/or substitution, because they included toxic metals, non-listed substituted pharmaceuticals and stimulants, and a variety of DNA, none of which were listed on the product's label.

These researchers used highly sensitive DNA sequencing, toxicology and heavy metal testing to assess the composition of 26 widely available drugs (they were purchased in Adelaide and are available for sale in retailers and markets nationally). The Venn diagram below, taken from their study, shows that only two of the 26 drugs tested were clean.

One results worth highlighting: some of the drugs also included ephedrine, which gives many people a buzz, making them feel good immediately (ergo, the medicine feels great and they should keep taking it). Also worth noting that nearly all were non-compliant for heavy metals and other dangerous substances, including more than the safe limit of arsenic, cadmium, lead and strychnine.

This is appalling. Big pharma is a multi-billion-dollar industry and this lack of quality control is inexcusable. What is just as shocking and inexcusable as the results, is the reaction from National President of the Federation of Pharmacists of Australia, Professor Linda Child. She does not believe such findings would be widespread across the industry, saying: "It will be one or two individual companies. It may be one or two cases [that have] happened, but not many. The current regulatory regime is perfect."

Ah, what? 24 out of 26 would suggest it's the norm and the opposite of perfect. For her to say this, instead of being outraged, shows she is simply the chief big pharma shill, bought and paid for by the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. This is an industry that clearly puts profits before patients. What anyone who cares about patients getting the actual ingredients of the prescribed medicines would say (I'd have thought) is that this needs to be properly investigated and someone needs to go to jail.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry. If they chose they could ensure rigorous quality control of ingredients at a minimum. And I'll go further — they should undertake proper, rigorous and open trials that test for the efficacy and safety of medicines. Not the dodgy process they currently go through, with sympathetic proponents rubber stamping every new drug any company wants and protecting them from real regulation and testing.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Second Edition of Humbug! Price drop - only $2

The Second (eBook) Edition of Humbug! is now US$2 from:
Essentially it's as cheap as I can make it through Amazon without enrolling it in Kindle Direct Publishing Select, which you can only do if the book is exclusively on Amazon (which I'd never be prepared to do).

Monday, February 02, 2015

Mike Huckabee's arse backwards analogy

One of the main problems with arguments from analogy is that it's often quite easy to reverse them. From The Guardian:
The Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Sunday said... forcing people opposed to same-sex marriage to accept it was the same as telling Jews they had to serve “bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli”.
No Mike, no. Saying gay people are not allowed to marry would be like Jews telling non-Jews they can't eat bacon.

You've actually just made an argument for gay marriage. We live in pluralist democratic societies with governments that (should) say: "You're free to follow your own beliefs and ways of living so long as you don't force those beliefs on others."

The correct analogy: "Jews are free to not eat and serve bacon-wrapped shrimp, but others are. You are free to not be gay and married, but others are."