Monthly Archives: June 2011

Food poisoning – e.coli etc – All produce should be irradiated

Food poisoning: The Difference Engine: Gut feeling | The Economist.


British labour market deteriorating

British labour market deteriorating | Bill Mitchell – billy blog.

Employment participation rate continues to slide, claimant count rises, vacancies falling, public sector employment falling, massive wage cuts over last year…

But we don’t need a Plan B.

Even if we’re Left we need the Right Wing

It’s often struck me that right-wing thinking focuses on shert-term expediency more than left-wing thinking, often against the individual’s longer-term interests. There is a difference between ‘greed’ and ‘self-interest’ if we agree that self-interest should include the long view. If we view right wing thinking which we think is misguided (eg Climate Change denial, Zombie Economics) as a kind of pathology, is there an evolutionary advantage behind its survival? Well, there is if it helps with short term fight-flight decisons – so we would need this in our species – maybe particularly in our leaders, even if it leads in some cases to disastrous leadership decisions. In any case, we are all prone to ‘motivated reasoning’ – reasoning like lawyers or sales people. Nice little video here

The Truth Hurts | Need To Know | PBS Video.

Some Current Distorted Perceptions and Weird Beliefs – What’s Behind Them?

It’s been known, like, forever that there are such things as ‘perceptual defence’  where people appear not to be able to see or hear something (let’s say ‘perceive’) that would upset or disturb them. So many experiments have been conducted in this area of psychology which conclusively demonstrate the effect. It’s also a well-known and demonstrable phenomenon that people’s beliefs tend to support a personal coherent world-view – which may be ‘needed’ by the individual because of some underlying fear or underlying appetite. I guess all this kind of stuff is genetically hard wired into us and makes us a more effective or ‘fit’ species – perhaps because it makes for faster, more effective fight-flight activity – I dunno.

But what I think I do know is that, say, anthropogenic-global-warming deniers will be pretty immune to rational argument, and ‘turn away’ from or deny any ‘facts’ that might upset their world-view – most especially if it threatens their job or their comfortable lifestyle. And, of course, exactly the same might be said of those, say vast majority of climate scientists, who are convinced by anthropogenic global warming – except that science, as a procedure, is (eventually) self-correcting – even if an individual scientist may hold on to an untenable belief long after its sell-by date – to do with stuff in the first paragraph: scientists are human beings too. But (eventually) science is self-correcting.

Similar things can be seen in the fields of economics – where some truly weird stuff may be observed currently regarding beliefs about deficits and debt (always ‘bad’ – must be eliminated now, now, now, generally by means which will do exactly the opposite; inflation, nomatter it’s imported, must be fought vigorously on the domestic front, even when there is no sign whatsoever that it is becoming domestically endemic) – and public health (the triple vaccine ’caused autism’ – and never mind the severe increase in measles since the scare – morphing in some quarters into to the belief that immunisation is always ‘dodgy’ – at the extreme: ‘the government is trying to put something into our bodies’). But whereas medical science is science, much of economics is not – even when it’s mathematical – because it may be based on untested axiomatic foundations (eg the ‘efficient market’).

What I’m trying to get at – is that while there are most certainly rogues among us, who promulgate beliefs they know to be counterfactual – it’s quite likely that someone like Nigel Lawson, or the people on the Daily Mail, or maybe the odd mining or energy company chief, are not actually rogues. They may just be suffering from what I like to call ‘instrumental psychosis’. And it’s something we all have a touch of. And it may make us immune to argument.


The Daily Mail et al (eg Nigel Lawson)

From two different surveys [among climate experts – climate scientists actively publishing climate research in the peer-reviewed literature]  – Doran et al 2009 and Anderegg et al 2010 using different methodologies and sample sizes … arrive at the …answer [that 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing global warming] ( More on the scientific consensus… ) – excellent link with a very funny video about the alleged ‘32,000 Leading Scientists’ who deny anthropogenic global warming.

But still the Daily Mail calls it a ‘controversial theory’.

I suppose that if you do not want to believe it you could kid yourself that the reason 97% of climate scientists purport to believe it is because they wouldn’t get a grant to do research, and they wouldn’t get published if they didn’t.  But then you’d be a conspiracy theorist. Long live Elvis!

The IMF Post Strauss-Kahn

Is this a straw in the wind? No sooner has DSK left the IMF, than the IMF (Article IV Consultation) praises the UK Government’s austerity measures, and says if they cause a further downturn, the UK Government should lower taxes. What next? Praise for Ireland’s austerity measures? A suggestion the Bank of England should raise interest rates to ward off inflation? Oh dear – IMF reverting to type, I guess.

From IBTimes New York – Two Peoples Separated By A Common Language

…I don’t think so… (Or should that be I dont thynk so?)
“A team of 22 experts including nutritionists, dieetitians, cardiologists and diabetelogists assessed the method of each diet, whether its claim stood up under scrutiny, its potential health risks, and how it comes out in expereince, grading the 20 diets for their short- and long-term weight-loss results, how easy to follow the guidelines, their nutritional quality, safety, and ability to prevent or manage diseases.
“DASH diet, an abbreviation of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was created in 1997 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to help combat hypertension and encourage a healthy meal plan. While it was intended to be an “eating plan,” it is designed for the whole family to enjoy healthy meals.
“It is a low-fat diet that recommends people to eat fruits and vegetables, low-fat diary products, fish, poultry and whole grains, ingredients that are high in fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber, and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat. DASH diet eating plan encourages people to reduce the intake of lean red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages.
“DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure. In the first DASH study of 459 adults, it had the greatest effect especially for those with high blood pressure, and it happened within two weeks of starting the plan, NHLBI reported.
“Many studies have praised DASH diet as moer efficient than hypertension medication in lowering blood pressure.”